I’m still feeling very depressed, although perhaps marginally less than the last few days and less anxious.  Next week looks set to be difficult though.

If I’m religious, then I must feel that there must be some purpose to my life, but I have no idea of what it is or how to achieve it.  I don’t seem to be able to do very much.  I hope it’s something to do with writing, not least because it seems to be the only thing I can do well any more, but I am not certain that it is.

***

I did chores today, usual pre-Shabbat chores plus cleaning the oven, which didn’t come particularly clean.  Depression: The Curse of the Strong by Dr Tim Cantopher talks about the “hoover in the middle of the room” test.  The idea is that when recovering, you should not push yourself too hard; the sign of a healthy recovery is a hoover in the middle of the room because you took a break in the middle instead of pushing to do it all in one go and then burning out.  I’m not always good at this, but I’ve been trying to do it.  I am aware that Dr Cantopher intended it to be something done for a few weeks or months at most while anti-depressants kick in, but in my case, it’s ongoing, which is not easy.  I feel like I’m not able to function like most people.

I should dust my room, but I don’t have the energy to move all my ornaments/bric-a-brac/junk.  I have a load of stuff like mementos from places I’ve visited, mementos from places other people have visited and given to me and the war gaming miniatures I used to paint.  I don’t think many of them would pass the Marie Kondo “Does it spark joy?” test.  Most of the holiday mementos seem to come from another lifetime and the mementos from other people I only really keep to avoid offending them or out of a superstitious reluctance to throw away things associated with them, especially if they’re dead.  Some of the war gaming miniatures do spark joy, mainly the ones I painted as a teenager, which are done to a high standard; the more ones painted more recently are not as good, because of my tremor and perhaps loss of patience, which also brings me down a bit.  However, I’m not sure if they spark enough joy to justify being out on display as dust traps.

I feel I should be more minimalist, but I struggle with that.  I also probably have too many books and DVDs, but I’m reluctant to give them away or sell them and the events of this week have reinforced that.  The only TV programme I like that was “cancelled” is Fawlty Towers, but even regardless of political issues, appearances on streaming services are liable to change suddenly so I like to own things.

***

I’m feeling upset about antisemitism in the news today.  There’s a feeling that a lot of Jews have something bad happens in the news.  A feeling of, “Oh, when are we going to get blamed for that?”  Not if, but when.  Wars, recessions, revolutions, terrorist atrocities, even natural disasters get blamed on the Jews.  So it was probably inevitable that the Jews (in the form of Israel) would get blamed for racist police tactics in the USA and specifically for the death of George Floyd.  Meanwhile, in the last few days Jews have been physically attacked in the UK and the US (and also in Israel, although that doesn’t seem connected).  Depressing, but sadly none of it is surprising.

***

Not related to the last point, I feel the model I see on the media for dealing with suffering and inequality – the identity politics model – goes like this:

  1. Suffering occurs;
  2. The suffering person(s) angrily protest and “speak truth to power”;
  3. The person(s) causing the suffering “check their privilege” and make amends.

I’m not going to go into what I think about that as a political model, but it’s not what I want to see in my own life with my own suffering, partly because there aren’t really other people causing my suffering.  My own model, which is a more religious existentialist model is:

  1. Suffering occurs;
  2. The suffering person has a “dialogue” with other people;
  3. Mutual understanding and empathy occurs.

It’s hard to get that to happen, especially as my social anxiety stops me “encountering” (another religious existentialist word) other people away from the internet even before lockdown.  It is useful to have understanding and empathy here on my blog, but sometimes I wish I could “dialogue” with some of the people I know in real life.

***

Well, the illegal minyan (prayer meeting) next door is starting, which is a sign it is time for Shabbat so I should go.  (One of our neighbours was going to inform on them, but the police apparently ignored it.  I was hoping it would be like The Sweeney: “Get yer shtreimels on, you’re nicked!”)

7 thoughts on “Today’s Difficulties

  1. Heavens, I’ve seen nothing about Jews being blamed where I am, but there are certainly many other wacky conspiracy theories floating around. I don’t think I like Marie Kondo’s philosophy much. Sometimes we need to keep things around, not because they bring us joy, but because they are our security and help us define who we are. Or is that just my excuse for keeping a bunch of stuff I don’t need? I’m going to need to google your last sentence. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There are a lot of conspiracy theories around. Tbh, I suspect most people miss the antisemitic conspiracy theories; they circulate in antisemitic and anti-Israel circles and Jewish circles, but not the mainstream. This is one reason the resurgence of antisemitism in recent decades has been missed by a lot of people.

      I was assuming security and self-definition would count as “joy” at least by extension.

      Sorry, the joke would need explanations of both Jewish tradition and 1970s British cop shows…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Just to clarify–I didn’t mean that I hadn’t seen any evidence of antisemitism here because in the alt-right and Neo Nazi world, it is rampant. Even among politicians on the right who are generally fundamentalist Christian types. I just haven’t noticed it in relation to the protests and the death of George Floyd.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. We like your model for resolving suffering. We would engage in that model. If you would also, there are two people minimum who would try empathy and understanding!

    Not many physical items bring us joy. But they might remind us of important lessons we want to remember. That seems important, valuable

    Liked by 1 person

  3. On antisemitism and current events — I find Melanie Philip’s analysis helpful, you may have read it: https://www.melaniephillips.com/victim-culture-tears-jewish-moral-norms6343-2/
    And there are other articles of interest on her website on this subject.

    It has been quite a year of trauma for the UK — Brexit, the Floods, Covid and now BLM protests. It is not surprising that this has resulted in huge mental health issues for many, and for some who are already struggling, has threatened to tip them over the edge. And of all the issues that have faced us, I think the last one is the most dangerous because its true nature is hidden.

    I’m glad that in your model of suffering you see that meaningful connection with others — acceptance and empathy are so important. Brings to mind one of my favourite poems, Walt Whitman’s “Noiseless Patient Spider.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I had read the Melanie Philips article. I have mixed feelings about her writing (in general, not just that article), complicated by a personal connection that I won’t talk about online. She is right about some things, but I feel that sometimes her conclusions go further than the evidence, and she seems off-puttingly single-minded about things.

      It has been a traumatic year worldwide, I think.

      I hadn’t read that poem, but I googled it. I liked it a lot.

      Like

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