Lack of functioning

I officially started trying to wean myself off of Prozac on October 10th, so I’ve been on a half-dose for about 9 days (though it takes about a month for dosing changes to take effect).  Right now I can tell that my brain isn’t working too well.  I want to be engaged in art, I have a group project that I need to work on, I have other schoolwork to attend to.  But it’s hard to commit to any of that.

Although it is very apparent that I need to go through my backlog of digital images and do some curation.

Today I got up shortly after 2 PM, after having gone to bed at 11 PM the night before.  Then I was so cold that I spent another hour and a half in bed, around sundown (the only thing that got me up was that I was being summoned to dinner, though I didn’t want to do that either).  Supposedly, it should have been 74º F in the house at that time, but I was still really cold.  And right now my eyes are burning, even though it’s only 9:15 PM here.

In short, I’m dealing with the same pattern I was dealing with before Prozac (becoming wiped out and going to bed in the middle of the day), only now I’ve likely got some initial withdrawal stuff and stress-related stuff on top of it.  Which is why I wanted to get off six months ago, so I could adjust when I wasn’t in classes.

The positive thing is that it’s raining outside.  This means that it wasn’t just me; it actually was dim and likely cold inside the house.  The thermometer, unfortunately, isn’t great at relating when it’s 74º F inside and 44º F outside (thus heat is escaping from the house), and when it’s 74º F inside and 88º F outside (thus heat is radiating into the house).  The two extremes of temperature feel different even though the thermometer says they’re the same.

I’ve also heard that I may have been cold because I was tired (though this usually doesn’t happen for me unless I stay up until 2 or 3 AM).  I guess I did wake at 7 AM yesterday, got up at 7:30 AM, and didn’t lie down until 11 PM.  I usually don’t run for 16 hours straight — even on a work night.  Or, I don’t think I do, at least.

And my weight is still going up, but I’ve been hungrier than usual, for some reason.  I wouldn’t be surprised if it was medication-related, but I’ve got to be honest with myself in that it also may be overwork- or depression- or stress-related.  (I gained 7 lbs. in my first semester of the MLIS program, which is part of why I initially said I wouldn’t go back.)  It could also be related to genetics, in which case I’m not all that upset.  I’m only upset if it is related to being on medication (as the medication can also trigger insulin resistance and Type 2 diabetes related to weight gain).

Anyway…I am tired and I should likely get ready for bed, even though I just got up about two and a half hours ago.  I ran myself too long last night and so didn’t get to take care of hygiene before passing out — meaning it’s relatively vital that I at least do so, tonight (no, I didn’t brush my teeth when I woke up at 2 PM).

In other arenas, I am really tired of my Digital Archives class (which is making it clear that I don’t want to become an archivist [too many rules, reminiscent of Cataloging], kind of like my management class made it clear I wouldn’t want to be a manager [managing people] and my public service classes made it clear that I don’t want a public-facing job in a Public Library [managing people]).  The problem is that it’s a group-work class, so other people are depending on my doing my part on time; therefore, pressure.  And I don’t get any time extension on group assignments…I think if my classmates had been paying attention, though, I remember mentioning that I had a mood disorder.  Which is majorly what I’m dealing with, right now…although I haven’t consciously felt very bad.

Seriously…Web Development and Web Design look much shinier.  So much ******* shinier that it’s hard to believe.  I just don’t know if I’ll need even more specialized formal training in order to do it…and to be honest, even the math I might need, isn’t looking that scary, at this point.

(By that, I mean dealing with math is likely less frustrating than dealing with people…)


Just because it’s believed, doesn’t mean it’s real.

I know it’s time for me to start preparing for the night, but I’ve actually had some interesting thoughts to share.  One of them, is how much easier it is to talk and define oneself when one isn’t aware of exactly how crazy one sounds.  🙂

I have a tendency — a strong one, on reduced medication (I’ve started to get off of Prozac, which historically has helped clarify my thoughts) — to be creative and define myself in creative manners.  However, what has become clear to me is just how many versions of myself I can have…and that none of them may be entirely accurate.

It’s actually really easy to define (or redefine) oneself (especially if one is delusional; meaning that no matter what evidence is presented to one that the belief is untrue, one will continue to hold the belief despite it).  And it’s easy to believe these definitions of oneself are true:  it’s the brain’s way, to believe itself.

