Posts Tagged ‘society’

the dog with no sense of time

Whenever I ‘m in the kitchen,  I can usually time pretty precisely just when I’ll hear the patter of ever bigger paws, rising from whatever reclining position He and They may have been in, trotting around to INSPECT.  Looking, licking his lips, and pretty much saying, I don’t care what it is, I want some and when will it be ready?  Not yet, is my general response. Unless it’s coffee or something and then he gets told it’s Not For Dogs.  He’s getting better, in that he usually only comes back once more to assess just HOW MUCH LONGER????!!?? and I remind myself, every time, that this Dog does not know how to cook and thus has no idea about anything other than that stuff he likes comes from this area and he….must…..patrol…..not…..miss…..anyofit…..so he’s engaged and curious. Yes.  Good things!

I also try to cultivate in myself his for the most part consistent joy in things that are pretty much always the same and he greets with OH BOY! MY FAVORITE! YIPPEE!…notwithstanding the times he has to be Very Parliamentary and look just a tiny bit like a dog George Clooney, with his paws crossed in front of him.  Ball, stummy rub, cooking shows where they’re making hummus (a favorite), the morning routine, the afternoon routine, the evening routine, checking out the kitchen, switching seats on the couch, the morning kiss, hippopotami, the paw hold when he gets hiccups….everything, in short.  Except baths which he has recently developed an aversion to- he either retreats to his bed, snoring ostentatiously, or most recently, tries to fake us into letting him outside right before he’s to be put into the soapy drink.  He loves baths, actually, and closes his eyes in bliss as the Partner soaps him up, rinses him,  helps him out of the tub and whatnot.

Anyway, I’ve been thinking, which may or may not be a good thing.  The being in the now is the joy thing with him.  It’s all good to him, for the most part.  He doesn’t have a lot of preconceived notions or opinions although he does have some ever lessening remaining trauma from his challenging early weeks.  Really, he doesn’t have fear or trepidation either.  He just assumes, correctly as it happens, that everyone is going to like him.  So far, he’s been right except for two times which is an average one might profitably take to Vegas.  Clearly, there’s something to the way in which he assesses things.

The thinking struggle I’ve been engaged in, however, ranges farther afield from NOW and covers the knottier topic of knowing who to listen to.  The Dog ignores us at times but for the most part, KNOWS he benefits from listening to us.  Would that I had that kind of clarity myself, let’s just say.  I try to take his happy appraisal as a model and implement it in my own day.  It was going really well for a while. But as usual my ongoing issue of listening to the wrong station at the wrong time reared its head.  I realized that I had almost lost faith in myself.  I put too much emphasis on what I was hearing, in essence, without keeping the housekeeping detail in action.

I think about faith a lot.  I am not religious but I do have faith.  This faith tells me that love is the truth, do unto others as you would have them do unto you is the rule.  Hard as hell, but true and rule, nonetheless. While most of the things our cultures deems “wrong” appear on reflection to be nothing more than exertion of social control and an extension of the separation between us and everything else that seems to have happened about 5000 years ago, the things that really ARE wrong get no attention and it is quite common to hear people, in a variety of settings, say that there is no right and wrong.  But, there is.  It is wrong to hurt people or condone it when others do it. (Even though we hurt people all the time just by being alive; we step on bugs unwittingly, our housing tracts kill animals, everything our society is based on just about causes some harm. So already we’ve got cognitive dissonance up the wazoo.) It is wrong to damage the earth. It is, in fact, wrong to think that you are better than anyone else- or than any animal, plant, rock, or body of water, on some level, as well.  In a way the discourse about there being no right or wrong has morphed into an acceptance of awful behavior as long as you agree with it yourself. It’s almost a bit doctrinal, when you listen to religious people talk about the world now- and with SEVEN “god channels” on the tv here, it’s unavoidable. The religious texts, it seems, tell you so.  Yes, there ARE a million ways to stack dishes after you wash them, a million ways to clip your fingernails, all those things we so often let drive us bananas- tuneless humming, et al.  None of those things are wrong although they are often cast as so.  But I happen to think it is wrong to discriminate against people or situations or things simply because you want it all to be more like YOU. It’s wrong to make others suffer because you refuse to do the proper thing in a situation.  It is wrong to accept shoddy thinking and behavior as accepted and installed wisdom just because it benefits you, or so you think.  Given that we are all one, we have some responsibility to each other not to be total idiots. Even though, of course, THAT HAPPENS.

