Uranus (pron.: /ˈjʊərənəs/ or /jʊˈreɪnəs/; Ancient Greek Οὐρανός, Ouranos meaning “sky” or “heaven”) was the primal Greek god personifying the sky. His equivalent in Roman mythology was Caelus. In Ancient Greek literature, Uranus or Father Sky was the son and husband of Gaia, Mother Earth. According to Hesiod‘s Theogony, Uranus was conceived by Gaia alone, but other sources cite Aether as his father. Uranus and Gaia were the parents of the first generation of Titans, and the ancestors of most of the Greek gods, but no cult addressed directly to Uranus survived into Classical times, and Uranus does not appear among the usual themes of Greek painted pottery. Elemental Earth, Sky and Styx might be joined, however, in a solemn invocation in Homeric epic.
- trust (n.)
- c.1200, from O.N. traust “help, confidence,” from P.Gmc. *traust- (cf. O.Fris. trast, Du. troost “comfort, consolation,” O.H.G. trost “trust, fidelity,” Ger. Trost “comfort, consolation,” Goth. trausti “agreement, alliance”). Related to O.E. treowian “to believe, trust,” and treowe “faithful, trusty” (see true). Meaning “businesses organized to reduce competition” is recorded from 1877. The verb (early 13c.) is from O.N. treysta “to trust.” Trust-buster is recorded from 1903.
I think about trust all of the time now. Understanding where a word comes from and its related connotations can be very helpful. I see words like comfort, consolation, belief, faithful, alliance.
Intangible concepts like trust can be deceiving because you never know what the other person’s experience might mean when they use words like this. Love, hate, joy… these are nuanced concepts that can not be trapped by denotative definitions that really lock down their meaning. Scientific materialists will suggest that because of this, they are not real. They are simply biochemical. The random firings of neurons which are interpreted by a mind that by definition does not know what reality is.
I dispute that. Evidence? Nah. I don’t trust evidence. Evidence evolves, just like the rest of the universe. Any shallow dip into the history of science will show you that yesterday’s evidence is today’s absurdity. Evidence is nice when you need to prove Material things, but not everything is Material. Spirit is involved. Yet another intangible context that is all too easily rejected.
I have broken trusts. I have broken my word. I have done things that diminish the confidence of people I love. I regret these things with all of my heart. Morally, ethically, spiritually, I feel I have failed them.
In a lot of ways, this breaking of trust is basically an ego-driven manifestation. It is a refusal to acknowledge that the self we think is our self is nothing but a mask. We spend so much time trying to fortify that image that we forget about the system we live in, a system of souls like our own. Our ego-self, mask-wearing self wants to define itself, to scream out its individuality, to foreswear all allegiance to any other individual. I am ME! And Fuck the rest.
It never works. Respect works. Respect always works.
I am not an island. I have not arrived where I am by myself. The good things in my life are not the product entirely of my own actions. There is a web of interdependency that informs every single good (and bad) event of my life. And when I break Confidence with another person, I invoke consequence (karma) which results in diminished returns. (Even that is an ego-driven conclusion as it postulates that returns are the goal. It’s hard to escape the ego. Give it a try. Don’t be scared, I guarantee it will be there when you get back.)
Is trust a currency? Can it be bought? Or is it more like Faith, a belief in unseen and unproven things? I don’t have answers to these questions. I am interested in what you think. Some people say trust is something you give someone until they break it. But there are complexities there, too. I don’t trust everyone I come in contact with, nor should I. I have been places where that could be deadly. I don’t immediately abandon trust when someone does something that I do not like, or that harms some part of me. There are mitigating circumstances; intention is a weighty consideration.
But here is the one conclusion I have reached. Like most things (even models of a scientific materialist universe) these are only words. Words are so much air without action to back them up. Trust is a cumulative account of the actions a person has taken in relation to you. It seems reductive to analyze this in such purely economic terms, but there is a sense to it. As I think back on the people I have wisely or unwisely trusted, I find a catalogue of actions that I consider.
