Posts Tagged ‘History’

Cooperation

We were talking about cooperation the other morning, and compromise.  Compromise is like basic chemistry- it can work brilliantly, or it can blow up in your face.

I was thinking about compromise as a helix-like progression.  The proper compromise, made from a place of integrity and openness, can create the environment for progress.  On the other hand, as the Partner pointed out, there are things that should never be compromised.  It is these latter things that lead to the undesirable, burnt results.

When you just go through a day now, there are plenty of opportunities to see all this in action.   From Vladimir Putin to driving on the freeway, it can seem like one big test of fortitude- how long can you go without exploding?  Things get complicated unnecessarily, and quickly.  It does seem, however, as though the operating instructions for things have been completely changed- or maybe it is that they have actually stayed the same.

I was reading an article about what is referred to as “rape culture” this morning, and the point was made that many in today’s world don’t seem to really understand what sex is.  Since many don’t seem to understand what food is, I guess it isn’t all that surprising.  We’re becoming totally removed from all the things that are truly real about life as a human being.  There isn’t, once again, a cause and effect relationship perceived- as in, what you do implies a choice and there are consequences. Wear a see through blouse, girls, and it sends a message whether you think it should or not.   I think this goes further than actual physical rape although that is definitely front and center.  It goes to, directly, things like racism and bullying as well, since the meaning of the implied message is, and has been for a few thousand years, defined by the dominant culture.  As a woman, I may think I can wear or say whatever I damn well please, but the historical realities of women’s lives really ought to inform my practice- as, indeed, they have done.  There have been improvements, to be sure, but the basic concepts have not really shifted.  This speaks to  the fact that we are in a racist society as well.  We really, honest to God, ought to be waaaaaay WAAAAAAAAY past thinking that skin color means anything beyond being an immediate physical attribute or characteristic.   Just as we should not define anyone by what sex they are.   Yet here we have a society in which racism and sexism are entrenched parts of the operating system, and people have the silliness to act surprised when nasty things surface from nasty people.   It seems to me we have compromised our common sense in these situations.

We have compromised, our culture has, our ability to think about things for an apparent “safety”.  The pretend umbrella of material goods, the you’re OK if you stay within these lines, supposedly offers happiness to those who sacrifice their awareness and thought process for the promise of not feeling unpleasant things, like fear.  Or having to do things like compromise with those who are perceived to be “other”.  Like, you know, with women or black people or poor people or people who just disagree with you.  It’s easy, these days, to just assume “they” aren’t on the same level as “you”, and you definitely know better, right? If you just stay inside those defined lines you get to do whatever you want, it seems.  Or that is how people behave of late.  Once you let go of your true self respect, though, I think all bets are off.   If you don’t respect yourself, you don’t respect anything else- like other people, like the land you live on, the water and air you need….all those things.  Corruption and degradation set in.  What I don’t get is the short sighted shooting oneself in the foot aspect to all this.  We may indeed have enough coal for the next 300 years.  We may indeed silence people by violence, intimidation, and discrimination.  But the results are going to be, and already are, catastrophic.

For today, once again I find myself balancing between feeling love and hope, and a deep foreboding which I managed to forestall by the usual means (spicy caramel pears, from ROOM FOR DESSERT.  Our motto is pretty much, if you want dessert first, go ahead.).    I think I have compromised many of the wrong things up to now, and there is some work to be done.   I’m sure it is possible, even if I am not at all clear about what it will mean in the future, this reclaiming of meaning.  It’s a bit scary to be born, after all.

sands of time

To do, or not to do?  That really is the question.  So much has happened and it seems that unlike Ren and Stimpy we ARE affected by the journey.  Our heads did appear to explode.

Everyone I speak to  is exhausted, barely had the energy to crawl out of the pajamas they’d been in for days when it was time to Go Back To Work, Now.  Planning?  Not so much.  Control? An old idea that popped like a soap bubble.

It takes a fair amount of fortitude to keep riding the wave, Gentle Reader.  It is true that we’re here to learn.  Understanding that means we don’t take things as personally as we used to: either you pass the course or you retake it, no harm no foul in the INCREDIBLY LONG RUN.  In the RIGHT NOW SHORT RUN? Well, St. Augustine, who I’ve never much cared for, said the reward of patience is patience, and that is where we find ourselves in the short run.  Being patient.

