By Nature

Note: I tried several times to post this on my facebook timeline (where it belongs) but they wouldn’t let me do so — for some reason.   So here goes.

BY NATURE (an excerpt from my personal diary)

It seems I often awaken in a depressed state these days.  But the depressed state usually is based on extreme black-and-white perceptions about what others think of me.  These perceptions soften within the first ten minutes of the day, as I gradually realize that everything can or should be viewed in black-and-white terms.  While it is true that I often feel extremely misunderstood, it is not the case that everybody misunderstands me.  I can think of four people who understand me right off the top: Norman, Kathy, Danielle, and Jack.  And I’m sure there are others — or at least there can be, if I branch out and start meeting the right people.  

Yesterday morning was a case in point.  black and whiteI awoke depressed as usual, but was able to transform the depression into a sense of quietude. In that quietude, I prayed for all the people who had been troubling me. Then I sipped my coffee, and it was the best coffee I had ever tasted. I felt blessed, for having done the right thing. I even felt I could go back to bed, and I had the time to do so, to catch more sleep before Writer’s Guild.

Instead, I logged on to Facebook. It wasn’t long before the sense of over-stimulation, combined with loss of control, me becoming rattled, my nerves being strip-mined, my balance off-set by all the notifications, buzzes, comments, etc. was too much for me. Trying to order my responses seeming next-to-impossible, while imposing chat windows pop up in the way of my efforts to moderate the new Lincoln Summer Theatre group, and all kinds of other stressors, gradually put me into battle mode, feeling as though I was a soldier in battle needing to fire at the nearest, most dangerous approaching tank.

My sense of peace shot up to high anxiety within an hour or so, as my sense of inability to control the Power Greater Than Myself that is Facebook expanded beyond all reasonable proportion. I enjoy being connected with wonderful people from the “past” (?) in the “present” (?), but isn’t this all a but unnatural? If there were a meeting in quote-un-quote “real life,” where there were twenty people in the group, and I didn’t like one of them, I would either stay in the group, or drop out of the group. I wouldn’t have the unnatural social power to simply “block” the person I didn’t like, not see him or hear any of his statements, and yet still interact with the other nineteen. This is unnatural.

It is unnatural, and is what is unnatural healthy for us? I begin to doubt it.

What is natural is that life runs its course from birth to death; we move from job to job, town to town, and in some cases, from marriage to marriage. I’m a Sicilian who has a hard time letting go of people, places and things. By nature, I am never done with anyone. By genetic nature, I either stay friends with them, or if they dump me, I am still not done with them, because I will track them down to the ends of the earth. By nature, I reward loyalty and punish betrayal. That’s my nature, and I struggle to overcome the extremism thereof by exercising restraint and observing traditional standards of morality and etiquette. For another person, this may not be so much of a struggle, because it is not their nature, and their nature may provide them with other struggles – as well as other strengths – naturally.

So is it healthy that I, who already is struggling against my nature telling me not to move on, not to let go of people, places, and things that haven’t worked out for me, to be enveloped in an atmosphere that continues to flash the very people in my face that I am already struggling to let go of? Twice now — and I am not faulting anyone for doing this out of utter innocence and good nature — I have had to see the face of a person whom I thought was a very good friend of mine, flashed in my face (so to speak) on Facebook Messenger, knowing that this person had told me never to talk to him again and that any further contact from me would be considered harassment.

This is not natural. It doesn’t happen in what we used to call “real life.” I would have never reconnected with that individual (on Facebook) to begin with. He would have been somebody I’d have stopped seeing whenever we first parted ways — by nature — back in the seventies or so.

I have enough trouble “moving on” and “letting go” as it is. Does anybody feel me?

Here’s what happened to me personally after I had been rattled yesterday morning by making the dumb decision to log on to Facebook at a moment of idle down time. I became progressively more uptight, and finally drained. I had only slept three hours anyway, and I figured I had about an hour to kill before Writer’s Guild, so I went down for more rest. But did I rest? No way.

Me personally, I was almost instantly assaulted by what seemed like a demon spirit from hell, grabbing ahold of my neck and my back, thrusting his/her arm around my waist, and taunting me with the words: “Okay, Mr. Wonderful – how does *that* grab you?”

Now I’m glad I no longer live in the State of California or a densely populated urban area, where even making that admission might cause somebody to dial 9-1-1 and I find all my artistic progress further delayed by yet another pointless stay in a psychiatric facility. Just for speaking my truth.

The point is, had I not logged onto Facebook, had I followed my gut and gone back to bed while in a rested state, I would not have become so uptight that I would have risked entering into an hour’s worth of hell in sleep paralysis, fully conscious of my surroundings, knowing that I was dreaming and having a specific sort of nightmare, and unable to move my body for an entire hour, except for rare intervals when I came to, through the use of a couple techniques I learned through research, and then descending into sleep paralysis again. It is not fun.