The hard part is sticking to these definitions, because when you’re trying to be anything you can conceptualize, there will inevitably be holes (the true self may be beyond conceptualization).  And after a while you realize that all these outgrowths are symptomatic of a deeper reality, which is that your tendency is to create and that given no creative outlet, you rewrite and re-iterate yourself, as versus your art projects or your crafts or your writing or music…or apps… 😉

(Water has been a strong theme in my life.  It will seek out holes and burst dams.  The more I try to hold it back, the more catastrophic the floodwaters can be.)

As I’ve moved forward in life, as versus paused to ascertain whether and how to just hold steady and avoid despair, I’ve not had time to devote to things like energy work or spiritual topics which may only hold a side-benefit of (supposedly) better health.

When I was a youth, I was drawn to Buddhist philosophies, because having a philosophy which recognized the existence of duhkha (popularly translated as “suffering,” but this is an inexact translation), and was based around relieving it, gave me some comfort.  It meant I wasn’t alone in my pain.

By now, I have integrated parts of Buddhist philosophy which can help:  but I don’t really think it’s…true, anymore.  (Pretty much, nothing classified as, “metaphysics,” “spirituality,” or, “religion,” fall into the “undisputably true” category, with me.  Even the category of “philosophy” is questionable [if you start out with the wrong givens, in philosophy, you can’t hope to follow them to truth] — although I do realize that this post is in essence, philosophical.)

People are creative — is something I’m taking as a given — and many more things can be thought of, than are true.  Buddhism is a creation which has been co-created by many people over more than two millenia, which has likely helped sustain a large number of lives over the years it has been in existence…but its functionality (its usefulness) doesn’t relate to its truth value.

That is, something can be useful, and not be true.  I may have, on this point, come to the realization of what is meant by the Buddhist concept of upaya (usually translated as “skilled means”).  Although all explanations I’ve heard of this concept seem condescending — I’m kind of understanding, at this point, that this is both an admission that doctrine itself may not be founded on truth, and that it is still important to address duhkha in life.

Earlier tonight, I realized one thing:  that people in certain spiritual communities (myself having been included among these at multiple times) have felt relatively free to say things, precisely because they felt those things with such certainty.  However, my experience with mental illness has made at least one thing clear:  a subjective feeling of certainty is not a determinant of truth value.  What do I mean by that?

I mean that just because we think and feel and “know” something is true, that doesn’t mean it is.  It’s the brain’s nature to “believe in” what it tells itself.  Now it is possible to have subjective (or internal) dissonance, and that also needs to be attended to:  oftentimes, it has been feelings like these which have let me know that I didn’t have both feet in reality.  (There does seem to be a spectrum of, “More True”-to-“Less True,” when it comes to seeking out who one is.)

And once you’ve been around long enough, it becomes apparent when others are attempting to manipulate you for their own gain.  (It’s one thing for a person to choose what to believe; it’s another for someone else to try and choose what they believe for them, in a manner that benefits the one doing the choosing and not the disempowered subject.)  Just because I recognize that I cannot fully grasp reality in my mind, doesn’t mean that I think anyone else can, either.

This has been the largest reason I’ve stayed away from spiritual institutions.  Although I do admit that I am now curious about attending Buddhist services.

The priest at my family member’s funeral was from a Pure Land sect:  Jodo Shinshu, to be exact.  But he seemed to have his head on straight, and to know what efficiently and urgently needed to be addressed.

It’s apparent to me that we tell ourselves what we need to tell ourselves in order to simply function and stay alive.  In this sense, creativity in humans functions as a survival mechanism.  And is this why so many creative people deal with mental illness, as well (only the most creative, survived)?  I’m not sure.

It’s apparent to me as well, that religion is an outgrowth of creativity.

I’m not certain exactly what will happen if and when I succeed in entirely kicking Prozac.  What I do expect is that my creative faculties will become less muted.  In turn, I’ll probably become more eccentric than the way you’re used to seeing me behave.  I hate to say I can’t help it, but…it’s just the space I normally inhabit.

I just have to make sure I don’t box myself in too tightly with definitions and proclamations of “truth”…because words don’t matter where it comes to what’s real.

Catching up, and trying to take care of myself at the same time.

