Author: citizzen anna

About citizzen anna

Hi there - Here's a bit about me if you're interested. Art has been part of my life since childhood, and I've been writing since my college days in the 60's, when I got my BS in Journalism at Boston University. (Why the unfortunate BS instead of BA beats me, since any writing is way more of an art than a "science".) Anyway, since then my writing has taken many forms including long and short non-fiction essays, poetry, journaling, autobiography, fictionalized auto-biography, and travelogues. My artwork has included photography; museum exhibit installation; water color, oil and acrylic painting; clay sculpture; cartooning and caricature; 3-D and paper constructions and card-making; paper and fabric doll-making. Seems I just can't make up my mind which I like better......... I've also been an avid traveler since childhood and visited more than 23 countries and 33 States (or is it 34?). All these experiences, combined with an MA in Adolescent Psychology, contributed to my focus on the subjects that inspire me most: culture, social issues, travel, psychology, person-centered education, giftedness, and creativity. I've written two books: "Sophia Sees the World", published in 2000 and for sale at Amazon Books. A sequel "the Dao of the Doll - Sophia's journeys continue", is a hand-made book in its final stages of construction. Three other books planned for the Sophia series are: "An Errant Trajectory - travels in search of meaning"; "PlanetSpin"- the world as seen through the eyes of young people"; and "Self-Emulation - a journey toward awakening in an ordinary life". In this blog I'll focus on short-form social, political, and cultural commentaries, travel photography, and a bit of artwork. Hope it'll all be thought-provoking and enjoyable for you! Anna

Still on my sad little horse

Well, now it’s been even longer since I’ve posted anything new………………..

Still burnt out from the incessant insanity coming out of DC, and who hasn’t gotten deathly sick of listening to talking heads repeating the same on TV day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year?
er me gerd!

It’s amazing to me that every night (with some shining exceptions) so many of the anchors and “analysts” who appeared nightly on CNN and MSNBC for more than three years, endlessly mused about “why” Trump would do this or that, “why” his cronies would say this or that, or “what could possibly be the motive behind” their policies, positions, and actions.

A few are still doing that. Seriously people? Are you deaf, dumb, and blind? Why are you still looking for the logic in any of it, or the “strategy”? THERE IS NONE AND NEVER HAS BEEN. You have got to realize by now, in all truth, that Trump is a pathological, sociopathic narcissist, a con-man, grifter, and cheat. And he’s still surrounded by power-hungry, honor-free folk who will do literally anything to stay in their ill-gotten positions. Whatever is good and decent be damned if it gets in their way.
It is truly sickening.

But things are finally changing! Off the top of my head here are the names of a few shining guest speakers who forcefully speak the truth about what’s really going on (in alphabetical order):
Charles Blow
Michelle Goldberg
Chris Hayes
John Heilemann
Karine Jean-Pierre
Don Lemon
Lawrence O’Donnell
Joy Reid
Maya Wiley
Jill Wine-Banks

and last but absolutely not least these former “Repuglicans”:
Ana Navarro
Rick Wilson
Steve Schmidt
David Jolly
Rick Wilson

Now these outspoken Ex Military, CIA, NSA, FBI folks: Jeremy Bash, John Bolton, John Brennan, James Clapper, Michael Hayden, John Kelly, James Mattis, HR McMasters, Matthew Miller, Malcolm Nance, Paul J. Selva, Richard V. Spencer, former Sec of State Rex Tillerson and others, frequently appear on MSNBC and CNN in increasing numbers.

This August, 73 former national security officials and other GOP officials endorsed Joe Biden for president.
In Sept, 489 retired senior military officers, national security officials and diplomats also signed a letter endorsing Biden. These included 200 four-star generals and admirals; 22 four-star retired military officers; former Cabinet secretaries; 5 former defense secretaries; former secretary of state Madeleine Albright and former NASA administrator Charles Bolden.

All of this makes me feel better, but I’m still holding my breath. Can’t begin to imagine what living in this country will be like if Trump gets a second term…………..

Here’s a link to more:

Re Mr. most “unpreSidented”

Nothing’s changed regarding my signing every possible petition that I support, while daily keeping appraised of current events. But now that’s obviously not enough, and I need to express my extreme concern about the direction our country is headed.

It’s been so overwhelming over the last four years to witness the “baffling”, ill-informed, and destructive actions taken (and threatened) by this president on almost a daily basis. Even the purveyors of news, no matter what media, have largely been able to deal with just one or two issues at a time.
The grave danger in this is that we were not seeing the big picture: a pattern of behavior that threatens not only constitutional crises, but most disturbingly, a gradual takeover of our government by tyrannical and anti-democratic actions. It’s always been very clear that this president deeply admires the “strong men” of this world – tyrants and dictators who wantonly repress and even murder anyone who gets in their way. He has frequently made choices that reinforce his desire to be just like them. But now during this Presidential election, which he has clearly lost, these actions have intensified and multiplied to a horrifying pitch.

We must not be so “politically correct” that we hesitate to raise the alarm! In particular Congress, which was created in order to maintain our democracy and its balance of powers, has shirked its responsibility to do so, fearing this tyRANT’s unleashed revenge upon them. (Which ironically they have consistently enabled!)

Even a cursory review of history shows that we do this at our peril, and the idea that this “could never happen in America” must be rejected out of hand. Serious vulnerabilities in the balance of powers, and fragility of the “conventional” political behaviors we expect (but were never written into law) have now been starkly revealed.

The gravity of this situation was predicted in a book published earlier that included the opinions of 27 psychiatrists and psychologists (gleaned from hundreds of opinions according to the author). Their conclusion was that they had to speak, out of a duty to warn, because Donald Trump is dangerously mentally ill and presents a clear and present danger to the nation and our collective mental health. Even more recently another book, written by a CIA psychological profiler, delves deeper into Trump’s pathology, and paints an even more frightening picture.

There is, unfortunately, only so much we citizens can do on our own. But I hope at least you’ll contact your US Representatives and Congress-people and demand that they seriously confront this crisis.
If this insanity continues, we must be prepared (as I said in an earlier post) to put on our powdered wigs and shiny-black buckled shoes and start marching!

a policy proposal by John F. Kelly

Maybe we’ll just send all future “invading” illegal “aliens” into space in an “empty barrel” provided by our new “Space Force”………

(On the other hand, then who’ll clean all our fancy homes and hotels, tend our gardens, pick and process our produce, slaughter the animals we eat then pack them so neatly that we don’t have to think twice about the nastiness of it all, work in our favorite fancy restaurant kitchens, watch our children, and clean our rear ends in ritzy, and not-so-ritzy, nursing homes?)

Hmmm, that is quite a conundrum…….

How to Get Happy & Peaceful w/out Changing Yourself !

