Ghost in the human

by Jon Sullivan - 2023-12-12 - Status

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No longer being crazy is more difficult than I'd anticipated. I find myself fighting against being normal.

I really liked crazy Jon. EVERYONE liked crazy Jon. Or.... "New Jon"? Let's go with New Jon. But New Jon is gone now, a fading memory of joy and vibrance and love and grace, and it's time to shut up about it. But when it got turned off like a light switch, I suddenly reverted to regular Jon, old Jon, hermit Jon, and started frantically grabbing at the joy as it receded. It didn't work. At all. I could see it, and I'd grab at it, but there was nothing there. The intense vibrant perceptions that had once seemed palpable now have vanished. The joy of being around people has retreated back into the old social anxiety. The verseral sense that I'm one with all things, in grace with everything across all time...... now seems dubious and illogical. Something gave me a golden ticket to a wondrous universe, with a two year expiration date. Now the "use by" date has passed. And as I fight, every day, to keep the old hermit mode at bay..... I know I'll lose. I'll keep trying to make it not so. But "New Jon" is gone. And hermit Jon is back.

A year ago I kept telling people I was crazy. They'd just laugh and tell me how cool it sounded. Now I'm normal, and finally people are concerned. So humorous.

It's not all gone. Some is retained. I learned a huge amount while my brain was manic and had endless energy. And those things are still with me. I learned the value of unmotivated kindness and compassion. And I'll never lose that. I learned that I didn't have to be an asshole, and that "winning" as a sociopath was for just a choice, a very poor one, and I was winning only shitty victories. I learned that community and friendship and hugs were a truer path to happiness than being a hermit. I learned that being alone is a trap, an echo chamber of stupid assumptions. When the only human you ever see is the reflection in the mirror you lose the context for most of being human. I learned that I had lived my whole life wrong. I learned, for the first time in my life, what joy was. I learned how to filter my reactions and mood through a fine mesh of virtues - Wisdom, justice, courage, moderation.

I learned things I won't forget or diminish.

I'm happy. Just as I was happy back in San Diego with the blinds perma-closed. Though I can say this seems like an objectively better version of happy. I'm sober now, so getting drunk to be happy is thankfully in the rearview mirror. If nothing else, no longer being alcoholic is a powerfully good change by itself. Being kind still makes me happy, although it's a thing I need to work harder at now. I still laugh and clap with glee at the good things. But the tears of joy are mostly gone.

So..... People ask.... "How are you?" And that's a really hard question to answer honestly. If I say I'm happy, that means something very different than it did a few months ago. A few months ago "I'm happy" meant I was so happy I couldn't contain it and it would spill out as tears of uncontrollable joy. Now it just means I'm not unhappy. Which by comparison is pretty sad.

Life continues to be a journey of learning and growing. But now it's a journey I take under my own power, rather than being carried along by angels. Being happy is easy enough. But losing those angels is hard.

Today's photo - This is from this year's Thanksgiving cooking marathon weekend at my sister's. One of my tasks while there was to teach Sharon how to use all the buttons and bobs on her "real" camera. I didn't. We were tired and welcomed being lazy after all the cooking was done. But this photo would have been a great way to illustrate what the poorly marked dials did. Focus vs bokeh. Vibrancy vs flat color. Light vs shadow. Boring made interesting. Our eyes do all this magically as a ghost in the human handles all the settings. With a camera we need to get the settings right manually. Which is both more and less powerful at the same time.

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