This blog is no longer being updated. About this blog.

The Joy of Epilepsy

Life with epilepsy is no walk in the park, but sometimes it can bring feelings of otherworldly joy or eroticism which the rest of us may never experience.

The Russian author Dostoyevsky famously said of his epilepsy “I would experience such joy as would be inconceivable in ordinary life—such joy that no one else could have any notion of. I would feel the most complete harmony in myself and in the whole world and this feeling was so strong and sweet that for a few seconds of such bliss I would give ten or more years of my life, even my whole life perhaps.”

I have often wondered if many founders of religion suffered from a form of epilepsy that led to recurrent religious ecstasies. I also wonder if my brain simply isn’t wired to have religious experiences like others, at least not as easily.

Tags: , , ,

Comments off


Lately, I have had for a constant companion an emotion for which I have no name. It defies easy description. I can’t even describe it well to myself, distilling my feelings into words and concepts. It’s easier to describe its effects than the emotion itself. Unlike other emotions which wane when examined too closely, it persists dancing seductively out of reach of my analytical mind. Even as I write this, I feel it.

I look at a coworker’s shirt, and the deep shades of blue conjure this emotion. I feel tempted to daydream in shades of blue and lose myself in the womb of my mind.

I lie sleeplessly in my bed next to my wife. I feel my stomach rising and falling in the slow rhythm of my breathing, the air flowing in and out of my lungs. I feel a knowing connection with my childhood self. I remember dreams and fantasies that occupied my mind when I was young.

I am ailing with a persistent cough and congestion, but I am content. A subtle, soft joy fills my lungs as I breathe.

My heart melts at the slightest provocation: the dimples in my daughter’s cheeks, my wife’s skin under my hand, a child’s song, the taste of my morning tea, the sun on my face.

The halls of my mind feel cleansed of the cobwebs and cruft of years of willful neglect. I feel pleasantly empty, like the scent of a kitchen floor that has just been mopped after months of procrastination or the clear view of newly washed windows. It feels like the lack of something that obscured my view.

I feel poised on the verge of… some unnameable, visionary place full of imagination, love, and joy. I feel like I am rediscovering something I forgot when I left childhood and got lost in my fears and my own notions of reality.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Comments (6)

Santa Claus Lives!

I’ve heard it repeated in a few places recently that atheists can be happy for theists the same way that parents can enjoy their children’s belief in Santa Claus. If it makes them happy, then we should be happy for them.

Everyone is free to believe what they will, but this comparison sounds more than a little patronizing. That’s probably not how it was intended, but that’s how it sounds. It’s not difficult to imagine the person thinking “I’m happy for those poor believers. They’re so cute when they think God answers their prayers. As long as it makes them happy.”

Personally, I can’t bring myself to be happy for someone else’s mistaken belief. I try to help correct that mistake if I can, without being a jerk. I hope they would return the favor.

My reluctance to play along probably stems from my stance on that old question about which is better: happiness or truth? I would generally rather have the truth than be happy. But that’s a personal preference. Other people would choose happiness instead, and I find it hard to fault them for it. It would be nice to ignore the truth in favor of happiness sometimes.

However, I would never put myself in the paternal position of thinking someone is better off blissfully ignorant in their mistaken beliefs. I respect other people too much. This condescending attitude is one of the things that I most resent about current LDS church practice. The LDS church teaches whitewashed history, presumably because they don’t want to damage the fragile faith and happiness of the body of the church with inconvenient truths.

I will try to be civil and polite with believers, picking appropriate times and places, but I don’t intend to ultimately play along with the charade that Santa Claus lives. I think they deserve better than a well intentioned lie or strategic silence.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments (7)

I’m Gonna Live Till I Die

Words to live by, the essence of my outlook on life.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Comments off

Ephemera III

I noticed the faces of the people I encountered on my walk across campus this morning. I enjoyed their variety and pondered on how many different kinds of people are needed to make our human society work. I usually hurry on my way into the office, heedless of other people, lost in my thoughts. This morning, my only thoughts were about those people. Wordlessly I thanked them for their contributions to my life.

Then I noticed a bush with brilliant red and orange flowers raising an ecstatic clarion call, celebrating its own life, and calling others to join the party. I had never noticed this bush before. It was tucked away in the corner of a building where few would probably notice it. I silently congratulated the bush for being happy even if no one came to its party.

Tags: , , ,

Comments off