How have they treated me? Were their actions moral? Ethical? Life-affirming? When they were not, was their intention to harm me? Or were they just dealing with their own shit and am I being narcissistic to think that it has a damn thing to do with me?
I realize this isn’t very conclusive. I don’t really understand variables like Trust. I only have questions. It is an ineffable quality, much like Love. And utterly related. They appear to be functions of one another. Without love, I feel no compulsion to trust. The phrase “trust, but verify” seems to be completely contradictory, but it is how we treat the people who are not part of our genuine relationships. It seems in that phrase, there is a persuasive rhetorical feel that is simply trying to mitigate the fact that it’s nice to keep using the word trust, but I don’t really trust.
All I know is this: only my actions can restore trust. My sincere commitment to be an ethical, moral and trustworthy human being are all I can offer. I am too handy with words for anyone to trust me on that basis alone.
So tell me, why do you trust? And when you do, is it like faith, subject to doubt and loss?
And when it is lost, do you feel any obligation to restore it; and why would you?
So this is another new day. A delicious cup of coffee is beginning to make its way through my system. A gorgeous half moon waning is poised over the Bay Area. Life begins to proceed along its normal course. Children prepare for school. Parents prepare for work. Students prepare for study. Politicians shake hands with the servants of mammon. And life does what it does. It thrives, it spreads, it overcomes adversity.
One can get a very jaded view of this simple process, because we are a part of it. It is natural to simply attend to business and let some of these basic fundamentals of our society fade into the white noise of the background. After all, we are saturated with information. It is a very good thing that our minds have the capacity to deprioritize, ignore, forget and focus on what is most important. And what is most important is the next step. Although every journey begins with a first step, it is easy to forget that we took steps to get to this metaphorical first step, and unless we take the next step we will never get where we are going.
I have a long journey in front of me. Fortunately (or unfortunately), I have done this before. In 1995, I experienced my first grand mal life crash. It was a similar experience to what I endured in the months of May, June and July of this year. Hell, similar? It was the same thing. The same symptoms, the same outcomes. I had gotten myself to a place in my life where, in pride and hubris, I thought everything was about to be perfect and somehow, someway, I sabotaged everything.
Here is the thing about Mania: It feels fucking amazing. The sense of power one feels is intoxicating. The speed of thought is faster than I can even describe. Energy pours through one and sleep and food seem unnecessary. Delusions of grandeur are common. Identification with mythological characters is a particular manifestation of my episodes. So, honestly, I never wanted to treat it because I was getting by “just fine”. Sure, the flip side of the roller coaster is hopeless depression. But I self-medicated for that, got prescription anti-depressants, meditated, tried to stay focused. I failed almost every time because I was treating the wrong illness. But what I knew, my little secret that I kept from everyone, was that I Wanted the mania. It was the only time I felt alive, normal, more than normal.
I come from a family of fundamentalist and conservative christians who do not particularly believe in decadent theories about biochemistry and brain chemical imbalances. It is all a matter of willpower. I don’t blame them. Much. The other aspect of my lack of treatment, however, was an attempt to use simple willpower to prevent episodic problems. I can not allow this to ever happen again, so I am abandoning that course of action.
Abraham Maslow has a well known psychological model of the hierarchy of needs. Envision it as a pyramid and at the bottom are the most basic needs that we as humans must engage in. These are eating, sleeping, breathing. Next, in the hierarchy comes the needs for security, warmth, shelter from the elements. This particular stage also includes the need for gainful employment, property, self-reliance and proactive thinking. The third stage is love. Family, friends and the attendant concepts of simple self-worth that are associated.
This is what I am working on. Everyday, all I think about are these three things. Do I have food available? Am I out of the elements? Do I still have my backpack with 3 changes of clothes and the books I got in jail? What steps can I make toward public assistance and a job as soon as possible? How can I get psychological help and the appropriate medication as soon as possible?
“Maslow used the terms Physiological, Safety, Belongingness and Love, Esteem, and Self-Actualization needs to describe the pattern that human motivations generally move through.”
