Wing Nut or Phony?

Mannequin Chair Sidewalk

In a culture as deeply superficial as ours it is often difficult to tell the authentic from the false.

It is easy to sympathize with the phonies, poseurs, affected wannabe’s and disingenuous empty vessels passing off pilfered ideas as original, skating past any serious analysis or criticism by others as an ant might slide across a non-stick sauce pan slathered with extra virgin olive oil.

Their dilemma is not unfamiliar. How does one stand out in an atmosphere of mass homogenization where, thanks to the constant recycling of mediocre ideas discarded by others, we are reduced to virtual clones, unable to generate anything original or even recognize originality in others?

With apps ever ready to do the work and thinking for us, today’s Johnny & Jane Lunchbucket simply don’t have the energy or ability to develop attributes sufficient to earn the name “personality”. So what’s a faker to do?

Simple – steal one! This is not as odd as it sounds, indeed, throughout history residents of society’s inner circle – where tedium is sought out and bland banality honored as a virtue – have looked beyond the castle walls for character, creativity, flair, vision and style. Shamelessly pillaging the campsites of society’s least loved minority groups they returned home with loot enough to pretend they were interesting.

And thus, gentle reader, do we arrive at the crux of this tale. You see, crazy is the new cool – and so – these days there are a lot of creeps passing themselves off as wing nuts when in fact they’re square bears in chicken outfits. This leaves the average citizen with the challenge of separating the honest to goodness wing nuts from the phonies.

Keep an ear out for these phrases; they will help you differentiate.

“I’m crazy, man, I’m dangerous, man. I could snap just like that.” Phony

“I am perfectly sane, no need to worry about me!” The Real Thing

“When I walk down the street, children run and hide.” Phony

“I stepped onto a Moebius strip to get to the same side.” The Real Thing

“My thoughts are too advanced for society.” Phony

“Wearing my underwear outside my clothes makes laundry day easier.” The Real Thing

“I hear voices and they all sound like Oprah Winfrey.” Phony

“I hear voices arguing with each other and ignoring me altogether.” The Real Thing

“I drink to forget something I’ve forgotten because I’ve been drinking.” Phony

“The more you drink the more talented I become.” The Real Thing

Hope these help! Be on the lookout, poseurs are everywhere!

Crossing The Stream Of Consciousness

Ferry Small

For all of us, and when I say “us” I refer, of course, to those who society might describe in terms less than entirely flattering, for example, “laughing academy graduates”, “strange rangers”, “those who dance to the beat of a different marsupial”, and of course, “Followers of Lord Whackadoomious”, to cite only the most widely circulated, familiar to schoolchild and senior citizen alike, there comes a time and, speaking from experience I assure you it is a time one remembers as vividly as one’s first blackout, if that’s not oxymoronic, when one realizes with clarity, certainty, brevity, and afternoon tea that what is commonly referred to as “mental illness” is no mere passing fancy, no hobby or experiment, no entertaining divertissement or amble through a funhouse gallery of distortion mirrors but, rather a way of being, not a lifestyle per se but merely a life or, more properly, truly a life, a complete life, which is to say, one will be doing all the things of life, the stuff, the occupations, the challenges, yes, the disappointments and frustrations as well, as a mentally ill person quite distinct from people who, through no fault of their own, are not mentally ill and must raise families, force themselves through meaningless occupations which they call jobs, without even the slightest smidgen of mental illness to make them interesting, and when one has this epiphany, if I may use such a highfalutin word, when a word as unassuming as “realization” would have served just as handily, there is that sinking feeling one experiences upon dropping car keys down a storm drain, that frozen moment of heightened awareness, like the instant before two steam locomotives, accidentally guided onto the same track, collide, colors are more vivid, sounds more intense, even one’s sense of smell is heightened, those keys, frozen in mid-air, no way to reach them, all is gone, all is certain, the die is cast, the cast has dyed, and as the keys descend through the cast iron grill, smiling a mocking, toothy smile broad as the face of a 58 Buick, the knowledge settles in the pit of your pendulum and you make peace, sweet peace, you let go, sweet release, embracing your reality with a brave little smile as you step off the ferry to tread on terra incognito.