I need to manage my time, better.

I’ve come to the realization that the vast majority of my work, this semester, is from one class.  While I wouldn’t say I’m tired of it, in effect, it is a lot of work.  It’s also kind of stressful in that it seems, whenever I take some time out for myself, I fall behind.

For instance, now.  I know that writing here doesn’t have much to do with my studies (other than being a warm-up for a written assignment:  it’s hard to start cold), but I don’t think I’ve realistically done much other than study, eat, go to work, and sleep, over the past 5 days.

Oh, wait, no.  I did play around with some beads to make earring focals, but that…that was intentional.  There was one day — Monday or Tuesday — in which I started studying when I woke up, and aside from dinner, did not stop reading for 9.5 hours, until I went back to bed.  But I’ve been catching up on three weeks of work, which went by I-don’t-know-how (other than the fact that the class with the surprise heavy workload was the class with the almost-no-workload earlier in the semester).

I need to change the pattern of not checking the Learning Management System when I need a break, because then I don’t know how much I’m falling behind.  Of course, not thinking about it is kind of the point; but when in other semesters this would have been a viable option because the amount of falling behind was negligible, this semester it is not.  I simply have too much work due too soon.

So…it really does look like my life is again circling around my career choice.  Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing? but I’m having to use disability accommodations in order to get through it all.  That’s largely because of the sleep issue.

Speaking of which, it’s been working relatively well to take medication at 9 PM, take care of hygiene, fall asleep around 11, and wake up randomly between 6 and 7:30 AM.  The problem is falling back asleep after I wake up, even when my alarms go off.  This happened today, and so even though I woke up at 6 AM (before sunrise), I repeatedly fell back asleep, and didn’t actually get up until 12 PM.

Part of that is likely due to the fact that I didn’t take medication last night until around 11:30 PM.  The later I take it, the more bombed-out I am the next day.  I think it would be best to stick to the 9 PM med time when I can, even though it feels like I’m wasting time in which I’m aware:  9 PM is early enough so that I’m not totally wiped out the next day.  And if I can manage to find a way to stay out of bed after I first wake up, this should be workable (it should be easier as my body gets used to going to bed and waking up at stable hours).

Of course, that means that I’ve got a little less than 8 hours left to get my homework done, today.

I’ll get to work.

Weight gain and strategies to manage sleep without Prozac

It’s been a longstanding thing with me that I’ve wanted to get off of one medication in particular, due to weight gain.  When I began it a number of years ago, it was because I was having great difficulty with wakefulness — a side effect caused by another of my medications.

I realized that weight gain was a likely consequence, but I didn’t bet on constant, steady, highly sensitive weight gain, meaning that I would have to constantly monitor what I was eating and drinking (particularly with sugars; ironically, although I can drop weight with a high-fat, low-sugar diet, one Frappucino will make me gain about a pound), and whether I was moving around enough, just in order to maintain my weight at a relatively steady level.  This is even though I have a metabolism which is normally high, I’ve never before had to manage my weight or my food and drink in my life, and 135 lbs. was heavy for me, at one point (actually, my previous high was 120, but I was 20 years old, so that doesn’t count).

Recently, I unintentionally missed my morning dosage for three days in a row; and realized that the belly bulge I’ve been fighting, significantly flattened.  Although I have been maintaining my weight (just not putting back on the ~4-5 lbs. I lost when I was last sick — which is hard when your body thinks food is scarce and that it’s starving), I have been doing this without the benefit of constant exercise.  If I exercised more, I’m sure I would lose weight — but I’d lose a lot more of it if I stopped the troubling medication, and exercised.

Not to mention that I’ve recently lost the definition in my chin and throat.  The next step is to gain a double chin, and that is not what I want.  And although my blood sugar numbers have been good, I can’t bet on that continuing, if I continue to gain abdominal fat.  And I really, really don’t want to become insulin-resistant or diabetic, both of which can be caused by this medication.

Not to mention that it’s harder to exercise when you’re trying to move around 35 extra pounds and you get winded from walking up a slight grade.  My doctor had wanted me to go down to 135 from 145, last time I saw her.  Right now I’m at 161, to be gentle about it and not include the weight I’m at after I’ve consumed anything.