At times like these all you can do is keep breathing and paying attention.  Unlearning a lifetime’s dictates takes a minute and when one of those dictates was keep moving! all the time! something IS gaining on you! it can be quite the endeavor to sit still.  Still, the Partner always says that if everyone would just stop for a while, things could change.  I think he’s right but the stopping bit is not as easy as you might think.  The constant endeavor to make things “better”, to “fix” what’s askew, to keep dust and clutter at bay, to remain above water…..it becomes habitual to the point where one may not see that in fact, progress is not occurring but the hole one is in is definitely getting bigger and filling with an uncongenial substance.  The cognitive uproar creeps in (they’re saying it’s white but really? it’s black) and you just might start to realize that since you aren’t asleep or anywhere close to it, it is time to stop believing in the..er…American Dream.

We saw Three Days of the Condor yesterday and I found it rather deeply disturbing.  Not only did I wonder just what has actually happened to Robert Redford’s skin, but?  For a movie made in 1975- a long time ago no matter how you slice it- it was about as up to the minute as it could be politically.  In short- it’s been the same old shit FOREVER.  It’s about oil and power and even in that hoary old chestnut of a movie the US was invading Venezuela and middle eastern nations.  JUST LIKE TODAY.  Not about cooperative world progress or even, heaven forfend, proper THINKING ABOUT THINGS, you know? Thinking? Problem solving? Who said the entirety of everything has to be about making the world safe for petroleum?  The people who have been making the decisions for the world turn out to be not much smarter- if any at all- than you and me.  They just had a higher spot on the legacy totem pole.

Notwithstanding the personal stuff of our lives which for many is larger and more challenging than ever, there’s this other gargantuan thing taking up all the air in the room.  Namely, what appears to be an epic, titanic looming struggle to the death, between those who operate on the sole basis of capitalist self interest and those who do not.  I have to wonder how such an aggregation of seeming morons as we have at the top of the world could have done what they have, in fact, done.  No regard for truth or compassion.  Lying and hypocrisy are the order of the day.  When you hear the talk about unemployment and job creation?  What do most people think?  There’s no way on earth enough jobs could be “created” in this country to meet the needs of its people.  An aging population gets shoved on the conveyor belt to poverty as the upcoming younger group realizes there is no future for them, either.  Free trade? means free for the interests at the top and prohibited for the small person at the bottom.  It leads to the expansion of “black” markets and segregated communities.  The health care situation in the US is completely ridiculous and the new “affordable Health Care” act is just another way to make the world safe for insurance companies even above and beyond how it was before.

So, yeah.  It’s January and I’m depressed.  But hope springs eternal, and I have an excellent stash of duck fat now. Hope it lasts.

But is it a unified theory?

The other day the Partner watched a program that discussed the concept of free will.  I asked him what he thought about it, and after some time he said it was fascinating.  But it wasn’t a unified theory.

I of course thought this was great.  I mean, he’s kind of a genius, but imagine! All that…stuff….one has been subjected to in western culture about “free will”.  It’s something I’ve wondered about because it so often seems to be quite limited, that free will.  And expensive, too. Animals supposedly don’t have it, either, which is moderately puzzling, to me anyway.  But the rich seem to, throughout history.

So seeing all that isn’t any more concrete than, say, string theory, not being unified and all,  I would MUCH rather whole heartedly believe in the beauty and eternity of string theory than in some idea that we have this free will but it comes with so many consequences and unintended results (often courtesy of other people, maybe even their free will!)  that we might as well just stay in our original sinful state.  Free will with a full set of barbells attached, sort of.  And with which we have more or less a snowball’s chance in hell.  Perhaps it is just all this stuff about the Pope that has made me think along these lines more even than usual.  Perhaps this is just me exercising my free will.

Anyway.  In the ongoing project of looking at the world I live in, this whole free will business is of interest.  I’ve always thought it related more to the authoritarian power structure of the patriarchy  (Yes I have!) than an individual becoming conscious and awake and seeing what it was they could actually do with their time in life.  Free willl, to me, is a concept that is part and parcel of the things of the past two millenia that have proven not to be all that workable.  We all have the power to open our minds and hearts.  We all have the power to understand.  We can make a choice about whether to do that our not but somehow that doesn’t quite make it to something that should be called “free will” in my book.  That’s just about how one chooses to survive.  So much of everything that contributes to how our world functions is based on fear.  How can that exist and accommodate free will?  Free will goes to the back of the bus and falls off.  I’m thinking now that the rest of the individuals on that bus, divided into two groups, one of which understands consequences and behaves accordingly (do unto others, as ever), and the other group for which laissez faire is the rule until they get, well, laissez’d themselves and then all hell breaks loose…well.  How are these two groups going to duke it out, so to speak?

