A joyful, playful child

The compliment I treasure as much as any other is, “You can seem serious, but underneath you are just a joyful, playful child”.

On the bus, my attention is wholly on my phone, narrowed to the glowing rectangle. I am safe, scrolling down through facebook or site stats- Ooh, another page view!

A couple in their sixties get on. He walks quickly down the aisle then stands waiting for her. She progresses in a stately manner. “Will you move over please thank you very much” she says to a young man in an aisle seat. He does. “Sit there,” she commands her companion, waving at the seat. He complies. She sits across the aisle from him.

Watching is better. Later, I walk along Nupton Road, beside a park. There are mature trees growing through the pavement. There is so much beauty in this town, but from the bus I was beguiled by buildings- ordinary buildings, you might say, and I enjoyed their colours and sudden shapes as we moved past.

I sit erect, trusting, sufficient. I have dignity. I am safe in my society, even the malicious cannot easily hurt me, and I am rarely even mildly discomposed. What crush and constrain me are fearful fantasies.

At the bus stop a woman glanced over. Her “celebrity” magazine article is about Piers Morgan, and she wears bright Azalea-red lipstick. Did she show surprise at my voice? Who cares, really. Well, I do. As Lucy said and I repeat to my Aspie friend, those of us who are different should not have all the work of keeping the more normal ones comfortable. Or, we need greatly to expand “normal”, to include everyone. It could have been interest. I imagine disapproval. It may just be in my head.

Two policemen in Kevlar with sub-machineguns patrol the shopping mall. I am glad I had heard of Mr Corbyn’s rally, they would have freaked me a bit otherwise.

I reach out to caress the rough bark of the tree.

On the bus, a man in a wheelchair and his partner get on. Both are very tired. He can hardly speak, only make very quiet noises. They miss their stop, because she did not see it and he could not get her attention. The bus driver says he will drive to the end of the line then take them back, and I am surprised at how good his hearing is.

“You had a button,” she says, and he lifts his arm to show there is no button on that handrail. I see one on the other handrail, but perhaps he cannot push it with that left arm. I am a bit sorry, as I am facing him. I thought of moving so she could face him, but did not do so before she sat on the other seat.

I have just had a vile, humiliating experience. I have abased myself, and may not have done enough to avoid being wronged.

Here’s Jamie Catto. I think my dignified child needs looking after. She is not wise to the ways of the world. She will show herself off to be Not Normal, and get squished. She does not anticipate what will happen but is just enjoying the rough bark of the tree and the sudden shapes of quite ordinary buildings, on a slovenly street. Or seeking refuge in her phone. He says the thing I trust to look after her is insane and also fails to anticipate the future, simply believing wild guesses and fantasies.

The child knows what is going on and what she must do, and she is afraid and angry. Or something is afraid and angry, these feelings are inside me. Part of my brain may assert control and I am not sure which bit is best, even if the child is the bit I love, and love being.

Richard Rohr says all breathing is sacred breathing, and our true life is love without ego, which I identify with Jamie’s sane part. Wake up. Rohr, a Franciscan, is as happy with religious and spiritual language as I am.

I touch the rough bark of the tree. I am cracked open. At Yearly Meeting Gathering I walked to the Friday session in delight, loving the profusion of seeds, so many in one bundle, so many bundles in the sycamore. There are also conkers. Approaching the Arts Centre, I started to skip, because I anticipated beauty in the Quaker business meeting, and someone told me after how she had been- not sure what, now, moved pleased delighted happy- to see me skip. Others like the child.

When I became a man I put away childish things. But then, I am not a man.