(Try one or more of these every day for a few days. Then make them part of your life. )

– Stop what you are doing
– Breathe deeply
– Close your eyes and listen closely
– Choose any random sound
– Keep breathing deeply while focusing on that sound
– Don’t interpret or “wonder” about it, just let yourself feel the sound

(If you’re in a very noisy place let yourself/your attention move on from sound to sound w/out attachment or preference, feeling each as it catches your ear. If your phone rings don’t answer, just listen to the sound w/out worrying about who it might be. They can call back! Or if someone wants your attention, just smile at them and don’t respond in any other way.

– Now open your eyes
– Pick the first thing that catches your eye and really See it: its form, color, texture, anything unique about it. Don’t name it, identify it, evaluate it, or create a “story” in your mind about it. Just let it be.
– If your mind races from one thing to another, take deep breaths and find the still point within you. It is there! (Maybe you’ve just lost track of it.)
– Return to Seeing

– Feel your body as it is in this moment
– Whatever catches your attention is worthy of a moment’s focus: if it’s a pain or discomfort don’t resist it, rather move toward it, move into it. (You’ll be surprised that instead of getting “worse”, it will lessen or ease away completely!)
– Touch part of your body. Remember, no judgment, no “story”, just Feel it.
– Pick another part and do the same thing. Feel some parts you don’t like so much and try not to judge. Pretty amazing stuff we’re made of, huh?

– Touch something familiar (some fabric, fur on your pet, skin of a fruit, metal, glass, a leaf, wood, whatever is available.)
– Close your eyes and really feel it.
– Now touch something unfamiliar. Can you believe the diversity that exists, how much different “stuff” there is?

– Next time you eat, try to actually taste the food, feel its texture, temperature etc.
– Chew slowly, and pay attention to each different food, or the mixed flavors in something like a sandwich or soup.

– Next check out other people……..familiar and unfamiliar: around you, near you, close to you; in photos, videos, books. Rather than liking or disliking what you see, examine the myriad details that add up to this unique being, the elements that create this complete “individual”: hair color & texture, skin tone, eye color, body shape, nose and mouth shape.
– Think about what’s under their skin, and how all of us are made of the same stuff with slight variations under that paper-thin veneer.

– Pay attention – be aware of each precious moment because it will never be repeated.
– Appreciate what you have rather than focusing on what you don’t have; be grateful.
– Appreciate what’s “right”, rather than obsessing about what’s “wrong”.
– Remember that we exist against all odds on this tiny little planet, one of many, in this one solar system among billions, which is in one galaxy among billions, in a universe which may not have any boundaries at all, and which may also just be one of another billion universes – we just don’t know!

Oh, and don’t forget to remember all this……like I usually do (;-)


Briskly walking, I feel the needling wind prickling my skin, anesthetizing my ears, stinging my eyes.

My senses awaken.

As I run, freedom rises through my feet, rushes up my legs into my stomach, my lungs, my head.

I am lifting, rising, soaring, becoming one with the air and sky.

I glide and look down to see the world miniaturized.

I cannot see the craziness – I am above it, beyond it. Instead I see color, symmetry, pattern, texture.

Pleasure warms me, flowing through my veins, giving me energy to dip and dive, rise and fall with the currents.

My solitude is joy and peace instead of pain, and I soar into infinity.

Way to “Be Best” Melania

So, whatever modicum of empathy I’d held in reserve for Melania Trump (on the supposition that she could be a decent human being, held hostage by her monstrous husband) has now, of course, evaporated in the harsh heat of a Texas desert.

“Tone deaf” doesn’t remotely begin to describe what she did by wearing that jacket. It was a vile mockery of anyone who actually does care, has a heart, and basic decency. What exactly was the point of going to Texas anyway?

So it turns out these two deserve each other – and now it all makes sense: how she’s “tolerated” his cheating, lies, blind self-absorption, racism, unlimited and deliberate ignorance etc etc. Apparently she’s the same in many ways. (She once said he reminds her of her father, and I wondered what that meant. Now I know – she admires them both.)

And look at the children these two have spawned: Baron, a withdrawn and odd youngest child; and by the Donald with his other two wives: Don Jr, a bloodthirsty exterminator of innocent animals and the truth; Eric, the “loser” every one mocks (might he actually have escaped the destiny of being less of a horrible human being than his father wanted him to be?); Ivanka, the robotic, materialistic phony; and the other daughter (what’s her name again?) for years cast aside, likely because she was too loyal to her mother – the middle wife, Marla – what ever happened to her anyway?

I’ve always thought there was something a bit “witchy” (no offense all good witches out there) about Melania – something lurking under that fake smiling mask. She probably has a few million-dollar, gold-plated brooms hidden in her closets which are likely the size of small apartments (the closets, not the brooms). I just wish she’d hop on one and go back to where she came from. Because personally, I welcome far more warmly, the “illegal aliens invading” our country from “shithole” countries far more than I do people like her. (Oh, and don’t for the love of Pete, forget to take that jerk in the now orange-tainted White House with you!)

Guess it may be time to take the bodhi out of my email address. I’ve obviously been poisoned by their choleric (un-drained) swamp.

DJT monikers

Some great new monikers seen online for derTrumpinator:

Sentient Cheeto
Hair Twitler (my favorite)
His Lowness
Clodwork Orange
(from Murfster35 at Daily Kos):
Trumpelthinskin (another fav)
Glorious Bleater
Tiny Thumbs Diktator
Orange-whip topped Buffoon
The Cheeto Prophet
The Orange Tufted Poodle
The Orange Swami
Tangerine Tantrum Machine
Der Gropinfuror
as for his crew:

Blarah Flackabee Slanders
Mitch “Yertl the Turtle”
Trump’s Hole-in-the-ass gang
Insane Klown Possie
The SS Trumptanic
Rumdumb Rudy
America’s Funniest Home Attorney, Mikey “The Mope” Cohen
Donnie Redux/Dimwit Deux

This image is classic Drumphster (Looks like he’s thinking: “Hmm, his hands are bigger than mine, I don’t like it, don’t wanna shake it! Also he’s a foreigner, so probably has cooties arrghh!“)

Followed later by this brilliant contribution to international dopelomacy:

“PM Justin Trudeau of Canada acted so meek and mild during our @G7 meetings only to give a news conference after I left saying that, “US Tariffs were kind of insulting” and he ‘will not be pushed around.’ Very dishonest & weak,” Trump tweeted.

What’s this guy’s obsession with strength vs weakness about anyway? 

I suspect his father was a bully just like him, or more likely worse. And ever notice Trump NEVER mentions his mother? Hmmm- did he even have one?

And this is well worth a view:

The Atlantic:  Climate Change Is Going to Make Scott Pruitt Need So Much Moisturizer

So my DJT slogan of the day: Extreme venting – not to be confused with vetting


As I watched the March for our Lives coverage, I couldn’t stop crying………………
As a former adolescent mental health counselor and researcher/writer with a focus on youth, I was so deeply moved by the impressive courage, conviction, commitment and amazingly articulate expression of these young people, which filled me with desperately needed and renewed hope.

