Monday Madness (July 28, 2008)

¡Hola! Everybody…
Well it’s back to work for yours truly. I took a two-week vacation in which I did… nothing. Yup, that’s right, I did nothing. Do you know hard it is to do nothing? I mean, it’s, like, a sin or against the law to do nothing in America. People would ask and when I informed them that I was doing nothing, they would look at me as if I’d just developed a third eye and immediately offer “solutions” to my “predicament.” Some people actually looked resentful that I had the audacity to do nothing – or at least admit that I was doing nothing. People: don’t drink the Kool-Aid.

SMDH

I think we all should do nothing more often.

Today’s art work, titled Emotional Healing Reprise, is by James D. Lewis (click here to visit his website).

* * *

-=[ Emotional Healing ]=-
“We must take care not to make intellect our god. It has, of course, powerful muscles, but no personality. It cannot rule, only serve.”
— Albert Einstein

Emotions get a bad rap in our culture, but without emotions, life would have no meaning. In fact, without emotions we would’ve ceased to exist as a species a long time ago. Emotions give direction to our thoughts and are integral to our decision-making process. Furthermore, without love, beauty, justice, truth, dignity, honor and the great satisfactions each of these provide, what worth would life hold?

These experiences, and the emotions that drive them, gives us our direction. They compel us toward more love, more beauty, more justice, and to distance our selves from their opposites. Without emotions, we lose our ground of being – our fundamental bearings – and we cannot make choices that truly reflect what matters most to us.

People with serious mental illness lose this ability. Like, Emilia, for example, a young woman who came to my office one day. Part of my training involves listening at a level most people are unfamiliar with. One of the things I look for is an individual’s ability to stay “on task” – to demonstrate some measure of focus. Initially, she seemed quite normal, though she had problems making eye contact. For the sake of brevity, I’ll just say that Emilia eventually attempted to stab me with a letter opener. Luckily, I was paying attention and realized, after a while, that she seemed to be listening to voices. I also noticed she was taking quick glances at a cup on my desk that held the letter opener and scissors.

As the realization that I was with a disturbed individual dawned on me, I went to take the cup out of reach as subtly as possible. That’s when she lunged for the letter opener. I was able to wrest the cup for her grasp, but it was a harrowing experience nonetheless.

I was able to get Emilia some help, but the next time I saw her, there was no life in her eyes. And it was sad to watch her. While the antipsychotic medicine helped take away the voices and hallucinations, she seemed more like a zombie than the vibrant, intelligent young woman her family remembered. And that’s the whole thing: no emotion, no life. Today, there are antipsychotic medications whose side effects are less disturbing, but side effects are always a concern. We just don’t know enough about the way the mind/ brain works.

On the other hand, emotional over indulgence does not make for skillful living. Emotions must be tempered by the rational analysis that the cognitive brain provides. Otherwise, rash decisions made in the heat of the moment can adversely affect our relationships with others. I’m willing to bet that many of you reading this have probably had children off a feeling. LOL

Emotions without focus, thoughtfulness, and planning leave us at the mercy of the vicissitudes – the random ups and downs — of life. If we are incapable of controlling our existence, life loses meaning too.

Your life is unique – every life is unique. It is also true that every life is difficult. Too often I hear people comment that if only they had more money, were better looking, or were more talented, that they would then be happy. By becoming someone else, they seem to be saying, they would not have to face their obstacles and problems – and that is true. But they would have other problems – theirs!

I say, if you’re not happy now, then you’ll never be happy no matter what. You will always have something to bitch about; something will always bother you, or stop you from your happiness. You will always say…

If only

Marilyn Monroe was perhaps considered the sexiest, most famous, and most desired of all women of her generation. Yet, she could never escape a deeply embedded sense of loneliness which she drowned in alcohol. Eventually, she would die of an overdose of barbiturates. Jimi Hendrix became a superstar and changed the very way the guitar was played and no one today can pick up a guitar without being influenced by his playing. He too died from an overdose of drugs. One of my favorite writers, Earnest Hemingway, won a Nobel Prize and led a life full of adventure and excitement and yet that didn’t stop him from putting a gun to head and pulling the trigger.

Neither talent, nor glory, power, money, nor the adulation of men and women can make the essence of life easier.

Still, there are people who seem to live in harmony. Most often they have a feeling that life is generous. They are able to enjoy the people around them and the mundane everyday pleasures: meals, sleep, projects, and relationships. They don’t belong to a cult or a specific religion. Some are rich, some are not. Some are married, others live alone. Some possess extraordinary talents, others are quite ordinary. They all have experienced failures, disappointments, and dark moments. Nobody – nobody – escapes from hardships.

However, overall, these people seem better equipped to overcome obstacles. They seem to have a special ability to get through misfortune, to give meaning to their lives, as if they had a closer relationship to their lives, with others, and with what they have chosen to do with their existence.

I believe that we all can learn to live in this way – to live in harmony with our environment and our internal values. My experience has shown me that we can learn to heal ourselves, that there is a vast reservoir of healing energy within all of us. I also believe that this healing power is within our grasp and that it lies in learning to harness the power of our emotions.

Love,

Eddie

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