Nor is it caused by Facebook. But if that’s the kind of height of anxiety that Facebook can trigger (not *cause*) in me, (not *you*), then what the heck am I doing here? This is the 5th Facebook I’ve had in ten years. Every other one of them imploded. Who am I trying to fool? Will I be any better able to handle this Facebook than any of the others?

rotary telephoneOf course not.

So here’s what I am going to do. I am going to go down and get a rotary telephone, like we had back in the Good Old Days, when the phone would ring, and we all would simply answer it. We weren’t afraid of each other in those days. We didn’t have the unnatural power to block out any and every person we didn’t happen to want to deal with from our lives. We didn’t burn bridges left and right. We built them — in ways that are natural. I’m going to plug it in my wall, and I am going to make sure there is no Call Waiting in any form attached, no touch tone, nothing.

Even when two of my Facebook friends were cool enough to actually indulge my natural neurosis and agree to talk with me on the phone, the very next day I had to contend with the phenomenon of Call Waiting, whereby I couldn’t even get through a conversation with before the little “bloop bloop” that tells me somebody else is calling kept continually interrupting my focus, as though this new person calling in was the “most immediate and threatening danger on the battlefield.”

I’m not saying that you guys necessarily encounter these same difficulties. But there’s a reason why I do, and just has to do with the way I’m wired. Call it ADHD or what-have-you. Every single time a Facbeook Messenger box pops up while I’m trying to do something else, my attention is *immediately* diverted to the Messenger, I ex it off, and then I return to whatever I was doing before, asking myself, “Now, where was I?” Sometimes I even forget completely what I was doing before. Sometimes I even forget that what I was doing was the only reason I had logged on to Facebook in the first place, like, for example, to find somebody’s phone number that they had given me in a Facebook comment, or to ask the previous tenant of my new apartment how to turn on the heater.

THIS IS NOT NATURAL. And correct me if I’m wrong. Am I the only person who is tired of having to tolerate all these unnatural social media weirdnesses? Probably not. And that’s part of the reason why this time I will not destroy my Facebook, I will not give up yet again, only to find that I miss everybody, wonder how they’re all doing, and start a Facebook again. I will take my lumps, I will take my chances, and I will bow before the monarch that is Facebook, while at the same time doing my best to give homage to my own King, whose name, by the way, is Jesus.

So – not upset, not defeated, not exasperated, not infuriated. Just a little miffed, and figured it was about time I spoke my piece, as cogently and clearly as I can.

But do me a favor. Let’s not make this entirely about my “mental health,” OK? I decided my mental health was either shot to smithereens and irredeemable, or else completely irrelevant when I first made the decision on August 8, 2006 to drop out completely from the Mainstream of Modern American Life and try to become the best Writer I could be. After all, every effort to become the best Musician or Teacher I could be was pretty much consumed in a confluence of losing one job after another due to things like absent-mindedness, tardiness, or general inability to keep up with the insanely fast pace of workaday urban life.  I’ve got a fast enough pace going on inside me as it is, without anybody else having to add to that velocity.

I’m a Writer. I wrote an entire musical about social dropouts, why we drop out, and what we can all do about it. To hell with my mental health! Click on the link below, and LET’S GET THIS SHOW ON THE ROAD.

Daylight’s burning. I’m not going to be around forever.

Please consider making an any amount donation to Eden in Babylon at this time.  The stuff that gets people interested in original musicals by unknown playwrights unfortunately does not grow on trees.   

can-do

Anything Helps
God Bless

Please note.  As of October 30, 2017, all donations to this cause will be sent to my assistant, Danielle Stephens.  Further information as to this arrangement may be found here.   Donations in any amount may be made safely here.   

8 thoughts on “By Nature

  1. Good going, Andy…I’ve been wondering how I can keep giving to the social media too – namely twitter and facebook. I do keep my personal facebook profile page private, that helps, so i don’t search for people from the past, and they can’t find me. I’ve joined writers groups, and an INFJ group (for grounding!) and dip into the writers groups less and less, because the same things keep cropping up over and over again, that I don’t need to read again or think about all over again.

    It serves some sort of purpose, but I use my PC for it all, there are no pinging notifications going on when I’m doing something else. It’s about a housekeeping of a kind! Speaking of which the vacuum cleaner is awaiting me right now.

    Funnily enough, I wake up feeling depressed for the first few moments as well – don’t know what that is about, except it’s been that way since I had my midlife crisis emotional roller coaster.

    Cheers for now!