Against certain advice, I’ve written to my doctor about wanting to titrate off of this (i.e. gradually lessen my dosage until it’s nil), sooner rather than later; and I do admit to being angry about letting her convince me to stay on the medication, when I talked to her about stopping it six months ago.  The reason to talk to her is to gain her assistance in stopping this in a safe way.  I don’t want to relapse, which stopping cold-turkey invites.  I have titrated off of medications before, though.  I’m just not certain that taking it off-and-on (I only have one size caplet) is really the best way to reduce the levels of medication in my bloodstream.

If it is possible, though, it might be useful to take the pill on two days and off one day, and then reduce that to 50/50, then off two days and on one day, then totally off; or something similar.  (I’m just extrapolating this from past experience.)

But what I wanted to write about here, really, was what I’ve learned about managing my sleep, during the time that the medication was ostensibly helping me not be groggy all the time.  I think I’ve been on this medication for at least three years, though I’m not sure of the details.  Over that time, I’ve learned strategies to manage my sleep and wakefulness cycles, which I didn’t know of when I started it:

  1. Take night medication at a scheduled time (9 PM) with the aim of waking up early the next day.  Taking sedating medication at 11 PM or later will ruin the next day by making me groggy until evening (~5 PM), which encourages staying up late (3-4 AM, at times) to try and catch up on all the functionality that was missed in the daytime.  That, in turn, throws off my Circadian rhythm.
  2. Get ready for bed immediately after taking medication.  I don’t have to go to bed directly after this, but getting knocked out by sedating medication (this is not the stimulant medication) often means that I become too tired to wash my face, shower, floss, or brush my teeth before collapsing.
  3. If the prior two things are set in place, I don’t have to worry about getting enough sleep, when to go to sleep, or my personal hygiene.  The medications will knock me out in about 1.5 hours (10:30 PM), most nights.  This also means that by 7:30 AM (the earliest I rise), I’ll have gotten a full 9 hours of rest.
  4. Leave the shades open a bit so that morning light can enter the bedroom as the sun comes up.  This is in lieu of a mood light (full-spectrum/daylight lamp) in Winter, though in the latter situation, I may need a daylight lamp on a timer.  The sunlight aligns my biological clock to help me be wakeful at or before the time my alarm goes off.
  5. Don’t stare at computer/e-reader/smartphone screens too long late at night; either this, or wear anti-blue-light lenses when working here late at night:  the blue light seems to make the brain think that it’s daytime when it isn’t.
  6. Don’t nap in the late afternoon (after ~4 PM), and don’t lay down for “just a rest” at 9 PM (especially without taking care of hygiene):  just go to bed, or try and tough it out until you do.  If I lay down late at night without planning to go to sleep, my body takes it as a power nap and may not fall asleep until 1-3 AM.
  7. Green tea (or oolong, if I’m really tired or want something brisk) is a good, gentle stimulant for me.  Paired with the sedating medications I’m on, it doesn’t stop me from falling asleep at night (or even in the day, sometimes), either.  It helps with energy and wakefulness.
    However, coffee and caffeinated beverages (e.g. cola) aren’t good for me — they can cause heart arrhythmia, palpitations, and nosebleeds.  And when I drink tea as a stimulant, I need to drink real tea, not bottled sweetened iced tea (it saves on calories) — and second-brewing and on is much lower in caffeine.  In addition…there are some teas, like fermented Pu-Erh teas, which are supposed to help avoid weight gain.
    Yes, this means I am using the tea especially for its medicinal/drug-related properties, although as I state above, caffeine alone does not have this effect.  I’m at peace with my use of this, at this point, though I have to remember not to overuse the tea:  it will cause cravings (sometimes at inappropriate times, like late at night/before dawn) and addiction.  To avoid caffeine addiction and keep the tea useful in helping with wakefulness, I need to abstain at times, even if it’s hard.
    A caveat:  it’s good to use a whitening toothpaste after drinking tea, because even green tea will stain one’s teeth (I haven’t tried white tea).
    Another caveat:  Holy Basil (Tulsi) tea also has stimulating properties, though may interact with certain medications.  If I get addicted to camellia sinensis tea, I think Tulsi acts along a different channel.
  8. To be wakeful in the daytime when it is hard to rouse oneself:  give yourself permission to do something other than work or sleep.  I’m surprised how often this one works.  Sometimes it’s not that I’m tired, so much as that I don’t want to face my work out of anxiety (and/or I’m hungry), and I feel bad overtly opting to do something other than work, or sleep.
    But doing something other than work gives me a reason to get out of bed, and may lead to work later on, after I’ve satisfied the drive to live (instead of work).  In any case, it’s better to be active in the daytime and asleep at night, if I can help it:  I don’t work night shift.

