My therapy session

I arrived for my 2:30pm therapy session about 10 minutes late and discovered that my therapist had double booked and was already seeing someone. No big deal. This shit happened. It’s happened before. I’ve missed appointments before too. No one’s perfect. Anyway, if I had seen my therapist today it probably would have gone something like this:

My therapist would begin with his typical opening line, “So, how are you doing?”

“I feel like no one understands me, no one really gets who I am.”

To which he would reply, “How does that make you feel?”

“I feel sad. I feel lonely. It makes me feel completely alone in this world.”

“Do you really think that you are completely alone?”

“No, I don’t. I know I have people in my life. I know that I am not alone in feeling alone. In the broadest sense I feel connected to everyone on the planet. But what I want is for someone to really get me and I don’t feel like that will ever happen. I don’t think that it is possible. Not just because I’m not sure I even get me but because I don’t think that I am living in the same reality and anyone else. I don’t think anyone is living in the same reality as anyone else.”

Confused or intrigued, my therapist would ask, “What do you mean by that?”

“I think that they way we experience reality is an innerpersonal experience. That is to say that everyone experiences it differently. Of course I’ve had times where I feel like I am having a shared experience with another person but it’s probably a delusion.”

“You think that you are having delusions?”

“I think everyone is having delusions. I think that most of what we take for granted as being real is really just a shared delusion. Our entire economic system is a delusion. Our system of laws and government are a delusion. They only work to the extent that people believe they are real.”

“Do you mean delusion or illusion?”

“I don’t think it matters. I know that mental illness is real and that delusions are a symptom of mental illness but I’m not talking about that. I’m also not saying that delusions are the antithesis of reality. They are part of what makes up our reality. I’m just realizing that much of what we collectively call  reality is really just what we believe to be real and may not actually be a shared experience at all.”

At this point I’m sure that my therapist would have some pithy joke or ancient parable to share.

I would come back with, “I remember seeing this t-shirt that said, ‘reality is for people who can’t handle drugs’. I always thought it was funny because it was a play on the anti-drug campaign that stated that ‘drugs are for people who can’t handle reality’. I’m now understanding that concept in a completely different way. Many of the people I consider to have the best grip on reality are people who have done a lot of drugs. I’m mostly talking about hallucinogens but any drug can have this effect. Drugs, by definition are mind-altering chemicals. I think that we have to alter our mindset in order to see what is really real. I think that our brains are programmed to make sense of the world but the reality is that there is so much more going on than we can possibly understand. Our brains are programmed to see safety, consistency, connection and order even in places where they don’t actually exist.”

My therapist would probably have some words of caution about doing hallucinogens, “I’m not opposed to hallucinogenic drugs per se. There has been some interesting research into their ability to raise consciousness but they do pose some risks as well. You sometimes have a tendency go to extremes and if you are going to experiment with hallucinogens I would just want you to be careful.”

“Oh no. I’m pretty reluctant to take hallucinogenic drugs. I feel like I am about as conscious and aware as I can handle for the time being. What really gets under my skin though, is the attitude that people who drink or do drugs are escaping reality…as if that’s even possible. And it’s not just the hypocrisy that most people who espouse these attitudes drink alcohol or caffeine or are medicated or are addicted to money or power any number of things. It’s that they have deluded themselves into to believing that they have the foggiest idea what reality is. No one person really knows what is going on. Perhaps, collectively, as a people we have some idea but the hubris exhibited by people who think that they get it is beyond me. I’m not trying to understand it all. I’m just trying to do my part. I’ll let other people do the drugs and they can report back to me what they have learned.”

“So, how have things been going otherwise?”

“Oh, I’ve been busy, busy, busy. I went out to Chicago last weekend for a friend’s wedding. I saw a lot of other friends and had a great experience. I’m dealing with a conflict with my best friend. I tried to get together with her Wednesday and Thursday but I don’t think she’s ready to talk. I’m comfortable giving her all the time she needs. I have confidence that we will work through it. I took my son back to Morris on Friday. We moved him into his very first apartment. My daughter went to an LGBT prom on Friday night and had an amazing time. From 8pm Friday night until 8pm Sunday I did almost nothing but drive pedicab. I probably got 8 hours of sleep the whole time but I love it and I can do it which is amazing. I spend last night with a friend and her boyfriend out in the suburbs. We didn’t get to talk much last much last night but had a great conversation this morning.”

If there was still time on the clock he probably would have asked me about my relationships and sex life. That is something I want to write about but it will have to wait for another day.

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Presidents’ Day

If my day had ended after making my last post I would still have considered it a nearly perfect day. My day did not end there, however. I’m not saying that it went to hell after that. No, it didn’t go to hell. It continued to be amazing. It just wound up being more than my poor little body could handle and I’m paying for it now. So I need to take a day of rest and give myself a bit of a break. And why not? It’s a holiday, it’s Presidents’ Day. If the government can take a day off, so can I?

As I was writing my last post I was feeling quite content with the day. I was perfectly satisfied with what had transpired and was ready to put it down in the win column and retire early. But that was before I saw that some of my friends were getting together at a nearby bowling alley. Oh how I wanted to see them. These are good friends, near and dear to my heart and friends that I haven’t seen enough of lately. Winter tends to go that way. None of us get out as much and our social contact suffers. So does my mental health. Still, it would require energy that I didn’t know if I had and after having such a wonderful day I was reluctant to test fate.

