Snippet.

I sit quietly, regarding the empty compartments of the weekly pill organiser.

Time to refill it. It is Saturday again.

These pills, ten and a half taken every morning and five every evening – plus an iron supplement taken every second day (because it causes constipation), keep me going.

Metaphorically – or not – they replace love, family, professional pride, enthusiasm for sport and hobby, pets, wildlife, aquaria and frog ponds. Things that kept me going.

Again. It is empty again.

I look into the compartments, each a morning or an afternoon, and try to recall how it was I filled them. How I took again from them the medicine of each hour, and used it.

Medications

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Health Update

I don’t have dementia. I don’t have diabetes. My kidney function is actually improving slightly. It had dropped from 47% to 33, and now it’s working its way back to 40%. I am losing weight;

6.8 kg in 70 days. It is working. The MyFitnessPal app is very helpful in monitoring my energy intake. I recommend it. I can work out in advance what I want to have and how much of it fits in my energy budget. So nothing need be off the menu. Portion control.

My mobility is not yet improving and pain constrains the amount of exercise I can do walking or standing. I am building up my upper body strength with my rubber band gym, which is a surprisingly effective way to work out sitting down.

My mental health remains stable thanks, in no small part, to fluoxetine.

I have my hobbies, books, Netflix and Spotify. I’ve done a bit of exploring, but the weather has not been particularly conducive to swimming, fishing, drone flying or bird and reptile photography. I do miss the stimulation of intelligent conversation, and I am acutely aware of how far away I am from family and friends. Much of my support system is now with Facebook friends, many of whom I have never met. .

My finances are, if not precarious, in need of scrutiny. I can’t afford to eat into my nest egg any longer, and must try to manage on the pension. Fortunately I have all the tools, appliances, appurtenances and clothes I need for now, so there is just rent, medications, food, fuel and entertainment, Insurance and registrations – and that bloody albatross of a lockup in NZ that is costing me $1,500 a year. I’ve spent more on it than the contents are worth.

This month marks nine years since I was Dear Johned. It seems like a lifetime.

So that is the story so far.

Home

Every man, every woman, carries in heart and mind the image of the ideal place, the right place, the one true home, known or unknown, actual or visionary. A houseboat in Kashmir, a view down Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn, a gray gothic farmhouse two stories high at the end of a red dog road in the Allegheny Mountains, a cabin on the shore of a blue lake in spruce and fir country, a greasy alley near the Hoboken waterfront, or even, possibly, for those of a less demanding sensibility, the world to be seen from a comfortable apartment high in the tender, velvety smog of Manhattan, Chicago, Paris, Tokyo, Rio or Rome — there’s no limit to the human capacity for the homing sentiment. Theologians, sky pilots, astronauts have even felt the appeal of home calling to them from up above, in the cold black outback of interstellar space.

Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire.

Where I am now does not feel like home. I hoped it would, but it doesn’t. It is the place where I currently live. I live in a caravan, which is an object. The caravan is in a park on Bribie Island, which is a location. Neither the domicile nor the location is home. I’m not even sure these days what, or where, home might be for me. Or even where it was.

Every place I’ve ever considered to be home has been taken from me or I have had to leave it behind. Every place I’ve been happy, I’ve had to abandon. As child I moved with my parents wherever their aspirations led. As a young man I followed employment opportunities and my own romantic hopes. For the last eleven years I’ve gone again where necessity sent me, albeit of my own free will. I have found the occasional Happy Place, where I can enjoy being alive and communing with the natural world in some positive heart-lightening way, but I have had no home in that time. No place where I could look around me and say “This is where I belong. This is where I shall stay”.

Looking back I realise I have been searching for such a place since I was a child exploring the hills and fields and streams of the Manawatu, and as a young man exploring the bush and beaches and under the seas around New Zealand

Also, of course, as I explored the possibilities of a shared life, relationships, offering and seeking love.

Home is more than a house, more than a place. It is people in familial and social relationships. Relationships which are enduring and settled. It turns out I’m not so good at maintaining relationships. Two failed marriages, other failed relationships, and very little constant contact or intercourse with family.

I’m not sure if this is caused by, or is what causes, depression.

Fortunately, or perhaps otherwise, I am comfortable and content in my own company. I don’t get lonely when I am alone. Even so, social interaction comes easily enough to me. I don’t have the difficulties that, for example, an autistic person might. I can be amusing, empathetic, and supportive. Caring. Nonetheless I cannot seem to get right the combination of interaction that will lead me to have constancy of companionship and the stability of location that feeling at home requires. Others move on. Or I must.

So here I am ageing, separated from friends and family, with my social interaction limited to a few short term acquaintances and virtual friends whom I no longer see in person or have never even met in the first place.

