Category Archives: on the mind

Open Up!

I think I need to be a more open person. I’ve always tended toward keeping my thoughts and problems and worries to myself. I mean, sure, I have a blog, but when do I ever write about my innermost fears and feelings? All of this is very ironic since I’m a strong advocate of openness in software and government and other things. I’m just not very open about my own life.

Three Degrees of Josh: How much I trust people determines what treatment they get. I made the cheesy graphic all by myself!

I think the “Who the heck are you?” section has grown a little bit recently. But the main change is that the yellow circle has grown considerably at the expense of the green circle. Some of the bogus reasons I give yellow-circlers when I’m down:

  • “I was tired”
  • “I just felt really irritable all day.”

Some of the real reasons that I rarely discuss are:

  • plain old depression with no apparent cause
  • “doubt traps” in which I obsess over reconciling some particular church doctrine with some seemingly-irreconcilable observation ((In spite of my firm belief in the following theorem: there exist no two contradictory propositions that cannot be wholly reconciled by a previously-unconsidered third proposition.))
  • panic attacks (much less common these days, thankfully, but still occasionally rearing their ugly, irrational head)
  • loneliness
  • lack of pizza [ha ha, it’s a joke]

I almost never talk about Mom’s suicide, or about my shorter-than-usual mission experience. It’s all rather silly, given the amazing family and friends I have who would be thrilled to support me should I ever give them the chance. Surely this also deprives others struggling in similar ways (especially the pizza-deprived, who need as much support as they can get) from the realization that they’re not alone in their frustrations.

I wonder how I can open up and stop acting like I have to hide my past and my present, at the expense of my future.

Haunted Harry

Great stories have a way of making me reflect on my life, remember how it has been and think about how it is and hopefully will be. I’m here on the couch supposed to be working on my project, but instead I’m listening to my friends watch Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. I’m almost ashamed to admit it, but the story brings me close to tears. Why?

I guess I relate to Harry. Of course, that’s the point, right? But when he suffers through terrible things, I’m reminded of the ones I’ve experienced. I’ve never seen a friend murdered in a graveyard, but from time to time my heart, my spirit, have been murdered within me. I’ve seen people do terrible things, even do terrible things to me, and I’ve watched people suffer for years without reprieve, only to escape in the end through violent death. At some point, the combined trauma breaks you, tears your soul in pieces. You’re haunted by the knowledge that such terrible things happen, not just in the abstract sense in which wars and famines occur in distant times and places, but in a sense so real and immediate and personal that it overwhelms you. Sometimes, when you look at yourself in the mirror, you can see it in your eyes—you can see the darkness, the memories pushing themselves painfully to the surface like a festering sore on your skin—and you know that you’re different, and that something fundamental went wrong somewhere along the way to deprive you of the peace that everyone else seems to enjoy and that seems your natural right, but that ever escapes you.

I’m sure Harry would see that on occasion in his own eyes. And yet, he, and I, and everyone taken so cruelly from safety to dwell in the path of fear, go forward. And in the real world, life doesn’t stop for your wounds to heal, and no Dumbledore ex machina comes to save the day, to tell you how wonderful you are and explain why everything had to happen the way it did. Nobody sits you down and asks you how you feel about it all, asks you whether your heart is dying inside of you and what it’s like to hurt so much you can hardly bear it. You just stumble onward, alive but paralyzed, and your heart turns off to protect you from the future terrors of misty graveyards looming so surely on life’s horizon. But, if that stilled heart never starts to beat again, and you can’t love or feel or live your life, then Voldemort wins. Don’t let the Dark Lord win.

There must be a way, somehow, to come back to life, to awake from the protective slumber into which your heart and mind have placed you. When will the world seem safe enough for the real self to emerge and stay in control, never to retreat again into the recesses of the soul? I think that, for me, the day is coming. Actually, in many ways, it’s already here. The potential for healing is as great as the potential for hurt, and someday—maybe today—it just might be healing’s turn. But that, as they say, is another story altogether.

Another Late Post

I just found that there are support sites on the Internet for people who are afraid of flying! That’s been one of my main concerns about going to Spain: the extremely long flight there and back. The hour and a half from here to Washington can be bad enough (or it can be extremely pleasant, it’s kind of random) but 14 hours or whatever could be a nightmare! Well, that’s not really the case, since I know that my panic attacks are worst in the first two hours or so of a situation that causes them, like freeway driving or being stuck in a big meeting, for example. If I can survive for that long—and I always can—then I start to relax and end up enjoying myself in whatever the activity is. But anyway, maybe I can watch videos of flying on YouTube so I can get more used to the idea, so then it will eliminate any unneeded anxiety. Who knows!