So today I spent a little time perusing the web for related content and came across this item. (Note that this poll was taken well before the Parkland murders.)

Pew survey 8/2016: “Opinion on Gun Control among Americans by Race”
• Asian: Control gun ownership 71%/protect gun ownership 17%
• Black: Control gun ownership 73%/protect gun ownership 25%
• Hispanic: Control gun ownership 69%/protect gun ownership28%
• White: Control gun ownership 42%/protect gun ownership 55%

Clearly these figures indicate the latter group is riddled with fear that their precious supremacy in this country is “endangered”. It also explains – yet again – why Trump “won” the presidency (though he really didn’t, by more than 3 million votes – just to remind) largely through fear-mongering. This being a common tactic of those who have little or nothing else to offer, and an audience already primed to buy into their message.

Humans all over the world obviously remain intensely tribal despite thousands of years of civilization. Fear of the “other” is still rooted in our primitive brains. Especially, it seems, in the brains of folk who have generally enjoyed some more privilege and advantage…..the idea of giving any of that up apparently triggers the altruistic part of the brain to shut down, and the lizard brain to fully activate.

BUT the diversity of the March yesterday, and the warm, embracing inclusion of people from communities quite different from Parkland, also give me hope that this too may change.

As much as I sometimes rail against the “evils” of social media, all of this is the undeniably positive side of its existence. This new generation is global, multi-racial, diverse in so many other ways and they are going to tear down any walls, whether physical or conjured. They are going to fearlessly demand justice and sane policies.

They are going to VOTE for those who represent these values.

So knock yourselves out Trump and the NRA, just try to build your stupid wall and sell a gun to every human being in this country who wants one. Then get ready to crawl back into your dens of darkness before the bright light of these young people blinds you!


Last night I had a dream and this is its story:

I lived on a stunning green and blue planet named Earth, one of eight (more or less) that spun around a great fiery star called the Sun; contained within a swirling great galaxy of many other suns and planets, floating in a vast and boundless universe. (Certainly this, so far, is a scene anyone can relate to – the setting of a dream based on things we know.)

But as my dream unfolded and its details emerged I became aware of things startlingly different from our familiar world. Endowed with the omnivision of a dream I was able to see many places at once. And one detail soon became obvious: each country’s capital was marked by a huge and very unusual construction. These were all quite similar in their dark colors and overall angular characteristics, but their sizes and exact shapes differed. The presence of these structures everywhere made it obvious there was something very important about them.

So, using another special talent bestowed to humans only in dreams, I swooped down like a bird for a closer look. I circumnavigated one, then another and another of these massive shapes, traveling supersonically from one country to the next, searching for an answer.

Initially it seemed these were just massive blackish blobs of metal, though in fact angular, rather than blobular. But I knew there must be a significance to them, so I searched for details that might provide some clues. Closer scrutiny of one, revealed surfaces that were not smooth but irregular and marked with a great variety of small protrusions and depressions. One such shape jumped out in relief at me, but it took several seconds to register what it was – a partially melted gun. Thus informed, I scanned the rest of the sculpture and identified many more parts of guns, rifles, automatic weapons, grenades, missiles, weapons of all kinds. In our own nation’s capitol the sculpture was, of course, quite massive – created from many thousands of guns.

Then, with the speed and ease of a character in an Ann Rice novel, I revisited the sites of the other constructions scattered in capitals all over the world. Armed with my new insight it was now easy to identify the same shapes of weapons melted together in these huge metal piles. Intrigued, in one location I asked passers-by about the significance of this. (Of course they all could understand me perfectly.) They explained that citizens in each country had somehow been persuaded to turn in all their weapons so they could be melted down to create these monuments symbolizing a world-wide commitment to non-violence.

Then I woke up to the real world of the USA.

Covered in blood

The NRA, in my opinion, is guilty of aiding domestic terrorism and wanton murder. Their gun-ridden hands are covered in blood. They and other such organizations should no longer be allowed to make political contributions – having horribly and persistently abused their right to “free speech”.

We are obviously such an immature country that we can’t manage to work out reasonable limits to such freedoms, especially the “right to bear arms” which is absurdly inappropriate for these times and extremely, dangerously, misinterpreted. It’s illegal to yell “fire” in a public gathering, drive without a license, not pay taxes (unless of course you are wealthy) etc. Seriously??

I do my best to support worthy causes, though I have not recently joined a march. However, the latest wanton slaughter and brave, out-spokenly honest mobilization of survivors from the high school in Florida, may just be what gets me to put on my best walking shoes (despite no shiny buckles). At any rate, I will at least be making a monetary contribution to their movement, despite doubts that it can make a lasting difference on the national scale. (Although quite impressively, they were able to move the sycophantic governor of Florida to enact some changes to their state gun laws.

If I’ve learned anything from the current political situation, it’s that our system of gov’t is not always the shining and effective model “we” have always claimed it to be. Our founders could never have imagined these irresponsible abuses of rights and power. They assumed persons elected to any highest office would (in general) be mature, responsible, thoughtful, logical, minimally corrupted, and actually capable of responding appropriately and readily to such crises. They also thought they had built in proper and effective safeguards for abuses of power that might occasionally arise. Oops……..

(Might also be time to cease claiming we’re “the best country in the world” – which is highly offensive to the rest of the world at any time, and downright embarrassing now.)


Slaughter by denial

If our so-called “representatives of the American people” don’t do something REAL about the yearly slaughter of tens of thousands of individuals in this country they are nothing but barbarians and killers themselves.

The “causes and motives” of these killings that everyone on TV obsesses about become a distraction and an excuse to do nothing. Because let’s face it, no one seems truly capable of doing much about the profound societal causes.

What IS relevant is the AVAILABILITY of almost every kind of gun to virtually ANYONE who wishes to buy them. Background checks may sometimes help, but history shows that most of our mass killings are committed by people who DO NOT SHOW UP ON BACKGROUND CHECKS!

And the so-called “strict constitutionalists” conveniently ignore this vague language in the 2nd Amendment: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.(seems there’s a part missing)

The persistent refusal by Congress to address a matter of such monstrous impact, is a gross dereliction of duty. THEY WORK FOR US, yet demonstrably do not feel any true sense of responsibility for our welfare. It’s apparent their only concerns are an irrational fear of the NRA and not getting re-elected.

It’s also obvious that the only thing that could change any of this is a massive citizen-based movement which no one will be able to ignore –
and that’s what the folks in Washington should really fear, if it ever happens…….

Trump’s Wall

Building a wall is an absurd, lazy-minded, and antiquated notion in this modern age.

It’s simply a nasty and shallow political ploy that plays into the ears of folks who still buy into the age-old concept that someone “other”/alien is the cause of all their troubles. This is rarely the case and most of the real (bottom-line) culprits are home grown, though few observers seem to have the courage to point that out.
It’s truly disgusting that conservative politicians still peddle this useless and dishonest nonsense, and we don’t want to contribute ONE tax penny to funding it! (It’s more than ironic that those who incessantly laud and, mistakenly, credit Ronald Regan for the Berlin WALL coming down, now support and promote putting UP a much larger WALL here.)