I’ll try and tag this in a way so I don’t forget it, or I could add it as a curated post to one of my Pages.

And yes, I do want to make a “Tea” entry now, but I think it’s best that I get ready for bed…

Okay, I think I’m feeling a little overburdened…

…Thank all the people who worked so hard for ADA accommodations…

I’m not entirely sure what’s going on except that I’m getting tired of treading water and am starting to sink, a little.  Well, that; and I had surprise group work for one of my classes, which feels like it took up two free days.  I can’t tell exactly, though, because I’ve been too occupied to keep records.

I do remember, however, that Sunday I had a teleconference; then next day (Monday) I had surprise study time because of surprise group work from the teleconference; that same day, my glasses broke and I had to get them fixed; then the next day was a group meeting (Tuesday), after which was grocery shopping plus fabric and lace stores (see below), and coming home to bed.  Today (Wednesday) was work plus sleeping.

It doesn’t help that the death in the family which I spoke about some time back is still being worked through — I had surprise family obligations after work on the previous Saturday night, and worked on Friday, which I shouldn’t have done, as I didn’t have energy to do much when I got home.  I also shouldn’t be working into my breaks and lunchtime at work — this cost me time I could have used to get caught up on homework, today.  That left…what, Thursday to do a week’s worth of actual solid-deadline assignments?  (I was working last Wednesday, and Tuesday I had likely spent working on last week’s Web Design homework.)  I also spent some time in there trying to plan out classes for the next three semesters.

Realistically, writing here (conversation, not so much posting) has been one of the only things I’ve been doing for myself — although I did manage to snag some stuff for a sewing project, which I should not forget:  my fabric and pattern are stored with my yarns.

So, the fun thing:  I visited a lace-making supply store for the first time, yesterday.  That place is a wonder!  We were in the area, so I dropped by a local fabric store to pick up a pattern (which they didn’t have).  I was able to find out that the lace store carried the pattern I wanted, by going to the pattern homepage and finding out all the places that carry the brand.

The person who helped me was very kind.  I’ll be going back, if I have the option.

I think a big issue that I’m having is that I have commitments and deadlines that others in my household don’t have to deal with.  And I know it’s my job to keep on top of them, but when most of your down-time has been spent, literally, asleep (because you’re worn down) — meaning you have had little time and energy to do anything you actually have wanted to do (and you feel guilty for doing things you want to do, which makes it easier to spend time asleep) — sometimes you don’t want to actually look at your obligations, and then it becomes too late to do the prep work so that you can respond appropriately.

So I am behind, a bit.

I am, however, optimistic that even if I can’t be a Librarian (I am questioning my ability to keep up and not drop below a 3.0 GPA right now — albeit somewhat foolishly [I have good grades and accommodations in two of three classes — I haven’t touched the third yet]), I can be a Web Designer.  (I doubt I need a graduate degree, for the latter.)  It isn’t that hard for me, even though we are moving quickly.  Right now I’m in the middle of learning HTML5 and CSS3…which is like…magic.  😛  I had an introduction to XML via my Metadata class last semester, and these are, so far as I know, the three things one needs to make functional web pages and sites.

I still need to work out what to do for the next two semesters, at least:  some of the classes that I was told to work into my schedule are no longer required; and there is at least one new class which is “foundational.”

Seriously.  Right.

Anyhow…I went to bed earlier tonight because I couldn’t concentrate on my reading.  Tomorrow I should work on my Web Design homework (I think I should be able to get to it after the reading), plus the reading and lecture for my Usability course.  It will probably be much easier for me to work on it if I do it in a place where there is not a TV on.  Meaning, not in the kitchen…and not around family.

It’s kind of a surprise to find getting lonely to be a problem, for me.  Usually, I’m OK.  Then I work too hard and miss people…


I feel like I should write something here…I haven’t written in a week, and that’s largely because I’ve not had the energy or time to do so.  However, I’m cutting back on hours at my job, meaning I’ll now have five complete days to work on homework (and lectures, and other things) instead of four.

