Archive | November, 2012

Nowhither

30 Nov

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So, I’ve been reading, off and on, The Painted Veil… Among other things. The book, as always, is infinitely better than the movie. And I loved the movie. Books will always be better, I think, because they happen to you: you’re not merely an observer.

I hurt my shoulder a few weeks ago… Or longer ago than that. I can’t remember a time in the past year when my back or shoulder hasn’t ached. Still, a few weeks ago I woke up to find my left shoulder and upper back rock stiff with extremely acute pain throughout that area.

I figured I’d slept wrong again and got ready for five to seven days of coping.

But as the days drug on, the stiffness and pain just got worse. The muscles started to twitch. It was unnerving.

From everything I can tell, I somehow strained the hell out of my whole upper left side. So, now I’m on Alieve.

I hate being injured. I feel weak and useless and ineffectual. I was a Marine and could do 100 push ups without blinking. Yesterday, I almost broke my nose trying to life myself off the ground. But, I’m going to try and not be down: recovery takes time.

Still, this situation makes me think of existence, the point of it all, and all that jazz… Then again, everything makes me think of that. This disposition just casts it in a particular light. One that is readily identifiable in The Painted Veil. It’s strange to me…

As sort of dispondancy, just without the melancholy. It has a sort of disconnected taste to it, twanged with acceptance; “I can’t do shit: so be it. This is the way it is.” And that level of “whatevz” is not one I habitually ascribe to. When I do feel that way, it’s usually dismissed immediately and I move onto something else. I’m not used to existing in such a state.

And so it is. I wonder…

It makes me think that G-d must feel something akin to this. Acceptance. I mean, he doesn’t really intervene in big ways anymore. He just kinda sits and observes and watches and, if we’re lucky, we can recognize that from time to time. Those seem to be the only real miracles. I think my Rabbi said it best, “I love the idea that real miracles come from a change in perception, not a change in events.”

Perhaps we’re just little dots of consciousness playing out our lives on a subatomic particle in a neurotransmitter in G-d’s brain. 🙂

At this point, I wonder where I’m going with all this, but I already know the answer; the same place we all go with anything: no where.

In The Painted Veil, Kitty and Waddington are walking together and she tells him she seems to be searching for something, but she doesn’t know what it is. Jokingly, she asks him, “Do you know it?”

He smiles and shrugs, “Tao. Some of us look for the Way in opium and some in G-d, some of us in whiskey and some in love. It is all the same Way and it leads nowhither.”

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Political Circus

7 Nov

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So, I read this great quote on twitter the other day; “The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.” (Thank you, William James, for that morsel of wisdom.) How awesome is that? I find it to be extremely liberating when I fully embrace it. And, now that our current elections are over (YAY!!!), I believe this sort of philosophy can not only give us solace

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Apparently, half the country needs it right now

but it can also provide us with some interestingly enlightening observational opportunities.

I love new ideas. As children, we crave new experience. As adolescence and young adults, we crave new situations. But, if one chooses to progress past this point, one begins to crave new perspectives. And this makes sense: as kids, we haven’t experienced much, so that’s what we crave. Once that’s burnt out, we crave new situations, because in those new situations we find new experience as well. But, then if we get burnt out on that too, what’s left? If we explore all we can and experience all those explorations have to offer, what’s the next frontier? Is that all life has to offer? Of course not! Perception is the next frontier! But it’s a doozy compared to the previous two. This is why many don’t choose to venture out that far. They get stuck in an experience or situational mindset. And these people are everywhere! You’ll be able to identify them easily by their catch-philosophy, “I remember when things USED to be better.”

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it’s ok old timer: you’re bitter journey’s almost over

And, hey, to each his own: there’s nothing wrong with thinking that way… But those people never really seem very happy at all.

It’s ok, though. It’s understandable. New perspectives can be frightening. They can be jarring. Hell, waking up sucks sometimes. Still, other times, its pure joy and rapture.

