Trying to Maintain Hope Around Negative People

 

I just don’t talk to anyone much anymore.  But then it seems like people have been avoiding me too lately.  I hope this is just my paranoia creeping in.  But it does seem like almost no one has time or energy to just chat lately.  I fear that I’m becoming this way too.  I try to stay optimistic overall but it is tough.  First, I’m not an optimist by nature as I wasn’t raised to be one.  I was almost never told anything positive about the world or life in general from my elders as a kid.  Made me wonder why anyone had kids if the world was falling apart as much as my parents, teachers, and church elders told me it was.  But that was before I got out on my own and came to the realization that most people are more ruled by short term emotion than by long term logic.  As someone who is part artist and part science enthusiast, I find my emotion and logical sides at conflict quite often.  I have spent the better part of the last five years training up the logical part of my mind.  It isn’t easy and it’s often frustrating.  Bill Gates once stated that people tend to overestimate change in the short term but underestimate it in the long term.  Getting to see what cool stuff happens next is one of the things that keeps me going.  It’s the scientist, the engineer, the doctor, the humanitarian that gives me as much hope as most of my friends get out of their political parties.  I try to explain to my friends that politicians can pass budgets, pass favorable laws, and then get out of the way.  That’s about all they can do.  I have never seen a politician build a power plant or figure out how to grow more crops with fewer chemicals.  Many problems of modern civilization are science and engineering issues, not political or even social ones.

I just as well be speaking ancient Sanskrit to my friends in that they’re not coming around and probably never will.  I would love to live in a world where the scientists and doctors were as well known and respected as pro athletes and big shot Hollywood stars.  But I suppose that’s a pipe dream that won’t come true in my lifetime, if ever.  As it is I am a mentally ill unemployed man trying to make sense of the madness in the people around me.  At this point I’m glad I don’t have a regular job in that it would probably drive me to complete break down.  I’m glad for the safety nets I have.  It saddens and sickens me that there are people who want to remove even these.  We live in a post industrial civilization where we can feed everyone, not some Stone Age Darwinian survival of the fittest setup our ancestors already overcame.  Yet, it seems like some people are bent on bringing back the Stone Age.  I hope it’s just my paranoia creeping in but it does seem like there’s too many people losing hope and giving up right before things get real interesting.  As far as any politicians of any country go, they are merely “momentary masters of a fraction of a dot” to quote Carl Sagan.  We would be wise to regain such perspective in our own lives.

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Seeing Old Friends

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I haven’t written for two weeks because I spent almost a week in my childhood hometown. I spent that time visiting old friends from my high school years.  One of these friends in particular, the best friend I have ever had, I hadn’t seen since we were eighteen.  We kept in contact through Facebook and emails, but none of that is the same as seeing a friend in person.  I was pleasantly surprised that she and I were able to pick up as if it was only a few days since we last talked, let alone sixteen years.  I was actually quite speechless when we first met last week simply from being overjoyed at seeing this friend who stuck by me through the highs and lows of mental illness.  Years ago in high school, when I was having my first problems with crippling depression and bouts of anger, she was the first one to suggest that what I was going through was not normal teenage angst.  She observed this before even I did.  Good friends like this need to be held onto.  It’s not like good friendships can be found every day.

This visit with old friends reminded me of how valuable having some people who will support me, and I support them, truly is.  In my current life, I don’t always have a healthy social life.  Much of this is due to the paranoia aspect of my mental illness that makes it tough for me to tell whom is trustworthy.  Since my default mode is to assume I cannot trust someone I just met until I can tell otherwise, this makes starting new friendships and social contacts pretty tough.  Social safety nets are not only essential for any kind of stability for those with mental illness, but they make life much more enjoyable.  They are the pleasant memories of when things are going well that can make the difference in getting through tough times that come and go for all people, mental illness or no.  To paraphrase the late Robin Williams from ‘Dead Poets Society’ (one of my favorite all time movies), ‘Now medicine, business, engineering, science are all good endeavors that are necessary to sustain life.  But it is things like art, poetry, beauty, love, friendship that are reasons we stay alive.’