In honor of World Bipolar Day, we are republishing this 2019 personal reflection. The purpose of World Bipolar Day (WBD) is to bring more awareness to bipolar conditions and to eliminate social stereotypes attached to those who are diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Overall, nearly 2.3 million people in the United State are currently diagnosed with the condition, but the number of people impacted by the disorder is most likely greater. You can find more information about WBD and bipolar disorder here.
Nothing fights more savagely than the human spirit.
I traveled all the way to the land where semi-automatic pistols are raffled for five bucks, billiards clubs incongruently blare Fox News from TV screens and Ice Cube from jukeboxes, and five-alarm acid reflux WhatABurgers are served whole — also known as Fort Worth, TX — to affirm that fact.
After a frightening experience in my hometown of Seattle, so different from this expanse, this setting was a strange, necessary piece to getting back to myself; the only semblance of home were the family I stayed with and the occasional mini-binge watch of Grey’s Anatomy.
The anonymity it offered was also critical; I needed to shed notoriety and its unrealistic demands.
In Fort Worth, I got to be stripped of any biography, or history, or obligation to do anything but simply “be.”
It provided the perfect healing hideaway for my mind, body, and heart in the aftermath of a manic depressive episode associated with Bipolar Disorder (BPD). Scrambling my neurochemistry, it had left my brain feeling like it’d been wrung in acid — and some friendships didn’t fare much better.
Leaving town offered a place for my brain to normalize — and for me to become a savant in all things bipolar. It also provided time for a civil war to wage conclusively — between my mind and my spirit.
It’s enough that the world constantly tears at your sense of self and identity to implant its own preferences inside of you. It’s nearly unbearable when your mind does it. When, without prompting, it screams that you are worthless, broken, abhorrent, loathsome. It runs a marathon of madness in your head that you’re unable to halt.
It’s what a bipolar brain like the one I was born with (and just recently began taking responsibility for) has the tendency to do if untreated with medication or therapy (or if resetting from an episode). Like diabetics unable to internally regulate their blood sugar, someone with untreated BPD can’t regulate their brain chemistry enough at times to stop such thoughts.
It’s the reason that nearly 15% of people with BPD commit suicide, while nearly half make an attempt, and 80% contemplate it. My aunt Sheila was part of the first group. I was part of the second, prior to my treatment. And after my episode, I didn’t want to stumble back into the third.
Because when your mind is a boomerang of torment — cycling from peace to harrowing thoughts — there’s nothing you can do except give it time, pray to a god you’re unsure of, learn all you can about your brain, and hope your medication will eventually return it to normal so you can function properly.
When will you be better? When will you feel like yourself?
Maybe a month, maybe three months, maybe a year. The doctor offers little certainty.
All you know is that your mind’s betrayed you again. Its spell has turned everything inside of you sterile. Where there was poetry there’s now a requiem.
But such protracted moments also reveal your champion, the only thing still burning inside you. Your spirit.
It’s the thing that battles for who you are. It reminds you of the resiliency in how you’ve survived abuse in your life leveled by others and yourself. That you’ve repeatedly adopted the poise required when dealing with the chaos thrown at you constantly in life.
It shows you a man with a megawatt personality that attracts the devotion of friends who will never fully understand him because they don’t possess his brain chemistry, but accept him unconditionally.
And that you’re not a saint nor divine, but spectacularly complex.
As much as you’ve lost, you have a storehouse stocked with the grace of unexpected second chances, the harmony of fresh hellos, and roads newly opened to you. And that the only way to move toward the future is to let go of the rope dragging the past, as painful as it is.
Then one day, without notice, the darkness passes. The thoughts cease, the cacophony of torment is expelled. You are left there, your truest self. Your spirit is triumphant.
And life finally begins again.
Life begins anew.
Marcus Harrison Green
Marcus Harrison Green is the publisher of the South Seattle Emerald. Growing up in South Seattle, he experienced first-hand the impact of one-dimensional stories on marginalized communities, which taught him the value of authentic narratives. After an unfulfilling stint in the investment world during his twenties, Marcus returned to his community with a newfound purpose of telling stories with nuance, complexity, and multidimensionality with the hope of advancing social change. This led him to become a writer and found the South Seattle Emerald. He was named one of Seattle’s most influential people by Seattle Magazine in 2016 and was awarded 2020 Individual Human Rights Leader by the Seattle Human Rights Commission.
