What did I learn from stomach sickness in India (which was not actually a result of India itself)? That the Grand Inquisitor is right: we are slaves to bread. Or rather, I am a slave to bread. I craved physical nourishment and ignored any spiritual/emotional fulfillment I might’ve experienced at Jhamtse, and I ended up decaying on all fronts. As much as I may have been frustrated with Jhamtse as a school, or rather, in my inability to serve the place more adequately, any of my doubts were just anxious/shameful projections of my own pedagogical insecurities. I am the reason the journey there didn’t mean more or resonate fully. I was not always open, and I’m not sure why. The body trumping the spirit? The spirit betraying the body? Did I at least achieve any form of mindfulness during so much imposed stasis? I suppose we’ll see when the temptation of regression and routine knock on my door at Putney.
As Louis C.K. described to Marc Maron in a 2010 podcast, the best advice he received during a short-lived trial with therapy was something along these lines: Impulses and appetites are perverse (sans any value judgment) manifestations of anxiety. With this in mind, all my obsessive behavior around diet and exercise is a window into unexpressed, unfelt, repressed, redirected anxiety. But about what? Failed relationships? At the peak of any relationship I’ve ever been in, I was also at my physical peak without any strange diet or self-loathing. All my anxiety poured into controlling the relationship, not my body. Without any external locus, I turn that tremendous energy inward and quietly wage war on myself. With enough ceasefires, it seems, to be creative and effective as an educator, if not so much as a social being, inclined as I am to curl into my own affairs to feign power and control.
Because I had to let other people go, I’ve refused to let myself go, and I’ve paralyzed my psyche with a vicious vice (and awful alliteration). Time to be more mindful, to loosen the grip, to acknowledge and channel anxiety more effectively? Accepting that I have no control (ah, cliches…), shall I turn outward again? Primarily to and for other people, no longer to and for myself alone (which is really a path to self-annihilation anyway)?
Men and women for others. BC had it right. I’ve made that the lynchpin of my teaching and my writing. Why not make it the polestar of my existence?
None of this is sitting well. It’s emotional stew that’s been simmering too long. But why am I adding this afterthought to qualify it all as nonsense?