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A Ferret Called Wilson

Chasing Happy, Chasing Dreams

Month

March 2015

Mind Over Matter, Under the Weather

The body and mind are one.

You’ve heard the mantra “mind, body and soul,” but have you ever stopped to think about what exactly differentiates one from the other? I think the common understanding is that your body is the physical part of you that you use to move through the world. Your body is managed and controlled by your mind (mind over matter), but it only contains your soul. Your soul is the eternal part of you that inhabits, but does not integrate with your body.

Many people treat the soul as most important, with the mind coming second and the body being the unfortunate baggage that one needs to bring along for the trip. From my own experience, the mind and the body are so closely intertwined that it is futile to attempt to differentiate them. To me, the mind is the part of you that perceives the messages sent by the body. They work as a pair, with one being useless without the other. If my body is in pain, my mind will perceive pain. However, if my mind is in pain, it will perceive pain no matter what my body senses. If my mind is clear and with energy, I can perceive both pain and pleasure while also witnessessing myself experiencing those sensations, perhaps even mixing and muting them into different sensations that cross the boundaries between pain and pleasure.

As an example of how closely mind and body are linked, let me tell you about my depressive episodes. Years ago I learned to separate my body and my mind so that my mind was paramount to my body and was immune to its pain, but as a side effect was also innoculated to its pleasure. While I considered myself enlightened, somehow raised up above the physical tetherings of the body, the reality was that my disconnection was gradually making physical changes to my brain which eventually put me in a state of chronic depression. One day I realized that nothing in life mattered, every principle could be overturned, all value destroyed, all pleasure meaningless and all pain incapable of reawakening my dying consciousness. I went to a shrink, then another, then two more, and then I started to take medicine to repair my atrophied mind.

The medicine was nothing fancy — ultimately I used Prozac as a sort of mental cast while my insides healed. While wrapped in the protective shell of psychotropic medication, I worked with my therapist and life coach to unpack and experience all the years (nearly a decade’s worth) of compartmentalized experience. It was like doing surgery on my broken mind except that I was the one holding the knife and she just gave me instructions. When all the crap and filth was finally cut open and exposed, the scar tissue severed, we sewed everything back up again and began the process of taking off the cast. I am off medication now, and I no longer have regular visits with my therapist, but sometimes I still find myself suddenly mired in the amorphous swirling shadow of depression that mutates all my perceptions into a single block of heavy, hopeless exhaustion.

Ironically, when I find myself heavy and slow, when every act feels like dragging a lead ball through a two foot deep puddle of mud, when I know that it is my mind that is broken and that there is no real (read “material based”) reason for me to be having so much difficulty with everything, I just sleep. I don’t pep talk myself. I don’t push through. I don’t “mind over matter” or “positive thinking” my way out of the mire. I just give up, walk out and sleep it off. I’ve come to learn over the years that what my mind has come to think of as a depressive relapse is more often than not nothing more than sleep deprivation.  I know it’s popular to always try to “raise people up,” to be their support team and help them to always “shoot for the stars” and that giving up is pretty socially deplorable. But I also know that my mind is so inextricably linked to my physical health that if I’m hungry, or sleepy, or horny and those physical desires leak into my mind space in even the smallest quantity, then I’m done. My brain will make no further progress on anything I attempt to do, no matter how pressing the deadline or important the task, until I attend to my body’s need.

Very few people are able to comprehend the deep connection between adequate sex and sleep and one’s mental health. Our industrial culture says that sleeping more than six hours per night is a sign of laziness. Just use your will power to get up earlier! Unfortunately it does not work that way. Willpower comes from the mind, so that would be a case of mind over matter. But the mind cannot function properly without sleep, so to discipline yourself into operating on less sleep would require innoculation against other experiences and activities that rely on your mind. Modern behavioral economic research has even begun to recognize this relationship where people who are asked to use their minds to remember complicated patterns of numbers are then less capable of adhering to healthy dietary recommendations immediately after.

Sometimes I can get away with explaining to people that my body just requires more sleep than the average person. They look at me skeptically, but usually do not push the issue. It is generally well understood that humans vary in their sleep requirements. However, imagine trying to convince your boss that the reason you couldn’t finish your report on time was because you were horny and hadn’t gotten laid in three months and your entire brain space was so full of squirting penis and glistening vulva imagery that you couldn’t focus! You’d be better off telling your boss that you’re a lazy jerk-off who doesn’t take the company’s schedule seriously. But regular and satisfying sex is as critical to mental health as it is for the continuance of our species.

I often wonder to myself if, as a result of my psychological surgery, that my brain is now overcompensating for my mental health. For years I was so good at ignoring my bodily needs that I forgot how good it feels to eat when you’re hungry or fuck when you’re horny. Now, however, I know that if my body is deprived, my mind won’t work. I also know that if my mind becomes dark, I will find no pleasure in even the most beautiful sky or the most delicious food. That’s why I ascribe wholeheartedly to the better and more effective mantra, “cookie & a blow, then nap.” No matter what troubles you, no matter what obstacle you need to overcome, when you find yourself grumpy, negative and ready to give up, go out and get a cookie and blow. That covers your body’s physical needs. Then, take a nap and let your mind absorb all the good you just gave yourself. When you wake up, whatever it was that was bothering you, will suddenly seem a whole lot smaller.

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Simulsoupings!

