Archive for the 'thinking' Category

Kindness

On the few occasions that I stop long enough to consider even hearing the still small voice of God, I think of kindness.

In the sense of kindness, gentleness, self-control  that is. Fruits of the spirit and all that.

I once quoted Vonnegut from one of his novels where the character Eliot Rosewater is baptising/christening and gives his one rule for living on planet earth

God damn it you’ve gotta be kind…

I find myself deeply moved by kindness. Kindness observed amongst those I know and don’t know. The kindness of the people I work with in how they deal with people. And I lament my failings in dealing with those I love; how quick I am to anger or criticism or jibes – more in the name of humour and superiority than grace.

I get angry at the lack of kindness, most often exhibited on occasions where I work in the hospital. The “God damn it..” in exasperation and anger seems fitting.

The art of medicine

What do we mean when we invoke the subtle and ever so nebulous “art of medicine”?

Most people consider it an essential skill and part of being a good doctor to be able to correctly apply the art of medicine in the appropriate situation.

When we invoke the art of medicine with either patients or colleagues I think it can mean one of the following:

  • we’re about to do something that the doc who sent them in; the guidelines; the evidence; the protocols, would tell us not to do
  • the evidence tells us to do two different and mutually exclusive things
  • there is no evidence to what we’re about to do
  • we don’t know what’s wrong with the patient and we’ve just made up a diagnosis
  • we’ve got bored and done this

Calling it art is perhaps appropriating more value from the word “art” than is justified. But calling it bullshit wouldn’t go down to well either.

Perhaps for emergency docs it’s more like what Jerry Hoffman means in this talk that the art in medicine (my term not his) is our ability to make decisions in the absence of information.

The willingness to make and act on decisions made in the absence of adequate information requires a certain mixture of 2 things. One perhaps more valuable than the other

  • character; in the big muscular, practised Aristotelian sense
  • balls like a bull on steroids; though I find it odd that making a call as an act of bravado can be considered a positive trait
I confess that in any given moment I’m not entirely sure which of the two facets is at work in any resus room decision I make.

Under Control

I suppose it would seem natural for the individual to sense how much their life has changed; how much of a different person they’d become. Though not always. Perhaps the change could be obvious to the others in their life and a mystery to the individual

I certainly feel that I am profoundly changed from the person I was in the post new-zealand/dying father/pre-transfarmer days.

I feel the change but struggle to quite put my finger on it. Navel-gazing introversion and poorly done existential reflection seemed par for the course for me.

Yet no longer it seems. (he says in the quiet of the back garden with the sky darkening, over a coffee, listening to evening birdsong).

When I stop and reflect these days there seems only a state of perpetual bewilderment. The self-contented smugness seems no more.

When I was single I was, on many occasions, fairly content. To the extent that I suspect I did beleive I was the captain of my soul

These days I often feel a slight awe and wonderment at how the hell I got here and what has happened to me by my understanding of myself has been somewhat altered.

My proposal is that my life – at least the married part of my life is a little bit out of control. The presence of the other and my relationship and commitment to them is beyond me.

It seems only appropriate to be bewildered by such a thing, especially for one who is a hyper-control person by nature.

 

Money won’t change you

Transfarmer tends to ask good questions. And when i shut up long enough to consider them then good stuff happens

We were talking the other night about money and class and how we should live as followers of Jesus

Transfarmer asked if we should seek poverty to the extent that we come to depend on the charity of others?

I know some people – particular missionary folk who have made conscious choices of that kind – but most of us simply give out of our plenty instead of so arranging our lives so that we have less money.

Then I was reading in this little book – Finding Peace by Jean Vanier. (where the incredible story Des hommes et des dieux is also referred to)

He told the story of a group of nuns who have spent their lives living in a tent herding goats, because this is how the Tuareg people of Niger lived. The nuns felt called to be with the Tuareg people and once that was decided then living their way of life was a no-brainer of a question.

That God has a “heart” for the poor is pretty clear and if we follow Jesus we will inevitably be led towards the poor.