Rohr gave the exercise, Sitting at a table with a pencil and a piece of blank, unlined paper, look at a nearby object (for example, a vase of flowers, a chair, a tree outside). Turn your attention to the empty or “negative” space surrounding the object. Rather than focus on the object’s contours, look at the lines and curves of the space butting up against the object, the places in between and around the thing itself. Breathe deeply and begin to draw these nooks and crannies of air and emptiness. Keep your focus on the “negative” space as you draw. And I thought, something impossible the Teacher demands and the students attempt with diligence, because they want Enlightenment. Cycling to Meeting yesterday I was a soldier, thinking of my thighs- I saw the moon and trees, some of the time, but much of the time my attention narrowed to the road, and other road users. Only one car passed terrifyingly close, most were far enough away. And I thought, there is no gap. There is always thing, even the light refracted through the atmosphere or that light marbling of almost-not-cloud in the blue. Aha! A Spiritual Lesson!

Anger rage frustration and fear, and an inability to care for herself due to being very very young indeed, and I am almost resigned to the fact that the Child really might be my best option: best for seeing reality, best for seeing people, best for deciding, best for acting.

Abraham Maslow wrote, The most fortunate are those who have a wonderful capacity to appreciate again and again, freshly and naively, the basic goods of life, with awe, pleasure, wonder and even ecstasy. Yes. A ripe peach! The bark of a tree!

Dignity

I have no sense of dignity. Possibly it would be an advantage, but if it just cuts me off from stuff I like, why bother with it? I draw myself to my full height, say “How dare you?” and stalk off. But then, me going was what they wanted, and they humiliated me with that purpose in mind. (No-one reading this should imagine I mean a particular incident- I am playing with ideas, and they may have a glancing reference to something which has happened, or not. It’s a way you might consider an incident, without being the whole truth of it.)

It might be nice to say “How dare you?” and watch the other back down, but that is not a trick I have mastered. The ability to do that might be part of Privilege.

I have always seen myself as ridiculous. That might be Privilege too: the ability to Be Yourself, without apologising for it, or surprising people and seeing that as your own fault. “And what relationship are you to the account holder?” asked the woman on the helpline. I explained that I am trans, and my voice can sound masculine on the phone. “Oh, that’s alright,” she said, without apologising, as if I were apologising to her.

They might humiliate me again in order to force me out. Or they might enjoy a punch-bag to humiliate repeatedly. (Again, this is not paranoid speculation about particular people, but imagining how unknown people might just be.)

Dignity is an expression of power, and I do not experience myself as powerful. I could go all spiritual, and say Power and Dignity are ego-manifestations; the Spiritual person does not bother about such things. However, that is not why I do not bother about such things. I think of the dignity of Christ on the cross- after all that repeated pain and humiliation, designed to break him, he speaks in Love to the man beside him; the inability to be humiliated is a spiritual gift-

perhaps I have dignity, but the problem with that kind of dignity is that the ego could not perceive it. And I would like ego-dignity.  I can imagine it being advantageous.

I have started reading Richard Rohr’s meditations, available here. There is the true self and the false self, and the false self appears rational and sensible and the true self below it all understands, except she cannot always put it into words. The false self is programmed by society to know what society wants, the true self is the soul or the organismic self. I wondered if it were actually an evolutionary backwards-step: humans live in words, but these true-selves are the vestiges of the brain before language. Or language is bolted on, and because of language we can live more complex lives, but sometimes it is good to return to simplicity. If I die to self, I might find natural dignity, but the ego would not recognise it; or the ego could see it by painstaking analysis later. (My ego is learning to value that unconscious process.)

I only know my own value when I reject the ways society values me.

Or, I could lack dignity, but that would simply be part of this ongoing relationship developing. Or I could observe it as a skill, and practise it.

The wisdom to know the difference

I have the bloody-mindedness to keep fighting the things I cannot change
The weakness to run from the things I just might change
And the blindness not to see the nature of either.

When to fight, or work, and when to back off. That is important, difficult wisdom. Now, I begin to think that the difficulty is not being able to back off, rather than not being able to stick at it: I stick at things really hard, because I am passionate, but do not value or protect myself, so that when I am forced to stop I have been hurt, so find it difficult to force myself back, or wheedle myself back, or trust to go back freely. I can never trust myself not to hurt myself. I am not safe, because of myself.

In counselling I find it hard to speak, but I can type a note for myself, then read out the note.

I am seeking to escape the restrictions transition places on me. Then I rethought this:
I place on me.

