June 29th, 2006
Now there's a lot I get but there's some I don't get. For instance, why does that Ruskie bastard at work get to buy a new beautiful, sexy, white two wheeled machine to put his legs around every morning and night? I mean, we won the cold war and he's got a loving wife at home who, by the way, made him this wonderful "get out of jail free" card (which, if you are in a relationship, is about the most loving thing you can give your significant other). With a wife at home does he really deserve this georgous bike too?
Actually, half of what I just said is load of bullshit...
The truth is there's a lot I get and a lot I don't get. For instance, why does a Russian own a British motorcycle? And why do I, an Australian-born American, own a Japanese motorcycle and a car that was built in Hiroshima? Where is our loyalty, our patriotism? Sure, there are no Russian bikes (correct me if I'm wrong), but I'm yet to find a fairly priced Harley that doesn't sound like a loud asshole.
My moto sounds like a happy little kitten purring. And my car goes zoom, zoom, zoom.
I miss my bike. I just petted it. Honest I did, lol. I was in the garage turning the hot tub off when I saw it and remembered I haven't been able to ride for a week as I've been taking my daughter to summer camp in the morning (and given that she broke her helmet...grrr...we're not riding togethr for awhile). So I've been driving the car and shifting may or may not be aggrevating my left knee and there's this evil commie at work who bought a brand new beautiful, sexy, white two wheeled machine.
Actually, most of what I just said is true except that line about my co-worker being an evil commie. He's just evil, evil I tell you. And an all around good guy.
When we going riding again, mate?
Doh, I gotta ride my bike in!
June 28th, 2006
Empaths, as with any other group of people sharing a common skill set, have a lot in common. We tend to have amplified emotional lives and we sometimes inadvertently catch other people's emotional states just as easily as we'd pick up the flu. Likewise we have similar chinks in our armor, perhaps one of the largest ones being that we tend to be inextricably attracted to people (and animals) with emotional and/or physical issues.
One such example for myself is my cat Monkey, he's my favourite. I remember his birth like it was yesterday. I was sitting at work programming when Vipassana sent me an Instant Message. She was freaking out. Apparently the mother, Kitten, a.k.a. "The Electric Pookaloo", didn't understand this whole pregnancy thing and thought she had to use the litter box. Long story short Vipassana finds this screaming tiny black kitten covered in white litter with a tail that looks like it had been slammed in a car door and she starts to freak out. I calmed her down and walked her through the steps to clean the kitten and put together a "nest" of sorts--though admittedly it ended up being a struggle to teach Kitten to stay with her kittens as I've never before had a cat that didn't instinctually know what to do (although our other female cat seemed to have a pretty good idea and kept trying to steal the kittens for herself!). So Monkey, he's kinda of a freak. He's got this tail that's completely bent out of shape and he doesn't like to be held, but jeeze, does he like attention whether it's chin scratches or chasing real or imagined objects. He is the only cat I've ever owned that will tap you incessantly with his paw until you give in and give him attention otherwise he'll look you right in the eye and yowl out this pathetic whine of a meow. I can't help but love the little tike.
Then there was this cat I'd named Lucky. I was about twelve or so when he was born and it was spring. His mom was an outdoor cat, a tough farm cat, so lucky inherited that and though I don't recall he was most likely born in the wood pile or under some alfalfa and I'd found him lying there among his brothers and sisters completely flaccid and unable to nurse. So, being the kind of kid I was I went out several times a day to check on the little guy and I'd hold his mouth to one of his mother's nipples so he could sip at the milk. Every day after school I'd spend hours nurturing him and he grew at the same rate as the other kittens, he just couldn't move around or lift his head or anything most kittens take for granted. After his eyes opened I started doing physical therapy with him--yes, I was a precocious one. I'd made a bed for him on the back porch where he'd be safe during the day (in particular safe from my blind father accidentally stepping him to death) and in the afternoon's I'd pick him up and set him in my lap and pet him until he purred. Then I'd stand him on all four feet and hold him in place. He couldn't move forward or back and if I let go he'd fall, but every day he was able to stand a little longer and a little longer. I think the most he stood was about a minute before I had to help him gently back onto the shag carpet we had outside the sliding glass door. And then I found not only was he gaining strength with the exercises I was imposing on him, but that while he was lying on the concrete he would push himself around mainly with his back legs. At first he'd simply end up going in circles or getting stuck out in the center where he didn't have anything to push against but then he got the knack for it and would push himself this way and that until he reached his goal, which was typically me, and then he'd start purring. I must have had dozens of cats over my childhood but that little yellow guy was special. He was an underdog, he wouldn't have lived as long as he did if I hadn't taken hours out of every day to nurture him or if he hadn't had the courage to simply be the cat that he was and enjoy what he had without thinking something silly like, "I'd be happy if I were like the other cats." And then my family went to Disneyland and he had no one to care for him or feed him and he died. All I can say is if I'd had a choice I wouldn't have left and today I continue to feel an almost unbearable amount of sadness and remorse over him. I miss him more than any animal I've ever had and I'd trade my car or my motorcycle to have him back, hands down.
These are just two examples of animals that I was highly attracted to in large part because they were the underdogs, they both had emotional and/or physical issues that other cats didn't have to deal with, they struggled and found strength from their differences and as an intuitive I could empathize with it, fall in love with it, be completely blown away by it, and find the beauty in their differences.
The same has been true with people. Over my life I haven't sought out the stable and arguably sane people who grew up with all the emotional, intellectual, physical, and financial support they needed, I always found myself attracted to those who lacked in some substantial way and I was usually very conscious of this attraction. For instance:
- The boy who liked "nerdy" things like math, science, and Doctor Who, and who had "strange" x-hippie parents and who no one understood.
- The girl who had panic attacks, needed to sit near the door to a room, and who was afraid of being abandoned.
- The girl who deep down wanted to be genuine with people but was afraid and always ended slandering instead of talking things out honestly.
- The girl who's alcoholism and judgment kept her from having any meaningful relationship with anyone who wasn't a felon.
- The girl who wanted intimacy and acceptance but wasn't willing to accept or be truly open with anyone else.
- The boy who could not talk about the death of his father and took his anger out on everyone and everything.
- The boy who made everyone else uncomfortable and who understood anything that could be quantified but little that could be quantified (such as my feelings about literally anything).
Over my life I've asked myself why I'm attracted so people "with issues". I mean, who in their right mind is attracted to someone who can be described as pot smoking, alcoholic, panicked, passive aggressive, bi-polar, insecure, hypocritical, dishonest, disloyal, depressed, or communicatively challenged? And those are just a few examples of the people I've somehow sought out of have allowed into my life. Am I fucking nuts?!?
I have some theories and I believe all of them bear truth. Here are a few:
Theory #1: Empathy and Common Ground
Yep, it always come back to empathy. I can empathize with someone who's a bit different, who faces extraordinary challenges, who didn't have life handed to them on a silver platter. Although we undergo our difficulties, there are those of us who've gone through more. We've experienced more death, more ostracism, more abandonment, more cruelty, and more physical struggles. We've had fewer friends, less family, no home, and little food. We know what it means to be without and though those experiences can twist a personality against itself (and others), the shared experience of being without, of being a little different than the "norm", creates an area of mutual understanding. Having something in common with someone emotionally makes communication, at least initially, significantly easier.
Theory #2: Security and Control
I'm not going to play like I'm a perfect human being (in the conventional sense of the word "perfect") so I'm just going to say it: one reason I'm attracted to people with issues is for security and by logical extension of that, control. Think of it this way, if you're empathic and can see deep down into a person and you know where their buttons are you automatically have a fair amount of control over them (or at least the knowledge to exert such control if you so choose). Personally I have never met anyone who doesn't like to have a sense of control over their life and with that a sense of security it only follows that if you can spot people's weaknesses you'll naturally be attracted as knowing about them can make your life more secure. Every empath I have ever met, most of them imprinters, have admitted as much to me but not in as clearly articulated terms (as being straight forward about such a thing is anathema to one's sense of control).
Theory #3: Appreciating the Oasis
Lets face it, here in the Pacific Northwest we're surrounded by so much water and rained on so often most of us don't appreciate a good storm--but if we were walking alone through the Sahara Desert we'd thank the gods after stumbling upon a shallow puddle of water! The reality is as humans we appreciate drinking from an oasis a hell of a lot more than the bottled water we picked up from 7-11. So when I look at someone and I, say, discover they want intimacy with others but they're unable to because they lack the courage be up front with people or they're unable to communicate for fear that personal evolution somehow constitutes a death of personality, I have this desire to empathize with them, to listen to them, and to show them that it is safe to grow and evolve and when needed shout out that the world is a better place if we all get off our collective asses, stand by each other, and make a difference--first in ourselves and then in the world. It's that contrast that attracts me and the chance to make a positive difference in someone's life.
Theory #4: Like attracts Like
Back to what I said in #2, I'm anything but perfect. I've seen the depths of suicidal Depression--from both sides of the coin. Being strongly intuitive combined with choosing to be around people with emotional issues causes me to be extremely susceptible to catching them (for instance I'd never heard of a panic attack until I met someone who had them and it took me about seven or so years to finally kick them myself). So I'm attracted to people with similar issues so I can empathize (#1), feel a sense of security and control that comes with being accepted (#2), and because we can each appreciate each other's idiosyncrasies in a way your average Joe could not.
Theory #5: Accept What You're Offered
Lets face it, people who are messed up don't exactly attract people who have their heads on straight so you could argue they take what they can get and for most of my life that's exactly how I choose my friends and partners. If someone offered their friendship I'd accept it and be involved completely until such a point they walked away from the friendship. This was, with very few exceptions and until only recently, the algorithm I'd use to choose who I spend my time with. I've always felt it was right to accept what comes into your life and that it's the fair thing to do. Sure, I can spot people's buttons typically within a few minutes of meeting them but was it fair to trust my intuition instead of giving them the opportunity to be themselves, freedom of choice and all that philosophical rag?
The algorithm has changed. I know which lumps of dirt hide the land minds and which do not. I have ignored the explosions and born the brunt of psychic and emotional shrapnel. I am the broken angel who weeps without tears and requires no sympathy for his choices. I am not afraid to walk into the minefield, but not while blindfolded children run around playing tag. No, there must be knowledge in that place, courage, and an adherence to certain values the least of which should be a love for others over the love for oneself. Find that and I will gladly walk anywhere with you.