What happened is that I became so exhausted from the increase in work after Labor Day (Sept. 4th) that Thursday (the 7th?) and Sunday (the 10th?) were spent largely asleep — and that left me with two days (or 48 hours) to do a week’s worth of work for three classes.

Last night, I was up very late to get a number of assignments done by their deadlines.  I do have accommodations, but I prefer not to use them if I don’t have to.

So today, you know, I was catching up on work and found myself falling asleep towards the end of a lecture.  Actually, as I’m writing this, I’ve woken up from the second time I’ve fallen asleep, today (I had to take medication and brush my teeth, at least) — if you don’t count falling asleep around 3 AM last night to be “today.”  I then fell asleep once before dinner, and once after dinner.

On the bright side, I’m nearly caught up with everything.  I did realize, however, that I had been neglecting my Archives class…there weren’t a lot of deliverables there, so I worked on what I needed to turn in.  Accordingly, I think I missed an Archives lecture (I’m missing notes on it) — but I can deal with that.

I think the biggest takeaway from this is that I do need quiet study time, without the distraction of the TV or family.  I have been largely able to avoid playing around on the computer — this is because I know I only have so long I can sit here and not get spine issues.

Also…I seem to be settling around what I’ll do with my spare time…though it hasn’t panned out yet, because I haven’t had much spare time (other than time used for sleeping).

I’ve realized that I can create my own clothes, for one thing.  I feel relatively motivated on that level, because I’ve realized that I can do the same thing for my wardrobe as I’ve done with my jewelry:  make a bunch of customized stuff that I wouldn’t feel bad wearing.

As I wrote elsewhere…creativity may be my way out of the gender dilemma I’m facing.  I don’t, that is, have to rely on store-bought clothing and jewelry which doesn’t get across who I am.  And sewing — hand sewing, at least — does seem to calm me.

Then there is the fact that I still want to learn Japanese language.  I found a number of books on this which look fairly awesome — and I’ve realized that reading things in romaji (Roman letters), although it doesn’t help with character memorization, allows me to recognize words faster.  If I see something written in romaji, that is, I can easily tell if I comprehend the sentence or not (and most basic-level sentences, I do comprehend).  This recognition isn’t there when reading kana and kanji, though it is nice that the kanji give the meaning of the word — though they don’t tell you how the word is spoken.

And then there is graphic design research…making things, you know?  At this point I’m unsure if I want to go into Web Design (though that honestly looks awesome — except for the pay scale) or become an Adult Services Librarian with a tech component — say, in Virtual Services.  I have both paths open to me, now.  If I take the set of classes I’m thinking of, I could only have three more semesters of substantive work ahead of me, including Summer.  The semester after that would be devoted to Culminating Experience, and then I would be done.  There is a complicating factor here, of finances:  I will need to talk to people about that.  Actually, I should approach counseling on three fronts:  Academic, Voc Rehab, and Financial Aid.

As for the Art practice:  that’s pretty much just not happening, though I have an idea as to why, now.

I think my cognizance is burning out.  I should go back to bed.

Buddhism and anatman — a personal view

Last time I was sick (I’m better now), I realized how quickly ideas about functional immortality (reincarnation or other continuance of a phenomenal spirit past the cessation of bodily function) fade due to having an unexplained fever which will not break, and weight that is dropping at a rate of a pound a day.  The reader may recall that I’ve had an interest in Buddhism from my undergraduate years…accordingly, I’m aware that at least some (if not many or most or all) school(s) of Buddhist thought hold to rebirth, but not reincarnation.

The distinction is fine, but the implications are vast, either from a general paradigm-shift back towards materialism or from a lack of hope or worry about immortality.

In a Buddhist theory of rebirth, the effects of past actions (karma) go on to seed a new birth after the death of a sentient being; however, death for the person who has died is seen as final.  That is, the new life which arises after the death of the being who seeded it, is not the same being as the one who existed before, even though this new being may maintain a sense of continuity with the past being (or a plurality of past beings) through inherited karmic effects (and/or the problem of identification with that which made one).

