matt_doyle: (Default)
I've been unproductive in both writing and blogging lately (the latter being obvious to you guys) (lately meaning... since June, when it comes to writing), and that's a stress thing.  The writing has been slowly getting better; the blogging slowly worse, but I've had a frustrating couple of days, so I wanted to get it off my chest.  Also i promised y'all a blog post a week, so it's owed.

The problem is, the stress isn't rational.  Megan and I are financially better off than ever.  Several other obvious stressors I've had before are also lower, not higher, than ever before.

And yet, I've been having what I can only describe as anxiety attacks.  They started earlier this year; I don't remember how much earlier.  Before my productivity problems in writing, anyway.  (Two years ago my best year for writing was 40,000 words; this year i am over 100K, clearly productivity problems are relative).

What happens is, I have an intense episode, between, say, two and twenty minutes, where I am paralyzed and preoccupied by the fear of my own mortality.  I think I mentioned this before.  Not fear of death, mind, of mortality.  I don't think I'm going to die any time soon, but the prospect that it will happen eventually, not just to me but to everyone, and that tehre is no knowing what if anything comes next, makes me want to scream and weep and throw up and throw things.  Of course, I don't.  I just sit there being dizzy and angry and fed up at myself, and try to think about something else, or put some fucking rational perspective on the thing, and eventually I succeed and life goes back to normal.

I don't like talking about this.  I don't like posting about this.  it makes me feel vulnerable, and worse, it makes me feel crazy.  Growing up with a clinically paranoid father, being crazy is my biggest fear.  Hell, even these existential panic attacks can't rival my fear of senility, insanity, delusion... just, fuck no, okay?

Sometime around midsummer, I think, I started to find coping mechanisms that worked.  The attacks got less frequent.  Even when they happened, I could ride them out with relative serenity in five minutes or less.

Now they're stepping up again.

In another couple months I will have health insurance.  After I get a doctor to figure out if I have depression or ADD or both, conquering these things is priority numero uno.  Hell, I'll mention it in that first appointment, because maybe it's connected, even though these are new and my other presumptive neurochemical difficulties date back at least to when i hit puberty.

I'm just impatient.  Worst of all, these things both give me an awareness of the limited time I have on this sphere, and simultaneously, they waste my time.  I refuse to spend the next sixty years losing, what, call it point six percent of my time to these things?  That's five months.  I could write a novel in five months.  This bastardly little inconvenience is cutting a novel out of my lifetime potential productivity.

I hate it.

I guess, this year, I've had more than my usual share of spiritual doubts and struggles with faith.  But it's hard to tell which was cause and which was effect, and I've made it past the worst of those, too, so doubt that these things are only... what, theological aftershocks?

I do not know what is going on inside my head.  I do not like it.

I would appreciate commentary.  I would not appreciate advice.  Please distinguish between the two in your responses.

Thanks for listening.

matt_doyle: (Default)

So, over on John Scalzi's blog he's got an interesting post about the American persecution of atheists.  Like him, it's something I've seldom seen for myself; but like him, I'm chock-full of privilege and may simply be blind to it.  In liberal, academic, intellectual circles, it seems to me that atheism and Christianity both have some degree of privilege and both have some negative stigma, but I can only really speak for the Christian side of that, because that's what I see.  So I wondered:  if you feel like talking about it, O Atheists Of My Acquaintance, would you care to weigh in about anti-atheist bias and how it's affected you?  Are there areas, geographically or socially, where the stigma is greater or less?  In your experience, are there contexts where atheism is privileged rather than punished?

Additionally, in case it's relevant to the discussion in any way, I want to repost the comment I made in Scalzi's discussion threads, after reiterating my own privilege and lack of perspective.


At one time, although briefly, I was openly first an atheist and then a pagan in a small, close-minded town, and the only flak I ever caught for it was from my Dad (and my Dad has always given me flak for everything, so that doesn't count).

Currently, I identify strongly as both a Christian and an agnostic (my usual phrasing is “heretical heterodox Christian agnostic.”). I believe in a Deity, but I believe just as strongly that neither I nor anyone else can pretend to be sure. I’m also very strongly secularist; I think my religion is between me and Presumed Deity, and should stay the Hell out of everyone’s public policy except inasmuch as it informs their personal values and convictions. (I think the Founding Fathers were with me on this one. And Roger Williams.)

When it comes to proselytizing and evangelism, what I tell people is that yes, I do it to everyone I meet, all the time. ‘You Will Know They Are Christians By Their Love,’ after all. That, and as an anonymous source I call not-Francis-of-Assissi said “Preach the Gospel always. If necessary, use words.” My actions should be sufficient to show people my faith. If they are not, then I need to work on myself before I’m fit to minister to others.