No, restrictions I sort of accept, not challenging, but might challenge.
Might find out how to challenge
Am challenging as best I know
Self-expression as best I know, now, may improve. Transition, the “feminine role”, does restrict me; that I have not overcome all the restrictions yet does not mean I am not trying my best to, and getting better at it.

I think of Her. She is worth my time, my attention and my work. I am not going to stop yet. I would like everything stated clearly between us, but then I might play games with it, or use it in bargaining;

I feel I am guessing what you want and if I guess right and give it I will have it too.
Except it must feel right for you or you will withdraw.
Or if any pathway goes wrong you will not go there again- we tried that and it didn’t work.
Treat you as a puzzle- well, I am thinking, now, after. At the time I respond, and so often apparently wrongly.

That led to the insight. As well as retreating from the world, just staying in my living room, watching telly

I do difficult things.
Difficulty is not a deterrent.
If I see a way forward I take it.

And yet in so many cases

I don’t do things I have found not profitable. “We tried that once and it didn’t work.”

In some of my battles I have been badly hurt and not gone back. Yet in others I have kept fighting despite being hurt.
Have been frustrated and seen no way forward and not gone back, the effort of understanding and seeing becomes too painful.
Some problems I just run from.
WHAT do I run from, but should not? Or stick with, for no useful purpose?
Go back? Others do not find hard and I still find it hard to admit that looking for those jobs is too much for me, it ought not to be, well maybe it would not be if I could take care of myself better
Give up, find something else to do-

So I came to

The bloody-mindedness to keep fighting the things I cannot change
The weakness to run from the things I just might change
And the blindness not to see the nature of either.

That got seven likes on facebook, more for the elegance of expression than the thought perhaps.

-I see you celebrate your passion in lots of ways, says Tina. That reassured me. I do. I had a wonderful time at Yearly Meeting Gathering, and I bestowed my Light on many people.

And- I feel I do not know which problems to stick at, which to accept, because I am using my rational, ought-mind, the common cultural judgment. I know what I need to work on, and if I trust myself I might even know that consciously.

Passion. Charisma. Ardour.

I asked, she answered. I paused, stiffened, closed my eyes. I felt intense sadness and frustration. Yes, she said, I felt that very strongly from you. She is a sensitive, empathetic person. I paused to analyse how we might have communicated that- through body language, facial expression and mirror neurons, or through a spiritual link.

I have this wonderfully precise and sensitive emotional instrument I am only just learning to use and value. I feel deeply, and that is beautiful.

At the discussion group on death, a man said how much he loved Gray’s Elegy in a Country Churchyard. I leaned over and quoted,

I THAT in heill was and gladnèss
Am trublit now with great sickness
And feblit with infirmitie:—
Timor Mortis conturbat me.

Looking directly into his eyes, speaking strongly with controlled passion. After, he said he would love to hear me recite poetry.

I met Lucy Aphramor, a poet. She is at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, at the Quaker Meeting House with her show for two weeks. She quoted some of it, powerfully affirming, to me, and I wondered if it were Mary Oliver. Later in the bar she recited some of her lesbian erotica, and I felt her words and her voice caress my nerve endings, bringing them to life, tingling my spine. I loved our communication. I love her assonance rhyme and alliteration, binding the words together, making them rich. In verse, I might take more care of the sounds of words.

Wonderful woman- when she is in a group, I sometimes notice it is not a circle of people talking, but her, shining, and an audience. She has charisma, and I have charisma, I thought. Or, I like to show off. I can hold an audience too. Then I thought, not charisma, but ardour: I feel strongly, and can communicate that, because my strong feeling is beautiful. We are drawn together in depth of feeling. When I speak from the heart I speak directly to people’s hearts.

I have passion, charisma, ardour, and a great desire to express them and have them valued, and a lack of experience expressing them. I hide away to hide these characteristics. I have been hurt when I have been too passionate, when it has been “inappropriate” or against some rules I don’t understand so just suppress them all the time. It’s not English.