June 27th, 2006
As with most parents I find myself sometimes lecturing my daughter on her questionable dental hygiene. Though she does pretty darn good overall there are times where I have to do the somewhat distasteful (or more accurately the "dis-smellful"?) "breath" test after which I typically instruct her to go back upstairs: brush, floss, and gargle a second time please.
One thing that really bugged (actually it pissed me off) about my parents growing up was hypocritical behavior. I understood I was the kid and they were the adults; roles and boundaries were very well defined in my family. Still, when they said one thing ("If you break something let us know and we'll work it out together") and did another (spank me raw after I let them know I'd broken something) it kinda rubbed me the wrong way. Those that know me can attest I have a strong aversion to hypocrisy (and get pretty stern when I spot it in myself!).
So yesterday at 4:30pm when I found myself in the dentist' chair experiencing the thrill of Novocain being injected in to my right lower gum I made all the normal excuses but when push came to shove I hadn't exactly been playing on a level playing field so I reaffirmed my commitment to not only take better care of my teeth but also insure my daughter isn't taught that hypocrisy is somehow "okay" under certain circumstances. And I can honestly say I've made positive progress in that direction as I'm not flossing every day, something you had to figuratively pull teeth to make me do in the past.
As I sat there with my jaw propped uncomfortably wide with cold, numb lips I realized something that shocked me: I hate dentists.
You'd think after thirty years I'd figure that out but truth be told I'm an atypical pygmie. Besides that one time when I was four or five I've always enjoyed going to the dentist. Even that one time where I was having my two left wisdom teeth pulled and the dentist accidentally pulled the wrong one I enjoyed the experience, I mean, it's not often someone sits down and says, "I screwed up, I've never made a mistake like this before and I'm sorry. I'll do anything I can in my power to make this right." I have only been on the receiving end of such straight forward and courageous acts of honor and integrity a few times in my life and it always makes my day! That mistake, of course, lead to five or so years of braces and during that time I visited the orthodontist's office about once a month. You'd think the monthly brace tightening and the subsequent headaches would put me off but no, I enjoyed my visits.
"WTF?" you say?
You see, when I was growing up I didn't often get positive attention from people. The dentist's office was somewhere I knew I'd always walk in the door and people would smile, greet me politely, and be interested in my life. Always predictable. Always positive. I loved the physical attention, sitting in the chair and being half asleep while one or two people touched me. As an empath I could lay back and absorb their energy which was always focused, friendly, and gentle (the irony being that superficially the sensations were not always so pleasing). While I was going to university the orthodontist' office became one of the few places where I could count on attention. Besides my family, who lived over a hundred miles away, the longest conversations I'd have in a week or month started, "That'll be $3.50, can I see your ID?" or "Do you want fries with that?" I sometimes literally went weeks or months without contact with another human who came to see me, came to talk to me, called me on the phone or knocked on the door and wanted to spend time with me. And so that trip to the orthodontist was that oasis in the desert where I could sit down and receive attention my heart was starved for!
That said, you'd think the reason I've come to the conclusion that I now hate dentists is because I'm getting enough touch but the truth is I'm not. With the exception of hugs and rough housing with my daughter, the joyful moments with my cats, and the intermittent massaging for my aching knee (thanks Vipassana), I don't get much touch in my life. I've never really had many male friends so that chummy type of male/male bonding has almost always been missing from the picture. And the physical intimacy of a relationship, being touched by someone I absolutely trust and can believe in, that's something I haven't felt in so long I've forgotten what it's like (and though there are times where I want it terribly I stopped looking for it--I have more important things to be doing with my time and energy!). So no, I don't get enough touch but I've come to not feel the need for touch like I once did. I've come to realize on a very fundamental level that touch isn't necessary for my survival, that I can be emotionally healthy and well balanced without the luxury of a friendly hug or a warm kiss. I don't thirst for touch anymore, I don't make foolish decisions for it anymore, and I sure as hell don't enjoy going to the dentist for it anymore!
Great, now I need a fucking hug!
June 26th, 2006
Sunday I had a very peculiar dream, which I suppose isn't saying much since my dreams tend towards the bizarre and highly symbolic. You see, I was walking through some building and I wanted to get to a lower floor but the elevator that would take me down was up a flight of long stairs up on dais like platform that was visible and hanging about thirty feet up in the air. I walked purposefully towards the stairs and someone beat me there and he stumbled and lied there for a few moments and I realized he was physically handicapped.
My natural inclination in such situations is typically one of two things.
First, I might simply and politely go around the person and continue on my way. This may seem a little cruel but the truth of the matter is I don't see any meaningful difference between someone with a physical "handicap" and someone with a mental and/or emotional one--and if I spent all my time stopping for people with mental and/or emotional handicaps I'd bloody well loose my mind (rewind 15 years for concrete examples). Plus, I HATE the term "handicapped" because it really only describes a state of perception, an artificial grouping of people into "us" and "them". It's a fancy word we've come up with to describe (and often criticize) a subset of human beings who may not have two arms and two legs or five senses or what have you. The Truth is we're all given the skills and abilities we have and we can choose to use what we have to our fullest potential or not to.
The only true handicap is hopelessness.
The second choice I'm naturally inclined to make is to patiently wait. Yeah, I'm the kind of person that would smile politely and wait for this person to crawl up the entire flight of stairs. I wouldn't get upset, I wouldn't be impatient (as I might with someone having two working legs), I'd just stand patiently with my hands behind my back and I'd smile and I'd think about life, the universe, and everything, while this person made their way up one step after another.
Now in my dream I considered both of my natural tendencies and I found myself doing something I wouldn't normally do, that is, I asked him how I might help. Now this may seem fairly straight forward to some people and though I recognize this, the fact is having a blind father I know most people may think highly of themselves but they rarely do much more than stare and get in the way (yes, you'd be utterly surprised how absolutely blind sighted people can be). Having grown up with someone our society considers "handicapped" I have learned that people with "disabilities" are perfectly capable human beings so I treat them as I would anyone else and why the hell shouldn't I? If it's obvious that I can open a door for someone and it helps, I do it, no problem. And if someone asks for help I usually oblige, regardless of their physical or mental condition. I try to treat people with a level playing field and I realize some might be offended by that but tough noogies.
The obvious symbolism in this dream is that to get from A to B the path is often non-linear (up stairs before down the elevator) and that there are usually obstacles in the path (a handicapped person falling down in front of me creating a moral and psychological dilemma). A deeper meaning is that I sometimes feel like people with emotional handicaps (i.e. most people) get in the way of reaching my personal goals--the dream reminds me that in truth people, through their positive attributes and their not so positive attributes, facilitate me towards my highest goals (to be a more well rounded, thoughtful, understanding, and knowledgeable human being). The deepest and perhaps most relevant meaning is related directly to my behavior in the situation. Instead of taking one of two common choices I opted to put my own perception of my personality on hold, break out my arbitrary mold, and verbally offer assistance. I remember thinking, "This is a dream," so I was consciously playing through this situation, recognizing in my own way that the introvert now demonstrates the natural tendencies of an extrovert; I've made the conscious choice to expand my personality in a meaningful and beneficial way for myself and others without in any way sacrificing my sense of self or my safety.
Yessiree, you can teach an old dog new tricks.
Now here's what I believe or, to be more accurate, what I don't believe: I don't believe that when you hit a certain age or "stage" you suddenly become incapable (incompetent, yes, but not incapable). I don't believe that personality is a rigid and unbending phenomena that somehow becomes false if it changes or evolves. I don't believe in the notion that simply because a personal change in perception, attitude, understanding, lifestyle, or physique is difficult that it is impossible or not worth the effort. Sure, some people are quicker at picking up some skills than others and children's brains are more malleable than adult's, but the facts are that the limitations and excuses we make for our behaviors will always be more debilitating than any physical "handicap" could ever be.
And so most of us spend most of our lives mentally and/or emotionally handicapped. We say we cannot paint well so we don't try to paint at all. We say we don't understand computers so we don't pick up a Dummies guide. Fifteen years ago I used to say I could never be anything but depressed because I came from an emotionally abusive home and those few friends I had were likewise abusive towards me. Both accounts were true. My father, for instance, often yelled obscenities at me and called me worthless while I once caught my "friends" making bets over whether or not I'd commit suicide (far be it for them to do anything as functional as, say, being emotional supportive). Acknowledging (and repeating) these facts, though, did nothing to lead me towards freedom or the goal of eventual happiness. Likewise, I once knew someone who admitted that they weren't totally honest and regardless of the catastrophic results of their dishonesty and gossip argued, "That's just the way I am. Besides, I don't like drama" (the irony being most of her drama was self-imposed). And once I knew someone who would stand from the mountain tops and proclaim her honesty proudly. Yet instead of taking responsibility for her behavior when her words and actions were clearly contradictory she would lash out with blame and explanations arguing, "This is just the way I am! If you really loved me you'd just accept me for who I am!"
To that mindset I have this to say: "Horse shit!"
This morning while I was waking up to NPR I heard a really interesting story about a woman who, though she has vision in both eyes, has not had stereoscopic vision--until in her fifties. For the layman that means that she wasn't able to perceive depth, i.e her world was 2-dimentional, i.e. her brain was unable to perceive distance and to keep from seeing two of everything. So for fifty years of her life she used one eye or the other at a time.
Since I don't wish to elaborate too much on the report you can listen/read it for yourself: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5507789
The key point here is that "experts" told her that since she had a problem at two years old she'd never be able to develop stereoscopic vision. The hardware in her brain, they said, was not capable of wiring up in such a way as to allow her to track a ball flying through the air or judge how close an oncoming car was. Experiments with animals demonstrated there was a cutoff point and if you missed that cutoff point you were fucked. And you know what? She believed them. She believed and believed and then one day she noticed that the dual images of people and things were shaking about so she went to an eye doctor that gave her a very simple and straight forward exercise (mostly to strengthen her eye muscles). Read the article and learn what she did but basically, she took the fundamental hardware (her eyes and brain) and supplied the software (repetitive eye exercises) and now she's able to experience something she hasn't in an entire life: the magical world of 3-D (no red/blue glasses either!).
Lesson #1: Don't blindly put your trust in experts. First, their knowledge is sometimes based on assumptions. Second, the idea of allowing someone else's words to limit one's perceptual freedom--well, it's silly, don't you think?
Lesson #2: Don't blindly accept your boundaries or limitations. This thing we call "personality" is malleable and we are fully capable of modifying it in such a way that it more accurately reflects who we want to be (instead of simply trying to convince others that they should see us the way we feel we ought to be seen). If our pattern is to simply say, "This is just how I am," we're not doing anything besides admitting we're either too lazy or scared to get off our collective asses and do the necessary legwork.
