Pandemic thoughts

Hello everyone!  I often feel neglectful of my blog, considering how much energy I put into my Youtube channel, so today I decided to write an entry here.  I chose a topic that, for various reasons, I’ve barely broached in video:  this pandemic.  Specifically, I’d like to explore how I’ve been trying to mine as much good as possible out of this strange and often unpleasant time.  It’s certainly thrown a monkey wrench into a lot of different areas of my life.  This has required me to work extra hard to keep my focus, to keep my spirits up, and to keep myself motivated and growing.  In that spirit, I’d like to explore some of the things I have been doing to make that possible for myself, and, just maybe, some of this will apply to others!

  1. I’ve had to work especially hard to keep a good routine.  A lot of my life’s regular, externally-defined patterns have been thrown off, so I’ve had to rely on my internal resources more than ever.  I have to make sure to keep a reasonable bedtime and to wake up at a reasonable hour every day, to eat my meals on a regular schedule, and to plan my days with some healthy structure.  I think now more than ever my life’s structure could go off the rails, and now more than ever I don’t want that to happen!  I’ve seen it happen to quite a few folks, and the results haven’t been anything I want to experience.
  2. I’ve been working hard to keep up with my internal relationship with myself.  For me this primarily involves a lot of journaling and a lot of maintaining a good, healthy, inner dialogue.  My life’s decrease in face-to-face social interactions has been painful for me, and I quickly came to realize that one way I can make up for that is to work extra hard to interact with myself: to check in with myself, to see how I’m feeling, and to help myself work through whatever I might be going through.  I don’t want to let myself fall through the cracks emotionally.  I’ve seen that happen to others, and it hasn’t been pretty.
  3. I’ve put in extra effort to keep in touch with friends on the phone.  This has been a lifeline for me.  Without that I find that the “new normal” of social isolation can have a very negative effect on me.  In this regard, I really feel for people who are more socially isolated than I am — and I know quite a few.  And most especially I feel for young children, who often are interacting with no one but their parents (and often their troubled parents) and perhaps a sibling.  I wonder how many children will come out of this pandemic emotionally stunted.  I suspect the number will be high.
  4. I make sure to exercise every day.  My method of exercise is walking.  I like to walk for at least an hour every day, and thankfully that is allowed in New York City.  I have a few places that I walk that have some trees and some semblance of nature, and I treasure this.  I even have a few special trees that I occasionally hug.  Although I know this sounds cheesy, even ridiculous, not infrequently I get a real emotional boost from hugging my favorite big, old oak tree!  Maybe it’s just my imagination, but I get a strange feeling that this tree loves me as much as I love it!
  5. I work hard on personal projects.  Although I have some work that I do for money (mostly video editing for others, and also proofreading, for which I am very grateful) I have been working on my own writing and video projects, and these have been a lifesaver for me.  I know some people who feel that this pandemic has just been a huge waste of time, and while I can understand that sentiment, I don’t want to fall into it myself.  And so I have a whole list of projects on my slate, and when I’m not working for money, I’m working on them!  These keep me going — and they brighten my day as much as anything else I can conceive.  This blog entry, for example, is one!
  6. I work hard to avoid negative things.  These include negative people (sadly, most especially my family of origin), negative things on the internet, and the wide variety of addictive substances that abound in our world.  Basically, I try to maintain a healthy, well-balanced life, because I want to come out of this pandemic as healthy as I went in, and hopefully even healthier.  For many people this is a time of increased vulnerability, and I have seen quite a few people fall into some very negative things in this past year, and I don’t want to follow in their footsteps.  So I practice self-discipline.  
  7. Finally, I make sure to have fun.  My main ways of having fun (aside from talking with friends) are cooking and eating new and tasty and healthy meals, listening to classical music, reading literature, playing guitar and singing, and browsing the internet (mostly nature shows).  This just helps me relax and, for bits and snippets here and there, just forget all the drama of the world and indulge my curiosity.

So, that’s about that!  And now it’s just a question of waiting to see what comes next, and when it comes!  Hopefully soon!