I am, of course, always in hope that the group that cooperates and has empathy will prevail.  That may take a paradigm change of epic proportions, however.  I had to kill a very large spider the  other day, and found myself thinking about how connected we all are, nothing is insignificant in truth.  Everything is our mother and father and sister and brother.  And yet so many of us, human and animal and insect and mineral and all, don’t matter in this world.  Anything can happen to us, just as a bug can get squashed.   How do we proceed in that case?  Not, I think, with an assertion of individual Importance, which is to some extent where free will has led us.  Not with clinging to power and things and all the externalities.  More with an awareness of humility and a knowing that since we are all in the wind, paying attention to the lift and direction and scent of that may be more important than us pretending we are singular importances ourselves.  The question of what really IS important is often left unanswered in our haste to make it through a day.  Still.  Life is, as they say, a journey.  I’m beginning to feel it is much less directed by us than we’d like to think, and is more a matter of reducing our prejudices and automatic reactions to the point where what is, is visible to us.  Then in due course, some time on down the road, we’ll know what we’re seeing at long last.  What would make that wonderful is if we all do it more or less together.  Not a moment to waste, Gentle Reader.

 

Deeeeeeeeeeep Breath

Well, here we are again in The Elegant Bean, which appears to be the designated home away from writing home for the foreseeable future.  Now that I’ve finally read PLANETWAVES (nothing like a week of email, is there?)  and learned of the upcoming full moon on Saturday in my very own crazypants sign, I see that the cosmic push pull may have contributed just a tee tiny bit to the major effort it took not to burst into tears when:  In the wifi world of T.E. Bean, my trusty laptop just would not, no way no how, no sirree, NYET WHAT PART OF THIS DON’T YOU GET, simply would not connect to the internet.  Oh, I tried.  I restarted.  I added to the keychain.  I asked it what the freaking hell it was doing.  I reminded said laptop that we were not in the yurt, therefore it didn’t need to keep telling me it couldn’t find the server or its ass with both hands.

Of course, finally, in the way of such things, it did connect.  I think the laptop feels it is enough of a Grande Dame not to have to connect to all these…well, STRANGE….networks.  Jakes Take and Bake?  Still, one is grateful.  Also happy to have mustered enough focus not to leak all my brains out my ears before I even saw the long and winding road ahead….note to self.  Never mind Facebook.

BUT ANYWAY.  Naturally my head is full of words up on the hill, when I’m doing chores and trying to keep it all together.  I’ve been writing in snatched invervals with the antediluvian instruments of a Bic and a college ruled notebook, and what’s interesting is that it comes out differently that way.  Typing is SOOOOO much faster.  Plus generally you can read typing, but what the heck.   In any event, once I get to T.E. Bean it’s ground zero and of course making sense of all those handwritten pages..well, it’s interesting.  There often isn’t a thought in my skull here.  Still.  This is now the Designated Time That Has Been Carved Out.  It has helped me to some extent think more clearly about what it is I’m trying to write, say, do.  And although the Partner and I have pretty much agreed that it is only through divine intervention that we’re still breathing at this point, and therefore, WTF?!? this…thing that’s trying to wend its’ way out into the world still demands to be attended to.  So I guess that’s a good thing.

It has made me think about everything going on now, in a different way, this emerging thing.  Partly it brings up the question of how much does one say?  How much do you describe, and how honestly, the shaping things that have contributed to wherever it is you are now?  I think it is telling what we learn from our experiences rather than just telling the story of “what happened” that may be really important.  Learning how someone else handled this dastardly situation in which you now shockingly find yourself, knowing that they made it, remembering that there is always something funny about it all no matter how long it takes to find that….there’s something different about that than straight reportage.    Somehow I think it all ties in to this business of truth that floats before my eyes all the time.  There’s also the question of how much to reveal, after all.  Of course the answer to that is everything- but then one must define that everything.  And, maybe it takes some time, quite some time, to actually digest and learn from what has gone on.  Currently we are in a bit of shock from, er, just how long it took little us to get a clue.