Mexico certainly will not, and should not pay for this – the primary purpose of which is to bolster Trump’s insatiable ego and placate his so-called base (to whom we attribute way too much power BTW.)

It’s abundantly clear who’ll pay for the beyond outrageous bill: you and I…………

Seems about time those of us who feel this way, organize to stage our own massive “dump the tea into the harbor” resist & protest national rallies. So dust off your powdered wigs, and put on those shiny-black buckled shoes, folks – it’s time to show em who’s really in charge!

Operation Green Bean

So the other night we were discussing Trump’s threat that he may have “taped” his meeting with James Comey. My clever husband pointed out that they were having dinner. So he dubbed the caper “Operation Green Bean”, since the “bug” may have been hidden in the vegetable portion of their repast. I about died laughing! Should be a Saturday Night Live skit……………………….

A “confession”

In my early 20’s I was a member of a local Socialist organization in San Francisco for a few years. Though I’ve since identified consistently as a Democrat I still believe in the fundamentally compassionate principles of Socialism.

It’s very frustrating that associated groups/people are so stupidly and broadly vilified here in the US. They get a bad rap because, I believe, the essential principles of Socialism and Communism were deeply compromised due to being instituted in places that were not sufficiently developed to support the system, and became corrupt and severe to compensate.

As Marx wisely pointed out: a society must be sufficiently developed for Socialist ideals to be fully realized. And though admittedly, the leaders of these social movements ignored his warning and really screwed up, no political system is ever perfect. So, in developed countries which understand all this, Socialist principles are embraced but modified to suit the realities of their particular societies. They consistently rate as the best places to live, and the happiest people in the world. Go figure.

In the US the Dems are the closest we get to a viable social(ist)- oriented party. At our core, unlike the Republicans, most Dems believe the principle role of government is not to protect our sovereignty and position of power at all cost, but to provide (social) services and overall support for our citizens. And the idea of building walls to keep out “unworthy aliens” is anathema.

Unfortunately all political principles are at risk here because of our ridiculous, long and expensive electoral process, blind devotion to the promises of capitalism, and pervasive lobbying! Faced with these challenges, most US politicians of all stripes seem to forget what their job is and who they actually work for. They are continually in campaign mode, trying to appeal to everyone they can in order to be re-elected. So rather than being the norm, solidly principled politicians are rare beings to be celebrated.

But sadly, like Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama, these individuals are more often labeled as “weak” because they aren’t blustering blow-hards with itchy trigger-fingers, and a propensity to ignore or minimize the history, norms, achievements, and perspectives of other nations. God-forbid we should ever try to learn anything from societies that have been gaining experience for thousands of years! No, we have to reinvent the wheel every time we’re confronted with a new challenge, because we think “we know better” than everyone else. But in reality we’re quite unsophisticated politically and socially. Seriously, we can’t even handle more than two parties, let alone a woman for president. “Sad”

to Blog or not to Blog

I honestly consider “blogging” (in broad terms) to be a nasty business and generally a huge waste of time. But I may have it conflated with tweeting and all that nonsense which, I’m convinced, contribute massively to an alarming increase in self-absorbed narcissism and dumbing-down of our culture. (Witness the daily discharges of DJT.)

 I do love that these new venues for self-expression, accessible to virtually anyone, are very democratic, and that the availability and dissemination of information has so vastly expanded (if also dangerously fraught with inaccuracies, slander and falsehoods.)

There’s now so much free-for-all “sharing” out there that it’s overwhelming, and I feel quite lost in all of it. However, as I don’t want to depart this earth having left nothing behind, this is part of an effort to ensure that may not happen. So I shall persist, at least for awhile, until lack of inspiration, appreciation, or response overcome me……………then again, I must have some hope or I wouldn’t bother at all, and I am quite stubborn and tenacious – as anyone who knows me will gladly attest to.
So there’s at least a chance I won’t just turn to dust without leaving any other trace behind.


Climate Change & Evolution

Climate change is obviously producing very negative effects in many areas of the world. Many parts of the US too, but fortunately not where we live in the Northwest – yet. Last night, I think it was, on the news they showed a weather map of the US – our tiny area on the map was very strangely the same color green as Florida and vicinity! The rest of the country was blanketed in white and other colors which indicated very bad weather.

I’ve decided to stop using the term “global warming” because right-wing crazies point to all the cold and snowy weather as “proof” that such a thing doesn’t exist. They are certifiable and don’t have a shred of sophisticated understanding of anything (though in their stoney little hearts they probably do realize their days are numbered, so they’re digging in their heels and throwing fits about anything that bodes of even a tiny bit of progress, change, or inclusion of anyone they deem “unworthy” (ie: poor folk, certain immigrants, people who don’t marry the right people, those who have the “wrong” religion or skin color.)

Sometimes I wonder if the human race will ever evolve to the point where we actually qualify to be called “civilized”? We’ve been around more than 100,000 years, but I’m called impatient by folks who believe we have made “a lot of progress” since the days of marauding conquerors and “barbarians”. They think we are evolving and excuse our barbarity because we’ve only been here a short time in the great span of things.

Um, really? We are still at war most of the time, or threatening to be; we still have many more nuclear weapons than anyone rationally can justify as deterrents; we still suffer thru the devastation that greedy corporations create at will; we obviously think nothing of wrecking our environment and exterminating other species, and even our own species. These are just a few of many examples of how primitive we still are, but those defenders of us humans stubbornly tout us as the vastly superior species. Yeah, whatever……………


What untold secrets lie hidden in these folds of flesh?

What long-sought answers lie out of sight, just beneath my skin?

A bit of truth bursts forth with every hair…..
that grows. If I were only more aware.…

A bit of my being bleeds with every tear. If I could only catch them all, I’d see myself so clear.

The paths which I seek course within, flowing out from my heart and back again.

The mirrors of others faces reflect only what they see. The image at the back of my own eyes is the truth about me.

“Saving the World”

(please indulge my self-indulgence)

I always wanted to help save the world. I couldn’t explain why – its source was so deep within me that words, analysis, or interpretations were totally inadequate. Seems I was born with this drive because it manifested as early as first grade when I brought home a boy named Richard who was “different” from all the other kids and anyone else I’d yet known. The “difference” was very subtle but my lost puppy radar was already activated, though unbidden and unconscious.

Then in high school there was Eddie whose face was a bit disfigured from what seemed to be a birth defect. I never actually brought Eddie home (one didn’t bring boys home at my age) but his appreciation of my friendship was so clear that it can still ring the bell of my heart.

