Looking Back on The Letter

012 In brief —Regarding The Letter post

It’s morning here, and I continue my day, the moments since yesterday, having just risen out of the most pleasant sleep I have had in the past year, only to turn on the Net, and check up on Porcelain Utopia (then email, and others, onto a shower and considering yesterday’s moments—how they might fit into the today’s gentle shift.)

Restoring, or rebuilding this website has included a great deal of time and having to delete many posts that I was unable to restore since the database corruption mid-2012. However I was delighted to find and restore this The Letter post.

While re-reading it for the first time since then—December 2011—I find this personally fitting since recalling the moments of feeling a fear, of powerlessness, or not knowing how to constructively communicate what I want or need from others yesterday, I reached inside, into the silence as you might have found on the Constantly Evolving Consciousness post and the Remaining in the Mystery post from last evening. And, I’m still here.

Appointments, meetings and gatherings are coming up as the week unfolds, so how might I be able to continue staying in the silence? I ask myself. That’s part of the mystery, not expecting things, and since I am simply adding a Looking Back On, in this case almost one year ago, in December 2011—not all that much has changed. Perhaps some more restrictions or limitations here and there, yet also, more authentic power, of my heart, my being, the “I” in theI am.” So to continue the day, leaving things undone as we all do in our lives regardless, by incorporating perhaps an art, if you will, of vulnerability, of imperfection, of leaving any judgments and criticisms aside, and just doing the best that I can, I am surviving, happy, still and serene, just for now. In finding The Letter post below, finally, I have found it rather fascinating to re-read a year later and still find myself in there.

Jonathan Harnisch

Looking back on December 16, 2011

I had this idea of writing a straightforward blog post today, stemming from the last of many letters I’ve been receiving regarding mental illness, the work and art that I do, and sharing of personal stories, of hope, despair, closing in, to opening up, and I felt like sharing some of my thoughts and feelings about some of it all.

I never have imagined that I’d ever be saying or writing about “all the letters, and emails, I’ve been receiving,” as if I was some kind of best-selling self-help author being interviewed about all the work they’ve done and how they have helped so many people. In fact, even though I have been to the best of the best schools, and have had dreams (many of them have shattered since) of being rich and famous and perhaps even powerful—the go-to guy for getting stuff done, and being known for his brilliant movies and books, and connections—since schizophrenia (schizoaffective disorder) has taken over so many aspects of my life, I have in many ways been limited in certain abilities and resources, while that life I had once dreamed of has been quelled, perhaps gone away, I’d been closing in—privately battling this foreign war versus schizophrenia, even my old addictions, and people, activities—closing in more and more. Not sharing a single thing. Covering it up. Masking what was going on in my own mind, my world—my reality.

I had, at one point, in 2006 been so closed in, that it started to become a problem for me—a problem that I wanted to fix by changing. I began “going public” with who I was—and at first, I might have gone a bit overboard. Every new person I’d meet, or date, or whatever—I’d ask them to read my private diary I was keeping, and I’d start, too early on, to tell all my secrets, my honest thoughts, and my world to new people, many of whom were a bit put off by my raw and basically inappropriate self-expression. I had called it my eccentricity. But what was happening, eccentric or not, was I was learning, as I opened up, how to open up. I still make errors, I still don’t have my technique, my image, the who I am and what I’m all about figured out and exposed, since I am constantly molding and refocusing, over-focusing, and learning, as we all do, who I am.

Since Plato, since the ancient civilizations of Atlantis, and the Mayans, even to this day, I don’t believe that we, as a universal community, a global, even a local community—all of us, as a whole—have ever been able to answer the simple question, a question that would answer everything, and likely fix everything, maybe end time itself—who knows? —But who are we? What are we doing here? What is this all about? Are we Spirit, Souls, Angels, Demons, Human, Consciousness itself, Awareness itself.

I don’t think we’ll ever really know these answers, and it’s all to do with the quest, the pursuit, the pathways, and choices we make, both right and wrong, and the way that we test out a new sweater or dress, or shoes, and see if whatever it is garners the result we want. Whether it puts us on the arena stage, or in jail—or both.