Anyway, there’s nothing to do but proceed.  Which I guess will be happening for a while on a schedule that requires, let’s just say, discipline.  I now have to drive 16 miles one way just to get an internet connection- temporary I hope but still.  It’s food for thought, yet again, about just what we need.  How can we do our work, any of us?  How do we get on in life?  A TED talk over the weekend was about how so many people in the world now are, essentially, squatters.  And that number will increase in the coming years.  The huge settlements of people in Lagos, Istanbul, Rio, all the shanty towns of the world- those are all getting bigger, and probably have some interesting things to reveal about how culture is going to be remade if it is to  continue. More horizontal organization once again, instead of hierarchical, is one thing that seems fairly clear.  The speaker asked why people make these huge moves, from their original homes to someplace about which they know nothing, and just pick up and do it.  As someone who is, I think we could say, a sort of Reverse Squatter, I think I can answer that question a bit, and that, I think, is the actual subject at hand.  The task of that subject is how to tell the story so it is understandable, and helpful.

So, dear Gentle Reader, I hope you will continue to tune in.  We may be getting at last to deeply real life.  Which is always an ongoing revelation, and always an invitation to leave fear behind.

This is how we wake up

In the mornings, I mean, Gentle Reader.  Today I opened my eyes to a vision of Albert Einstein talking about energy.  E= , etc.  That discovery of his really turned things over and people probably didn’t even really realize it.  Maybe they still don’t.  But energy can be neither created (I can vouch for that) nor destroyed (not so sure sometimes), and it involves a complex dance of matter and light speed…A truth that has probably been known to the Sages of Old for ever, but still.  So anyway I started thinking about how really, there IS so much to know and pay attention to.  How do you decide, given that for the longest time one may not know what actually interests one, especially if the crucial division between FACT and FICTION is not made.  It makes it very hard indeed to know where to sensibly direct the attention.  We live in a society with lots of rules about “right” and “wrong”, but when you think about it, the rules often have not got much to do with what really IS right or wrong.  There’s right and wrong in mathematics and chemistry (try baking a cake without measuring!), and it is wrong to intentionally inflict harm I think we might all agree. Or we should, anyway.   A lot of the rest of it is not just a tissue of lies but a mammoth fiction quilt created by someone whose taste is all in their mouth.  So it can take a while to actually realize what the things are that actually matter in life, matter whether or not they are known to one and acknowledged- in short, to ascertain what the facts are.  Then, if you’re like me, you can wonder how you wound up with such a different set of facts to be interested in than almost everyone around you.

Of course a certain amount of these differing sets of facts we all believe in can be chalked up to life experiences.  The Partner often says he doesn’t understand me because through all the incredible peregrinations of my so-called luck, I LAUGH about things.  This is because why?  Because, a) things ARE funny and b) what’s the alternative?  Mayhem.  (Which would often be HIS selection, in the heat of the moment.) So when, for example, a small but fairly critical percentage of my mail gets returned to sender and reaches me if at all as though by overland wagon train, and I go to the post office and say, ????????, and THEY say, oh, gosh.  We can’t tell without seeing what was in the envelope (a bank statement, people), and it was most likely just…well, net net.  It was most likely just some renegade individual making a mistake.  Often.  At the same time, they’ll put mail in my box from my friends that has only my name and the city and state on the envelope.   I love my post office, really.  It’s just that the constant, unrelenting drip drip drip of fracas at times can get to a person.

Which led to the penultimate AM thought, propelling me out of bed and into the Day’s Reality.   Which is more than gnarly enough, let’s just say.  At a juncture many years ago, after a life disaster of epic proportions which propelled me on the initial bump bump bump down the stairs of financial and any other sort of stability, I had a thriving business doing transcription.  Oh, I know.  DINOSAURS WERE ROAMING THE EARTH THEN.  But.  It was something I was good at, times were tough, and I found myself as the designated person to transcribe all the interviews of accused murderers being defended by either the Public Defender or volunteer, Pro Bono, attorneys. in Alameda County.  Which contains in it the City of Oakland, among others.  So there were some big murders.  Hell’s Angels bar shootups, furious renegade Injuns and National Guard members driving cars with screwdrivers instead of car keys and shooting people on the 580.   Listening to all these people talk about what had happened, what they’d done, hearing the denials and reasons and prevarications, and sometimes finding some parts of the interviews that no one had picked up on which had positive meaning for the client involved- all of this, of course interspersed with long sections where the interviewee would be mumbling into their armpit, followed by the Detective dropping a pencil (always a pencil, for some reason- I guessed it was for the bouncing) right next to the microphone and having the experience of a steel beam being shoved into one’s ear….that was the life.  But it did give me a different sense of FACT than I’d had before.  There was a whole lot more despair and anger out there in the world than I had ever imagined.  (Which is actually saying quite a bit.) There were people who really, on some level, had never separated fact from fiction, and thus could perform actions that left people outside their situation wondering how anyone could DO something like that.  So here were these people, breaking the laws of the society, performing irrevocable acts almost heedlessly, living in circles of hell and not being able to see or do anything else.  They were relegated to a paradigm that would encompass their entire lives: Prison.  Or an untimely death.  Or both.  It seemed to me then, and now still, that there really must be some way to explain things to people so they start to see there are other options than these.  More options than rage and sloth and running from the dark things inside.  Lots of facts, lots of fictions.  At times, hard to decipher.