Is it about considering the source? I wonder.  Real Source is, after all, ineffable.  We get glimmers and hints and outright blatant messages but it is still all so much bigger than we are, as we get carried along with the cosmic parade.  Current source, not so much.  In fact one of the main things to be said about it now is that it constantly contradicts itself.  (Which may be better than say in the mid-20th century when essentially untruth was the message for the most part)  Researching a simple thing like is dog saliva a good thing for dog owies gives you a zillion answers that all refute each other. Information pretty much equals propaganda unless you’re the type to spend a lot of time in the real or metaphorical library.  Perhaps it is more about the fact that since we don’t know, it really is better to greet each moment with the joy it deserves rather than trying to figure out how to get it to do or be something other than what it is.  Which we don’t know anyway.  The information we REALLY need is, for the most part, available to us, right there in front of us.  It’s a question of who we listen to- who tells us what we’re seeing.  And that person we listen to should really be US- as long as we are willing to put in the work every day, pay attention, learn how to truly think for ourselves, greet the day with joy, and hope for the best.  Then it kind of doesn’t matter, or at least not as much, who’s talking because you can listen, think, trust YOUR source, and make better decisions.

So far, having crawled out of the Hole of Seemingly Complete Across the Board Powerlessness of last month, I’m equilibrating myself one day at a time. Traversing the hills and valleys of taxes, delicate but crucial negotiations, County Inspectors, health insurance weirdness,  memories and current time attitudinal snafus, I’m Remembering that I CAN trust myself, so I’ve cooked, the usual fallback after breakdown.  Butternut squash/olive/white bean pizza (initially looked at askance, liked very much later), homemade green Thai curry (did not send myself the memo about the part where I decided I’d make all this stuff from scratch so there was a good half hour snipe hunt in the refrigerator for the non-existent jarred stuff)  soup with more of That Squash, homemade garam masala dusted over roast chicken for the luxury portion of the trip, and variations on our new old favorite, tetrazinni.   Not to mention the Achiote-on-the-brain extravaganza, more of which to come later. Since so much, including whether or not we have basic services or any income whatsoever, seems beyond my ability to effect OR affect, I’m finding that preparation of every successful dinner has a very salutary impact on my quivering brain.  Marx said that people do things like crafts and knitting and complex cooking I suppose as an antidote to alienation.  I think he was right about that.  As for what comes next? I’m trying to cultivate the Dog’s approach and see the good in it.  While reserving my right to bark and give a good nip if the good turns out not to be there.  And I think, Gentle Reader, you know what I mean.

Blessings and thanks!

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anatomy of meltdown averted

Ye GODS and effing little fishes, Gentle Reader.  Once again we see that there are even more previously undiscovered circles of Hell than previously supposed.  However, even in Hell you can keep your cool.  At least a bit.

So.  We had a bangup start to the year.  The person we rent space, water, and power from, Madame Entropy hereinafter referred to as MmE, caused just a bit of a snarlup right from the jump.  Maintenance not being a strong suit, somehow “her” power pole (as designated by the power company who puts poles out here but then makes landowners put their “own” poles up for boxes and whatnot) actually….just….disintegrated.  Yes there was snow.  And then torrential rain.  And high winds.  And 29 degree weather.  But the power pole just collapsed before all that because it was, essentially rotten.  AS it has been since we arrived here.

So, OK.  While it was in fact something of a miracle that it a) got fixed at all and b) within a ten day period? Seven to be precise? We had no power, no water, no phone, no nothing for all that time.  No place to go. No chainsaw for wood, either.  Twenty nine degrees, people.  Forty mile an hour winds.  I won’t bore you with the details of All the Excuses I Heard etc., but net net? I’m down about $700 clackeroos.  Which I didn’t actually have to begin with but bartered a stretch out for a portion thereof thanks to the good will of a friend.  The Subaru is probably going to smell like gasoline for several months from all the trips back and forth to fill the portable gascan to fill the gas guzzling generator we THANK GOD were able to use- for a price, yes, but that does not lessen my total gratitude. Not to mention the gas the CAR used because of course the creek was at flood stage and we had to Go the Long Way.  I found myself slogging through what was eventually about half a mile more than once  what with all the trips to and fro with 10 gallon buckets of horse trough water so we could flush the toilet.  After it essentially overflowed. (Snow melt and rain, ya know.  Filled septic up briefly.) I got a bit of a charley horse from yanking my mud caked boots off ten times a day so as not to have the yurt be an impersonation of a barnyard. We have not yet reached agreement on the central current issue which is that since I had to do amazing things to get through this, and the causal responsibility is squarely on certain shoulders, there will be no money forthcoming in that direction until I’m out from under the $700.  Which, technically, is the law.  However this intelligence has been greeted with dour dismay.   Not a surprise but still.  One more Thing.

