Friday, June 29, 2007

"They all go into the dark."

I finally made it back to the gym today, lifted over five tons with various muscle groups, 220 crunches, countless stretches, 50 min on the treadmill for a little over two miles and 734 feet climbed, and finally a mile swim. But I'm not losing weight. I'm actually eating more because my muscle mass has increased and the hypothalamic set point tries to keep us at the same weight. In order to truly get in shape I must radically alter my indulgent diet, beginning with my infamous night grazing. After dinner and a couple of television shows is when I start to do my real damage.

My landlord suggested Dr. Phil's diet. I look at Dr. Phil and wonder what I'm missing. But just because a dude is hefty doesn't mean he hasn't discovered a good diet. As Jesus said, "The Pharisees sit in the seat of Moses, so do what they say but not what they do."

I think I mentioned the Summer Solstice ceremony where I picked "love yourself" off of the tree. What does that mean and how can you do it? I've always felt love must come from outside me unless I'm manic. Love comes from praise for achievement or because someone truly loves you, like my daughters or Kathleen. How does one generate it from within? I don't feel it, never have. One guru wannabe from my men's retreat told me to do mirror work for three weeks, repeating some ten times into the mirror every day: "Craig, I love you and I trust your decisions." This was a bad time in my depression, so I didn't follow through. But it was one of the silliest experiences of my life in retrospect. Who knows, maybe it works. But does a need for self-love justify self-hypnotism? And how deep can that be?

How I do go on. I'm still fragile, tenuous, mostly depressed despite my actions. I need my doctors to file a disability update and fear that my income will be yanked from me. I must get my medical license renewed so I have a chance of surviving without my private disability. Making myself do that is another thing, though at least I did the fingerprinting part.

Enough about me. How about a picture or two? Here's an image of Satan by William Blake:

Here's another version:

Sometimes I believe in Satan more than I believe in God. This world can be so dark. I should really stop reading the newspaper. When I saw the retarded young man in the pool with his braying mouth and short attention span today, forgetting to catch a ball from his keeper in less than five seconds, I should have rejoiced with him instead of thinking of his undeserved defects.

"Dark, dark, dark, they all go into the dark." --Eliot

The ego dystonia from the gap between what I believe and experience is sometimes nearly intolerable. But I get by.

I want Mother Teresa's rose-colored glasses, because I think they're actually lens implants from a truly spiritual nature. But when I pray I feel like I'm talking to a blank wall, an empty room, a starless night.

The most I can hope for is acceptance, acceptance of my judgmental nature and the associated guilt it brings to me. Can I find a suitably dark poem to reflect my state of mind? Let's try this one, twice published:

Demon Melancholy

His cold breath steams up my neck
like dry ice. I never see him approach.

He comes from darkness
where eyes forget they are eyes,

where speech has no conclusion
and touch is without resistance,

where music turns to noise
and selves are emptied of history

and personality like milk bottles
below the ninth circle of hell.

I hear his wild dogs carol
in the burning church of my mind.

Pass the offering plate--
Is that a medicine vial, a gun?

Jimmy crack corn and I don't care,
the light has gone away.

Hope this post doesn't get you down. I'll be better soon. Sometimes I just need to vent about the dark side, young Skywalker.

2 Kilorats,

C. E. Chaffin M.D. (M-D)


  1. Do you? Pray?

    I haven't prayed since I was a child. I miss the literal belief in god I possessed when I was little.

    Weird, but for as absolute or resolute as my belief in god was, I never believed in Satan or hell.

    I thought purgatory was real though. Hell, LIFE is purgatory. (smile)

    Is it limbo that's gone now? I wonder, where do all the souls of the dead, unbaptized babies (and is was it suicides too?) go, now that limbo, according to the church, is no more.

    I don't think Mother Teresa had rose colored glasses. I think her vision was crystal clear. That kind of selflessness is staggering to me.

    And damned rare.

    I was never more keenly aware of the absence of god, and a belief in a higher power than when my father was dying. I remember sitting in church with my mother and her sister during a vespers service on the 2nd of his death process listening to the service and feeling absolutely nothing.

    The closest I get to prayer or meditation is when I write and when I exercise.

    I laughed out loud when I read the "love yourself" paragraph. What DOES that mean? HOw DOES one do it? I've been struggling with that mystery since the day I was born, I swear.

    Bravo on making it back to the gym. Sounds like a hell of a good workout, sir. Have you ever tried keeping a food diary? Write down everything you eat, how much, what time you ate it, why you ate it, how long it took you to eat it, for a week.

    Then, use that diary as a tool to adjust your eating habits.

    Don't eat unless you're hungry. Period. Don't eat for any other reason.

    Concentrate on the meal. Don't eat mindlessly.

    Eat slowly. It's hard to overeat if you eat slowly. If you eat too fast, and most people do, aside from suffering the obvious consequences such as heartburn and indigestions, you also don't give your brain and stomach enough time to say: Enough. I'm full.

    I just saw my friend and her husband the other day. She's the woman I'm "coaching" at work. She's lost 70 pounds and her husband's lost 122 pounds. They both look so genuinely happy for the first time in a long, long time. And healthy. Geez. I'm so damned proud of her.

    And all she did was change her eating habits. Stopped drinking pop, stopped eating fast food, stopped eating junk food, started eating 6 small meals a day instead of two or three huge ones, stopped snacking and started exercising.

    It's hard work. It ain't easy. If it was easy, everyone would be eating right and exercising. There is no secret to weight loss, alas. No magic pills. The only way to lose weight is to create a caloric deficit on a daily basis via the combination of decreasing caloric intake and increasing caloric output.

    I remember when I finally figured it out for myself and made it stick. It was like when I finally quit smoking.

    OH, I said. I GET it.



    Hey, keep at it, CE.

  2. Enjoyed the post, CE. I like the Eliot quotation and the Blake image.

  3. I became a Christian at the age of 16, and I can't really explain the conversion process except to say that it happened to me. I didn't go to a revival, I wasn't in a church, it was a personal thing. About Mother Teresa, I tried to distinguish just what you did with "lens implants" as opposed to glasses.

    I think I pray out of old habit. When I am overwhelmed by tears I talk to "God" out loud; I get down on my knees and weep. Sometimes I feel better afterwards; I'm all cried out. Whether God "hears" or it will make a difference, I don't know. I don't believe in magic.

    Strangely, when I was younger I did sense a "presence" when I prayed, but I think since I had ECT at the age of 30 that sort of disappeared, except at very rare times. I have seen a few miracles in my ligr, but they have always been through human intervention, though I think, if nothing else, extremely lucky, in one case life-saving, and related to earnest prayer.

    I was raised Lutheran, not Catholic, so I'm glad I escaped a lot of that Catholic baggage which makes it difficult for many ex-Catholics.

    As for eating, I know you're right. It's night grazing that ruins me. Maybe I eat dinner too early, I don't know. I'm weak with regard to alcohol and food, and I know the alcohol, which I stop and start again, is empty calories as well. I admire your discipline and your secretive life of poetry. You should write a diet book based on your philosophy; you could probably quit your day job if it were published.


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