Musings on Procreation, the Rights of Children, and Our Disturbed World

  • Despite overpopulation and the inability of most parents to meet their children’s needs in a satisfactory way, people who have done little more than have large numbers of children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren are socially lauded, as if they have done something excellent and praiseworthy. I see and hear this every day, even in reputable news sources.
  • I recently saw a billboard advertisement that showed a picture of a set of twin babies. The caption beneath them read, “Double the love.” Continue reading

Fear About My New Life: A Personal Essay

I am full of fear about my new life.  I am planning, with my friend Fred Timm, to start a not-for-profit organization called Conscious Community — a hub, online and also in-person, for people interested in and dedicated to becoming more conscious.  This is the first time I have spoken publicly abdaniel chillin in africa_smallerout this group.  We have been working hard on formulating its principles for some time and it’s almost ready to go.  I don’t want to say much more about it right now, beyond that its ideas are in synch with the values I have been espousing for the last ten or so years.

In framing this essay, I’d like to ask myself some questions about my fear.  Sometimes I find interviewing myself to be quite helpful.  So here goes. Continue reading

Pros and Cons of Having Gone to Swarthmore

Twenty years ago this month I graduated from Swarthmore College with a liberal arts degree in biology.  I’d been well-trained to do everything and nothing:  everything because four years of Swarthmore convinced me that I could learn most anything successfully, and nothing because past that I really hadn’t learned much of practical value.  After leaving Swarthmore I entered the world with high confidence and major insecurity.  I had some wonderful and very rough years ahead.  Had Swarthmore prepared me for a balanced life as it so roundly promised or had it failed me?  Reflecting on those formative years of two decades back, I wish to study my college experience, in good Swarthmore fashion, logically. Continue reading

My Films Are Now Free on Youtube

For the past seven years I have been making films on recovery without medication from extreme mental states called psychosis or schizophrenia.  For the past four years, since I ended my therapy practice, this has been my full-time work—and my passion.  I have made four films and have mailed DVDs of them to all corners of the English-speaking world, and I have felt honored to watch their message spread:  to mental health consumers, psychiatric survivors, mental health professionals, teachers, family members, journalists, libraries, and universities.

In 2013, thanks to a grant from The Foundation for Excellence in Mental Health Care, I came out with new DVD versions of my first three films—each translated into more than 16 languages.  My business quickly became far more international, yet I noticed a trend: Continue reading

Stealing Land From the Indians: Does Might Make Right?

I was recently going through some old essays of mine and found this one from 2002, written two years before I had a website.  I forgot that I even wrote it.  I didn’t expect to like it much, but instead found the opposite:  I really liked it.  It expresses some concepts that I didn’t even realize I was thinking about at that time, and in some ways I find that they may even be more advanced than that which I think about now.  Also, at the end of the essay I will discuss a couple of points this essay brought up for me.  But for now I’ll leave the essay to you…

••• ••• ••• •••

I grew up in Upstate New York on what was once Cayuga Indian land.  To me it is the most beautiful country in the world:  rolling hills, crisp, cold streams, cascading waterfalls, Continue reading

In a Lost Stage of My Life

(written 8/29/13)

I’ve known for a while that I’m rather lost.  Not totally lost — but still, kind of lost.  I’m not sure exactly where I’m going or what path I’m on.  I would say that I have been kind of lost for about three-and-a-half years.  It’s a stage of my life.

Recently I have come to think of my conscious life as having been in four stages so far.

The first stage of my conscious life was from about age three or four to age twenty.  In a nutshell I guess you could call that stage my conscious childhood.  Continue reading

Commentary on Fromm-Reichmann Essay

[Written in March, 2013.]

I wrote my Frieda Fromm-Reichmann essay back in the Fall of 2005.  Since then it’s had quite a profound effect on my life.   For starters, I wrote it before I’d ever met anyone who had met or even knew anything about Frieda Fromm-Reichmann.  I was working as a private practice therapist back at that time.  I was fascinated with the subject of psychosis, Continue reading

My Values

[I wrote this essay in July of 2011.]

For several years I have been studying people in deep, long-term friendships and couples in happy, long-term, committed relationships, in order to determine what makes the relationship function.  What keeps them together?  What keeps them “happy” in their relationship?  The general answer I have found is simple, and is neither a good nor a bad thing:  it is common values.  The reason I say it is not necessarily good is that I have seen many happy, functioning couples or friends who share values I find disturbed or offensive, such as fundamentalist religiosity, mutual denial of their abusiveness toward their children, xenophobia, hypochondria, overlapping areas of sexual acting out, shared love of the same drug, and love of living in a bubble of comfort, to name but a few.

My reason for writing this essay, however, arose when I got down to brass tacks and asked myself about my own values, and thus, in turn, about the types of people I am most likely to gravitate toward.

What do I value most in this world? Continue reading