So as I contemplate some of this, and as I write this as these thoughts come in with a feeling of confusion, basically, I find myself coming to a feeling, a place, a sense of peace and freedom.

I continue the quest—the adventure that schizophrenia, in my case, has given to me, and my day is not being haunted by voices and demons, or paranoia. I know that I am on the quest and that I will always be on the quest. That’s where I need to be and that’s where I am now. And that’s all that matters.

I began this writing session with ideas of sharing what I have gained through the letters and emails I have been receiving since Porcelain Utopia has been achieving more and more attention, though there’s more to come, and more trail and error, more testing things out, but I seemed to have instead, focused more on the who are we question, and the being with—being with the moment, the who we are and where we are right here and now, mistakes or not.

Many old friends have been contacting me, a lot have opened up to me—some of these people I’m referring to I might not have even known very well—classmates, and things—some I have and still do. Many people write me about how I might have helped them, publically or privately, and often those who have opened up to me about how open I seem to be, but that they are not, or cannot, or just do not bring their mental illness diagnosis in the open, at all. Maybe just with close friends or their doctor, for example.

As I learn each and every day how to better open up, it all came from the closing in not working for me, rather against me. I needed to change that. And that involved risk.

I suppose the point is that I do not recommend to others to open up, going public with their disease, their disorder or their private lives. I do recommend that one does so if that’s what they want to do, and if so, I’d add to that, to plan it out a bit—that’s one thing I learned I should have done better since I basically did not. I just knew I had to, and that I didn’t want to protest on the streets of lawmaking houses or rally against others who ‘don’t understand.’ I say do what’s in your heart. And hey, if you decide to get yourself out there without any plan—just doing it on impulse—I mean that’s your choice and one can’t really make bad by doing so. Opportunities arise from negativity, from anything bad. Especially when one’s mind is in that place to be open enough to see the opportunity.

I knew I was going into this without wanting thank yous, and encouragement, that I was doing it for myself. Then “for you, for myself,” and things started falling more and more into place. I often receive thank yous and encouragement and it’s a real bonus, but I never overlook my root desire: to just do it. Put it out there, and see what the heck happens.

In closing, I received a private message on Facebook this morning from a dear old friend from college. We had just recently reconnected and I thought I should let her know the whole reason—though she never asked me—why I went to the best film school in the country, and why I don’t show up for the reunions and why I’m not credited all over the big screens across the world. Most of my classmates have gone on to run major corporations, while some have achieved fame, and some had already been famous, or well known, while we were at school.

I simply wrote this good old friend of mine that my life had switched gears a bit since I was diagnosed with schizophrenia. I thought, then she’d get it—get why I’m not running some film studio and why this, why that. I mentioned schizophrenia, not schizoaffective because I thought that it would be more to the point and she’d still be able to see that I could at least write a simple and brief message as we began reconnecting. But “Oh, that sucks. Yet, now, everything makes sense about that guy.” That’s what I thought she’d think, without even necessarily writing back. I thought people generally know schizophrenia better than they do schizoaffective, so I left it at that.

What I received back was extraordinary.

She too has left all her dreams in the murky dirt and dust, stigma, loss, trauma and guilt that her own private schizoaffective disorder has brought to her over the last five years.

I can hardly wait to see how this unfolds.

No longer do I receive any notes to the tune of “You’ll never learn; you’re one hell of a selfish drunken waste…” No, those have gone away. People see that I’ve crossed that path—that old sordid, not-working-for-me path—and that I am opening up inside through this mental conduit of emotional, physical, and spiritual turmoil, and am myself—Jonathan. Not the ‘old Jonathan we miss so much’ and not a brand new special delivery of Jonathan, no surprises.

You might not know what I’m going to do next, or say next, or think next—I certainly don’t—but you got it—stamped, postmarked right here and now. And this is where I am.

Jonathan Harnisch


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