Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Diary of a Madman: Post #1

  1. Last Sunday night things got very very strange.  I wanted to die but lacked the courage to do anything about it. Realizing I was too weak to do it made me feel even worse and the thought of calling a suicide help line was laughable. By Monday morning, things got so bad I decided I wanted to hire someone unemployed to watch me. When I called my friend, Leslie, to explain my plan she talked me back to feeling better.
  2. I was in line to pay for a diet coke at the 711 behind a guy who was about to buy a package of beef jerky. He'd opened the package and he was already eating some. I still cannot fathom anyone wanting to eat something called “beef jerky.” My mind seized on the name. Why “jerky?” I asked myself: “What is a jerk anyway?” It was very clear to me that “jerky” was negative in connotation and so, to my mind, both naming a food product “jerky” and putting something “jerky” in one’s mouth seemed horribly wrong. I got so wrapped up in my thinking, I become blind to my environment and miss noticing, for example, that the store clerk is calling me forward.
  3. In a discussion about empathy, Bruce said we were “hard-wired” that way … and off I went. As he went on talking I stopped listening as I tried to understand why he would use the term “hard-wired.” I still find it unsatisfying; it seems meaningless to me. I wanted Bruce to say: “We were born this way.” I've become extremely literal.
  4. Are you ready for a shocker? Today I went to my weekly massage therapy session with Christopher and we began, as usual, with me saying which muscles hurt the most. In response to me saying how exhausting stuttering is, he said: "Maybe we should try some work on your diaphragm." So about 35 minutes into the massage, he started doing exactly that. On my left side, things went fine but when he got to my right side, I became convulsive. I was locked into muscle spasm all over my body. The uncontrollable spasms of my muscles hurt like hell. I signalled for water but had to be fed. It was easily the most alarming experience of my life but Christopher stayed calm. He kept rubbing my chest and kept repeating that it would end and that I would be fine. I flashed back to thinking: I cannot live like this. But soon it all passed. I asked Christopher if he's ever seen anything like what had happened before. He has not. Not in seventeen years. He is the finest of men, Christopher. In his tone, touch and eyes I only saw and heard care. Once up on my feet, he hugged me. He, hugged, me; not the other way around and to me, that meant everything.
  5. To close friends, perhaps nothing will be more shocking than this (in spite of all of the above): I am seriously cutting down on Diet Coke. Chris.2 is a water drinker and I'm stunned.
  6. On the way to see Christopher, I walked in the lanes. The lanes are quiet and I took the following photos with "new" eyes. I am thrilled to discover that my breakdown has changed my aesthetic for the better. I am excited about what I may do, creatively, when I recover. This blog is a place to keep my impressions and memories in case I do do something. This change may be to subtle for you, but for me this is truly exciting. 

I've always loved beauty. My friend Jessica theorizes that I chose to see the beauty of the world better than most to compensate for what was going on at home. Chris.1 would not have taken this photo. The yellow cup propping open the window and the central window with cardboard would have seemed ugly "to him.". What has changed? Read on.

Same building, different view and Chris.1 would, again, never have taken this one. Neither this one nor the one above are earth-shattering compositions; I took them thinking about writing all that I am putting into this post having noticed my "changed perception.' So what changed?  Read on.

Look back through this blog and you'll see that architecture has always been part of my vocabulary of beauty. But Chris.1 would never have taken this photo because of those bright blue garbage cans. Chris.1 saw no beauty in garbage at all. Nor in backyards or parking signs. Chris.1 liked façades.

And then I saw this building. This is Chris.2's favourite photo. Why? Because of the green bin, the car and all the vertical structural supports holding up the balconies—those balconies where so much life has played out they need support.

The yellow cup, the cardboard in the window, the structural supports, the bins, the parking sign and the car: They are all the detritus of people. Chris.2 is interested in people. For Chris.1 there was only beauty in animals and nature; there was no beauty in mankind. What was beautiful about people to Chris.1, was not something you could photograph. But Chris.2 loves images that include evidence of people, if not people themselves. 

This is Chris.2. This is a man raw from re-learning how to live with (temporary) mental ill-health. I am fine with my new status. I think—I hope—the worst is over, and my new way of living is giving me a vastly different way of seeing the world. The adjustment is hard but there are extremely interesting benefits.

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