Meditation & Me: Diary, 2/7 to 2/10/21

Copyright 2021 by Alan Carl Nicoll
All Rights Reserved

Justice League: stupid fun

{2/7/21}  Weight 209.0 at 6:45 am.

The Hemlock Club met from 10:00 am until 3:00 pm, Pablo arriving at noon.  Much of the talk was about Camus’s Stranger (spoiler alert), which I had loaned to Nog.  I was relieved that he was taken with the book, and he had an original view of it, to which I will not attempt to do justice.  I told about Camus saying that Meursault was “the only Christ we deserve,” and that I interpreted this in conjunction with the last sentence of the book as meaning that Meursault wished to receive the hate of the crowd because by experiencing their hate they could be “washed clean” as he had been.  I speculated about the “deserve” in the quote; perhaps we are so corrupt that we do not deserve the Christ of love, but only a Christ of hate.

It would be tedious, perhaps, to attempt to cover here all we talked about; I’ll just copy my notes:  Living here and now vs Maya; I’m OK, You’re OK; Ma’s end; Things that Work (which also I had loaned to Nog and he liked it very much).  A friend of Nog’s, Naomi, came by and at one point said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.”  I subsequently asked her to repeat it, which sparked in her a mild interest in me (though she’s way too young).  Nog spoke of “General Buck Naked,” I think a black man in Africa, a rebel, I think.  Pablo arrived and mentioned the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” I think a fake antiquity, and mentioned having researched “dolphin midwives,” which Nog had spoken of last week.  Nog mentioned the Dogon tribe in Africa and the Anasazi in the U.S., to what point I no longer remember.  I talked about the “Dopamine Detox” video that I had seen via Salomé’s Facebook page, “Therapy for Free.”  Pablo talked about a book, Synchronicity, and its importance in his life.  There was a disagreement between Pablo and Nog about our “sociopathic society” or perhaps government (Nog’s term).  That was the meeting, to the extent that I want to talk about it, with one exception:  I started telling Nog, and later Pablo and Nog, about my plan for study, but I never got to the point.  Not unusual, actually.

45 minute phone conversation with Pablo just now (8:20).  I tried to cut him off after 30 minutes, but it’s difficult sometimes.

Did my four pages of dictation, finishing at 9:30.  Justice League on in the background for the second time—I watched most of it earlier this evening.  Didn’t do my book review today, though there’s still time.  I was going to do The Faith of a Heretic, but I can do the Introduction to Consequences of Pragmatism instead, much shorter, though I recall it being dense with highlighting and rather long for an Intro.  But I think no.

There’s a lot to like about Justice League, almost everything but the script.

{2/8/21}  Weight 210.6 at 5:15 am.  Inexplicable.

There is too much good stuff in The Faith of a Heretic (hereafter FOH).  Just reviewing the highlights isn’t really going to work very well; I couldn’t stop reading between the green lines.  In my “review” I got less than halfway through the book.

The Monkey is the Messenger, on the other hand, has totally lost my interest.

Can’t connect to the Internet, again.

Well, this is untimely:  my laptop’s internal hard disk failed a diagnostic test.  The laptop cost $350.00 and is two and a half years old.  Looks like it’s time for a new one.  Actually, this failure is quite timely, since I’m expecting a stimulus “check,” probably $600, with my normal Social Security payment on 2/24.  At some unspecified time I should also get back the $800 being withheld from the stimulus for Medicare Part B dues which are incorrectly being withheld.  It’s fortunate that I have been able to copy all my files.

{2/9/21}  Weight 209.8 at 6:45 am.

Today MS Edge is working, so I have Internet access.  The computer giveth, the computer taketh away.

I am abandoning Ralph De La Rosa:  The Monkey is the Messenger:  Meditation and What Your Busy Mind Is Trying to Tell You, Shambala Publications, Inc., Boulder, CO, 2018.  Quotes:

“Our primitive biological hardware is definitely out of step with the modern situation we find ourselves within, and yet I must argue that everything about us continues to serve a purpose.” p. 25.  I would be interested to hear his “argument,” but I don’t find it in the book.

Quoting George Sand: “Guard within yourself that treasure, kindness. Know how to give without hesitation, how to lose without regret, how to acquire without meanness; know how to replace in your heart, by the happiness of those you love, the happiness you may be wanting for yourself.” p. 55.  Good advice, probably; I am inconsistent in these habits, because, for one, I regret the loss of some of the books and photographs I had before prison, such as Thoreau’s Journal and pictures of Oliver as a child.

De La Rosa mentions a book by Cheri Huber, the title of which is quite interesting:  How You Do Anything Is How You Do Everything.  A thought I have not encountered before, yet I find truth in it.  Also falsehood, which I guess makes it for me a half-truth.

Why am I abandoning the De La Rosa?  I don’t feel that I’ve gotten anything out of it as far as I’ve read, which was to about page 100—not even entertainment or diversion, because I found it increasingly boring.  The more he talked about meditation, especially such things as ritualized breathing, the more bored I became.