John 1:5 And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.
John 16:21 A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come; but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for the joy that a man [sic] is born into the world.
NPO Radio 4 Rotterdams Philharmonisch Orkest Yannick Nézet-Séguin, dirigent Cécile van de Sant, mezzosopraan Mahler/Cooke – Tiende symfonie Uitgevoerd tijdens de NTR ZaterdagMatinee op 23 april 2016, Concertgebouw Amsterdam
The following is an excerpt from How to Be Animal (Penguin Random House, March 2021).
THE IDEA IS THAT we were not human and then we became human. And when we became fully human, we could no longer be understood as animals. This idea gained popularity in the decades after the publication of On the Origin of Species. As evidence of our early ancestors was found, thinkers and scientists started to focus their energies on defining the moment when we became human as we understand it today. The desire was for unique biological characteristics that could be dated after the emergence of our species.
By the early twentieth century it was widely considered among scholars that around 40,000 years ago, in an era referred to as the Upper Paleolithic, a cognitive leap occurred whereby groups of Homo sapiens in Western Europe began acting and behaving in a way that marked them out as human. The “Human Revolution,” as it became known, was talked about as an almost miraculous span of time in which a suite of skills such as abstract thinking, sophisticated tool use, language, and symbolic image-making arose among men and women, transforming people in an extraordinarily short timescale from an ape to a superbeing. If God hadn’t brought forth humans in a state of completeness, at least evolution had very nearly done so. But this source of reassurance soon hit difficulties.
If it was biological proofs of difference that mattered, how could we separate out biology from cultural behavior? In an age of smartphones, it is obvious to most of us now that cultural innovations can accumulate suddenly without any physical change to the people inventing them. It’s perfectly plausible that there was no human revolution, only some phases of rapid evolution and many phases of slow evolution. It’s also possible that the underlying cognitive abilities that gave rise to the cultural manifestations we’ve since labelled as “human modernity” were present tens of thousands of years before the speciation of Homo sapiens, let alone the arrival of the Neolithic era. As American archaeologist Sally McBrearty has since said: “The search for revolutions in Western thought has been, in part, a search for the soul, for the inventive spark that distinguishes humans from the rest of the animal kingdom.”
Alfred Wallace, who arrived at his own theories of evolution at more or less the same time as Darwin, understood the advantages of this for human psychological wellbeing. To revive our hopes for salvation, we could explain away the body as a natural event, but single out some essence that is the source of “a higher intelligence.” It is because of notions like this that modern secular individuals don’t need a unique soul. It is enough to believe that our elaborate cognition sets the boundary. The boundary in this sense is not between an immortal being and its physical body but consists of the superior qualities of human rationality. Human mental life consists of a range of capabilities that lift us out of nature.
This was particularly appealing to those who had inherited humanist ideas, sometimes of deeply compassionate intent, to place the interests of human persons at the center of judgement. According to secular humanism, perhaps other animals are sentient, even conscious by some measures, but they lack a sense of self, any knowledge of right or wrong. They lack a soulful mind. Experiences like pleasure were to be given intrinsic value, so that we could point to the duties that arise from this. In practice, all this did was to isolate human things and then use this to argue we only have duties to humans. It was a neat trick. Humanists had carved our statue and hidden the chisels with which it was made. While Enlightenment humanism did much to argue for science as the true expression of human power, science in its pursuit of minutiae has refused to toe the line. The evidence from science has continued to tell us that there’s no such thing as a human in this sense. The traits and appearances that define animals come about through processes. They’re neither an end point nor a scale. Most of the capacities we prize evolved gradually and would have been at least partially present in ancestors that today we would consider as without any special status whatsoever.