What is interesting is that by engaging in this writing, I am actually able to engage those upper levels of Esteem and Self-Actualization as well. So, due to technology, and due to friends who are helping me out, I am able to satisfy some of those other needs. It is greatly improving my positive outlook. I’ll talk more about the undeniable value of lines of communication and what happens to the consciousness when they are cut in later posts.
So what is my plan? I am sure a lot of people have been wondering that? Wondering what my limitations are and why I have not returned to the State of Washington. The short answer is that our legal system provides me no legal right to leave the State of California while I am on probation. It does not matter to the system where my support network is; it does not matter where my job prospects are; it does not matter where my family is. If they release me at 1 am into the rain of downtown Sacramento and I end up homeless, it is no concern. It does not matter that I am not a career criminal; my extenuating circumstances are not part of that equation.
Of course, I am an exception. The majority of inmates are from the county where they are jailed or imprisoned. The majority Are career criminals who will simply return. The majority have a support network, gang oriented though it may be, that they can return to.
Some will consider the concept of Providence (divine or otherwise) to be far too mystical and woo woo for serious consideration in this age of Science. But, let me tell you, I have experienced it. Directly. Without photo ID, I managed to end up in a hotel for 2 nights due to the awesome efforts of my friend Peter. A man I met in jail put me up for a week after that, while I helped him with a landscaping project, carting 5 yards of gravel and other fun stuff. When I discovered that I could not board Greyhound even without photo ID, I called upon my friend Joelle in Oakland, which is where I am now. I am safe. I am eating. I am going to be OK. I have to keep reminding myself of that, even though at every step the opportunities keep presenting themselves.
From the probation department, I obtained permission to leave the county and go to Los Angeles County. Ok, that works, sort of. I have friends down there. I have a place that I can probably stay for a little while as I rebuild. But it’s not where I want to be. I am sorry to say that my opinion of California has somewhat soured. I do not want to stay here. But I am trapped. Violating my probation will do one thing: result in a warrant for my arrest and a return to jail. Hello recidivism: it’s quite literally built into the system. Though that may be a bit unfair due to the amount of repeat offenders, it bears thinking upon because in this era of austerity, budget cuts and stripped down government, rehabilitation is quite simply not a factor. It is someone else’s problem. Another department of the State, possibly, but not the problem of the legal system.
Right now, I am awaiting documentation to be sent to me so I can obtain the simple expedient of a Photo ID. I lost my wallet during my madness and it is now a problem to be solved. Again, simple things are so important. Once that happens, I can catch a bus to LA. Very possibly, I will be riding to LA with Joelle in the week before Thanksgiving. I do not know yet. Everything is in flux and the story develops every single day.
Once I get in LA and get the assistance I need, I will petition probation to move to another state. This is not an easy process. States do not want new felons in their state. They have every reason to reject it for any reason whatsoever. And since we are dealing with bureaucracy, it could take 60 days just to hear from them that they have turned you down. At this point, I do not even know whether it is best to return to Washington or go to Utah where my beautiful wife and daughter are. But I will try every option available. I will research every option and I will prevail. One thing I know: raising a daughter in Southern California is a really fucking bad idea.
At least I am in the Bay Area now. From here North is the only part of CA that I would even consider living on voluntary terms. My choices are not all voluntary, however. What I did (and I do not deny that what I did was wrong and violated law) has put me in the position where limitations exist that must be dealt with. All I know now is that I want to be with my family. Fortunately, at Thanksgiving, I will be able to see my daughter and wife after 5 long months.
I also contend with the difficulty of obtaining gainful employment with a record. There is a possibility that I can get this reduced to a misdemeanor. People have suggested it, but I do not know the details. I don’t know if I will be working with computers again, contracting, landscaping, cooking on a line, picking fruit, or writing books. Doesn’t matter much. I must make money. Must. My family needs me desperately. They were and are as affected by my actions as I am. This is something I feel intense remorse about. My daughter misses me. My wife misses me. There are heavy emotions involved and while it contributes to a feeling of hopelessness and fear at times, I can not let that overcome me. I must stay positive. I must make progress.
