Take biology and psychology that developed over many thousands of years in the Stone Age, throw in Bronze Age spirituality and religions, mix in legal, finance, and government institutions developed in the Renaissance, toss in jobs, consumerism, work ethic, and education developed in the Industrial Revolution, add mass media and instant communications of the early 21st century, and possibly add machine automation that will make the work force far smaller and resources far easier to get as icing on the cake. Stand back and watch mayhem and chaos ensue or work toward bringing about the Star Trek future.
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.
Been getting out a little more the last few days in spite the cold. Saw my psych doctor on a cancelation appointment the other day. We made some adjustments in the psych medications. I added a third med. I also saw a general practice doctor yesterday. We decided to add a blood pressure medication. I’m not really surprised as high blood pressure runs in my family. So it looks like I’m getting out and about more and starting to get back on top of my health. I let a lot of that slide over the last several months when I was sleeping a lot and had no energy.
I haven’t been reading as much as I would like lately. I’ve also been kind of lazy about writing. Mentally I have felt quite stable. Haven’t had any real bouts of depression or anxiety for a long time. The delusions and hallucinations are at a minimum. I still don’t socialize much in person, but I just don’t isolate as much anymore either. I hope I can make more progress with the holidays coming up. It’s been too long since I last had real good socializing.
July has faded into August. In a few weeks school will be starting again in many places. Seems that school starts earlier every year. But now that we are into August it does seem like autumn isn’t too far away. Another four to six weeks of hot weather and we should be done for the year.
Since it has been hotter than usual and for longer stretches this summer, I have spent more time inside. Haven’t been getting as much exercise as I would like. So I have been eating less. I’m back to having usually only two meals a day. But I think I have lost a few pounds despite my lowered activity because I am eating less. Mentally I have been quite stable, especially for my summer standards. I think I’m doing well just by avoiding stressful situations and people. These certainly make my life more pleasant and quiet. I’m even getting fewer aches and pains too. Even though I don’t exercise as much as I would like, I still get out and walk around for a few minutes every day.
I really haven’t talked to anyone lately outside of family. But I can do alright alone for long periods of time. Loneliness doesn’t really bother me that much. Loneliness is easier than dealing with rude and stupid people all the time. I just enjoy my quiet and alone times.
I have so far made it through half of summer with no issues. Hopefully the second half can also go well. Once things cool off for good I am usually alright. I have usually done better in winters and springs than summers and early autumns.
It’s been quite quiet for me this summer. I haven’t had any flare ups or episodes. I haven’t even heard my neighbors arguing for weeks. Somedays I wonder if I even have neighbors it’s been so quiet in my complex. About the only time I see any of my neighbors is when I leave my apartment to run errands. I don’t sit outside too much anymore just because it’s been so hot. Fortunately we have only another six to eight weeks of hot weather left. But I have been enjoying the peace and quiet. I also enjoy not having flare ups or dealing with stupid and rude people all the time.
I used to have to deal with a lot of drama at work and in some friendships. I haven’t dated for several years simply because the drama and ups and downs just got old. Having schizophrenia while trying to date adds a whole another level of difficulty. And I came to the conclusion that I just don’t want to be bothered with it anymore. I have enough problems as is. I also had to cut negative people out of my life. Sure it meant ending a few friendships and being real careful about who I let into my life. And it also means much alone time. But it’s alright because the peace and quiet is worth it.
Another thing that helps me is that I am debt free. That is why I can live as a minimalist and not work. I just live on my disability pension. Right now I can budget it out that I don’t have to resort to credit cards to make it through the month. I don’t have to take a thankless and stressful job because I don’t need the money. As far as I’m concerned, the biggest reason to work for someone else is the money. Being an employee, especially in today’s ever shifting and toxic work environments, doesn’t seem to be much more than glorified serfdom. Why should any employee give loyalty to a company when the job can be taken over by machines, outsourced overseas, or just given to a younger person for lower wages? If you’re going to be an employee, it’s best to go to the highest bidder. An employer won’t look out for you. An employer doesn’t care about you either. Neither do most of your coworkers, at least that is my experience. A boss isn’t going to help you develop your career. You are on your own on that one. I can do this blog without getting paid for it because I don’t have to worry about income or paying off debts. And I absolutely love doing this blog. It doesn’t really seem like a job because it isn’t drudgery like I was used to in my working days. It feels more like a hobby that evolved into a life mission.
