There is no better therapist than a personal journal. A journal waits patiently, doesn’t interrupt, argue, criticize, judge, talk back, condemn, nag, or gossip. It’s there on your terms, when you want it, and it’s essentially free.
It’s also fun and sometimes embarrassing to re-read and see how perspective changes, or how memories differ from the written version. I’ve kept a journal on and off throughout my life. I’ve lost some, burned some, and some were stolen. I prefer writing by hand, as I sit with morning coffee, because there’s no urgency, no need to correct typos, and there’s something inherently satisfying about low-tech pen and paper.
Ten years ago this month, I had entered early retirement, had acquired my first batch of chickens, and was watching my stock investments fall below the value of my medical school debt. I was considering whether an individual could secede from the United States and not be owned by any country. I was reading a lot, as always, books, magazines and newspapers. I was beginning to pay attention to the FDA’s periodic food scares and seeing a pattern. I was philosophizing about how things ought to be.
Now, in 2018, my views have evolved, but not too much. I’m more offended now than before by the path the US is taking but am resigned to it. Ten years older, I feel the squeezing of time into fewer remaining years. Ambition and goals seem less important. I’ve recognized that many dreams may never come true, nor will some nightmares. Day to day existence goes on automatic pilot, most of the time, with less to interest or inspire, but more enjoyment from unexpected events, like a sunny day after a week of clouds and rain.
Here are some entries from November, 2008:
INDEPENDENT OF COUNTRY
Sunday, November 2, 2008–I may secede from the US. Why should I be a citizen of any country? I’m still a taxpayer if I live here. Does that make me illegal, if I was born five miles from where I live?
As an independent country, I am a citizen of the planet. How’s that? I belong to no government, and no government belongs to me. I make up my own laws as I go along, and if I break them, nobody cares but me. My own government is self-governance. It costs me nothing in taxes, and it provides generous returns on my investment.
I wonder about the expectation that anyone should be a citizen of any country. What’s the point of citizenship except to vote and pay taxes? If I were a foreigner, I would still pay taxes, and if I owned property, I would pay property taxes, so I would be contributing to government services, such as they are.
Radical revolutionary that I am.
Thursday, November 6, 2008—The internal nags don’t let up. The work ethic is so heavily instilled in me that I feel worthless if I’m not accomplishing things.
I avoid the study and the computer, and the piles of written words that await me there, my own files, and books and newspapers and magazines. So much information, much of it misleading, descriptive of a value system, and set of beliefs I don’t share.
PROBLEMS AND SOLUTIONS
Saturday, November 8, 2008—I can’t blame anyone for the fact that I attract problems. I’m the solution all the problems are looking for, but do the problems want to be solved? No. They would lose their identity as problems, because they are ego-attached to being problems.
Maybe I’m ego-attached to being a solution, but I’m letting go of that. I worked myself out of a psychiatry job by declaring crazy normal.
I am neither solution nor problem, because both are traps. The concept of problems and solutions is as suspect as strength and weakness. Relative to what, I ask. My “solutions” bring new “problems,” and my ‘weaknesses” help develop “strengths” that then become “weaknesses” in turn.
MY VERSION OF HELL
Saturday, November 8, 2008–My version of hell is having to put up with miserable people forever. I can hear the whiners now:
“It’s your fault you’re here. You murdered me. You deserve to be here.”
“So why are you here?”
“It’s a mistake. I’m appealing God’s decision.”
“God made the right decision, alright. Why do you think I murdered you? I did the world a favor.”
“Hell wasn’t such a bad place, until you got here. The beer is free.”
“The beer is free? In hell?
“Yep. Keeps people from wanting to go to heaven.”
“Why do they call it hell?”
“Why do you think? It costs money to get to heaven, and nobody would buy into it if they knew they could get free beer in hell. Everything is free in hell, because everyone just takes what he wants without paying, anyway.
“But it’s so hot.”
“We drink a lot of beer and pass out so we don’t feel the heat so much.”
“Has anyone asked the Devil to turn down the heat? It’s not energy efficient, you know.
“You could ask him, but he gets cold easily in this drafty cave, and he is thin.”
“He could put on a sweater.”
“Why should he? He’s supposed to be torturing these people, and he’s afraid of losing his job if he doesn’t cause them enough pain.”
“That’s true in all government jobs. So the Devil isn’t self-employed?
“Hell, no. Who in his right mind would pay to spend eternity with the Devil?”
“How does he pay for the beer?”
“He steals it, of course. He sends his hellions topside whenever supplies run low, and they bring back everything people have ordered, including nuclear power plants, to help keep the Devil warm.”
“Sounds like the government.”
“Government is hell. I thought you knew that”
“Why do we have it?”
“To keep people out of heaven, of course. Heaven was getting crowded, what with all those people resting in peace. God ran out of bedrooms and couldn’t wake anybody up to build more, so He created hell to take the heat off Him. He sent Lucifer down to manage things and wake people up, but he steals beer for them instead.”