I’ve animated a video for a song I wrote. The lyrics are based on my life motto. So this is essentially 66 seconds of life wisdom. Enjoy!
The ego is a construction that grows more and more rigid with time until it becomes a prison that stops you from exploring and growing. Like a house full of valuables that you can never leave because you have to guard it against thieves.
Ego death, in a magical sense, is a transformation, a temporarily transcendence from self-centeredness, a way of cleaning out bad habits, misconceptions, etc, that bog down the mind, before the inevitable resurrection as a (hopefully) better person follows.
With magic I change reality. But it’s my model of reality that changes, and maybe yours, not actual reality itself. Actual reality may change though, through actions we make as a result of our changes in those inner models of reality.
2020 in review
I got my short-story The DreamCube Thread published in the British anthology Vast. I wrote, recorded and animated Ellinor’s Theme Song. I also published some things under another name, but I’ll ramble about that elsewhere.
On the downside I descended deeper into fatigue and anxiety again (unrelated to Covid-19). All personal development and my work with magic kind of stopped as I lost all energy. I didn’t feel like myself anymore. It felt like I took several steps back. From everything.
2021 in preview
I wanna get a grip of myself again. To feel like a person again. To understand what my goals are. What I want to do. Who I will be. To move forward again. So this year the focus will be on my mental and physical health. This time maybe with the help of professional health care. We’ll see how this turns out. Håll tummarna!
But while that massive work in progress develops I will probably do more of what I hoped to do last year: write some shorter stories, make some music and hopefully get back into doing more visual art. Whatever emerges will be posted here or maybe my Twitter.
Be seeing you.
I write this as a way to sort out my thoughts, to help me think about difficult and abstract things concerning my self and identity. Not sure if I will reach a conclusion, but that’s not the point, it’s an ongoing identity crisis. Here goes.
The ongoing exploration into being non-binary that I’ve done the last 6-7 years have fizzled into nothing. It takes more energy than, at least half of you, can believe to present feminine in our culture. Then imagine having to start with a masculine body.
It takes a lot of energy being liminal. Constantly being questioned and misunderstood, exposed to prejudice, having to explain, working against opinion, being treated differently, being singled out, even stared at, etc. You have to be strong to be odd.
I got stuck in boy-mode already last year. And this year has been even worse. My lifelong history of recurring fatigue and depression drained all my energy (unrelated to Covid-19). There was no motivation to justify the effort it takes to get back into girl-mode.
I totally let go of my body. I gave up trying to shape it and present it as I felt it should be. I gained so much weight that I can’t wear any of my femininely coded clothes and instead have to wear my bigger, worn and torn, masculine clothes from before.
There is no motivation anymore. Instead of feeling my gender is in between male and female it feels I have no gender at all. It feels like an act when I present as male, but now even more so when moving towards the feminine. I feel like I lie to people just by them looking at me.
I let my Ellinor side take the controls all those years ago. And she was happy taking the reins after being hidden for so long. She was wild and free and exploring things my other side wouldn’t have done. For those years I was more Ellinor than M. But now it all feels wrong somehow.
Ellinor have stepped back. She was very active and high-maintenance and without fuel she ceased to function. M is back at the rudder as some kind of default setting. He feels almost as if Ellinor was a dream. A happy dream he’s sad to wake up from.
For a while now I have felt more like M again. I know I am fluid. I know I have had these fluctuations before. I once wrote about myself as a binary star. Sometimes the smaller star is hidden behind the bigger one. Maybe that is what’s happening now. Ellinor is hibernating through the Helliconia winter.
So, how do I, M, handle her accounts while she is dormant? There are three options. Continue posting as Ellinor though it will be much more of a pseudonym than it was before. Change the name on the accounts to M. Suspend or close the accounts.
I’m not sure what to do. Ellinor reached some success with getting a short-story published in an anthology. And for some strange reason there were some people that kind of thought she was interesting enough to get friends with. I would like to keep that alive.
Ellinor and M are the same person. But still not the same personality. If you look at Ellinor’s Twitter account you might see a change in tone and subjects about a year ago. Magic and poetry are gone. The house feels empty. Ellinor wrote in English, M is more comfortable with Swedish.
I need some peace and quiet to think. But with work, obligations and, most of all, this brain, it’s difficult to have focused thoughts about the future. Without a plan it is difficult to break out of the rut I am stuck in with both my life in general and my explorations of identity.
Well, maybe next year there will be an opening. I might get help to improve my health. Maybe there is new energy in sight. Maybe I can move on soon? I know I need something new. I have been stuck in the same life for too long. I need change. I want things to be different.