In reincarnation, as I understand it, there may be a personal essence apart from the body which is transplanted and reborn into a different body.  However, keep in mind here two things:

One is that I have not studied advaita (non-dualist) schools of Hindu thought (like advaita vedanta) heavily, which seem monist from here (monist = the philosophy that everything is one); and I get my ideals of having a soul from various cultural points:  including Hinduism, as referenced by Buddhism.

That is, I get my ideas on the metaphysical validity or necessity of a “soul” (atman) concept through the lessons of people who do not believe in souls; and I believe the latter were referencing dvaita (dualist) Hindu thought, in which mind and matter coexist to create life.  I also know that it’s not uncommon to see distortions; at times, outright falsehoods; and torquing of what I as a Westerner percieve as ethics; promoted by Buddhist writers, in the name of pragmatism.

I also have not studied theories of reincarnation — in specific, reincarnation (not rebirth) — heavily, although any explanation of how I came to be which was not “reincarnation” was foreign to me when I was a child; and for much of my life the question of whether or not I have a soul (atman) has weighed on me.  This has particularly been the case after having been introduced to the Buddhist doctrines of anatman (no-self) and shunyata (emptiness).

The latter seems to fit well with a behaviorist and constructivist view of the self; the former is something that appears to be unique to Buddhism and philosophies which would likely fall under the heading of “atheism” — although “atheism” seems to be a misleading term, to me.

There are religions without deities (Buddhism, at times, being one of them), and religions with plural deities likely (in my experience) don’t grant those deities the same power and status as the big three monotheistic religions do.  That is:  the presence or absence of belief in a deity is irrelevant in determining whether someone holds religious ideals; or maintains a mode of thought closer to that of a religious person, than to someone who has divorced themselves from all religion wholeheartedly.

In any case…didn’t mean to get into that, but.

The following is based mostly upon unrecorded thought which I seem to intuitively understand but not be able to commit to words, easily.  I’ve come to the place where I’m getting to be okay with knowing that I don’t understand what happens after death, and in which I’m getting to be more okay with the concept that this is the only life I’ll have.

After all, if it’s so, being upset about it isn’t going to change it.

This has just been based on the threat of more war, on the peril to human civilization which is coming at us from at least two fronts, now.  I’ve been worrying myself in thinking about the metaphysical/energetic impact of 21st-century weapons (yes I know it’s silly), and about the future, should the belief in reincarnation be valid and we all are reborn as cockroaches on an irradiated planet, or one which is turning into a twin Venus.  Is that what we want our legacy to be?

In this point, I can actually understand the question as to how someone can lead a moral life if they don’t believe they will be judged for that life, later.  Because if you don’t believe that you will have to deal with repercussions for your actions, it’s hard to imagine some people — not all, but some, and they’re in the middle of exemplifying it — will take that as an excuse to behave in a way harms others, and harms themselves, and may cut off all of our futures.

Of course, what you and I take as “harm” are likely to be different things, at least slightly, if not radically.  But it’s obvious that people who don’t care about climate change, or who are welcoming it as the end of the world (like the death of life as we know it is something to celebrate) don’t believe they’re going to have to live later on with the mess we are all making.  That’s in violation of a direct action-reaction principle, because we collectively don’t want to be told we’re doing something wrong and that we need to change.  Because change is scary, and people are creatures of habit.

And we don’t like to be told we’re behaving out of fear, either.

But I’m getting better with the idea that perhaps I don’t have to take all of this on.  I’m getting better with the idea that this is temporary; that whatever this life is, it only exists on this side of the veil.  And that at the end of this stint, I may not have to deal with this at all, again — or at least until such time as the motions of the universe or multiverse see fit to bring together again the conditions that allowed this me to come into being.  For however long that lasts.

I know I won’t be the same person, at least figuratively speaking, and in that I can see the idea of anatman showing up, fairly clearly.  (Consciousness may be regained; identity may not be.)  But that doesn’t mean this will be the end of it.  (I should investigate ancient ideas of atman more thoroughly, I think…)

Maybe, in this philosophical position, the best I can hope for is either having gained enough advancement so that I don’t have to remain stuck in lower levels of learning for too long, the next time; or to…I don’t know what…savor what time I have, because it’s finite.

Of course, this “time” thing…I can still be punctual, but I’ve never understood it…