5-22-20 “May You Feel That You Belong”

Thanks to a friend I was able to make use of the “Calm” app to start practicing meditation more regularly. It has helped dull the edge of some of my anxiety flare ups, though they are by no means gone. And of course I still struggle with depression episodes that keep me from wanting to reach out to anyone. During the 30 day program, one of the episodes was about friendliness. One of the suggested mantras was to think the following to people you like, and dislike, and to yourself: “May you be strong. May you find peace. May you feel that you belong”. I think that last bit has started a bit of a ripple in my awareness. That sense of community may be the thing I really need to address. I don’t have that currently. I realize I did sort of have that in the past to varying degrees. The common characteristics when I did was a regularity of *sustained* interpersonal contact and it involved an activity that I was at least competent at and somewhat recognized for. I experienced this in MMA, Kenpo, Salsa, IT back in CBT, Dag for a little while, roleplay chats, Ren faires, and competitive online gaming (back in the late 90s to mid 2000s). D&D filled in some of that as well, more so when the games were regular and the group would have follow up meetings outside of that (which also led to meeting my wife; also this gives me more insight on why her working at renfaire was important to her, it was a community in itself). I don’t have the gift of gab, at all, so I’ve always had more success with people when an activity is the focus (but still required direct interactions, which is SF doesn’t give me that community sense).

One that requires skill, not luck, so no I’m not doing bingo or shit like that. Plus there is also my personality type to begin with…I do not do well with highly extroverted/loud/flashy type people. I don’t feel that I fit in with the local poly crowds here for that reason. That is not an adjustment that I can or want to make to “fit in”. The only reason I stay in that discussion group now is because the occasional good idea still floats up. I feel that as the numbers increase, the quality will continue to decline…so I suspect it will eventually happen. I still believe in the idea of multiple romantic relationships being valid and potentially helpful things, but they require a ton of work and patience for all involved parties (and *clear* boundary work and non-judgmental understanding of triggers). I can’t do casual, at least not in person when you start throwing around all those “love” chemicals that go off when being physical. It seems like the people that do all tend to be the flashy/loud types, and I just don’t fit in there anyway. I suppose the time I spent on Lit was casual, but my sharp internal world and ability to write evocative imagery was useful and appreciated in that place. Doing that requires an intense focus that my default personality fits well with…it does *not* work in a crowded bar.

Better to focus on my strengths. I’m just not sure where I’m going to find a community that I fit in with currently. All the physical in person things aren’t an option while COVID is still a problem. That only leaves online communities. Roleplay options (of any variety, but written) are a little hard for me to do right now, as I need to be isolated to really enter into that world of imagination. Being interrupted every 10 minutes by a cat/dog or even the presence of another human makes me feel uncomfortable. I thought about competitive gaming, but I haven’t really found an option that fits me. I can’t do the battle royale or “MOBA” type games. Too much drama, plus for the games I seem to enjoy more there isn’t a good way for me to break into that community. Though maybe it is also that I just hadn’t really committed to trying to break in. I also thought about looking into joining other D&D or even shadowrun games on Roll20. I’m not sure that’ll do it.

I need to do some more thinking.

Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture interpretation

This weekend I played the game “Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture”.  I got into it because I happened across the soundtrack for the game.  That music is hauntingly beautiful and sad.  A strong enough music score had been enough to get me into a game before.  Thinking of all the Vulnerability work I’ve been reading on lately, I realize games (particularly story-rich single player games) have often functioned as a relatively safe place for me to allow myself to be vulnerable and express and process emotions that have been sitting there in my psyche.

This game touched upon death in a heavy way, and those who know me and/or actually read this stuff know I’ve been heavily impacted by death in the past couple of years.  Truth be told, it has been a major factor in the path my life has taken after I lost my mother to cancer back when I was 18.  I lost my father to cancer just a little over 2 years ago, and then my best friend to suicide a few months after that.

Put briefly, the plot of this game begins ~30 minutes after the apocalypse in which everyone is gone.  No bodies (except the birds), just gone.  You spend the game following the story lines of 6 characters as they experience this end time.  You see the story acted out by their light shadows.  You learn to understand what happened between that and all of the many environmental clues.

Spoilers incoming:

You learn that somewhat accidentally an entity made of light is brought to earth via a couple of scientists.  It wants to communicate with people, but the way it communicates is ultimately deadly to any animal life more complicated than an insect.  With humans, they start to experience flu like symptoms, until it ultimately becomes fatal and they are literally dispersed into light.  It spreads quickly, via electrical signals, radio signals, and human voice.  I think everyone is gone in a matter of days.

All of that game story is mostly beside the point.  What I felt from this is that it was really a story about accepting the death of loved ones, and ultimately accepting your own death.  It brings some comfort, via science of all things (which to be fair, a lot of the time it can be a bit of a buzzkill, as useful as it can be).  If I understand correctly, all things give off some light.  When that light leaves the planet and goes into the vacuum of space (which is also why I think the game showed the galaxy in the sky after every character’s end), it goes on infinitely.  So in that sense, a part of you is infinite to the cosmos.  Unless you get caught by a blackhole…although I suppose one could play with the idea of blackholes feeding into other universes.  Nothing living makes it through…but if light is a conduit for information?  I swear I’m not high.  If anything I’m low…if that is a thing.

So anyway, I do find a bit of comfort knowing that all of those that are dead continue to cast a light out into the universe.  Possibly infinite and maybe even to other universes.  So perhaps in a real way, we will all see each other again…just perhaps in a slightly different configuration.

 

Below is a quote, and also the lyrics from the end song that has resonated with me.

“In the wake of a human being’s death, what survives is a set of afterglows, some brighter and some dimmer, in the collective brains of those dearest to them. There is, in those who remain, a collective corona that still glows – Douglas Hofstadter”

 

“The Light We Cast”

Now everything has come to rest
The end has come and I am not afraid
We travel on towards a new beginning
We slip away and we are unafraid
We’re born a part
The waters carry us
An endless dark in sovereign galaxies
The light we cast
Creates a bridge
And guides the way across the ages deep
I see them all
I see them dancing
In the endless numbers of the night
I love you in the ebbing of the tide
I love you in the quiet inner lands
I love you in the garden of butterflies
Now everything has come to rest
The end has come and I am not afraid
We travel on towards a new beginning
We slip away and we are unafraid
We slip away and we are unafraid
Unafraid