As the Buddha said, “All human beings are quite deluded.” The line between the staff and patients is sometimes frighteningly thin....It’s only a matter of degree.
Should I pursue a path so twisted?
I’ve gone through a lot of these incredibly emotionally volatile periods (don’t worry—I’m not going through one right now)–generally when I’ve been getting really deeply into yoga, or therapy, or otherwise simply digging into those messy places inside my head on my own–which at times have led to strained relations, generally erratic behavior, and remarkably poor performance at anything practical I was trying to do at the time. So, for the most part, it’s not very pleasant, and I want it to end as soon as possible, but, at the same time, realize that, if I can navigate my way through the chaos I’ve unleashed and follow it to its source, there are amazing opportunities for change and growth…..
...from a depressed point of view, any situation and any life will look like crap. Not that I’m gonna throw any positive affirmations at you–if there’s one kinda situation that makes me depressed it’s when desperate positivity freaks start throwing positive affirmations at me....probably the most vile book ever written is the 120 Days of Sodom by the Marquis De Sade...it’s about these four libertines who...you really don’t wanna know...but it’s an important book, I think...even though I couldn’t get through more than a hundred pages...and even that was enough to seriously screw with me....I was walking down the sidewalk in Rochester NY and had these unspeakable images stuck in my head...believe me, you don’t wanna know....there was a movie based on it called Salo, directed by Pasolini, best known for a movie about Jesus...which has been called unwatchable...though a guy I knew in grad. school loved it...along with a lot of other things...but it’s seriously tame compared to the book...which maps out those dark places Conrad hinted at like nothing before or since...
he feels that moving into the areas of society that he had rejected is the same as working with the parts of himself that he had rejected.
Pema Chodron (describing a Zen teacher named Bernard Glassman who works with the homeless)
So... what’s all this angst and mental distress good for? I have this extremely part time gig tutoring recovering addicts in reading, most of them from the kinds of backgrounds the nasty old Marquis would’ve taken way too much pleasure in writing about...and, a couple years ago, was a volunteer teaching college writing in a maximum security prison and publishing a now-defunct web-based magazine written and edited by those prisoners....I was there through the auspices of Cornell University, where I taught freshman writing for a year—for a while, I was teaching Ivy League kids in the afternoon, and men doing hard time for violent felonies in the evening...and man, did I prefer that second group....so, having done a lot of self-evaluation in the past year and a half or so, I’ve decided to expand my work with these populations, in terms of both quantity and depth, and am looking into getting the training and credentials necessary to use writing as therapy with them....I’m told that my interest in addicts, prisoners, and the dispossessed in general will be an advantage, in pragmatic terms, since they’re precisely the people most counselors and social workers try to get away from as soon as possible, preferring to work with middle class neurotics from the suburbs...not that I have anything against middle class neurotics from the suburbs...I mean I am one...and I have a lot of experience in the field of psychotherapy...even if it’s all been on the other side of the desk....
...and it's taught me that there are basically two kinds of therapists: (1) those who see themselves as residing on a lofty plateau of pristine normalcy and mental health, and are prepared to help their clients to be just like them, and (2) those who aren’t complete assholes....