The science says that meditation offers benefits, benefits that I believe I already possess, or can possess while listening to music.  I have not attempted meditation for about fifty years, so in a sense, I haven’t tried it.  What I remember of that long-ago experience was, again, boredom.  I find boredom both unpleasant and wasteful, so I am resistant to undergoing it to no good purpose.

I’ve often mentioned here and elsewhere that I have two ways of listening to music:  with full attention (call it listening1), and as a background soundtrack to other activities (listening2).  I listen to music with full attention probably less than once a month, and even when I do this or try to do this, my mind conjures up images, memories, and thoughts, often quite unrelated to the music.  If I am present at a live performance, i.e., a concert, I will watch the players and otherwise look around while attending to the music with more or less full attention.

When I wake in the night and, finding myself insomniac, I usually try mentally reciting the periodic table of the elements—just the names.  And as I do this, I find other thoughts intruding, and I have to pick up the thread again, only to find it lost [!] again.  It is unusual for me to be able to get through more than a dozen or so elements before my mind wanders.  Now in form, this has similarities to meditation.

So?  I don’t know—except that I am resistant to giving meditation another serious try.  My reasons are superficial:  I don’t expect any more benefit than I might receive from listening1 to music; I would expect to be bored; and I have other uses for spare time that seem to me better:  reading and writing, i.e., my “work.”  Of course, I could say with tongue-in-cheek, “I have nothing but spare time.”

Reviewing quotes compiled in my “Self Mastery” document, a couple of thoughts popped up:  first, review the Hari quotes, or his book chapters, in light of which of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs might be going begging.  Second, Maslow says that we shouldn’t make lists of “basic needs,” though I don’t remember why.

A dream this morning:  my breathing was labored, my lungs congested, I was suffering from pneumonia.  When I woke up, my lungs were indeed congested, though some coughing cleared that, but my throat was sore and I was worried that I might have caught COVID again.  Later in the day, all symptoms were gone.  Remembering now, however, that while I had COVID, my symptoms were equivocal.  I should have checked my temperature (I bought a thermometer last December but never used it once).

In addition to vacuuming today, I also made about a dozen burritos; Pablo was here and ate three, I ate two.  Then, at 6:00 I binged on potato chips.  Given my “big” breakfast of eggs & toast and fruit, plus two Klondike bars today, I’m expecting a gain tomorrow.  I don’t want a gain tomorrow, but there you have it.  The trend, alas, is “slowly upward.”  Sometimes I think I have this weight thing figured out, and sometimes just the opposite.

Trump’s second impeachment trial began today; the despicable repugliKKKans will not convict, presumably.  Their party is self-destructing and they seem not to care.  The reported decline in membership (i.e., voters) must have them worried?

{2/10/21}  Weight 210.0 at 5:15 am.

Again woke with a mild sore throat.  I don’t know why.

I could do worse than to reread my “Self-Mastery Quotes” daily, I suppose.  Reviewing the physical book instead tends to have me reading parts that aren’t highlighted, which is okay but slower—but slowing down is something I’m always trying to do, eh?  Or, more likely, telling myself that I need to do that.

Call me a buttoutski.  Not for any special quality of reticence that I have, just because.

A “last” word on meditation:  since most of the time I feel very good about how my mind works—if I can brag for a moment, I can’t imagine it working much better except for memory—I can hardly imagine any particular improvement that might occur through meditation.  Granted that I occasionally feel “rage just below the surface,” I believe that this rage is because of the awfulness of American government, politics, culture, whatever, and so, I would be unwilling to have it gone, because what would that say about me?  In simpler words, I see that rage as justified and praiseworthy and I cannot understand why anyone over thirty doesn’t share it.  Other than my “one neurosis,” which I apparently cling to, surely there’s no room for improvement?

How’s that for a confabulation?

What might be the real reason that I’m resistant to meditation?  Because I didn’t discover it myself and I have so many people trying to push it on me?  Pure willfulness?  (Which, like “you’re just stubborn,” is no explanation at all, just a label:  it raises the question, why stubborn about this and not that, i.e., the “real explanation.”)

I could blame the pushers—I could say that “I’d be more likely to try it if I respected them more.”  While this might be true, it doesn’t explain why I might be cutting off my nose to spite my face.

Although I’m somewhat flippant, probably because I feel defensive, I don’t know how to be more honest than this about the question.

If anything, I’m too relaxed, too easygoing—and so my house will never be clean and I’m not enough of an activist to suit my reflective, judgmental, critical self (i.e., I’m not an activist at all).  Apparently I equate “relaxed” with “lazy.”

I have two “major” tasks that I’m reluctant to tackle:  cleaning the stains off my carpet, and laundry.  The laundry is easy but will take a couple of hours; the carpet won’t take long, but will be more difficult, requiring crawling around on the floor and applying elbow grease.

Copyright 2021 by Alan Carl Nicoll
All Rights Reserved

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