Over the years this drive was like a tide with sometimes long intervals between its cycles of ebb, flow, flood. Its manifestations ranged from exploring various figurative art forms, to essay writing, to studying and practicing psychology, to creating a multi-media expressive arts program for teens, to traveling and interviewing young people, to writing illustrated books, and to Buddhist philosophy. Too many things really, too many possibilities. So doubts about how best to fulfill my “mission” would periodically overtake me. Others would advise me to scale down my ambitions, be more realistic, more limited in the scope of my vision, and to be content to help a few or even one or two individuals.

Well, I felt I’d kind of already done that and it simply wasn’t enough. Their advice though (of course) well-meaning, invariably made me burn with frustration. And if one would occasionally venture to suggest this was all a matter of my ego needing to be tamed, I’d practically burst into flames! That they couldn’t fathom this to be anything other than megalomania or narcissism, drove a smoldering stake into my heart. That so many couldn’t share my vision of “big possibilities” made my doubts of success flare anew. That they didn’t understand this was something I couldn’t help myself overcome, (though believe me there were many times I so wanted to) felt like a bucket of ice water being dumped on me. That they might be right about some of it – i.e. the “realistic” bit – was like a thought one might have being stuck at the bottom of a well and running out of air. But being the stubborn s.o.b. that I am, I’d eventually struggle free and find some way to rise to the surface and resume my quest, quite unable to resist its pull (kind of like the bucket at the end of a rope in that well).

So what? Why am I writing about this personal struggle junk and why should you care? Because that was before 9/11, before Syria and Iraq, Abu-Graib, Gitmo, Afganistan, and Darfur, before Dubbya’s unbelievable re-election, Enron, Halliburton, Scooter, the Wall Street and bank crashes, before last TV season’s fare of murder, mayhem, corruption, dissection, absurdly phony and shallow “competitions”, before desperate wives and swapping became unrelenting TV fodder. Suddenly I felt like I was drowning again, but this time in crap; that we were ALL drowning in a million tons of our own crap. It reinforced all my frustration and doubt like earthquake retrofits.

If only more leaders, aspiring leaders, and various current govt representatives could develop a truly new vision for the present and future, like, yes I’ll say it: Mr B Obama. Then maybe they’ll stop wanting to turn the clock back to when “America was Great” or the time and ways of the “Great War” (can you imagine having the gall to characterize any war in that way?) or the “Greatest Generation” (um, excuse me, what are the rest of us, chicken feed?) or the glory days of R Reagan (yeah, like it’s really because he said “tear down that wall” that it happened for petesake).

Maybe then they’ll all stop trying to impose their hypocritical values on all of us. Like the idea that it’s okay to send young, or older, men and women off to be slaughtered in war or die in bomb-laden cars or jet-fuel-laden planes; and okay to have a death penalty or leave people imprisoned indefinitely w/out trial; shoot and kill men because the color of their skin terrifies you; let thousands, no millions, of people starve to death, be bombed, violated, tortured, or die of easily treatable diseases just because they had the misfortune of being born in certain places.

(And let me get this straight: it’s still not okay to let a woman choose not to have a child she can’t afford or can’t take care of properly, or one conceived by rape, but it is okay for others to have fertility TX’s which produce way too many cells to ever be used, and it’s okay to throw them away, but not okay to use them instead to find a way to save other lives or ease suffering? And it’s completely acceptable for people to suffer and die because they have no affordable health insurance?)

And it’s still okay for some people to be rewarded with far too much even if it leads to tremendous loss and suffering for others, and those “others” should be happy with nothing but the hope that crumbs may somehow trickle down? Um, maybe I’m a dope, but seems to me that hasn’t really worked very well – ever!

If I were of the praying persuasion, I’d get down on my knees and pray that the inspiration and promise of Obama’s fresh and positive broad vision, wisdom, determination, and optimism doesn’t get beaten to a pulp by the above fore-mentioned forces of selfishness, myopia, prejudice, and fear of change. That hope keeps my little flame flickering these days……

Conundrums & Intercessors

I ask myself: what is the point of writing these essays? I am, after all, nothing but an ordinary person in the broad scheme of things. What’s the point of sharing my thoughts when even the messages of Gandhi, Mandela, MLK, Mother Theresa, the Buddha haven’t influenced enough people to change the way we act in our world? It’s a mess, let’s face it.

Oh yeah, we revere them, laud and quote them, make movies and write books about them. A few things may have “shifted” a bit because of their profound courage and insights. But fundamentally we’re still a bunch of unruly, selfish, narrow-minded, tunnel-visioned and aggressive fools.

So what on earth could I say/share to make any difference at all? To be honest I began to give up that hope a long time ago, despite several full-hearted attempts to create things inspiring. But a niggling flicker of desire to do so remained lurking in my brain, waiting for certain triggers to fire it up again. It was really very annoying and I’d have been undoubtedly be a lot happier and more peaceful if it had just died out already. My recurring “loss of meaning crisis” would have finally ended and I could have just lived my life like anyone luckily not plagued by such silly and grandiose ideas.

As anyone who knows me can attest, I’m not religious. When I think about the person named Jesus and all the things done in his name, or in the name of any other similar figure from a different realm, all I see is a colossal waste of time and humanity. Even these “all-powerful” guiding figures haven’t made much of a difference when it comes right down to it. And when they have, many times it’s not been for the good. That’s staggering.

So it’s beyond ironic that one of my mind’s hope triggers should come in the form of a movie about religious symbolism: “The daVinci Code”. I’ve seen it several times, and always found it captivating – obviously not because of its religious theme, but the complex symbolism that propels it. Now that’s a realm I’m more familiar with and (somewhat) more comfortable in. It’s actually the domain that seeded my best efforts to arouse awareness in others, inspire us all to be more fully awake, and to see the world more clearly and openly.

Personally I’ve yet to fully master a gorgeously simple and transformative approach to life, and that’s possibly the reason I’ve had such difficulty trying to explain or describe it to others. But even the masters of it – the Buddhists, often go into deep and elaborate descriptions of their philosophy. And quite unfortunately in 2,000 + years of existence it has morphed into what it was never meant to be: a religion! In the process it has accrued a lot of irrelevant rubbish, making it much too challenging to most people’s focus and patience – not to speak of all the wildly mystical fabrications that have arisen around it.

Ah, I see here a potential pitfall: there’s an inherent incompatibility between the world of “symbolic significance” and the world-view of simplicity and clarity. Yet, for me it’s the former that led me to discover the latter. Obviously there’s something about the human mind that’s attracted to conundrums! (It’s here that I suddenly feel  I just dove into a deep pool from which there’s little hope of escaping. No doubt this is where the assistance of an all-powerful divinity comes in handy. Alas, I have no such intercessor to call upon – I’m strictly on my own. But you know what? That’s okay.)

What’s up with Personal & Cultural Identity?

On a personal level in trying to create or affirm a strong sense of who we are, we often try to distance ourselves from the confusing or painful elements of our past. Sometimes we reject all of it – even those elements which could positively impact the forging of our “unique” identities. The baby/bathwater syndrome…….