    Like

  2. So you had one of those too eh? My midlife roller-coaster struck at 51, and I’m not sure it’s ended yet. Good luck with that, Lynne.

    I’ve only recently been tuned in to Twitter, and haven’t encountered the triggers there that seem inescapable for me on Facebook. This could be explained by the fact that I have a ten year history of trying to erect an impressive Tower of Facebook, and failing, as though that Babel of confusion toppled at the hands of the Almighty.

    Invariably, however, my thinking leads me right back to the scene of the crime. I reflect, as though questioning: “Just why did God have so much of a problem with all those guys trying to erect that Tower in the first place? Seems like a pretty cool project to me! Why did He have to confound them all like that, getting them all tongue-tied, and the whole works?”

    But now I think I’m beginning to get a glimpse of it, finally, after stewing over the inexplicable passages in Genesis 11 off and on for thirty-four years. There are some towers Humanity just isn’t intended to erect. They seem like good ideas, but in the end they lead to disaster. (Proverbs 14:12 comes to mind.)

    In my perhaps not-so-humble opinion, Facebook is one of those towers. I won’t be on the construction crew, but my participation might be more along the lines of some kind of field monitor, doing his best to make sure the workers don’t get out of hand.

    The lady co-leading my Writers Guild put it simply: “The key with Facebook is DON’T LOG ON.”

    Cheers, my friend, as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi there, Andy,

    Maybe have a go on twitter, its a bit less time consuming and people are okay with some self promotion there too, so might be good for awareness of your project. I am astonished at the reach of facebook, recently registered an instagram account to use with mobile and PC (for my art), and facebook has links to that. I keep them all separate.

    Yes, my midlife crisis was just before I turned 51, and yes, I’m not sure mine has ended yet either due to that waking feeling. I got a lot from this guy on the subject https://personaltao.com/midlife-crisis/ which was so helpful early on, then later to understand the process, James Hollis,The Middle Passage was fantastic. And then I was able to see it as self development for the better and I’m glad it happened.

    So long for now!

    Like

  4. Interesting. Mine also occurred at the age of 51 — or rather, my 51st birthday occurred in the midst of it. I think that in the big picture spiritually, the “point” of the crisis was for me to reconsider inherited values that were holding me back, and thereby have more of a stab at personal happiness than I’d earlier known, as well as receive a glimpse of my life’s calling — or “dharma,” if you will.

    I actually do have a Twitter. In fact, I follow you there, although I don’t believe we’ve discussed it. I find it much more useful than Facebook, and it doesn’t annoy me at all, the way Facebook does. Part of why I wrote “By Nature” was because I started a Facebook group last week and rejoined an old group I’d earlier ditched. The nature of the two groups might be of interest to you.

    As you know, Eden in Babylon is a musical that tries to portray, in a light-hearted way, the hugeness of the disparity between two extremes of socio-economic class in America. I and another man started a group based on the first theatre company of which I was Musical Director back in the 70’s. The theatre consisted largely of young people who would probably have been viewed as “rich kids” by those who are less privileged.

    The other group was a group that I started in Berkeley shortly before I left for North Idaho, called “Homeless Lives Matter.” I had left it in the hands of a friend of mine to admin, because when I first moved to Idaho, I did not want anyone to know I had been homeless – including people on WordPress.

    The combination of the two groups has been useful to me in exploring how to bridge the communication gap between the down-and-out and the social elite. However, the massive increase in maddening Facebook intrusiveness caused me to nearly double my own Facebook friends list within less than a week, not to mention having the added responsibility to co-admin a new group. So I was prompted to write this post.

    I felt amazing after I posted it, though I was disconcerted that three or four people interpreted it as a “cry for help” rather than a social statement. This is a peeve of mind, which I’m sure you’ve tuned into. As an INFJ, you may have a parallel experience. I discussed this in my post “Social Statement,” which was aptly retitled “Easy to Be Hard, Easy to Say No,” when recently published in Street Spirit.

    Whew – long comment. I need to get breakfast. By the way, I still want to read *On Turtle Beach* and I did find on your blog the way to get it. Lauren (Sapala) said it was great.

    Like

  5. Okay, Andy, that is a lot to think about. So I’ll give a stream of responses in no particular order.
    Yes, we are connected on twitter, facebook I think, and google plus. This social media has been a huge learning curve for me, and I only really know the basics, the more technical side of it leaves me stumped. So when I go to make changes in my blog settings after not having done any for some time, I have to get to grips with it all over again. I’m only reading your replies here on your blog cos I checked to see if you’d replied by coming here. Unless I get a like to a comment i’ve made, I don’t know there has been any interaction at all, and a like notfication can actually be a comment too, without me knowing, unless I check – a wee lacuna (new word, I’m enjoying)…

    The new facebook group sounds interesting…I wouldn’t mind a look. Yes, I get exactly what you mean about the responses people can make to a type of honest sharing which they can interpret as a cry for help. It is so REALLY annoying. I have found people’s reluctance to be honest a big frustration in my life. tell it as it is, is my philosophy. Sharing something can so often be assumed to be making a big deal about that ‘thing’ – just because you are verbalising it and maybe with some passion too.

