The Pain of Duality

“Grief is the space between what you expect and what you get.” – Dan Harmon’s Therapist

Yesterday was my first day as a character designer on Rick and Morty. I felt really lucky because it ended up being one of their monthly screening parties where they show a finished episode and have pizza and beer and do a raffle. In the beginning the creators Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland got up to say something before showing the episode, and Dan’s speech really got to me. It’s been a rough season and a lot has happened, and he wasn’t afraid to reflect that in his speech which was so admirable to me. He mentioned a “sociopathic god” and how we don’t know if he loves us or hates us so what we end up getting is “randomness”, and how his therapist said that “grief is the space between what you expect and what you get.” At the end when he was thanking the crew for their great work, he said that as creatives our minds are different, and basically how we should embrace that. He said something like “so have your anxiety, depression, autism—whatever! Your brains are brilliant how they are, and because of those brains coming together we’ve made the best cartoon in the universe!”

This REALLY got to me, more than I even realized. I was still contemplating it in sadhana this morning, and it turned into a meditation on the nature of duality and mental illness. I feel like this year I’m really only starting to feel the real effects of my bipolar diagnosis from last year, which I can only say because of a drastic perspective shift. Working in animation has always been a love/hate relationship for me, because even though it IS a dream come true and what I’ve always wanted to do, working the jobs themselves simultaneously makes me hate myself for my current skill level, and also makes me wanna quit and do my own thing because I feel like I’m wasting away helping someone else complete THEIR vision, even though I haven’t felt like I have adequate skills to make my own thing ANYWAY. But starting at Rick and Morty and hearing Dan’s speech…I couldn’t help but feel welcomed in the best way possible. I felt like because of what these creators experience, they’ve created something really special…something that has managed to become the most popular cartoon on TV and find a place in cartoon history for a reason. They are able to inject existential angst and the struggles of life in these high concept sci-fi adventures which lightens it up enough to be digestible by the general public, and make everyone who watches the show feel like they’re not alone cuz “Hey! Someone else is feeling this way too!” Hearing them talk, especially Dan, made me feel like it was DEFINITELY the place for me. A place that understands and welcomes the pain of existence…a place where you can just be. A place where I can truly work on a show with a message that I’m proud of because it’s the message that I too want to spread. 

Anyway. All of that stuff made me realize that as humans, we ARE duality manifest. ALL of us. And within the duality we experience, we begin to cling onto SPECIFIC aspects of duality and obsess about them. For me…something that hit me real hard today was noticing that I go back and forth between thinking mental illness is real and thinking it’s fake. Back and forth between believing I’m “bipolar” and wanting to just attribute what I feel to “being emotional” and I’m just how I am because of my past and environmental factors. Nature vs nurture right? But what Dan said about artists brains made me think…

Diagnosis or not, EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US HAS A DIFFERENT, SPECIAL BRAIN. That brain makes our minds function in complex ways that we spend our entire LIVES trying to cope with and figure out. But I think…as a human…this is always how it was meant to be.

The fact that I’ve been stuck in the duality of “bipolar or not” shows me that, even though I wanted to kinda “transcend the label,” I’ve still been focusing too much on the “label” without fully accepting how I actually am. I suppose this is the first step to acceptance…and it’s not that I’m necessarily trying to accept the diagnosis itself, I’m more just trying to accept MYSELF — myself and how my brain makes me think and function in this reality. It’s incredibly liberating to see that this is one of the prisons ive been trapping myself in. Now hopefully I can remind myself I’ve come to these conclusions next time this arises! That’s the challenge, right? Haha!

Something else that came through during sadhana this morning was this thought of “are we all just constantly somewhere on this duality spectrum until we cross a line from light to dark, negative to positive?”

Maybe “bipolar” can just be thought of as a term for people who cycle between those opposites quicker than others, who make their home at the actual POLES rather than the in between. And maybe this definition is an easier way for me to accept how my mind operates.

In a similar way, people who are depressed are more inclined to the negative pole. We’re all just vibrations and frequencies anyway right? And one of our goals in life is to raise our frequency go move more toward the light? Easier said than done but…that’s why I’m doing this Kundalini Yoga Training! 

In sadhana, the song choices that my teacher picked were a completely different vibe than yesterday. To me, they all sounded melancholy, somewhat urgent, yet angelic…seeming to express “it’s tough to live in a world with duality, but that’s what makes it beautiful.” 