A few other gruesome events transpired during this festive period and I admit that I came within millimeters of just….giving up.  Enough already.  I felt like I’d been shot but hadn’t yet fallen down.  Am I dead yet? NO????? WHY THFUCKNOT?????AAAAGGGHHHHHHH!!!!!! sort of thing.  But then.

I thought about the larger reality.  Even when this morning, the Dog tore off down the “driveway” seemingly never to return? I allowed myself a brief strangled cry and then thought, the only way out is through.  And the only way through is Love.  So I beamed LOVE toward his little doggy brain, trudged into the underbrush, and eventually all was restored to its current dull roar.  He’s also managed to nearly cut his paw off which adds a level of zing to things since a visit to the Vet is not a possibility at present.  However, I suspect the Partner was a mummy wrapper in Egypt because he has battlefield level wound management skills with bandages.  So, so far so good.  More or less.

Love doesn’t mean letting people crap all over you, and it doesn’t mean pretending things aren’t happening when they are, but it does mean that you step out of the reactive radius of the ego into the slightly more spacious area of, in progression, WTF? and REALLY? NOW? and, actually beauty still exists after all! on to We can, in fact, do this.  People say, especially now, all sorts of things about the nature of things, and the nature of thinking, and the nature of money and all the rest of it. It does look, to all intents and purposes, as though we are on the express ride to hellish crappola.  Starting Friday.  But bottom line? You can only BE where you ARE, and on some level that is timeless, even though time flies while you’re there.  The thing about time flying is, of course, it’s a bit of a magic carpet if you allow it and before you know it, or at least before too many more moons have risen and set, you are BEing somewhere else than you were, even if in temporal space and time it is the “same” place.   For me this current somewhere else is largely constituted by its being something completely different, in every sense, from anything I ever thought I “knew”.  Nothing, literally, is as it was. I am truly not stepping in the same river.  It has become more imperative to explore and observe than ever.  Given my energy levels as a person, I find it better to devote the energy I do have to this exploration rather than staying in the utter despair and why?why?why?.  The big thing I noticed in all this, too, was: being nice and kind really DOES make a huge difference wherever it occurs.  So. Be nice.  Be kind.  It works.  It helps your fellow creatures.  And really, staying in internal muck just keeps you begrimed.  Breathing is the first step out.  Sometimes staying at least a tiny bit sane is the best you can do.  And even that radiates out for the good no matter how dire things are or seem to be.

We found ourselves in this, actually entire, situation through a confluence of things, which make more sense to me now than they used to.  I no longer blame myself for not fitting in, not subscribing to the prevailing belief systems, for allowing myself to believe all who told me I was basically nuts due to the results of items one and two, even though that has led me to HERE.  In many ways I really like it HERE, and wouldn’t go back even if it were possible which it most def is not. I mean, seriously. NOBODY regular can afford to live where we used to eke out our lives. The burndown of the Ghost Ship is just one example of that. But what I think I learned this trip down the rabbit hole is that you cannot continually accept other people’s ICK.  They aren’t going to be good and nice, and especially honest, just because you are or because you want them to be.  It is important to have clarity at all times and not pretend, and express that with kindness. As in, no thank you, that particular load of crap is not landing on me.  I’m sorry but you get to keep it, dear. That’s the next project anyway, and I hope it doesn’t turn into yet another runway to ?????!!#@@#!.  Still, even if it does? This time I think I can cope, at least for a bit longer.  I hope, eventually, to have snow pictures, too.

Blessings and thanks!

 

until you don’t

Also, the Real Problem with Fried Chicken.

