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Samhain: in the witching hour

October 30, 2014

The last time I went trick-or-treating, I was 20 years old. I dressed up as . . . a boy. Well, I guess a young man. I bound my chest. I wore a baseball jersey. I pinned my hair up, underneath a baseball cap. And then I went to my ex-boyfriend’s parents’ house to ask for candy. My ex-boyfriend answered the door, as I hoped he would. I deepened my voice to a grunt. I’ve never been certain he recognized me.

I went to other houses in his neighborhood. I was tall enough, and looked old enough, that there were . . . comments . . . about someone so old trick-or-treating. As if by dressing up and collecting candy, I was doing something shameful, or least embarrassing. It never occurred to me until now that part of their discomfort might have been because no 20-year-old male would ever be caught dead trick-or-treating. Maybe I upset their world order.

===

Less than three weeks before that Halloween, I had converted to Paganism, as a solitary. I knew no other Pagans (and would not learn for 3 more years that there was a national movement towards earth religions). So emotionally and spiritually/metaphysically, I was in a liminal space where Halloween — always my favorite holiday because of dressing up — was transitioning to being a high holy day.

+++

22 years ago today (10.30.1992), I met Spouse in person for the first time. (We’d been writing to each other.) It was a Friday, so when I went to pick him up at the airport, I was still wearing the costume I’d worn to work: not ‘out’ as a Pagan to anyone I worked with, I’d daringly (in my own mind) gone as a dryad. It felt . . . sacred somehow. Not only did none of my coworkers guess my costume, but when I told (a few of) them, they didn’t recognize the word or the concept. Spouse didn’t either: Kentucky public schools didn’t teach mythology, but I’d expected better of people raised in Chicagoland. After all, I was raised there too, and I loved mythology.

+++

Today I bought myself a bunch of shirts, both men’s and women’s, in “river colors”: mostly blues, blue-greens, greens. Things that suit the person I am right now. Things that look good on this body.

I like my body. I don’t want to change it.

I looked at the women’s shirts first, then thought to compare available colors with men’s shirts. To get to the men’s department, I had to cross through the boys’ department. And today, that was unexpectedly difficult. There were boys shirts I would’ve won, today, if they had been remotely big enough.

I was never a boy. I never wanted to be a boy. Exactly. It’s complicated. Today all of those uncomfortable feelings were very close to the surface. I didn’t push them away. Sometimes I had tears in my eyes, and I just let them be.

+++

What does it mean, what has it ever meant, that when I dream of “my heart’s desire”, it’s a character that I recognize as my cousin J. A boy. Someone who was my best friend for years, but also someone who tried to kill me. Someone who terrorized me and raped me. What does that “costume” of his likeness mean?

For years and years, I’ve begged and pleaded with my unconscious mind not to continue inflicting this ordeal on me. But it keeps happening.

I don’t know why.

+++

The Lithuanian goddess of the forest, Medeine, is in my personal pantheon. But she’s nonbinary, like me. Connecting with her, in fact, helped me realize I was nonbinary-gendered. I didn’t deliberately re-name myself something rather close to her name — that’s synchronicity. Or maybe entanglement.

Some of my other gods are tricksters, and/or problem solvers. I think they’re all Chaotic; mostly Good, but slowly I’ve been making my peace with some being Chaotic Neutral. In some ways it feels like giving up; in other ways, it grants a wider latitude of available behaviors. That ongoing tension . . . is probably good for me.

I have envied tricksters for walking between worlds. But I’ve done that all my life. I don’t recall ever being so completely a thing that I felt unassailable. That I felt safe.

I have always had to save my self.

+++

The usual shame spiral is gearing up, but tonight of all nights, I will not say those things of myself. I will not bring them into this sacred space. I refuse their power.

I want to be . . . myself.

I don’t think safe spaces will be created so that I can explore my contradictory aspects, without having to fear attack, or worse. I don’t know of any (social) place I can go to be amongst people who don’t think I’m an abomination. Or just someone who “makes them” feel uncomfortable.

Unconsciously I’d hoped AROHO would prove to be such a place. If that was only for me personally, while being ‘out’ is still so new, so raw, so excruciating, my inner trickster would allow just enjoying it. At least for a while. Before beginning activism once again to help others.

But I never heard back from them.

I’m going to apply anyway. Despite everything. It still . . . feels . . . like it could be just what I need.

But the possibilities for social rejection from a place I loved, from people I grew to care for, . . . give me pause. And yet, I know of no place where my specific gender identity, embodied as me, is welcome.