I have these qualities. They are gift, and not curse. Recognising that is a great step forward- I could not always see them as merely part of my wrongness and oddness, I naturally heal from such wounds. Now I need to practise their use. So my hiding away blesses me, reducing the amount of challenge I face.

Whoever you are
However much you wish your body different
I count you in
when I ask which of us has value
Through all the stages of the self you would create your worth holds fast
Your worth is
stable
unchanging
innate

Life as it is

I am going to Yearly Meeting, and rather than delight I anticipate feeling bored, lonely and out of sorts, getting cold and wet, my phone discharging and not recharging. My default state is fear- of what??? Increasingly I am tongue-tied, as when I think of something to say I immediately think of qualifications, even think the opposite is true, and to free that log-jam I type rapidly, without judging. Fear of-

bad things happen-
disapproval-
OK for this month, not sure after
losing benefits
death- not quite welcome it, would solve some problems- would not be worried any more, not sure what to do with life
-fear of process?
-dying alone?
non-specific anxiety

Thinking about Yearly Meeting Gathering, trying to set aside the fear, I anticipate joy- connection- understanding- laughter
anticipate-

We share the idea of Hell as ideas of heaven you don’t understand enjoy or fit in: others sit on the clouds, but I keep falling through; others play their harps but I get wrong notes- a martyr might find his seventy virgins unattractive…

-What stops me from doing things? The feeling that there would be no point. It is better to be bored than frustrated. It seems I am merely and always ineffective. If I play the piano, errors creep in, so that it is not worth all the necessary practice, and eventually I don’t play at all.

fear of failing, not matching my judgment.
I can’t achieve what I want and don’t even know what I want. Everything is a waste of time.

To put that into a coherent paragraph- my life as I have created it is all that I fear. I consider it- sitting at home watching telly, scrolling facebook, not reading, not spending much time with friends, and find it ghastly yet desirable. It could be my way of rebelling against other people’s ideas of what is desirable. I have picked up ideas of what I ought to desire, but do not. I am like a teenager in a strop/ funk/ sulk, for I have no idea of what I might actually desire, that has been driven out by the need to conform to other’s ideas, and then simply to hide away and not be noticeable. I sit in my living room watching telly. That is not enough for me, not nearly enough, a complete waste, but I don’t know what else I might do, or want to do.

I fear that I will make an effort and not achieve what I want, or not be able to construct a coherent plan that I might reasonably hope would achieve what I want. From this base of dissatisfaction I have to find new ideas of what to want, or how to get it, and forming the ideas seems just too hard.

I do not anticipate finding joy.

She asks, there is so much judgment in this- whose judgment is it? Yours?
-Well, I am not facing anyone else’s judgment at the moment, though I have taken it into myself from others.
-self can be hardest taskmaster of all.
-Oh yes.

My life now is bearable and unbearable, horrible and desired. I feel dreadful frustration.

I trust the Yearly Meeting Gathering enough to go.

Being and doing

There is no “real you”. You are what you do. You may like to imagine what you would do in a particular situation, acting courageously, morally or with a particular ruthless self-interest, and just as you think of the clever retort too late to make it, you do not live up to your fantasies. The fantasy is a reassuring falsehood, not an underlying Reality which shows you have value. Your value is in your reality, not that falsehood. If you value the falsehood you will never match up to it, and never value yourself.

And- you have potential you deny and devalue. You need to accept it in order to discover it. Fortunately, you are what you do: shadow motivation, the strength of the parts you deny, will bring it to your attention, and the conflict you experience with that will end. The lies you were told and the suppression you suffered will melt away.

I can use any statement of fact or morality to beat myself up, and you are what you do is no exception: what do I do? Right now, nothing, so I am the coward equivocator who hides away and tells myself false stories in an attempt to console myself as I fritter away my life. Coward. Failure. Fool.

The answer is to see the truth in another way. You are what you do. All that courage and creativity. I fought till I broke, and I am still fighting though in a different way. I am still fighting in two ways:

the slave driver, for whom nothing is ever good enough, who will never accept me stopping to rest unless I fall over exhausted.

the creative explorer, seeking to understand.

