My back and arm pain returned shortly after I wrote that it was gone, and is intermittent no matter what exercises I do. The main variable affecting it appears to be my state of mind, or rather, my state of emotions. In addition to my persistent worry about the future of the world, the stress of fighting for survival during the daily commute seems to have a huge impact.
As planned, I've spent more time focusing on solutions than problems. I'm learning more about permaculture, along with my local natural “substrate” that includes ecology and geology. Some of this research is being used in “Visitors,” the sequel to my novel “Lights Out,” which helps keep my fun writing skills up as well.
I'm also looking at further personal improvement. For example, I took a “StrengthsFinder” test to find out what my natural capabilities are. Not surprisingly, my top strengths are: Strategic, Learner, Intellection, Responsibility, and Ideation. Basically, I'm a curious, responsible thinker who loves ideas and strategic planning. During the more frequent pain-free periods, I'm considering how to use those strengths in a more satisfying way.
The news has not helped in my quest to reduce stress. It seems that every day, more bad news comes out on the climate front. We're a lot closer to the edge of irreversible devastation than people thought just a few years ago; the Siberian permafrost will likely melt, unleashing a huge amount of methane, and the Arctic will almost certainly be ice free in a few years. Historic heat waves, wildfires, floods, and freak weather are all pointing toward a future where disaster is the norm. Meanwhile, politicians and business leaders appear to be focusing on raping and pillaging the planet while they still can; all for fun, profit, and personal power.
I'm lucky to have a job, but I don't know how long it will last. In addition to the financial benefits and being able to work with genuinely good people, I can for hours briefly forget my deep misgivings about the overall future of electronics and health care, and focus on tasks that may do some good in the short term. After hours, however, when I poke my head up to see what's going on in the rest of the world, my fears return – along with the pain.
I know that my current life is like the proverbial “calm before the storm.” The basic outline of how to avoid the storm is pretty clear, yet I'm still struggling with how to implement it. The best I've come up with so far is to follow the script of my poem “Deathstoppers.” My writing has become more caustic, both out of frustration and because accountability for what's happening may be among the best tools to pull us out of the indifferent death spiral we're in. As President Obama is now discovering in response to his recent, powerful jobs speech, the best way to deal with bullies, especially stupid ones, is to stand up to them. And we've got some world-class sociopathic idiots driving us toward oblivion right now.