I must push forward.

my soul laid bare: dream, 10.30.2014

October 30, 2014

The first thing I remember is emotionally charged: dream-J, approximately 13 years old, comes up to (taller) young-adult me, with mischief in his eyes. His light green eyes. I catch a feeling of delight in the air. He puts his hands on my chest. Time stops. I grab his hands; I say, “don’t you want to touch me?” With that, my shirt now has slits in it, and I place his hands on my bare breasts.

I see a micro-expression cross his face: I’m not entirely sure, but dream-me thinks it is . . . disgust. Maybe it’s distaste. My heart falls. I take his hands away from my body, which I turn so that he is facing my shoulder. I walk away brusquely. I find some activity to do in another room, alone, until I can regain my composure.

My brother D is on the boat too, although he mostly stays in the background (as far as I’m concerned). He is often a rival for J’s attentions, although my brother, being a fellow male, has access to parts of J I don’t (and don’t want to have) — parts that enjoy tormenting people.

While I’m in the other room, I hear both dream-D and dream-J moving around elsewhere, along with dream-E (my sister), and possibly others. I hope that dream-J is not telling the others what happened; that level of betrayal would make it difficult to face anyone.

When I come out, though, everyone else is acting “normal”, even dream-J, which means they are distant and merely polite. We all might be strangers.

We are now on a boat, gliding down a large, slow-moving river. I am trying to find landmarks on shore, without much success. Suddenly I see, at a junction with a perpendicular tributary, off to the right, a large white orb (perhaps the size of a Ferris wheel), nestled among the trees. I recognize the image as resembling a photograph I had recently seen in a magazine article about a particular city along a river. In my mind, I’m running through names. We have just left a city whose name begins with A; I’m somehow sure this image is also from a city name beginning with A. [I actually think of Charlottesville, Virginia, which I have never seen, but is where my dear friend K from grad school lives now, but obviously Charlottesville doesn’t begin with A.] I suddenly shout, “Alexandria!” And it both is, and is not. Because even in the dream, I know that I have been in Alexandria, Virginia, many many times, and while it is on a large river (the Potomac), it is not one of the rivers I’m looking at, on our boat. Yet the one thing I am sure of is that we are moving in a southerly direction.

+++

I hate dreaming about J. I haven’t done so for (as far as I recall) months and months, and I had hoped I never would again.

My heart feels cracked wide open, which is . . . uncomfortable, painful, unwelcome.

Traditionally, for me, Samhain really begins on 10.30, and I was definitely feeling the tension and strangeness of it very-early-this-morning, while on Twitter, and then on a midnight walk. I went to sleep feeling it. And here we are.

+++

I am diaphragmatically breathing into my discomfort and my dismay at this dream. I will not turn away from it. I will sit with myself until I find aspects I can bear to think about. I will try to stay open. (It is very hard.)

The two rivers. Moving southerly. Two cities whose names begin with A. Navigating. Emotional distance from people I’m trapped on a smallish vessel with.

My heart’s desire, who doesn’t love me. Who doesn’t burn to be with me, the way I burn to be with them. But why the mischief then? Whence the delight? I didn’t imagine them — they are the truest feelings I know.

What am I missing?

“Large white orb” looked almost like a ball of white yarn (except that it was 30 feet high), but now that I think about it, it reminds me of some of the spiderwebs I saw in the rainy walk last night/this morning. So maybe an egg case?

On my walk, photographing spider lines and webs, glistening in the rain despite the dark, I realized . . . I have an Inner Spider. I don’t even know what that means, except that it appears to be analogous to my Inner Alligator (which I also don’t know much about). My Inner Alligator keeps narrowly missing appearing in poems.

Last night, hours before my walk, I tweeted about a “cute tiny jumping spider” that traversed my laptop. Refused my offer of paper to relocate it; leaped onto the blanket and was lost from sight. I said I hoped neither I nor Spouse would roll over onto it, as we would never see it. (Much much later, I realized it’s a really good thing Spouse isn’t on Twitter; he freaks out about jumping bugs, and would have flipped out, thinking we might be sharing our bed with a jumping spider, even a pinhead-sized one.)

===

Why cities whose names begin with A? Why Alexandria-that-isn’t-but-sort-of-is?