This past weekend we were learning yoga nidra, and one offshoot of it is called iRest, a program developed by Robert Miller I think in the 70s to help with the PTSD of war veterans. In this set, we did an exercise to experience opposites — hot/cold, anger/joy, light/heavy — first separately, and then we were asked to try and experience them together. I could very easily feel the opposite sensations in my body separately, but when trying to feel them together I got frustrated and confused because my body just wasn’t able to grasp it. And after feeling that confusion for a while, I ended up just relaxing and achieving a sort of “calm.” When asked how we felt after the exercise, I raised my hand and described my experience and one of my teachers said that “calm” I felt is essentially the experience of infinity and the goal of yoga — to embody that stillness BETWEEN opposites. She went on to explain that in our human experience we can ONLY feel opposites SEPARATELY, which is why the darkness is necessary in order to know the light…the pain is necessary in order to know what it feels like to be happy. It’s that age old concept of yin and yang, and although I always “knew” about it since it’s so widely spread in our culture — that idea of the light and dark being NECESSARY to balance the world…to FEEL IT in my body was a COMPLETELY different experience. One approaching a more “true understanding.” 

I think BECAUSE I feel so much being bipolar, it’s so easy to be at and experience the POLES, because they’re EASIER to feel. Even though the negative pole of depression is difficult to be IN, it’s more apparent to feel THAT than some vague in between, and it’s also easier to feel the “positivity” of mania. But thinking about what Dan Harmon’s therapist said with GRIEF basically being the in between…it makes so much sense to me. I would RATHER experience the POLES than the IN BETWEEN because the grief of knowing that sooner or later I have to go back to one or the other is maddening. And that’s the melancholy I heard in the songs this morning — it’s almost like a constant state of underlying sadness, knowing that each day inches us closer to our deaths, and if we hold ourselves back and continue to have unrealistic expectations, then being in the in between will always somehow feel like failure. And that’s constant grief…grief about our potential not living up to how we see ourselves in our heads…grief that sooner or later we’re gonna die not having done what we want…grief that sooner or later, no matter WHAT we do, everyone and everything we love will turn to dust. 

I definitely feel like I’m beginning to grasp something deeper…and although it’s instilling more of a sense of “peace” I can’t help but be a little sad about it. Yet…I think I’m going in the right direction? I just keep trying to remember something else I learned in yoga…that we chose to incarnate in this exact lifetime at this time in history for a reason, and everything we go through is the exact thing our soul is yearning to learn. Regardless of how sad I feel, I still get the sense of being on the “right path,” and maybe that’s all that can bring us solace in this difficult human existence. 

Day 14: Lion King Changed My Life Pt 1

“Look at the stars. The great kings of the past look down on us from those stars. Whenever you feel alone, just remember that those kings will always be there to guide you. And so will I.“ – Mufasa, The Lion King

I think I just discovered why the saying “this is the life” exists. I’m currently super baked, watching The Lion King with Eddy and sitting with a cute tired Han and being like “this is the best day. This is why life is worth living. If I could just always feel like this I’d be happy, but it’s ok if I don’t because just knowing that this exists should make me happy and accept the temporary-ness of life. THAT’S true happiness, and I can understand this concept because I believe I am currently witnessing what true happiness is. Life is so simple!!! It’s living totally in the moment with the most important people/pets in life bf doing something that makes you feel like you could last an eternity in THIS EXACT MOMENT. I believe this is what love truly is — an eternity. No wonder there are all those eternity rings!

There are two main topics I wanna get to for this entry but I dunno if I’ll get to them both. Why?

1. Because I’m at 3% on my phone and way too comfy on this couch to go charge it. I’m living on the edge folks! Typing with my fingers at the speed of light! Geez can you believe cell phones actually exist right now? Don’t things like this make you feel like you live in the future? But when you think about it, is it the future that was MARKETED to us?! Everything is marketed to us! America is SO EVIL but we can’t help but live here cuz we’re human! We are the villains of the world! Sigh. I don’t want things to be like that anymore 😦 Damn I went on a tangent.

2. The only reason I’m typing this is because Eddy is taking a shit so we’re taking a break from the lion king, and I don’t wanna fall asleep. Cuz I’m tired as fuck! We had such a tiring ass day but accomplished SOOOOO MUCH! Including getting wedding bands! Ugh I wish I took a pic of both our rings!! 😦 What a bummer I dunno why I didn’t think of it. Here I’ll post pics I have though lol and one of eddy wearing the darker ring (he ended up getting a tungsten one that looks like iron). We tried on so many rings today and it reminded me of trying on wedding dresses. Just cuz it’s pretty doesn’t mean it feels right! That’s a lesson huh?

Ok another tangent. Whoops! I really wanted this to be about the Lion King! Cuz damn rewatching this shit as an adult is AMAZINGGGG!!