How do I make things different?
Almost every day I’m reading something factually wrong posted on social media without commenting or questioning. Even if it’s a friend posting. Because if I did I would get drawn into a heated argument by an upset OP and with my zero defense against upset people I easily get very distraught and feel bad for the rest of the day. So instead I get irritated at myself, over this exaggerated sensitivity that forces me to leave false information that leads people to false conclusions unquestioned.
Our selves do not end in our bodies. It reaches out, especially to other humans, but also to the whole planet. This intertwining makes egoism impossible. The neurons in our brains are wired from how we were raised and what culture we were exposed to. By purpose and coincidence. We got our parents, our friends and our enemies reaching deep into our physical brains.
Based on past experience the brain, in every moment anew, predicts a model of reality. Senses are mostly used as error correction. The brain considers the state of your body and predicts the best course of action to survive and thrive. It predicts thoughts and emotions. It predicts what we experience as our selves. The self is a non-physical concept. Like a projection. Our brain is a prism and our self is the rainbow.
There is no innate self stored somewhere inside us. A newborn have no experience, no self. We are only born with tools and possibilities. With that the self is constructed by interaction and circumstance. Sometimes it is built by chance and habit. Sometimes it becomes a facade that we believe ourselves. But what may feel as different selves are facets of the same thing – your brain trying to make sense of the world to survive.
Modern neuroscience dispels the myth of our human side having to subdue our animal side in a struggle between the reptilian brain versus the neocortex. In fact it is all one unit, one network, developed all at the same time. Emotions are not uncontrollable beasts that live inside your head and your logic is not a shepherd trying to keep them in check. We have more control than we think.
Our brains are so tuned to predict all the time that they predict things that are not real. It predicts that the stick on the ground is a poisonous snake. Because that is better than to mistake a snake for a stick. The downside is when you get anxiety, which is the brain wanting to get away from a potentially dangerous situation, from having to much to do at work, which is rarely life-threatening.
Anxiety and depression could (at least in part) be results of prediction error. The brain shuts down attention and interest in the world to save resources for anticipated action. Comfort eating works because the brain gets satisfied by stocking up on energy that it expects to release, any minute now, as response to an imminent catastrophe. Which mostly never comes.
But, and here the beauty of it finally comes, prediction can be harnessed for many amazing things. We humans have, on top of physical reality, created a new social reality where intangible things exist. Concepts like Sundays, tickets, red means stop, chess, Osiris, social classes, the Cuba crisis. Many wonderful and horrible things that are not real but still affect us and thereby in extension also affect reality. Dreams, fantasy and fiction are predictions without error correction from reality.
Our lives are predictions. We are predictions. We love predictions. We love taking part in prediction-fiction. The fiction of who we are, the fiction of culture, of religion, of stories, songs and paintings. The arts are predictions which from a safe distance gives us the thrill of trying to figure out whether we see snakes or sticks.
These rambling thoughts are me trying to sort out what I learned from some books on neuroscience I have read lately. One book in particular is How Emotions Are Made by Lisa Feldman Barrett.
At work I sometime get hints about doing things too good. I put a professional touch to what I do and colleagues allude to that being the reason I struggle with fatigue. That’s not the case, there are other reasons. But if anything it’s when I have to do a mediocre or hurried job I get stressed and drained of energy.
Of course I don’t spend too much time on one thing either. I know when enough is enough. But I got a professional pride and do the job I’m hired to do at a certain level. To release something that looks like it’s made by someone with less skill feels very disheartening and I lose all interest and motivation.
We live in a society that generally discourages people from doing their best. Anything above sufficient is systematically punished. High quality is apparently worthless. There’s no profit in anything beyond good enough. The problem is that good enough is the same as almost bad.
I know this is how profit is made. But I can’t stand it. Do not accept crappy things! Demand better things!
I took some wrong turns and now I’m driving deeper and deeper into the dense forest on a dirtroad. Nowhere to turn around. No idea where I was going. Not since I lost the map. Getting dark. The battery is discharging. Can’t see myself in the rear view mirror, so not sure what face I wear.
I put my book away, turned off the light and tried to sleep. Now, in the darkness, I’m instead getting more awake. I notice that the pillow is bumpy in the wrong way. I think that the subscription for the skills I need at work must have expired. I remember my ex being worried that I had no plan even for my nearest future. My legs are dry and itching and I should put some lotion on them. But if I do I can’t hold my book without messing up the cover. And if I can’t fall asleep soon I have to turn on the lights and read again.
