Masturbation

No no, relax.

My whole plan in coming in to the cigar lounge yesterday was that based on the idea that I wouldn’t feel like coming in today as I’m in day 3 of a 4 day fast.

Traditionally day one is the absolute worst, being exactly the kind of experience most people imagine when they think of fasting. Just the constant pull of hunger and craving.

The second day is better, definitely. The hunger isn’t nearly as all-consuming. But hydration starts becoming an issue and, well…stay close to a restroom.

What I’d forgotten about was the weird clarity that comes on day three. I figured I’d be a bit loopy and that driving down here and smoking a bunch of cigars then hitting Bible study might not make for the most coherent afternoon.

But I bounced out of bed this morning (having dreamt, no shit, about butter) really clear. The hunger isn’t really as urgent. Which is not to say it’s not there. Don’t get me wrong. But it’s not consuming every thought. Also the increased sensory acuity is something I’d largely forgotten about. I walked out to the kitchen and could smell that I used a bit too little salt in the pizza I made on Saturday.

So when 10:45 rolled around and I’d realized that I’d realized what to make of yesterday’s post I looked at the clock, bobbed my head a couple times, grabbed my bag and…then put it down, went and put some clothes on, THEN walked out the door to drive down the hill. Then I came back in to get my phone. Then I came back in to get my drinks. Then I came back in to get my lighters. Then I came back in to get my bag and realized after searching furiously for it that it was sitting on the front seat of the truck.

Yep.

Sharp as a tack.

So. On to it…

I thought about that post I put up yesterday afternoon and realized what the hell’s going on in my head. Of course the title presupposes the conclusion and you’d be right.

I started writing, a long long time ago in a galaxy far far away, for reasons much the same reason as I started writing software, because there’s something broken in my head. I know it. I’ve always known it. It will always be true. It’s fine.

So the thing that’s Always Been True about my personal journaling is that if I was in a fouled mood, depressed, anxious, and yes, suicidal (fret not, that’s a demon vanquished in the previous century) has been that IF I can get my pen to paper to write it out that I’d be able to systematically write myself out of the mood.

The thing about those kinds of states of mind is that they’re not really…states of mind. They can’t hold up to actual examination. They can only avoid it. When you’re depressed or anxious you get into a feedback loop that “kinda has some words hanging off it.” You end up looping around and saying the same things to yourself over and over again, key phrases that represent those strange emotional depths and serve as reinforcing self-talk. And that’s their job. All these things are little ‘sub-personalities’ that struggle for their own strength and identity, and damn the host that holds them.

Putting the pen to paper and writing my way through it, just narrating my thoughts serves to expose the repetition in a way that makes it impossible to continue. You can’t just write pages and pages of “you suck” without seeing it for what it is, so you’ve got to progress past there in some direction. That process serves to break the cycle.

Well…do that for a couple few decades and it becomes the entirety of your writing process if you’re not careful (hint: I haven’t been careful) so if you’re trying to produce meaningful content, ostensibly for the consumption of others that just doesn’t work. Especially if there’s not some kind of truly overt therapeutic need other than rummaging around in my head for words to throw up on to the page.

It really just becomes a self-sustaining exercise, undertaken for its own benefit, really a sensory pleasure of the mind. Masturbation.

And I do quite love the activity of just sitting here and typing. The additional feedback I get from hitting ‘publish’ is gravy.

But when I look back even at the posts of the last few weeks (months, years) I start seeing that same kind of ‘running around in a circle’ that I used to write to purge, though entirely without the (or, well, without THAT) emotional baggage.

And that, I suppose, is the primary insight from this session. The act of putting down words is attached to its own little sub-personality and results in the same kind of circular expression, if in a subtly different medium.

There’s utility in the repetition, to be sure. Every moment brings a different perspective, so even attacking the exact same idea over and over again yields a different outline from a slightly different angle.

And that’s great for ME. But I’ve GOT to imagine that you all are about done with it, assuming I’ve got more than two regular readers at all. (Actually I suspect it’s about 10. Statcounter doesn’t really work with modern ad-blocking technology.)

Ya know…now that I think about it… There’s an email list that I subscribed to. (Again, this is a matter of “what not who”.) It comes out weekly. I jumped on board a little late, so I went looking for the older editions, printed them all out and just read the first couple dozen in my chair one afternoon.

I noticed, reading them in sequential bulk like that, that they were really all about the same topic. Exactly what I’ve just been talking about and have been fretting about for quite some time. I ended up unsubscribing from the list because I have too many damned emails and there just wasn’t enough in the way of new ideas, information, or perspective to warrant the attention.

But now that I’ve discovered to myself that I’m doing the exact same thing I’m wondering if I hadn’t been thinking about it wrong. So I’ve just resubbed.

I think what I’m going to do is continue to write like this. I just get too much out of it to stop. But try to focus on new insights even when I am just…spinning around the same shit over and over, and edit with a focus on that THEN publish.

But I’m going to leave it all up because one of the things this goofy little site does is serve as a record for me. I really do go back and compare where my head was at a year or five or nineteen years ago.

But maybe stop posting for the sake of mental masturbation.

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