If we are called to be with certain parts of our community then perhaps that should shape how we live and what we do with our money.

 

After Virtue – 1

If i’m ever at a loose end in trinity of an evening I tend to wander into the library and slowly work my through Alisdair Mcintyre’s After Virtue. It’s been about 4 months now and i’m only on chapter 4 so it may take a while.

Last night while waiting for a lecture by this guy I came across a fascinating bit in chapter 4 about the origin of the word moral.

According to Mcintyre there was no word in Latin appropriately translated as moral till we translated one backwards into latin.

There is a latin word moralis that is linked (but not the same) as our word moral. But even moralis is another invented word (from Cicero) to translate the Greek word ethikos.

Here’s where the distinction from our word moral comes in: Ethikos is taken to mean “pertaining to character” and was understood as

a set of dispositons to behave systematically in one way rather than another. To lead one particular kind of life

The very idea that we could abstract “the moral of the story” from the character of the person is such a new idea that we had to invent a new word for it.

 

Bird stealing bread

About 10 days ago now someone pinched a couple of bags of coal from our back yard. In the middle of the night when we were sleeping.

This made me notice a few things:

1) i felt a sense of fear and violation and mistrust. Why would someone steal my coal? I started to suspect my neighbours just because they could see into my garden.

2) a move towards increasing security around the house. I got a lock and put it on the back gate, I’m a bit more cognisant about whether doors are locked. This is faulty on two levels. One – it’s closing the door after the horse has bolted and two – the way we do security makes us feel more secure but I doubt it really stops much.

3) it made me consider the idea that a peaceful society depends not on law or security but on a willingness to live peacefully (or a reluctance to steal) from one another.

 

God as a retard

[Apologies for the non-book or song related title for the blog but it was too good not to use.]

Following on from the last post:

Now for some leaps of logic and thought (at least on my part)

If those with the learning difficulties bear the image of god what does that mean for me to know God as someone with trisomy 21? (incidentally – great photo when you follow the link)

God’s face is the face of the retarded

Suffering Presence P178

I confess God’s face is far more like mine. Mine after some ace photoshopping at least.

 

 

Not a job

I do a teaching job. It’s not high powered. It’s not gonna advance my career. It’s not the most challenging thing I’ve ever done.

But I really quite like it.

Yet whenever I talk to my peers (mainly the medical ones) I seem to have some kind of out of body experience watching myself try to “talk-up” the job with vague pretensions toward research and academic qualifications. Either that or talk about how the job is good because it allows me to pursue all these other wonderul esoteric avenues of interest.

Now that may all be true but I know I’m only saying it at that moment because I feel some kind of need to justify it. Some need for me to build up an identity somewhat “sexier” (as sexy as dead bodies gets…) than that which it is.

As someone who has made multiple statements about being “anti-careerist” I realise I’m not quite all that.

Please make cheques with your approval of what I do payable to Andrew Neill…

The Politics of Jesus – 4

Yoder ends with talking about how modern social ethic is obsessed with meaning and direction of history and making sure it heads in the “right” direction.

He suggests this in itself makes 3 big assumptions

  1. the relationship of cause and effect is measurable and visible. If we make the right choices it will move the way we want it
  2. assumes we are adequately informed to set the direction
  3. movement toward these goals is itself a moral yardstick.

He highlights church history as a good example of how every time we work this way it seems to go badly wrong.

He concludes with this simple phrase

Vicit agnus noster, rim sequamur

(Our lamb has conquered; him let us follow.)

This highlights something pretty substantial about how I think about the church. Something my wife has hammered home in me (via Stanley) that the church is primarily called to be faithful.

Perhaps that much seems obvious to you. But it seems in stark contrast to how we actually seem to live it out. We live as if our job is to change the world. When perhaps that is not our “job” but the “job” of the one we follow.

If we are faithful no doubt the world will be changed but that is somewhat different.

Learn to live with what you are – 1

In Church we have this little meeting sometimes on a Sunday night called Forum. We sit in the office and drink dodgy coffee and try to work out some theological topic relevant to the contemporary world.