So, anyway.  That’s how TODAY started.  We also saw something called “harmonically balanced water” for sale when out and about, and several other quite odd things.  This end of the world stuff could really go either way, it’s looking like more and more.  Meanwhile.  We’ll see how tomorrow goes.  We could finally see all the mountains today, first time in weeks.  That must be a good thing, at least.

On Freedom

The Partner and I were talking about this topic earlier, as it happened.  It seems that freedom has a rather loose definition these days, perhaps meaning actually just that one is not actually incarcerated at the present time.  We were thinking about friends we know, and ourselves as well, who basically played by all the rules only to find that not only weren’t we playing by the Rules, but there really AREN’T any rules, and the ones there seem to be can be changed at the drop of a hat by….well, you know who, Gentle Reader, right?  Suddenly people who thought they were a part of All This, thought they had an actual future, realize they’re one cough away from the junk heap.  This is extraordinarily frightening for a lot of people, and it is real.  We’re fed untruth after untruth in the form of “news”; laws get passed none of us has any idea about or would approve if we did; values become entrenched that are wholly based on who is dominating who.  If you are one of the lucky individuals who still are swimming along in this slipstream, still have money, still think you have a viable future within this construct and apparatus, I wish you the best of luck.  I listen to people now who believe that part of what’s going on now with the 2012 Thing is that many will be taken off earth, put someplace else, and the remaining few will be marching forward in Ascended Dimensional Form, making earth safe for……I don’t know, I usually am holding my breath and counting to 75 by the time we get to that point.  Really.  We don’t have much time and this stuff, all of it across the continuum,  is starting to be beyond wasteful: It’s idiotic.  We are destroying the planet, our food sources are unsafe, the public water supplies are dwindling and also not what you might think they are, there’s radioactive material afoot in the broad seas, trees are dying, people are dying- and holy mother of whatsit, people are still worried about their frigging apps and shoes and God knows what,  along with who has said something they disagree with and what horrible fate should thus befall said person.  Never mind the fact that post-Occupy several laws have been passed that should make the next round of protest quite a bit different.  Just think.  You could be classified as a danger to society for expressing your opinion peacefully.  You could be arrested and jailed, indefinitely.  Remember, habeas corpus disappeared last year.

Which is why, when I read this article in Common Dreams today, www.commondreams.org/view/2012/04/10-3, about the Miami Marlins and how new Manager Ozzie Guillen (who I really like) said he admired Castro, essentially for his toughness and longevity, the right wing old guard Cubans in town wanted his head torn from his body and used for a dart board.  Exeunt severally the Marlins.  SO.  What kind of freedom is that, Gentle Reader?  An American expresses an opinion about something which is not new- Castro hasn’t just shown up this week in Cuba, seriously- and other Americans (also transplanted) want HIS freedom of expression curtailed, terminated, and they want him to lose his job, along with probably a lot of other people.  Because why? Because their draconian idea of what freedom is means it is just for THEM, not for anyone who might disagree with them.  (OH! and in somewhat related and fun news? did you know that police anywhere in the U.S. can STRIP SEARCH YOU if they think they have a reason to? How about those apples?) And since in this great country of ours things are about money?  This ridiculous thing has snowballed into a life threatening experience for an entire baseball team.  Instead of standing up for one’s supposed rights and supposed freedom including of speech, everyone is rushing to punish Guillen for expressing what is on some level a simple statement of fact.  And this tempest in a teacup turns into national news, big stuff, supposedly about the Cuban community- but what it is really about is the continuing flow out and down the tubes, of freedom.  Castro is far from perfect and he’s done awful things.  It’s just that unlike Bautista, he isn’t OUR imperfect guy doing awful things.  My heart is in wriggling pieces, looking at all this stuff all the time and seeing the lies pile up higher and deeper, yet knowing that we are here to help each other and do no harm, what choice is there but to carry on?  Anyway, my vote is for Ozzie.  Everybody else in Miami needs to wake up, realize they aren’t alone on earth, and get over it.  There’s baseball to play if these dinosaurs would get out of the way.  And Ozzie Guillen may be a wild and crazy guy, but he’s a great baseball guy too.   Pay attention to what’s in front of your nose, and quit expecting others to hold the mirror for you non-stop.