    Yes, the midlife thing (big ugly painful thing splashing through me like a tidal wave) was about letting go of old values which just weren’t working and going back to something purer within while adopting more healthy values. I packed in my two sources of artist income both at once and dramatically immediately, once the wave hit (i’d done them for too long and the rot had set in long before I acknowledged it to myself), bit like you becoming homeless I suppose. I was doing a counselling skills course at the time, so it brought my inner issues to a head at the same time as learning how to listen to others! It’s about realisations that hit you and try to force you to change. Many people don’t change, because its hard work and they hav to let go of waht they find secure …I can’t go on about this because my comment will end up massive too. (Needless to say, it can be a lot of material for a memoir on the subject – ‘midlife crisis for creative people’ to give it a niche, but unsure whether to keep it to women (because of menopause effects probably contributing a bit to mine) or whether it can apply to men and women irregardless – opinion welcome!

    Lauren Sapala hasn’t read my book to my knowledge, she may be reading it, but I haven’t had any review or ranything. I have done one for her new book. If you are sure abbut her having read it, can you let me know how?

    Don’t feel you have to read it, by the way, it really is a women’s book. (Although it is about reappraising life and making changes, and there is some humour too)

    Cheers for now, Andy, and look at this, my comment is pretty long too!

    Like

  6. I’ll try to keep this response shorter, just in case they keep getting longer and longer!

    I had to go back and read the thread between me & Lauren to see what she actually said about you & your book. I’ll take the liberty of quoting her. She said: “And I LOVE Lynne Fisher. Just met her through blogging recently, and am now reading her novel ‘On Turtle Beach’ which is fantastic.”

    So she probably just hasn’t finished it yet, but she’s read enough of it to know that it’s “fantastic.”

    Here are the URL’s to the two groups if you want to check them out.

    HOMELESS LIVES MATTER: https://www.facebook.com/groups/972388809486687/

    LINCOLN SUMMER THEATRE https://www.facebook.com/groups/315133975561576/

    I’m no longer Admin of the LST group (whew!) and it’s a closed group. You can see some but not all of it. The HLM group is public. I just spoke with the Admin, Kathy Kitzman, and she said she would add you if you wish to join.

    I’m not sure why it is that some people leap into unsolicited advice at the slightest provocation. Maybe some of it is a perceived misuse of tacitly assumed Facebook mores that throws people off. As I said, I don’t seem to have much of a problem with Twitter or WordPress — only Facebook. I’m going to start tapping into it only sparingly, from now on, if I can.

    Your midlife crisis appears to parallel mine, to a large degree. I definitely would like to read more about this later. And Lynne, thank you AGAIN for being so supportive of my endeavors. We’re quite a bit like-minded, as I believe a lot of “INFJ Writers” are. Take care and God bless.

    Like

  7. Oh thanks for looking into Lauren’s comment Andy, much appreciated! Made my day in fact…

    I’ll join the homeless lives matter group, and leave the other one, spreading my interests too far if you know what I mean – there’s only so muich I can keep up with.

    I’m keeping this short too, but you’ve helped me decide to have the memoir for creatives, both men and women.

    Yes, it must be the INFJ thing for the like mindedness – very glad to have met you,as we might say over here, you’re an INFJ ‘pal’.

    Just one final question for you (for now of course) have you done a written story synopsis for the musical, what happens from beginning to end? It might be very useful to get it across in a nutshell so to speak, and be useful for marketing – hey, you could even share it with Lauren, maybe?

    Have a good day!

    Like

  8. I read that the INFJ is the most misunderstood of all the types. I have also noticed that most INFJ’s do understand me — probably because they see similar traits in themselves. About the synopsis, funny you should mention. I just last week adjusted the home page at https://edeninbabylon.com or https://edeninbabylon.com/story to comprise a synopsis, leading up to a call for social justice. You might want to check it out, and say something if you stop by. About Lauren, she signed up for my newsletter, and I’m going to issue one later on today, so if you feel like signing up for that too. My friend Danielle edits them for me (usually chops them in half!), and also handles all donation money. I’m in the process of adjusting all the donate buttons so the money goes into her account, not mine. Have a good evening, my friend. :)

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s