Similarly, on a societal level, in the process of re-creating or affirming a national identity in our modern world, many make the mistake of rejecting their ethnic origins as being tied to the suffering of the past: poverty, oppression, persecution, lack of education, equality, opportunity. Others, in order to feel a heightened sense of importance, legitimacy, power, etc. reject cultures they know little about, or those which are very different from their own. Thus it isn’t hard to imagine that a day will come when all unique cultural elements will be reduced to a few curious artifacts entombed in the glass cases of museums.

In truth, our diverse ethnicities are as deeply entwined as threads in the vast and rich tapestry of our humanity, which is replete with commonalities despite our best efforts to deny them. In truth we all came from the same origins, the same original pair (whether called Adam & Eve or something else). And we all came from the same place, whether we choose to believe it or not: Africa. Our “motherland” which for eons we’ve ironically and tragically ignored, neglected, forgotten, exploited. This is a black thread which is woven throughout our multi-colored human tapestry.

So I wish we could turn the world inside out for a while. You know, everything would be reversed:

– white would be black or brown, yellow, red and vice versa
– the rich would be poor and poor nations wealthy and rich with resources
– persecutors would be persecuted
– hunters would be hunted
– Muslims would be Christians, Hindus would be Muslims, Catholics would be Protestants etc. Better yet, everyone would be Buddhists, because they are (usually) accepting of everyone (except the Rohingyas of Myanmar)
– “conservatives” would be “liberals” (omg)
– slums would be mansions and estates
– deserts would become jungles or oceans
– the thin would be fat
– the hungry would be well-fed and the gluttonous would be starved
– etc.

What’s the point? Well, if I were an optimist I’d hope people would thus become more compassionate and understanding of each other. They’d realize first-hand what’s going on in other parts of our country and our small world, what it’s like to live like the “others”. Things might change, become more balanced, thoughtful, equal, fair, shared, peaceful.

Another option would be a visit by aliens from another planet. That would be a great unifying distraction from us fighting one another here on earth. No longer would we be focused on our so-called differences – rather we’d join together in solidarity to deal with this new “other”. Ideally they’d be evolved, benevolent, gentle, nonthreatening, so we’d have no excuse to project our antipathy onto them, and maybe we’d learn a helpful thing or two!

Reality Between the Spaces

Here’s something to ponder:

Are the complications of life, though seemingly real and compelling, actually illusions dancing wildly on the surface of everything – while the truly meaningful, compelling things are to be found in stillness-in the spaces between the hectic activities we call our lives? In these “spaces”, which we’re largely unaware of, might we find actual reality: our own pulse and that of everything around us, including the pulse of the universe, beating together in unison?

Everything on this tiny blue world which we inhabit breathes and beats together, contained in and touched by, the same atmosphere – by air not empty, but which moves in waves and swirls of invisible particles around us like a soup; everything connected also by the earth and water beneath us. There is no part of this world, nothing in it, that’s not touching everything else in this way.

What breaks down our consciousness of this completely enmeshed web of life? For one thing, the habit of believing our own perceptions, values, ethnicities, and ways of life are the only valid ones provides an illusion of containment and “safety”. But this encapsulated vision too often leads us to arrogance; prejudice; struggles for power, property and dominance; and often ultimately to violence- quite the opposite of our supposed goal!

However, if we’d instead fully explore and grasp our fundamental interconnectedness we might find a deeper and truer source of comfort, security, and support. We might find ourselves strengthened and energized in ways we could not have imagined. Perhaps something precious, profound, magical, and even mysterious would quicken our pulse – something that stands out from the foggy blur of our memories and attachments.

Such realizations can be found within the simplicity and space of a single moment where there is paradoxically contained an incredible complexity of detail, a rich depth, and a wealth of experience – a lifetime’s worth compressed into one breath in, one breath out. In that brief span it’s possible to understand everything we need to know for the rest of our lives and for the last moments of it.

Because in the end, what do we truly want? What do we want to understand? What do we want to remember about ourselves, our lives, and our world?

If you stop for just a moment to empty your mind of its preoccupations and you may feel it. Stop enough times and you will feel it. If you make this a practice, you can be released into peace and a profound kind of joy. Pay attention to each precious moment and the clock will seem to stop. Your attachments, aversions, regrets, fears, doubts, and confusions dissolve. And you may feel suspended, held as if in a drop of precious golden amber. Try it, you’ll like it. I know I do, when I remember to do it…………


Walls, Wars, and Old White Men

It seems to me that most of the world’s problems are created by old men – old fart politicos who are frequently, though not always, of the white persuasion. I know this isn’t remotely “pc”: but when we lose one of these guys to the annals of time and history, there’s a part of me that celebrates – a little fillip of hope dances in my heart. The dance, unfortunately becomes a little less enthusiastic the next time I watch the news, and slows more with each subsequent viewing. But a tiny shiver of hope always remains, waiting to be revived, sustained by the knowledge these guys can’t live forever……(except for Dick Cheney.)

Not to make excuses for my terrible attitude, but these are the guys who keep using the same old beat-up ideas to beat up on others – seems like they wouldn’t recognize an original thought if it whacked them hard on the back of the head! (And speaking of bats, maybe we should start a “trade in your guns for bats” campaign; it’s a little more intimidating to contemplate exchanging close-up bone-crushing blows rather than firing off those tiny, impersonal bullets from a distance.) Furthermore, I think we need a constitutional amendment that states: “Anyone prepared to declare war must also be prepared to personally conduct that war on the front lines, on the ground.” That might nip some of this gratuitous war-mongering right in the bud. (Oh, PS: if you can’t go, your kid or any other able-bodied relation goes.)

And another thing: the UN – don’t get me started……oh well, too late…..this venerable institution which began with such huge promise for the entire world has become a paralyzed, toothless old fossil with nonads in place of gonads. It needs a big kick-in-the-ass and definitely a damn sight more women occupying those chairs with their different kind of gonads representing. If I were one of these women some of the first things I’d propose are:

– IF a country or countries cannot, within a specified period (say six to nine months max) resolve internal and external conflicts, and major social issues such as the abuse and exploitation of children or women, they will lose their right to sovereignity and the UN will step in until the problem is solved. If they don’t comply, they are booted out of the UN, NATO, EU, WTO etc. All aid and other emergency support would then go directly to the people, and this would be supervised by an adequate contingent of UN reps and troops. All trade and any other international financial dealings or incentives would stop. No ifs, No ands, No buts. If compliance is then exhibited for a number of years (TBD) they may get to rejoin all clubs on a probationary basis.

– NO country gets to build a border wall instead of solving the real problems which have created the perceived “need” for a wall. (What a cheesy bs way of dealing with things!)
– NO country gets to refuse to participate in the International Criminal Court, any environmental summit, UN, or World Trade meetings.
– NO country gets to unilaterally block UN mandates or decisions, rather a majority vote of all member countries is required. The “security council” will be eliminated.
– NO country gets to keep its nukes, especially while telling everyone else they can’t have them. (This one particularly irks me – reminding me of parents who tell their kids they can’t smoke while they stand there puffing away.)