Every morning I make soup for my weasels. Whole quail and mice go into a blender, sometimes with a chicken thigh or some skin, and out comes a fluffy pink goop that they just love. A little warm water to thin it, and I have something akin to weasel crack.

“Simulsouping” is when you get both weasels lined up in a row slurping their soup in happy unison. This is morning simulsoups.

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初100㌔ First 100 Km

Yesterday I rode my first 100 km bike ride! It was all kinds of awesome. I’ve done 50 miles, which is about 80k, but I’ve never done 100. Actually total was 114, including a dash to and from the train station at night.

I rode with the Kunitachi Giant Store staff including 3 girls, the shop owner and the hottest pair of professional cycling legs this side of the ocean! There was so much happy I would have exploded except that I used my pedals to focus all that energy.

We rode from Kunitachi to Enoshima (江ノ島) where we had delicious sashimi rice on the seashore. Along the way I got to see some girl butts on bikes! I always ride with guys because either there are no girls who want to ride, or the girls who ride are too squeemish to do serious work on a bike and I get bored. So it was a real treat for me to ride with the shop girls. I even got passed on a hill by my new rival, Ms. Tabuchi!

The guy who joined us, with his thighs thick enough for about 2 normal sized legs a piece, is a former pro racer on the Japanese national road bike team. He still races now, but I don’t know the details about his team membership. Most of the time he was zipping past us to burn up some hill, or ride off road along our cycling path, and then swing around behind us to catch us before the next stoplight turned green. But for one moment, he and I were lounging on our frames waiting for the group to catch up and he says to me, “If I had my way I would ride bikes all day every vacation day I ever had.” I realized suddenly that I was in the presence of another one with The Sickness*. I didn’t think it was possible, but he got even hotter that moment.

After lunch we rode home at a brisker pace than we rode out. I was happy because the nonbiri (lazy) 13 kph pace we started with was making the prospect of 100 km seem miserable. Rain clouds started to blow in from over the ocean and we raced them back to the city. One of the girls had leant me her shop shorts, my first bib shorts, and I was grateful for the padding on my saddle-sore ridden butt, but more over I was grateful to be a part of the team.

There is nothing like the feeling of knowing that you belong. I kept grinning to myself knowing that everyone who saw us on the road would see me and know that we were together that day. It was an awesome, awesome ride.


*The Sickness: Needing, for no good reason, to ride bikes, race bikes, train on bikes or play with bike parts basically every day. In other words, where normal people would think you’re crazy because you already own or ride bikes more than enough, you can’t help yourself and go out for more.

Finally, some good news! (The US takes steps to ease wage inequality)

I just read this article on SLOG. I can’t believe it! Somewhere in the United States things are moving in the right direction! I only hope, like the gay marriage movement, that the desperately needed minimum wage measurements will gain momentum across other states in the nation. This is so important! No society can call itself just when its laws allow for organizations (things without soul or feeling) to prevent its citizens from having their basic needs of food, shelter, health care and community met.

And on a side note: No economics plan that does not provide for these is viable, sustainable or worth a minute of any one’s time.

Weasels, Fetishes and Sports

What do weasels, fetishes and sports have in common? If you try and connect with people who are interested in any of these, you will inevitably find websites or chatrooms filled to the brim with people whose lives are defined by these.

It’s a thing. Media coverage in almost any form on almost any topic you could be interested in will inevitably focus on an audience whose interest excludes all other aspects of their life. It’s almost as if our society, our global society, thinks that people can’t have multiple interests, or only mild passions, or that their own identities cannot be defined by more than one thing at a time. I’ve seen it everywhere and it’s maddening.

I think relationships are the hardest to deal with. If you are a mom you are only a mom! You can be a working mom, a sexy mom, a stay-at-home mom, but you can’t be, for example, a professional athlete. On the other hand, if you are a pro athlete, you can have babies, but only as a hobby. Or else you have to quit being an athlete. You can’t possibly be a top level athlete AND be serious about raising your kids.

If you are single, you can have an identity that includes lots of stuff. However, if you start dating someone you are “Brangelina” — inseparable and unidentifiable from your significant other. We can go sexual identity, too. If you are polyamorous then your entire life is organized around managing your relationships.

I remember when I first got my weasels and I was trying to figure out how to feed them a healthy diet. I joined the American Ferret Association facebook group and was immediately bombarded with battle cries of the raw diet. I was criticized if I didn’t talk about my weasels as the most important thing in my life, if I didn’t think they were smarter or cuter than all other animals, and worst, if I dared suggest that life as a single woman in the Ivory Towers meant feeding raw was too much work for me. Nothing could possibly be more important than my weasels!

I am most certainly tired of all this single mindedness. I think, though, more than just tired I am also lonely. It’s hard to find community when everything you see is so focused on the extremes and you feel like the only person in the world who dares care about her job and her hobbies. Is it so incomprehensible that I might want a strong body and be a woman at the same time? Is it such a sin to feed raw meat as a supplement to kibble? Can I possibly enjoy sex without its pursuit being my entire identity? The resounding answer that comes to me through the Internet is ‘No, absolutely not’.

Perhaps here is my solution: stop seeking community through the Internet. But does any one alive today still find community in the real world? Please, teach me how.


Acknowledgments: This post was inspired in part by The Goddess of Java, the one blogger I know who continues to live and write about real people having real, complete lives.

Sometimes it’s hard to find your happy. But morning medicine on the veranda is pretty happy!

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