And the thing which makes all their energy barely achieve my survival is my fear. My fear means that routine actions like going shopping can be terrifying.

 ♥♥♥

My existential terror consumed me.

I made a mistake!
I cannot rely on myself!

I know I cannot rely on the world.

Therefore I shall die!

I have inside myself a terrified child. Argument is useless for consolation: I explain it is a small mistake, and a small loss, but even if she recognises that it does not lessen her fear. How to get her to see that? Don’t be so completely stupid! It is completely unimportant! Shut up and stop whining!

This does not make her feel better. However, even when I attempt to explain kindly, she discerns my intent. It is clear to me this is unimportant, and necessary that she accept that.

She says, You are seeking to manage and control me! Don’t try to manage and control me! I don’t trust you!

Trying to manage her will not make her trust. I can’t make her do anything, by force, reason, or trickery.

Only Love might help. There is the fear. The fear is a faithful reaction. I allow the fear. It passes through me, and the sharp insistence it needed to be heard against my “reasonableness” lessens. After, there is tiredness. Ruefulness. I need to understand, and my “reasonableness” is not sufficient for that. The fear is hypervigilant because it was not heard, and I was hurt. My reasonableness, never accepting my fear, was wrong.

I seek balance.

 ♥♥♥

I tried taking Norethisterone, and it made my feelings more intense. I had a great high on Tuesday, and a horrific downer on Thursday after coming off it, and my terror on Saturday arose from it. Yet the fear is there, controlling me, all the time, and I must alleviate it, or live with it. “Feel the fear and do it anyway”- or something like that.

Emotional thinking V

Emotional thinking is rational thinking.

Before University, I went for a taster weekend at St Andrews. We stayed in the halls, had a tour and saw the tiny town with its three parallel streets; and had a few sample lectures and a dance. How could anyone ‘live by logic’? asked a philosophy don about Star Trek. Who would do anything without desire? Logic can work things out, emotion motivates. But emotion also creates rational decisions, of what is in my interests or what I find bearable. Vulcan main characters in the Star Trek universe show loyalty and drive. Their subsuming emotion means doing their duty when they would feel fear or disgust, and judging others impartially. They have no sense of humour, but one of honour and right conduct. Minor characters also show a sense of their own importance and the respect due to them, sometimes overblown, and even competitiveness.

It is hard to see how emotion might be excluded from any opinion or decision. We cannot be “rational”, making appropriate decisions, if we do not use emotion. Vulcans would not be impulsive, they would defer gratification or eschew lower animal tastes, they would be imperturbable, but the emotion is underneath, influencing their actions.

I wonder about those impulsive decisions. Fear and desire war in me until desire overcomes, and I do the foolish, ridiculous thing- which is liberation for me, even authenticity. Decisions about what risks to take are emotional. Even “logical” tools like enumerating pros and cons of alternatives are a way of drawing out the emotional reaction- for which are more important? Illusion, asserting that something is not as it really is, is a way of suppressing true feeling.

Desiccated? But desiccated thinking uses old, diseased emotion, old resentments and hatreds, to find revenge where there is no delight left in it, and even completed revenge would leave the hatred unappeased.

Rational thinking is emotional thinking, using healthy emotion to find what will best help the actor flourish and be their true self. Logical thinking, finding what is clearly right, is emotional. Even rationalisation is emotional, believing what I need to believe so as best to nourish my relationships.

Only through emotion can I find who I truly am, and only through emotional decision making can I realise my true self, and flourish.

I love Theresa May’s necklace of huge chain links, like shiny carabiners.

It looks like a slave thing, she said. I am not sure. Possibly her disapproval was not diminished when I said I thought it more strong than submissive- to appeal to the virago rather than the submissive woman. That’s my sexuality you are discounting, I think. There is gay pride, I need an analogous but distinct pride. The patriarchal ideal of sexuality is flaunted all the time. It is a clear part of the Foreign Secretary’s public persona.