I had an unlikely connection to Alexandria, Virginia, that long predates me moving to Maryland. Ages 13–15 or so, my best friend was a girl I’d met at a Girl Scout Camp in the wild woods of Wisconsin. She lived in Alexandria, Virginia. The summer after my freshman year in high school, I went out there to visit her. She took me to the Torpedo Factory, which made the biggest impression on me of the whole trip (which is saying a lot, because even little things about the trip . . . blew the top of my head off — there were so many possibilities in the world I’d never even imagined).

===

{The title of this post . . . is operating as kind of a dare to myself: not to look away, not to stint, not to lie by omission. Which I’d normally be extremely tempted to do because this dream was Disturbing On Many Levels. And yet, therapy is about stretching my comfort zones, healing, making new things possible. Can’t get there from here if I don’t . . . look stuff in the eye, acknowledge it, learn from it.}

Last summer, at AROHO, I wrote a poem that sort of follows a form (albeit a form of my own design, I guess), even though that’s not my thing at all. A poem that talks about rivers. Rivers I have loved, rivers that shaped who I am. I don’t completely know what the poem is about, as, every time I read it, I gain new insights. I do know that it needs a better title; it’s currently on its (I think) fifth name, but none of them quite work. I showed the poem to a poet I follow on Twitter, amongst a group of my favorite, most-meaningful poems. He said he liked parts of it, but the ending was a letdown, because it was “too predictable”. Obviously, for a person who hates the idea of ‘ordinary’, hearing that this highly-charged poem has a “predictable ending”, cut me to the quick. But beyond that, every single time I read it, I’m surprised by the ending, which I don’t know how to parse. It’s sort of a metaphor, sort of true, sort of something else. The ending came directly from my unconscious; my conscious mind remains mostly mystified by it. So how can it be predictable?

But now I’m afraid to show the poem to anyone else. This deep truth of my life that I barely grok . . . is banal? is a cliché? Really?!?

After I told Spouse this story, he wants to see the poem, so he can tell me what he thinks. No, no, no. Hell no. I don’t need another man passing judgment on me. Finding my deepest truest self . . . wanting, a little sad, boring.

===

During my senior year of high school, my family of origin readied for a summer vacation to Europe. This time we were old enough to get a say in (some) things. We got to vote on some destinations, although my parents’ votes counted more than any kids’ votes. I also suggested several places that no one else cared about. (None got the go-ahead.)

My parents invited J to come along. In my mind, how I thought of this offer was, “yeah, sure, 4 weeks in Europe, all expenses paid! That’ll be excellent, definitely. I can hardly wait! But . . . you’ll get to spend 4 weeks with me! Together! It’ll be awesome!!”

Some part of me honestly thought . . . that aspect would be irresistible.

He said no. He said he wanted to . . . spend time with his friends. I countered with, “This is just four weeks — you can spend all the time you want with your friends, for the rest of the summer.” I honestly thought he would change his mind, when he realized how unprecedented and amazing this trip could be. If I’m not an inducement, Europe?! All expenses paid?!??!

But no.

I got my wish to spend all the time I wanted, alone with him, months later when I was sent in disgrace to live with his parents. He tormented me, terrorized me. He molested me, raped me, and tried to kill me.

Probably just as well he didn’t come to Europe. He likely would’ve spent all his time with my brothers, not me, and all three of them would’ve tried to torment me. I guess that’s fun if you’re a guy.

Or they would have just ignored me altogether. That actually did happen, fairly regularly, but I turned a blind eye because I couldn’t bear that to be my reality. I thought I knew who he really was. I was wrong.

===

I’m afraid to explore my masculine aspects, because I didn’t grow up with any men I wanted to emulate. They were all (at least when it came to me, personally) dismissive of girls and women in general, often contemptuous, often really mean. And I was physically afraid of some of them.

What am I opening myself up to be, if I admit to myself that I have masculine aspects? And they want to be expressed?

No men in my family of origin would accept masculine aspects in a person who seems to be a woman. I would be in even more danger than I have been. And all the women would watch, silently. My mother would hand J the knife. (I have dreamed this many times.)

I’m allowed to be a woman. Women listen. Women offer support. Women keep their needs to themselves.

I am not solely a woman. I’m certainly not solely a man. I’m partly both, and mostly something else entirely. I would like to find out what that something is.

i meant liion*

October 29, 2014

Setting the tone for the drive down to see P, on the radio I heard Eric Clapton’s I Shot the Sheriff. I was 7 or 8 when that version came out. It always reminded me of my older cousin, D. Not because he’d shot anybody (as far as I know), but because teenage D always seemed to be under suspicion for something from all the adults in the family. If someone was going to get framed for a crime, even at 8 years old, I could totally see it being D. I felt the injustice of that. Both for D’s sake, but also for my own, because I felt similar to him. I was definitely always being blamed for something, anything. And that blame usually involved a lot of screaming.

