Sparky was filing his teeth when he exploded….

Once again, fear strikes deep into my soul, faced as I am with a blank sheet of paper and an empty mind. That’s figuratively speaking, of course, as we’ve progressed beyond the paper stage, so it’s actually a blank white screen I’m looking at…. The mind remains empty, alas, and the fear grows….. Well, literal or figurative, we’ve got some issues to deal with, so, I’d likely do well to follow my usual policy in such cases, and go take a break now…. I’ll be right back….

In the usual state of affairs around here in the morning, such a break would solve any difficulties I am encountering in getting started, but today seems to be resisting normality a bit more than is standard. Of course, ‘normality’ is rather scarce here anyway….. The paper/screen is now a bit less blank, thanks to my gift for producing something from nothing, but still with no indications of anywhere brilliant to head off to…. I’m going to have to figure something out here pretty quick, as we’re now two paragraphs in, and still not a single clean idea, or literary device, to be seen…. The brain cops are going to want me to move along soon, so let’s try this….

Howdy, ffolkes! How are y’all this fine morning? It’s 0458 here in Northern California, and I’m once again up, eyes wide open, and rarin’ to get going on today’s Pearl, having already had coffee and a session of worship at the porcelain throne! Why I am up at this hour remains a mystery, but, since I’ve been arising at 0400-0500 now for the last six days or so, I suppose I have to accept that arising at this insane hour is becoming a new routine, that my brain has decided upon without any input from my conscious mind. I’ve tentatively come to terms with it, as I don’t seem to be able to sleep past those hours, no matter when I crash….

But, that’s okay! I’m fine! I’m happy! I’m absolutely fucking crazy!…… Well, maybe not quite that far yet, but, if this keeps up, it won’t be long before that latter statement becomes reality….. Come to think of it, though, maybe that wouldn’t be such a bad thing….. If nothing else, it might give me a whole new set of ideas for intro sections, coming at the issue from a totally new, and unpredictable direction every day! Hmm…. well, for now, I’ll keep total insanity in reserve, as a backup procedure, such as I had to use yesterday, when it was necessary to break down and use Emergency Procedure #4….. I think I’ll call this one the Bell Jar Procedure, in honor of Sylvia Plath….

And, see, it works….. or, rather, it worked today…. Without having to actually go totally batshit crazy, and without actually having to write anything particularly coherent, or sensible, I’ve completed a five-paragraph-intro….. without you ever noticing what I was doing! Amazing, eh? And so creative! And, if I keep on with the exclamations, and the back-patting, I’m going to hurt myself, so, maybe we’d best get on with the rest of today’s effort….. Shall we Pearl?…..

“I was trying to daydream, but my mind kept wandering.” — Steven Wright

“How many psychiatrists does it take to change a light bulb? Only one, but it takes a really long time and the light bulb has to want to change.” — Smart Bee

Boy, if it wasn’t for the power of metaphor, I would be lost!….. This statement, though presented in a manner that makes it obviously a joke, is actually quite serious in its relevance to sanity, psychiatry, and how the mind works, in general. I worked for many years in the field of mental health care, as a therapist, and I can tell you quite honestly, that this is absolutely true, in many cases of what the rest of society terms insanity….. a word, and a concept, that most of society avoids at all costs, and completely misunderstands, for the most part…. You see, every person who lives in this society on Earth today is just a little insane, with some of them reaching higher levels through their own efforts to excel…… πŸ™‚Β Β  Society itself is insane, you see, and one needs to be the same in order to effectively cope….

It may surprise some ffolkes to know that they are insane; I know it surprised me when I first became aware of this fact. We all go through our lives with a certain image of ourselves, and very rarely does that image in our minds look insane. But, let me assure you, there really isn’t any visible way to be able to tell if a person is insane, as it is completely invisible, under most circumstances, as long as the person isn’t speaking, or acting in some way that provides a clue as to their inner state of mind. Even for those of us trained in recognizing its presence, through the use of observation of other defining characteristics, there is no guaranteed method for spotting someone with a mental condition, unless they give it to you up front by acting out in some overt fashion.

Sure, there are tells, as a gambler would say…. When one eye is happily spinning in the opposite direction as the other, it’s a pretty good sign of some inner turmoil…. Pacing and mumbling to oneself, back and forth in a small area, while ignoring all around them, can be another dead giveaway of someone who is experiencing a few extra perceptions in comparison to the rest of us. Sometimes, really bad grooming can be a sign that the person’s mind isn’t focused on how they affect others, and staring at a wall, holding what appears to be a conversation with oneself, can be another indication that not all is well in that person’s world….

