Ships & lighthouses, pillars of identity, and why to sacrifice to the Hungry Gods

I’ve been somewhat lost and stranded in Berlin these days, after spontaneous visits, trips, time in the mountains … living in other people’s and their parents’ houses. After four months of hermitage, I got an invitation and decided to follow it. Two weeks were great, week three starts with nosebleed, emotional flu and a bout of black dog that was reminiscent of the old days of its full glory.

Free-floating, confused, disoriented.

I realised after these adventures, encounters, changes of place, emotional shifts, getting close to new people, and further away, I literally don’t remember who I am.

Like, what’s the feeling of “me”? What do I want? What was my way of life again? What is important to me? What makes me happy? What was the last plan I had for my life? What was my last project? What was my last goal? What was my last commitment? Does any of that still hold up?

And seriously, who am I again?

Where do I belong? Where’s my home? Who are my friends? What’s my language and what’s my gender? What’s my profession? (Since I dropped my tentative attempts at working during this time.)

Who am I in relation to this person or that person?

And, what was the overarching plan again?

Why the heck am I even here? On earth? And what landed me in this city, what’s the point of being here, why am I not somewhere else? It feels bad somehow. But I don’t know why. I want to be somewhere else, someone else. But I don’t have the energy to go, or even to know perhaps … I miss “my” lakes, I miss my grandma’s house.

I feel painful and wrenching nature deprivation – I can’t just go walk in the forest to recover, here in the city. I can take a walk in the streets crowded with random people, cars, incessant noise and smog, from which I’ll have to recover later, rather than using the walk for recovering my mental balance.

I thought of moving here for the social benefits. But perhaps my senses can’t take it. Does the potential of making new connections compensate for the loss of freedom to just grab the bike and be alone with the trees or the water?

Feeling like a stranger, because I don’t go to restaurants, I don’t take busses, I don’t get the point of most things people do in cities, nor do I have the money to spend on it. I do get that there’s classes here and people who are interested in things I’m interested in. Still wondering, how much of that is superficial.

Are there things here that I don’t already have?

*

Friend of mine said, you need pillars of identity. The right mix of lighthouses – fixed points – and ships, moving points.

Some pillars are external, like houses, jobs, commitments, committed relationships, places which carry attachment and are revisited.

I only have, partially, the latter.

None of the former.

Perhaps that’s why it’s so hard to maintain identity. Because it’s not actually inside us as much as is generally believed, at least in a vision that emphasises the individual as some kind of independent, closed bubble.

I perhaps only have commitments to myself. A place I revisit, that I can live in sometimes.

Then I have many moving lights, which appear and disappear, a week here, a month there. A job here, a task, an opportunity, a passion; then loss, change, futility, loss of interest, or just a black dog episode that makes me dump whatever it was – rarely being sure whether it’s for the bad or for the good.

I do chase the moving lights.

That probably means that often there are patches of dark, because I don’t control the flow of things. And I get attached to what moves. And there aren’t many lighthouses.

Due to various circumstances or perhaps some inner clockwork mechanism that makes me tick that way, I’ve figured that my only chance of having a lighthouse, at least one or two, is internal – it’s in inner knowing and truthfulness.

But it’s really, really, really easy to lose this when many things happen. When they happen more quickly and deeply than can be integrated. Into anything, into sense, into memories, into the self – before any of this raw noise and movement has been digested and transformed into something humanly meaningful in my life.

*

Losing that when you have nothing else, or not much, or you have to travel to have it (and you are a lousy, fairly autistic and fatigued traveller) … leads perhaps to days of vertigo.

Existential vertigo.

I don’t have the lakes, the forest, the piano, my painting equipment. My kitchen, my food bought from people I know. The garden. Some small things that have become intimate pillars, when there were no major ones.

Early loss taught me to try to live without pillars, but the truth is that my mind and body is trying to construct them in every single place I go to. I’m a being of the earth, it’s unavoidable to depend on things which can be taken away.

Which can lack. Change.

Which other people can make a mess of.

The senses need to stabilise. The body needs to stabilise.

Again, a total overestimation of what the mind can do.

*

Existential vertigo – either meditation and honesty and journalling (when I can’t have music, colours, dance), or the flu, rashes, palpitations, nausea and nosebleed.

A black beast jumping at me and pushing me down to the floor last night – isn’t the worst, the worst is when the mind feels like it’s on an inclined plane and clearly slipping downwards.

(Musical intermezzo – this interesting old piece came to my mind probably for the phrase “I feel my mind slipping away”.)

.

A day, or perhaps several, has to be sacrificed to the Hungry Gods dancing on the volcano of the edge of madness. Lucky if it’s several days. The black beast has to be talked to, as typically it has something to say – a mistake or a lie to point out.

The role of the Hungry Gods isn’t entirely clear to me; perhaps they are here to cure me of greed. I have to keep sacrificing days or years to them until I can do it without pain, feeling free and content with still having the present.

I don’t think they’ve ever asked me to sacrifice the present.

The past, yes.

This is seriously a thought. Maybe their point is to cure me of the attachment to time, accumulated time, time as a number, as a possession, as something that is to be controlled and managed. That’s mine. Sure, that’s an axiom of modernity. Doesn’t change the fact that our time is given and can only be received.

It is given, and received, like the body and the senses.

Possession is a delusion, in that sense loss is a delusion too.

Just the experience of living these unclear waves with blurred meaning perhaps isn’t one. I think the trust in the rocks, the oceans and the source isn’t one.

*

[interruption]

Sacrifice time and perhaps money and resources to the Gods generously. It won’t earn me their favour. They might just stop heckling my soul, ceaselessly, a modicum of respectful coexistence.  Was that the point of the ancient tradition?

[gave up the thought train after interruption, sinking into music]

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