Ian Tattersall, a veteran taxonomist and curator emeritus at the American Museum of Natural History, is acutely aware that “biology doesn’t permit neat boundaries.” Yet history has proven many of us to be “reluctant to admit diversity.” It is more than possible that biological architecture can come before the behavior kicks in. Take language, for instance. For humanists, language is often held up as one aspect of the unique essence that makes us more than animal. Yet there’s great disagreement about the origins of language. Some of this comes down to how we define language. Among language specialists, Derek Bickerton sees true language as something that only emerged in Homo sapiens and as a “catastrophic event.” Tim Crow argues it was a speciation event, and Richard Klein that it may have come even later. But American linguist Ray Jackendoff is among a group of scholars that believe language developed incrementally, beginning around two million years ago at the onset of the Homo evolutionary branch.
For a long time, it was also presumed that other hominin species like Neanderthals died out because they didn’t possess skills like human language. Yet in I983 a hyoid bone was discovered among Neanderthal remains. The hyoid bone is a funny little horseshoe-shaped bit of our anatomy believed to be essential for complex speech. Some have argued that the bone might have come in handy for singing rather than speaking. But others believe the evidence points to speech. If possessing language is that which justifies our special status, then we must at least acknowledge it now looks likely that this wasn’t a Homo sapiens thing but a hominin thing. This is much more confusing. It may place the evolution of language back to a common ancestor. Recent analysis on dental specimens suggests that the two species diverged at least 800,000 years ago. Although gene flow continued between the two species, it muddies the waters if we hope for a pure source of exception. If we were to travel back in time to observe the first of our ancestors chatting together around a fire, we might see a bunch of hairy, heavily browed animals.
And there would probably be more humanlike animals than historians have cared to admit. In 20I9, a complete hominin cranium was recovered from Woranso-Mille in Ethiopia by African anthropologist Yohannes Haile-Selassie. It caused upset because, up to this point, it had been assumed that modern humans evolved in a direct line from Australopithecus anamensis and then Australopithecus afarensis. Yet the specimen revealed the likelihood that these two intelligent, upright primates overlapped with each other as separate species. Human evolution appears to be highly branched, not a straight arrow of descent. Haile-Selassie and others see this as evidence that our ancestors belonged to more general evolutionary trends to adapt to changes in climate and shortages of food. The same year, Russell Ciochon’s team successfully dated skeletal remains of Homo erectus in Ngandong in Java to around I08–II7,000 years ago. A human ancestor once thought to be a direct ancestor now looks to have overlapped with our own species too.
Nobody knows the full story yet, but the idea of revolutions softens a reality that is strange and disturbing to us. If language, as argued by someone like prehistorian Robert Bednarik, evolved gradually throughout the Pleistocene period, when did we suddenly cross some unbreachable line between us and other animals? Most of what we can see in the fossil record points to the slow stages that have led to everything we esteem in ourselves. The controversial jasperite cobble is a small piece of rock that looks like a human face. What makes it of interest is that it was found with the bones of an Australopithecus africanus individual in a cave in South Africa. It isn’t evidence for art, and we can’t prove it was deliberately in this animal’s possession. But how else did it get there? Jasperite isn’t found anywhere near this region. What if it was noticed by a being that wasn’t in the Homo branch of primates, and what if it was an object that meant something to this creature: a treasure?
This piece of jasperite is millions of years old. But by at least 800,000 years ago, it looks like hominins were discriminating between ordinary items and more exciting ones, like crystals. At this time, there are also possible signs of the symbolic use of pigment. Another compelling but uncertain object is the Tan Tan figurine from around half a million years ago. This seems to exploit visual ambiguity. A semi-weathered bit of a stone, it looks like a voluptuous woman. The shape is natural, but those who have studied it believe there’s evidence that the grooves that give it a human form were artificially exaggerated.
Photo: Ekkehart Malotki
The least controversial of such early indications of a more assertive consciousness comes from the creation of cupules around the world in the Lower Paleolithic. These are depressions in a rock surface, as if a small bowl has been set into it. They are made deliberately by percussion, using a hard object. Some specimens in the Kalahari Desert date from more than 400,000 years ago. Some may be even earlier. They are widely regarded by specialists in rock art as among the first efforts made by animals to express themselves symbolically. Often there are hundreds of them grouped together, like a close-up of the skin of a strawberry. A single cupule might require thousands of blows to make on hard rock. Pounding on stone takes time and energy. Why on earth did these beings do it?