I’m happy to talk about my faith whenever, of course (example: what I am doing right now!), but it’s not for me to decide when to start that conversation. People who are genuinely curious about my faith or religion in general raise the subject eventually. People who are not, don’t. And since I’m one of them blasphemous Christian Universalists, I believe we’re all going to Heaven eventually anyway, and there’s no urgent need to talk y’all around as long as you aren’t egregiously misbehaving by any ethical standards.

Prayer.

Jan. 18th, 2012 08:41 pm
matt_doyle: (Default)
What it says on the tin. If you're not interested in hearing me talk about how I pray and why and et cetera, don't click on the cut tag. This may take me a while. Though I'll note that despite the fact that I address my prayers to a deity I believe in; the reasons I pray are largely unrelated to religious conviction.

Read more... )
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... after a brief interlude wondering about the oddness of my dreams last night, which are too muddled and insufficiently narrative to relate, but which did involve, at one point, me standing naked in a girl's locker room while two female acquaintances wondered why the Hell I was there...

Anyway. For some reason this morning I started thinking about a series of conversations I had in college with my good friend (best friend, during my undergrad years) Chris.  Chris and I, both Christian, both rather philosophical, and similar in our beliefs in many ways, found we had remarkable disparities in our beliefs about the afterlife, and so we set to tracking down why. 

Over the course of three years we spent between three hundred and five hundred hours discussing the nature of heaven.  This was not our only discussion topic, nor our only philosophical debate, but week after week we returned to it -- after dinner, while lounging in our room,  weekends, between classes... step by step, distinction by distinction, we parsed our beliefs and the rationale behind them, until we came to the final conclusion that there was one root difference from which the rest proceeded. 

Chris believed that, among the organizing principles of the cosmos, Logic was the most important, the most primal, and Aesthetics was second.  I believed (and mostly still believe) that Aesthetics comes before Logic.

It's remarkable what a difference that makes in worldview.

No particular useful observation to make about all this.  It's just that it all came very vividly to mind this morning.
matt_doyle: (Default)
My life isn't that busy at the moment, though the lack of money is making it stressful (and thankfully, I'm in an upcoming pharmaceutical study which ought to take the edge of my money woes significantly). But the majority of my roommates are either prepping for finals week or past finals and graduating this semester, so I think some of the crazy time-deprivation has rubbed off on me. Starting in a week or two, things should be calmer, which will hopefully have a positive effect on my reliability and timeliness.

Anyway. Making a post simply to apologize for not posting seems a rather pointless exercise, so I suppose I ought to find something to discuss.

I'm a packrat. I've spent some time today cleaning out the Inbox of my old yahoo mail account, the one I used from age 13 or 14 until last year (technically, I still use it - for facebook notifications and chatting on Yahoo Messenger). I had 2700 messages in my inbox when I started - and I sort mail into subfolders when I can, so at a guess that's over 4k total messages. 400ish a year. More than one email received every day, on average, that I felt was worth saving.

In my apartment are boxes full of notebooks. They date back about as far as the emails do -- they'd date back further, but the paper pretty much starts falling apart at that point, or the pencil lead has gotten too smudged to read. Most of these notebooks don't even have a single story in them. Many of them just have story seeds, or single lines of dialogue, or mental images I wanted captured - one per page, seventy or so per notebook. The last time I counted my notebooks was when I first moved up to college, nearly 7 years ago. Then, I had something approaching sixty. Now... well, I've gotten exponentially more prolific over the past few years (though nowhere close to the level I want to get to).

It's a big number. A lot of dead trees, a lot of flipped bits of data (or whatever). Most of which, I freely admit, I may never even look at again. And yet, bringing myself to part with it is nigh impossible. I'm not a materialistic guy; it's not the acquisition of stuff I care about.

It's the ideas. Even discarded, even when I sneer or cringe when looking at them, even then I want to keep them, for the map they show me of what I was thinking and feeling, how my brain was working, who I was back then. Sound and fury, signifying nothing, most likely. But the Romance of the Record seduces me every time - the tangibility of my history. The evidence chamber of my mental precinct house, and half a dozen metaphors even more strained.

A lot of these saved emails, these notebook scribbles, (these LJ posts, here and on my old journal), are recursively introspective - they're talking about how I have changed as a person, how I look back, how I collect, how I build myself. I think this one may be the most meta, talking about talking about myself, but still.

It's worth doing, this forensic examination of shed snakeskins. That's what I'm trying to say, and having difficulty justifying. I learn from it. It calms me, grounds me, keeps me thinking about what I do and how and why I do it. By charting a course from past to present, it gives me a notion about the future (probably not a very good one). My interest in the discussion, however it turns in on itself, is one of the few things that doesn't change from one examination to the next.

Does this provoke thought in anyone but me?

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