The pride stirs in my heart even as worry at disapproval and wanting agreement and reconciliation- both very me- arise too. With such feelings, how hard for me to attain authenticity! So many competing feelings to permit, to nurture to maturity, to reconcile! How beautiful I will be, when I do!

Recovery from burnout

Only achievers burn out.

I got that lying doctor sacked. Then I am on the balance of probabilities sure that the second one was lying, was certain of it at the time, and think any disinterested party would agree. The Benefits office and their medical services were not disinterested, wanting to assert that they did nothing wrong ever.

I went into the tribunal and accused the examining doctor of lying. The doctor on the tribunal laid into me. How dare I impugn the integrity of a professional man? So I went back to the waiting room, burst into tears, and soon after I stopped doing benefits tribunals. I took a demotion and went round people’s houses filling in attendance allowance claims.

I found that I would not give up until I am dangling on the end of a rope, and at the time I was proud of it. Rightly proud, that ability to push myself that hard is strong. Yet there is a flaw in it. It might be better to recognise that the work was tiring, and stop before I fell. I had done a reasonable amount of work. And having got the first doctor sacked, with set-back after set-back over months, I might have been better to realise that it was above my paygrade, not my job, and possibly too difficult.

I had to burn out before I gave up. I had to be reduced to tears and unable to go on before I would stop.

Then there was that dinghy sailing course on Cumbrae in my teens. There was a swell, we had to paddle the boat to the jetty, and I was paddling really hard. I feel the man paddling on the other side of the boat sensed I was frightened, and am still peeved, because I was not frightened of the boat capsizing but of not paddling as fast as he was. Possibly he was merely surprised at how hard I was paddling.

So how can I recover from this?

You are recovering, she says. You recover by exercising your intellect. You have ambitions. You don’t feel strong enough to fight or confront, you don’t feel resilient, but will become so. Have faith! You have this capacity for energy and enthusiasm, though not all the time. It shows in your face. Burnout only happens to achievers.

I did not know when to stop. Burnout was the only way I could protect myself. Just as when I went home from work to kill myself and then realised I did not want to die, just to get out of there immediately. If only I could take avoiding action before I got to that stage. I am worth preserving.

I was weeping on the phone with the Samaritans. I can be the Rational Man, suppressing feeling but Angry, and then if I accept the weeping and give myself to it I can be the Dancer.

-A petal or a razor blade, she says.
-There might be something in the middle.

-Why is fighting masculine? Is that indoctrination, that boys are strong, girls weak?

Something in the middle- a flower, not just a petal which falls to the ground.
-How about a whole garden?
A bush, I say, putting forth flowers, seeds and thorns.

I am away for the weekend soon, with HAI, then for a week with Quakers. All lovely, open people.

-I am glad part of you takes time to have fun.

There might be something in the middle. Either I am worthless or the centre of the universe. Either I work as hard as fighting for survival or I hide away and do nothing. I am fighting for survival, because there is the parental judgment, now internalised, if I do not work hard enough I am No Good, and that is a threat to my existence. And you can’t fight for survival all the time, especially if it is not real. I gave up because I could not work that hard all the time any more. These responses are unconscious, I just do it without consciously choosing, and I wonder how much good analysing them does.

Spirit of Life

Am I safe? Yes- until I am not.
Am I good? Yes- until I am not.
I am powerful, until I am powerless.

I am not sure I fully agree with Paul, but what he says makes some psychological sense. What does he mean? I do the very thing I hate. I agree that the law is good. I will what is right, but I cannot do it. When I want to do what is good, evil lies close at hand. Who will rescue me from this body of death?

What is the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus [that] has set [me] free from the law of sin and death? What is that law of sin? It seems to me, wrestling with the passage in Meeting, that the law of sin is an external standard of Right- not just the 630 commandments of the Torah, but every external standard, every set of rules for conduct no matter how well-intentioned, every attempt to keep safe by telling others what to do. Every standard imposed from outside, even if I accept it and think it is a good standard and want to live by it.

