July 5, 2012
(apologies for the length of this - I just felt the need to write after putting down the book)
I finished the main part of the book last night and read the epilogue this morning. Reading the epilogue brought tears to my eyes, especially the part regarding Haouka (pg 166). I've gone through some major life changes over the past few years that have really altered the way that I have thought about and viewed the world. I've never been a person who goes along with conventional thinking, and have always tried to see the world for what it is. I don't subscribe to any religious philosophy, I dislike most ingrained customs and traditions in society, and I think, for the most part, humans have dug a hole so deep that we are unlikely to ever find a way out. However, I am not necessarily a glass half empty type of guy. I see the good in things where they exist, and I try to make the world a better place by being thoughtful and kind to those around me. Some think I'm a miserable cuss because I don't find joy in the materialistic goods that everyone else does. No, I don't think a fucking cupcake is 'one of life's little pleasures' (or whatever nerga it may be), nor do I think I 'need' things to make me happy. I find happiness in my family and my tribe, those who are closest and dearest to me.
For the past 15 years, I have been living in almost constant pain. Going "Paleo" (I call it 'eating real food') almost two years ago stopped the horrific gout attacks I was constantly suffering through. In the process, I also lost 50 lbs, my blood pressure has come down to a normal reading, my lipid panels are perfect (love telling the docs how I did this - they never believe me), and mentally, I've been feeling much better. However, my fucking body is falling apart. I suffered with degenerative disc disease and a herniation in my L4/L5 disc for 6 or 7 years, but hardly paid any attention because of the gout. It got so bad that I had to have emergency back surgery this past January. It worked for a few months, but now the pain and sciatica are back, and worse than ever. I also recently tore my meniscus. "How?", you may ask. Well, I was doing some stretches (lunges) while rehabbing my back when, Pop!, there it went. How's that for fucking irony?
Three days after having my surgery, my twin daughters were born. I have not had a chance to rest or recover since then, basically because of how western society is set up regarding work and family. After my wife went back to work, two months after giving birth, it was my job to stay home and care for the twins (I also work from home). Yesterday, we had to put the girls in daycare, that we can't afford, due to the fact that I can barely walk right now. My back is more messed up than ever and I just feel trapped, continuously forced to chase my tail, making no progress in the process. I feel I have outlived my usefulness, but haven't even come close to doing everything I want to in life. I may never climb a snow-covered mountain and ski down it again. I may never get to ride my bike again. Heck, I don't even know If I'll ever be able to go for a simple stroll through the woods again. What really pisses me off is that I won't be able to personally show my daughters why these activities are so important to me and why I find so much happiness in nature. When I first read the word 'haouka' in the Gnoll Credo, my spine started tingling - and it wasn't from the sciatica.
That word resonates with me simply because I've lived it. When my gout got really bad a few years ago, and I'm talking attacks in multiple joints at the same time, my attitude was, "fuck it". Four shots of Jaeger at breakfast, buckle down my ski boots as tight as they would go so my feet would go numb, then head for the sketchiest shit I could find at whatever resort we were at in the Alps. I did some stupid shit and took some stupid chances, and not once did I think about the consequences - because I didn't care. I was not suicidal (or else I would have gone to Chamonix or La Grave - but I knew the limits to my skills). I didn't want to die. I had just learned not to care about death at that point. Selfish? Absolutely. Did I care? Not really, because not one single person really knew what I was going through and how much physical pain I lived with each day.
Then I found a wonderful, wonderful woman to marry, someone on my wavelength, and now we have two beautiful daughters. I no longer live just for myself like I once did. I feel this connection to them in my blood, and I would do anything to protect them. Perhaps this is where we humans differ from Gnolls, and I believe it's touched upon in the book. We are a sentimental being, and yes, we do think about the future. I want to be a part of my girls' lives, even if that means I'm a physical wreck. I want to teach them. I want them to learn what I have learned, I want to stress the importance of caring about people more than caring about things. Perhaps if we still lived in tribal units, my thinking would be completely different. There would be others to take up the slack when I wasn't around - and I would trust those in the tribe as if they were of my own blood. We just don't have that in most societies, however, and it is depressing.
We are working on escaping this society that has been carefully and specifically structured to control how we, as humans, live. My hope is that some day in the future, with my daughters grown and taking on the world on their own terms, I can wander off in to the Alaskan wilderness and die biting the throat.
February 22, 2010
I've started to respond to this message many, many times, and stopped each time because I didn't know what to say.
You're on a long, hard road, and about all I can offer in the way of help or insight I've already written in TGC or my articles here. All I can think of to add is: from your description, it sounds like you'd most likely be dead by now if you hadn't gone Paleo. When you get discouraged, remember how far you've already come -- not just how much farther you have to go.
Other than that, you've put down some powerful insights, and I'm glad I could somehow inspire them. My only comment is that self-immolation is not haouka -- it's just suicide. Gnolls take their enemies with them when they die.
Thank you for sharing this. Several of my own problems shriveled into insignificance in its light.
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