It’s beginning to look like spring here in Shanghai. The air is fresh and bouncy, the sun seems crisp and cool, and the flowers are all white and pink blisters on tree branches. I love this breeze, I really do. Each change of season, however, calls for a change in the human spirit similar to the werewolf becoming a wolf under a full moon. Something similar occurs with me with the slightest change of air and sun. I can’t help this and I can only try to channel it and express it better without panic and without fear and more importantly without causing panic and fear in others. This here is what I work on everyday. My own personal “personhood” project.
One lesson I’ve learned so far is to mistrust impulse and trust instinct and for God’s sake know how to tell the difference. Another lesson I’ve learned which sounds simple at first and the kneejerk reaction to it “I already know this” and “Of course!” is… do not lie. What lies am I telling myself? is a question I ask myself more and more everyday. It racks my brain sometimes, but the result is worth the fight. The result is to be able to hold something undeniable and unbreakable because everything else that is not good and not true will inevitably melt away like sandcastles in the sky. I might look and sound crazy poking holes, but it’s because I really care to have something true.
Three month reviews is a new concept I’ve come up with the help of my beloved this month. Every three months I will reflect upon myself, current projects, progress, et al. It is becoming more and more important to do this the older I get, it seems. I just don’t have time to “erhelj togloh” like I used to. Obviously, the three month review will be something to apply to the relationship as well but that’s a two people thing and I’m referring to the three month review on myself at this moment. I’ve been in this new place since December and so…
January: I made a commitment to work on my mental wellness in the spiritual and cognitive therapy aspect. It is at the forefront of my mind and how I process what is good and bad now. How is this feeding my mind? How is it not? are default questions and since January I’ve gotten better and better at asking this. It’s not perfect yet, but that’s the journey! In January I was also able to begin mapping out patterns of behavior right before I have a panic and depressive episode. I’m still working out the kinks even today but the main point here is that I’m taking a hard look at myself from both a subjective and objective point of view to the best of my ability.
- Started looking for work.
- Rated my life on a worksheet and created my 5-year plan.
- Created three goals to complete before the end of this 2017.
February: More of January stuff. My calendar says “Monitor your emotions religiously, child!” and it was here that I opened up to the world (ahem, Facebook) about my mood disorders in Mongolian. It was vulnerable of me, shameful even, but from where I am standing, in a country where I have close to no intimate friends, no countrymen (Mongolians and Mexicans) and no family- Facebook was my only option and I’m glad I did it. I got an outpour of understanding and support from friends in comments and private messages of people who understand, go through the same thing, and even certain therapies that worked for them. Bottom line, I didn’t feel so alone. Community is important.
- Found work and got into a work/play routine.
- Snagged a presentation opportunity at work.
March: This month marked the beginning of a more religious focus of my January and February focus. I began reading The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren again and was reminded that I need to keep reading from the experts about their big ideas. A world without books is a world enclosed and dark. It is easy to see how I forgot that with all the distractions I made myself vulnerable to in the past few years. Lesson learned. I tell myself it’s okay. This month I also tried for the first time a free cognitive behavioural therapy course online called MOODGym created by ANU students in Australia. It was extremely helpful. It made my demons appear small and ridiculous from a logical perspective and not just an intangible spiritual perspective.
- Finished my probation period and submitted necessary paperwork for visa.
- Came up with a list of “me things” that I need to do more of (i.e. write and read).
- Started writing my novel (shh!)
What is next for April is the following and let’s see whether it goes according to plan which it probably won’t but I need to have a blueprint:
- Continue writing and finish more books. So far I’ve finished Murakami’s South of the Border, West of the Sun. I want to finish Shanghai: The Rise and Fall of a Decadent City and one more book. Not sure which yet. Any recommendations? Garden Books in Shanghai has been good to me.
- Get through the days of work in a row without a break. I am a delicate little thing sometimes (hey, it’s better to admit it) and get very overwhelmed if I do not eat, sleep, and play properly so… must prep for this kind of period with love and respect.
- Spend some time investigating Islam and Christianity and feed my brain with information, critical thinking, and knowledge. I’m really excited for this. I’m even in a WeChat group going on for the former.
My ultimate goal is the same as always and perhaps even stronger now: legitimacy, knowledge, art, and truth. The last of these is the most important because what is knowledge and legitimacy and even love is all Truth. I’ve failed before in these areas because I went about it the wrong way, wanting them too much, that the devil used them as bait. Still I do not see the above as bad goals to have; I just have refocus my attention and try again. They’re worth fighting for lest I lose my soul to this plastic world.