The spirit of life in Christ has set me free. If I walk according to the spirit of life within me, I will do Good- for I am Love as God is Love. Any other Rule is impossible to obey. And yet we feel unsafe, and we feel threatened by the Others, so Christianity since Paul is filled with these sets of rules. A trans man I met had been subjected to “Heavy Shepherding”, where his church did not believe in his ability to make correct decisions for himself, so his pastor had to vet each one. That comes from Hell not Heaven. I am not safe, and no-one is safe from me. Or, I am safe and good, until I am not. Yet we are children of God, brothers and sisters, so we will act in love.

One ministered on decluttering- not just stuff, but relationships, ideas and memories. Why keep a memory and worry at it like poking a bruise? I said to her after, because it still has something to teach me. My mother’s lack of understanding had so wounded me from the age of nine to 44, when I accepted it. I recounted the memory. She had experience as a teacher, of parents driving their children to achievements they never realised. That’s close enough. I had accepted my mother’s lack of understanding, but today I accepted my powerlessness and inability to communicate my own feeling, which was a lack of confidence. I wanted to be confident.

I am powerful until I am not. Sometimes I am not as powerful as I would have wished. IT FEELS LIKE DEATH! IT SCARES ME! But it isn’t death, not really. I am still alive, even well-situated and happy. If only I could recognise that.

In the afternoon, in the Quaker business meeting, we considered whether we should become a Charitable Incorporated Organisation or remain Unincorporated when we register as a charity. This is fairly dry and technical. What makes it beautiful is the way we deal with it, in discussion before and in the moment of the Meeting. I am open to persuasion, and I am not going just to give in. So I talk to the former managing director of a company with factories in several countries, and feel somewhat abashed, the queer benefit claimant. He could seek to dominate, and I would defy him; instead, we respond in Loving equality.

Need and desire

Why “Need,” and not “Desire”?

My wise friend H did not like my formulation, I am Love, Will, Playfulness, Curiosity, Need, Courage. She pointed out “Need” sounds, well, needy. Needy is not good. Adults get their needs through exchange, economically or socially, and needy is needing without having something to exchange- though lots of people like to think of themselves as Charitable therefore Good, so the giving is the reward in itself; and some may be altruistic.

I picked “Need” because some needs are very basic, and I have them. I need food and shelter. Without these I die. They are not mere desires- there are moral rules around how one may satisfy desires, which do not so clearly apply to needs. Particularly, I have moral scruples around desires, which may be over-scrupulous, and working out what are my Needs as a way of surviving.

I am still unlearning my toddler’s lessons, and learning more worthwhile toddler lessons. I  learned I am worthless. I wanted to hide away. I wanted not to impinge. So I did not know what my desires were. They could not and should not be granted.

I need society. I need human interaction. Too much alone, I shrivel up. It is not just a desire.

I need safety. This one is really strange. A troll posted on a Quaker facebook group a 22 minute video arguing that “Evolution is not just highly unlikely, but impossible”. The point of the video was that as we do not yet understand how abiogenesis, the start of life from non-living matter, could happen, God must have done it. It enraged me, then I was weeping at the horror of it, and I am not sure why. I expect Quakers to seek the truth as they best can. I know Biblical literalists have this deep need to believe in Biblical creation, and that makes them impugn the integrity of evolutionists; at any rate they believe something I find false, and no argument across the aisle will produce agreement. As we do not know the truth about abiogenesis, a person of integrity may posit their best guess. People can be wrong in an interesting way.

Perhaps I can tolerate a certain level of precariousness, but at that level small threats become too much. I expect to trust people here. I find I cannot- and the bottom falls out of my world-

This Need not Desire is a toddler’s eye view. Toddlers have little agency. Adults should have the ability to choose what they want, and gain it. I don’t have strong belief in my agency. Too many experiences have contradicted such belief. This might have some link to the inexplicable Sooner strangle an infant in its cradle than nurse unacted desires.

The moral imperative works the other way. I have need- and I have value, so it is a moral imperative to preserve me, and fulfil my needs. And, I may graduate to desire, when I reach teenage. Baby steps…