Since I don’t have debts and am content to live a minimalist life, I am quite free to write about what needs to be written. Life with a mental illness isn’t pretty much of the time. It is lonely, it can be frightening, it can be long bouts of depression and sadness, and sometimes I have found myself mourning over the career and lifestyle that never was because of this illness. But, having this illness made me resourceful and creative. It also made me smarter. It made me think about many things that most people never have to. It made me ask questions that most people would never think to ask.
Right now I’m dealing with a stretch where I haven’t had any real drama for months. It helps that I have been able to largely avoid toxic, negative, and stupid people. That’s no small accomplishment living in tight quarters like I do. I’m pretty content to just stay home much of the time anymore. I have gotten to where I feel naked without a good internet connection. I imagine that’s going to become more common in the next several years. I’m just ahead of the curve. And I don’t have to submit to a bad boss or bad coworkers or unreasonable customers to make money because I don’t need the money. I can get by just on my disability pension because I don’t have debts or expensive tastes. I won’t spend a hundred dollars on a pair of jeans or two hundred dollars on a pair of sneakers or buy a new iPhone every year or a different car every three years. I am content with what I have. I love being a minimalist. And that has helped me create a life with little to no drama in spite my mental illness.
I got out and did some shopping this morning. Bought some clothes and household supplies I was needing. Now I don’t really enjoy shopping that much. And I think it’s as much my mental illness making me hate crowds as anything. I tend to get anxious when I have to deal with large crowds and if I feel rushed. That’s why I typically do my shopping in the middle of the week when crowds are smaller. I can quickly drop in and pick up whatever I need without fighting crowds or standing in lines. And it’s easier to get help if there aren’t a lot of people competing for help. Even my grocery shopping is done in the early mornings so I don’t have to deal with crowds.
I tend to shop in the same stores. That way it’s easier to find what I need without wandering all over the store. I am a creature of habit. It is kind of stressful adapting to new stores, at least at first. When I find some item I like I tend to stick with it for a long time. I am especially this way with clothing. The thing I look for in clothing is how it feels on my skin rather than how it looks on me. If I am not comfortable in my clothing it does effect my mental health. I usually wear just t-shirts and pants and sneakers. I’m not one who enjoys dressing up. I am really not concerned with how my clothing makes me look as long as it’s functional and feels good wearing it. I don’t spend a lot of money on clothing or just stuff in general. I usually buy things when I need them without a lot of agonizing or shopping around. I really don’t like shopping that much. I am not a shopaholic. Shopping is not one of my hobbies.
I confess to spending a shameful portion of my free time watching sporting events on tv. I had the Olympics on every night they were on. I often have a baseball game going on in the background when I’m doing internet research. I have been a member of a fantasy baseball league for the last several years as well as participating in college football bowl game picks. Money doesn’t change hands as most of my friends and I just do it to make the games more interesting.
The college football season starts this weekend. The state’s university football team, the Nebraska Huskers, is practically a state religion. I like watching the games even though the older I get the more I feel guilty about watching young men injure themselves for my entertainment. Plus many people in my home state take winning and losing too serious for my tastes. That’s why I avoid fan forums and online discussions, especially during years the team doesn’t do well. Last year was one of those years when the team had a losing record with a new coach. When the whole state follows something like that it’s impossible to avoid discussing it in conversations. Sometimes this causes me undo stress and anxiety, much like people discussing politics. Politics and sports fanaticism are two things I really hate because people just aren’t rational about either one. While I like watching football and baseball, I do think most fans have messed up priorities when it comes to supporting their teams. I know this isn’t unique to America as I’ve heard stories about soccer riots in England and South America. And just today I saw a news article stating a school district in Texas is going to spend over $60 million to build a high school football stadium. Seriously, how many high school players go on to play even in college, let alone the pros? I can’t imagine any school district spending that kind of money to improve their academics.
In short I do like watching sports as a diversion but I don’t take them so serious that it messes up my priorities.