But, without some overt signs such as these, you just can’t spot mental illness, and it is extra hard to see it in one’s own image, since we tend to clean that up before we look at it, or try to share it. And, since EVERYONE ELSE is also insane, at least a little, it can be hard to spot, for the same reason one cow in a herd is hard to pick out. You may have heard the old saw about “one in four people are insane, so if you have three sane friends, it’s you”….. What would be more accurate to say is, “all of you are insane, but three of you are coping well with it in an effective manner, and one isn’t…. ”

It’s helpful to know that the overt signs one may see are indicative of the severity of the condition, i.e., the more acting out one observes, the more severe the break in the mental state. But, that isn’t always accurate, as normally sane folks, acting in the grip of strong emotion, can show the same kind of acting out, with the difference of not having it occur all the time, but only when provoked. Thus, it can be seen, it can be very difficult to judge whether a person is insane, or merely temporarily out of control…..

This is where I bring it all together, by referring back to the original pearl…. Coping with life can drive anyone crazy, and does, every day….. SomeΒ  cope with it better than others, and those are the people who are considered to be sane, as they can deal with reality without resorting to outlandish ways of dealing with their fears. Those who cannot find ways of coping with their fears, which arise from what reality gives us to deal with, end up acting in ways that are strange and uncomfortable for the rest of us, and are often dangerous, in a physical sense, for them, and for those around them…..

In all my experience, with every kind of mental illness I saw in almost 30 years working in mental hospitals, the primary characteristic of those who got better, was that they made up their own minds to do so…. That’s it…. Simple as it may seem, deciding to give up the methods they used, and make a change, was always based on a personal decision on their part, and was THE key ingredient in the regime of ideas, medicines, therapies, and treatments used to combat their illness. In other words, it took a long time, and they first had to want to change….. Without that, nothing worked…. It is a well known aphorism among mental health therapists that, “they get better IN SPITE of what we do, not because of it….”

So, if you’re getting worried about your own coping skills, just keep in mind that to remain sane, it means you have to want to do so…. But, that’s all it takes, if your are sincere, for you will do whatever else is needed, once your will power has been engaged…. That’s what people do….

“Great minds think alike, apparently so do we.” — D. Bennett

“Falsely luxurious, will not man awake?” — James Thomson (1700-1748) — The Seasons, Summer, Line 67

In keeping with the tradition established for today, and in honor of yesterday’s romantic events, here is a brilliant poem by someone very familiar with the idea of insanity, as it was her lifelong companion….. Maybe that’s why I feel so connected to her?…..

Mad Girl’s Love Song

“I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead;
I lift my lids and all is born again.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

The stars go waltzing out in blue and red,
And arbitrary blackness gallops in:
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

I dreamed that you bewitched me into bed
And sung me moon-struck, kissed me quite insane.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

God topples from the sky, hell’s fires fade:
Exit seraphim and Satan’s men:
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

I fancied you’d return the way you said,
But I grow old and I forget your name.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

I should have loved a thunderbird instead;
At least when spring comes they roar back again.
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)”

~~ Sylvia Plath

Brilliant! Absolutely, insanely brilliant!Β Β  πŸ™‚

“The media are now the tool of tyrants and despots. Tyrants and despots encourage fear, because fearful people will accept extreme political solutions, will demand extreme political solutions.” — Jon Carroll, S. F. Chronicle, January 8, 1997

Jon Carroll, on the political scale, would be considered to be just a bit left of the center, maybe a foot or two, as he tends to side with liberal ideas more than conservative. Over the years, I’ve found his take on life and society to be, most of all, even-handed, and reasonable. He avoids the trap of becoming overly critical of conservative ideas, while at the same time showing absolute fearlessness in addressing difficult questions and issues. As a media member, for him to make this statement was most likely painful, in that he had to admit his own culpability to do so. He does that, quite well, without becoming overly pedantic or shrill about it…. while still nailing the controversial point he is shooting at….