Now I realize this is a rather round-about method for getting to what I meant to be talking about all along but there we have it. And what is it that's been on my mind?
My daughter's progressions towards her teenage years.
You see, in psychology there's always this argument about what influences people more, nature or nurture, and it's often difficult to determine what has more sway as we're these crazy creatures with thoughts and opinions that don't necessarily match up with reality. In terms of people going from their tweenage years to their teenage years there are all these ideas and assumptions about how children just become "rebellious" at that time because they're "testing their boundaries" and "finding their autonomy". But I've come to believe these are cultural and psychological assumption and frankly, they provide a cop out for us culturally and as parents.
Take for instance the whole "testing their boundaries" hypothesis. This idea doesn't hold water as people begin testing their boundaries as soon as they realize that an external world exists and that they can effect it and hopefully get things they want (like a bottle of milk, a changed diaper, or attention).
Take for instance rebelliousness. I see children who at two or three are already rebelling, often physically, towards their parents. They throw tantrums on a regular basis. Is it because they've got some teenage gene that's somehow been activated early by some mutation or gamma rays from the sun? Bullshit. It's almost always almost entirely traceable to the style of parenting they've experienced in the immediate household.
For a teenager it's not so easy to track down rebellious urges to the household as they are now not only influenced by what's around their crib but also by their school mates, television, and an array of knowledge about the universe--but with the right questions it is possible to track down the social causes. For instance, if my daughter comes home and she's being bossy I can, usually determine the exact cause of her behavioral change with a few simple questions. The last time, for instance, I asked, "When you were at your friend's were you both around their parents much?" to which she answered, "Yes," after which I asked, "How does she treat them?" to which she answered, "Oh, she tells them what to do all the time." My response? "That doesn't seem very nice of your friend but you need to remember, they have different rules at their house but here that behavior is not acceptable, okay?" She says okay and usually that's the end of it.
Cause and effect. We are nature's computers, we learn, we observe, and we do. We have a set of limitations but frankly, most of us don't know what they are because we're blind-sided by our own beliefs about who and what we are. Some people believe that teenagers just act out because that's what they do. Poppycock. I know my daughter acts out because she's learned that it's either acceptable or effective at getting something she wants--and she's just like you and I, she's going to try and get what she wants through whatever means she believes (emotionally or otherwise) is most effective! So I think on this and I ask where the limitations really are and how I can best facilitate her growth as a well balanced and intelligent human being--and how I can help spot where the "nurture" of a rather psychotic culture has her believing things like stealing is okay because that's what the other kids do (true story), a culture that will have her believing that she's smart enough to start playing around sexually at a very early age, a culture that believes sneaking alcohol at an early age is "normal", a culture that promotes the ideas of "fun" and "being happy" over recognizing fundamentally real and important things about the very nature of life, the universe, and everything.
Real life isn't part of a Disney cartoon.
It is not my wish to slam American culture but the fact is the ideas we surround ourselves and our children with are contradictory and arguable psychotic. To expect them not to act like they've lost their minds is irrational at best. Hell, if as adults we weakly assume superficial limitations, make excuses for our own mental and emotional handicaps, how "good" will our parenting truly be? Now in my defense it's not my intent to criticize anyone's parenting--being a parent is hard (truly putting your kids first is fucking hard!!!). What I am trying to convey is that if we assume we're old dogs, we're never going to learn new tricks much less do something as amazing as share those tricks with our children. If we spend most of our energy developing the skills to wear the right clothes and get our makeup just right what time or energy will we have to find the courage to truly evolve?
June 25th, 2006
I really should be getting to bed as I need to get up early and take my daughter to fencing class but I've spent the last two hour or so doing a little Temple cleaning. For those who visit I've moved material that isn't mine (links to external sites, books, movies, etc.) into a separate section called The Muses. Additionally I've created a page to list the musicians and groups I enjoy. Other than that, everything should appear more or less the same (though I am contemplating planting new roses at the entrance).
So what can I tell you of this weekend? It's been hot and I've caught up on sleep, which I really needed after last week. I worked a little on the deck but for the most part either hid away from the heat or was out riding the bike. Saturday Vipassana and I rode out to Sauvie Island and explored. Today I went to East Portland just to get out for a bit and stop by a car dealership. This afternoon it was about a hundred degrees so I tried something new, that is, I soaked my t-shirt in cold water before putting it on under my motorcycle jacket and found that it was very effective (great air conditioning and kept me from getting dehydrated). What else? Reading a comic book version of American history, listening to some new music from Regina Spektor...
And I wanted to tell you about this lady. I had never heard of her until last Thursday when I was listening to a podcast that had some information about her. They played part of one song and I found myself on the verge of tears. It struck me pretty hard, I usually need to hear a song at least three times before it works its way around my heart but here I was, thirty seconds into a song I'd never heard before by a singer I'd never known and I'm sitting there at work ready to start balling. I shot right off to her website and listened to her music and everything she had there wrapped around my heart and soul and wowed me. I did something I never do: I went straight to the music store after work and bought the CD which I've since fallen in love with. True, Prodigy is some kick ass riding music, but Regina Spektor's voice brings warmth to every curve I lean over to kiss.
To one soul out there there I dedicate the song Samson. I see your face every time I hear its words and wish for you every happiness and joy.
It is late. Ne me quitte pas, ma chere.
June 24th, 2006
The other day I read someone's blog. I don't normally do this. In a strange sort of way I read people's blogs every day without reading them. I see someone walking down the road and I may experience nothing--on the other hand I might be flooded with emotions and imagery I could hardly describe to you, a cacophony of thoughts, vision, and emotion.
So please don't be offended if I don't read you blog. It's not that I don't find you interesting it's just that at any typical moment I'm getting way more information than I could through your blog or as my eleven year old daughter has recently educated me: TMI (Too Much Information). And honestly, it's far too easy for me to spot masks, everyone's wearing them and very few are conscious (and honest) about them and in a way a blog is just another mask, another story. Even I can sit down with the best intentions there will always be a bias because I must, in some way, shape, fashion, and form, choose my words, the words I wish to use to represent myself to you. And so I don't care to see another respresentation of who someone is through means of a web journal, I just want to hear their voice and walk beside them to the market or the beach.
The reason I was reading this blog is a co-worker sent it to me. He thought it was absolutely hilarious. Me? I read it and though I could understand how some would find it humorous I found it upsetting. Now years ago I would have argued. How could someone find something so uncompassionate and judgemental funny? Now, though, I ask myself, "Why doesn't he perceive this the same way I do?" When I ask myself that question I know there is much there to learn.
In summary the blog entry was written by a guy who met this girl at the gym who he went out on a date with. He picked her up in his sports car and knowing that some people (I say people as not to be sexist but I mean "women") can't help but make penis jokes at a bachelor with a sports car he made a joke at his own expense which ticked her off. He opened the car door for her, other doors, took her coat, and pulled out chairs for her but with each thoughtful act she retorted with something rude, passive agressive, or just a general complaint. That night while they had dinner she spent the time critisizing his beliefs, his family, him in general. Needless to say this isn't the kind of date most of us have in mind when we agree to go out with someone but whatever, the guy gets ready to take her home and they walk out to the car and he starts to get in the car and she says, "Hey, aren't you going to open the door for me?" With that the guy got in, locked the car doors, and drove off.
I can see how this story would be humourous to many. I mean, what kind of hypocritical bitch pulls shit like that and expects to get a ride home? He takes her out, pays for dinner, and is a gentleman and all she can do is bitch! WTF is wrong with her?
On the other hand, WTF is wrong with this guy? He demonstrates little patience and made some presumptions up front and is overly judgemental and uncompassionate. The girl obviously has issues and a human with issues needs love and understanding, not being left on the side of the road without explanation. The guy struck me as a self-centered prick.
So yeah, I could see the humor. And yeah, I was upset. I was upset because I could see how fucking backwards this girl's behavior was. She wanted love and connection or she wouldn't have been on a date but her behavior was so abusive and call me silly but that isn't attractive to most. And the guy seemed to think he was somehow morally in the right for leaving her in the dust and on a karmic level I do agree, she got what was coming to her.
Actually, what upset me most is that I dated that girl.
I'm kidding. I never dated that exact woman. But the description was uncannily familiar. A girl who bitches about everything you do? You spent hundreds if not thousands of dollars on them, turn the other cheek when they insult, take advantage, and lash out, and all they can do is whine, bitch, moan, gossip, and lie? Yeah, I've dated that girl...one, two, three, at least four times in the last five years.
That's the part of the story that I found both humorous and upsetting. I'm not the only guy who's dated that girl--that's funny because I can relate. That girl is a living, breathing, suffering human being--that's not funny because I can relate.
As I mentioned previously part of me thought this guy was a prick for taking off. He could have at least driven and given her the cold shoulder while driving her home and just ignored any phone calls from her. That's what (I believe) most people would do. But the prick just took off.
Or maybe he's not a prick, maybe he's a fucking wise man and I should bow down and say, "I'm not worthy, I'm not worthy."
Take me, for instance. I am the penultimate idiot, the complete fool who so often looks at my past failings and so overcompensates to the extreme--in particular I have, over the last five years, allowed a handful of women to completely walk over me to prove to myself that I'm loyal.
I fully admit it: I'm an idiot.
Take for instance the girl who, for absolutely no reason, accused me of videotaping her and I being intimate after she learned I had (a perfectly visible) webcam in my room. Personally, I find such an unfounded accusation to be offensive but what did I do? I listened and tried to be compassionate, after all, she wouldn't say something like that unless her trust had once been betrayed.
Take for instance the girl who promised me everything and then one day suddenly didn't have the time for anything anymore but said that "nothing" was wrong and when I discovered she was seeing an x-boyfriend she lied. What did I do? I tried to see her point of view and create a common ground where we could talk.
Take for instance the three single mothers I've become close too. I never criticized or told any of them how to parent--it's not any of my goddamn business! And yet each of them has given me lectures--yes, goddamn lectures--on how they don't agree with my parenting style. And the really offensive thing is I went to school to be a psychologist and these people with little to no background in child psychology felt they could tell me how to parent! So what did I do? I nodded politely, sighed in private, and just let these people express themselves freely.
Single mothers are nuts...(I say tongue in cheek)
These are just three examples. And I'd still think these were isolated examples or that I was just somehow unlucky or simply attract certain types of women but this is just the tip of the iceburg.
