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.

an228

Climate Change & Evolution

(Winter 2015)

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……………

Secrets

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. AFH

“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’ve just dived 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. This is 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 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, left behind. 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 the poor nations would be 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.

– “conservatives” would be “liberals” (omg)

– slums would be mansions

– 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 mostly 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 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 that quickens 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…………