Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Yearning for Problems

My spouse is a mental health counselor, so that means I partially live in a world where mental health problems are constantly focused on. After having lived in this environment for three years, I've come to realize that I don't have any mental health issues. I would have said that timidly two and a half years ago, but I'm more certain of this today than ever, and I can't emphasize enough at how bold of a claim that is in a room full of therapists. It's almost an invitation for them to prod you. Thus, I've only said this out loud twice.

I was looking at /r/preppers on reddit. It's a forum, and the topic is being prepared for when a part or all of society breaks down for whatever reason. There's something about survival situations that many are attracted to, which is ironic because we live in a fairly well-oiled machine. It's comfortable most of the time, and things work predictably. But, tying this into mental health. For most of human history our problems and routines were laid out for us. Go kill something, clean it, don't get eaten while doing it. Tend to your plants. Build a fire. Fix your shelter, etc. Furthermore, I also believe in the adage that "Idle hands are the Devil's workshop." and that that's a large contributor to the prevalence of mental problems today.

There's a part of me that keeps a bookmark in the fragility of modern society. This gives me perspective on "invented problems" vs. "real problems". I think it's one of the reasons I regard myself as having no mental health issues. Now, before you go think that I'm getting all uppity on you. I'm certainly not perfect. I struggle with procrastination and motivation like anyone, but I usually come through. Beyond that, I feel quite the blank slate. Whenever I feel some type of neurosis developing I imagine myself back in the woods, because a man in the woods doesn't have time to worry about this shit! Right? Someone may say "Well, that's because we're more specialized and sophisticated." and this is the point where our sophistication starts working against us.

Now, do I know how to find clean water? No. My family and I are fucked! Do I know how to hunt animals? No. Do I know what plants I can eat and not eat? No. No, no, no, no. I can play you a song, and barter. I figure when the shit hits the fan my trade will skyrocket in value, because there will be no more Pandora or Spotify and everybody will still continue to love music. Anyhow, I'm getting side tracked.

You have to have time in order to worry about your nose, your belly, your bald spot, whether or not your food has a significant amount of sulforaphane in it, whether or not people understand you and see the light in you. "You know what? I'm not sure if my mom loved me enough..." It takes idle time to get unhealthily obsessed with this or that, assuming you're not fighting for your fucking life in the rat race. There are indeed real problems that people have in our society, but unfortunately the solutions are often abstract. If you're hungry, you want some food, first you have to go to work and do something completely unrelated to food, then sit at home and wait for a paycheck. Cash it, take your paper, and go get you an apple. There's more steps in there than that, but you get the idea.

Hunters and gatherers were born into a tribe who knew their environment extremely well, so their problems were simple. This is what our biology is made for. It isn't made for continual profound changes in multiple arenas. Nor is it accustomed to sitting on our ass as much as we do, so we have to invent gyms to aimlessly move our bodies for the sole purpose of moving our bodies, yet another abstraction. This is why I don't understand why everyone wants their laptop to be so light, "Give me the fifteen pounder!"

So, we're accustomed to having problems, and if we don't? We'll damn well invent some. But, inventing your own problems is like recreational misery. If that's the case, you can easily go find some real problems. Like, go clean your room for example. Cleaning is supremely therapeutic, but many people in such royal positions as ourselves can't be bothered. If you live in my zip code, you're royal in relation to the world at large.

What we need is applied problems. They have to have some consequence in making life, "the world" a better place. And don't let perfection ruin a good thing, I know that procrastination trick like the back of my hand.

During my wife and I's first couples counseling session I stated that most of my problems are logistical. That there are things I'm trying to achieve and there are some obstructions, or contradictions I'm unable to reconcile. But, they're there, like a Rubik's Cube on a table, and not internal. In this case, the only internal problem would be that I'm too dumb to figure out a solution. You can't blame me for being dumb, can you?

So it seems that many people are yearning for problems.