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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. 😉

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Tree of Life

29 Oct

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I drew this about three years ago, after coming out of a pretty intense meditation session. I had no idea what it was at the time.

I’ve been poring over the Sefer Yetzirah lately and, suddenly, I understood, I saw. It was a real “eureka” moment. I’d drawn a version of the Tree of Life. The realization was awesome. I’ve always loved this picture, but it’s so much more now: it no longer represents a simple, random idea, but has become a meaningful expression, an understanding of wisdom, the useful application of a gift.

Reincarnation?

29 Oct

My fiancee and I just finished Cloud Atlas. I loved it. She… well, she didn’t fall asleep. And, that’s us: she’s the one with her feet on the ground, I’m the one with my head in the clouds. While I sit around waxing philosophically, she just sits back and smiles.

But, I loved the movie. It was very… loosely threaded. I think reality is like that. Loosely threaded, I mean. We sit back and link cause and effect all day long, but most don’t venture too far off that path. It seems to make them nervous. I don’t usually worry about it; at work, I proudly wear the “kooky one” title, and it doesn’t phase anyone too much because (and this is just a guess) I’m so reliable when it does come to my duties. But, boy do I get “the look”. I like it though. Every so often, I can tell I get folks thinking. Like Tallahassee says, “Gotta enjoy the little things.”

I’m not going to give anything away, but I will say that, if you’re expecting a solid, plot based adventure ride or a cinematic epic that ties up nicely, you might wanna re-think your movie choice. Better yet, just go see Looper (Fantastic flick, btw). This is more of a… Parts had a sort of Albert Camus or Orwellian feel to them, as if it were portraying the human existance as almost apathetic or pointless… But then, that didn’t last, because you’d be cut to a different perspective or storyline altogether, and SWOOSH! you’re brought back up with the idea that all these separate lives are tied together and that, even though there is bad, the universe will never stop in its push for the good. It was like swinging on a trapeze between justice and love and weakness and faith and hope and strength and joy and sorrow. So many different emotions, Yvonne said she felt numb by the end. I felt… exactly the opposite: I felt happy and sad and good and bad and… It had a strange afterfeel to it.

An idea that was purported throughout the almost three hour film (yeah, it was a longun) was, “The weak are meat that the strong do eat,” or something to that effect. It was as if the villain/antagonist would attempt to will the good guy into simply giving up, or at least coming over to the “winning” side. (Hmmm… that makes me think of entropy for some reason), and yet, with the insurmountable odds stacked up, in the face of certain and inevitable death and/or destruction, the hero says, “I will not compromise my self.” I just love that. Lately, I’ve been circling the idea that that’s what we’re put on this earth for: to learn to exercise our will over our urges. Overpower the physical. Rise above emotion. Do what’s right, not because its what’s FEELS right, but because its what you KNOW is right… for whatever the reason…

How often do we get to do that? I mean, if we did it constantly with little things, we’d get pretty lonely pretty quick. One of my boys is picky like that, and that can be challenging… My other son is the exact opposite, bending to others’ will constantly just to avoid potential conflict, and this can be just as challenging. I’d like to think of myself as a high-brid of the two. I’m extremely “whatever” with most stuff. I’m easy to please, and find enjoyment in most things. I have my few core principals I won’t sacrifice.

I guess most people would say that, though… How many back it up, though? I guess its also not about how often we back it up, but just that we do it at the right time, when it really counts…

And it’s never the right time, but then it’s always the right time, because, no matter what time it is, its always now… Like, there’s no such thing as fate, but there is destiny, and the balance may be shifted from one side to another, but it’ll always swing back and each one of our moments is just a snapshot of the eternal sway between dark and light… And, honestly, who would want it any other way?

Yeah, it was a good movie. =)