Conversations September 14 and 15

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

2 AM. I might as well try this — I have had what sleep or semi-sleep I’m going to have for a while. Just for the record, I’m getting awfully tired of being sick for what seems like no reason. Yesterday was a breakthrough of sorts — maybe — but I’m sick again, so how much good is it?

I’m not in the best of moods, but pray continue your exposition of the three kinds of influences our minds and bodies interact with — or whatever other subject you prefer, if not that one.

You might as well read or kill time in some other way – watch a movie, perhaps – because this would take more energy than you have to give. And perhaps more sleep will follow.

9:30 AM. I admit, I’m tempted to hold a grudge. I did finally get some sleep last night but only after being up from 2 to 4. What’s going on?

You’re looking for a miracle in a way that would reinforce your worst assumptions, habits, and attitudes.


You are thinking that a change in attitude — which is mostly theoretical until put into practice — will be enough to change everything. Well, it will, maybe, if translated, if grounded. Otherwise, how could it?

So what do I do? And, how do I think of who I’m talking to right now?

Well, that is an interesting subject — and can you feel how immediately the slight residual uneasiness in your breathing smoothed out because you were interested in some gossip about the way things are? That’s part of your pattern, interested in everything except what strikes you as mundane and strikes everyone else as common-sense underpinning.

I yam what I yam.

Yes — but that doesn’t mean you are what you have self-defined yourself to be, or what you have experienced yourself to be. You see that easily enough in non-physical terms.

All right, I get your point.

Now as to the question, we don’t want to divide these sessions between what is for your ears only and what belongs to others as well. That will soon cause problems to you as you try to patch things together, suppressing this, adding that.

But that’s just basic editing. I can probably do it. You’d prefer to have me spill my guts about whatever we find about asthma, I suppose.

Nothing shameful it, why not?

Well I noticed that Angelo [in Babe In The Woods] began to move away from his previous sort of helpless captivity to asthma when he ceased to be embarrassed about it.

Not exactly a cause-and-in effect; more like a simultaneous loosening.

Hey, whose book is it?

In your present mood you don’t want the answer to that.

Very funny. But anyway, you seem to be implying that public disclosure of the mechanism that has intertwined it in my life would be of benefit to others?

And to yourself, no less. Confession is good for the soul. Know thyself. All those clichés. And you know full well that one of your qualifications for the job is that you are discreet about others, less so about yourself.

Less so, but hardly open.

It’s a comparative thing. “Less so” will do, if you choose to continue.

My lungs are absolutely quiet at the moment, I suddenly realize. It’s startling. I suppose you’ve made your point, damn you.

Wrong attitude. It’s like cursing your lungs for suffering on your behalf.

Oh well. Let’s talk about who I’m talking to and what it means, as you started to do.

We said the human is subject to three kinds of forces, which could also be stated, “is assisted by” or “depends upon” or even “extends to.” In other words, don’t allow an implication of one-way forces to enter into this. From there it is no distance at all to the victim/villain scenario.

And health is the only area of my life where I’m inclined to fall into that, isn’t it

Presently. You’ve spent plenty of time in it in the past in terms of romantic or professional relationships, but you did finally (if tentatively) grow out of it. This is perhaps why you/we have chosen to put the main remaining stumbling block front and center.

Victim’s Last Stand, asthma?

Is there another aspect of your life that tempts you to feel helpless and set upon?

Can’t think of any. My life is mostly magical.

So it is as you have told others, the problem within yourself can only be revealed to you by reason of a situation seemingly external to yourself.

I see that. My analogy [that I frequently use] is that if a man had a problem with women, and spent his entire life in a room alone, the problem would never manifest, but he’d still have the problem.

Sound familiar?

It gets your attention, when you can’t breathe and can’t stop the problem by any technique that works so well in other parts of your life, and you have to fall back on chemical sprays.

Well, if we can have your attention when you are breathing, there isn’t any need to get it in the drastic way we’ve used till now.

But we went through this yesterday!

You got the first run, the initial take; the subject wasn’t exactly plumbed at any depth.

Proceed [he says, rather glumly].

What you say (or write, rather) but what you think is, “maybe I’ll go check on my e-mail.”

I’m not overjoyed at the prospect, no.

Come back when you’re ready.

Or you’ll set me wheezing?

Or maybe you’ll set yourself wheezing, have you thought of that?

Pretty self-divided, then.

On this subject some of your group want peace and quiet, others want to bust things up.

And the result is asthma?

The result is one of many ways that self-division manifests. This isn’t all about you, you know. You’re also an example of forces that play out in various ways in everyone’s life. If it doesn’t manifest physically, perhaps emotionally, or mentally. Life has all kinds of problems and manifestation of problems.

8:30 PM. I lay in bed getting more rest and feeling the wheezing coming on, though not very quickly. I said, there must be a way for you to get my attention that doesn’t involve my breathing, why don’t you suggest it? I realized, right away, it isn’t really the place of the body to suggest such things — that is the proper province of the mind, the ringmaster.