Searching for Extraterrestrial, Mentally Ill Life

Demented Space Alien

Since slightly before the dawn of time, man has set his gaze on the immensity of space and wondered this – given the billions and billions of tiny dots out there, which are probably quite similar to the thing upon which I reside, circling the sun, or other large objects – and knowing what I do of statistical relationships and relationships of probability, which is to say, the likelihood of events – how could I possibly be alone in this universe?

When you really stop and think, isn’t it far more likely that somewhere, somehow, on one of these lonesome magma clumps there is a form of life – however humble – striving ever upwards along its agonizingly slow evolutionary rise which, ultimately, will lead, over endless millennia of failed experiments, to something resembling me, and when I say me I do so because we must take as our starting point the assumption that humanity is what they refer to as The Crown of Creation and as such is the standard by which all others are measured, assuming there are others to measure, which we are, because frankly that is the point of this exercise.

So let us argue that, given an infinite amount of time to do so, and an infinite amount of government funding to squander, not to mention a rugged little spaceship able to withstand asteroid collisions, exploration would inevitably discover life of one sort or another. According to the legions of marginally employed scientists who have time to untangle these hypothetical quandaries, this is a given. Given, perhaps, but their belief sheds no light whatsoever on the presence, or lack, of mental illness among intelligent aliens.

Since roughly one in ten Americans suffers from some sort of mental illness, it is reasonable to assume that at least one out of every ten extraterrestrials would suffer from some sort of mental health issue, which in itself would not be bad, after all, we cannot allow ourselves to be prejudiced against extraterrestrials any more than we should allow ourselves to be prejudiced against mental illness at home – however, in the interests of practicality, and practicality must be our watchword here, it is necessary to realize that not every extraterrestrial intelligent life form in the entire universe is likely to adhere to the blissfully benign standards of peace, dignity, respect, love, understanding, compassion, tolerance, fairness, and justice we subscribe to here on earth.

This is significant since, in a culture with technology more advanced than ours, the behavior of a mentally ill populace, not to mention its leaders, could be catastrophic. So, if we consider space travel at all, we must be prepared for close encounters with alien civilizations in evolutionary stages of development far different than ours, with tastes and belief systems differing drastically from those we hold dear. Consequently, it behooves us to diagnose and understand alien mental illnesses before we encounter them.

Scientists will quickly point out that it is difficult to study the unknown, which is why we will be forced to take the unpopular option of relying on psychics, faith healers, and social media experts. The time to act is now; before we first encounter mentally ill aliens and wonder what sort of treatment might help them; or protect us from them.

So, as you gaze out upon the limitless pinpoints of light strewn zig zaggedly across the squid ink dark expanse of night, consider this; someone who is not all here may not be all there, either.

Sick Girls Await Mentally Ill Barbie

Barbie - The Tragic End

Since her 1959 debut, Barbie has attracted controversy the way bloated state senators attract illegal campaign contributions. Little girls admire her for what she is, but whiners, complainers, gadflies, malcontents, rabble-rousers, muckrakers, agents provocateurs, professional cynics, babies, wimps, liberals, thought policemen, and college professors are more interested in what she is not.

These self-appointed custodians of political correctness, who live to improve the human character against its will right up to the point where it ceases to exist at all, consider Barbie to be the sharp edge of the social engineering ax, mercilessly slicing through the hapless human outliers whose creation, causation, and construction do not coincide with qualities and criteria considered desirable by society.

These TED Talk habitués condemn Barbie with sweeping statements steeped in supercilious sanctimony, Barbie, they say, is not morbidly obese enough; she is too Christian, not gay-enough, ethnic enough, or undocumented enough. To them, Barbie is the hood ornament of an exclusionary, self-satisfied society built upon deeply disturbed values, racism, and questionable fashion choices.

Mattel, makers of Barbie, has been slow to respond to what they refer to, with characteristic insouciance, as, “the cacophonous blather of tweed-clad Prius drivers.” But a storied track record of insensitivity and arrogance will soon be coming to an end as Mattel courts disturbed Americans with “Mentally Ill Barbie”, which it intends to roll out in time for Christmas.