But as fate would have it I also ran out of rolling papers at this point. If seeing my friends wasn’t enough motivation to get me to go back out, my nicotine addiction certainly was.  I quite smoking back in 2004 and except for a few slip-up here and there, I remained smoke-free for six years. It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, but when my nephew was killed, I just didn’t seem to care anymore. Since then I have tried quitting numerous times, even started using electronic cigarettes for a while but in the end I kept going back to tobacco.

Addictions can rule your life and I don’t like anything having that much power over me. Nicotine is extremely addictive but it’s not that harmful in and of it self. I’ve actually found that nicotine, as a drug, plays a beneficial role in my life. It levels out my mood and is a great appetite suppressant. I’ve probably lost 20 pounds since I started smoking again. What I do have a problem with is the twisted pleasure I get from smoking tobacco, something that I know is damaging my health and could very well kill me. That’s just insane and it needs to stop. E-cigs and their acceptance have come along way since the last time I used them. It’s time to try it again. Next month, once I have some money again, this will be my first purchase.

Until then, I still need rolling papers. It was almost 10 o’clock on a Sunday night and I didn’t know who would be open but I felt confident given that there were at least four convenience stores or gas stations between my house and the bowling alley. As it turned out, the closest one to my house, a mere six blocks away, was open. So far things were still going my way but I realized that I was at a pivotal moment. I had a choice. I could go home and call it a night or I could venture into uncertainty by continuing on and meeting up with my friends. I knew in that moment, that whatever happened, whether good or bad, could be traced back the the decision I was about to make.

Of course I decided to continue on… Life is an adventure, live it!

Fortunately, it turned out to be a good night filled with good friends and good conversation. After the bowling alley a group of us convened at the Spring Street for last call.  There were more friends, more conversation and more drinks.

Upon leaving the bar I was approached in the parking lot by a handsome slightly older man.  We started talking and he invited me back to his car to get high. I don’t smoke pot, nothing against it, just don’t like the way it makes me feel. Plus, it’s illegal and I really try to avoid criminal activity. Still, I found him quite attractive and was curious to see how things would play out so I followed him back to his car. I can imagine you thinking that was really stupid. How many tales of gay bashing, robbery and murder start off just that way?

Certainly it happens and I think I have a pretty healthy level of skepticism when it comes to strangers. I’ve had my share of unpleasant run ins with people I didn’t know but the people who have caused me the most harm in my life are people I do know. What I have never experienced is any trouble from meeting a stranger at  a bar, in fact some of my most memorable experiences have begun this way, not that I make a habit of it.

Once inside his car it because clear to me that he was most undeniably gay and that he wanted to take me home with him and that he wanted to have sex. The fact that he was gay pleased me but the rest I was not so excited about. I’ve engaged in after bar hook-ups before and I have no regrets about doing so – it’s just not where I was on this night. Plus, I really prefer to be sober when I have sex with someone… at least the first time. We did make out for a while and that was fun. But that was all I was up for so I excused myself and continued on my way.

I’m telling you this story because I feel like there is a misconception out there that gay men will seize any opportunity to have sex. Maybe for some gay men this is the case but it’s in no way universal.  Just because you are gay doesn’t mean that you are attracted to all people of the same gender any more that being heterosexual means that you are attracted to all people of the opposite gender. And just because you find someone attractive does not mean that you want to have sex with them. The fact is, for most of us, there are very few people on this planet that we would actually have sex with. Gay and straight are social constructs and regardless of how you identify it is not the primary factor in determining with whom you have sex or with whom you fall in love.

That reminds me of another conversation I was having with a woman earlier in the evening. Actually we were talking about boobs; more specifically about how everyone loves boobs. She mentioned how even gay men love boobs. It’s true, they do. Some are down right fascinated by them. It’s not a sexual thing, at least it doesn’t have to be. People just like what they like and boobs are pretty fucking amazing!

One more story, the I’m calling it quits.

While catching up with an old friend I mentioned that I am aspiring to be a philosopher. He was being supportive and suggested that I go back to school and study philosophy. Instead, I found myself getting defensive. I mean, I studied philosophy in college. I’ve read many of the greats and understand the basics of philosophical thought. That’s not what really bothered me though.

You see, the reason why I’m pursuing philosophy instead of say, economics or even psychology is that I don’t believe that it requires any specific training . All I need is the ability to think critically and the means to communicate my thoughts. If other people connect with my ideas, if I can explain and inspire, then I would conciser myself a good philosopher. I don’t need a PhD. or other accreditation. In fact I think could be a hindrance. When someone is considered and expert in a particular field their status can add more weight to their words than the actual ideas contained within. For some things, science for example, expertise is essential. But when it comes to understanding the human experience, keeping an open mind is essential. I believe all experiences and points of view have merit. I want to be judged by my ideas, not my degree.

Still, he’s not wrong. If I am serious about becoming a philosopher, I do have a lot more to learn.  I’m just not going to limit myself to learning the same things ever other student of philosophy learns. I will learn from everyone  and every situation. I have read Plato and Aristotle. I’ve read Camus, Confucius and Rene Descartes. On this day, I studied you, fellow bloggers, writers and experiencers of life; ordinary people with extraordinary stories to tell.

I leave you with this story I found on xoJane; a particularly poignant example of how life can suck and how we can still find a way to make the most of it.

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