Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Do You See What I See?

[This may not be one of my better posts, but it is one I am proud of.  I was able to envision the entire entry in my mind before writing it, something I have not been able to do in a very long time.  In the past, I could have made an outline, flushed out my preferred prose, and written something I objectively decent from most literary perspectives.  I still don't have that ability.  Several "ideas" have been started as posts which have gone unpublished.  Once the idea inspiration passes, I find it impossible to get it back.  There are just too few moments when I physically can write and think and plan seriously, such that editing is pretty much a "wrote it, scanned it, spell checked it" process.  Still, I think this one shows I may return to form some day.]

A friend (I fear long lost) and I used to have a running joke based on a scene from a mutual favorite film, Catch-22.

"Do you see what I see?"
"A naked man in a tree?"
"That's just Yossarian."

Whenever something worth pointing out to the other was noticed, some form of "Do you see what I see?" would be asked.  The question, "A naked man in a tree?" was always the response.  Then, we'd get onto whatever was worth looking at.  It eventually evolved into just pointing out the naked man in a tree, and later into just saying, "Is that Yossarion?" instead of "Look at that."

I like how an inside joke can evolve, becoming truly obscure to those not "in" on it.

-     -     -     -     -

Well, I didn't really start this post to bring up an old inside joke.  I want to write about a portion of the "misunderstanding" I had with the Psychology Department at Kaiser Permanente so long ago.

At one point, the pseudo-doctors, so certain I was hallucinating the FACT that my height had increased by an inch and a half, requested that I take a personality test.  They lied, again, telling me about the possibility of pain killing drugs after I jumped through their hoop.  They likely presumed the test would confirm that I was psychotic and delusional.  I took the test.

Quite early on, I had to ask for clarification. 

One of the first questions had been, "Do you hear things other people don't here?"  (Note - I studied Cognitive Psychology, the hard wiring, not the subjective aspects of psych, not in any detail, anyways.)  I was supposed to answer the question with one of 4 responses, basically an "all the time" or "none of the time" spectrum.

I answered sometimes.  I have pretty good hearing.  I pick up on sounds my wife does not, from birds in the back yard to the water dripping into the ice maker.

Shortly thereafter, the test asked, "Do you see things other people don't see?"  This is when I asked for clarification.

"Is it asking if I see things that others can't see?  Like "I see dead people?  Or is it . . . "

He cut me off and said, "just go with whatever came first to your mind."

I answered "all the time."  That probably did not help my cause.

-     -     -     -     -

Let me be clear.  I don't see dead people.

My first impression of the question defined "see" to mean comprehend.  It wasn't just about visual stimuli.  It was what such stimuli made me think, made me realize, understand, and even theorize.

An example relevant to my long term goals with this blog:

Consider Muslim prayer.  What do you see?

I see a correlation, a similarity, between the physical prostate position performed in Muslim prayer and the "Child's Pose" position of yoga.

Now, for purposes of answering "Do you see things other people don't see?," I presume most people do not identify the similarities in the physical positions of the two actions when they view just Muslim Prayer.

Yet, that is not all I "see."

I see an act of submission within the prayer, a surrender to one's God, an act which greatly relaxes the body as well as the mind.  A very goal of child's pose is the relaxation of the body and mind.  I have even heard the phrase "surrender to air" used in trying to help one achieve Child's Pose.  I presume, of the few people that actually did notice this correlation between Muslim prayer and Child's pose, most thought of it as coincidental.  I don't believe in coincidence.

I see two spiritual practices likely evolved from a common ancient practice. 

I theorize that this common practice would strongly mirror my beliefs about balance, physical balance within the body and the effects it has, not only on the mind, but on physical health as well.  I theorize that what I have realized relatively recently about balance is nothing "new" at all.  It is ancient, and known by many.  As practices evolved, however, people lost sight of the original knowledge.  They never learned the true origin of their practices.

Do you see the naked man in the tree?

Monday, July 23, 2012

My Working Vacation

[Okay.  The title may be stretching obscurity even for me.  I am not doing a good job at documenting specifics of my changes lately.  There have been too many, with little time in between, giving no time to sit and write.  I expect this to continue for some time.  If I can, I shall make short notes I can decipher later, but that has always been difficult.  When concepts are difficult to articulate in the first place, making a short notation and expecting to be able to remember enough specifics at a later time is nearly impossible.  I could probably do better if I ceased any and all moments of personal entertainment (TV or Internet), but that would probably drive even more insane than I already am.  I so need a vacation from myself.]