Recently I was in the Land of Fun known as the laundromat, and a story came on the radio about how people were found to be happier later in life than in their twenties.  Whoa.  Newsflash!!! Anyway it went on to say that as people got older and went through more adversity they were better able to cope and stay in balance.  The owner of the laundromat was there, swishing a mop around and suddenly that mop went ballistic.  UNTIL YOU DON’T! he yelled.  YOU’RE NOT BETTER ABLE TO COPE!! and so forth.  He turned a bit pink and I reminded him to breathe and lower his shoulders.  I happen to know that he’s had a pretty large adversity serving the past few years, and I said: True.  You cope til you don’t.  Then you have a massive snap fest, wind up face down on broken glass, struggle to get up and wait til the cuts heal.  He actually laughed, looked at me, and said that somehow he knew I’d get it.  I was, after all, the one who was there the day the Big Washer Broke and the entire laundromat was two feet deep in water in about 15 minutes.  A man wearing a t-shirt saying he’d given himself to Jesus made a call to the posted emergency number that was so astonishingly inchoate it made me glad Jesus accepted the poor lamb. I may have mentioned all this at the time.  Anyway, I called the number, rustled up some help and soothed the jangled nerves of the person on the other end of the phone who was still assimilating the incoherent prior call.  IN the meantime, before help arrived suddenly the water? was up to the washer bottoms and sizzling noises were beginning to happen.  I was in rubber shoes, too.  What to do? All the dryers were running and the washers were starting to sound ominous.  With help from a handsome young man (where’d HE come from???) I found the water turn off on the original, offending washer, opened the doors to the laundromat and whooshed water out.  Given we’re in a drought the resident birds were delirious with joy, taking baths and drinking in the now torrential flow.  The cavalry arrived shortly and all was more or less well.  In any event the laundromat owner thinks I’m a good person.  I’ll take it.

Perhaps this is what they’re talking about, in saying that you’re happier as you get older.  What I think it is? Is you just know at long last that not only is there no time to waste, there is DEFINITELY no time to freak out.  I suppose that can give a person a sense of calm mastery from time to time.  While they’re picking broken glass out of their face.  After an until you don’t moment.

So.  After another more recent day during which tempers flared, milk spilled, and I indulged in some blubbing while cleaning up and sorting yet again through the boxes in my storage shed known that day as MY RUINED LIFE, I thought actually about the laundromat flood and ensuing kafuffle.  Thought about how really having to be right about things is missing the point (re flaring tempers and just who Jesus will save), and how spilled things are just spilled things and you do the best you can with the Whole thing.  In the spirit of snap fest past, I decided to do something I’d never done before.  Which is make fried chicken.

My mother was, I think now, pathologically concerned with me not being overweight.  I became well acquainted with cottage cheese and Ry Krisp.  And thank God, not fat.  In any event we didn’t have fried chicken much and I thought: too hard to make.  Too messy.  FATTENING.  See where this is going? Another thing I thought I couldn’t do.  And now I’m getting a message that my draft isn’t being saved so we’ll see if I can even do THIS.

Anyway, the real truth about fried chicken is this.  It is as easy to make as falling off a log.  Easy, we may say, peasy.  The problem then becomes you can have it WHENEVER YOU WANT.  It doesn’t even have to be unhealthy if you use the right oils and keep temperature.  That still doesn’t make it something you should have every day or even every week.  It’s something you have to hold in regard and have once in a while.  It is, thus, one of those things in life that’s like a tiny party you can have for yourself when you’re picking the broken glass out of your face yet again.  And this, I thought, was quite a wonderful revelation.

It seems to me that if we all remembered that we can step forward in adversity, and there are rewards and joys no matter what happens, especially if we put the other person’s feelings and well being at least on a par with our own (I was actually worried about the laundromat guy’s water bill that day- almost as much as I worried about my own imminent electrocution)(the Partner had been mooning around about fried chicken, so even though I was Mightily Peeved with him at the time…..), we might even survive this ghastly election.  Anyway, we need to and to do that, getting back to basics seems to be in order.  In that vein I feel happy to be the one to tell you you can in fact make your own celebratory fried chicken in the event you can find a decent chicken.  You can coordinate with people you don’t agree with, might not like even a tiny bit.  It all moves things forward in a positive way.  Instead of a fear based, anger mongering, stupidity exacerbating way which seems to be disturbingly pervasive.   Onward, then.  And as Jacques Pepin says, happy cooking- which covers a LOT of ground.

Thank you!