Marketing of Mentally Ill Barbie shows, yet again, why Mattel continues to be an industry juggernaut. You and I have been taught that judging mental illness by physical appearance is highly inappropriate, inaccurate, and mean-spirited. But Mattel, determined to honor the complete palette of emotional and psychological maladies without the added expense inherent in producing multiple molds landed on a brilliant solution as plain as the nose-ring on your face; madness in fashion!

That’s right! With Mentally Ill Barbie, madness is always in fashion and can be easily modified simply by changing outfit and setting! How does it work? – you ask – in that cooperative way of yours. It’s easy; let’s meet a few right now.

Narcissistic Barbie – Executives at Mattel have explained that every Barbie made from 1959 on is Narcissistic Barbie.

Anorexic Barbie – Executives at Mattel have explained that every Barbie made from 1959 on is also Anorexic Barbie.

Compulsive Shopper Barbie – Executives at Mattel have explained that every Barbie made from 1959 on is also Compulsive Shopper Barbie.

Bipolar Barbie – Alternate between tying her to the blade of a ceiling fan and stuffing her under the cushions of a couch and, voila!

Munchausen By Proxy Barbie – Even though Munchausen by Proxy Barbie is very similar to Narcissistic Barbie, she is sold separately.

And that’s just the beginning! This Christmas season, keep an eye out for:

Alcoholic Barbie
Compulsive Gambler Barbie
Tourette’s Syndrome Barbie
Trskaidekaphobia Barbie 
Sex Addict Barbie

And so, gentle reader, the walls of stigma gradually erode as even Barbie admits, “Madness is always in fashion.”

Critical Condition

Dying Gladiator Resents Critics

If a debilitating mental illness like manic depression, schizophrenia, or republicanism has stolen your ability to make rational decisions – you’ve gone through a confidence crushing emotional sea change.

For many of us, it can be months, even years, before we regain the ability to observe, analyze, and evaluate the never-ending stream of input with clarity, agility, and unwavering authority.

Today’s recovering lunatic must contend with what I shall refer to as moral and emotional relativism and the insufferable twaddle known as political correctness. Anti-intellectualism is the height of fashion; claiming truth affords one as much credibility as being able to prove it. Sparing hurt feelings now takes precedence over honesty.

Fuzzy-headed social engineers would have us believe that everything is awesome, there are no losers, and all it takes to fulfill one’s wants and desires is the ability to visualize and wish with a level of naïve sincerity most frequently encountered in the puzzled expressions of unsuccessful prize fighters struggling through the final days of regrettable careers.

Faculties at last back where they belong, shoulders squared, you will gaze upon the rotting remains of what was once, at best, a mediocre culture and wonder – is this bullshit or is it me? At that precise moment, the extent of your recovery will be determined by your ability to say – this is bullshit – with confidence.

Like a muscle gone weak from neglect, the courage required to repudiate social stupidity must be rebuilt. To help you do so, I have prepared a diverse assortment of questions that call for snap judgments. Remember to trust your visceral responses. Good luck!

QUESTIONS

1. The meek shall inherit the earth. True_ False_

2. Quentin Tarantino once had an original idea. True_ False_

3. Everything happens for a reason. True_ False_

4. Harmony and joy will return to this troubled world of ours only after Garrison Keillor has been pecked to death by a duck. True_ False_

5. You are unique. True_ False_

6. Sacha Baron Cohen is funnier than syphilis. True_ False_

7. All men are created equal. True_ False_

8. In hell, all elevator Muzak is by Pink Martini. True_ False_

9. Creationism should be taught in high school science classes as a legitimate alternative to evolution. True_ False_

10. In Narcotics Anonymous, describing The Grateful Dead as – “a hideous shambles of talentless wing-nuts I can no longer endure” – is considered a pivotal breakthrough moment in recovery. True_ False_

ANSWER KEY

1. Sadly, this is not true, except to the extent that they will be buried in the earth.

2. False. No evidence supports this, although there is a remote possibility that he had one and kept it to himself.

3. True – frequently a bad reason.

4. True.

5. True. You are indeed unique; it’s one of the few qualities you share with everyone else.

6. True. Sacha Baron Cohen is a tiny bit funnier than syphilis.

7. False. Nobody believes this.

8. True. While no one has returned from hell to validate this, the force of logical deduction seems irrefutable.

9. True. In addition, Bozomism (clown worship) should be preached in all churches as a legitimate alternative to Christianity.