How about the fact that almost all of the women I've dated in the last five years pushed sex on me very early but were somehow put off when I wanted to sit down and do something as crazy as, say, talk birth control, STD's, family planning, any of that? Or all that have pushed have asked to have unprotected sex because, "You can trust me," and, "I don't plan to have anyone but you," and, "I just feel closer that way". My last girlfriend even had the balls to tell me she didn't care if she became pregnant because she'd take the kid for herself--I couldn't even believe how self centered she was! And then there were the gossips who talked behind my and Vipassana's back (one almost cost Vipassana her job) and the girl who played the friend game with me, got me to spend hundreds of dollars to fly down to visit, then spent the entire week at work or on the computer trying to get laid.
I have sometimes asked myself:
What the fuck is wrong with people?!?!
And so this guy, the guy who wrote the blog, maybe he's a saint. Maybe he just says, "Think it's okay to treat me like shit? Well, I can dish it back too and in equal amounts."
I can't do that, though. Since '99 I put up with almost anything to prove to myself that I can listen, that I'm understanding, that I'm loyal. I've let people, even Vipassana (many years ago), walk all over me and I'd just take it thinking that if I tried to talk they'd listen and I'd listen and we'd work things out.
What's so hard about getting through a difficult conversation? I don't get it. You walk into a room. Someone else is there. You both recognize you don't necessarily agree but you do agree the conversation is difficult. You both stay there until YOU ARE BOTH DONE. That's it. Simple, straight, to the point. Doesn't take a rocket scientist. Sit down and talk until an agreeable solution is found.
Why do so many find such a simple thing so hard?
Articulating my personal boundaries has always been easy for me. Knowing when to enforce them hasn't. I don't know where that line is for me. Being empathic I can see and hear and taste and feel where other people are coming from to the point I can predict their behavior with stunning and often unnerving accuracy. One girlfriend, for instance--I knew within five minutes of talking to her when we'd meet, where, and under what circumstances. I knew whe'd have sex, where, and how long the relationship would last. I knew she'd be "false" during the last few months of the relationship and received the "dear John" letter within 2 hours of my predicted ETA. How do I, seeing what's in the future, treat someone fairly but at the same time trust a sense of intuition which has become uncannily accurate?
When you start to see things that clearly you'd think those lines become clearer but they don't. Instead you have hope. You hope that maybe people won't be as predictable, maybe they won't be selfish, maybe (yeah, fucking maybe) they'll keep all the promises they make.
What do you trust? Intuition or the person love?
I don't have the answers. Maybe I'm not ready for them and maybe I'm not wise, but I'm wise enough to admit I don't have them.
But I'm looking.
I'd be lying if I said I don't care about or miss these people. If I didn't care I'd lock the doors and drive away. So I've tried listening and I've tried talking. But this past year I've lost all patience with abusive behavior towards me or those I love.
One x, for instance, writes once a year and she tells me what a loving and wonderful person she is. After so many hours, weeks, and months trying to actually carry on a succesful conversation with her I finally said enough is enough. I mean, how many lies do you patiently listen to before you realize there's no choice but to lock the doors and drive away?
Have I, in my silence, facilitated people's behavior? By not screaming the instant they kicked me in the balls was I telling them it's okay to behave in a socially destructive manner? Was I adding to the delusion that their behavior was somehow acceptable? Am I an enabler? Morgaine, has my regret over my poor treatment of your heart and soul caused me to choose to allow others to abuse me? Have I foolishly overcompensated yet again?
I promised awhile ago I'd tell you about something, a psychological disorder I've observed and come up with a name for. If I had decided to take a career in psychology I'd study it in the laboratory and write papers on it, I'd demonstrate how and why it causes broken marriages, dysfunctional families, and wars.
It is called Reactive Tranpositional Aggressive Disorder.
We have synonyms, of course. The "blame game" or "lashing out", but the fancy name is Reactive Transpositional Aggressive Disorder. Simply put, it's the psychological need to agressively react to a stimuli in an irrational fashion "transposing" or putting personal responsibility for one's actions, emotions, and/or perceptions on to others.
Someone runs a red light, smashes into your car, jumps out, screams, then sues you for the damage to their car: that's RTAD.
If you don't believe it's common here's a challenge. Tell someone a personal boundary then enforce it. That's it. Just tell them something like, "I don't like it when someone reads over my shoulder," or, "I value honesty," or, "I need my partner to be loyal to me emotionally and physically." Then wait. Wait until that boundary has been pushed then say, "Hey, you may not recall but I articulated a boundary to you and I'm not going to allow you to cross it again, okay?" Try that and chances are you'll experience a little Reactive Transpositional Aggressive Disorder, baby--and it's not perty.
I want to take a moment to thank the one person in my life who has helped keep my hope alive. You see, a long time ago Vipassana really took me for a ride. She took advantage of me. She trampled all over me because she wanted to have her cake and eat it too. But she stayed in the conversation, she learned how to listen, and after many years of mutual stumbling and tripping she respects my personal boundaries.
Vipassana admitted to me today that she's sad because she's realized that she hasn't been in love in four years. I didn't know what to tell her. I've been in love but the choices I've made to trust people have only gotten me hurt so my immediate feeling was to respond, "Jesus H. Christ! Are you nuts? Do you really want to give your heart to some insane mother fucker out there in our culture who's more interested in themselves than giving you the love and appreciation you deserve?"
But I didn't respond, I just listened and nodded because I've been feeling the same way. I haven't been in a relationship in a long time, the last time I even considered it the person suffered from a huge case of RTAD. And so I don't know what to tell her. I want to see people who walk the walk. I want to see courage. I want to see people talking AND listening. I want to see imperfect people living imperfect lives but doing it on the up and up. And then I can tell Vipassana there are some sane people out there and one that will have her best interests in mind.
I hope she someday meets that person.
Now there have been those who, when I asked them to respect my boundaries, reacted with RTAD and used Vipassana as the lightning rod. If you're reading this you know who you are. But I've been silent and tonight I want to finally stand up and tell the truth and here it is:
Your perception that you were ever in some sort of competition with Vipasanna is misplaced. She is one imperfect human being who I love and she is my friend. She pisses me off sometimes, she hurts me sometimes, and sometimes she just drives me up a wall. But she stays in the conversation, she's there for my birthdays, and she has shown me time and time again that I can count on her.
She's the one human being on this planet I trust.
You see, she's not someone to compete with, she's a role model. Pay attention to her because she treats me pretty darn good. Once upon a time she lost my trust so you should be asking yourself how she's earned it back (the answer is: by learning to walk the walk and consider my feelings when making important decisions). Does she have my respect? Absolutely, because she makes hard choices that take everyone into consideration instead of thinking (and acting) based on what she gets out of it. And yeah, I love the fact that she admits and take responsibility for her mistakes, that she listens, and that she isn't fickle.
Anyway, I hope you will forgive my rambling this evening. I will not make an excuse for it, these things have been on my mind and I hate feeling like I'm somehow holding something back from you. So here are my thoughts. I hope you are able to sort through them and understand.
June 23rd, 2006
I like Wednesdays. First of all they're hump day and no, that has nothing to do with intimate relations of any manner as I have no intimate relations except of course if I choose to have them with myself as to which I won't be elaborating on today as it's Friday and that's beyond the scope of Wednesday. The second though primary reason I like Wednesdays is that the organic produce arrives on Tuesdays and although Tuesdays aren't quite Wednesdays (yet) that means that the strawberries that arrive on Tuesday will stick around (usually) until Wednesday and if I'm conscious enough to remember them before leaving for work in the morning I put them in my green lunch bag with a V8 and I'm off to work.
The reason I talk about it on a Friday which is also not quite a Wednesday (yet) is that I just ate a chocolate chip cookie that a coworker left me and I'd much rather have a strawberry and I've found it rather peculiar that I often want a strawberry when I have a cookie as a cookie is not quite a strawberry and I want a cookie when I have a strawberry as a strawberry is not quite a chocolate chip cookie. To simplify in a more meaningful and straight and to the point way (without meandering terribly much further): I sometimes find myself appreciating something that's not in my hands more than what is.
That's not to say I don't appreciate what I have, I do in a way I was incapable of fifteen years ago. What I am saying is that although I've learned to appreciate what's in the present, I often look back at the past and think about what I had and I can appreciate that too. And that's where the trick comes in. If the past blinds you from appreciating the present then you've got what most of us would call "luggage". If you can appreciate every moment, every strawberry you nibble out of your fingers tips, and you can also appreciate the first Oreo cookie you tried with a glass of milk when you were five--then that is an amazing thing.
Since we're on a theme and I'm done rambling, an old Zen proverb:
Once upon a time a man was walking through the forest when he came upon a hungry tiger that began to chase him. The man ran and ran until he ran into and quite literally ran off of a cliff. Fortunately for him he was quick enough to grab an exposed tree root on the way down and he swung there in the air for a moment and noticed the tiger just feet above him. He looked down and though the ground was only about ten feet away another tiger had appeared and was waiting for him to drop. It was then that he noticed a beautifully large wild strawberry growing from the cliff face. The man put the berry in his mouth and chewed.
It was delicious!
June 22nd, 2006
I want to hear all the music you love, but don't expect me to dance to your songs. I'll try all the foods you enjoy, but don't expect me to cook the same recipes. I'll let you pick the movie and I'll buy the popcorn, but just because we're looking at the same screen doesn't mean we'll see the same thing. I'll read the book you set on my desk and tell you what I think, but forgive me, I'll read it when I'm ready and when I am I'll read slowly. I'll travel anywhere you want, but don't be offended if I want to ride my bike sometimes or walk alone for a few minutes.
Tell me what you want and I'll tell you what I want. If I've told you what I want and you still don't know, then you weren't listening. If you're still talking while you're not listening I'll tell you it's a two way road. If you don't understand that there's not much else to say.
Accept me for who I am but challenge me to reach my highest potential. Appreciate my strengths and my weaknesses: I am complete. Walk with this understanding and stay on the path with me. Sometimes I will choose it. Sometimes you will choose it.
That's just the way it is.
So lets talk and lets listen and if we don't know how to talk and listen lets learn. I promise to share the things I know so I ask the same of you. I promise not to pretent to know things I don't so I ask the same of you. Lets travel the world and if we don't have Visa's lets get some. Lets ride motorcycles and goto movies, lets look at pictures and take new ones, lets try on new clothes and old, let us do these things with joy and tears but most of all, with courage and honesty.
P.S. There are plenty of benches along the way.
June 21st, 2006
What you see to the right is what in Discrete Mathematics might be called an example of a graphical representation of symbolic logic. Diagrams such as these can be used to verify the logic of a quantified statement.
This diagram represents all possible truths in the universe.
