The in-between

by Jon Sullivan - 2024-01-25 - Jonism

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I've been all about chasing joy and living my best life. Have I found it? Somewhere between crazy/joyous and sane/dreary?

Balance. In-between. Minimize the hermit. Maximize the adventure. In-between the rational and my raw experience. Reconciling the social anxiety with the joy of kindness, the self-centered with the love of tribe, the need to be alone with the need to be with others, the pessimistic past with the hope for a future of all good things. I lived for years growing more and more comfortable being alone and apart, living in the light of science and logic. Living only in my own mind with the blinds drawn. Now I find myself in a place bigger than logic, seeking out magic. The old Jon and the new Jon are incompatible. But both are Jon, and Jon is both. So I find myself needing to create an in-between hybrid Jon. Sometimes hermit, sometimes partier. Sometimes an evangelist for science, sometimes floating in the irrational.

In the past I rejected the idea of "peace, light, love, joy" as a naive remnant of hippie culture. But lately I've been discovering, or rediscovering, the hippie was always in me. Only while insane was I finally able to reconcile and come to peace with it. To embrace it. Some imbalance with my brain chemistry literally forced me to be kind and joyous and social and peace loving. But the bad brain is now fixed, and any joy or kinship needs to be motivated and acted on, rather than being something I can't avoid or resist. Now, with the scrambled brain problem gone, I can easily resist "peace, light, love, joy" as a religion/compass. But I don't want to.

I also don't want to stop being a hermit. I like being alone, with my weird thoughts bouncing forever around my skull. I like not answering the door. I like no-lifing video games to the point where reality is secondary. I like my boring meal of one-pot chicken curry, which I've happily eaten thousands of times. I like being alone. I'm not proud of that. But at 60 it's too hard to change.

For months I have struggled to reconcile the two..... no..... three.... Hermit and hippie and hybrid. Now in 2024 I feel like I'm circling it closer and closer. But the obvious incompatibility of it all is hard. I am like atheist Jesus. A Jesus who accepts the world to be rational and bounded by science. But still a Jesus who evangelizes about egalitarian values, and loving your neighbor as yourself, and the toxicity of wealth, and putting the needs of others before your own. Is that the in-between I need? Atheist Jesus? Hippie Oppenheimer?

Here in Oregon I've made more friends in a year than I ever did in the previous 59. And gathering with those folk, whether for music or food throwdowns or birthdays or camping or game nights, is where my joy lives. But only now and then. I still NEED my hobbit hole. I still need my no-life gaming. I still need to be alone. I still need to be alone. I still need to be alone.

The solution to the in-between, the balance, is that there will never be an in-between. It will always be either or. It will cycle. Sometimes I will revel in the joy of fellowship. Other times I will be thankfully alone. There is no hybrid, no gradient, it will be black and white, and that's okay. Today I will kill simulated demons. Tomorrow I will get in the car and chase sunsets.

Today's photo : There are two of my photos which will always be precious to me. One was of my mother sitting on "mom's bench" in Ireland after beating cancer. The other is of my sister sitting on that same bench when we scattered mom's ashes there. Those photos are now Sullivan lore. So, of course, I love this photo for it's connection to a mythology I hope people will share around the fire long after I'm dead. I like to think that if time and space were smaller that I could sit on this bench and wave, across the ocean, to my mother.

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