10. True. There is no record anywhere of a person listening to the Grateful Dead while sober.

Time Loves A Hero, But Crowds Like A Fall

angry mob

If you’ve ever gotten divorced you know that, as soon as it happens your married friends start avoiding you as if the inability to maintain a relationship is some sort of bizarre, highly contagious skin condition. The fate of those fighting serious mental health issues, including addiction, is far worse.

The road leading out of Bedlam seems endlessly challenging but we trudge it all the same, then, at the finish line, in place of that brass band we expect there is an angry mob. It seems beastly unkind, especially after the hard work, but before you start nursing a grudge (“No amount of nursing will ever make a grudge healthy.” Taz Mopula) understand a few things about who and what you’ve become and why the new you is bringing out the very worst this wretched refuse has to offer.

The day you went skidding off the road and right into downtown Cuckoopantsatopolis was the day you reminded every straight arrow of your acquaintance that none of us is ever truly safe. Sanity itself, that sine qua non for the bourgeois, mediocre, pointless life ostensibly guaranteed by the Constitution, is as vulnerable as a Fabergé egg. Nobody wants to be reminded of that, and yet you do.

“But wait,” you say, in that adorably naïve tone of voice you apply to questions that illustrate your innocence, “do I not also teach, i.e. show, that by facing down these unholy perils one can evolve spiritually and grow stronger, actually emerging as a better, more morally grounded person in the process?”

Yes, yes you do, Sparky, and this is precisely why that mob is roughly as happy to see you as they were to see Frankenstein.

They say in the rooms that a pickle can never return to its previous incarnation as a cucumber. While you may be a reformed devil transformed into an angel, one thing is certain, you will never again be just another Bozo on the bus in the eyes of outsiders; the tired, the poor, the slow, the dim. Fellow insiders know better, they know that all of us are merely Bozos on the bus, but that is another story.

Your very existence says to these apple pie bakers and flag wavers, “My experience is larger than yours, I know terrible truths you dare not admit. Though horribly handicapped I have emerged morally grounded, fearless, strong, and (most upsetting of all) happy.” Trust me, they will never forgive you for that.

You have become a teacher, a leader, whether you care to admit it or not. As ever, peace of mind lies in embracing the inevitable, my advice is – learn how to lead by example, make your life a poem, a prayer.

Look around you; we desperately need leaders. Today we have none, instead we have celebrities who only lead by being cautionary tales, they show us what not to do.

Gallows Humor Swings

Fearless Frontiers Of Ventriloquism

“Be nice to your enemies; you just might be one of them.” Taz Mopula

If you’ve been blessed/cursed with Manic Depression (Bipolar Disorder) you’ll be spending time off the beaten track, in some cases, far off – for example, you might find yourself lying face down in a drainage ditch paralleling the beaten track, being pecked on the head by an irate duck.

At moments like this you can weep and shake your fists at the sky, or you can scratch your head in wonder at the dizzying, diverse smorgasbord of experience life has set before you, and laugh with bemused disbelief. Both options have merit, but healthy bipolar bears benefit from developing a resilient sense of humor predicated on perspective.

“The world is most certainly not a fair place, which, for the vast majority of us, is very fortunate indeed.” Taz Mopula

Laughter sheds light on a dark situation, creates distance, and generates power. Indeed, seeing the absurdity and irony of threatening situations is a great way to make them less intimidating. Courtrooms, prison cells, mental hospitals, distraught loved ones, and the offices of therapists are not intrinsically funny – however – the most beautiful lotus emerges from the darkest mud.

“People are always finding God in prisons and mental hospitals; but try finding a gift shop.” Taz Mopula

Becoming better at doing this means developing an ability to find humor in the most unpleasant, disagreeable situations life has to offer, because these will be the moments when it is most desperately needed. This may serve to further estrange you from those who have never strayed onto the shoulder of the beaten track, much less off of it. At this point you can pretend that your view is not as wide as it is, or acknowledge the distinction and let them deal with it.