Four days in San Diego, the beach, the parks, more parks (the daughter is 5, after all), the hotel pool and spa, and of course, shopping.  A vacation away from the hell of the Valley.

Well, it's a vacation for my wife and daughter.  I'm still here.  The idea of air travel, even a short flight (and the possibility of being stuck on the tarmac) terrifies me.  A car is bad enough.  Plus, since learning I have Sjogren's Syndrome, my misery on previous plane flights before my 30s, (or car trips using the A/C for that matter) became clear.  Kinda like a frog, you dry out the air around me and I suffer.

So, an inability to be confined to a seat for extended periods combined with being extra-vulnerable to my surroundings, and plane travel just doesn't happen, at least for now.  You'd also be correct if you pieced together why I consider this Sacramento Valley the equivalent of hell.  It's hot and dry, or freezing and dry, or freezing with tulle fog, or windy and dry.  Windy and dry is the worst.  I miss coastal fog, so much.

Anyways . . .

The house is mine, along with the dog (she has yet to leave the front window, however, awaiting the girls return, and it has not even been a day), so even in that respect I am alone.

In days of old, the idea of having the house to myself would have resulted in "Man Cave" living, sports TV, video games, beer, whiskey, maybe other non-prescription medicinals, the recliner, pizza, ice cream, and a cranked up stereo.

I still have the sports and stereo (Rolling Stones playing now), and some medicinals, unfortunately, prescription pain killers that do not include marijuana, a non-prescription drug of choice for a time.  I may miss marijuana as much as I miss coastal fog.  [Mental Note - I must do an post on the Led Zeppelin question, "Are you dizzy when you're stoned?"]

Instead, this respite from family has become a work intensive marathon.

Normally, my day starts as the kid goes to school and the wife goes to work.  I do some rehab exercise of one form or another, lasting anywhere from a half hour to three hours or even more if I am up to it.  Then, I am recovering from the exertion, pretty much the remainder of the day.  On good days, I am able to do some "adjustments" in these hours after exercise while I recover.  Though, in truth, the "adjustments" take a toll on me as well, sometimes quite significant, which requires further recovery time.

Written of before, I call them "adjustments," my attempts to unwind, to find my balance, to work the fold(s) - See Seat Belt Metaphor - to continue undoing the damage of a life lived contorted and perverted out of balance, which had likely been exacerbated by a childhood injury.  As yet, unless I acheive a substantial physical change (which there have been several), these "adjustments" appear to be subluxation of joints to casual (or medical) observer, sometimes even to a degree of total dislocation of joints, with no objectively noticeable purpose, while clearly causing discomfort and pain to accomplish.

During these hours when I "adjust," it most definitely becomes compulsive.  I try variation after variation, sometimes trying to repeat a motion with greater extension, sometimes trying to envision, then attempt, all new motions previously believed impossible (or simply never attempted such that my body finds the motion completely new, using a muscle the way it should be used, but in a way it never has been used - like trying to wiggle one's ears if you never have).  I start with just a few, then find some success or get new ideas or retry old ones, and invariably find myself losing sight of time, engrossed in constant attempts to ease tensions and find balance, oblivious to everything save physical sensations and attempted movements.

On the few occasions I have spent significant time with people outside the family (like a trip to Reno with my wife's close friends and our children), it became very apparent that an individual subluxing or dislocating his arms and legs, intentionally, is disquieting to others, even frightening when it begins to occur compulsively.  This is one reason I avoid other people and outings.  It is just hard, and painful over time, to keep still.  Also, like many things, it is difficult to try (as in focus on a new motion) when others are watching.

The same is true in front of my own family, though my wife has worn a brave face for so long, and I try not to do much in front them, especially the 5 year old.  Hell, I nearly had a nervous breakdown when she tried to copy a few of the things Daddy does (I'm so glad she finally understands they are not fun).  And while I often must walk to a different room to attempt to release tension or untweak a body part as a result of being too still for too long, for the most part, I do not allow myself to get anywhere near compulsive "adjustments" while my family is home.

As such, my normal "adjustment" period follows a Bell curve on their work/school days, with little done on most weekends.  The "adjustments" gets more intense as it gets compulsive, until the apex, where I realize I need to stop before my family gets home.  Compulsive movements don't stop easily, so it takes effort and meditative relaxation, which tends to still include moments of "adjusting" such as to be represented by the back side of the Bell curve.

