It's darker here.


DTG: 10:57 Saturday, 27 May 2023

The other day I posted something that came out untitled. It had a title, it was "Jane! Stop this crazy thing!" but it didn't export for some reason that I don't understand. Unimportant.

(The title was a reference to the treadmill George Jetson is on in the intro to The Jetsons.)

So, as it happens, I found the blog post I was thinking of when I wrote that post. I had starred it in NetNewsWire, it just eluded me somehow when I went looking for it.

It was Kottke, of course. I mean, of course. He finds the best stuff. So go check it out. I'll wait.

I'll quote the relevant quotation that he quoted. The quotation that did lead me, serendipitously, to Little Gidding:

Coming back from death showed me that the journey of life is not what we often believe. On the surface, it appears as a journey outward — toward things, people, organizations, achievements. But in truth, it is a journey inward — toward the soul. Toward becoming who you actually are, no matter how far outward you may have to travel in order to discover that all the answers are within you, where you belong.

And now I'll tell you about something I may have mentioned before, but I'm not certain just now. I should be able to search all this stuff, not just here, but in the marmot or maybe the old Groundhog Day file; but even that requires some study and effort and it's easier to just go on without referring to the past.

Back when I was "going through some things," I was meditating a lot. It was a good experience. Don't know why I stopped, but I do know I need to start again.

Anyway, after several months, not years, not ages, I had an experience. I suppose you could call it enlightenment, because it sure felt like that. Looked like it. I recall stepping outside my front door from my cheap little apartment and seeing the world kind of rotate. I felt something, and my visual field changed and everything appeared as if it was illuminated from within, and I recall it was almost as if it was a golden sort of light.

My physical sensation was quickly overwhelmed by this intense sense that I could see everything. More importantly, everything was exactly the way it was supposed to be. Accompanied by a profound feeling of peace.

The weird/cool thing about this is that it wasn't just a momentary experience. It lasted for a few hours at least. I could see/feel it fading, but I could recall the feeling.

Today, it's just a memory, the embodied feeling has faded to nothing. But it still carries this incredible sense of knowing that everything is exactly the way it's supposed to be, but it lacks the comfort of the feeling. Maybe meditation can recall it.

Maybe it can't.

Does it matter? I quit Twitter because it was too much for me. I was getting "lkes" and replies and re-tweets, and I was beginning to understand what the kinds of things were that I could tweet and get those responses. But those weren't always the kinds of tweets I felt good about. I felt good about the validation, the attention, but I didn't always feel good about what I was writing to get it.

I knew I had to get out.

I'm happy to say that I think I'm on the far side of that now. For days, I'd go back and look at profiles of locals I followed in the browser, since you can do that without logging in. I could see what was going on, but I couldn't "like" someone's tweet, reply to it, re-tweet it or quote-tweet it. Early on, I thought about just re-activating my account, but then I'd see some of the ugliness that I didn't enjoy.

Now I don't feel as though I have to check in and see what's going on.

It's only taken about 10 days, but it feels longer. I know I went through something similar with Facebook and Instagram, and I don't recall how long it took. Maybe about the same.

The point is, as my therapist used to say, "Just be still."

There is some risk of self-delusion, that feelings and experiences can be rationalized into meaning that has no genuine basis in reality. I think that's possible.

But I also think it's possible that it may just be the clearest sort of thinking or experience one might ever hope to have in this life.

Faith and fear. So much of Twitter is anger and hate, "on both sides." All that comes from fear. How do you tweet from faith? How does that collect "likes" and validation and attention?

I have hope. Ted Lasso gives me some. The better parts of the blogosphere, what remains of the authentic voices, gives me some. Donna Deegan's election, "Love over fear," gives me hope.

These will remain notes from the underground; and sometimes they'll be about fear. But hopefully not so much about anger.

And hopefully, never hating anyone.

After Action

DTG: 08:00 Saturday, 27 May 2023

The show I saw yesterday was part of a series called After Action, and the episode we watched was called All Gave Some.

Memorial Day

DTG: 03:58 Saturday, 27 May 2023

Another entry in the Insomnia Files.

