I endured a major depression about six years ago. It was horrible. I wound up sleeping in my truck and barely able to function. My life was in shambles. I was angry at myself and angry at the world.
A quote that I came across recently has stuck with me: “If you’re always getting angry, you’ll turn your nature against The Way.” I certainly found that to be true.
I remember having dinner by myself one evening at a local Shari’s restaurant. When I went to pay my check the hostess told me someone else had paid it for me – out of sympathy, I suppose. When I look at photographs of myself from that time I simply look sad.
“Depression is incredibly pervasive and thus important to talk about,” he said. “Depression is like the worst disease you can get. It’s devastating.”
Dr. Robert Sapolsky
If you want a good introduction to the topic I invite you to review Dr. Sapolsky’s presentation:
A few years ago I attended a seminar by Dr. Robert Glover on how to lose my Mr. Nice Guy behaviors. A lot of men suffer from this way of thinking and being in the world. It’s incredibly damaging to all concerned.
In that weekend seminar I connected with another man who happened to live close to me. We got together for a couple of hikes and meals and wound up forming a good friendship. We’ve been friends ever since.
It’s been great to see the changes we have both made in our lives. A couple of years ago, he enrolled in graduate school and started working on getting an advanced degree in Education. The work was difficult for him. He was holding down a full-time job in education as well as going to school nights and weekends.
Bob sucked it up and stuck it out. He graduated with good grades and recently was offered and he accepted a much better position as an assistant principal here in Seattle.
It’s amazing to see the progress he has made. He’s dating again but in a much more relaxed, less anxious, way. He’s a man who knows his values and says what’s on his mind. People are free to be themselves around him.
I am happy for my friend. I’m enjoying seeing him making progress on his goals without becoming overly attached to outcomes. That is real freedom.
Many people believe that they have freedom of will. That is, they believe that they are going through life making free decisions at every turn. They may see themselves as the captain of their ship, and therefore worthy of praise when they do good acts, and perhaps, deserving of blame when they act wrongly.
I don’t think praise and blame are great tools for shaping behavior. I do think they influence future behavior, however. Just not always in the way we might hope. I think better options exist. I may offer a post on those options in the future.
A free decision is one that could have been otherwise, at the exact moment when the decision was made. To use an example previously offered by Sam Harris, it’s like looking back on your life and thinking “You know, I could have been a firefighter, instead of a police officer.”
But in fact, if you could somehow rewind the state of the Universe to before you made that decision, you’d still make the same decision. And unless something in the setup (the state of the Universe at the time you made your decision) changed, you would continue to choose “police officer” rather than “firefighter” every time you ran this experiment.
While I don’t believe people have free will, many people do. In my view the widespread belief in free will brings great damage and suffering in the world.
If you wish to do so, please consider this short video by Gregg Caruso on “The Dark Side of Free Will”:
Bodhidharma is considered the founder of Zen Buddhism in China and regarded as its first Chinese patriarch. He brought the Buddha’s teachings to China from India in 520 AD. While much of his biography may be the stuff of legend and his historicity is still in question, numerous early records speak of him (or someone by the name of Bodhidharma) as a wise and compassionate monk. Whether or not he was ever a living person, the legend of Bodhidharma has made him as real in the Zen tradition as anyone else.
I enjoy listening to Alan Watts. His model / philosophy of what’s at the bottom of everything has brought me a great deal of psychological comfort.
For the past six months or so, when I go to sleep at night, I’m usually listening to recordings of lectures that he gave when he was alive. Many of the recordings have been set to music and fall into the chillstep genre.
The video below is a very short story by Alan Watts. I like it. It reminds me of the importance of being relatively indifferent to the things that come and go in our lives.
The following is a favorite quote of mine. The author is L.R. Knost:
“Do not be dismayed by the brokenness of the world. All things break. And all things can be mended. Not with time, as they say, but with intention. So go. Love intentionally, extravagantly, unconditionally. The broken world waits in darkness for the light that is you.”
I have been in lock-down due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Working from home has been helpful. I notice that I am more productive. At 60 years of age I don’t think I will be returning to the regular office 9-5 routine.
Last Friday I took a day trip to Port Townsend. One of my hiking buddies lives in Port Townsend. While we didn’t hike, we did have lunch and it was good to catch up with him.
Traveling from Kirkland to Port Townsend takes a couple of hours. I took the ferry and was pleased to get on quickly both on the way to Port Townsend and on the way home. I stopped in Port Gamble for a bit and took some pictures.
Taking the ferry always imparts a little feeling of being on vacation, or on an adventure. It doesn’t take much to float my boat on that score.
It was a good day. I’m looking forward to getting out hiking again soon.
I came across the following video while surfing Hacker News. It’s a great trip back in time to the very early days of UNIX. Enjoy the funky settings and hairstyles!
I have been handed many winning lottery tickets in my life. Being married to Stacey was the best as was raising our three children. Getting into computers was another lottery ticket handed to me by others.