All I can do now is seek out a new Happy Place. One where I can stay. I have no idea what, or where it might be, though I have an inkling it must be somewhere on or near the sea. Most of my Happy Places have been. I find peace and contentment by the sea, or by water, more than anywhere else.

Does this introspective essay mean I am, after all, becoming lonely?

I have to think about that.

Lofty Purpose

Once, with lofty purpose, I set out
Of a mind, and with a will, to conquer
I saw the world with scientific eyes
And shunned the superstition and the lies
That I learned from the pulpit and the cassock.

In the real world that I found awaiting
The simplest task was fraught with ignorance
Of those whose fears and faiths, irrational
Denied the possibilities of science
Demanding asservation of the unknowable.

Unprovable tales; Insane conspiracy
Demands that I Believe a Prayer
Offered to some omniscient being
Who until that moment unaware
Of my desires, might choose
To grant or deny, by chance alone, at whim.
And yet ignore the needs of millions.

Thus, and thusly, I cannot feel reverent
To your Lord of superstitions and of lies.
Vonnegut was right
The God of the Utterly Indifferent
Has no interest in his creation.

© 2019 ARF

Support

I am a member of a small private Facebook support group of people with mental and physical health problems such as depression, anxiety, disability and chronic pain. It was started when someone on another forum announced he felt suicidal and was subsequently trolled by a few arseholes urging him to do it. He did. His sister posted the news and it was pretty devastating. So we created a safe space where fellow travellers could share their thoughts and their feelings without the risk of being trolled. When we spot someone in need of a friend we invite them in to a place they can speak freely and where everyone else understands something about what they are experiencing.

It is the main reason I stay on Facebook, which I originally joined only to stay in touch with my family. That didn’t work out so well as they now use other media.

It has been a life changing experience for me, because I now talk to people who have far greater problems than I, and who share how they cope (and sometimes don’t), and I get – and sometimes give – support and advice that truly helps us all get through whatever we are experiencing. Sometimes it’s just a place to vent knowing that only understanding people are reading ones post and are offering support while making no judgement.

Yesterday I had whinge on line that I was booked into Caboolture Hospital for a medical procedure that involved anaesthesia, but the hospital would not do it unless I had someone who would drop me off, pick me up, and monitor me for 24 hours afterwards. I have no one nearby who can do that. That meant I might have to go onto an ever lengthening waiting list until there was an overnight bed available that was not required by some patient in more urgent need. They told me frankly it could mean not having the procedure there at all.

One of Ricky Gervais’ lines in the series “Derek” is “A prayer is just a posh whinge, innit”.

My whinge turned out to be a prayer answered. One of my Fb friends lives In the vicinity. She and her husband offered to undertake the task of being my carer. We have never met, though we have conversed on Fb for several years. Nonetheless a virtual stranger has extended a real hand.

How cool is that?

Time On My Hands.

I’m sitting in my caravan. It’s raining outside. I’m thinking of buying a toaster so I don’t have to scorch my bread on the wire contraption over the gas stove. Most of my day will be taken up in making that decision, then searching out a suitable toaster. Then I shall have to choose between marmite and vegemite. I like both. While I’m out I may look for a butcher, as I haven’t eaten any red meat for nearly a week. Shall I splurge on a good eye fillet or some chuck to make chilli? I’m leaning toward the fillet, and I might get some baby spinach, feta and olives for a side salad.

Or maybe not. I am injecting myself daily with an appetite suppressant and only eat because I know I must. I could more easily open a can of corn and have it on toast instead of marmite.

Or perhaps I’ll just sit and look at the rain. I have my pot of coffee.

Synchronicity

Quantum indeterminacy is often understood as information (or lack of it) whose existence we infer, occurring in individual quantum systems, prior to measurement. Quantum randomness is the statistical manifestation of that indeterminacy, witnessable in results of experiments repeated many times. However, the relationship between quantum indeterminacy and randomness is subtle and can be considered differently.

Thus the tossing of a coin is deterministic, in the sense that, perfect knowledge of the initial conditions would render outcomes perfectly predictable. The ‘randomness’ stems from ignorance of physical information in the initial toss or throw.

Synchronicity is a concept, first introduced by analytical psychologist Carl Jung, which holds that events are “meaningful coincidences” if they occur with no causal relationship yet seem to be meaningfully related.

So with all that, one just has to wonder at the situation in which one becomes retired, homeless and at a loss in the same month that circumstances contrive to make available an affordable caravan that will allow me to continue my wandering ways.

Using Integrated information theory we are able to deduce that SHIT HAPPENS. But sometimes it is good shit.