Art historian Ellen Dissanayake believes these ritual marks stimulated the opioids in the brain that produce feelings of trust and security among small groups of individuals. Did the hammering sound like thunder or the hooves of a stampede? Did our ancestors sing along with the rhythm? Nobody knows. But these creatures would not only have been powerful predators themselves; they would also have been prey. Although they were not modern humans, whatever kind of mind they had was supple enough to begin ritual.
These glimmers of a complex truth matter. They matter because they show us that we are part of a gradual metamorphic act of life. The search for revolutions or for natural traits that belong exclusively to Homo sapiens is certainly of interest. But it is also a compulsion among those who need a solution to Darwinism. Gradualism makes morality less absolute, weakening the confident basis of our exclusive moral status. That the generations after Darwin hunted for signal markers so assiduously only exposes a deeper psychological basis to the search.
None of this is to say that we shouldn’t answer to the specific capacities of humans as we are today. In whatever way it was that we evolved, humans are remarkable and it seems right that we should respond to our particular needs. But why doesn’t it follow for the needs of other species too? How often do we dismiss the culture or language in other species as diverse as scrub jays and bottlenose dolphins? The work of evolutionary biologists like Andrew Whiten has revealed the extent to which other animals use social learning to mitigate nutritional stress. Chimpanzees, who have been known to use over thirty different kinds of tools, exploit natural hammer materials when their fruit diet is depleted in the dry season. Orangutans use a look-and-learn method between mothers and their children to pass along important survival tools, like using stems for getting at termites. Chimpanzees also fish for termites and have been seen donating tools to teach less able youths in their group, at a cost to themselves.
Photo: Mark Higgins
This is worth bearing in mind given that more than 60 per cent of primates are endangered because of our behavior. Since the I960s, populations of chimpanzees have dropped by a half. In the end, we do little to halt these losses because we believe in an absolute border between us and them. Their deaths are but a candle snuffed out. We forget that the recent ancestors to whom we owe our life would be dismissed by the same measures today.
Melanie Challenger works as a researcher on the history of humanity and the natural world, and on environmental philosophy. She is the author of On Extinction: How We Became Estranged from Nature(Counterpoint). She received a Darwin Now Award for her research among Canadian Inuit and the Arts Council International Fellowship with the British Antarctic Survey for her work on the history of whaling. She lives with her family in England.
If March 2021 was quite a mixed bag of water and fire, of confusion and clarity, or action and confusion – April is pretty straightforward.
April keywords are clarity, spark and forward momentum. Time to get your mojo back and start living your life on your terms!
The first half of the month is very Aries, with the Sun, Mercury, Venus, Chiron (and for a few days, the Moon) all in Aries! This will infuse all of us with much-needed confidence to break free from the previous 12-month cycle and start afresh!
In the 2nd half of the month things get even more interesting. Mercury, Venus and the Sun will conjunct Uranus in Taurus… so we’re talking about a quadruple conjunction that involves Uranus, the planet of surprises. Change is on the horizon!
But let’s have a look at the most important transits of the month:
April 4th, 2021 – Mercury Enters Aries
On April 4th, 2021 Mercury leaves Pisces and enters Aries.
Mercury in Aries will bring much-needed clarity and intellectual firepower. If you felt a bit lethargic while Mercury was in Pisces, Mercury in Aries will help you become more assertive and confident.
April 9th, 20201 – Mercury Conjunct Chiron
On April 9th, 2021 Mercury is conjunct Chiron at 9° Aries.
Some old memories of past hurts may resurface during this transit; instead of hiding away from them, take this opportunity to understand yourself at a deeper level. These old hurts do not define you, yet they are part of you, and of your personal story.
April 11th, 2021 – New Moon In Aries
On April 11th, 2021 we have a New Moon at 22° Aries.
The New Moon is very “Aries”, featuring 5 planets in the first sign on the zodiac. The New Moon is sextile Mars in Gemini, sextile Saturn in Aquarius and square Pluto in Capricorn.
All the planets involved in this lunation have a “let’s do it” vibe. And of course, when we have a New Moon in Aries, we want to do Aries stuff: pioneer, explore, take a stand and get involved in projects that define the truth of who we are.
