With it being a Friday, I am reminded of posts by friends of how much they love weekends and how much they hate their jobs. Maybe I got lucky by having a severe mental illness and being on disability. Perhaps I did, especially with how much I read about how people hate their jobs and their spouses. I also probably got lucky in that becoming disabled made me not marriage material. Yet, as it were, losing everything civilization told me to value made me fearless and optimistic. Once you lose everything, you are free to do anything it seems.
Haven’t had a great deal to report the last few days. We’ve had lots of snow and it’s been quite cold. Too cold and snowy to go anywhere unless necessary. So I’ve been staying home, catching up on my reading, and taking long naps in the afternoon. I’ve been sleeping a little more during the days, but mostly to pass the long drawn out cold days. I still go to bed around 10pm and am usually awake for good by 5 or 6am. My apartment is feeling quite like a regular home now rather than just the monk’s chamber I let it become the last couple years. It helps that I put a few pieces of art done by an old friend and have a regular cleaning person come in once a week and help me keep on top of things. Still have a few unresolved maintenance issues, but those will be knocked down before too long. Rome wasn’t built in one day and I won’t be pulling out of my depression and anxiety induced exile and isolation all at once either. It is coming along though.
One of my fellow tenants had a birthday party the other day. About ten of us went to her party. It felt good to be socializing again when people weren’t being irritable and rude to each other. It just seems that most people I meet in person anymore are more short tempered and on edge than usual lately. I was talking with an old friend of mine who lives here and he’s noticed the same thing. So I’m not the only one noticing the subtle and not so subtle changes. One of the reasons I don’t socialize much in person anymore is precisely because so many people I meet are in irritable and short tempered moods. The fact that almost no one I know in person shares my interests in science, history, philosophy, and literature makes things even tougher.
It is true that social media and my smart phone are the bulk of my socializing now. I know most people will think this is sad but I actually love social media and communications tech. They have given me access to people with similar interests and concerns that I wouldn’t have had in high school. My teenage years, other than a handful of confidants I could tell even my darkest secrets to, were quite lonely. As an adult now near age 40, I have more social interaction than at any point in my life besides my college years. And it is exactly because of social media, internet, and communication tech. I know many people condemn what social media can be used for and think we would be better off without it. I call their bluff on that. I call the bluff on all nostalgics who are fearful of change and want to go back to the past.
I know many people, especially in my USA, are nostalgic about the past when only one income could support a family in a house in the suburbs. Yet you don’t hear the same people decry the lack of opportunities for women, high taxes on rich people and large businesses, lack of variety in entertainment and fashion, Jim Crow laws, Cold War paranoias, cost of even long distance phone calls. I ran up long distance bills over $100 two months in a row as recently as 1999 because my two best confidants lived in other towns. My parents were not amused by that. Yet, here it is in 2019 and I talk to far more out of town people, and even out of country people, then I could have ever imagined even my wildest Star Trek optimist fantasy. And twenty years isn’t that long. It’s just enough time to get a newborn baby to adulthood. The world has changed that much.
Social media, like all other tech changes, is a tool that can be used to go great good or great harm. Nuclear energy provides a significant source of power to civilization with relatively quite few facilities. Yet the same tech can be used in weapons that can end all life on our planet. Mass media can spread the ideas of personal freedom, self responsibility, civic duty, and show our similarities to billions of people quite easily. It also empowered some truly sick and depraved monstrous people just in the last one hundred years. Religion can give people hope, a connection to something beyond ourselves and our surroundings, and a sense of taking care of others in even the darkest times humanity ever faced. It can also justify some truly evil actions. Even farming led to humanity going from only a relatively few people who managed to survive the ice ages in isolated bands to being the masses we are now making plots to travel off world and settle other planets. It has also led to the extinction of many other species, the decline of biodiversity, war, easily transferable diseases, and a loss of connection of most people to the natural world. And yet, I wouldn’t give up any of these advances among any others. Even the same chemicals that make the fertilizer for our food crops can be used as deadly poisons and weapons of mass terror and destruction.
Changes are a constant of human existence. Changes even in nature are constant too. With human existence, change will continue to come. In fact, they will come even faster and be more disruptive than at any point in history in the lifetimes of all but the oldest people in our civilizations. These changes can be delayed but they will come whether we are as individuals or nations are preparing or not. We no longer live in a world where only one nation or race has the monopoly on knowledge and progress, as if we ever did. The old ways of doing things, the ancient appeals to religious, gender, racial, national, socioeconomic, ageist differences and discriminations are losing the effectiveness they had in the past. Even homeless people in our largest cities and farmers in the poorest countries in the world have smart phones and access to the collective knowledge gathered through the trials, bloodshed, tears, and revolutions of history. This is a level of computing power that not even the U.S. Department of Defense had as recently as 1980, the year I was born.
