Winter: 1 Ian: 14

At 2:20pm on Wednesday, January 31st of 2018 I lost my annual war with winter.

Winter is by far my favorite time of year: It’s the only season that one can have some privacy while outdoors. All of the programmed, voting normies pretty much go inside and focus on their petty tasks and organized delusions for the winter months, leaving the expansive snow-dappled city to the crows and squirrels and frigid silence. As long as the sun is gone and the temperature is low you can rightly expect ungrateful and unsturdy normies to be stuck indoors, lamenting the loss of the July heat and their unremarkable tans.

Yes: winter is a time to be outside by yourself, with yourself, & for yourself. I love winter not just because of the solitude but because of the fun: walking or driving in snow is like a video game set to medium-hard. Ice is like the fictional-frictionless surfaces you learned about back in your high school physics class – and the cold turns the whole world into an ultra-low-temperature chemistry set. There are real challenges and threats that a few people face during winter but for the most part, privileged normies have no place to whine.

If you feel down on winter, worry not – there are mental habits you can undertake in order to improve your mood and stop complaining about the weather. The only thing worse than shoveling a car out of the snow is listening to your neighbor complain about how they, too, had to shovel their car out of the snow. The way to enjoy winter is to make a game of it. Just 9 minutes ago I lost a round of my annual game-with-winter and although I’m ashamed I have dragged myself here to fess up and describe the loss.

 

Every winter I make a point not to slip on the ice and bust my ass. It sounds redundant but you’d be surprised how many people just walk along through a snowstorm as if nothing has changed on the ground. You gotta watch that shit. Whenever Mother Nature takes a swipe at me and causes me to slip I take note. Sometimes slips are big – sometimes they are little – or sometimes, *cue music* they are catastrophic. To me a noteworthy slip is when both of your feet leave the ground. The game is this: to count how many times you experience a noteworthy slip over the course of winter, to count how many times your noteworthy slip turns into a fall, continuously tracking the values of each. Every time you experience a noteworthy slip and land safely back on your feet you earn one point. Every time you experience a noteworthy slip and fall back on your ass, Mother Nature earns one point. To me a victory in the game-with-winter is to have a perfect streak (for the entire season) with no falls. To that end I had experienced a total of 14 noteworthy slips this winter until I experienced #15 outside just now. But #15 was different – I had just placed a chair in the snowbank in front of my house so that a passerby might grab it. I turned around and jumped onto the walkway leading up to my house – landing on my right foot- and immediately my bottom half flew out from under me.

“SHIT!” I landed on my right hip, right knee, and right hand. Stood up – with a massive and begrudging smile – “You’ve got me, ok? Fair and square, ya got me.”

Instead of 15-0 I was suddenly 14-1. No doubt an admirable score, but still a losing one. And it’s only 1/31/2018! She got me pretty good this year but I’ll be back for more next year!

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Amygdala regulation

Ain’t easy. Especially on low sleep. I recently stumbled upon some literature describing the relationship between the prefrontal cortex and the limbic system. Specifically it went over the connections between the prefrontal cortex and the amygdalae. Will have to come back here & post the link(s) but wanted to jot this down here, as it’s timely & highly relevant to mood disorders.

Sleep is a fickle thing & it seems that quality and duration of sleep is related to one’s ability to keep their amygdala functioning well. The absence of good quality sleep of proper duration can lead one to experience impulsiveness, out-of-control distractibility and responsiveness to irrelevant stimuli, and immense irritability. Take it from me: the vast gulf between being contented & calm or being a murderous monster can be crossed, in part, by hitting the hay.

Unknown scribbles

Found a crumpled-up piece of paper in my basement. From a yellow lined mini-memo pad. It reads,

 

The sun whose rays are all ablaze with ever living glory,

Does not deny his majesty, he scorns to tell a story, 

He don’t exclaim “I blush for shame,” so kindly be indulgent

 

 

Admit it: We all support Fake News

There are a lot of fears that I’m having in this moment about the state of our world: its air, its land, its oceans, its rivers, its biodiversity, its prospects, its people, and the relationships between those people. Donald Trump is our President and he has less than zero regard for the health of the planet or for the health of Americans. Or for the health of anyone, really. Who knows what 2018 will bring? I certainly don’t, but I sense that it will not be good. It will not be healthy. It feels as if legislators are uniquely able to ignore facts. From climate change to the energy crisis, from women’s rights to vaccines, from mental illness all the way to mental health, and from classrooms to public parks: The assault on science has been a completely successful one. But it wasn’t Trump or the Republicans who brought rational thinking to its end. Not even close: we did that. And we loved it. We encouraged it:

Check your horoscope! 