On a good day, I rehab, "adjust" with some tangible or subjective success, and cease any compulsive movements before the family gets home. 

While I define what is happening to me, or rather, what I am doing, in a variety of ways (whether as an ultimate goal to be attained or as an unstoppable progression that simply will work out eventually after having broken the proverbial levee so many years ago), I often consider this my job.  It is, I believe, the only way I can become not only useful, but possibly even healthy.  The more I put in, the faster I will reach the end game, whatever that may be.

This is why I now find myself on a working vacation. 

Free of family, I have spent easily 16 of the last 22 hours doing rehab exercises or "adjusting" (to claim 6 hours of sleep may be a stretch, however), and I fear the only thing that will stop me from working during the next 80+ hours of their vacation is exhaustion, even though I know there will be a price for such a marathon.  I'm probably going to be really, really sore, most likely in substantial pain, for a week or more once my family returns. 

But how can I let this is a window of opportunity, in a Summer that has not allowed me much rehab time, pass without making the most of it?  I am compelled to invite compulsion.

Of course, we plan to hit the State Fair on Friday after their return.  It is probably our only chance this year given other schedulings, and one of the few close outings of substance I can attend, just walking around. 

So, if you see a guy at the State Fair on Friday, most likely wearing a Cal cap or sun hat on his head, Vibram Fivefingers on his feet, limping or at least walking oddly, with noticeable side effects from Adderall and Vicodine (can't imagine how else I'll manage the outing), with a wife and kid in tow (well, they'll be towing me), that will be yours truly.  Feel free to say, "Moo," and introduce yourself.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Why I Finally Appreciate The One Percent

[Some house keeping, it's been a hellish month - trip to Mom's with the kid throwing up the entire final night, me getting violently ill shortly after returning home (on no sleep), weather changes, and some of the more significant dislocations yet by even the most minor of contacts (my daughter becoming afraid to sit on my lap).  There have been some ups - a spa giving me more time without so much gravity, great progress in shoulders and substantial freedom in the hips (which of course does correlate with some of the dislocations).  Nevertheless, I've been miserable.  I've only managed to swim 4 times in the past three weeks, and my weight remains 20 pounds north of my lesser target.  Feeling decent today, however, so I've been surfing the Net, and the following dawned on me, a Modest Proposal of sorts.]

First, I am a hybrid Socialist.  I believe in many tenants of Capitalism, like rewarding hard work.  I especially believe in reaping the rewards of innovation.  Yet, I am offended by the "free" market.  I detest the lies of advertising, and I loath that entire groups of individuals are taken advantage of legally.  I believe there should be minimum quality of life assurances for all in a country blessed with our technologies. 

I, too, am (well, was) a lawyer, and I read the preamble to the Constitution as more insightful than many of the specific language snippets the Court defines on it's own, like Due Process or Equal Protection.  I believe the document is meant to "form a more perfect Union," to "promote the general Welfare," and to "secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Prosperity," not to allow corporations to steer the discussions of political debate and besically stymie our government while abusing the people and land for profits.

And until today, I hated the 1%.  I hated the disparity of wealth.  I hated that so many suffered so so few could have so much more than they could ever need.

That was until today.  Now, I have new found compassion.

Sure, millions and millions of us suffer, literally suffer, physically, mentally, emotionally, and economically.  But stop being so selfish and think about the money for once.

While there are millions of Americans, there are billions, no, trillions, of Dollars.  Shouldn't we keep the Dollar's interests in mind?

When I get my hands on a Dollar, more often than not, I just spend it.  I hand it over to others so easily, in trade for such transitory items like food or electricity.  I've even handed over 14 individual Dollars for a mere 2 hours of watching a poorly written story being expressed on a large screen in a foul smelling movie theater with sticky floors.

Does the Dollar deserve such treatment?

Consider the 1%.  They LOVE their Dollars.  They hate giving them up, and for the most part, they never do.

If you were a Dollar, would you want to be in the hands of some ordinary slob that will give you away within days or hours of acquiring you?  Or would you rather be loved?  Would you rather be held tightly and guarded forever, considered more important by your possessor then the quality of life of those few Americans?

Just as Spock said, "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few."

Who are we to deny love to trillions of Dollars, we measly millions of Americans?

Let the 1% love them as we never could.  Embrace the Plutocracy if you care for the Dollar at all, if you call yourself an American.