The Objective (big-T) Truth is every piece of data in the universe. It is every point of view, every physical, psychological and chemical law, it's the omniscient, omnipotent, everything--and our brains simply aren't big enough to even come close to understanding it!
The subjective (small-t) truth is My truth or it's Your truth and sometimes when our subjective realities cross it's Our truth.
Now the interesting thing is My truth may not necessarily be complete (as it's much smaller than The Truth) but it's always part of The Truth. For instance, say I've lost my mind and believe I can fly. Though my Truth may lead me to do some rather foolish things (must remember to return the blue spandex and cape), My truth is never outside the bounds of The Truth, which is all encompassing. And though you may believe that punky green hair is all the rage, it may not necessarily match with My truth--but just as My truth yours will always included as part of The Truth.
Of course, I may also believe that punky green hair is all the rage too. That's where Your truth and My truth match up. And I'll bet you'll agree it's a part of Our truth that we are attracted to people we have more truth in common with and we're not as attracted to people when Our truths don't overlap much, if at all.
Are you following?
Does lashing out, repeating our point of view, arguing, and avoiding dialog increase the pool of shared knowledge? Do these behaviors benefit or detract from Our truth? If most of my time is spent building up My truth and most of your time is spent reinforcing Your truth--all we've created is two huge walls!
Last night I was reading a wonderful book called Crucial Conversations. The authors, who have studied critical conversations for a quarter century, agreed that one of the fundemental abilities of someone with successful communication and conflict resolution skills was the ability to raise the group IQ. By that they meant that when things get stressful these people don't behave in the manner most of us do but they start by trying to increase what in this diagram is labeled "Our truth". By staying in the conversation, by encouraging exchange, and by including everyone's opinion and avoiding avoidant behaviors, the successful communicator, knowingly or otherwise, does what they can to make Our truth fill as much of the diagram as it possible can.
Such a skill is essential in successful negotiations and meetings, with family, friends, children, and partners. It is crucial that we, as thoughtful and conscious human beings, learn to develop this ability to increase Our truth over the self important and egotistical need to increase My or Your truth. We have a choice and I choose to connect.
June 20th, 2006
I'm such a turd, I didn't write on Sunday! Okay, so my parents were visiting and the day was packed from morning until night but that's still no better than my excuse for forgetting to take my camera to the Evergreen Aviation Museum in McMinnville, Oregon. The fact is Vipassana and I rode our bikes there and my mom followed in the car with my dad and the grandaughter and it wasn't until I parked the bike at the museum that I realized that I hadn't brought the camera, something I never forget. I then had one of those "realizations" that I wasn't meant to have the camera but I'd be back another time, on a sunny day and most likely on my own, so it'd just have to wait.
So apologies, no artsy pictures of or around the air museum. But while I was there I learned that my motorcycle buddy has been on the Goose before.
Speaking of "realizations" I've been having a lot of them lately. Many of them have been while driving, I have that "feeling" that a cop is close and five to twenty seconds later there's a trooper pulling people over (happened this morning).
I lovingly call this my "cop-dar". Actually...the few speeding tickets I've gotten over my life were when I was ignoring a very clear psychic scream to, "Slow the f*ck down NOW!"
Another example happened yesterday afternoon and it frustrated me because I completely ignored it. I'd purchased a book from Barnes and Noble and as I was putting my reciept in my pocket I had this strong feeling that I was going to do something stupid with it so I needed to stuff it into my wallet. Did I listen? Nope, I shoved it in my pocket and it fell out of my pocket ten seconds later and I got home and realized the book I'd meant to get wasn't actually the book I'd gotten so after a frenzy of pocket and garbage searching I went back to the bookstore (10:30pm) and felt like a right git but they were more than kind, allowed me to exchange the book, and after feeling like a fool around people who on some level were rightly questioning my honesty, I began to leave the store and found the receipt on the floor just inside the entrance and I slapped myself (hard) for ignoring my intuition earlier!
I am in the constant process of fine tuning it but it's not easy. Sure, I'm a highly tuned machine compared to your average muggle but I still have insights that I simply ignore or don't completely recognize or react appropriately to. Sometimes it's because my conscious mind is so busy with work or fathering or what have you. Sometimes it's because something's bothering me like my knee or a headache or the sun in my eyes. And that's the thing about intuition, it's subtle, you've really gotta pay attention and you really gotta just let it be because if you look too hard or push too hard you're going to miss the forest for the sneaky little bastard with the iron wrench. Or some such thing.
Hmmm... What else was I meaning to write about this evening?
So I power washed the deck this afternoon and tomorrow I will refinish it. It was strange going over each plank of wood one by one again. The last time I did it was about three years ago, I'd been dumped by a real piece of work so I took all my frustration and pain and knelt day after day belt sanding the deck. It took me several weeks to complete and was a sort of religious experience, you could say, this constant sanding away of the old and ugly to bring out the beautiful golden wood underneath. It was refreshing to know I'd completed most of the work back then and simply needed to use a power washer to do a quick one over before protecting it from the elements again.
Do you need me to spell that one out for you?
I spoke to my next door neighbor about working on the fence this summer. Later Vipassana decided to use the wine rack as monkey bars bringing them and the glasses down--so I spent a fair amount of time reconnecting that to the wall! Daughter had her things done on time so we watched some Xena (yes, I admit I sat through an entire episode without my ears bleeding) and now here I am nibbling on a little B&J's Coffee Heath Bar Crunch ice cream, watching an episode of Little Brittain, and writing.
I have a headache.
And so to finalize my winding down and get rid of this headache I'll be jumping in the hot tub. Which reminds me, my knee's still bugging me but I've been doing excercises for it for over a week now and it seems much improved but I'm finding that if I don't make sure to strengthen both legs the same amount I end up having problems because I walk funny and you don't want me walking around funny do you?
June 19th, 2006
There are people in the world with nothing to eat. Did you know that? I mean, as unbelievable as it might seem while you're sitting there at a computer possibly munching on something and drinking a soda pop there are people with no computers, who don't understand the luxury of munching, and who would rather a loaf of bread that a Google search.
My apologies to Google, we love thee and we worship thee...
The thing about people with no munchies or soda pop or computers is that they don't have a lot of physical or mental energy. Strangly enough their minds are either in survival mode or in a state of painfully twisted euphoria. You can put them in school but they're going to have a difficult time concentrating and an almost impossible time storing memories of the lessons. You could put them out tilling the fields but they won't last too long before they fall flat on their faces.
Most of us understand that the lack of decent physical nutrition has drastic, sometimes fatal, effects on people.
There are people in the world with limited or non-existent social support systems. Did you know that? I mean, as unbelievable as it might seem while you're sitting there at a computer possibly chatting with a friend at your side or on the cell phone or responding to an e-mail there are those out there who don't understand the luxury of being slapped on the shoulder, getting a phone call from someone that doesn't want money, or what it's like to get a letter from a human who is genuinely interested in them.
The thing about people with limited or non-existent social support systems is that they don't have the life experiences that enable them to easily make friends or blend into social situations without either feeling like a fly on the wall or like a complete reject. Strangly enough their minds are either on survival or in a state of painfully twisted euphoria. You can put them in a room of people but they'll have a difficult time carrying a conversation and almost an impossible time of attracting people to them. You could invite them to parties and barbeques but they won't last too long before they fall flat on their faces.
The lack of decent social nutrition has drastic, sometimes fatal, effects on people.
A long, long time ago in a country far, far away a simple man went in the desert for forty days and forty nights. This was something holy people sometimes did back then and not simply because it was the thing to do back then. They understood something most of us do not.
This man wasn't poor. He grew up under his father's tutalage, was educated, and was from a royal bloodline. He didn't "need" to go into the desert but he understood something. So he walked out into the wilderness with nothing but the shirt on his back and he wandered and he meditated and he prayed. He experienced the thirst of being without water, the hunger of being without food, the discomfort of being without bed, and the loneliness of being without companionship. He sat there sunrise after sunrise, sunset after sunset, learning what it meant to be without.
You may have heard of the guy. He once said, "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."
I think most of us have misinterpreted this statement. We think of rich people as having a great deal of superficial wealth. Now if we assume this interpretation the parable doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Sure, we're not going to squeeze a rich man through something that small but it'll be just as difficult to squeeze a beggar through? The monetary wealth arguments don't make a lot of sense. So what's with the camel?
The camel is not free in the conventional sense. It does not have any more food or water or rest than what it needs. The camel understands the experience of a hard day's work and will therefore enjoy the luxury of a good rest, the taste of cool spring water in it's mouth, or a moment of freedom.
A rich man cannot understand any of these things. While they're eating pie they'll assume knowledge of those who are surviving on peanut butter sandwhiches, while they're complaining that they ran out of Pepsi they don't know what it's like to run out of clean water. The rich man does not put enough honest work into something to truly understand the meaning of luxury.
The irony is wealth is what keeps them in poverty.
The sage, understanding his or her own shortcomings, willingly walks into the desert for days and nights. They laugh and they weep. They pray and they sleep. And they do not return until they understand.
P.S. A long time ago someone I considered rich did not understand what it was like being in my shoes until she was forced to wander thirty days and thirty nights in her own desert. In honor of her journey I share an article which I hope she will find useful (if she's not already aware of it, of course :)
June 16th, 2006
Death isn't something most of us talk about or, for those of us that do, we surround death with our personal beliefs (dogma) and call it a day. For those who us who enter into lively discussions of the philosophical, spiritual, religious, and yes, scientific aspects of death, the conversation ends up being an emotional and/or intellectual excercise. On some level we're okay with the distance we create. We understand that we are mortal yet on some level it's not real. If our brains were in a constant recognition of the reality that some day we just won't be and the next day we won't and so forth and so on for all eternity--well, it'd be pretty bloody difficult to function.
For many aging is the wake up call. The hair falls out, the wrinkles form around the eyes, and the body stops being as resiliant. I've notice this myself. Scars don't heal even remotely as fast as when I was twenty five, I have to be more conscious of my diet as the result can be intestinal discomfort, and my left knee's been giving me pain for months now--and I'm only in my early 30's!!!
For my part, I've become more aware that my body is a machine that I should respect and take care of if I want to grow comfortably old but it does not highlight my mortality. Having been close to death on several occasions including but not limited to a suicidal Depression I'm very aware of my limited existence and I view my life as a unique gift. I've earned every grey hair and wrinkle and though I don't like the fact that my hands, the favourite part of my body, don't look as young as they once did, I value all that they allow me to do.