Mandelbrot Sets

We’ve been thinking about fractals and Mandelbrot Sets lately.  The ideas float around in my head, probably making all sorts of fantastic sets, pulsing with color and repeating form, and  make me think about how magnificent everything really is.  All the color and movement, from the bottom of the sea to the top of the mountains, rocks and jellyfish and gems and flowers and stars and prairies and lakes and…leaves and all sorts of things.  I realize now there has never been a moment in my life when I wasn’t sure that everything was connected, and somehow intelligible in that connection.

Except, of course, people.  Except the huge expanse of unknowing contained in my own hard cranium.  It all made sense, all the connectedness and energy, and then, as  (I think) Descartes said, I went outside.  What everyone else saw as making sense, to me was chaos.   On the public television documentary we saw on Mandelbrot, THAT all kind of finally made sense too.  Apparently, “real” mathematics deals with geometry in terms of circles, squares, curves, straight lines.  Theoretical examples of what things may be.   So nature, with all its “rough” surfaces and areas, was outside the realm of mathematics.  Fractals are a way of understanding those rough spots, which are in everything and are actually REAL.  Original mathematicians, like Plotinus who said that “numbers are mysterious beings” saw the magic, all the fluctuation and movement of creation in things not as something unreal but as an essential component of reality.  Mystery and magic were forces of nature, and numbers were their language- and numbers spoke to rough spots, not just smooth ones.  So, somehow, this crush of history and the past two thousand years we find ourselves at the end of  hurtled toward, to a large extent, the negation of nature and the imposition of a concept of reality that could be managed on paper, in the abstract, vanquished and set aside by calculations that took place partly in a vacuum.

Which, of course, is where we find ourselves now.  It helps in a way to understand things now from that perspective- the one where you see that an artificial construct was put in place for just about everything, and the original impulses that interacted with each other and produced observable phenomena were relegated to the junk heap.  More or less.  And, it isn’t that these sorts of mathematics and paradigms are really mutually exclusive.  They work with each other, talk to each other, and could talk to all of us too.  If we had just a bit larger horizon for our thinking.  Meanwhile, if one turns out to dwell in the rough places and not in the imposed circles and squares, it can be hard to fit in.

This is why we turn to nature- for some confirmation that what we instinctively feel is in fact real, for corroboration so to speak of essential truth and being.  People may be difficult to deal with, but an afternoon with plants and rocks and sky restores perspective.  The issue of course is MAINTAINING that attitude when one ventures back into the Classic Paradigm, let’s call it.  Because in that classic paradigm, nature itself is to be ruled over, is chaotic and must be controlled and dominated.  Crazy, if you ask me.

And, of course, crazy.  Here we are.  But I started thinking about it, especially after an extraordinarily tough day at the races, aka going up to “town”.  People were mind bogglingly rude, pushing and shoving, and in general behaving in uncooperative and mean, boorish ways.  That’s fairly unusual here; it’s small and rural enough that people are mostly nice to each other- knowing that there may be need to rely on that person you see every day at the mail box some time.  I found myself responding, at least mentally, by picturing myself with, say, a hand held rocket launcher? Or at least a very stout mallet.  After a fair amount of mistreatment, I wanted to hit someone, in short.  Another Opportunity For Growth! Oh, BOY!!!  Once again we see how easy it is to love your brother as long as you don’t have to encounter him too often.  And, this negative behavior probably forms its own ever expanding fractals influencing huge areas and numbers of people.  This is, to my mind,  where plant and energy based therapies can be very helpful because they help you encounter and deal successfully with the things you don’t necessarily see, like just exactly what that bad mood that guy is huffing out looks like in color.

And, Gentle Reader, so we find ourselves where we are today, at the confluence of waving and flourescing fractals.  On the “pathological curve”.  Pondering the essential difficulty of going “outside”.  For example, I’m toying with the idea of entering a writing competition.  This has had predictable results, as in Mental Paralysis.  So, fine, that’s an old rough spot and, things being equal, probably we could map it out.  But of course things are not equal and countervaling pressures create yet another, if familiar, rough spot.  As in, for once in my life I think I really need to stay put, hunker down with the rocks and trees here, dismantle the paralysis and allow its colors to flow into something more productive.  But outside things have their own, ineluctible reality; maintaining balance on this rough spot, where it seems as though I “must” once again go out into the classic paradigm to deal with what others want, and abandon these wild and rough spots that call so strongly- at present it is elusive.  It’s all a matter of perspective, of course.  But time, with its ribbon candy aspect, doesn’t always cooperate- as all abstract representations of reality tend to not do, periodically.  And the old formulae, the cubes and cones of our emotional past, don’t willingly submit to the wild beauty of the rough spots in our hearts.  So? As usual, I’m going to cook.  Today it is a preparation of beets with walnuts and garlic.  We’re hoping for inspiration.