Yes, information tech has greatly advanced just in my lifetime. Some will scoff and say, this hasn’t translated into any other aspect of life. I can’t afford my rent even on two jobs but I’m supposed to be happy with having access to Google and Facebook. Give it time. Other aspects of our lives will catch up eventually. It is tragic that many people go homeless in my country while thousands of houses and apartments sit vacant and idle waiting for someone to call such places a home just because of the prices. Individual workers are more productive now than ever yet wages have barely budged in my country in terms of inflation since at least the 1970s. My critics will say even with communication tech advancing as well as the social progress we’ve made, our standard of living has actually gone down.
For many this is true, at least in USA. Our standard of living hasn’t caught up with our efficiency, tech, medical, and social advances. At least not yet. We are still in the process of a great change, one that is even more chaotic and impacting than the Industrial Revolution was two hundred years ago. In short, we have science fiction like technology, industrial era education, renaissance era governing, legal, and business institutions, Bronze Age spirituality, and Stone Age bodies and psychology. Of course there are going to be conflicts. We will work these out, it just won’t happen nearly as fast as many people want. Changes like we are going through took centuries during the start of farming, generations during the renaissance and industrial ages, and now on the scope of only years. No wonder people are stressed. We are not experiencing the death of our species or our civilization no matter how much some people fear or even want. We are in transition. And I welcome this transition and it’s highs and lows. Stay tuned. Things are only going to get more interesting and chaotic, yet full of opportunities too.
Middle of the winter now. Haven’t ventured out of my apartment much the last few days. Too cold to go anywhere really. Been immersing myself in computer games and audiobooks more these days. I have to admit that I really have no desire to socialize in person much, at least not lately. I guess I have given up on finding anyone in physical proximity who shares my interests and concerns. I have gotten tired of neighborhood gossip and endless talks about politics and sports ball. Been tired of it for a long time. I haven’t even watched live tv since the college football bowl games around New Year’s Day. I guess I just lost interest in the mundane and normal things my neighbors can discuss for hours on end.
I have to admit that I find most of my social life on social media these days. I have excellent conversations with people from my tech and futurists groups. It’s like some of the conversations I had with friends back in college, when you would chat until sunrise and your throat was burning from chatting so much. During conversations like that, it’s like I could actually feel my brain getting stronger and more nimble. I loved those years. I can’t imagine how cool they would have been had I not had a mental illness to deal with. I can understand why many people are nostalgic for their college years, before the spirit crushing and brain numbing realities of having to spend over half your waking life at a job that most people aren’t well suited for just to earn enough money to live an “acceptable” standard of living.
Most people caught up in the day to day working ‘Oh God It’s Monday’ merry go round ride we like to call ‘being a productive member of society’ would argue I don’t live an acceptable standard of living. Most people would consider me a failure it seems. It seems that people either pity me or envy me for being on disability pension. Acceptable by what standards? Who decided what is and isn’t a productive member of society? Am I going to hell because I am not working myself into an early grave or not buying the big house and SUV type lifestyle? Seriously, what will happen if I don’t work myself into an early grave because I didn’t become a cubicle jockey or sell my talents for more money than I need to buy crap I never really wanted to impress jerks that wouldn’t shed a tear if I dropped dead of a heart attack tonight? Is God going to deny me access into the afterlife because I don’t have a credit history?
Let’s not con ourselves, most people work the jobs they do because they need the money to buy their survival, not because they are passionate about their jobs or their careers are a benefit to humanity and nature. I think that if money weren’t in issue, many people would find even more productive means to spend their days than sitting in traffic to get to an office to fill out reports that few people read or do work with their hands that, in some cases, could just as easily be done by machines and computers. Too many people work themselves senseless and joyless because, for whatever reason, they got too deep into debt pursuing the ‘dream life.’ Dream life for whom? Not me.
I never understood the point of borrowing money for anything besides starting a business, learning a trade, or buying a house. But with as fast as industries change anymore, owning a house can actually hinder a person’s career. I know people who have had to turn down very lucrative promotions because they owned a house and couldn’t get that albatross around their neck sold quickly. I also know people who were making six figures a year simply because they were flexible and could throw all their possessions in the back of a pickup truck and U-Haul trailer and be moved across country in a matter of a few days. It seems to be in the modern economy that being flexible, not having unmanageable debt, and having skills that can transfer into several different industries is the new security. To quote Randy Gage, “safe is the new risky.”
I am on disability pension, it is true. It was the only way I could afford my medications once I couldn’t be covered under my parents’ insurance plans. My mental illness also made the modern work place unbearable for me. Even as a teenager I knew I wanted to work in a small group or even alone and not have to deal with strangers for hours on end every day. Giving up my pre med course of study was one of the most painful things I ever did. It was essentially me having to kill the dream of having a career in science. I had wanted to work in as a research scientist since I was five years old. Even as a child my favorite Disney character was Dr. Ludwig von Drake, an eccentric academic with a German accent loosely based on Werner von Braun, Albert Einstein, and Sigmund Freud.