I can’t possibly get into how this movie is making me feel. This bit here where Mufasa is “punishing” Simba and telling him that dad’s get scared too and basically showing simba his vulnerable side and really legitimately teaching something to his child, who up until that point has seen his dad as the ultimate hero, someone who has no fear, and isn’t an actually person (in this case Lion). Ugh and telling him he’ll always be with him and all the shit about the kings in the stars…GOD. I’d love to think that all our dead fathers are in the stars. Honestly I never thought my dad would die…I was so naive, till such a late age (27)!! What happened to me as an adult, Simba experience as a child in Lion King. Dude this bit shook me up so bad, I was crying up a storm. Han actually came up to comfort me too! His service dog training is working and he actually used it for the first time!! Having a dog is so great ;—;

THIS SCENE HERE THIS WRECKED ME!! REALLY LISTEN TO WHAT MUFASA IS SAYING! Gosh this especially hurts if you lost a dad…I used to WATCH this with my dad not realizing how lucky I was to still have a dad to watch it with…

But Seriously, Simba goes through SOOO MUCH SHIT!! Scar is THE ULTIMATE DISNEY VILLAIN honestly!!

Eddy is done shitting so here are some notes for future me:

talk about dictator scar, include video of be prepared. Nods to hitler and the nazis, the lyrics is like real life, a selfish bitter dude preying on the weak and feeble minded (NOTE FROM FUTURE ME: too fucking tired to go into this so I’ll just put the video here instead. It’ll come back when watching I promise)

then link to when scar kills Mufasa (NOTE FROM FUTURE ME: lol damn this has 1.6 MILLION views. Weird how the internet basically can show you society’s relevance of certain things in media)

and how he handles Simba at the end. Find a gif of Simba sliding down his legs and you can seein his eyes the guilt and fear of being led to believe he killed his own father. (NOTE FROM FUTURE ME: Wow you really can find mostly everything as a gif on the internet nowadays huh…I can’t believe this internet thing happened during my lifetime. What a beginning to be a part of. Almost like the onset of the printing press or the lightbulb. What is this doing to our minds?! Well I’ll tell you this, if I didn’t have a cell phone, I’d be sleeping right now HAHA)

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Then scar even tries to kill him after! Jesus leave the poor kid alone!

So many layers to this goddamn thing. Sucks they stole from Kimba though but what I realized is every story is a translation of another of another story! But Damn Disney you really should’ve just given Kimba credit! 😦 1% battery I live on the edge!

OMMGGG HAKUNA MATATA! Ok we are way too exhausted and need to go to sleep. So excited for the 2nd half of the movie!

LOL I was just looking up Mufasa quotes and I shouted “MANNNNN. Mufasa…” and Eddy did this

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Today was a great day 🙂 Good night!

(FUTURE ELORA SPEAKING: I came back to insert links now that Eddy is asleep and my phone was at 1% and moving so slow it basically FelT like it was at 1% but it was so amazing cuz as SOON as I plugged it in, it parked up and totally worked fine again!! Technology is amazing and scary. Batteries…amirite?

Also random thought — do you ever wonder how people view you from the outside? Like…how to not see yourself as yourself? It’s hard but I think I did it today. And from the outside, I guess I’m doing alright 🙂 It’s important to try and see our lives as other people would sometimes 🙂 I think it would always be better than what a lot of us somehow get stuck in thinking if we’re depressed or in a bad mood. I wanna make a future where I feel like THIS more of the time!)

oh wow another post entry note (almost wrote “post post”…would’ve been so stupid). I was looking for that Simba gif I called out earlier and found this interesting article, The Lion King and the Stages of Grief. (“For the Love of Stori s”…what a great name. Glad so many people recognize the importance of story!) This movie is therapeutic as shit. I’m telling you I can’t see it the same way ever again now that I’ve lost my own dad. Now it’s a healing movie.

One again, because the Lion King is such a masterpiece, I HAVE to call out the original source material, Kimba the White Lion. Everyone should know about this of course, but I believe Lion King is STILL a masterpiece. Yes it’s Kimba meets Hamlet but I believe that makes it the strongest Disney movie in terms of story. They succeeded in writing a great movie (albeit the STRONG influence from Kimba :|), crafting great characters, getting a great cast and having AMAZING animation, which translated these stories for a bigger audience. The craftsmanship put into this thing is really an amazing and beautiful magic trick which should be admired. However, credit where credit is due. So much of Lion King seems ripped from Kimba…I wish they just said something… what did they think? No one would ever find out?! What a bummer 😦