Sunday, November 26, 2023

"Mono no Aware"

 I don't like to talk about how I'm doing because 1) I don't want people to think I'm doing it for attention and 2) there's nothing any of you can do about it anyway. 

But someone asked how I was doing, so... here it is. I'm not fully in the red, but I'm a very dark orange.

I want to point out that these intrusive thoughts are nothing new. I've had them, if not all my life, then at least since puberty. It's just my brain chemistry and/or structure, I guess. Most of the time I'm able to ignore them, but as my emotional strength is worn down they become more disruptive. About half the time they're just cringey "Hey, remember that embarrassing incident from long ago? Yeah, let's make you feel that cringe all over again." The other half of the time they're casual bad things like "What if you told your friend 'Fuck you, I hate you'? How would they react? I bet they wouldn't be your friend any more." 

As for the suicidal thoughts, they're mainly just a dark version of intrusive thoughts and not actual desires or actions. It's like an evil spirit whispering in my ear "You know, if you just killed yourself, all this would be over" and I tell it to fuck off. I have no plans or desire to do so, but the imp of the perverse is ever-present. So to be clear, while I think about suicide a lot, I rarely think about committing suicide, if that makes any sense to you. It's my own private memento mori.

Weird philosophical aside which links into my main thesis at the end:

In Japanese art and culture there's a concept known as mono no aware (moe-no no ah-wa-ray) which basically means "being aware that all things eventually pass/die/fade away and being wistfully sad at the knowledge that life is just like this and there's nothing you can do to change it so you need to just accept it." It's kind of a cross between memento mori and Zen philosophy. It's why watching cherry blossoms fall from trees is a popular activity in Japan; they aren't just beautiful and dying, they're even more beautiful because they are dying. 

Anyway, ever since having to put my beloved Daisy to sleep back in August, I've been having these intense feelings of mono no aware every time I see a picture or a video of a cute animal. Please understand that I still enjoy looking at them and I don't want people to stop sending them to me; it's just that after I see these picture, I'm gripped by this intense feeling/realization of "that pet is going to die and it will devastate you."

When people die, it's usually on a timescale of "happening decades in the future" and that makes it more palatable to us, even though it doesn't make the loss any more painful. But it's the sudden, unexpected losses that hurt the most, because  that means someone was taken before their time and before their loved ones could prepare for that loss. For example, someone dying of old age in a nursing home, or from a protracted illness, is less shocking than someone taken by an accident or by violence. 

It's for this reason that I cannot fathom the pain felt by parents who lose a child.* I don't know how they manage to move past that pain, and I don't know if they ever do. If they don't, I surely don't begrudge them their grief, although I wish them surcease from their pain. 

Pets are different from people in this regard, though, because unless you are very old or the animal is very long lived, it's practically a certainty that the pet will die during your lifetime. And I don't know why Daisy was different -- I've had dogs before, and I've mourned their loss, but her death affected me more strongly than all the others did -- but she was different, was more special to me, and now every time I look at a pet I just get that powerful sense of "You are going to hurt so much  when your pet dies. Why are you doing this to yourself? Why open yourself up to guaranteed pain, again and again and again?" 

I look at people who post pictures of their pets regularly. I look at content creators who have made their pets the center of their lives on social media. I look at all this joy, and I can only think of the pain it will cause them. 

I know that there is an argument to be made for "the joy you have with them outweighs the grief their deaths cause". I know that giving animals a good life is a worthy thing to do. I know that by saving an animal's life, you often save your own. 

I just can't feel that anymore. All I see is a dagger aimed at my heart. I don't understand how other pet owners don't see that... or if they do, how they cope with it. 

It just seems like large portions of my life are colored by mono no aware, and I hate it. I wonder how much of this is grief, and how much of this is just me reaching the stage of life where people I know start dying and the knowledge that this will only increase with time. 
End of aside.  

So, yeah. I'm upset by my loss and the fuckery that is my life because the insurance company is still dragging its feet in paying to restore the master suite. It's gotten to the point where mom just decided she'd use dad's life insurance payout to make the thing livable and then hope that USAA will reimburse us for it. They don't care that this is where we live, where we need to feel safe and secure and in control; to them we're just numbers on a page and they don't want to pay out so they'll drag it out for as long as possible. Maybe they were hoping the house will be wiped out by a hurricane or that mom will die before they pay, and then they can cancel the contract or something. 

I fucking hate insurance. I hate the CONCEPT of insurance, because insurance is basically me saying "I bet I'm going to have an accident this month!" and the insurance company is saying "I bet you won't!" Why do people bet against themselves like that? You'd be better off if you put that money into a fund that you used to pay for emergencies. (Of course, I say this knowing full well that I lack the discipline to put money into savings like that and not touch it except for emergencies.)

Because of all the furniture from the master bedroom is piled up inside the house, we can't get to the Christmas decorations. I don't much care about this but mom is a huge Christmas fanatic and she's pretty devastated. "It looks like we won't have a Christmas this year," she said to me recently. It eats me up inside that she's unhappy. 

Because of this stress, I'm not sleeping well. This makes me tired, so I either take a nap in the afternoon or I drink coffee to try to get some energy, and both of those things push the time I get tired later and later, so I get to bed later, so I wake up feeling tired, so I take a nap or drink coffee, etc etc. 

I'm also overeating because I'm a stress eater. Having a full stomach sends a signal to my brain that at least I'm not going to starve to death today so that's one less thing to worry about, and of course I'm eating junk food because sugar is my drug of choice. 

I also can't seem to get motivated to do much of anything except watch TV or play video games because escapism is fun and easy whereas anything worthwhile is difficult and draining and I feel like life has already drained so much of me that I resent giving it more. 

I could say more but I'm tired of talking about this. You get the idea. It all stems from the fact that this year has been fucking awful for me and if things don't get better soon I will probably end up in the hospital. 

I don't know what I want to gain from talking about this. I don't specifically want sympathy (although it is appreciated), nor do I think anyone can give me advice on how to make things any better (although if you think you can I would love to hear it). I guess maybe I just needed to express my feelings in some way, to shape them with words and release them into the world, in a manner more coherent than "Life is pain, and then we die" or "Shit be fucked, yo."

* One of the few turns of phrase I'm really proud of is what I used when a friend had a miscarriage: "This slippery, spherical tragedy."

Maybe it only makes sense to me, but in my mind I envisioned trying to pick up a bowling ball with soapy hands: I just couldn't grasp it. That was the metaphor for me being unable to fully grasp the weight of that loss.

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