So this is the skeletal outlines of the Plan. I hope it explains my current situation a bit better than the snippets found on facebook.
One thing for everyone to keep in mind (myself included): there are people in far worse circumstances than mine. I am so blessed with good friends, my wife, my daughter and I thank Creator every day for this. I have my intellect still. I have my skills. I have some seeds of wisdom that may germinate over time. While I sometimes consider my situation dire compared to my previous lifestyle, I must acknowledge that I am actually in a state of mind, body and spirit that can find a path through the wilderness.
All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.
What is it that you take for granted? I know that I took everything for granted. It was all just my due as a well off white dude living in the ‘pinnacle’ of civilization. Of course, I took time to be grateful now and again. We all do.
The simplest things are so precious. A cup of coffee in the morning, fresh brewed and earthy; A good meal full of nutrients and amazing flavors; A night of sleep uninterrupted; A walk in nature, among birds and flowing water and unimpeded sunshine. These are blessings.
And these are just the most basic of the joys that life has to offer. What of friends? Of family? Of the genuine companionship of other humans that struggle daily with the same sorts of things that I do? These things give meaning to the basics of survival.
Four and a half months ago, I lost all of that.
In a hypermanic episode, I made extremely poor decisions that resulted in my incarceration in a County Jail in California. I will not exaggerate when I say that it was a nightmare. Every move I made, every breath I took, every meal I ate was basically under the control of an external influence. It was not dignified; it was barely human. Even discounting the influence of guards, rules and regulations, there was a definite aspect of danger from the rest of the inmates. I had to be on constant guard that I did not say the wrong thing or do the wrong thing. A man had his jaw promptly broken for saying the wrong thing.
In this particular post, I won’t go into why and how I got there, except to say that I had been treating depression when my actual problem is bipolar disorder. I was in the throes of a manic episode wherein it wouldn’t be too far from the truth to say that I thought I was the King of the World. Or at least making damn good progress toward that goal. I will be seeking help for that condition.
On October 22nd near midnight, I was released into downtown Sacramento with basically nothing. That night, wandering in the rain, speaking to the homeless, trying to figure out what the hell to do next, I was struck by one thing. However bad off I was with my freedom taken, there are people out there who had no one when their time of trial came.
They are still out there. I was terrified of becoming homeless. Honestly, I still am. But providence has intervened for me and amazing friends have reached out and helped me with the day to day as I try to prop my life back up.
The image of the snake eating it’s own tail is an image of self-inquiry. The Ouroboros tells us that our Consciousness is in a process of trying to understand itself, and as it does so, time does not stop. Our understanding of ourselves in a very real sense consumes us. The unexamined life is not worth living. I don’t remember who said that, but it is a valuable thing to remember. Know thyself said the Oracle at Delphi.
With a loss of physical freedom, I was forced to reexamine my life. This time with brutal honesty. No superhero stuff. No mania and delusional thinking. Just reality. And to be honest, the reality is stark. I have lost a lot. But what stayed with me is far more than just stuff. What stayed with me is Who stayed with me. People who cared for me. My wife. My daughter. My friends. All things I took for granted before. And far more important than good coffee and a steak dinner. They are all I have now. And it fills me with hope.
There are things even the State can never take from you. And those things are also forms of freedom. They can not take your intelligence. They can not take your compassion. They can not, ultimately, take your humanity unless you actively surrender it. And many do.
But the real lesson of freedom is that we are not islands in this world. Our freedom depends on a basic principle that can not be trumped: Love. Our interactions, our connections with the people in our lives that we love are and forever will be our true source of freedom. And I had that even when I was behind a locked door under constant video surveillance.
I am Free now and I intend to stay that way, knowing the true value of it. I have a lot of stuff to share about the experience and my other thoughts on life. That is what I need to be using this blog for, so I shall. Perhaps I can purge some of the worst parts of my experiences, shine luminous light on the best parts of my experience and transmute this into something better than dross.