For those of you readers who don't know, I have anemia, a depletion of iron in the blood. Easily treated with daily iron supplements, I can manage it very effectively (though I suffered from its symptoms for years during high school and college while it went undiagnosed, my parents insisting that I was just lazy and lacking exercise). The following is an excerpt from my personal journal. It's solipsistic and ridiculous. But it would be dishonest not to admit to this part of me that can assert itself (and that had a formative effect during my adolescence, shaping my sense of meaning and my stubbornness in creating it). Maybe sharing it here, in the context of an on-going, always developing spiritual life, might be of some interest.
I am planning my escape. Escape plan, this is necessary. The months are slipping away and I refuse to be left in a position of abandonment.
I'm not sure what's causing this awful boredom and disinclination towards... everything today. Three hours ago, I felt like finishing this book review would be a piece of cake, but as soon as I sat down to work on it, I was bored out of my mind. I'm too bored to read, all the books in my to-be-read pile suddenly seem uninteresting, and the one television show that seemed to have caught my interest suddenly seems dumb. I'm even too bored to watch "Doctor Who," though I haven't even finished the fourth season yet.
This is probably due to an extreme lack of iron in my system. I ran out of my iron supplements a few days ago and was too forgetful to go to the store to get more so I'm feeling depleted and unmotivated. I don't feel like doing anything. Everything seems like such a huge waste of effort. Nobody gives a rat's ass about me. I just want, for a while, to curl up and not have to deal with my real life. All of this is just a side effect of low iron (depression, fatigue, nail biting, "restless leg syndrome"--hurrah for anemia). If I just took care of myself and got back on my supplements, I'd be back to normal, coping fine with what seems now to be basically a pointless and redundant life. Can I know if this is actually true? Knowing that my relative optimism/pessimism about my life is almost entirely based on a particular element being in my blood stream makes me even more cynical about the meaningfulness of perceived happiness. I am not happy or sad because anything external to myself has changed; therefore, what real meaning can such happiness or sadness have? It's self-referential. I have it within my power to make myself happy or sad based solely on whether or not I take my vitamins. There is nothing beyond my own closed-off self that can affect my perception of my life as good and meaningful. I am cut off. There is no reality beyond a daily pill of iron. Take the pill: life goes on. Don't take the pill: everything grinds to a halt.
What if there was something in my life that had meaning? How could I even know it? Nothing shines through, nothing reaches in from outside to let me know it's real and beautiful. There was a time--all those years of undiagnosed anemia when I struggled with depression--when there were still people in my life who loved me and were able to make that love felt despite the absence of iron carrying sufficient oxygen to my muscles and mind. But now, there doesn't seem to be anyone interested in that kind of work, that kind of reaching. I have to make my own beauty and meaning, I make it for myself. And when my physical body is too tired and depleted to create that meaning, it ceases to exist. It simply... ceases.
But what is meaning that can so easily lapse into non-being? What is meaning if it does not exist beyond my own self? With no one to share it or reaffirm it? My life is so small. Just this one small body and its needs. And I struggle, every day, I struggle and reach and claw to get out, to get beyond myself. But there's no one there. Every path out of myself that I chop through the jungle is just a path inwards, into the dark. I cut the path, and when I walk, it leads nowhere but back to my own center. There is no way out. No exit. Sartre said hell is other people, as though the desire to be limited by the reflective perception of an external Other was inherently painful or destructive. But that's not the reality of the thing. Hell is the self, inescapable, easily misled and malformed, bent on its own dumb survival at all costs, a Klein bottle with no inside or outside, no volume. "Immersed (but not embedded) in three dimensions."
I began by wanting to be a vessel for God to fill, but then I lost my faith in that monotheistic, transcendent kind of God. In hindsight, this may have been a bad move. Now, what can I really do? I am planning my escape.