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Staring into a Best Friend’s Eyes

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Categories: The Pondering

I grew up with animals – loads of them. Until Chloe, my horse Snuffy (actual name Cheyenne, but his lip hung really amusingly low as though it was full of snuff) was the most wonderful animal friend I’d ever had. I had a beautiful dog, too, name Lassie that I loved tremendously; she would sit with me in our barn as I sat every day talking to Snuffy about my day, his beautiful huge eyes staring at me with full attention. Chloe is now one of my rocks. I talk to her as we walk. We stroll around our community garden nearly every night, and I talk to her about my worries, or how lovely she is and how well she behaves, or about nothing other than my most random of thoughts. Humans as a group see animals as somehow a lesser part of nature, as though it is only we who matter in this world, as though we aren’t the world’s most destructive predator and foe. Cattle being plowed over with bulldozers as they’re led to slaughter, ducks being force fed, dogs being locked up and abused and killed in forced fighting, cats being tossed into the streets, plugging along as bees and frogs and birds and other jewels of nature are wiped from the Earth. So many others, too. I think of those things nearly every night before I go to sleep and find myself fighting the hate I feel. People, on a spectrum from blatantly cruel to ignorantly blissful, should know what it’s like to stare into an animal friend’s eyes and feel a love for something other than a human that touches you to your soul.

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An Interesting but Scary Thing

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Categories: The Pondering

I believe the first hypomanic episode of my sober life – two years this past September – has faded; hopefully it’s actually over. I’ve written that it’s an interesting but scary thing to have no recourse for a mental state of being, and my thoughts on this remain the same; however, it was scarier, less interesting, and much more frustrating this time than it has been.

I embarrassed myself in front of my colleagues, saying, “Fuck the Senate,” of which I am a member, at a point of frustration with the body’s influence. I talked far too much in class (I talk a lot, but I am usually more considerate) and at field and at home and out with friends – usually in a bravado, braggart sort of way. During these moments, it was truly as though I were out of my body – not as though I were floating as a spirit or something, but as though I were hearing myself from some other place & definitely not the right place. I was an observer of something that was coming from me, and I had no ability to stop the words from “flowing out like endless rain into a paper cup.” And I was shocked at my rudeness, my thorough lack of consideration or empathy.

Bipolar II disorder is being diagnosed at a ridiculous rate in alcohol and substance abuse and addiction facilities, and I believe this is happening purely or at least primarily for insurance purposes. Yes, people come into the facility and show symptoms of bipolar II disorder (bipolar I is a far more dangerous and unfortunate disorder), but one should carefully consider these symptoms: rapid cycling from hypomanic behavior, which is truly not at all unlike behavior during intoxication, to depressive behavior, which isn’t at all that dissimilar from behavior and emotional disturbance caused by being hung over or going through withdrawal. We are doing a tremendous disservice by labeling these abusers and addicts with a disorder that they surely can’t possibly be thought to have when they’re being evaluated during active use! We are also doing a disservice to people who actually have to live with this disorder; we are being seen as just experiencing symptoms we’d experience if we were in the throws of alcohol and/or other substances. Being someone who has bipolar II disorder and is in recovery, this is actually quite offensive.

The other day, as I was feeling hyper and sad, both at the same time, I stood before Phillip and told him I have been proud of my ability to form an “addict mind” and a “logical mind,” between which I am able to facilitate interaction, countering thoughts of desire from my addict mind with reasoning from my logical mind. But in this state, my logical mind had no power. And this despite being well medicated with a kind of cocktail of medications that has been tweaked over years of psychiatric treatment. I cried during this. It really is an interesting but scary thing to have no recourse for a mental state of being.

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Witnessing Privilege…My Own

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Categories: The Pondering

I just went to a convenience store a couple of blocks from our apartment, and walking in just before me was a black fellow who started loudly voicing his anger about being constantly watched when he enters the store and about one of the store’s employees threatening to call the cops on him if he didn’t leave. He claimed he had done nothing wrong, and his voice was cracking as though he was holding back tears. As he stood there defending himself, voice cracking, the two men behind the counter showed little interest in his words or his emotion. One of them motioned for me to hand him my dollar, and I did and walked out.