But I was and am puzzled as to what to suggest, for I don’t know the variables. So I thought, maybe try to thrash out the subject here.

I work always on the assumption that the ringmaster is to decide.


Yet decisions made in the absence of information are arbitrary. So how do I — how does any ringmaster — get the information? How do we become or remain sensitive to the body’s needs and possibilities?

You learn by paying attention, as in every aspect of life.

But — how? Specifically, why are my lungs wheezing in bed? Why do they wheeze — if they’re going to wheeze — mostly, and usually worst, at night?

No answer. Well, what could you tell me if I were to ask the right question?

Your health is under your own control, as is every other aspect of your life — but the joker in the deck is that definition of “you.” When your life is entirely under the ringmaster’s control, your life is entirely magical to others and entirely smooth and natural to yourself. But this is an end-result, not a condition of the beginning of a journey.

We start out — we ringmasters, I mean — only tentatively in control, as the whole troupe of players may not even know each other.

That is a way to look at it. Another is that the tensions and relationships among the components of a life are to be worked out — that is one purpose of life, after all — and therefore you couldn’t expect to begin where you hope to end.

It is 9 PM and the breathing is getting worse. Why? As far as I can tell, all it’s going to accomplish is to stop me from sleeping.

Suppose you’ve had too much sleep. You napped during the day, didn’t you?

So now you are deciding how much sleep I need and are preventing me from getting more? Aren’t you just a little bit out of your jurisdiction?

In your silence I can see that I will need help addressing all this. I accuse you and you don’t seem to feel any need to answer, or maybe I just can’t hear the answer.

[So I called Nancy, and we tried to thrash it out. She got a sense of others inside me who are not quite willing to relinquish their control. It isn’t just the body. She had a sense there was some benefit to someone, and heard the words investment and martyrdom. She got that the body was grateful to have me aware of it; she wasn’t sure the ongoing resistance came just from the body. Something gave her the thought that the group-mind could be involved, but we couldn’t get this thought clearer.

[We went looking for the payoffs. What did having asthma buy me? We were drawn to me as a kid, which is when the patterns would have been instilled. We certainly got the word fear.

[After our conversation, I napped on the recliner for a while, and then went to bed and had some sleep, awakening about 2 AM not in much discomfort but interested in writing down what I was thinking.]

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

2 AM. So there are at least two strands to this, and I can imagine three.

One — physical. I have not been paying attention nor communicating. So the body has been unable to get my attention except sometimes by jamming up the works.

Two — emotional. There have been payoffs for having asthma. The payoffs didn’t create the situation, but learned to take advantage of it. Getting attention is one, maybe. Martyr is another, maybe.

Three — another emotional strand, this one a cause — fear. Maybe jealousy. Maybe other things.

Four — to be determined, mental — ideas that continue it. Not causes but expectations.

Nancy said she had an image of when she cut into the black plastic she had laid down to prevent roots and shoots from coming to the surface. At the plastic barrier they were a tangle, as they had twisted and turned trying to get to the light. Similarly, the roots of this are tangled.

I can see this as a pattern for others, too. Any long-lived pattern must have multiple aspects, which prevents work on any one aspect from having a great effect. You could clear out one bit but see no result because other bits were continuing in effect. Now, if you knew that and were prepared for it, you could allow for it and not get discouraged, and just doggedly continue till you got it all.

Or you could just cut the Gordian knot.

That is more to my taste if nothing else works, or if time is short, or if one is impatient, or if there is no way to do the analysis, or no one to do it with. So how give people the sword to cut the knot with?

So in my case

Original cause — perhaps a fearful situation perhaps combined with a physical challenge. Maybe neither separately would have led to anything.

Investment — once the physical condition has gone long enough, the guys inside realize that there are payoffs to be reaped in dealing with it. It gets added attention. It may make you feel like a martyr. Maybe you come to enjoy the idea of wearing your suffering well. Maybe you come to be proud of it. None of this makes bearing it any easier, and none of it is under the ringmaster’s control; nonetheless it gets deeply ingrained and, like the cause, remains impervious to reason or logic or willpower because unconscious and thus beyond the ringmaster’s authority or grasp. Beyond — until he brings them to consciousness, at which time they can be reprogrammed.

Rationalization — once the cause set things in motion, and the investment kept them in motion, after while the mind perhaps begins drawing perfectly rational conclusions drawn on observation. “This often happens after X.” “The way to avoid this is to avoid Y or Z; if they can’t be avoided, there will be trouble.” And — I suspect — more complicated lines of thought than that.

And perhaps we should add

Ongoing cause — whatever physical causes bring on the situation when other conditions are right. For instance, a hard bit of laughing can bring on asthma sometimes. Sharp emotions. Too much physical exercise. None of these suffices in itself, and they may never happen together. But when conditions are right — temperature, humidity, physical exhaustion, prolonged unnoticed tensions, other unnoted stimuli — any of these may be enough to tip things over into an attack.

Or not! There are so many variables. But this is the beginning of an analysis, after merely 60 years of experience, give or take.

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