A few weeks ago, I led a discussion about end of life and theological implications following on from our involvment with modern medicine. This blog summarises a lot of my take on it.

Last night myself and Mrs Steffi Knorn were leading one on the interaction of ethics, theology and modern medicine in issues pertaining to the beginning of life.

What follows is not exactly the minutes of the meeting, more like how the discussion flowed from my point of view and my reactions to it. Be aware that it contains some very distinct Christian assumptions about image bearing, and protection of the powerless and voiceless in society.

Bottom line we seem pretty bewildered and confused on the whole thing. On a spectrum from where we believe life begins to what we do with extremely tiny premature babies we struggled to articulate an ethic or theology that was somewhat separate from what modern medical ethics tells us to do.

We retreat to defining what is good based on a balance of harms and benefits with a presumption that survival is the positive outcome to be chased and disability (in the case of extreme pre-term births) is a negative thing that sways us against active treatment.

When it comes to defining when life begins most of our discussions resolved around various different scientifically defined points. When I think of where life begins it takes me a while to realise that this is a poor question when it is abstracted from a theology of relationship, image bearing, sex and community.

I struggle to know what it means to care for an extremely low birth weight 24 week gestation infant. I struggle to know if active and invasive intervention is the best way to love them and honour their image-bearingness.

200 years ago an extremely low-birth weight infant was fairly easy to care for. You kept them warm and the you buried them.

We now find oursleves in a bit of a different situation.

The question I find myself asking is that if we can do something why should we do something?

Followed to its logical conclusion this is kind of a scary question, cause it throws virtually all medical interventions in the air.

Hargaden’s point (which he was making up as he went so see it as that, rather than a finely tuned postion) was this (forgive me if I make a hames of it) – if we accept that all life is holy (which is the orthodox Catholic positon as I understand it) then life is inherently good and worth preserving. Therefore we should fight to preserve life. This has particular relevance for the powerless and voiceless (infants and those with severe disabilities) because if we acknowledge their lives as holy then we have a duty to protect their lives as no one else will. There is a risk that the powerless are silenced by the powerful and wiped from the earth. It is our repsonsibility to fight on behlaf of the powerless.

Follow this out and it seems that if life is holy then the right thing to do is to fight to preserve it, aggressively if necessary.

The situation for those with a voice is somewhat different as they are able to acknowledge and choose that their lives are not of ultimate value and therefore they can choose to forgo life-saving treatment.

It is at this point that I struggle.

I find it hard that an ethic that is designed to protect the powerless results in us causing pain and suffering.

It breaks the golden rule (do onto others as…) or Kant’s categorical imperative. If i was a 25 week premie with massive IVH (bleed into the brain) and bilateral pneumos (punctured lungs on both sides) and florid sepsis (an overwhelming infection) and had already failed multiple treatments I would not want further life-preserving treatment. This would be my choice.

So this ethic seems to need refinement. We cannot fight to preserve life out of fear (a reasonable fear) that we will silence the powerless, because in preserving life we will end up doing violence to them.

Indeed perhaps the whole problem with this, why we find it so hard is because we don’t really know what life is for.

We reach for medicine as the framework to answer these questions by because we have no better answers.

Medicine will at least give us some kind of an answer (though we still find it hard to swallow) that life is most flourishing when we are conscious, without pain, autonomous, and have many years before us.

This question will remain unanswerable in the church till we become a people with an alternative definition that values and understands all the image bearers that this world is peopled with.

Comments, criticims and rants welcome.

And yet more…

Following on from transfarmer’s post I found this today reading. While not exactly on the topic it did remind me of her “Bob the builders”.

Christians rightly desire to do great things in service to God and in service to the world. But too often, Christians think that such service must insure the desired outcome. We simply do not believe that we can risk fishing for a fish with a coin in its mouth

Christian discipleship entails our trusting that God has given and will continue to give all that we need to be faithful.

Commentary on Matthew

Stanley Hauerwas

[Fish with the coin in its mouth found here]

Snow Day

We’re not really up to coping with the snow and the ice are we?