Compassion

It is rainy and overcast today; it looked at one point as though there was…an unencumbered afternoon ahead in which to get some lingering work done, since we weren’t going anywhere.

BUT OF COURSE.  Given the opportunity to stare blankly into space, an object will stare blankly into space.  Basic physics, right?  Also when a DVD gets put in that an object wants to watch, that object will somehow find itself watching that DVD.  I have the discipline of a wet noodle at times.  (We’re watching “Life”, a tv show we somehow missed.  When we had television.  It’s good.)

But back, or on,  to compassion.  There was an interview on NPR with a woman who wrote a book about a slum in Mumbai located next to the airport and a passel of luxury hotels.  One observation she made that was even more striking than everything else she said, hard as that was because this is one amazing woman even though I never did get her name (driving! in car!), was that the level of moral compass declines when poverty is rampant, in part because corruption rises and every transaction has a price, and also because in such corruption the monitoring forces of society are also corrupt.  So people are hesitant to, say, help someone in distress in the street lest they be arrested or forced to pay a bribe themselves.  When you couple that with the obvious atrophy of the soul that allows people to  pass by such a place on the way to another place close by- that is so removed from the squalor and suffering that the people in the place of squalor can, if they’re lucky, make a living from the trash that the jetting by people toss out- without thinking, hey, there must be something I can do about this and let’s get a few people we know together.  Well, what you’ve got is not just a collapse of moral thinking, but a total, stark absence of it.

It’s interesting to me how humans can do that, segment, compartmentalize, categorize people and things and then disregard them.  While not always as egregious as the Mumbai slum, this habit people have of deciding that they don’t have to pay attention is problematic.    On a personal level, people may “decide” what you are “like” and since they’re not paying attention, that decision can be way, way wrong.  That decision can also affect your life Gentle Reader,  and not positively.  Then you get to spend (x) amount of time unravelling that decision and its effects and getting back to square one.   This dynamic is as true of a parent who cannot recognize who their child really is as it is of a culture that decides wholesale swathes of people just don’t count and can be dealt with in whatever way is easiest.  Like, watching them living in poverty or endlessly cycling through prison, or just seeing them give up on their own humanity.  Seeing them give up on helping each other.  Seeing them give up on paying attention.

So, I’m thinking that this mutilation of moral contiguity also leads to a mutilation of all human functions, like thinking independently.  And independent thinking isn’t always valued as highly as perhaps it should be.  So it’s even more important than we might have already thought to pay attention.  It’s hard to do sometimes, which probably accounts for why I’m still sneaking looks at “Life”. Even though it IS really good!  Ah, distraction how we love thee.

 

Hours Like Slippery Fish

Ah, well.  Yesterday was another day where somehow, despite my Best Intentions, there was no blog.  I went down to the Bay Area for a quick trip, and by the time I got back in the afternoon, so many things were clamoring for attention that…well, finally I went to bed.  With a pillow over my head.

The hills along Rt. 5 are sensuous, once you get used to the landscape.  It used to seem rather barren and depressing to me as a child, on those long and frequent drives with my mother.  When The Partner and I first came up here to see this place we live now, the hills were covered with an incredible shade of green, somewhere between emerald and grassy , and they rolled along like long bolts of velvet.  This time of year they’re the color of lions, and there are flocks of birds boiling around through the air, and big hawks with intricately feathered and colored chests.  The fires that had been set the day I drove down had filled the sky in one place with low hanging smoke the next day.  It was a strange effect but it did make the colors of the fields almost flourescent, with flashes of ochre and mauve.  When I got home, it almost felt like the trees were surrounding me and giving me a big welcome home hug.

