2.54 bags of sugar

by Jinryu

Every now and then I turn into something terrible.

I’m not certain that most people know what I mean by terrible, nor would I likely show them. For me, it’s a state where I have a surplus of energy, my mind is going wild, and I’ve lost all sight of what it is that I want to accomplish. At that point… the only thing I have to save me is discipline. During terrible times, discipline is the only thing that keeps me from being as scared of myself as I am angry.

I’m of the opinion that from birth, people are naturally amoral. We’re not social. We don’t seek companionship. The only reason why parenting kicks in is because in children, we recognize a state of vulnerability that we were once in. Or perhaps we see some clay that can be moulded. But the child? The child makes no decision to be born– nor does it make any efforts to be socialized. From an early age though, the child learns that he’s not enough: not strong enough, not fast enough, not tall enough, not smart enough. That’s why he seeks help. Because he has nothing, and asking for help is his only recourse. The difference then between a child and an adult is in capacity to act, as agents of their own will.

When one is an adult and has nothing, his abilities are different from that of a child– for one thing, an adult has developed power.

Power = work over time.

It seems reasonable then that without power, one can’t reduce work. And with limited time, work takes more power. Lately, I’ve been lacking in power and time, and having too much work.

The basic form of discipline is when challenged, one evaluates one’s principles and tries to see how to apply his power to the challenge. The highest form of discipline is when, lacking the mental capacity to perform such an evaluation, one reverts to good habits to stall for time, until that capacity for reason returns. Basically– try not to do anything stupid.

Everyday, I come in, and people ask me: “How’s it going, [Jinryu]?” or “How are you?”

“Not bad,” I reply. And most of the time, I mean it. I’m a positive person. I naturally wake up feeling there’s a lot in store for me. I work at a job I believe in. I work towards goals that I think are good and worth pursuing.

Occasionally, I feel bad chi rising in me. If this were me less than ten years ago, I’d be doing something… undisciplined. I think that was when I first learned about this kind of thing, first hand– about how an imbalance of heart, mind or spirit could lead to an overwealming surpluss of energy and power produced, that could not stay bottled up.

Back then, I found a solution. I skipped class, and, more than likely, I’d be putting myself through a sensory overload. It was the arcades. My lungs would be filled with second hand cigarette smoke, a limited edition nostalgie that new generations can never have because it’s from an era before public smoking was banned; my head would be ringing from the pulse of overhead music, only it’s basslines recognizable as the lyrics, though probably popular, were made intelligible by a dozen simultaneous coin-ops set on maximum volume; my skin was always either too cold or too hot. In short– it was non stop bludgeoning of the senses. It’s like taking one of those white noise generators, and facing it straight at my skull– all I feel, really, is oblivion. It made all intelligble thought impossible– the only that that was left was to turn to the practices that I had developped so deeply that it was reflexive. At the time, that meant playing video games that I knew.

It was en environment so loud that you could scream, and nobody would hear you. The games? Well, you could smash bone– and nobody would really get hurt.

And therein lies the addictiveness of addictions– because they are the only thing that allows you to truly supress the rage you have at … being who you are.

I’ve gotten a lot better over the years. I can say that I’m mostly “clean” despite quirks of personality that make me seem obsessive over single things, I’ve learned not to fall back on addictions to the point where I am mesmerized by them. I’ve leanred to live a balanced life, investing my time across my interests, professional life, friends and family. Sometimes it gets a bit tough, and I’ve gone on binges to really purge the energy from my system.

That’s what a binge is, when you really think about it. Whether it’s chocolate, alcohol, video games, sex– if you’re binging, it’s a means of numbing the sensibilities or senses that you don’t want to feel, and self destruction to break down everything about yourself, who you don’t like at the moment. Then, when you’ve hit rock bottom, there’s really no worse that it can get.

So, binging has it’s purposes. But nowadays that kind of method is tough for me. I’ve gotten older. I can’t deal with feeling so sorry for myself that I resort to binges– and to top it off, simply, it’s unhealthy. More than that– it’s just dangerous.

The downside of living a balanced life though is that when it comes to big problems, one doesn’t have the big methods to counter big problems. I know that over the years, I’ve become less impulsive, less brash, and more calculated in my responses to situations.

So what happens when it’s the first time in a long time that I’ve got so much of this black energy coming up?

I was in just such a situation today. I don’t have any methods of coping, to be honest with you– I’ve given up the binges. I’m a better person now for it. But how do I diffuse then?

I don’t have an answer to that. My “mature” strategy is just to take my time to let it wear itself down. Today, I got a bit lucky– I was looking for a patient’s chart to verify some discrepencies in a post-operative report. It just so happened that the patient is located at neonatal intensive care. I’ve never been to 9C before.

I took the stairs, and ended up in the middle of the unit. The staff on the floor mistook me for a surgeon because I was wearing my OR greens, and they were pretty expedient about taking me to the kid who I was looking for.

I’m not very good at judging weight. I roughly know how much a 1kg bag of sugar weighs by memory. So when I see the kid’s chart and see 2.54 written in the little undsercored field, that’s what I think. I stare at the kid for a bit.

A few weeks old. More wires and tubes hooked up to it than I’ve had hooked up to me in 28 years of life. He’s in a little plastic box, smaller than my laundry basket, to keep my germs out.

I feel the rage subside for a bit.

I guess I’m glad– it means I’m not a monster, and that some things, simple anonymous things, still have the potential to bring me back to reality. I felt a bit of peace wash over me, the blackness somehow out of my sight.

But maybe I’m not ready for reality yet? Maybe I want to storm, to rampage, to lay ruin, as if my actions were as inconsequential as they feel.

I’ve taken tomorrow off to start work on my final papers, but maybe I’ll come and visit him again the next time I work and see how he’s doing. Maybe I can ask him how he does it.