TCD (where I work) is closed tomorrow because of the snow. The North Americans I teach are all a bit bemused that the whole country shuts down at the hint of chilly weather. If you were from Canada or Minnesota you’d probably understand.

But for me it means a “snow day”. And it couldn’t come at a better time.

Tired, full of mucous and looking not sure which way is up.

While I’ve not been exactly busy in work, we seem to have managed to cram every other moment of our lives with something or other.

We have had people staying with us in our humble abode for the past 6 weekends in a row. While a lot of fun, this was perhaps not the best idea in the world.

Not for a raging introvert like me.

Now I know I can hold a conversation with the best of them, and I know that I have even been known to enjoy other people’s company but gees it is kind of hard work.

I suppose this is what I’m realising. That my life has changed. That I have changed.

Anyone, even me, could see this coming. I changed jobs, changed countries, got married, and made a whole bunch of new friends a big part of my life.

Yet I’m still coming to terms with it. Also hardly a surprise.

I’m noticing patterns at least. That I’m better when I’ve had the time on my own to figure this out. Even when my lovely wife knows it days before I do.

Here’s to the snow

 

Quiet Revolutionaries

Reading Hauerwas’ commentary on matthew I found this on Jesus’ criticsm of the Pharisees

…yet it is crucial that Jesus criticisms of the Pharisees and scribes not overlook the challenge of the politics of the observance of the law. The righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, their rightful desire to remain holy, was their attmept to be God’s faithful people even when they were in exile or occupied by a foreign power.

Yet too often Israel sought to be faithful in a manner that would not challenge the powers, particularly that of Rome. The Pharisees tried to observe the law without that observance being recognised as subversive to those who ruled them

I am used to understanding Jesus’ criticism of the Pharisees as their legalism and self- righteousness but Hauerwas says yes this is all true but also Jesus condemned them for not being who God called them to be – a radically different people, part of a different kingdom.

Being true followers would have put them radically at odds with empire.

A people who refuse power and violence and the social, economic and political norms are dangerous to the pervasive power structures around them

It seems Jesus condemned them for this and I find myself in the uncomfortable position of recognising myself among them.

 

Don’t waste time doing things you hate

I am a fairly motivated enthusiastic person. If you ask me what I’m doing at any time then likely I’ll be enjoying it. This can be as diverse as drinking whisky, doing the dishes or engaging in memorizing the course of the facial nerve and its branches.
Following in my fathers footsteps I have come to enjoy a good to do list. Both formal and infomal. The formal ones sit as litttle digital notes synced throughout cyberspace reminding me to buy onions or something.
The informal ones are the idle thoughts lying around in my mind thinking through books to read or recipes to try out or something to study or running an ectricity supply to the shed.
Given an ocean of time I’d still feel like there wasn’t enough.
The informal lists exist as a never ending supply of ideas and tasks all in the effort to stave off boredom.
Boredom scares me. But only because I have got so used to doing and engaging in things that I enjoy.
The usual questions arise like where I find significance and identity. Never mind the impact of all these lists on the people that surround me.