The recent hullabaloo over gun control is a perfect example of the process he describes, in action. Whenever a madman grabs a gun and starts shooting people randomly, or even targeting one group or another, the media immediately descends in hordes on the location of the shooting, giving out endless bulletins with the latest news on the events, interviewing police, victims, bystanders, and pundits to provide “balanced coverage” of events the public “has the right to know”…. regardless of how degrading, or painful, or ignorant, or insane, or stupid it may sound, or how much pain it may cause the victims. No stone is left unturned to examine and evaluate every emotional nuance for the viewing public, without any regard for morality, or justice, and definitely without any regard for compassion, or empathy….

After the event has ended, the media then turns to the “discussion” of the meaning of the events, which means it gives the Beloved Ruling Class a free source of advertisement for its agenda, which, allow me to reassure you, has nothing to do with what may be good for YOU. All the talk you hear from politicians after these shootings is aimed at increasing the fear of the public, to make them believe they are powerless in the face of a madman with a gun, and only if the people will allow ONLY the police and government to have guns, why, everything will be fine, and there would never be any more shootings at public schools…

I’m sorry, but, I’m afraid I can’t buy that…. There are over seven billion people on this planet, and there is nothing at all that is going to prevent some of them from going crazy, getting a gun, (or knife, or poison, or grenade, or dynamite, or…….) and using it on other folks. Believing such nonsense is, I’m sorry, just stupid….. It won’t stop, and there is nothing that will stop it, unless we figure out a way to change human nature…. a quest that, so far, has been completely unsuccessful, and isn’t likely to ever be otherwise….. People have violence in their nature, and thinking that the government, or any other entity, can change that is, well, not too bright….

But, fear is strong in most of society, and those folks have no clue, in general, that they are so easily manipulated. They tend to allow anyone who promises them to stop the fear to tell them what to do, just so they don’t have to think about it, or face it themselves. Governments have known this for centuries; look up Hermann Goering, the Nazi general under Hitler, some time, and see what he had to say about the people, and how their leaders could, and did, make them do whatever they wished, just by fanning their fears….. It’s a practice by no means uncommon among governments throughout history, up to and including the present day version….

Yep, ffolkes, that is indeed what it means…. most people are cowards, plain and simple…. When it comes to their own fears, they won’t do much of anything in the way of conquering those fears themselves…. They would much rather let the politicians promise them to keep the streets safe, if only they will give up the right to defend themselves, or allow a preacher to tell them to submit to earthly authority in order to receive eternal life (Or, in other words, “I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday, for a hamburger today…..” — Wimpy, Popeye’s friend, and metaphorical common man….). The media, whether out of ignorance, or out of deliberate dispassion, will continue to give them a public platform from which to perform their manipulations, and never blink an eye in guilt….

Me? I’ll pass on the hamburger, thanks, and go make sure my powder is dry…..

“I now have absolute proof that smoking even one marijuana cigarette is equal in brain damage to being on Bikini Island during an H-bomb blast.” — Ronald W. Reagan

Okay, that will do…. It is barely after 0700, and I’ve proofed once, and buffed a few scuffs so they shine a little…. It will have to do, as I’m not going back and doing it again…. not unless I suffer a power surge that deletes it all, an unlikely event in the face of the precautions I have in place to deal with that possibility….. πŸ™‚Β Β 

Nevertheless, precautionary techniques notwithstanding, it’s done…. So be it…. It’s probably a good thing, as I’m getting tired of pretending to be sane, and need to go let it out somewhere…. Oh, wait, that’s what THIS is supposed to do…. Oops…. Well, we’ll just have to hope for the best, I suppose…..Β  Y’all take care out there, and May the Metaphorse be with you…..

Sometimes I sits and thinks,
and sometimes
I just sits.



2 thoughts on “Sparky was filing his teeth when he exploded….

  1. White can be scary – a white sheet of fabric floating in the night, a white face peering in from outside, a white screen that taunts – write me, I dare you.

    You have a way Ned – much admire it πŸ™‚

    — as for the gun control bit – I’m with you – my powder is dry too.

    • Aye, it can indeed be frightening… your last line nailed what I feel each morning perfectly: “write me, I dare you.” So far, so good… πŸ™‚

      Yeah, if the powder gets wet, when you put it on your nose, it’s all shiny…. oh, wait, wrong powder… Oops, didn’t mean to say that….

      Right, yeah, it’s dry, and already packed into the brass…. an unloaded weapon is pretty useless, except as something to throw….. πŸ™‚ Whatever works…. I always thought gun control meant at least five shots out of six inside the third ring…. πŸ˜‰

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