My wife's brother-in-law, Abe, passed away very recently after a fairly long and unpleasant struggle with cancer. He was a therapist, as is my wife's sister. Mitzi used to joke that she enjoyed visiting them because it was often like a free therapy session. Having had the pleasure of visiting them a few times as well, I know that was true.

I was dreaming about Abe last night (tonight?), that he was in some afterlife, still helping people in this life get their shit sorted. Might have been me, I guess.

It's Memorial Day weekend, so the local PBS station was airing some program about veterans. I'd ask Mitzi what it was, but she's asleep. I happened to come in from being out back "playing with radios," and noticed what she was watching because it was hard to miss. There were four people seated in a room with two cameras, talking to each other. One of the veterans was very visibly disfigured, and missing a hand, another was missing an arm and his legs. I was immediately drawn in.

I'll figure out what the program was and post it later. Trying to get this all down now.

A number of things stand out. One was how at least three of the four talked about how, after they'd gotten home from war, all they thought about for a long time was how to get back into it. Another, related to the first I think, is how the body remembers trauma.

We're embodied beings, while we often focus on the stuff going on in our heads, it's also how we feel, physically, that shapes the experience of our lives. Trauma imposes a huge. embodied, filter on that experience. What feels "normal" after that? For some veterans, returning to combat feels normal.

But for each of those individuals, that wasn't an option for them.

One of the things they mentioned that I thought was important was how we name things matters. They mentioned that PTSD is recognized now, and that's a good thing, but why is it called a "disorder?" Why couldn't it be called "Post-traumatic stress injury." They kind of objected to being thought of as people who have a "disorder." I think one even said it was a very ordered response to the situation they were in.

I also was surprised when one of them said people with post-traumatic stress injuries shouldn't discount the nature of their experience by comparing it with others. Whatever that trauma was, it was "the worst thing that ever happened to you." That makes it more the same than the differences in the stories and the scars. I thought that was very smart and kind.

The show talked about how they coped and moved on. For each of them, it seemed that what worked for them was some form of service.

It was very moving, to watch this. Not just in some sort of sad or sympathetic or compassionate response; but in a difficult sort of resonance, which I suppose relates to my own experience in uniform.

I was walking through Publix yesterday, a local grocery store that makes pretty good subs. I'd ordered one for lunch and gone to pick it up. I was getting a few other things while I was there. For some reason, as I was walking in, I thought of Kelly Quick. I don't know why, all of a sudden he was just there in my thoughts.

I've written about ET3 Quick before, many times in Groundhog Day and I suppose in the marmot too. He was a young electronics technician that worked for me in STEPHEN W. GROVES when we were deployed to the Persian Gulf in 1987. He wasn't permanent ship's company, he was a cross-deck from STARK because we didn't have a tech with his skills to maintain crypto equipment, so he was "loaned" to us until the navy could get us one of our own.

We got ours, a guy whose name I no longer recall, and sent ET3 Quick back to STARK with our thanks and appreciation, not long before he died on May 17th, 1987 along with 36 of his shipmates.

Mitzi and I had dinner recently with Rick and Faith. Rick was my XO in STEPHEN W GROVES, I was the Combat Systems Officer. As I was walking through Publix, I made a mental note to ask Rick if he ever thought of Kelly Quick.

Normally, he comes to mind every year because my son was born the day after. Naturally, I recalled my son's birthday this year; but I don't think Kelly came to mind. I suspect it was because I was so invested in the Jacksonville mayor's race, which was on the 16th. The 17th was the day I left Twitter.

But Kelly entered my thoughts, uninvited but not unwelcome, yesterday.

So what the hell is this all about? I suppose it's about Something Useful. It's about making meaning.

We don't pay enough attention to making meaning in this life. It's not our fault, we're intentionally distracted by an economic system that consumes our attention to "create shareholder value," in places like Twitter and Facebook and Instagram, or whatever other shiny new gimmick they come up with to monetize our desire to have social interactions with one another.

I suppose if we want meaning, someone will sell it to us. And they do. Except it's just a cheap knock-off that ultimately winds up in a landfill of broken dreams.

"Do something useful."

Maybe that's what all this was about. Maybe Abe was moving in the world beyond, stopping by to offer a little counsel.

Sounds like good advice. I'll try to take it.