Note to self: Don’t die

[If you’ve sat and talked to me lately you’ll realise that this has been floating round my head for a while. Time to fumble with the words for it.]
I spend a lot of time thinking about medicine. Sometimes I think I’d prefer to spend my time thinking about medicine than practising it.
My thinking about medicine has changed fairly significantly since I started on this 11 years ago.
I entered medical school as a naive enthusiastic teenager doing medicine because I didn’t have any better ideas.
I spent 5 years pissing about, playing footy, music and mario-kart and enjoyed it thoroughly and learnt nothing.
I started work as an only slightly less naive 23 year old and made lots of mistakes and had my eyes opened to the ravages of disease that run rampant through these fragile, scared human beings.
I learnt the techniques and the lingo and threw all that tehnology had to throw at people often because it was easier to do something than stop and talk and think.
And then I moved to NZ and had an ocean of space and time to learn, think and work with some cool people and it started to have a big impact on what I thought about it.
I saw people declared brain dead and their organs removed and lives saved because of it. I watched many people pass from life to death. I had patients I really, really liked die on me just a few months after we’d busted a gut (sometimes literally) to get them better.
I spoke to endless relatives, I perfected my sympathetic active listening. I told lots of people their loved ones were dead.
I came home and dad got sick and I experinced most of the above from a relatives point of view. He always said “why not me?”
Dad died.
I went back to work a slightly different doctor. I wept a lot easier. I got incredibly angry at some of the regular stresses, discomforts and humiliation that we put patients through on a regular basis.
I got good at my job. I’m pehaps not the person to ask but I think I got pretty good at it.
And all through this I thought and read. Vonnegut,  Hauerwas, Marilynne Robinson, Wendell Berry . I listened to lots of podcasts on evidence based medicine and came away thinking that even the “evidence” doesn’t support most of the silly things we do. At least not in a way that the people we do the things to would care about if we told them the truth.
I got married. I quit work and the space between changed me again.
Let me try to summarise where I stand and I’ll see if I can unpack it later over a few posts:
  • In modern (for the sake of this I mean the past 50/60 years, though it is more apparent recently) society we believe in a certain sense of entitlement – an entitlement to our four score years and ten. Pensions, retirement, leisure time have all contributed to it, but I beleive modern medicine is the most powerful driving force behind this idea that all human beings have a right to 80 years of health and die peacefully in their sleep
  • as a result  we are unsure of what to make of it and feel no way of understanding our own deaths or those of others in the context of the narratives we identify with in many other aspects of our lives. To try and simplify – we let medicine tell us who we are, how we should live and how we should die.
  • we attribute to modern medicine power and glory because we believe it deserves it. Doctors are happy to show us how wonderful they are and we are keen to believe their story.
  • those with faith convictions often appear as scared and confused by early death as non-believers. People who believe in the sovereignty and goodness of God often seem to find their hope in medicine than God. Or put it this way – God will do fine if medicine doesn’t work.
  • In allowing modern medicine such significance and power in our lives and society (sometimes with better reasons than others) we do violence to our own and others humanity
  • as cynical and critical as I am of big pharma I also believe that doctors (often the most powerul lobby amongst health professionals) are key to this.
  • having said that I believe that the medical-industrial-complex is only so because we want it that way. We want to believe the narrative we’re being sold.
I’m not about to quit the profession or anything – I love the job, in fact I feel more than ever the weight and importance of the job and our relation to how we define health and health care.
It does affect me personally though. Whether I like it or not, part of my identity is linked to this. This affects who I am.
These are just some things that have been going through my head. If anyone has any thoughts of how I could develop this a bit further – in the context of books or even how I could study this in an academic setting then I’d love to hear from you.

Commuter love – #10

At rush hour, the golden hour of public tranpsort, between five and six when people are rushing around desperately trying to be home to make dinner and pick up the kids and whatever else they have to do.

At rush hour stations are busy bustling places. The platfroms throung with punters. Those in suits with briefcases.

But not in the evening. Not come 9pm with the various disparate individuals seeking transportation home. Those running late at the office making apologetic phone calls home. Young guys wtih guitars. Groups of girls with shopping bags. People like me after food and drinks with the guys from work.

Tara St. is like a little floating island of a train station, struggling under the weight of the load it’s asked to carry. The platforms shake as the commuter trains trundle past with their diesel engines roaring.

Today I feel cold. The first day I feel properly cold. As if autumn was only playing with change in the seasons till now. I’m looking forwad to my seat. To settling down in the corner of an empty carriage with my copy of Hauerwas. I like the isolation. I like the loneliness.

Sometimes.

Sometimes I worry that I drift off up my own arse in introspection and isolation. I liked Into the Wild because it appealed to me not because i thought it was right. But look at me getting all self-referential. You didn’t come here for the first person did you?

God, medicine and suffering

Myself and a friend are hosting a Forum in our church in a few weeks looking at the topic “playing God in the end of life”. We’ll be talking largely about ethical issues regarding end of life in regards to modern medicine.