A true and intimate understanding of the reality of my death only comes to me when I am in that in-between state, what psychologists refer to as hypnogogic sleep. In that state we are not quite awake, not quite asleep, we are lucid dreaming. When I'm in this state I sometimes find one part of my mind, in particular the lower brain, recognizing the finality of my existence while another part of my brain, the cerebral cortex, looking on saying, "Oh, that's an interesting fact. There will be a moment some day, a moment just like this moment, and you won't be able to experience it. In fact, you won't be able to experience any moment after that moment. You can intellectualize it, try to understand it, throw a belief system around it, or completely ignore it, but it's going to happen to you and you know it."
I used to sit straight up in a panic after having these extremely lucid experiences. It wasn't a shock that I was mortal, it was just disturbing that for whatever reason I'd decided to revisit that clear understanding of the finality of it all. I haven't had one of these lucid "dreams" in quite some time until this afternoon when I took a cat nap on the couch. Instead of waking in a sweat I found myself consciously choosing (something that can be done in this state) to remain with the experience and simply allow it to flow through me. It was oddly comforting.
Later when I awoke I half expected myself to think about all the things I'm not doing with my life for whatever reason (I'd briefly discussed this last night with Vipassana) but that wasn't on my mind. I only thought how much I don't like going in circles, that is to say, I don't like making the same mistakes two or three times. It didn't feel like some grand awakening or an emotional pledge to do things right but merely a friendly reminder that I'm free to choose my path.
Choose the one you want, the one you really want.
June 16th, 2006
Who are you?
June 15th, 2006
A coworker sent this to me today. Yes, this dog has a motorcycle helmet. That's a pretty cool dog.
I like to see weird things. I like to see new things. I prefer seeing new or weird things to boring same-old, same-old things.
At the same time, there's something to be said for boring same-old, same-old things. You can count on them, for one. And frankly I don't want to try to get my cat to ride with me on my bike (I value my skin too much for that excercise). And frankly, if the universe weren't filled with same-old things we'd never learn anything because everything would always be changing.
Truth be told, if we rely on new and interesting things, we're addicted to the new and interesting and if/when we don't have such experiences we suffer and cannot live consciously. And if we rely on the same-old then we're addicted to consistency and if we don't have it we suffer and cannot live consciously. When we live consciously we can do both or neither or whatever the case may be as needed: consciously.
Could you imagine living consciously and enjoying the joy of a dog with a helmet in your lap?
June 14th, 2006
I used to love this guy, you know the one, next to Dean Martin making the silly face. That was a long time ago, twenty years ago at least, back when I thought goofiness and innocence was funny.
Now I just look at him and I see that somewhere, way back when, I lost something. I hardened a little. Something inside me shriveled up, whether through external or internal causes, and was no more. Now I just look at him and see a shell...
The thing is...you just can't stop writing and have someone notice you've stopped...not like dropping a phone or something in midsentence. And that's how I feel tonight, like dropping the phone. Like something deep within has been stepped on one too many times and this always coming back to sitting alone and writing...it's not as appealing as it might often seem to you.
And yet I somehow manage to always come back to it, like breathing, this writing, this evolution of understanding. Sometimes it is so hard, like running five miles, and sometimes it's all about patience, like healing this knee so I can run five miles again. And sometimes I feel like a fool going from one thing that is difficult to another thing that's difficult and back because I need to learn and feel and see and understand that a long time ago I was a little boy who laughed at Jerry Lewis and I'd love to say there aint no going back but maybe, someday, if I keep hope alive, I will giggle at goofiness and innocence again.
June 13th, 2006
I'm not going to try and obfuscate, I'm going to be up front and tell you how it is.
I found this picture on the internet. That's not entirely true. I found a picture very similar to this one on the Internet. That picture was much larger, in colour, and showed more of the surrounding area. This picture is much smaller (~400 pixels in height), black and white, and has been zoomed in and framed in a very specific and purposeful manner.
And this journal entry is what you might call a thinly veiled metaphore.
You see, this is a picture of the United States President George G. Bush and I don't like him. Instead of being objective about it I thought I'd just get to the point, paint the twat in black and white, and show the Nazi bastard doing a heil Hitler and prove once and for all that he's a baby eating Satan worshiper.
I can easily take a snapshot and contort it, providing a backstory to convince, but to what end? The truth is I have no affection for President Bush but I hardly need to use PhotoShop to paint him in a negative light. The drunk driving, cocaine snorting, company bankrupting, college flunking, armed forces deserting, Commander in Chief doesn't exactly have what you'd call a complimentary track record. As I don't like to make false claims about someone I'm going to share some evidence with you.
Last week Bush's left Arm, Donald Rumsfeld, bragged about killing a noteworthy Al-Qaeda leader saying that the man was guilty for more innocent civilian's than anyone else on the planet.
On 9/11 2,752 people died in New York City. 189 people were killed at the Pentagon. Assume then (as we often do in mathematics) that approximately 3,000 deaths are the responsibility of Al-Qaeda and in particular this leader of the organization (which is a small leap given it's cellular nature--but bare with me). Just for shits and giggles lets also blame the 1,500 or so American service member deaths squarely on the shoulders of Al-Qaeda. That makes about 4,500 people--dead.
In order to win our "freedom" from terrorists, President Bush started a "War on Terrorism". As Commander In Chief, a power provided him by the U.S. Constitution, he has ordered the bombing of Afghanistan which lead to 1,800 civilian deaths in 2001 and the "War" against Iraq with a deathtoll of between 38,000 and 100,000 civilian. Lets favour Bush's side and assume 1,800 + 38,000 and just round out to 40,000 innocents dead due to American bombs (paid for by you and I, no less).
So the first reason I don't like Bush and his buddies is they can't do math and mathematics is important. It's quite clear to me that 3,000 < 39,800. Based on this it's also pretty fucking evident to me that Rumsfield is a liar and Bush's pen hand has ordered the deaths of quite a few more innocents that any terrorist group has even come marginally close to.
Of course being a "good" Christian you'd think Bush would realize that there's no difference between an American civilian and a non-citizen but again he fails. Though Jesus did not differentiate between Jew and Gentile, the Bush Administration constantly judges between American and non-American and even between American service men and women and American contractors killed in Iraq (which more or less go unnoticed by The White House).
Then there's the whole speel about these being wars of liberation! So remind me, how many genocidal wars have occurred since he's been President? At least three. How many has America stepped into? Nadda. How many non-friendly countries have started playing with nukes? At least one. How many have we invaded. None. How many countries have we invaded to "liberate"? Two. How many of them have access to oil rich fiels and are in strategically powerful geographic positions? Two.
Sorry, I'm not dumb enough to think that's a coincidence.
But don't worry if you live in America and are a citizen--except if you're brown and muslim...then be afraid, be very fucking afraid. You see, in a time of war the Constitution gives the President the power to override the Constitution to protect it. So here and there we send a brown person down to a little prison on a little island and we don't charge them with anything, we don't provide them with lawyers, and we pretty much treat them like dogs. Except, we're not legally in a war, something that must be specifically declared in writing by Congress, and he's doing this to U.S. Citizens.
So lets see, so far he's not skilled at math, lies, fails as a Christian, has invaded two sovergn nations without a proper declaration of war, and has ripped up the Constitution which he's sworn to defend.
That not enough to convince?
How about a little place called Abu Ghraibe? Remember those pictures? Oh wait, we can't blame Bush, can we? But he's the Commander in Chief and as I see it he's responsible for those under his command, right? And the fact is interview after interview with these men and woman demonstrate they were given clear orders to "soften up" the Iraqi's. Again, no rights, no trail, no "justice" as most of us grew up believing is a human right--just abuse.
Assuming for a moment he had no clue and Dumbsfield had no clue and none of these dumb-fucks had a damn clue, why did they put untrained Army personel in the position of prison guards? We've known for decades that this leads to physical and emotional abuse! Those who ignore history are condemned to repeat it: http://www.prisonexp.org/edge/
Here's some legislated hypocricy for you:
The Clean Air Act: These laws define looser standards for vehicle exhaust emmisions and industrial pollution. They are weaker than laws that were in place while Clinton was in office and fall behind many other first world countries (see The Kyoto Agreement--which we gave the finger to).
No Child Left Behind: This load of shit penalizes schools where students are performing poorly. This is tantamount to taking food away from a starving child--oh hell, those rich mother fuckers did that too when they canceled free school lunch programs for children in poverty!
(Forgive me, but I have no respect for people who pass laws that take food away from children!)
This administration and the Republican Congress has no shame. If it's not lies it's legislation and decisions that reward the very richest of Americans at the expense of the poorest while putting all of us in worse debt than in American history. And when things aren't going well lets waste time and add an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to limit the rights of certain minorities--legislated bigotry does not make me be proud to be an American.
Okay, I admit I could literally go on for days with evidence and observation but there's only so much negativity one can take before turning in on oneself. And really, I'm tired of feeling angry at this man. The thing is, he's going to keep killing and lying and siding with his fat cat chums at the expense of most of the known world. His behavior is more like King George who we once fought a war against and less like George Washington who fought against him (as a challenge study the Revolutionary War, you may be shocked by it's similarities to our recent wars of "liberation"--and what side we're most like). Bush may speak grandly of honesty, integrity, courage, strength, leadership, and honor, but no matter how many speeches he gives the facts are still the facts.
June 11th, 2006
This weekend was too short and too long, as many weekends are. Saturday morning Vipassana, our daughter, and I went over to a ceremics place near our house to paint. The little one is working on a cute little "dragon" bank while Vipassana and I picked out to identical rice bowls--which will look quite different once we're done.
We were going to head back today and continue our art but the little one and her friend were being rowdy until 5pm at which time the other girl's mom came to pick her up. Me? I slept all morning and took a nap in the afternoon. I didn't feel too guilty too, yesterday I figured out how to fix some broken blinds (cost savings ~$150)--but I got the wrong type of string at Jo Anne's so I'll head there this week to get something else. Speaking of JA's, I picked up the following while on a motorcycle ride:
- Necklace string for the little one
- Interfacing material
- 10 yards red string to repair blinds
- 6 blue bottons of pj's
- 10 Sheets of Iron-On T-Shirt Transfers
Strangely as I write this I can't remember much of yesterday evening. When I got home we all ate tacos then the girls went out to play in the hot tub (well, the "cold" tub). I started sewing together my daughter's new pajamas. And at some point I came upstairs to wind down, watch some tv, and burn a few DVD's.
