I didn’t get the job I was interviewed for last week, although I’d guessed that by now.  I applied for a copywriting job at a Jewish charity, but feel I’m unlikely to get it, as I don’t meet any of the requirements (all about copywriting experience)

I pitched an article to a Jewish newspaper.  I hate writing pitches.  It feels horrible to ask someone I don’t know, a propos of nothing in particular, to publish me.  Plus I worry that I’m making mistakes in the layout and form of the pitch itself that will prejudice an editor against me, but, while I’ve read up online about how to write a pitch, beyond a certain point one just has to work by trial and error.

Aside from the job application and the pitch, I managed a walk to do some shopping, twenty minutes or so of Talmud study and half an hour of fiction writing.  I should be pleased, but I just wish I had managed more.  I don’t know how good the fiction was.  It was harder than usual to concentrate, but I wrote about as much as usual for that amount of time, even though it was late (although my body clock is so far shifted at the moment that 9pm doesn’t feel particularly late).

***

During the tea break at depression group, I tend to browse the books in the group’s small library of depression-related books, mostly because I’m too shy and awkward to talk to other people.  Last week I flicked through Families and How to Survive Them by Robin Skynner and John Cleese.  I read a bit about religion and psychological development.  It said (as far as I can remember) that people are brought up as children with a sense of God as an Old Man in the Sky and religion as as set of rules for which people are rewarded if kept and punished if broken.  Many people stay at this level of understanding, but more sophisticated believers move on to more abstracted ideas about God being “love” or something similarly impersonal and the commandments being suggestions and God loving us even if we sin.

I wouldn’t make absolutely God abstract; I think on some level we are supposed to relate to Him as a person, but I think the understanding of both Jewish religious rationalist philosophy and kabbalah (mysticism) is fairly abstract (God as the Ayn-Sof, the Infinite) and distant from the Old Man in the Sky approach.  Likewise, while I think the mitzvot (commandments) should be understood as commandments, I think they are for our benefit rather than for God’s and the negative consequences of disobedience stem from moving away from a correct course of action more than God punishing us out of anger (if everyone steals, that society will collapse, not because God is punishing them, but because society depends on mutual respect and the safeguarding of property rights).  It’s interesting that the Zohar, the most important text of kabbalah, speaks of the mitzvot as “pieces of advice”.  So, I should be towards the more sophisticated end of the scale of belief.

And yet, despite this I really struggle to believe that God could love me, mostly because I don’t believe that anyone could love me, even without my faults, but certainly with them.  I really struggle with this, and with getting simcha shel mitzvah, joy from fulfilling the mitzvot.  I don’t really have any joy in my life, so perhaps it isn’t surprising that there isn’t any joy in my religious life (the previous rabbi at our shul (synagogue) said as much to me), but it is frustrating.  I envy other people who seem to have joy and meaning in their religious lives.  Of course, it is probably easier to believe in a loving God and a meaningful life if you have a steady income, settled career, loving spouse, happy and healthy children etc. than if you have none of those things.

***

I still feel bad about missing volunteering yesterday and am worried that, as with going to shul on Shabbat morning (which I’ve rarely managed over the last year), this is going to be another area where the social anxiety and depression win.  I probably do punish myself too much, but I feel I do a lot of objectively bad things and can only forgive so much by considering my mental health and autism.

Dad said I should start jogging again.  I don’t know when I last went jogging, but I’m pretty sure I haven’t done it since moving back in with my parents, so nearly a year.  The problem is I don’t have the time, the energy or the motivation at the moment and it’s hard to do it without any of those.  I have been going for a walk most days, which is something.

***

In news likely only to interest people who watch television programmes with spaceships in them, I ordered a copy of the first season of Star Trek: Discovery, the latest Star Trek series, which I haven’t seen as it was available for online streaming, but I don’t subscribe to any services.  I’m not even sure if that’s how streaming works, exactly.  I don’t watch much contemporary TV.  So, I waited for the DVD, which arrived today.  I procrastinated over getting it, as I’ve heard vaguely it’s “adult,” full of bad language, sex, violence and gore, and sure enough that’s what the DVD label says.  Hmm.  I hope I haven’t made a mistake.  I’m not sure why people assume adult = sex + violence + swearing.  Possibly one to watch with my finger hovering on the fast forward button.  I wonder if I should have bought Star Trek: Voyager instead.  I haven’t seen Voyager since I was at university (my Dad used to tape it for me during term time and I would binge watch over the holidays).  It was mostly not great, but was comfortable and familiar, which I suppose is why I didn’t give up on it the way I did on Enterprise, which was just dull.  I think I prefer comfortable and familiar to edgy and adult.

Anyway, there’s not much actually happening to me today, which is why I’ve spent a chunk this post talking about TV.  I just feel that nothing works out and am feeling depressed and lethargic.

6 thoughts on “Small Achievements, God, and Star Trek

  1. I know that’s true, but I can’t accept it emotionally. I just think, “I should be doing a seven hour day with two hours of commuting (studying Torah during that) and some writing when I get home” and then it just seems inadequate even though I know I’m not up to that.

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  2. Star Trek – I used to be a real Trekkie — was obsessed with Star Trek as a child — and watched the first ever series (that dates me!) on a little black and white TV at home. Some years ago at a school fete I found DVD copies of the whole first series including the pilot. Have you ever watched the first series? First episode aired in 1966. Although these are now dated I do think that they have never been surpassed by the more recent films and remakes. You won’t get sex or bad language in these – (the series was considered ground breaking in airing TV’s first interracial kiss) they were altogether from a much more innocent age (I wish sometimes I could go back in time…) But nevertheless the first series are quality films addressing contemporary issues of the time and well worth watching if you have never seen them. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Star_Trek:_The_Original_Series

    God’s love – This may be too personal but I do wonder whether you feel loved by your parents and your family unconditionally and simply for who you are – not for what you can achieve? If you don’t then you probably find it difficult to love yourself in this way. And if you cannot love yourself it is not surprising you find it difficult to accept that God loves you. It is my belief that God loves us unconditionally for ourselves – anything less would not be perfect love, and God is perfect.

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  3. Yes, I’ve seen the original series. I like it a lot, although these days my favourite is The Next Generation.

    Re: God’s love… I’m not sure what I can say in public. It’s an issue I’ve thought about a lot and spoken about in therapy, but I don’t want to say much here. I know my family do love me unconditionally, but I know it’s been hard to feel that at some times in my life; my depression/autism blocks it out.

    The question I always have about God loving us unconditionally is this: does God love Hitler unconditionally? If He does, then does His love really mean anything, if He loves someone that evil? But if He doesn’t, then how do I find out where He draws the line of worthy of love vs. unworthy to make sure I’m the right side of it? This question has bothered me for a long time, but I’ve never asked anyone about it. I tell myself that the line is with murder (and rape, which Judaism considers like murder), but that’s just my guess really.

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  4. Small achievements are huge when depressed. I am a huge fan of The Next Generation. It was thoughtful as well as creative. Although I enjoy the latest installments, they’ve turned it more into an action franchise. I like the old-school sci-fi!

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  5. Thanks for commenting!

    I guess I feel that I’ve been depressed for so long, that I ought to have built up to bigger achievements. It’s particularly frustrating when I’ve gone through periods of being less depressed and achieving more and then get pushed back down again.

    Yes, the last lot of Star Trek films in particular (with Chris Pine as Captain Kirk) were definitely action films, although I did enjoy them.

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