Thinking about this scares me. When I think of its importance to those dying and bereaved, I see it contrasted with so much of what we do as doctors. I am increasingly coming to the opinion that we are losing our way in our aims and goals in medicine. The responsibility for this lies with both society and the medical establishment.

As usual it appears that someone else has thought these thoughts much better before I did.

In God, medicine and suffering, Hauerwas talks a lot about how we talk and act around suffering and what we have come to believe – both as a society and a church.

It’s a dangerous book to read as a medic, it just might change how you look at what you do. Books are like that. Christianity is like that.

I’ll leave you a few quotes to mull over as I continue to do so. No doubt you’ll hear more on this.

Sickness is a problem because it challenges our most precious and profound belief that humanity as in fact become a god.

and

I think childhood suffering bothers us so deeply because we assume that children lack a life story which potentially gives their illness some meaning.

and

Our medical technologies have outrun the spiritual resources of our society, which lacks all sense of how life might properly end.

Thinking about this is no abstract theological exercise. Hauerwas contends that that is the whole problem with how people talk about the problem of evil – they fabricate an abstract god and abstract suffering to puzzle the brain.

The God we worship and the Bible we read talks about it and struggles with it. We have actual people, actual suffering, actual incarnation. It forms a very different question.

Kevin spoke really lucidly on this a few weeks ago while I was in the midst of reading the book.

Anyhow. My contention is that we are more interested in curing rather than caring. Even if curing will often one of the best ways to care we far too often start at the wrong place.

I don’t need no doctor

Doctors like illness. They like diagnosing and managing it even if they don’t fix it. It’s a puzzle to be be played with and solved.

I suspect the fact that the illness is attached to a patient is being increasingly forgotten or pushed aside in the pursuit of the illness.

We would learn more how best to serve our patients by reading more novels than textbooks.

We have lost our way in caring and our “success” in medicine has led us to pursue curing instead.

There are terribly dull courses in medical schools taught by sociologists who try to address the ideas of humanity with terms such as “the biopsychosocial model of health”. This seems to be the art of making the incredibly obvious increasingly complicated and interminably dull.

Having said this I believe we are raising a generation of doctors with great knowledge and decision making but with barely a trace of humanity, and I believe this is happening because we train children to be doctors.

Or maybe they are more fairly called adolescents more interested in drinking, parties and fucking than they are in understanding what they are entering into.

The patients that they deal with come from a world that they have no comprehension of – one filled with fear, pain suffering and loss. This is a world that they will come to understand in their own lives but by careers and personalities they will defend themselves from it till it can no longer be avoided. Many patients will pass through their hands before then.

I know this because I was that child training to be a doctor. I still am in many ways.

Two of my best friends trained as doctors in their mid/late twenties with a degree and some life and some pain and comprehension of beauty behind them. I am immensely proud of them for the way they have approached it and the humanity and understanding that they so clearly bring.

I’m not sure what the answer is to this (though a fundamental re-understanding both by society and the medical profession about what medicine is and should be would help…)  but I wonder if graduate entry would make an impact.

Something good can work

I got 50 pages into The Beauty of the Infinite and gave up till my PhD arrives. So the following comes with a definite limit on  what has been previously said and accepted on the subject of beauty

My current stance is this:

Often I find that things are beautiful because they are functional.

Beauty is a big complex word. I claim no authority on what smarter people than me have to say on the matter.

I see beauty in lots of places (link is my favourite beach where I lived in New Zealand) were functionality has no role. But then sometimes I look at my Volvo with the seats down and I get a little teary at the beauty of it.

Now the simple answer to this is – it’s a bloody car, stop your crying you big fairy!

The slightly more complex answer is that I confuse beauty and functionality. So why do I like things that work?

[I also may be confusing good with beauty so feel free to substitute the appropriate words…]

My basic argument for functionality as beauty is the idea that God’s purpose in creation was to bring order out of chaos. I (think I) learned that from NT Wright and some people here.