April 12th, 2021 – Venus Square Pluto
On April 12th, 2021 Venus (at (26° Aries) is square Pluto (at 26° Capricorn). When we have a Venus-Pluto transit, our emotions run deeper than usual. We feel more vulnerable, but also more “alive” than usual.
Venus square Pluto is not the most accessible transit out there, but we do need to dive into Pluto’s emotional depths from time to time, to face some dark emotions.
The good news is that once you purge what’s dead and decayed, you will reconnect with your heart from a more authentic place.
April 14th, 2021 – Venus Enters Taurus
On April 14th, 2021 Venus enters Taurus, the sign of her domicile. While Venus is in Taurus, you will find it easier to connect and honor your feelings – without guilt or self-doubt.
Venus in Taurus is here to tell you that it’s ok to be you. This is a great transit for everyone, so take advantage of the upcoming weeks, and make sure you “do” Venus things.
April 17th, 2021 – Mercury Square Pluto
On April 17th, 2021 Mercury (at 26° Aries) is square Pluto (at 26° Capricorn).
Mercury square Pluto can come with obsessive thoughts and power struggles. The positive manifestation of Mercury square Pluto is a depth of thought, introspection and a healthy concern with uncovering the truth. This is a great time to do deep intellectual work, investigation or research.
April 18th, 2021 – Mercury Conjunct Sun
On April 18th, 2021 Mercury is conjunct Sun at 29° Aries. Mercury-Sun conjunctions (when Mercury is direct) happen in the middle of the Mercury cycle.
They are similar to a “Full Moon”, and we can well call them a “Full Mercury”. This is when we manifest what we have started at the beginning of the Mercury cycle on February 8th, 2021.
April 19th, 2021 – Mercury And Sun Enter Taurus
On April 19th, 2021 Sun and Mercury both enter Taurus, so we will experience a sudden energetic shift from Aries energy to Taurus energy.
Taurus is all about concrete steps and concrete results. If in the Aries season we felt inspired and came up with many ideas, now is the time to make things happen. Taurus will give us the practical intelligence and stamina we need to make our ideas a reality.
April 22nd, 2021 – Venus Conjunct Uranus
On April 22nd, 2021 Venus is conjunct Uranus at 10° Taurus.
When have you been truly ‘true’ to your heart lately? We may think we are true to ourselves, that we listen to our feelings etc… but sometimes it takes a Uranus transit to shake us and show us what we really want.
April 23rd, 2021 – Mars Enters Cancer
On April 23rd, 2021 Mars enters Cancer.
Mars is the planet of action, and Cancer is the sign of privacy and security – our comfort zone. Mars in Cancer may seem emotional and fragile, but he’s hard as a rock and he will not hesitate to claw you if he feels threatened.
Cancer is a cardinal sign after all! The upcoming 6 weeks are a good time to draw stronger boundaries and fight for what is important to you.
April 24th, 2021 – Mercury Conjunct Uranus
On April 24th, Mercury is conjunct Uranus at 10° Taurus. When the planet of communication meets the planet of surprises, we can expect insights and breakthroughs, a-ha moments, and important announcements.
And Mercury is not the only planet that is paying a visit to Uranus. Exciting times!
April 25th, 2021 – Mercury Conjunct Venus
On April 25th, Mercury is conjunct Venus at 13° Taurus. The mind and the heart become one. Your communication is more persuasive than usual, and you will find it easier to articulate your feelings. This transit is great for creative expressions of any kind.
April 26th, 2021 – Full Moon In Scorpio
On April 27th, 20219 we have a Full Moon at 7° Scorpio. The Full Moon is opposite Uranus in Taurus and trine Mars in Cancer.
All Full Moons in Scorpio are intense by definition (we are dealing with Scorpio energy after all) and this one is no exception. Mars in a water sign will fuel our emotions even more, while Uranus will seek an outlet for them.
April 27th, 2021 – Pluto Goes Retrograde
On April 27th, 2021 Pluto goes retrograde at 26° Capricorn. Pluto is most powerful when it stations, so around this date, we can expect Plutonic events, issues around power, transformation, and surrender to greater forces than ourselves.
You will be especially influenced by Pluto’s station if you have planets or angles around 26° Capricorn.
