Today went OK. I felt that I messed some stuff up at times and that my boss was downplaying how badly I was doing because she’s nice. I dropped a nineteenth century book on the floor at one point in front of her, picking a pile of books out of a crate and thinking there was one big book at the bottom, when it turned out there were two small ones, and I was only holding one of them. I also had some anxiety about some other things. However, I was able to calm myself most of the time with deep breathing and telling myself that sometimes my thoughts are not my friends and in retrospect I can’t remember everything I was anxious about, so this one is probably a win overall.
I do wish I had something better to look forward to at the end of the day than some of the Doctor Who story The Web Planet (Doctor Who fans may appreciate the reference; for the rest of you, imagine experimental, minimalist surrealist avant-garde theatre crossed with plotless primary school kids TV overlaid with a soundtrack of car alarms and broken pipes, only weirder and bizarrely more boring, for two and a half hours). Perhaps to compensate, the last slice of blueberry pie was consumed, with Haagen Dazs vanilla ice cream.
Ashley Leia mentioned in a comment a while back about my thoughts not being my self, which she said is from acceptance and commitment therapy. I find this a weird thought to hold on to. If I’m not my thoughts, what am I? I’m not my body, I believe I have a non-physical soul. Is my soul not my thoughts? I have automatically assumed they are the same and have done for years, but theologically it makes sense to assume they aren’t the same, that a soul is an expression of being rather than thinking, particularly if the soul is somehow a part of a God Who is seen as the Source or Essence of existence rather than an old man in the sky. Certainly a God of Being and a soul of being is more Jewish than Greek philosophical notion of God being pure thought thinking itself. In Judaism, God’s essential name is etymologically related to the verb ‘to be’ and He says He is “I Will Be What I Will Be” – being not thinking. But this is too metaphysical for 10pm.
A similar thought to the above, but from earlier today:
I think most people, when they think of Heaven (whether they believe in it or not), they think of other people. Being reunited with departed relatives, lost loves, meeting heroes from a bygone age. It’s interesting that when I think of the afterlife, it is of being alone, either literally or alone with God. When I think of Gehennom (Purgatory), I think of being alone with my thoughts of guilt and shame indefinitely; when I think of Heaven, it is of being somehow with God and able to understand my life, why so much of it has been suffering, why so much of everyone’s life is suffering. But I struggle to imagine a blissful afterlife with other people, even though I loved my late grandparents. I can’t imagine how disembodied souls could interact. Maybe this will change as I get older. I want to say: maybe this will change as I get older and more people I care about begin to die. But I know that I should not say this, although I suspect it is true. It is one of those things that is known to be true, but which we should not say. One of those things that puzzles my autistic head.
I feel a bit lonely again tonight. I’ve been thinking about Sunday, the Doctor Who quiz, and wondering if I can overcome my social anxiety and autism enough to be a bit more involved in fandom and make new friends. I don’t think online fandom is really going to work for me any more; it’s too hard to make friends and the online world (generally, not just for Doctor Who fandom) is far too explosive and argumentative for me to stay in. These days I’m trying only to stay on certain quiet corners of the internet, like this one. But it’s fun to talk about Doctor Who with people who know about it in detail, in person.
But I always feel “too Jewish” when I mix with non-Jews socially, just as I feel “too geeky” and “too modern” with other frum Jews. My friend M. sent me some photos taken on Sunday and I felt my kippah (skullcap) is weirdly prominent in some of them. This is probably self-consciousness. Certainly it’s hard to go to social events when you can’t eat or drink very much, and conventions are often held on Saturdays, at least partially. I try to compartmentalise my life, but it’s like I’ve got my Jewish life in one closet (that’s probably not the best metaphor in the circumstances, but I can’t think of another) and my geek life in another and people from one aren’t even allowed to know that the other really exists for fear of what they might think of me. I’m not so much afraid of rejection as total incomprehension.
Conventions are scary from an autistic and social anxiety point of view too: people, noise, but that seems like more of a surmountable challenge, IF I can get the courage to go. Let’s face it, I’m not going to be the most autistic person (whatever that means) at a Doctor Who convention.
At any rate, I just booked to see Rabbi Rafi Zarum interview literary critic Robert Alter about translating Tanakh (The Hebrew Bible) in Jewish Book Week, so maybe I may make to a convention some day after all.