Sunday, April 14, 2013

So, Here's the Thing.....

I've been asked a couple of times recently if I've lost the impulse to do this blog—or, really, any other writing for that matter—and the question is a perfectly valid and simple one. The answer, to be blunt, is no. No, I have not lost the impulse to post here or elsewhere, although it would be a lot easier if that was the case. I could just say, "gee, that was fun while it lasted," and be done with it. But the truth is lot more difficult.

You see, how it works is this: I want to post every single day and most of the time I actually know exactly what I want to post about. However, the depression and accompanying social anxiety is so strong that it's practically crippling. Take my most recent post, for example—the one that broke a long period of darkness on this blog. I originally wrote all of that as a Facebook entry that day and it took a great deal of willpower to convince myself to turn it into a blog post instead. Facebook is much, much safer; I don't feel like I owe anybody anything over there and I can even control the specific audience that can see what I write (for example, that post about the Blue Jays would have only gone out to a select few people on my "Sports" list). I read it over before I hit "enter" on Facebook and decided it was so long and passionate that it deserved to be a blog post instead. And still, I wavered. Would this be an "appropriate" piece to break the silence? Would anybody read it? Would it be "worthy" to go up alongside my older postings? In a burst of inner strength, I went ahead and posted it anyhow—and then walked away from the computer immediately so I wouldn't change my mind.

It's very hard to explain, this self-doubt and ennui and self-imposed hermit-style life, but it's not a pleasant thing to endure. Most mornings—even still—I get up with the very best of intentions and try to get something going; however, it's proven to be almost impossibly difficult to break through the fog of depression that envelops me virtually every day. In some ways, the illness has almost become like an old friend and that's a very tough thing to get past.

Part of the problem, I am very sure, is the way I am starting to feel about people. Well, not "people": humanity. Mankind. Civilization. Whatever you want to call it, I really am starting to hate it. That's quite a dichotomy for someone who is as gregarious and empathetic as I am (some have, often, called me "over-sensitive") because I really do care about individual people on a personal level. It's just that I think our species is out of control and I cannot, if I am being perfectly honest, see any improvement on the horizon. I am going to stop short of saying I actually despair for Mankind; what's closer to the truth is that I have had to develop a layer of loathing and dispassionate ill-wishing for groups of people who are clearly demonstrating a wilful ignorance of—and disdain for—the world around them. I imagine you know the types I am talking about; if not, please go ahead and look back through the old posts on this blog for some clues.

This problem was simmering for a long time, but I believe it broke through to the surface when I underwent my paradigm shift in beliefs at the time of the G20 debacle in Toronto in the summer of 2010. That weekend shocked and stunned me out of my naivete and I have not yet recovered, not really. Actually, "recovered" isn't the proper word to use there; I don't wish to "recover", I wish to "repair" my soul and move ahead. It's been very difficult to do just that, though, for as I have become more "aware" of the world around me—politically, societally, attitudinally—I have become more shocked and saddened by what I see all around me. I rail against it where I can; I fight against it when I have the chance; I keenly feel the pain of the affected as well and that last bit is what is causing me the most difficulty, I fear.

I've said for a while now—privately up until this moment—that I truly believe our collective IQ as a species peaked somewhere in the middle of the last century and we have been getting dumber ever since. Not in a book-smart kind of way, because we'll always be "learning" and it's hard to "unlearn" once you have knowledge; rather, in the way that we deal with global issues and interpersonal relationships and the ilk. This shouldn't be surprising, because we've really set that into motion ourselves; for quite a while, the more intelligent souls among us have been sounding the alarm bells about the over-crowding of the planet and the destroying of the environment. The problem is, the more intelligent among us have also been the ones responding to those issues in myriad ways, but chiefly by being "responsible breeders". The less intelligent (and, of course, the abjectly poor) have not followed that lead; ergo, to over-simplistically quote the inimitable Harvey Danger: "only stupid people are breeding". Yes, I have my tongue in my cheek here—but only partially; however, it really does feel to me that we've stalled in terms of group intelligence and may well be moving backwards at this point in our existence. One doesn't have to look much farther than the insanity that pervaded the Republican party during the last election lead-up. No, the comments weren't more stupid than many of those uttered in the 1950s or '60s....but shouldn't they be less stupid? Maybe it's possible that I am only starting to notice this abject stupidity more because of my own recent epiphanies regarding the state of the human race. Either way, it's really affecting me strongly.

But I'll keep swimming upstream for as long as I can, though circumstances will continue to try to conspire against me—circumstances such as the insane number of dogs who have begun to bark throughout the day in this building, unchecked; circumstances such as the pot fiends that like to hang out in our stairwell and pollute the air of our apartment; circumstances such as the complete lack of respect and empathy shown by far too many of the people I encounter every single day (and remember, I barely leave my home these days). I realize, yes, that everyone has to deal with problems like these on a daily basis and I apologize for the oh-woe-is-me tone of that last sentence; I am only saying that I find it a lot more difficult to deal with the stupidity when I am already trying to fight a battle with myself. Sarah and I will get away a couple of times this summer—to the Ottawa Valley and to Kenora, specifically—and I have faith that those trips will go a long way toward rejuvenating my spirit. Similarly, my time at the Zoo has been a great help, because there are many days that I really only want to hang out with the animals and commune with them for a while.

In the meantime, there's Addie. Daily companion, soul-enricher, giver of life. And Sarah, who takes over all of those duties from Addie as soon as she walks in the door from her day at work. And the family (extended and not) and friends who provide the support when I need it but do their very best not to be too intrusive even though I realize most of them are likely quite worried about me when I don't surface for a long time. All of you are more important to me than I could ever really tell you in words, even though words are usually my paintbrush and this blog a canvas.

Lastly, I want to stress that this is not a cry for help. Nor is it an excuse to whine at you—at least, it wasn't meant to be—but rather my way of getting a lot of things out in the open so that they don't strangle me ceaselessly. That is my fervent hope. Conveniently, it has also been a chance to let those of you that are worried know a little more about what's been going on with The Grumpy Penguin, although it really doesn't matter a lot if this particular piece gets the lowest hit count of any of my posts because I really needed to shout into the wind for a little while.

Thank you, all, for hanging in there with me. Wish me luck and I'll do the same for you, because this is a pretty tough world we've created for ourselves.

And my apologies for the paucity of pictures accompanying this post. They just didn't seem to fit the bill this time. I'm certain I'll make up for that in the future.

Finally....I cannot wait until I am here again:


  1. I feel your pain. The world is indeed a terrible place for anyone with a soul. The only way I keep going these days is by scheduling trips to remote, unpopulated places like the desert, the high Sierras, or islands in the pacific. Otherwise, I keep a tumblr blog of landscape photos to nourish my thoughts of escape. You're welcome to visit anytime--there's no writing, just a lot of photography:

    1. Thanks, Julie. I just took a look at that tumblr page and it is fantastic. Thanks so much for sharing. :)

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