April 30th, 2021 – Sun Conjunct Uranus
On April 30th, 2021 Sun is conjunct Uranus at 10° Taurus.
This aspect screams “freedom” because Uranus is the planet of freedom… but what kind of freedom are we talking about here? Will all jump in the next plane and start it all over? Not necessarily.
The freedom of a Sun-Uranus transit is the freedom to be yourself. And that means different things to different people.
To some, it means starting a new career or taking some bold action. To others, it means watching more Netflix. There is no freedom that is ‘superior’ to other types of freedom. The only freedom that matters is to be unapologetically yourself.
March 29th-April 1st, 2021: Age Of Aquarius Community is open!
At the end of the month, we open the doors to the Age Of Aquarius!
Each month we cover one topic in-depth. This is not conventional astrology you can find on the internet, but really interesting information that will help you look at your chart and at yourself from a new angle.
In March, the topic of the month was “Venus” so we talked about the Venus cycle (Venus morning star and Venus evening star, as well as other 10 Venus sub-types).
Yesterday, when we had the Venus-Chiron conjunction, we had a member Zoom call on the topic of “Chiron” where we not only talked astrology, but experienced it through E.F.T, visualization, exercises and breakout sessions. Many members said this was the most inspiring Zoom meeting they ever attended!
In April, the topic of the month is “the Sun”. We are in the Aries season after all! But we won’t be talking about Sun signs, or other regular astrology topics.
We will go deep, and explore the Sun, and the concept of light from an astrological, astronomical and philosophical perspective.
We will offer a mini-training on how to cast your Solar Return chart, and we will launch a new thread in our Community where, in the month of your birthday, you can post your Solar Return chart and get our resident astrologers’ eyes on it!
The April Zoom Community call is on the topic of Astro-Chi, where you will learn real-time how to use the natural energy of the universe in alignment with the 12 signs of the zodiac. Live demonstrations included!
When you join the Age Of Aquarius, you get instant access to all the content, including the previous months’ training and webinars.
Watch the Age Of Aquarius behind-the-scenes video and join hundreds of happy members here:
Challenging leading scientific theories that claim that our senses report back objective reality, cognitive scientist Donald Hoffman argues that while we should take our perceptions seriously, we should not take them literally. How can it be possible that the world we see is not objective reality? And how can our senses be useful if they are not communicating the truth? Hoffman grapples with these questions and more over the course of this eye-opening work.
Ever since Homo sapiens has walked the earth, natural selection has favored perception that hides the truth and guides us toward useful action, shaping our senses to keep us alive and reproducing. We observe a speeding car and do not walk in front of it; we see mold growing on bread and do not eat it. These impressions, though, are not objective reality. Just like a file icon on a desktop screen is a useful symbol rather than a genuine representation of what a computer file looks like, the objects we see every day are merely icons, allowing us to navigate the world safely and with ease.
The real-world implications for this discovery are huge. From examining why fashion designers create clothes that give the illusion of a more “attractive” body shape to studying how companies use color to elicit specific emotions in consumers, and even dismantling the very notion that spacetime is objective reality, The Case Against Reality dares us to question everything we thought we knew about the world we see.
The liar paradox, also known as the liar sentence, states “this sentence is false.” If that statement makes you go a little crazy, you’re not the first one. The liar paradox first came about in ancient Greece, and philosophers have been puzzling over it ever since. It’s even said that the gravestone of scholar Philetas of Cos, from the third century B.C.E., is engraved with the words “‘Twas the Liar who made me die, And the bad nights caused thereby.”
Here’s why the liar paradox causes philosophers so much grief: if the sentence is true, then it must be false. But if the sentence is false, then it must be true. That’s what makes it a paradox. It’s an argument that leads to a self-contradictory conclusion. There are probably as many schools of thought on how to solve this paradox as there are philosophers in the world, but one thing is true (not false!): it highlights the limitations of classical logic.
Random thoughts during mediation can be defense mechanisms against the unknown in the unconscious mind.
–Paraphrasing Donald Hoffman
Donald David Hoffman (born December 29, 1955) is an American cognitive psychologist and popular science author. He is a professor in the Department of Cognitive Sciences at the University of California, Irvine, with joint … Wikipedia
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