Recently I’ve been feeling as if I ought to be wearing a t-shirt with this logo on it:
It would let people know that talking to me is likely to infect them with the same Toxic Vision that I’m suffering from. It’s not something I feel I should be passing on but it also seems to be something that I have no control of. A conversation of a few minutes is enough to achieve transmission.
So, if you choose to read the rest of this blog, please keep a safe distance from the ideas, don’t breathe them in and remember to wash your memory afterwards.
I’m slowly going blind to joy. My vision is obscured by cataracts of anger and despair. Whatever I try to focus on, these unwanted things force themselves to the centre of my field of vision and expand, like blood in water, until they’re all I can see.
Maybe you see them too, on the edges of your vision, perhaps when you’re under stress, with the adrenalin pumping and the muscles trembling because neither flight nor fight is available to you so you’re left only with riding waves of rage or drowning in despair?
You know some of their names: climate change, COVID-19, Brexit, misogyny, xenophobia, violence, poverty, the undermining of democracy by billionaires who want to replace it with a global kleptocracy.
Some of them are more personal to me: why nothing ever gets done right the first time, why service is so poor, why trust is so hard, why making money secure is so complex, the fear that travel is a thing of the past, the fear that what’s left of my is life ticking away while I’m pinned in place unable to control anything or change anything or plan anything.
I’m a lucky man. I’m married to a woman I love. I’m not dying of anything yet. I have no debts. I no longer need to work for a living. I live in a nice house in a nice town. So I know I ought not to waking each day aware that I’ve spent the night grinding my teeth and pushing through dreams of helpless struggle. Things could be much worse.
Yet the truth is that I have acquired a Toxic Vision of the world that contaminates everything that it touches and prevents me from experiencing my own good fortune.
My wife is my best friend. She knows me better than anyone else and she still chooses to spend time with me. What more can I ask than that? For most of my life, she’s been the person I most want to talk to about anything: hopes, fears, joys, disappointments, trivia, truths, humorous observations and wild speculations. These are our daily bread. They nourish us. But, in the past week or so, I’ve found that whatever I start to talk about, whether it’s a cute animal video on Twitter or a change in our town or a trip we might make, I quickly fall off the narrow tightrope of light conversation into the toxic pits of anger and fear that currently occupy so much of my mental real estate. It’s starting to make me taciturn because I’d rather not speak than end up speaking about these toxic topics.
This is supposed to be the part of the post where I share the answer that I’ve arrived at that will help me to rid myself of my Toxic Vision and live a life of fulfilled serenity.
Except, I have no idea how to do that.
I’m going to start by recognising that my vision is toxic and so I can’t believe what I see.
I’m also going to accept that treating myself as contagious just locks the toxicity inside me an makes things worse. I need to talk, not withdraw.
Apart from that, I’m just going to keep going and wait for my vision to clear.
2 thoughts on “Toxic Vision – when you can’t see beyond the bad things”
I too suffer toxic vision and I can’t remember the last time I didn’t want to snatch humanity bald-headed, but I have a medication that works wonders for me: my pets. My cats, and even my chickens, remind me that there are being in this world better than we are and only want attention and affection.
I know not everybody is built for having animals in their lives, but they truly work miracles and I firmly believe my critters are responsible for keeping me from being the bitter misanthrope current events and my nature woult otherwise make me.
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I think you’re right about animals. We had a Labrador for fourteen years. He kept me sane in lots of different ways: the way he was absorbed in the here and now, the optimism with which he created every day and the physical contact that he used to express happiness or offer consolation. He seemed to sense the presence of all the negative stuff – anger, sadness, worry – but he always seemed to suggest that hanging on to it for a whole day was not a good idea when there were so many other things to do.
I’d like to have a dog in my life again. We held off on getting one because we expected to be doing a lot of travelling but COVID has changed that.
Anyway, I wish you joy from your cats and chickens. They’re the best kind of medicine.
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