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Saturday, 14 October 2023


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Let's see, I now own more than 20 3D printers. A few of them even work 😂

I’ve observed that successful people generally fall into two camps -- the obsessives, who often have a sustaining obsession but no shortage of transient ones, and those take-no-prisoner types who, in the time it takes Hamlet to declaim his self-conscious soliloquy, get shit done. If the first category is a sign of mental defect, as it well may be, I'm right there with you, Mike.

You could get obsessive about getting the Baker's Dozen done. :-) But not too obsessive, we want to see it completed, you know. Sorry if this seems blunt. I'm just trying to give you a nudge in the right direction.

That specter of a man in the corner was truly frightening... Curious a man so dead to the world was watching "a violent movie" amidst such ongoing domestic activity- at least he didn't take anyone else with him as is the current 'custom.'

Perhaps we all undergo some such incident that could render us the same.

Thanks, Mike. That's a lovely essay. One might say that we should all be "working on it": whatever it is about ourselves that needs improving. By "improving", I don't necessarily mean improving for the sake of others (although that in itself can be a good thing), but improving for ourselves, and I think that means that our normal is always changing. Sometimes it changes slowly, sometimes it changes very quickly (I suspect that's what people mean by having a "breakthrough"). Anyway, I feel that since TOP is fundamentally a product of you, then as you change, whatever is normal for TOP will change too. I think it would be churlish for anyone to deny you the journey just because you write (some of) it down for us to share.

When reading the description of the father of your female friend (you sure can paint a picture with your words), I was struck by the similarity of my own life for the last few years. The only difference is my complete isolation from any human interaction inside of my house, which I spend an average of 23 hours a day in. I've heard my voice crack when ordering a pizza on the phone, only to realize that I haven't spoken a word for many days in a row.

I have a thousand (no exaggeration) DVDs and can melt away the hours watching movies and complete TV series day after day with no expectation of anything different happening in my world. I get that man's clinging to his VHS tapes.

My situation results from my inability to absorb the almost certain heartbreak that will come if I enter into another relationship. I have no more broken hearts in reserve, so I avoid them by choosing not to participate in life. I totally get that girl's father, whatever his rationalization is for his dropping out.

On the list of symptoms for depression is the inability to enjoy things that use to give you enjoyment and pleasure. I can check that box, as nothing gets me moving from the self imposed exile of my hermitage. I look at my cameras, but can't make myself go out and use them, which was a major part of my life for decades. I totally understand inertia now.

I haven't gone into self destructive behavior like drugs or alcohol, but isolation is a life shortening thing. Every checklist for longevity has connection and social interaction high on the list, so this can't be healthy.

I can empathize with your friend's father.

[My friends Norm (now 97) and Loyle (died a year ago at 93) were both widowed. Before they died, their wives both made them promise to schedule one social activity a day. Monday we played pool, which is how I met them. Tuesdays was golf, outdoors in good weather and on a simulator in the winter. (Norm finally had to stop playing a few years ago.) Another day was bridge club. On Thursdays the two of them met for dinner at the Moose Lodge, $7 for a full meal. Et cetera. Who knows if the wives colluded in the plan, but it sounds like it. The idea was to give each of them a reason to get up, get dressed, and go out. Sounds like a smart idea to me. Wise wives. --Mike]


A wonderful written treatise that gives me the feeling like I am somehow able to visualise exactly what you are talking about.

Definitely one of your better days at penmanship. BTW, do you also use a fountain pen to write? Just askin'.

Dan K.

What comes to mind after reading that familiar passage from Shakespeare is that Julius Caesar rode that tide, and the ride ended in his murder. Sometimes the wave may be one that you shouldn't catch.

Mike, I think the notion that the contact between the European diaspora and the Native Americans afforded us a precious view of pre-agricultural tribal life it's outdated (and to call it a diaspora is misleading). I think you may enjoy a recent book on the subject: The Dawn of Everything, by David Graeber and David Wengrow.

A beautiful post that struck home. Thanks for that Mike.

"it interferes with my life and my work"?

Yes, you need to talk to somebody.

I get concerned when you go off into the wilderness. I worry that you won't return. From what you've let on over the years, it seems to me the life experiences of your youth have left you with a pile of crap to deal with.

[no need to publish this, unless you really want to]

The story of the young woman is amazing. Thanks.


Your writing is undeniably beautiful, and it's clear that your muse has a firm hold on you. Devoted readers like myself thoroughly enjoy what you create. My advice? Just go with the flow!

Even though life occasionally seems determined to pelt me with an entire orchard of lemons, I'm all in for the challenge, especially when no other options are on the table.

All the best to you,

A disturbing and moving read Mike - thank you.

This post brought to mind Mr Dick, from David Copperfield, and his work on his memorial being interrupted by thoughts of King Charles’s head.

Did he say anything to you about King Charles the First, child?”
“Yes, aunt.”
“Ah!” said my aunt, rubbing her nose as if she were a little vexed. “That’s his allegorical way of expressing it. He connects his illness with great disturbance and agitation, naturally, and that’s the figure, or the simile, or whatever it’s called, which he chooses to use. And why shouldn't he, if he thinks proper?”
Charles Dickens, David Copperfield (1849)

Due to the popularity of the book, King Charles's head became a popular way to describe obsessional thoughts or fixations

This type of obsessive behavior was what the ancients had in mind with the first of the Ten Commandments: “You shall have no other Gods before me.” It doesn’t mean, as is often thought, that you should not imagine or worship gods of, for example, the sea, the trees, or in the form of statues, etc. It means that you should not get obsessed with anything at all – whether it’s sitting in the corner with your movies, or your magnificent career as chief of surgery. No one can really do this of course, it’s why theological rules of behavior are always so challenging.

Just wow.

Great post. In my life, I've found obsession when staring into a rectangle. When I was young, I would sit down to work on a painting and then sort of fall into an alternate universe. I would lose track of time. I wouldn't poke my head up for many hours and when I did it was usually because I was thirsty or hungry or had to pee. Today I lose track of time when I stare into the rectangle of my computer monitor to edit photos. I think my tendency to obsess over the editing process is amplified by the hypnotic glow of the monitor...and many people who are not creating can also lose time when using a computer due to the unnatural, stimulating nature of an electronic screen. I've never made a living from the arts so my obsessions are for fun but because of the unnatural impact of the electronic screen, I try to minimize my surfing screen time to bolster my peace of mind.

Paul Simon wrote two songs about overthinking; "Think too much (a)", and "Think too much (b)", and put them both on the same album. Ahem.

Don't overthink things here; you're among friends. Follow your muse, or different drummer, or whatever it is... if you get too far off-course, experience shows that you'll self-correct. You've chosen a difficult path, but we're all along for the ride. Keep up the good work!

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