Jan 16, 2018 – Something may be troubling a family member, Aquarius, and this person doesn’t seem inclined to talk about it. Your intuition seems to be temporarily blocked, so you can’t figure it out for yourself. Don’t try; it’s probably buried too deeply within the other person. Make it clear that you’re there if needed and then allow this person to go his or her own way. Don’t let this situation cause you to doubt their need and respect for you.” Done. Phew. Lemme read it over again.

What’s your Myers-Briggs type? I’ve never been professionally assessed, but I have taken 5 online tests and received different results each time. But hey, 3 out of those 5 started with “I,” so there’s some profound assessment of my truest self. Right? Phew. Psychoanalysis: achieved.

I love these two belief systems more than anything. But not because they are worth anything, or because they work, or because they represent anything real. Far from it. If you (like myself) have struggled to figure out why the Republican party somehow just censored the EPA, Myers-Briggs and horoscopes can serve as a valuable litmus test. They are the first indicator that a Tool of Trump is in the room. Anyone who believes in Tarot Carts, Myers-Briggs, Horoscopes, etc. is a Tool of Trump. It’s not a nice thing to say, but is it wrong? One can ascertain which people in their lives have ended their subscription to rational thinking by just keeping an open ear to how they discuss pseudoscience, divination, and the supernatural. There comes a time to draw the line between the spiritual: legitimate connection with some higher power, valuable teaching, or source – and the supernatural. The latter are always, of course, petty and capitalistic enterprises. Let’s face it. Every single one of us listens to our friends, our step-sisters, and that Really Hot Instagram Model talk about Myers-Briggs: We’ve all heard of Jung, and wow, that guy was deep or something, or so I’m told, so therefore Myers-Briggs, which I’ve heard is based off of Jung, is probably deep or something too. Don’t question it. There are professionals who can assess this stuff, which is how I know that Cleopatra was definitely an INTJ. Seriously dude don’t be a dick, I know you believe in different things, but you don’t need to tell me this is bullshit. You don’t need to know psychology to study psychology, no I mean, you don’t need to study psychology to know psychology. Myers-Briggs works. I know it works. -pauses to think- It works for me, anyways, and that’s what matters. Can’t you respect that? That it has meaning for me? It doesn’t have to mean the same thing to you.

Somewhere, a bunch of GOP cronies are high-fiving one another and preparing their next oil pipeline.

One could not better demonstrate a loathing of critical thinking or acceptance of scientific thought than to continue on with these enterprises. It’s almost comedic (in a terrifying way) that folks will demand logical coherence from their elected officials & policymakers but smile onwards as we assess one another’s personalities with cheap parlor tricks. One need only look up phrenology to realize the addictiveness of void, pseudoscientific party-talk. Horoscopes are even funnier. The notion that the exact alignment of the planets at the moment you fell out of your mother’s fleshy hole strongly and reliably influences your personality traits has been and is accepted by many. I don’t know exactly what % of people in Minnesota, say, believe in horoscopes, but I do know that just about everybody makes a choice to tolerate these useless and gem-encrusted ramblings. There are a few loud, annoying critics offering disagreements to astrology in particular…

But those people are annoying, I mean just believe what you wanna believe, girl. Horoscopes aren’t hurting anyone, they aren’t the ones causing all this bullshit out in the world.