Things that are functional bring order of the chaos of my life. And if creation is beautiful and creation is bringing order out of chaos then my Volvo is beautiful. Though by such reasoning if beauty is truth and beauty is in the eye of the beholder then truth is in the eye of the beholder too. Hmmm.

You can hold off on giving me the PhD in theology for now.

Talking about this with Zoomtard he pointed out the obvious problem with my argument:

Yes my Volvo may bring order out of the chaos of all the stuff that I own and need to move around but it doesn’t deal with the problem of stuff in the first place. Stuff takes over our lives and produces chaos and mere functionality does not solve the problem which comes from further back down the line.

At the time we were (or rather I was) talking about simplenote and how I loved it as a free open source way of keeping all my little important bits of text organised and how the cloud is such a wonderful concept.

In that context bringing order to my digital world is perhaps good in itself but let’s face it – my digital world is entirely superfluous to my existence as a glorious and fallen eikon of God.

So perhaps my Volvo provides a slightly better argument that f you’re going to try and bring order out of a chaos that doesn’t need to exist then you may as well use a 15 year old Swedish car that works.

Wishful thinking

I used to be really good at introspection. I could spend a long time with my head up my arse thinking my life through. This had its disadvantages but you definitely learn a lot about yourself.

I was reading some of this today for the first time in months.

I cried. I suppose that’s understandable.

[Incidentally you’re right Ann – i did used to write much better]

Reading it seems like reading someone elses words. It’s like “aw remember when I used to be that person…”

Not in the sense that I reject that person or feel I have “moved on”, just that it feels different.

Back then I wrote this:

I’m not sure I’m entirely well. All this thinking has done me no favours, the perpetual worry has changed nothing. I always find myself thinking is it worse or better to know what I know. Tonight it’s worse.

Is this what an “anxiety disorder” feels like? Is this what “not coping” feels like? I am too used to being invincible, I am too used to taking responsibility and bearing burdens and looking out for people. I know how to do that. I think.

My fear, or maybe resigned acceptance, is that maybe this is just life, maybe this is just what loving someone means. That this is just the way it works when you love someone.

and even this:

I don’t plan too far ahead. I say no to every request for appointment, commitment or meeting. Thinking I’m too fed up of letting people down at the last minute. I’ve applied for a job I’m not sure I want any longer and living in a house I’m not sure I’m gonna want to keep and going on trips I’m pretty sure I don’t even want to go on.

I’ve committed myself to a life of bitterness and sadness and holding onto all my grief and resentment as I neglect every opportunity and gift that GOD leads me too.

I’m OK alone. It’s just everyone else I worry about.

And as I read it I remember what it was like to feel doubt and to feel out of control of something.

I haven’t felt that for a long time. I have become certain of my beliefs, and even certain of my doubts.

I have filled my life with opinion and reading and work and easy answers to difficult questions so that I at least have a sense, or project a sense of control.

Everything I set myself to do I approach with the opinion that I am well able to do it. I do not doubt what I have been gifted with and I have a clear insight into how other people respond to me (or how I can influence them to respond) but this is mere illusion.

We structure our lives to give us the impression that we are in control to deceive ourselves from the terrifying reality that our lives are fragile and our relationships and the things that bring joy are even more fragile.

I trust that my heart will keep on beating at 50 times a minute for the next so many years. I trust that my wife will keep on loving me. I trust that my friends will still want to be with me.

I am in control of none of these things. And they terrify me.

Sometimes life is just desperately hard and oh so painful. There is beauty, so much beauty and joy and truth and warmth but oh can it be difficult sometimes.

Loving people is difficult. They either hurt you (or you them) or sometime they’ll just not be there.

Being alive is just the most precious gift that we have and how casually we treat it and how easy we take it for granted.

I am not who I once was, even though I am and always will be who I am in my very being. We change but in the same way a child becomes an adult as opposed to the way a frog turns into a prince.

I never thought I would say this but I have neglected my “introspection” in the sense that I have not spent enough time in quiet gardens on sunday mornings enjoying the beauty of existence.


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July 2022
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