I've been a little frustrated with these pj's. We bought the material almost a year ago and then we cut it out and then I pulled out my Nana's old and trustworthy Singer sewing machine that I inherited when she died and I filled the bobbin with the right colour of thread and I took two pieces of one of the pant legs, put them in, pressed down on the foot dealie-hoover and "THUNK!" So I pressed and pressed and the engine went whirr-whirrr-whiirrrrr and the little thingies that move the material were moving up and down and forwards and backwards--but the needle was not moving.
Having never sat down at this specific sewing machine I assumed I hadn't engaged some switch or knob but after some investigation I became frustrated. I was doing everything right and the bloody thing wouldn't go. So the little one brought me a screwdriver and I opened the old metal beast up and saw that a plastic gear connecting the top of the machine to the lower area where the motor was had cracked and fallen out of place.
So back the machine went into the corner where it sat until my parents visited and back it went to Prineville to the house of the parents of my best friend in high school's parents, his father of whom repairs all manner of things including but not limited to vaccume cleaners and sewing machines.
A few months later the sewing machine was back on my kitchen table and so were all the cut materials and there I was happy and ready to make those pajama's so took two pieces of one of the pant legs, put them in, pressed down on the foot delie--hover and "THUNK!"
Whereas previously I had been confused now I was frustrated. So I opened it up top and that gear was fine. I opened the bottom and found an idential plastic gear in another spot had broken! Who was the idiot who decided to use plastic gears (esp. considering the rest of the unit was a mountain out of heavy metal!)? So back it went to the living room floor where it waited for a second trip to Prineville and that house of my friend's where I spent many a night growing up.
Saturday I sat down and after a year or so of waiting for a working machine started to sew and sew and sew. The machine still has some problems. Filling the bobbin is somewhat of a pain--although I've figured out the trick--and getting the string ready to sew once a new bobbin has been filled works right about 20% of the time. Frustrating, but I've proven that with enough perseverance, patience, and an endless stream of money to pay an old friend's dad to replace every old, dried up, and fragile plastic gear with newer, less dried up, slightly less fragile plastic gears, I can get an old project done and put a smile on a little girl's face.
Okay, so I'm not done. I need to take some stitching out of the shirt, make the button holes, and sew on the buttons, but now I'm finally 90% complete and looking forward to the little one asking, "When will you make the Jedi costume for me?" And I will answer, "After I build a bookshelf into the staircase, paint the living room, put up some wainscot, power wash and refinish the deck, and put two thousand more miles on my motorcycle this summer while going on a wonderful trip down to Ashland to catch some Shakeseapere then to camp in the Redwood Forest."
June 9th, 2006
Today I'm going to do something I haven't done in awhile and that's free write. Free write is just a fancy way of saying brainstorm, write whatever comes to one's mind as it comes to one's mind. Now, I usually don't free write. I sit down with an idea in mind and write then go over it then maybe rewrite sections until the original idea is somehow represented in an accurate manner so that a message can be conveyed in what I hope is a fairly straight forward, inspirational, and beneficial way that others, namely whomever you happen to be, can read it and get something useful out of it even if that something is a few months of superfluous entertainment.
Paragraph break. Just FYI if and when there's a paragraph break than means I actually turned my head to one of two other monitors to get some work done. Yes, I have a lot of monitors. At work I have three 21" monitors. At home I have two 20.5" inch widescreen monitors. Yes, I can multitask. I can multitask so well I've had to learn, over the years, how to single task. So I split my life into portions that are multitasking and portions that are single tasking. At work I can't help multitask, I need to. I fulfill three major roles at my company where I have to work with dozens, if not hundreds of people--and at the same time I've got to be managing and working on half a dozen different computers/servers, writing and testing code, etc., etc., etc. And to keep from getting too bored I listen to podcasts so I can become super edumacated. So when I leave to go somewhere, say to pick up groceries, I just clear my mind and do one thing at a time like enjoy the air or people watch or what have you. And that's one big reason I love to motorcycle, it's about taking your entire body, mind, and spirit, and putting it into the ride.
A coworker of mine sent me this picture. He loves to use the word "Awesome". For him everything is awesome--except some things which aren't quite awesome but are pretty dang cool. His name is Batman. Well, not really. But his motorcycle is pretty damn cool and it's black :) As an empath I've found I tend to quickly and easily (sometimes to my detriment) internalize other people's habits, emotions, and mannerisms. I now use the word awesome all the time as in, "That bike is awesome," or "Your bald spot is awesome," or "Finishing the bills is awesome."
Which reminds me I need to finish the numbers and let Vipassana know what the damage is this month!
I'm so tired today. It's my fault and I take responsibility for that. I stayed up until 1am yesterday after finding and playing around with this really cool trial software that lets me stream my TV programs and movies to any computer on my home network. And last night I spent about six hours writing a letter of which I don't think will be heard. At quarter till midnight I took some DVD's back so Vipassana wouldn't have any late fees then got back home and wouldn't get my butt in bed but then my good friend Muge from Turkey was online and she asked, "What are you doing up so late?" And she said go to bed but I didn't want to because she was online and she's been a good friend--I often help her with her English translations--but I agreed and we net-hugged then I brushed my teeth and jumped in bed and my cats came up and accosted me! And this morning I got up and rode my bike to the dealership for it's 8k mile tune up but I spaced it and kept going up West Union waaaaay past the right turn and if I'd just kept going I would have ended up in Astoria so I turned back and looked at my clock and I was running later and later and I was getting upset with myself cause I knew my ride was probably standing around the moto place wondering where I was and then calling my cell phone and I wouldn't hear my cell phone because it was in my backpack and though it has blue tooth and my motorcycle has blue tooth the dumb phone doesn't have auto answer so there was no way for me to know he was calling and chat with him in my freaking helmet, oh my! So now the bike's in the shop and I'll be down $300 later, which is worth the price of a safe, well oiled engine, and now I'm at work and even after one of those $3 hugeamungo coffee's I'm super sleepy and my back's hurting for some reason today.
Tomorrow is Friday (I posted this a day after I wrote it) and as part of some strange company celebration we're all going to act like we're Australians. I am actually Australian, though, so I don't need to pretend. I don't have an accent but I was born in Hamilton, Victoria, Australia, about 140 miles west of Melbourne. My parents left when I was three. When I was young I used to wish we'd move back. At eight or nine I started to see how selfish people could be and the first friends I remember were abusive and two faced. Sure, they'd play with me outside of school but in class they pretended I didn't exist, on the playground they would not allow me in their reindeer games. I spent many a recess walking around crying because my "friends" were assholes. I guess that's mean to say but if the description fits. So I fantasized and truly believed that if we were back in Australia things would be okay because Australia was a wonderful place where kids were nice except only as an adult have I learned just how much sexism and racism permeates many aspects of Australian culture. That's not to say we're much better, we're a "melting pot" but frankly America is divided into little communities of black, white, orange, yellow, and pink people and further subdivided by age and gender and multi-gender and further divided by political bent and religious belief and on and on and on. We're a melting pot of people who don't know how to carry on meaningful dialogs.
Golly, I'm so tired this morning. I so wanted to sleep in till 10 or so. But my cat, Monkey, he always comes up into my bed when the alarm goes off and he cries and says, "I want pets" and then he'll tap my hand with one of his paws (that's his not so subtle way of continuing the "I want pets" thing) but I was too tired this morning and I grunted at him and he cried then finally he realized he wasn't getting any so off he was back down the ladder and somewhere else to start a cat fight or some such thing :)
So why did I decide to free write today? I'll tell you why! I need a break. I needed to write something that was a little less structured. I spend so much time at work writing e-mail, documentation, and source code that has a fairly regular and sometimes strict structure. I write journal entries almost daily and though I allow myself a certain amount of originality and creativity, once I sit down with an idea I've already limited myself and the biggest limitation I set down is writing something that (I hope) will make sense and be useful to other people. Then there's just the whole letter writing. Some letters, like those to Vipassana, are often short and I write and send--I don't spend too much time on them and it's not because I don't care about writing to her it's because I know we listen to each other and if there's a miscommunication or misunderstanding we talk to each other, ask questions, come to a better understanding, and move forward. But when I write letters to other people I spend A LOT of time on them. What do I want to say? How can I say it so it has the highest chance of being heard and understood? And as I get older I often ask myself if the person I'm writing to is actually capable (and open) to understanding my point of view.
You see, when I was young I was really naive. I had this believe that everyone wanted to understand everyone else. But I've learned, the hard way you could say, that some people talk to just talk. Other people talk to be heard. Other people talk to gain power. Other people talk to gain sympathy. As an empath I can sit down and listen to someone speak and in under a minute I can usually figure out what's motivating them to vocalize whatever's on their mind. Maybe they like the sound of their voice. Maybe they want control over the social situation. Maybe they want to push their views on other people. But few, few, few people actually know or truly want to communicate for the sake of understanding one another.
And I wouldn't say I'm not guilty of this as well. I've often been in the camp of talking to convince other people of an idea I have, to pull other's into my point of view. And in some ways one might argue I do that here in The Temple but otherwise I try to keep such oration to myself except when people step on my toes. You see, as many people do, I have a real strong aversion to people who cross my personal boundaries. So I'll say here's a boundary and here's a boundary. And it's tough. I used to be one of those guys that would let people walk all over him because that was the "caring" thing to do, that was the "understanding" thing to do, and if I acted as a role model for "caring" and "understanding" behavior then other people would go, "Wow, that's pretty cool, I'd like to be like that." But then I learned that a lot of people don't view this as a positive thing but simply see it as pathetic and something to be taken advantage of. And then I learned that a lot of people will suck you dry, get bored, then move on to someone else without telling you. So I got fed up and I realized just how important not only articulating my boundaries is but also how important it is to pull out a stop sign when they're crossed, give someone a few strikes, and then shout, "You're out!" and move on without all the stress and drama that I usually bring in the situation because I always want to believe that other person really has my best intentions at heart when their actions are completely to the contrary.
If I had a $1 for every person who made and broke a promise to me I'd have made at least $200 since 2000. I would take that $$$ and buy the cool Joe Rocket motorcycle Jacket I've been wanting--or that AWESOME icon jacket! Woohoo! Of course, if I'd learned to enforce my boundaries five years ago I would be thousands of dollars richer. My rough calculation is I spent about $1000 on my last girlfriend, the same on the one before, and as time goes back I forget but there comes a point where you realize that you care and love and spent mucho bucks and you get lied to, abandoned, and taken for rides and you just gotta say fuck that, enough is enough, single is great, and when someone absolutely AWESOME comes along that deserves me I'll know because they treat me with respect (OMG, I couldn't even imagine what that's like!) and they'll make me feel good about myself. Now I believe if you don't feel good about yourself then no one else can make you feel good about yourself; I just think that's true so... But at the same time, if you're with someone and all they do is critisize, complain, and otherwise play emotional games--call me strange but it doesn't make me feel good about the "relationship".
