Reconstruction

by Jinryu

After a couple of days of mindless video gaming, sleeping, and judo, I think I’ve successfully reset my brain and am ready to take on school again. Just in time, I suppose– week 7 is coming up, which means midterm assessments.

To be honest, I kind of feel a bit disgusted with myself that I spent so much time gaming lately. It’s dirty work, but I think that that sort of thing is what i need to get my head back on straight.

[CM] was recently doing her rotation in the psychiatry department, so I got to overhear a fair amount of the video lectures that she’s been listening to. Apparently, when it comes to bad memories, there are two big coping mechanisms when it comes pushing that memory down: suppression and repression.

Repression is the unhealthy mechanism. That involves taking the event and just burying it so deep that you forget about it completely– at least on a conscious level. However, it continues to affect you at a subconscious level. That’s where you get all these typical television psychiatry stereotypes about people saying that the problem is a deeply repressed traumatic event that has never been dealt with. It leads to a psyiatric gangrene, in a sense.

Suppression, on the other hand, is healthy. Best example of this is Lily and Marshal from <i>How I Met Your Mother</i>, who, if they see they’re getting nowhere with a huge argument, just decide to call a time out, and resume every other aspect of their life as if the argument isn’t happening. Basically, they put it on a shelf in suspended animation, to deal with it later. In the meantime, it allows them to take care of other business.

I think for me, it depends on how low I’ve gone because of something. I might not be able to completely compartmentalise a negative feeling or event, because I live a very integrated life– I draw connections between every event in my day and the next, so it’s hard not to have things leak out.

I think that’s probably why video gaming is probably a good suppression. For me, it involves getting unplugged from reality, and plugging into something completely different. Spending time in that other world takes some of the CPU processing away from that traumatic event– allows the microprocessor to cool down, if you will, so that when I come back, things are less gunked up and a bit easier to deal with.

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Do be honest, I feel much better right now. Best I’ve felt in a while, actually– for the past two or three months, I’ve been sleeping incredibly poorly. Maybe 6-7 hours per night, sometimes in chunks. Now that I’ve failed at clerkships, it feels as if an enormous burden has been lifted from my shoulders.

I sleep better now, I eat better now, and all that background noise has mostly cleared up.

That’s not to say that I don’t care about getting a job– but I do have some breathing time to focus on other things in my life right now.

I called home and spoke to my parents last week. This was before I had my last clerkship rejection. But it made me feel better because my parents were pretty supportive of my studies, and all my effort to build a life for myself with CM.

To be honest, I’m still not very used to my parents being so supportive. But I guess it makes sense, because when I was in my teens and early twenties, I did quite a bit that would make any parent cringe. Our relationship has improved a lot over the years– I can talk to them like friends now, which I never could do when I was younger. Who would have known that all I had to do was to sort my life out and have some ambition?

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I remember from when I was studying philosophy during my undergrad an anecdote from Nietzsche. I tried to find it again but couldn’t, which makes me wonder if it was Nietzsche at all. In any case– it’s the story of friendship, and the footbridge. When Nietzsche’s friend came to visit him, he had to come up on a footbridge leading to his house.

Upon his arrival Nietzsche basically tells the friend to stop, and turn around. You’re not welcome here. ANd that’s it– he shuts his door in the guy’s face. There’s no where to go except back across the footbridge where he came from.

That makes Nietzsche sound like quite the bastard, and it’s a wonder that he had any friends at all. As I understand it, he died quite miserably. But in his head, he was being the best friend ever. The reasoning is that, by rejecting his friend, his friend would be cast into self-doubt and introspection. By having his confidence in their friendship completely shaken, he would be broken and forced to reevaluate everything about himself. This is the beginning of the <i>ubermensch</i>, the superior man– because if the foundation is broken, then nothing can be taken as granted. It becomes thus necessary to rebuild from nothing, and to scrutinise every stone before it is set in place.

In his view, this was the best experience a friend could give you.

In reality, if I had a friend who slammed a door in my face, my first reaction might not be to wonder too much what I’d done wrong. I’d probably kick down his door and ask him what the fuck his problem was.

But employers are more like this, and the way I’ve decided to fit in employers who reject me into my life experience is in this way. It’s the only way that I get anything useful out of this.

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My parents are keeping busy with a lot of renovation projects. My dad hates working on the apartments (a couple of investement properties that we rent out) because the idea of losing money to those things totally stresses him out.

But they recently helped one of my uncles build a deck. I saw the pictures they sent me, from the foundations to the finished product– and I must say, it looks very professional. At the moment, they’re now working on completely redoing our kitchen.

I have a lot to appreciate about the childhood I had. Even at a young age, we were a very “Do It Yourself” family, and I mean with actual carpentry skills, not just 3d printing or basic crafty abilities with scissors and duct tape.

I am often shocked at how the average person I know doesn’t know how to use a hammer or a screwdriver, much less change the brakes on a bicycle, or even dismantle a piece of IKEA furniture without the instructions.

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It, as in, <i>life</i>, is a lot like playing with building blocks, or lumber and nails. Yeah, there area lot of easy ways to do things nowadays– you can build a deck nowadays with artificial PVC planks that all but snap together, for instance.

But at the end of the day, I think you have a much broader sense of imagination and a greater ability for adaptation to bad circumstances if you know the basics– how to hit a nail in straight so it doesn’t crook, for instance.

Human psychology is a lot the same– it’s a building space. Yes there are many space age materials out there that make things so much easier. However, I pride myself on being hard on myself and really being able to give into a full range of emotions, from happiness to despair. A respect for my own feelings, motivations, and fears gives me small lowest common denominators that I can work with.

Throw in a tornado, and I don’t need the space age materials to rebuild my life– I can make do with the timber and nails I’ve got.

I just need time to remember that setbacks are nothing new, and neither is getting beyond them.

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