Had been anxious about discussing 10.27.14 dream with P because (1) it was so unsettling, and (2) I didn’t think she was one of the characters, but what if she thought she was? (She didn’t.) We did talk about it some, but we mostly talked about poop. And my traumatic childhood experiences in bathrooms. Bathrooms in my grandmother’s house, as it happens.

One of these incidents also involves D, a tricksy lock on the door, the police unexpectedly showing up to my grandmother’s house to inform my alarmed/disbelieving/mortified parents that their 5 year old child was locked in the bathroom, and who was responsible for that?

I told P maybe this incident helped D get away with something, and I hope it did. But I got screamed at, hopefully after the police left, although I don’t actually remember the details. At first I was just really confused. I’d been locked in the bathroom for hours. Had tried yelling out the window to my parents, who didn’t hear me or were ignoring me. I made the best of it — what else could I do, but wait for someone to notice that I was missing. (Which never happened.) The police calling, looking for D, was a stroke of luck for me. They got me out. They wanted me to get out. No one else cared.

Hey, I wonder if Mrs. Nocerino (the real person) asked lots of obnoxious questions later on?

For years and years after that, I wouldn’t lock the bathroom door, in case I got stuck again. I was afraid to lock any doors, in case I got trapped somewhere. I still always check bathroom stalls to make sure there’s enough room at the bottom that I could crawl out if I had to; if the door goes all the way down to the floor, I won’t use the bathroom unless there’s no alternative.

+++

P has suggested I try standup comedy. She says the way I present a lot of my stories shows the humorous side (while perhaps minimizing just how traumatic the original experiences were). The audience would have to be really sympathetic, though. Generally I don’t tell strangers any of this stuff; only very gingerly do I mention it to people I’d like to get to know better. Lots of people have accused me of lying. Or exaggerating. Or they suggest that I’ve lost touch with reality. Because surely no one’s parents would actually behave like that!?! O hai, Just World Fallacy, my old frenemy.

Anyway, poop. Turns out I had a lot to say.

If…

October 28, 2014

If I was a mushroom

that was also

a pancake

then I would be

doubly delicious.

Mrs. Nocerino and me

October 27, 2014

Why is my second interject Mrs. Nocerino at all? She could have been Mrs. Bania, the annoying neighbor that lived on the other side of my grandparents. If I somehow just “needed” an unpleasant older woman screaming at me, she could have been Mrs. Lewandowski; Mrs. Marciniak; our school music teacher; Miss Doolin.

I don’t think I ever interacted with Mrs. Bania, as I remember her always remaining inside her house. Mrs. Nocerino, however, spent a lot of time on her stoop, overseeing the neighborhood.

With Mrs. Nocerino as my introject, I’ve realized, my grandmother’s house remains part of my current life. My grandmother’s house, that was practically a person to me.

My grandmother’s house . . . For many years, I had this dream/fantasy that my grandmother would bequeath her house to me. I would live there, alone, just like she had after my grandfather died. I would have my own life, freed from living under my mother’s thumb. But I would retain pieces of our family’s history, which I could update to suit myself.

I hadn’t really thought through the particulars, but I can now imagine myself, in this dreamlike scenario, becoming some sort of greenwitch. What a lovely life that could have been!

+++

I don’t have any reason to think that my grandmother ever considered bequeathing me her house. But if she had thought of doing it, my mother would’ve never allowed it to happen.

A wealthy grandmother could have made it happen anyway. My grandmother was not wealthy; her house was modest, in a small neighborhood.

For years and years after my grandmother died, I dreamed about her house. (Of course I dreamed about my grandmother herself too!) I gradually realized that my grandmother’s house, in my dreams, signified my . . . self.

I still walk through it in my mind sometimes. I miss it.

+++

As I’m writing this, for the first time I’m realizing . . . but I don’t want to say it. Bah! I must face it. My mother grew up in that house, and she knew more about it than I will ever know. But I never think of my mother, or my mother’s connection to it, when I think of that house. (I try to never think of my mother at all.)

Is it Mrs. Nocerino, then, because I’ve gotten to the point where I can just ignore my mother’s voice [introject] in my mind? So someone who terrorized my own mother, and someone who has a connection to my grandmother’s house, should be utterly impossible to ignore. Because I don’t want to lose any more of my grandmother than I already have.

