Raskolnikov

A drive north on Highway One at dawn, I can see the hills that might normally be green have a pink tint to them that seems to be a reflection from a low-lying band of fog. The color is out of the ordinary range I see. I make note of that as I continue on into the office building where I hang my hat a couple of days each week.

I see that my journal is so bereft of entries this month. I use that as a sort of barometer for measuring the health of my mind and interior life. My mind has been scattered, my constitution challenged by work pressures. It seems that I have done nothing more this month than scramble about frantically for the corporation, a computer chip manufacturer that has produced a problematic new design and has been tasking its people to come up with work-arounds and solutions. I have always thought that I should support the business needs of the company. It’s been my creed, but not always my true practice.

My interest in the company’s business needs is waning as I see a long hoped for retirement less than two months away. I find it difficult to give the outfit my last bit of stamina as I am about to depart. I would expect rather a gentle and more delightful exit from the world of business. Perhaps the message for me is that I have already over spent my stay by a couple of years, and did not realize it until I lifted my nose and eyes long enough to see what else there is to living.

So much of what I have felt, thought, done, for so much of my existence, has been centered around the working life, whereas my greatest aspirations have been to become free of the system altogether. I may have been born with that instinct for freedom from the system. The greater instinct might be an innate desire to be free of my body, free of the material world. I see hints of that on occasion, in my dreams, but also when I am awake and fully conscious I find myself doubting whether I should be alive and on the earth. I am not sure about the source of my doubts, but I suspect it has something to do with the systematized style of living to which I have adapted. I often feel like the government would like to inflict pain on me or even see me dead. Vietnam produced that suspicion. When I drive down the occupied roads I feel like the drivers behind me are tracking me, chasing me, hunting me down. What have I done wrong to deserve this treatment? All around me I get this sense that I do not belong, that there is no room for me, that I must beg for the right to live, and yet I have a strong instinct to remain alive. This instinct to be alive, but to not be here, seems to imply that there are other places, other realms, in the universe in which to live; in short, an afterlife, one that seems more real at times than the “this-life” where I currently reside.

I wonder when I soon leave the company life whether my instinct and intuition will change, once the pressure for having to perform and be measured by others is removed. I am sure I have acquired some residual damage to my core being, but am hopeful that the damage will be healed soon enough. Rather than have to schedule relaxation and keep turning it on and off as if it were a water spigot, I would like to discover on my own what my more natural rhythm might be, where I never need feel that I must become relaxed, but rather have that luxury about me at all times. The last month of being busy has not made me productive, but rattled and befuddled me.

I have not read much Russian literature for years. I used to read Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Chekhov, Pushkin, Yevtushenko, Solzhenitsyn, Nabokov, and Pasternak. I picked up and began reading Crime and Punishment a few days ago. I cannot believe how much I identify with Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov, the main character who is a murderer with a bad conscience. I haven’t murdered anybody, but for many pages of the novel he walks about and intermingles with others in Russian peasant society in a sort of delirium or stupor, blurting out statements and performing actions that make no sense. He is so stripped of any normal sense of being and of having any control of his personality. I feel disconnected in the same sort of way when I must get out and mix with others and find that my social abilities and skills are waning as I grow older. What stupid things might I suddenly blurt out that are stuck in my head and that I have no cognizance of? I come to the journal because it is the safest place for me to talk things over with myself, to see more clearly what goes on inside my own mind and heart. I have missed some of that exercise this month.

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