I’m thinking back on having done this and am ashamed of myself. I’ve never been watched in stores, so far as I know, and I’ve certainly never defended myself to deaf ears. I am privileged and with that I believe I have a responsibility to not only notice discrimination but to take a stand, no matter how little a stand I might take. I shouldn’t have given that store my dollar. I’m not ashamed for not having spoken up – I have no facts of the events described. But I did not have to support the store yet did so. I offer an apology.

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Oh, What a World

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Categories: The Pondering

Yesterday I was feeling pretty down, and I’m reflecting on it today. Humanity continues on in its hatred, and lately I feel mired down by the weight of the cruelty & aggression of our time. I have no illusion that our time is somehow bloodier; most of the pages of history are soaked in blood…usually in the name of one god or another. Why can’t humanity find peace, find empathy, realize and acknowledge that our connection to one another is composed of far more similarities than differences?

I’m going to try a new track. Kim Jong-un (North Korea), Bashar al-Assad (Syria), Benjamin Netanyahu (Israel), Vladimir Putin (Russia), ISIS & all those other terrorists organizations that seek to murder innocents (the list is frighteningly and depressingly long), Omar al-Bashir (Sudan), and too many others (one is too many, obvz): rather than dwelling and wallowing in my hatred of you, I am going to seek to find positive thoughts of peace to send your way…to wish for you peace rather than suffering. Hatred has solved little, so maybe I’ll feel better & will become a better person by playing this small part in the betterment of humanity.

As most of you folks know, I am not a religious fellow, but I do find religious texts to be powerful & helpful. There are three lines from the “Sermon on the Mount” in the Bible‘s Book of Matthew that inspire me, and I am going to use them every day to help me in this project of projecting peace:

Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
&
Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
&
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

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So Very Much Pain

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Categories: The Pondering

So. The internet is a dangerous thing…obviously. A fantastic thing, but also a dangerous thing. I forced myself to watch part of the beheading of a Catholic priest by these godless lunatics who taint the Muslim religion with their claims to it. I couldn’t watch the whole thing, but I really did want to better understand this evil (also, I’m a masochist). It was so amazingly horrific, even just the one or two seconds I was able to watch it.

Here’s a snippet from the article accompanying the video: ‘The Vatican confirmed that Father François Murad was killed on June 23 after jihadists affiliated with the Al Nusrah Front overran his monastery in Gassanieh, a town in the countryside in the northern province of Idlib.”

I’ve been trying to find out more about the Quran because, well, why not. Anyway, to the evil homosapiens (Can one be called human if no humanity is possessed?), I would very much like to know your thoughts on the Quran’s Chapter 109. al-Kafirun (The Unbelievers):

1 Say: O disbelievers!
2 I worship not that which ye worship;
3 Nor worship ye that which I worship.
4 And I shall not worship that which ye worship.
5 Nor will ye worship that which I worship.
6 Unto you your religion, and unto me my religion.

Isn’t that a decree to agree to disagree? It certainly doesn’t seem to me like a call to arms to kill folks who believe differently than you. The murderers in the video I watched are not Muslims, they are worthless creatures who know nothing but evil.

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Evil

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Categories: The Pondering

I don’t consider myself a war hawk – I think I’ve made my view of the Iraq War completely clear, but neither am I a dove. James Foley was a journalist, one of the more noble professions, providing us with knowledge of the goings on of this world in which we live. He risked his life to do this. And he was an American citizen. ISIS is evil; no god that may or may not exist would possibly condone their disgustingness. They hide behind the bastardization of Islam, a religion that is no less respectable than any other in its teachings.

I hope the United States uses all the military air power we have to show them the closest thing to the wrath of god that humankind can offer.

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Anonymity & Shame

Categories: The Pondering

Folks with cancer used to, and some likely still do, feel shame because of their condition, so I’ve read. Some folks are still either too ashamed or too scared to come out of the closet. Even more frequently, people live secretly with HIV. And until only recently, discussions of bipolar disorder were notably missing or had occurred primarily behind closed doors. With regard to addiction, anonymity is still strongly encouraged. My pondering: Does maintaining anonymity stir within a person, or help maintain, shame?