For the last few months I was super-depressed and then my medication kicked in and I had that weird rebound effect where I was like, I am going to do all the things, and this blog is the product of one particular desire which has been kicking around in my head forever, namely to read and write about self-help books.
We will see how it plays out. I do not, historically, have a good track record of completing or even starting projects like this. An example: mostly I was miserable in high school, but one day I stood in the courtyard with my friend Erin and we planned out an entire multi-media project we were going to do on Joan of Arc. That felt really good. We never did anything about it, except that sometimes we talked about it, walking between classes. Sometimes one of us pretended to be riding a horse.
I am not just including this as a cautionary note so that you know that this blog may well never go anywhere. It seems like as good an illustration as any of the way I feel about self-help, which, as a genre, aims to turn you into the kind of person who follows through on your planned multi-media projects. And while sometimes I feel sad that I never did sit down and collage and do calligraphy and write poetry in approximation of a traditional French style, mostly if I am being honest with myself I want to stay the kind of person who could have an idea like that with a good friend and never do one single thing about it. The two of us getting loose and goofy, me sinking back from the senior I had become, who almost knew how to be a person around other people, into the fourteen-year-old I had been, who had hovered on the verge of really believing that a particular basketball could communicate with me, soul-to-soul. And I guess I really do not deep down believe that there is a way to hang on to the fierce actuality of that moment and also have done the project; I guess I believe that the doing burns away the moment of standing there, which I treasure. This is a prejudice; I do not have evidence for or against.
I also hold against self-help, like a grudge, the fact that the world as we have constructed it at this moment in time is not a good place. I have been very depressed, depressed enough to be trying different forms of medication, depressed enough to be spending a lot of time lying in bed looking at the ceiling, and it would be easy to put my belief that the world is not a good place down to that, but I know that is wrong because as I write this my medication is working really well and I still think the world is not a good place. And it seems so perverse to be developing tools to live in a world that is a bad place, when so many of the problems of the world could be solved by universal basic income and free childcare and healthcare and general acceptance of the proposition that we are all in this together, that either none of us deserve anything or all of us deserve everything and that either of those formulations requires a total rearrangement of the way we do business.
But. There is also the fact that I, personally, have things I want to do, and that my life, by and large, is one whose aims I feel okay about, given the constraints of our time. I have a job I believe in and a set of relationships I care about, and I would like to do my job well and love the people I care about well, and often I am filled with dismay at my failure to do those things properly. I would like to be given tools to do these things better. I am doubtful about my ability to change, but that doesn’t mean I don’t crave it, don’t imagine, constantly out of reach, the orderly life where I do the next right thing without hesitation, without fear, and without reproach.
So. I imagine this kind of like a cooking blog. Extended personal anecdote, then the recipe for happiness, then some notes on how it turned out. Something like that. Right now I’m reading Chatter, by Ethan Kross. It is not going quickly. I am less than halfway through. I am aiming to finish by the weekend.