Even though I went on to study business the last three years in college, deep down I knew I would never use the business degree in a traditional job setting. But I didn’t know what else to do. I didn’t want to go back home because there was nothing there for me. I didn’t attempt to apply for disability when I was diagnosed because I had no idea how bad this illness really was. I thought it was something that, while chronic, could be easily managed with medication and counseling. I couldn’t have been more wrong. The illness made traditional employment impossible. Since I don’t come from an uber rich family, I couldn’t live off a trust fund and privately pay for my medications and therapy. I went on disability because, well, I had no other option. I stay on disability because blogging and internet research doesn’t pay the bills.
Some people think that because I’m on disability I just sit around, watch porn, drink beer, and vape nicotine all day. Not so. Even my parents have no clue how much internet research I do when it comes to science, technology, and other academic topics I always wanted to study in school but simply didn’t have the time to. Since I have a disability pension, escaped college with one business degree and zero debt, and haven’t had a credit card debt in years, I can afford the life I want.
Right now, at this point in my life, I want to be the independent scholar writing a few blog posts every week and spending my evenings chatting with fellow science and tech enthusiasts. It wasn’t the kind of life I wanted even ten years ago. Back then I was working twenty hours a week, writing drafts for novels, making outlines for possible science fiction worlds, writing poetry every day, and studying philosophers ranging from Aristotle to Francis Bacon to Neitchze. I did the regular work world while on disability because it could be done. Got that out of my system after a few years and moved onto my current life as a blogger and scholar.
Where will I be in another five or ten years? I don’t know. But I don’t have to know. I just know I have probably faced the worst of what my schizophrenia has to offer and have survived into middle age. I have gained a few skills that, while not paying the bills, keep me busy and make me interesting. I don’t often tell people I’m on disability, but they seem quite envious when I tell them that I’m a freelance writer. My bank account will never make anyone forget the Rothschild family, but it doesn’t have to. As long as I can buy food, keep my rent up to date, keep my internet paid for, stay out of debt, and have enough left over to buy some basic clothing every few months, I’m happy with where I am at. I don’t need a ton of money or a prestigious career or a large family to justify my existence. If there is a Judgement that the dead have to face for their deeds and misdeeds in life, I doubt the Divine Judge will be looking at anyone’s W-2 forms or 401(k). He who dies with the most toys is still dead. He just doesn’t have to witness his kids and grandkids squander the inheritance his decades of toil and stress made possible. Hard work probably never killed anyone, but neither did taking time to learn things and appreciate nature and human achievement.
Got out and voted Tuesday after dinner. Since I went later in the day, I missed the crowds. I was able to get in and get out pretty quick. As I’ve been having lower back problems recently, I was able to get a chair to sit in while I worked the ballot. All I had to do was ask. Sometimes I think people in general don’t get the assistance that could make things easier just because they don’t ask for help. For years I had problems asking for help as I instead preferred to give help instead. Only within the last year or so have I gotten comfortable asking for help whenever I have a problem I can’t easily solve on my own. I guess that I, like many men, am a problem solver. And sometimes it was tough for me to admit I could use an extra set of hands or extra mind working on a problem.
In other news, my parents are in the process of moving out of state. They bought a small house in the same town my brother and his family live in. As all their grandkids are in school now they want to see them grow up and participate in activities and school functions. I think that once they get settled in permanently in their new house, I’ll look to relocate nearby. As where they are moving to is in a suburb of a metroplex, I imagine I’ll need to be careful about what kind of low income housing I move to. My brother has already told me a few neighborhoods that are rougher than others that I should avoid. As they hope to be relocated by the end of November, I will be hosting them for a Thanksgiving dinner this weekend. I’ve been spending much of my day after the midterm elections straightening and decluttering my home. I had been kind of lazy about clutter for the last few weeks. But I want the place to be presentable as it will probably be our family’s last gathering in Nebraska.
I guess I have mixed emotions about leaving the small farm towns I have known as home my entire life. I am excited about the possibility of moving to a larger area where I could meet more writers and people with my interests in person. I am excited about going somewhere that is growing and not so out of the way. But I am concerned about starting over in my late 30s, especially with mental illness issues. I am also concerned about fitting in at a different social environment. I’ve had problems fitting in even among people I grew up with my entire life. So I am kind of scared of the social aspects as I have problems socializing even in my hometown.
Other than getting to see my nephews and niece more often, I hope my life doesn’t really alter that much. I do hope I can have a closer friendship with my brother and his wife. My brother and I weren’t close growing up. Part of that was traditional sibling rivalries, and another part was that we were such opposites personality and interests wise. I don’t have any animosity toward him, I just don’t have common interests. I consider not having a close relationship with my only sibling one of the few regrets I have about my life up to this point. Sure I regret becoming mentally ill but there isn’t anything I could have personally done to prevent it. As it is, I have worked around it for twenty years. I’ve been hospitalized only twice and have avoided trouble with the law. So I’m doing something alright.
Overall, the last several months of quiet monotony have come to an end. My parents are relocating and I probably will be too within the next several months. I am both excited and apprehensive at the same time. The only true constant if life is change. But with change comes the possibility of new opportunity.