Our selves don’t exist. We don’t have an I when we are born. I am not something unique or predestined we are born with. It is something we continuously create in the now our entire lives.
We build concepts that we call I from all we experience, or learn, about our bodies, our environment and our social reality. It is not constant, it changes with new knowledge, experience and ideas.
Our selves are inseparable from our bodies. The self is our body. The self change when the body change. Influenced by the self, or other persons selves, the body can in turn also change.
We have one self, but that self has many instances. Created by many networks in the brain it becomes an overlapping palette of personalities that are granted dominance in different situations.
All these concepts we create are what makes up our concept of reality. What we think is real is just a model of reality. The concepts change which causes our perception of reality to change
Working actively with trying to change the self, an by extension changing other peoples selves, by transforming concepts is what I in many previous posts on this website have referred to as magic.
It is however important to remember that magic doesn’t exist, even if it’s real. Because magic is also a concept that we create. Much like our selves. So we use one concept to change another concept. We are all conceptions.
Not only do I have mood swings, I also have ability swings. And by that I mean my ability to do things fluctuate wildly. Some days I’m rather good at what I do – other days I struggle to manage even what I normally consider easy tasks. This is unfortunately mostly noticeable at work.
Maybe it’s like this: I am good at what I do, but I just can’t do it on order. I got good at media production because I did it for myself, when I felt like doing it. Now that I work with it I have to do what others tell me. And that won’t bring me the hyper focus I get from exploring my own ideas.
Knowing I can do something but having to spend twice, and often even more, time than usual is incredibly frustrating. But impossible to force. I once read someone comparing this feeling to having sex. If you’re not turned on it doesn’t matter how much you try to obey the orders and just come.
In some ways, having that incredibly boring, unqualified job I had for a while many years ago, was easier. On good days I just escaped into my brain while my body was working. On bad days I was a robot, sometimes half asleep while still working. I did the same quota of work every day either way.
I had nothing to live up to. I wasn’t an award-winning feature film director that suddenly didn’t know how to make a simple three minute film about how municipality clerks are supposed to archive their documents. No reputation of being capable and competent to uphold.
So on bad days I think I should quit my current job and not having to manage all the anxiety it can bring. But that would force me out of a job with great co-workers, good salary and that is actually pretty good on my good days. Only my stubbornness keeps me from escaping into the wild.
After being like this for my whole life I have finally come to understand that both mood swings and ability swings are consequences of chemical imbalances in my brain. Lifelong strategies and recent cognitive behavior therapy has helped, but is not enough.
Now I’m embarking on a journey into psychiatric care to see if I get to do a medical investigation for ADHD. If I get a diagnosis maybe medication will help. If it’s not ADHD my problems are caused by something else and I’m back to square one. Maybe there is nothing to do but endure.
Of course I do not wish to have a diagnose. But by getting it I would know why I feel the way I feel, why I work the way I work, and get access to tools to handle myself better. It feels kinda unreal. Maybe there is a reason to why I am like this. And maybe I could feel happy some day.
Hope often hurts, but it keeps us alive.
I have absolutely no control over what I write. I’ve written almost nothing for weeks now. And then, out of the blue, I had to pause the episode I was watching and go to my computer to write the following. Only later I found out that it by coincidence is World Mental Health Day today. So let’s consider this my unexpected contribution.
I love drawing, but very seldom do it. I get stuck when trying to decide which one of all my ideas to choose. Despite this will to draw I end up doing nothing. The ideas tumble in my head, while the paper remains white.
This may not sound like much of a problem. But it applies to many things in my life and is kind of crippling. I often feel paralyzed and unable to perform even simple tasks. Things I’m usually good at can take twice the time. Or more.
It’s a strong inertia that I have to fight every day. Inspired by a picture I saw somewhere I use to describe it like this: While other people are running on the beach, playing and having fun, I am deadly tired from trying to run along, but neck deep out in the waves of the sea.
The metaphorical drawing pad and pen is in my bag up on the beach and though I long to draw I’m stuck in the water. It’s too tiresome to struggle to the shore and dry up to draw only for a few minutes before I have to go back into the water.
So despite my potential I stay in the water to conserve energy. I see the achievements of others. I see opportunities drift by. Life slipping away while meaninglessness slips in. I get anxious and depressed. I feel kind of imprisoned in myself.
Constantly I think of escape. From the water, from the beach. I could retreat to an island where there is nothing I have to do. Where I could just be. Maybe then I could muster the energy to choose something to draw once in a while.
But here I sit, alone in the water and can’t get up.