She died 16 years ago. Her house passed out of our family ~ 15 years ago.

I stopped talking to my parents 9 years ago. Since my mother is the only photographer of her siblings, every photo of my grandmother’s house that I know about (that neither I nor Spouse took) . . . resides at my parents’ house (just like every photo of my whole life before Spouse), where they are completely inaccessible to me.

Physical evidence that I was a child, that I was a teenager, that I was a young adult, has essentially vanished (from my perspective). All that remain are my own memories, many of which are painful enough that I don’t wish to recall them. Photographs show happier times, but I don’t have the photographs.

All I have is Mrs. Nocerino.

+++

So how can I tell her to go away?

Dream: 10.27.14

October 27, 2014

This one was really bizarre, and I don’t know what to make of it.

+++

Dream-me is a real person, sort of, but based on a character from a TV show, sort of? I’m played by Victoria Principal, if she were still in her, hmm, maybe late 30s. My co-star is Patrick Duffy, who is maybe in his early 50s. We are sort of based on Pam and Bobby Ewing, of Dallas fame. Except that my character is . . . an angel. Sort of. I’ve got white wings, and sometimes I know things Bobby doesn’t. But I’m not omniscient or powerful; I don’t seem to have “powers”; I can’t fly.

Bobby is living in a full-suite apartment in a building owned by someone he doesn’t like or trust. He’s single, and kind of crotchety.

When the dream starts, I’ve arrived at his apartment, and am looking around while trying to make conversation. That’s difficult because he is distracted, frustrated about lots of things, and making no attempt to be polite or personable. I’m nervous, though, because I want him to like me and I’m not sure he does, so I keep trying.

At some point I become aware something very strange is happening outside. I’m looking down into the (city) street below, maybe 4 stories up, and people have gotten out of their cars, and are gawking at the sky, which is boiling with oddly-colored clouds.

Because I’m an angel (?), I know a little bit of something about it. I’m about to say something to Bobby, when . . . the sun goes out. Sort of like a solar eclipse, only, it’s not coming back. It turns black. The sky starts darkening.

Bobby is muttering something about how there’s enough sunshine in the atmosphere to last three days. But when I say, in a strangled voice, “Bobby, the sun’s just gone out!”, he suddenly starts paying attention to me (and doesn’t seem aware he spoke before).

He frantically starts packing stuff so we can flee. Everywhere I look in his apartment, there are old clothes of mine that I haven’t seen for years. It’s hard to figure out which ones I should take: how long will we be gone? Will it get desperately cold right away? [Subtext: isn’t everybody going to die almost immediately? So what difference does any of this stuff right now make?]

I set out Bobby’s underwear so he can easily find it. I start pulling together my own underwear, and socks, along with these colorful (old and beloved) sweaters I keep finding. The sweaters are bulky, so I keep thinking, “I’m going to need another bag. How am I going to carry all this stuff?”

Bobby calls out to me not to forget underwear. I tell him I’m on it; that his underwear is in the other room, with him.

He’s frantically looking for a flashlight. I say they will probably be impossible to buy. I run across a small flashlight of my own, and pack it without mentioning it.

At some point, we become aware we have a personal enemy, a woman. She and her crew are somehow watching us, through mirrored glass. I suddenly see things from her perspective. She’s in a control room that looks like a high school gym. Everyone’s wearing black. She’s gleefully laughing about how dire our situation is. Wondering what else she can do to make things even more miserable for us.

I’m back in Bobby’s apartment. I need to go to the bathroom. There are two toilets, almost next to each other, but neither one is behind a closed door, and I want that privacy. I try to unobtrusively shoo Bobby into other areas of the apartment. But I also ask him, with trepidation, if his kids might not have “messed with the plumbing”. I say this partially because the toilet I’m about to use is the smallest toilet I’ve ever seen, and doesn’t seem to be connected to water or sewer pipes. There is water in the bowl, but I fear some kind of trick. He assures me everything’s fine, and I sit down on it.

Later still, the sky has gotten really dark. (Although now no other people seem to be around.) We are in a frenzy of packing, but Bobby also teases me sexually, then pulls away right before I’m about to orgasm. After several rounds, I beg him to “finish”. As I do that, I see a book on the bed, detailing some sort of medical issue Bobby’s had, affecting his sexual performance. I feel torn, in case he’s feeling anxious, but he doesn’t seem to be.

