Sunday, June 5, 2016

June 5: First Run, June 5 Posts, Classic Saint Marty

I went for my first run of the summer this afternoon.  Yes, it was rainy and cold.  Okay, I ran for less than a mile.  And when I was done, I collapsed on my living room floor, gasping like an asthmatic 90-year-old.

Despite all of that, I am really happy I was able to run.  You see, I haven't bought a new pair of running shoes for about two years.  In fact, it was two years ago this week that I purchased my last pair of Hurricanes (my shoe of choice).  I have been wearing those shoes every day for the past 730 days.  There are holes in them now, and their cushion is flat as a Finnish pancake. 

After church this morning, my wife surprised me.  We drove to the local sporting shoe store, and I purchased a brand new pair of neon green Hurricanes.  My feet felt like they were floating when I walked out of the place.  And, while my lungs weren't cooperative, my feet could have kept going for another ten miles.

I am tired, but it's a good tired.  After a weekend of sadness, it was a good way to focus my energy on something positive.  Constructive.  Tomorrow morning, I will be getting a root canal at 7:30.  No, that is not some metaphor for starting my new job or taking my car to the mechanic.  I'm actually having a root canal.  And then, after the root canal, I will be going to my new job.

Looking back over past posts, I've noticed a trend in my June 5 posts:  they all deal with worry and loss.  As you can see, I went back four years for today's episode of Classic Saint Marty.  Four years ago, I was neurotically obsessed with a catalogue of concerns--mental illness, jobs, bills, car issues.

Some things never change . . .

June 5, 2012:  Mind Flew Back, Over and Over and Over, Disquiet

Scrooge went to bed again, and thought, and thought, and thought it over and over and over, and could make nothing of it.  The more he thought, the more perplexed he was; and the more he endeavoured not to think, the more he thought.  Marley's Ghost bothered him exceedingly.  Every time he resolved within himself, after mature inquiry, that it was all a dream, his mind flew back again, like a strong spring released, to its first position, and presented the same problem to be worked all through, "Was it a dream or not?"

Scrooge is stuck in the limbo of the spirit world.  He wakes up after the visit from Jacob Marley's ghost, and he's not sure what's going on.  The world is dark when it should be light.  The clock strikes midnight when it should be noon.  Scrooge finds himself in a position of disquiet, mind racing, thinking and thinking and thinking, over and over and over.

It's a pretty good description of the kind of mania that comes with mental illness.  The obsessive thoughts.  The displaced reality.  I've seen this state in my wife more than once.  However, Scrooge's disquiet is not really due to mental illness.  (At least, I've never interpreted A Christmas Carol in that light.  However, Scrooge does have visions of spirits that could be psychotic hallucinations.  He does have an altered sense of time.  At the end of the book, his frenetic state of joy could definitely be attributed to a hypomanic bipolar episode.  Hmmmmmm.)  Scrooge's disquiet is due to fear.  He's afraid of the upcoming appearance of the Ghost of Christmas Past.  He's afraid of the possibility that he should "retire to Bedlam," as he says earlier.  (Bedlam is short for "Bethlem Royal Hospital," which was a London hospital that was first to specialize in treating mental illnesses.)  And I think he's afraid of the prospect of change, for that's what Jacob Marley wants him to do:  change his ways.

I could go with any of the above explanations for Scrooge's disquiet.  I, myself, have experienced the kind of racing thoughts described by Dickens in the above paragraph.  It's not fun.  Usually, I fall into that pattern of thought when I'm worried or anxious about something:  job, bills, money, the past, the present, the future, a mole on my calf, my weight, my house, my attic, my garage, the clunk in my car engine.  That's just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.  I could go on, but that would take way too much time.  You get the idea.

My point is that Scrooge can't change a thing that's going to happen to him.  The ghosts are going to show up.  Jacob Marley is pretty clear about this fact.  The only thing Scrooge has any power over is his reaction to the ghosts.  He could cower under his bed or soil himself, which would be my reaction to random spirits appearing at my bedside in the middle of the night.  Or he could roll with the punches and go for some ghostly strolls and obtain some ghostly wisdom.  Scrooge chooses the latter.

I can't change most of the things on my list of worries.  Sure, I could go on a diet.  Clean my garage or attic.  Take my car to a mechanic.  None of those things will really alleviate my worries.  I'll just be thinner with anxiety.  I'll have an attic or garage to have a breakdown in.  I'll have a car to drive to my therapy appointments.  But I'll still have worries. 

Worry is about control.  I'm a control freak.  (I'm also a chocolate freak, book freak, poetry freak, and movie freak, since I'm making a confession.)  Control means happiness, at least in my book.  Of course, a lot of people would argue this point with me, including my therapist and pastor.  Scrooge's miserly ways are all about control, as well.  He was pretty wounded as a young person.  Abandoned by his father.  He doesn't want to be wounded again, so he pushes people away and collects wealth to protect himself.  Of course, all he's done is create the illusion of control.  Jacob Marley tears away that illusion.  But I'm OK with the illusion of control.  It calms me down, makes me feel safe and secure, like a warm blankie.  Marley can stay away from my skewed view of reality.

As long as Saint Marty has the illusion of control, he can sleep well.

My feet are in love . . .

1 comment:

  1. I know we're not supposed to be materialistic but don't a great pair of shoes make the world just a little bit better, at least temporarily?