“Pretending not to know the obvious is exhausting.” Taz Mopula

In a politically correct environment like ours, where the consensus holds that pretending a duck-billed platypus is a swan will make it so, there are those who believe Tourette’s Syndrome is comedy gold, ripe with satiric potential – and those that believe it is always wrong to make fun of the disabled.

“Political Correctness: An experiment in social engineering which holds that renaming dung mousse au chocolat makes it edible.” Taz Mopula 

The problem with this, dear reader, is that bipolar bears ARE disabled, we have already learned that, when it comes to comedy, all of life is fair game, especially ourselves. Indeed, we know that being able to see the humor and absurdity in our own pain, our bizarre affliction; is a key ingredient of healing.

“The better your vision becomes, the harder you laugh.” Taz Mopula

The Isabella Mori Interview

I’ve done a lot of interviews about the how and why of writing my bipolar memoir but the one with Isabella Mori really stands out – she’s smart, appreciates literature, and is an excellent writer herself. Isabella is based in Vancouver and blogs regularly about mental health and recovery.

Invisible Driving Cover

Alistair McHarg: Thank you for your interest in INVISIBLE DRIVING. One thing that stands out about you is that you really care about literature. A lot of people I speak with only come to Invisible Driving from the bipolar standpoint, which is fine, as far as it goes.

Isabella Mori: There is a rhythm to your book that is clearly there but hard to pin down. In the beginning you seem to have a “crazy” chapter taking turns with a “normal”; then the manic and the normal (if I may use that word) start to take turns within the chapters, then whole chapters are wild and woolly, etc. etc. Can you say something about that? To what degree is that a stylistic device, and to what degree does it echo your experience? Can the two be separated at all?

Alistair McHarg: The manic chapters came first. Then a literary agent said that there needed to be “depth” – a second voice that was sane, reliable, and recovered. I rewrote the entire book several times. I now see she was so right, the chapters in the recovered voice provide the background – the psychological architecture. The reader finds out why I was vulnerable, what the triggers were, and what was significant about how I acted out. Yes, the point/counterpoint is very deliberate. (You would think that the wild, manic chapters would have been hardest to write, but the sane ones were much harder, more soul-searching of real things.)

Isabella Mori: Actually, to me, imagining writing the book, it felt that the manic ones were the ones that were written with more ease. Perhaps that is because I was frankly flabbergasted how much I could relate to a lot of what you wrote. I think that’s what first drew me in. I knew exactly what you were talking about, even though my bipolar experiences are extremely mild. I’m still astonished at that.

Alistair McHarg: Interesting. Maybe the bipolar experience is essentially the same, and what varies is the degree. It is a very nice compliment that the writing registered with you. (When I gave the ms. to my psychiatrist he said he had to put it down now and then because it was making him manic!) I can’t say that they were written in ease. Recreating the pitch of mania, the quicksilver logic twisting and slipping, the bobbing and weaving, energy, raw creative force – when I was squarely back on earth, slightly depressed – took a tremendous amount of labor and craft, craft I didn’t know I had until I attempted it.

Isabella Mori: I was wondering about the mood you were in when you wrote those passages! The fact that it was indeed a recreation speaks to your fantastic writing skills. Were there moments when you wondered whether recreating this would take you into the mania?

Alistair McHarg: Thank you. It was writing this book (my first) that turned me into a real writer; it was transformational. Your question is pivotal. I began writing immediately after the episode described had ended. I was terrified, really shaken. I had suffered with the illness long enough to know that a trigger could send me off again, and I was pretty sure another episode would kill me. But I knew I couldn’t write the book unless mentally I went back in. I was between a rock and a hard place. So I went deeply back into the middle of it. That decision is what made the experience transformational. I knew it might set me off on another high, I knew that it might kill me; I did it anyway. I knew that I had to face this damn illness or be destroyed by it.