Well, that’s it for now, my bile level has reached its daily quota and then some. – buon carnage!

The State of the World

Many of us are deeply concerned about the perilous state of our world. But most of us feel overwhelmed by the ugly face of it and know not what to do except throw some money at it, when and if we can, to keep it at bay. When we realize how deep and diverse the sources of this ugliness are, we understand this isn’t enough by any means. But when we look to our “leaders” for answers and guidance, they usually fail us and actually add to our problems by utterly ignoring these deeper sources; by taking absolutely the wrong approach to solve them; or by inflaming situations for selfish political purposes.

We’re left bereft, confused, and conflicted, frustrated, guilt-ridden, and deeply saddened – sometimes to the point that we cannot help but look away. It’s just too much for us to bear – how much suffering, misery, poverty, abuse, devastation, and exploitation can we really stand to witness?

There are a few remarkable people who don’t turn away but actually dive right into the midst of turmoil, doing what they can to relieve others’ misery. They do what they can in the moment to relieve the most immediate, the most desperate suffering. But in their hearts they also know this won’t be the end of it – it will happen again, either in this same place, nearby, or on the other side of the world. But this is what they can do, so they do it. And the relief in people’s eyes momentarily lifts and releases the enormous weight which presses on the hearts of all who are present. So it’s infinitely better than nothing!

But what about the rest of us – those who cannot participate directly for various reasons, or those who make donation after donation to cause after cause with the hope that some of it will actually get to those in need? What about those whose own lives are so challenged as to not allow much concern for “strangers” in strange lands?

It’s also the path of least resistance to hear and see the news, feel shocked and appalled, maybe even angry for a few moments or hours and then turn our attention elsewhere. We’re assisted greatly in this by the attention deficit disorder exemplified by our media’s affinity for sound-bites, attention-grabbers, and their dependency on advertising which greases the skids on which we slip away. But in this turning away we run the risk of eventually joining the ranks of those who actually do not care. And as the population of the world grows, so will this number; as this number grows so will exploitation and misery.

Something profound and dramatic must shift in order to prevent further devastation. For we are dangerously deluded if we think all this can go on indefinitely, without catastrophic results. The warning signs abound, taking many forms: those events preceding and following 9/11, global drought, floods, fires, and deforestation leading to and resulting from global warming; global warming caused (in large part) by massive dependence on fossil fuel; fossil fuel sources lying deep under the sands of countries which spawn jihadists who see us alternately exploit, assist, then abandon their often corrupt regimes, based on our need for fuel or “strategic” presence; jihadists who become martyrs – human bombs, who walk, drive, sail, or fly into crowds, buses, ships, markets, churches, clubs, skyscrapers to make a desperate point.

And what is my point? Well, my point is that it’s all interrelated, we’re all interrelated and we must begin to seriously acknowledge how everything and everyone on this planet are inextricably bound together! So what must be done? A re-visioning must occur, a re-framing, a re-forming of the way we all see ourselves, others, the world. And how might this begin to be accomplished? A few ideas:

– To begin with we all need to take a step back, breathe deeply, allow our minds to clear, and give up our obsessions for a minute.

– Then we have to realize that a lot of what we’re doing is wreaking havoc on ourselves and on others; a lot of what we’re doing is unnecessary and counter-productive, if not downright destructive for everyone. What’s done in one place effects something elsewhere, like the vibrations on a spider’s web.

– It would then be good to consider that there may be alternative, non-habitual ways to approach things, and to consider the possibility that taking our personal views, beliefs, and agendas so seriously (and as the only valid ones) may be catastrophic in the end for everyone.

– The next and maybe most important thing to do is be fully present in the moment: allowing sounds, sights, physical sensations, and thoughts to pass through our awareness – not clinging to or judging them, not analyzing or interpreting them but just letting them come and go, come and go. If practicing this once or twice a day doesn’t make us humble and enormously appreciative of everything and everyone, I don’t know what will. We just need to remember to do it despite the endless distractions/preoccupations we get caught up in.

After a while most people engaged this practice also become aware of how rich and amazing every moment is, how full of life, energy and change. And by expanding this awareness to envision and sense the flow of life and energy that exists throughout our world, we can awaken to the wonder that any of this exists and that we are part of it! We’re all perched on this tiny blue, green, brown planet spinning around a tiny sun in the center of one spinning solar system that’s part of one swirling galaxy among millions of galaxies in an incomprehensibly vast universe. What are the chances??

So how does this translate into creating a saner world? Well, in light of rediscovering the mind-boggling nature of our existence, we might not continue to beat up on each other, let people starve and suffer needlessly, kill each other over some disputed speck of land (or religion or whatever), degrade, exploit, or pollute this finely-tuned and balanced environment that’s our only means of support and survival. And if we did continue these reckless behaviors, we’d have to be way more than damn fools. And would deserve to vanish. Yeah, that’s right, I said it – vanish.

Electromagnetic god?

I think of this quite often: it’s mind-boggling that we exist at all! Because if we step back and look deeply enough at ourselves and our universe what we see is particles, waves, and patterns of energy, and space – lots of space. We don’t usually apprehend, let alone appreciate this until some science program or book reminds us. We’re each merely a temporary gathering of particles vibrating at certain speeds which gives us (and everything else) seemingly coherent and distinct shapes that appear to be separate from each other. The fact that all these particles, waves, whatever you want to call them, all came from the original material generated during the Big Bang is even more astonishing!

The universe is, always has been, and always will be vastly powerful and uncontrollable. This is all just too unfathomable and we, at root, feel insecure and vulnerable. So I think we lash out at “issues” and “enemies” that are falsely generated by the irritating throb of our ingrown anxieties. Since we humans operate essentially out of a compulsion to, and an illusion that we can, control things, the dichotomy of this reality causes us to act quite stupidly, irrationally, and often cruelly. (As they say, it’s far easier to deal with a “threat” you can see, hear, smell, and feel than something vast, mostly invisible, and almost incomprehensible.)

And so it is that warring factions hold their “particular” (yup, pun intended) lives and views as precious enough to fight for – even to the death, yet seem not to hold them precious enough to realize how insane it is to constantly threaten and squander such a miraculous existence!

I’d  like to propose the following as a potential balm for our anxiety:

Perhaps the electromagnetic expansions and contractions of the universe might alternatively be imagined as great in-breaths and out-breaths. Perhaps the whole thing is actually a living, breathing entity – the enormity of which could be what many people call “god”. But rather than being hidden somewhere in an abstract place called “heaven”, rather than the universe having been created by someone at some highly debatable point in time, the entirety of the universe is it. And all our different and competing versions of “god” are actually about the same thing: the unfathomable, wondrous, boundless contents of the expanse we call space: a macrocosm in which everything is connected and pulses together, charged by the great electromagnetic beat of the universe. Its “terrifying” movements, convulsions, fluctuations and other manifestations merely functions of its being alive.

