Hi, Pat. Very Kind of you to offer to post excerpts! I have just self-published a book entitled The Boon: Thoughts of a Schizophrenic in Remission… not scary! The experience of late onset schizophrenia and a year-long psychotic break was scary, yes, but I have emerged stable and the wiser for it. The book is available on Amazon. Here’s a link –> http://www.amazon.com/dp/1481233947/ref=rdr_ext_book or check out http://showandtell.tripod.com for other options. What excerpt to show here… hmm… okay here goes:
Looking again at Joseph Campbell’s monomyth, his many steps in the hero’s journey, I come to the step called The Ultimate Boon. It is the penultimate step in the quest, the achievement of the goal, the winning of the prize. It is not the end; there are five or six steps after it, including The Crossing of the Return Threshhold and The Freedom to Live, which is overcoming the fear of death. But what Campbell says about The Ultimate Boon is very interesting. It’s about God (or gods and goddesses) being the custodian of the prize. He says what the hero finds himself seeking is not God, but God’s grace, a “sustaining substance”:
“This miraculous energy-substance and this alone is the Imperishable; the names and forms of the deities who everywhere embody, dispense, and represent it come and go. This is the miraculous energy of the thunderbolts of Zeus, Yahweh, and the Supreme Buddha, the fertility of the rain of Viracocha, the virtue announced by the bell rung in the Mass at the consecration, and the light of the ultimate illumination of the saint and sage. Its guardians dare release it only to the duly proven.”
I have the sense of having proven myself. Not to any mystical guardians or even to God, but to myself. I lasted the course of my year-long psychotic break and, like Job, I did not blame or curse God or my fate. I countenanced the loss of my station, my ability to work – and of practically all my possessions – with fairly good humor and temperament, if I do say so myself. And after I had endured the mental and spiritual maelstrom long enough, say nine months, I dedicated all my energies to making myself well. I had whipped myself into decently good shape by the time I finally sought professional help. All the medical people I’ve come into contact with and told my story to congratulate me on the work I’ve done to overcome my symptoms, and I take those congratulations to heart. Taming the lions of dysfunctional thinking, mastering and shepherding oneself, is not an easy task. Now I’ve just about got myself jumping through hoops.
By the grace of God, I know what I want. You guessed it: to be whole. To be mentally and spiritually whole and to cultivate an ever-keener awareness of connectedness to the greater whole. I’m not saying I’ve accomplished these goals. In fact. I’m pretty sure they’re not the kind of goals one ever quite achieves. But knowing them as goals, and being in the process of working towards them is sweet relief from the restlessness of heart I had as a youth. It’s a hollow feeling, not knowing what you want. To know is to have that hollowness filled, that vacant space occupied by a worthy ideal. Wisdom warns against desire, but there is power in wanting, power that can fuel the will and keep lit that precious torch, hope.
knowing is hard to trust
for facts take faith
and faith I find
in short supply
but ficts I got
Now and again am I
of a mind to write
yet what have I to describe
who have known but a moment
of no moment and none
other than this?
In these two poems from the old chapbook, I see the aimlessness I felt at that time. Obviously it irked me enough to spur me to write about it. No facts, just ficts. Those ficts became trouble. Being delusional was like living fiction. Now, with faith, facts are easier to come by. Faith is a foundation, a solid base on which to build. In Thisclaimer there is a humility I like, but also that aimlessness. “What have I to describe?” Why, the workings of my mind! The goofy profundity of selected great works and the glorious trivia of the day-to-day here in the vale of Soul-making. I wish I had written more about my life in Korea while I was there. Which tells me I should write more about now, as I live it.
–end of excerpt–
A little explanation.. “The old chapbook” is a collection of poetry, prose, and dialogue which was written in the years leading up to my onset of schizophrenia. A good deal of this material made it into The Boon as I explored my mindset before becoming ill. The “vale of Soul-making” is a reference to a letter written by John Keats, which is discussed more thoroughly elsewhere in The Boon.
So yeah, Pat, thanks for inviting us to participate in your blog and thanks for supporting indie books!