At the very end, some kind of light comes back on in the sky. It’s not the sun. The light is a much brighter white than sunlight: it’s whiter, it’s at a different temperature (presumably different wavelengths). I worry even more than I had been about what animals and plants are going to do. With these weird wavelengths, will they get what they need?

+++

When the dream was happening, I vaguely remember ‘knowing’ things Bobby didn’t know, presumably because I was an angel. But now I don’t recall what they were.

I didn’t fly, despite the wings. I don’t think I’d always had the wings, but don’t know how I got them. (My old and beloved sweaters didn’t have holes for the wings.) Sometimes I acted kind of kittenish with Bobby: unsure of myself, but also wanting to please, hoping I was appealing. But other times, I was very confident and capable.

Including when we were having sex, but also every other instance I can think of, Bobby never seem to be thinking about me, or wondering how I was feeling. He never tried to be helpful to me. He was completely self-contained, and that self remained crotchety and misanthropic.

+++

I never did find out what was actually going on. Did our enemy somehow cause the sun to go out? Did God? Did Lucifer? No idea whatsoever.

God was not in the dream, nor were there any other angels.

I never got the sense we were actually on TV, nor that we were filming for TV. And yet, if TV was not involved, why was Patrick Duffy not himself, but Bobby Ewing? Why was I Victoria-Principal-playing-Pam-Ewing-(sort-of)-as-an-angel?

What happened to the people in the streets? What city were we in?

What did happen to the plants and animals?

Did everybody die right away?

+++

This dream was so disturbing, I was going to ignore it. I didn’t write any of it down (in my dream journal). But I couldn’t get it out of my mind. So here it is.

common wealth

October 26, 2014

There are (positive) qualities you’re supposed to wait for other people to bestow upon you. That assumes, though, that other people (1) are perceptive, (2) notice you, and (3) care about you.

First encountering the word ‘eccentric’ around age 7, I thought, “I want to be that!” As a pre-teen, I reclaimed “weird”, which was used as a slur. (I tried to rehab ‘bizarre’ the same way, but it didn’t work, so I dropped it.) I desperately sought to keep people from calling me ‘freak’.

I have a visceral horror of being ‘ordinary’.

ordinary – 3a. of common quality, rank, or ability; 3b. deficient in quality: poor, inferior.

To me, ‘ordinary’ is equivalent to dull, boring, pointless.

I want to blaze across the sky like a comet!

+++

I’ve been having trouble locating Mrs. Nocerino, after my previous posts.

She’s connected with my fear of (my own possible) ordinariness, but I don’t know how.

“How dare you think of yourself as ‘someone special’?!? Who do you think you are, missy?”

It’s not enough just to be special, though. Breaking In: The Rise of Sonia Sotomayor and the Politics of Justice, by Joan Biskupic details political maneuvering behind the scenes for judicial appointments. You have to be in the right place at the right time. Have the right background. Have powerful friends and/or allies. You have to have someone as determined as you are that you will succeed.

You can’t just be smart, talented, capable. People like that are a dime a dozen, and generally spend their lives in obscurity.

I don’t think the real problem is whatever (possibly erroneous) beliefs I have about myself. I wonder if Mrs. Nocerino’s issue isn’t more that I want to be treated by other people like I matter.

I think everybody matters, so I’m not actually looking for an unfair advantage.

+++

If everybody matters, why is ‘ordinary’ anathema?

Because ordinary is the baseline; it (usually) requires no effort.

In a certain sense, I work hard at being the person I am; I’m not coasting by on the default setting. I work hard at everything that matters to me. And this effort springs from curiosity, interest, desire for engagement in the world. An abiding determination to thrive. (The fear of ‘failing the exam’ is a completely different phenomenon, and not relevant here.)

People who only work at things that offer external rewards . . . puzzle me. I find them unsettling, and I generally don’t enjoy talking to them.

This whole train of thought is very odd. I’m not ambitious in the usual sense, but I’m very eudaimonia-oriented. And that requires pretty much constant effort. On things that no one else . . . notices? Values?

I know other people think similarly, and conduct their lives similarly, because I’ve read books by people like that. But I don’t know anybody like that.

So, to me, ‘ordinary’ denotes people who are not eudaimonia-oriented? That probably is really common, actually.

This means that my visceral distaste for ‘ordinary’ doesn’t originate from ‘thinking I’m better than everyone else’, like I was so often accused of (and I secretly feared it might be true). It comes from trying to be true to myself, as I actually am (rather than like everyone else because conformity is a virtue to some people).

+++

Gods, I am so sleepy, and I can’t tell if any of this makes any sense at all.

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