Isabella Mori: Fascinating! I am really touched by what you say, can feel it in my gut. And what hits me is, again, this commingling; meeting of art, this thing called mental illness, and the healing of/from/with it. It reminds me of a poem I wrote many years ago when I was close to dying of typhoid fever. I wrote it in Spanish so it’s a bit hazy but something about the need to climb the mountain of art, alone, naked, because there is no other choice. Does that resonate?

Alistair McHarg: Resonate indeed. That was my challenge exactly, and it was probably the single bravest thing I’ve ever done. As you point out, I had to do it alone. I had been fed so many lies and was very fear-based. I had to strip absolutely everything away until there was nothing left that wasn’t true. And then I rebuilt; I reinvented myself. What you say about commingling is deep, and many people do not understand. I say often that Manic Depression and Alcoholism have given me more than they have taken. In Manic Depression I saw rare things, and was forced to evolve. Alcoholism ultimately took me to a better way of life and a higher power. It has all been a spiritual journey and while mental “illness” has caused earthquakes in my life it has also produced angels. I was shy, I hid, I felt “less than” – but manic depression made it impossible for me to hide, and also, it forced me to admit my power.

Isabella Mori: There is so much we could talk about here; I hope we stay in touch, but more on the commingling. So there is the art, there is the “mental illness” (funny how I often feel I have to put it in quotation marks), there is the healing, there is the acknowledgment of power, and then there is humor. There’s a lot of humor in your book. Page 218, “and how do these aristocrats of oddness settle down after a busy day of counting their fingers and slashing their wrists with plastics forks?” Humor in these circumstances can be taken as disrespect sometimes. Do you hear that sometimes? How do you react? By commingling I mean that the humor seems to be part of it all.

Alistair McHarg: Humor and music are in the very center of me. To me the best humor is never nasty, it doesn’t single out anybody and it is never there to make me feel better than you. Real humor celebrates the absurdity of all life, human vanity, fatuous selfishness. You will notice that most of the humor in the book comes at my own expense. That said, when I was manic every mean quality came out, the anger, the hurt, the fear, and, combined with an intellect that had caught fire, all this hurt often found expression in really cruel humor. Other times it was quite surrealistic and charming. In my other books – both are satiric novels, and my cartoons, even my poetry – you will find that I include myself, all of us, when aiming barbs. I disrespect elements of people; racism, jealousy, entitlement, xenophobia, but it is never about disrespecting people, it is about loving truth and loving what people could be but are afraid to be.

Isabella Mori: One last question for now. Towards the beginning of the book you say, “The love of my daughter is my favorite thing about myself.” In therapy, there is often a dictum that people should change for themselves, not for others. As a father, would you agree with that?

Alistair McHarg: This is a great question. The easy answer is yes! In AA we tell the uncertain ones; fake it ‘til you make it! At first it doesn’t matter if you are in therapy, or recovery, for the wrong reasons, so long as you are there. (Bring the body and the mind will follow.) But absolutely, there must come a time when you are doing it for yourself, otherwise you will never commit fully and you will never get the full benefit. If you asked me that question today I would answer: My favorite thing about me is that I know what I have to offer and I am doing my best to put it to the service of others.

Occupy Inner Space

enter sign

Terrified and utterly defeated I crawled into talk therapy in 1986 and walked away 17 years later. I learned that analysis is like “exploring inner space” – in the same sense that Lewis & Clark fearlessly plunged into an unknown world. A journey like that is almost certain to be filled with loss, sadness, monsters, bloody struggle, pain, death, revelation, rebirth and joy. Mine was no exception.

“Why raise the bridge when you can lower your expectations of the river?” Taz Mopula

The prolonged excavation that therapy is prompted emotional, spiritual, and intellectual growth. I’m happy to report it also prompted an almost unnerving creative Renaissance which included, but was not limited to, one memoir, two novels, dozens of poems, hundreds of cartoons and Taz Mopulisms, as well as reviews, essays, and blogadelia.

“If you need mania to be creative, then maybe creativity isn’t for you.” Taz Mopula

Through academic study and introspection I have come to understand that the human heart and soul have not changed since the earliest recorded time; we are making the same mistakes we’ve always made, the only difference is that now we make them in shabby Chinese clothes. More than ever I believe that for things to improve we must look inside – not to outer space but to inner space – as the final frontier.