As a kid, teen, and a young adult, I’d always loved new ideas. The difference was, I’d get one and it would either fit into my current mind set, replace something, or be rejected as false. Everything was all well and good until I started seeing that, just because an idea didn’t fit into my universe neatly didn’t mean it was wrong. Talk about existential turmoil! (I take my ideas seriously.) My competing perspectives actually began to wreak havoc in my literal perceptions. I though I was loosing my mind for a while.

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It’s ok, little guy. Your journey’s almost over too. Can you say “extinction”?

Then, I realized what my problem was: I was trying to force all these competing ideas to fit together into a solid frame work. Unfortunately, competing ideas don’t do that. Slowly, I began to see that, to be able to find peace of mind (literally) I’d have to harbor competing ideas and let them flow. Suddenly, like magic, the world made sense again. But, not only that, the world actually made sense and worked in ways that had previously been baffling, strange, bewildering, and downright insane. It was like zooming into the Mandelbrot Set and finally seeing the pattern repeat fully.

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What’s the Mandelbrot Set? Click me!

So, how does this all tie into politics and the elections and whatnot? Well, we can use this lens to view our representatives. Which ones are stuck in an experiential or situational mind frame? Which ones have more perspective based views? Which ways work best in which positions? Looking at the political landscape in this manner is not only enlightening, it’s also pretty entertaining. It helps keep perspective. Suddenly, Ted Cruz’s assertion that he’ll do everything in his power to stop Obama if he won’t do things his way seems silly, juvenile, funny, and futile, instead of being worrisome or full of strength. It transforms from an assertion of strength into evidence of how he relates to his world, which is obviously an “I’m right and you’re wrong” outlook.

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Everything you need to know about Ted Cruz

All we have to do is choose one thought over another, one perspective over another, one mind set over another. It’s awesome. It actually turns the entire political scene into the circus that it truly is. The clowns cease to be scary or threatening and begin to be funny. The trapeze artists stop being terrifyingly crazy leapers of faith and become astounding physical masters filled with skill and finesse. And the ring leader ceases to be an insane, flamboyant dictator and becomes an elegant conductor.

Soon, if you’re lucky and you’ve looked long enough, you might realize (TRULY realize and embrace) that this entire circus, with all its ups and downs, laughs and crys, cotton candy and elephant poop, the whole thing: none of it would even be possible if you and your friends hadn’t bought tickets to the show in the first place. 😉

To Vote, or… Why wouldn’t you vote?

6 Nov

Election Day 2012: go pretend you actually have a voice in picking the next commander in chief. We may not really be effecting that outcome, but the cool thing is, by voting for local and state offices, we are effecting future electoral colleges. So, try not to be too short sighted: this election may be out of our hands, but if Mitt, Obama, and their parties don’t “destroy the country” in four years, the others we put in office today will have a chance to truly represent us.

This is why I’m voting for 3rd parties. The only way to get rid of the two party machine is to starve it.

Of course, that takes a little more effort on our parts: to not just consume the free bullshit being shoveled onto our plates by the Dems and the GOP, and instead to venture out on our own, foraging info for ourselves, is more strenuous than simply digesting what’s put before us. But, like anything, nothing intrinsically good is ever free or without effort, so… To all of you who REALLY want change, hope, or truth: you won’t find it by simply turing on your idiot box. You actually have to hunt for it.

If this all sounds despondent, perhaps it’s just my frustration. I am hopeful, and I have faith in humanity and in this country: we have such potential! And yet… I see so many taking the easy or self interested path so often… It can be… daunting. Still, that doesn’t matter! For, with each and every new moment is yet another chance for us to choose to be stronger, more compassionate… just better in general.

So, happy voting! And, before you actually do cast that ballot, do me, your country, your world, our future, and yourself a favor by asking: Am I really, really making a good, educated choice, or am I just voting for the guy who appealed to me on the tv?

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