 

An Understanding

The May 5th edition of THE NEW YORKER had a fascinating article, “Kin and Kind”, by Jonah Lehrer.  It was about the origin of kindness in species, and the research both biological and mathematical that has carried on since Darwin first broached his findings.

One of the main scientists referred to in the article was E.O. Wilson, who among other things is probably the world’s expert on ants.  Ants live quite cooperatively, as we should know.  So do many other creatures; kindness is not always intermittent it seems.  So Wilson explored the question of how cooperation developed, some mathematicians joined the project, and they proceeded to create quite a kafuffle between biologists who felt their math was too complex and others who felt the original math that had led to some understanding of the development of kindness and altruism was too simple.  One thing Wilson observed was that at times altruistic behavior is a response to an environmental situation such as scarcity of living space.  Other times it is part of a hierarchical organization with a supreme ruler, the Queen of the Ants for example, where everyone serves her but in return gets protection and a functional life.  Anyway, you should read the article, Gentle Reader.

The closing quote, however, that entered my quivering little brain was this, from Wilson himself:

“Selfishness beats altruism within groups.  Altruistic groups beat selfish groups.  Everything else is commentary.

I thus realized that the experiences of the weekend tied right in to my ongoing struggles in understanding why it is that non-violence, which seems so obviously the right choice as to be a no brainer, is such a challenging practice over the long term.  Lost in the commentary again!   As humans we have a barely navigable mix of SELFISH and ALTRUISTIC.  Given that selfishness trumps everything in groups- and we can see this is true by a simple glance at our current society and government.  Selfishness trumps everything in this group.  We know deep down that kindness and cooperation go alot farther than pushing our own agendas no matter what but somehow….the lure of that success right in front of one seems to win out over the larger sense that we do better when we ALL do better.  So we’re, in essence, hardwired for this push pull, this WTF free for all in which our altruistic selves swim up stream against the tide that says selfishness and temporary benefit is “right”.

For a minute I saw myself floating way up in the sky, looking down, and thinking, well.  Heck.  There is clear evidence that altruism and cooperation do, indeed work, and work very well.  But somehow it is very difficult to make that work as well as selfishness seems to in a given instant.   Selfishness seems to always lead to conflict, violence- problems.  So why do we keep behaving in such a poorly adaptive manner?  I still don’t understand that, but I can see that those two strains of being, we might say, are constantly locked into a dance with each other.  It’s real, and I’m not crazy when I feel these energies pushing and swirling around.  So what it requires is thinking.  Attention.  Awareness.  On everyone’s part.  Oh, my goodness.  Seems like a tall order.   The quotes that are rattling around in the cranium at this point are:

Martin Luther King, Jr. ” I have decided to stick with Love.  Hate is too great a burden to bear.”

A Cuban revolutionary, Menoyo: “When you are subjected to a policy of savagery and barbarism, you come to the conclusion that you have to reject those methods, that you have to be the first to set hatred aside- otherwise it will destroy you…”

And, of course, Gandhi’s tomb, where an inscription asks the visitor to imagine the poorest person they’ve ever seen, and ask themselves if their next act will be of any use to that person.

Armed with this new understanding, I think I feel more dismay, oddly, than before because in a way it seems that the only way to get society to grasp this concept is by, again as Gandhi said, doing it yourself.  Being the change you want to see.  Etc.  At present that seems to be a Sisyphusian task.  Now I see that the forces that operate against this approach are implacable in their own way, have always been there, and transmutation takes a long time.  It has to shift and evolve and that means some need must present itself, essentially, in order for shift to move progressively instead of congealing into pockets of conformity and apparent “safety”.  It isn’t even necessarily good, bad or indifferent in the overall view. It’s simply that selfishness is unproductive of overall good in the long run.  So one goes, essentially, against the tide and…..hopes for the best.

At the same time, of course there is hope, because this impulse toward good is just as real and powerful as everything else, as its opposite is.  It’s all energy, all moving.  Perhaps it is simply that as humans there are things we cannot see ahead of us, thus we cannot be overly concerned with them.  As in, what’s going to happen here?  Answer: Anything is possible.  And out of the truth of that possibility, let us focus on the endless possibilities inside that possibility, even though attaining them means repeating the same actions over and over, on and on.  Being the help first before we consume.

And so it is that every answer creates another question, don’t you think?