“History repeats itself with tedious insistence; mankind seems determined to perfect its imperfections.” Taz Mopula

Just as we are always surprised to find our keys in “the last place we look” – we continue to be surprised by the idea Walt Kelly coined in his comic strip, Pogo – we have met the enemy and he am us. Looking inside for the culprit continues to be the last idea we’ll ever have.

“Be nice to your enemies; you just might be one of them.” Taz Mopula

To paraphrase Yeats, “Wine comes in at the lip, love comes in at the eye, and wisdom arrives at the business end of a Louisville Slugger.”

“If you are going to tell me the truth, at least have the decency to buy me dinner first.” Taz Mopula

I may not know much, but I have learned a few things over the years of battling manic depression and substance abuse. With a naiveté one would consider touching were one to encounter it in a developmentally challenged child, I have sought to share what I’ve learned. No need to elaborate on how this has worked out for me other than to observe that social ostracism and walking into a buzz saw are not as dissimilar as one might imagine. But this too is a lesson; this too does not matter.

“Looking for self-worth in someone else’s eyes is like trying to breathe with someone else’s lungs.” Taz Mopula

Truth And How It Got To Be That Way

spelunker in giant cave - light

The truth is we are born into a world of pain and devote most of our brief existence to satisfying base needs. Over time we are damaged, diminished, and ultimately destroyed. Instead of coexisting peacefully with the earth and each other our best energies are consumed by hatred, fear, violence, greed, and self-destruction.

The real tragedy of political correctness is that it has given lying a bad name.” Taz Mopula

We abhor truth and love lies. Lies are the air we breathe, the earth we tread upon, the foundations of our buildings. Most are so deeply ingrained we no longer even think of them as lies, indeed, we no longer think at all. Politicians, priests, and corporate representatives spoon-feed lies to the masses because people want to be lied to; lies win elections, build cathedrals, and sell soap.

“You can’t fool all of the people all of the time; but why would you even try when they’re so eager to do the job for you?” Taz Mopula

This is human nature, and I am not so foolish as to attempt a modification of that. However, I will frame it in a context of recovery, because, for the likes of us, recognizing and facing truth can be a matter of life or death.

“There are two kinds of people, those who believe there are only two kinds of people and those who dislike oversimplification.” Taz Mopula

Lunatics, wing nuts, and whackos – like me – are incapable of distinguishing reality from fantasy. We don’t want to live in an abandoned funhouse full of wavy mirrors misrepresenting reality; we just can’t help it. Dipsomaniacs, drug addicts, and adrenaline junkies – like me – are capable of distinguishing reality from fantasy, but we steadfastly refuse to try. No one hates truth quite as passionately as we do, and when it comes to lying, well; we are the masters.

“Pretending not to know the obvious is exhausting.” Taz Mopula

Mental health involves a long, arduous process that begins by identifying the truth about yourself. This is followed by a hard look at where you are, where you would like to be, and what it will take to get there. Brutal, often painful, honesty is an absolute requisite for this journey. For many of us, living a life of constant self-examination and ruthless honesty is rather like learning a new language. But, we tend to be determined, sometimes obsessive, people and what was once anathema can become a familiar, valued way of life. The benefits of rigorous honesty are everywhere, so we grow to love it.

“Don’t forget to wash up after losing your grip on reality; hand sanitizer is strongly advised.” Taz Mopula

Then, we get a horrible surprise. Mental illness and addiction have already marginalized us, we have always lived on the outskirts of town. But our newfound commitment to honesty and truth has put us in a ghetto on the outskirts of the outskirts of town. Remember, you have changed but the world has not. You have benefited from merciless self-evaluation and willingness to address your faults, but the world has not. Your modus operandi has changed, but take it from me, truth is just as unpopular on the outside as it has ever been.

“It’s not that I don’t love you, I do love you; I just don’t love you enough to lie to you.” Taz Mopula

Enjoy the quiet satisfaction and peace of mind it affords you, but, as ever, your ticker tape parade has been canceled.