One thing that happened this visit was that my friend and I went out to dinner, which in itself is an extraordinary treat.  We went to a new Cambodian place and, amazingly, a waiter from a Cambodian place I’d gone to and loved twenty years ago was in this new restaurant.  It made me think about how people endure and survive and ultimately flourish.  The first place was in downtown Oakland, and I used to go there with my husband.  When he died, I went in with a friend to eat and, upon hearing the news of his passing, everyone there cried.  The chefs came out and the two waiters stood there wringing their hands.  These were all people who had made it out of Cambodia alive, had lived through Pol Pot and the Viet Nam war.  They had, and have, a particular resilience, in that things that might seem like deal breakers to an average person don’t really phase them one bit; they just keep moving and working and making an effort.  So to see them all in tears that night was both moving and difficult.   Seeing my old friend this week made me remember all that, and I was very happy indeed to see him well.  We discussed my garden- he was impressed that I can get lemon grass to grow up here, and I promised to stop in on my next trip down.  Plus, he wants to meet The Partner- after all, he needs to approve my choice, apparently.

So, it really made me think, once again, how we all are part of such a much bigger whole, and that all beings truly do want to be happy.  We can communicate with each other and thrive through doing that and building new relationships and paradigms.  The important thing is not to give up- not on ourselves, and not on others.   When we give up we live in constraints and operate out of fear, as though we are our own prisoners- we don’t really live.  Which is a shame, when there are old friends to meet unexpectedly, and velvet hills to pass through on the way.

August 15, 2011

I was standing looking down into our stock tub, watching the left over bathwater move around the sides and gently swirl -like galaxies, huge cosmic clusters, and stars. I had retreated to the tub earlier, because today is the once again anniversary of something that happened and changed my life forever; some days it’s hard to tell if it got better (I think it has) or not (sometimes it seems that way too.)  In any event it was extraordinarily traumatic and as I found myself overcome with memory and emotion today, it really made me think.  So many people in the world have had things transpire in their lives, violent, traumatic, sad things, and such things affect you forever.  It’s just a question of how.

When something astounding and painful happens, it lodges in your body.  Whether or not you make mental peace with it, gain understanding, or not, it is there and comes and goes almost as though it is an independent, volitional creature.  When you can’t come to terms with it, they call it Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.   When such things happen to children, they really don’t have the intellectual infrastructure to make “sense” of it and then, this “it” can become life long adjustment difficulties.  As older individuals, trauma can still create huge adjustment difficulties because on some level it seems we are “supposed” to “get over” everything.  Just like in the movies, it’s all resolved in the end- or not, in the case of a cliff hanging plot.  Easier to just stuff it in the back of the mental closet and carry on- at least until the closet gets too full and the door pops open.  So sometimes when I encounter someone out in the world who’s just SO angry or reactive or whatever, I think- hmmmm.  There’s a big ouch there.  At the same time, that acting out of the feeling is a way of being stuck in it, never letting it go even if it is technically unacknowledged.  Resisting feeling that pain is a way of never letting it go.  And somehow, when that path is chosen, that “thing that happened” continues to dominate everything, like the elephant in the living room.  Perhaps it also has to do with dwelling on the apparent unfairness of the situation, feeling that it shouldn’t have happened to YOU.  So therefore you have the total right to behave any damn way you want to.

I think, though, that this response is a result of never having gotten back into one’s body in the first place after the…accident happened.  You can almost feel how you slip up through the top of your head, and then look down at everything from a high remove.  It takes a long time for all the various parts to come floating and crashing down to earth, and then you get to rebuild.  Some people gain a lot of weight during these sorts of things:  they’re trying to make the body a comfortable place to come back to.  That’s just one manifestation of course.  But the rebuild! Wow.  The work of a lifetime, that is.  Once the shock wears off and you’re back in the apparently real world, you know somehow you’re not the same.  But what are you?  You can’t go back, exactly.  Like Heraclitus said, you never step in the same river twice.  The expectation might be that the pain eventually goes away.  And it does, but never completely.  Sometimes you experience it rising up and grasping you, and the real key, I’m coming to see, is how you respond in that precise moment.  Naturally, you’re stressed, uncomfortable, filled with sorrow and fear, irritated, whatever it might be.  Hard to explain to anyone else, too, because after all, this was [however] long ago and far away in a sense.  But pain is pain, and all of it turns out to be amenable to the same sort of interaction.  You have to breathe into it, through it, surrender to it which means not resisting it and pretending you can control it somehow.  Then it moves over you like a wave, ,and afterward there are shells left behind, like messages from you to you.  Messages of peace, as well as messages of understanding.  While it’s pretty hard to really understand just what we’re here for, one thing really is clear.  It’s all a learning journey.  I think pain almost has to be used as an opportunity for growth and expansion, but sometimes when you think about all the people who are living with it every day in all its’ innumerable manifestations and permutations, it just seems like there should be a better way for us all to deal with and learn from what we go through.  It might make us all realize our oneness, which is one of the saving graces in life.