Many ancient cultures conceived of this as a kind of web or net holding everything together. They saw it reflected in the night sky, in the pattern of a spider’s web, a fishing net etc. It was a supportive matrix to which they were tied/attached, or better put, integral to. Sure, life was still very scary at times, but the idea that everything and everyone was in it together somehow made sense, made it bearable, even made it wondrous. But most of us began to forget this a very long time ago and we now approach everything in a fragmented, often anxious, short-sighted way. We no longer feel deeply connected. Not even “the web” or constant cell-phone contact truly alleviate this sense of separation, and personally I think these merely create a surface illusion of connection for most people, while actually profoundly separating them.

So, in a world that frequently feels like it’s falling apart, with its real web fraying and breaking, maybe those ancient ideas deserve some reconsideration?

Cells Run Amok

Occasionally I occupy myself by viewing this earth-world of ours as if it were one cell in a vast humming universe of cells. All are more or less different and serve various functions but all are subtly, yet strongly connected. From this perspective it appears our own particular cell is quite bent on self-destruction with all its tiny internal parts battling each other in fierce and pointless duels. This cell obviously hasn’t the sense to realize its survival depends completely on the cooperation and mutual support of its countless parts, rather than the “victory” of one over the other.

It baffles me that after billions of years at this game of adapting, developing, and sustaining life, this cell with supposedly intelligent elements within it hasn’t yet developed better sense (the survival of the fittest stategy now being rather obsolete and all). Rather it seems profoundly dumb – not much better than an amoeba. And shockingly, in a way dumber because amoebas and most other basic organisms have parts that actually work together cooperatively to sustain their life and growth. They don’t senselessly destroy themselves!

Humans seem therefore, to be more like a virus which has taken over our cell, gobbling its parts up and everything else around it, absolutely heedless of the very real and devastating consequences including, ultimately, the complete demise of the very thing which sustains it.
What could be the vaccine for us “humanaids” who have run amok? Why have all suggested cures thus far failed? Why has the larger global entity of the cell itself not realized what’s happening? Can it not sense its illness? Why did it not long-ago recognize and stop this plague which has caused its dysfunction and contamination?

It’s incredible to me that each of us, though so much smaller than an atom in this scheme, believes that our own personal existence has such great significance, and that even our smallest actions are of great “importance” – yet we typically lack a corresponding sense of responsibility to the whole organism, without which we simply cannot exist.

If we were more sensitive and attentive to our surroundings, wouldn’t more of us realize something is very wrong and getting dangerously wronger? Wouldn’t we understand that we’re fouling our own nest and even killing our own kind? Why are we so bloody obtuse? Isn’t it our role (as the “most intelligent” elements of our cell) to be conscious custodians? We arrogantly think of ourselves as in charge of it all, but every day each of us inadvertently does some thing or, even more ignorantly, many things to help destroy our life support system.

What is being worked out here?
Is this just a small faulty cell in the vast universe that will, and must, eventually destroy itself? (So far it has been amazingly resilient – surviving so many brutal forms of internal assault. But really, how long can this last?)

Or has something else gone just terribly wrong with an experiment called human life, and it’s doomed to fail? Is this also happening elsewhere in other cells in the universe, so no big deal – it’s just the normal cycle of life and death being repeated? On the other hand, as with all other living things (like those amoebas), will the instinctive drive toward survival ultimately produce a viable new adaptation or mutation which will lead us, and the cell in which we dwell, in a more sustainable direction?

Obviously we’re still just at the beginning stages of the slow evolution of these mysteriously endowed and largely unused brains of ours. My worry is that in the meantime, our stupidity combined with our destructive power will put an unfortunate and premature end to it all, taking everything else down with us. But maybe that’s okay too, being as we’re not as “precious” as we seem to think we are. Other forms of life would arise and perhaps do a better job. That I’d like to see………..

On Writing Like D.B.

I’ve always wanted to write like Dave Barry. But to do that honestly I’d have to be Dave Barry, and unless he’s secretly a seventy-ish, slightly crotchety, yet still-young-at-heart woman, that ain’t gonna happen. So I must be content to continue with the kind of short essays I’ve always written which address whatever serious issue captures my fancy at the moment. Or more accurately, whatever gets my goat at the moment. (If I were Dave Barry I’d now insert a clever little aside like: “What if I don’t have a goat to be got?” And readers would howl with laughter. Alas it seems only Dave can pull that off, and I shall have to live with DB envy forevermore.)

The best approximation of DB’s style I can muster is snarky, satirical, or ironic snidery that hopefully elicits at least a chuckle or smile. But better yet, a jolt of recognition, because ultimately my goal is not to amuse but to pull the wool off rather than over, uncloud, remind, illustrate, clarify, illuminate, awaken. To that end, my writing typically focuses on observations about culture, society, politics etc. and may at times seem esoteric, or even convoluted. (My father complained the stuff’s too complicated. This is a bit worrisome, because he was one of the kinds of folks I most want to reach! Not quite “Joe the plumber” but close enough.)

The writing doesn’t always start out that way, but ends up like that due to the way my brain works. I can take a pretty straightforward topic and by the time I’m done with it, there are all sorts of interconnections and extrapolations caught up in the tight net I’ve cast in the process of elaborating.

In my defense I truly do strive for clarity, so don’t know exactly how what I was trying to say sometimes gets tangled up like yarn after a cat attack. During one reading it will all seem crystal clear, verging on dare-I-say “astute”? Yet reading the same essay another time can feel like I’m trudging thru water loaded with sediment. It’s like two people with entirely different sensibilities are reading the same stuff. Crazy.

Plus, as you can see, I like to use a lot of descriptive words, commas, italics, and quotation marks. Thanks to attending an almighty Journalism School I know I’m not “supposed” to, but I just can’t help it. They seem to have to be there for me to make my point. Does that mean I’m a crappy writer who uses these cheap and despised “gimmicks” (see there they are again) to make my points? I don’t know, maybe. Honestly I’ve tried to do without these punctuation crutches as much as possible, and with enough revising often find that I can eliminate some. But oftentimes not, so there they stay like so much confetti strewn upon the pages. Just think of them as hieroglyphics……there for some very mysterious but “good” reason. (BTW have I used enough mixed metaphors?)

On the other hand some folks who’ve read my work have described it as: “like a dream”; “lyrical”; “painting terrific word pictures”; “a joy to read”; “beautiful prose”. They obviously know more than I do about what constitutes good writing! (And no, though tempting, I will absolutely NOT stick an lol in here. I abhor the things. But trust me I am, as I write, laughing at myself.)

So hearing from you and getting your feedback would be both enlightening and terrifying. I look forward to it! – AH