Hahahahaha. One would certainly be mistaken to assume that astrology is ruining the world, any more than Catholicism is. But the moment that willful delusion takes place at the expense of down-to-earth truths about stuff like, well, the health of the earth – oops. We love to hate truth. And even if we know it’s all a joke, we’ve been well-trained to keep from criticizing it. There exist few forms of willful delusion so overpowering and socially acceptable as Horoscopes. I can think of 2 acquaintances who I clash(ed) with about these issues regularly and they are both phenomenal human beings. They are intelligent, in most regards more successful than me, and are absolutely 100% more popular and well-liked than I am. I have never been a very kind person and so it’s probably appropriate that I am called unkind each and every time this conversation comes up. But the real red flag with these horoscope-types is that it’s always unkind, in their view, for someone to challenge them. For Believers, is downright traumatizing to step into the conversation using a sample of 100 persons, or a self-report survey, to start getting at the claims associated with horoscopes. If you dare mention the word ‘data’ or ‘evidence’ to the local moms who are enjoying their nightly glass of wine and divination session, you will be kicked out of the group. It is like watching a Republican hear that, in fact, women are in charge of their OWN bodies. They can’t handle it. They shut down. Horoscope-Believer will wriggle, writhe, or – in some instances – just hookah themselves out of any accountability for their beliefs. And the one doing the thinking and rationalizing must always come out a jerk, a meanie, someone who disrespects the harmless beliefs of others.

Sigh. But are they harmless? Of course not. The Horoscope-Believer is just the Neoliberal and blue-voting version of the Climate-Change denier. Both of these clowns are no less intelligent or capable than folks who cultivate their thinking skills, but they are still lazier. They are still clowns. In my view a clown is someone who takes nothing seriously – and the terrifying thing is that anyone can have a Clownish attitude, even if they are a good or loving or dedicated person. The majority of democrats have attitudes towards science and science-based rhetoric that are Clownish to the point of malice. I align very much with democrats, and therefore do value stuff like science, keeping the church out of the bedroom and off of womens’ bodies, tossing out old pseudoscientific takes on race, maybe avoiding fossil fuels sometime soon, etc. But it has been frustrating time and time again to notice that people who value these same things – and who want to construct a compassionate and healthy world – actively sabotage their own vision by sabotaging the value of evidence and rationality. They Clown around. Most Democrats actually hate Trump – but they don’t realize that by allowing their friends and often themselves to spout pseudoscience and mistruths, they support him. You are extremely likely to get into a 3 hour debate about the validity of a Myers-Briggs assessment with a blue voter, or to hear them explain for 45 minutes that Trump has a personality disorder/brain disease. That person will be able to copy+paste a Guardian article supporting their opinion, and has at least 3 books at home about astrology. Is it any mystery how Trump got into office? Nope. Unfortunately it’s only the enraged and the petty who are vocal and popular in their attempts to motivate the left: see Dawkins & Harris. Where are the effective agencies and enterprises in support of evidence-based policy? With the death of the EPA methinks there aren’t many warriors standing.

Even if you know these belief systems (astrology) are bullshit, you must become fluent in them. You likely know someone who is either deeply invested in a belief system or even peddling advice of the willfully hallucinatory nature. By discussing these delusional forms of self-understanding openly, and as if you are interested/accepting of them, you will discover the other people in your midst who actually think in that way. This takes a bit of acting and gentle acceptance/understanding. You need to learn how to Clown in order to shut down (or at least give feedback) to a Clown. It is of the utmost importance to identify the people in your environment who have that Tarot deck on their kitchen table – who know to date a Taurus, and not a Libra – who swear, above all odds, that the only reason their boss (ENFP) fired them was because they were just a weird INTJ. The people who walk through the world in this way are the ones who pose the real threat to the health of the earth, proper social policy & healthcare, and other fact-rooted endeavors. It is important to compassionately – but swiftly – correct a Clown’s thinking or otherwise to get them out of your life. It is not unkind to correct a clown. I have been the clown on many occasions in my life and am grateful for the people who have sat me down – or hollered something at me – to help me appreciate the reality or facts of a situation. It’s a good thing to give feedback, even aggressive or unwanted feedback, on an issue this important.

But today we’re faced with a social expectation to Let People Clown Around. Accept that the tarot deck offers legitimacy to your spouse – skip the World Health Organization’s take on illness and how best to treat it and instead complain about pharmaceutical medications – etc. Donald Trump is just a symptom of a larger problem: our collective decision to look away when one party has some credibility and honest evidence about life, and another party nearby is spouting clear BS. It can be tough to evict people from your life who choose, even unwittingly, to support the negative beliefs of the Republican party. But for the sake of the earth, for the sake of the CDC and the EPA, for our public parks, etc……….the game is up. Throw out the cards. Drop the pseudo-psychology and don’t look back. Don’t blame yourself, either. Trump is winning the fight against truth and we just need more fighters right now, not a bunch of guilty broken former-Geminis. K?