So just for shits and giggles here are some of my personal boundaries:
- Do not lie to me.
- Do not apply double standards to me.
- Do not tell me how I "should" feel.
- Don't set me up for failure (i.e. apply unrealistic or impossible standards for me to uphold).
- Don't be reckless with my heart. I won't put up with it.
- Don't take advantage of me.
- Don't act stupid when you've crossed a line I've clearly articulated--I really don't have any respect or tolerance for this type of ignorance.
Actually, my biggest failing over the last three or four years is articulating many of these lines with people but instead of saying, "Woah, that's not okay," when they're crossed I "try to see their point of view" and act all understanding and think maybe they didn't hear me so I reiterate my boundary and second and third and fourth time and I end up going in this repetitive circle and it's dumb. So word to the wise, if you have personal boundaries and people cross them, reiterate the boundary once and only once. If they continue to ignore you then walk away. I'd love to say be patient and understanding but to date I haven't met one person that turns around and goes, "Wow, now I get it!"
Of course, I'm absolutely hopeful someone will prove me wrong!!!
Okay, I admit I'm ranting. I've been pretty upset this year. You see, I keep all the e-mail and correspondence I ever get and now I have about ten years of it. I keep everyone's letters in separate folder and those under groups of folders like Family, Friends, Professional, etc. I keep blood relations under family--I also keep other people, like Vipassana's mail, under this group as "family" isn't just about blood, it's about people you can count on regardless of the weather. Under the Friends folder I keep letters from pen pals and old friends I get something from time to time. Under that I have a subfolder called "Fair Weather Friends". These are from people who have at some point in time crossed all 7 of the before mentioned boundaries. I keep them because I'm not one of those people that moves forward with the delusion that my past doesn't somehow effect my present or my future. The neural patterns in my brain to a large extent define my personality and they are formed and shaped by the past, both the "good" and the "bad". And the thing is our brains have this amazing ability to contort memory into what we want them to be. Instead of remembering how we took advantage of a situation we remembered our sacrifice--in other words we tend to remember only those things that support our ego and disregard or completely rewrite our personal history when it causes cognitive dissonance. So I keep these letters around and once a blue moon (often years and years later) I'll ask myself, "Did that really happen the way I remember it?" and I'll go back and read. Sometimes I'll find out that yes indeed my memory was accurate. Sometimes I'll find that I'd completely rewritten a few important details, changing my whole perspective of things. Usually I'll discover it's a mix of the two. Either way this exploration of objective evidence of the past allows me to contrast it with my subjective experience of that same past and this examination allows me to grow and evolve and understand the universe around me in extraordinary and often AWESOME ways.
Sorry Batman, I gotta keep saying that! :-)
Now my ranting is in large part due to something Buddhists call a klesha. I was reading about klesha's last night and it was so reassuring to learn that there was a name for something I became aware of about fifteen years ago. A klesha is, I believe, literally translated as a "hinderance". In other words it's a thought, idea, feeling, or emotion we have that keeps us from becoming enlightened beings. As a psychic empath I've become adept at spotting people's klesha, each one has a different colour, taste, and texture. For instance when someone's rationalizing the energy is like a vortex of circular energy, but the energy isn't quite fluid, that is to say it "hiccups" and has a regularly irregular tempo (just like hiccups tend to). Other klesha's have different characteristics. For instance hypocrisy and insecurity are very similar in energy, they both "look" like a very tiny person hiding behind a strong fortification and throwing rocks. Often when someone is focused on an "ism" (racism, sexism, religiousism) I experience a sense of that kind of energy. Power hunger klesha's often look like one chimpanzee mounting another--which often has me chuckling at the most inappropriate of times! Klesha's based in selfish anger sound a lot like three year olds throwing tantrums, "Wah, wah, wah, me, Me, MEEE!" And all Klesha's have that undertone of a heroin user. When I see them coming it looks like out comes the spoon and the lighter, when they're active there's that prick as you watch the needle go in and the press, press, press on the syring.
And that's the thing any Buddhist can tell you, kleshas are ADDICTIVE && we all have them and we all like them, Aslynn included. For about fifteen years of my life my kleshas were anything that reinforced depressive feelings because, as I'd learned early on, sympathy was a great way of gaining other people's attention. Sure, I'd tried being positive but I got put down more often than not for it. And I tried being creative and knowledgeable but that got me labeled as the "artist" and the "smart kid"--which rarely enhanced. Behaving myself didn't work consistently--except with adults. Doing my best at things didn't work consistently--except with adults. So my kleshas were thought patterns and emotions that caused people to feel sympathy and compassion for me. Needless to say the more I fed my kleshas the more depressed I got, the more depressed I got the more I made the lives of those who cared about me miserable. The more I made their lives miserable the more miserable I became.
But my klesha's were happy as hell!
It's not surprising, then, that all co-dependent relationships are caused by kleshas. One person keeps a klesha as a pet and the other person makes a non-verbal agreement to feed it and take it for walks in the park (often taking up the slack and picking up the doo-doo too).
As I began to consciously recognize my kleshas I stopped feeding them less and less and less until each would, in turn, become emaciated. Like the habit of smoking, though, for those of us that once LOVED smoking, a klesha never entirely goes away but is like a dried out sponge waiting to get pissed on (sorry for that mental image but the analogy is arguably accurate). And I thought it was really ironic. As I started to starve my kleshas and see things more clearly, i.e. live an arguably more healthy and well balanced life, I theorized that a side effect of this behavior would be to attract people to me. In fact, what I've found is that having emaciated kleshas is VERY attractive to people who have similar kleshas that are completely bloated and the relationship becomes a power struggle where you're saying, "No, I'm walking the path of the Bodhisattva, I will not consciously feed my kleshas"--and what I learned is that people with kleshas get reallllllly upset when you pull this Bodhisattva bullshit with them, they need you at the same level of addiction. When I smoked I used to do the same thing, I wanted other people to join me even if they were quitting--my smoking klesha was stronger than my sense of understanding.
So the irony is the weaker my kleshas have been the shorter many of my friendships and relationships have tended to be. With no kleshas to latch on co-dependently I can't be hooked and I can't hook other people. There's simply a state of being that exists and the more I grow and the less powerful my kleshas the more I find that the people that hang around me long term do so because they truly value me, not my kleshas.
Long story short, no kleshas = an aversion to co-dependent behaviors. Many strong kleshas = a strong attraction to co-depend behaviors.
Now you might say some of this rant is motivated by my kleshas...and you'd be absolutely, 100% correct. You see, we can't overcome our klesha's without acknowledging their existence. We must consciously experience them. While we experience them we must be observant. How do they make us feel? What emotions come up? What do we think? What kinds of behaviors do we engage? Is our klesha destructive? Addictive? Blinding? Does it hurt us? Other people? When we practice in this way we learn. When we challenge our kleshas we grow.
My klesha lately has been anger. I'll admit it and I'm not ashamed to say, I'm angry. I'm angry that every six months someone shows up in my life for a few minutes, invariably says, "Hi, how are you doing?" then vanishes in a mist of their own kleshas. I'm angry that they don't have the balls to stick around, to engage in conversation, to apologize for mistreating me, to fight for me, I'm angry that they say they care about me but they're never there for my birthdays or after a hard week. And then when I dig down deeper into this my angry klesha I find a deeper truth, that I'm not really angry at all these people. I love these people and that's part of what's making me angry, on a more fundamentally accurate level my klesha isn't anger at people, but anger over a sense of perceived injustice. And then I dig deeper and discover that's just another level of illusion, the klesha is really angry at myself for making the choice to allow others to walk all over my personal boundaries without consequence.
And then I just sit there feelings stupid. I made a choice to feed my klesha and be angry at other people but the truth is, I'm angry at myself for behaving unwisely.
What was I saying again?
Oh yeah, it's 3:19am on Saturday and I was supposed to post this thing on Thursday when I started writing it but Thursday begot Friday and Friday begot Saturday and here I am doing a bit of catch up work.
Isn't that picture just awesome!?!?!
June 6th, 2006
This is a picture of my monkey. Vipassana won it for me at The Rose Festival, but she was cheating I think. Either way, I'm glad I have another monkey to add to my collection. It's the first time I've ever had a stuffed animal from a carnival. It is cute and it goes eek, eek, eek. Actually, it does not go eek, eek, eek or even just eek but it is very cute.
Once a year we all head down to The Rose Festival, go on some rides, and eat greasy overpriced substances labeled "food". I usually take my camera to get some pictures of food, folks, and fun, but after awhile you realize you have enough pictures of the same old rides and you think, "Hey, where's that damn ride they had two years ago? That one was AWESOME!"
That's one thing I like about pictures. They're literally what in psychology are called "snapshot memories", little reminders and keepsakes of our yesterdays to be cherished, enjoyed, and maybe even learned from.
Pictures have meaning. We project our ideas, thoughts, hopes, fears, and experiences on them and usually without even knowing it. Doesn't really matter if the photo is "PhotoShopped" or "As-Is"--our eyes and feelings and life will filter and twist and push and shove and contrast and clip and insert and the picture we see is rarely, if ever, the picture that's objectively there.
So tonight instead of taking pictures I found myself in pictures photographers were taking of the festival from one of the bridges. And this is a picture of my monkey. It goes, "Eek! Eek!"
June 5th, 2006
I love knowledge. And I love truth. Since my earliest memories I have sought out understanding of how things work. I would watch my dad use the power tools or change the oil in the car and I wanted to know how that worked so I'd get slivers in my fingers and oil on my hands. I would watch my mom cook a meal or sew a shirt and I wanted to know how that worked so I'd get a steam burn and poke my fingers with the needle. Most importantly, by openly engaging as a student I learned from each and every one of these experiences. I have learned to make a dress from scratch, to adjust the chain on my motorcycle, to program a computer, to solve complex mathematical equations, and to raise an emotionally balanced child. Some of these lessons were straight forward, others were more difficult and took hours, days, weeks, or years.
Mastery requires interest, focus, attention, dedication, honesty, and more often than not, a fair amount of humility.
Visible and tangible knowledge is easy to pick up. True, mathematics can be challenging and jumping into the API of a computer's OS can be intimidating, but these are areas of knowledge and experience that are well defined. I can pick up a book that clearly demonstrates the use of a certain equation; I can read a manual that will dissect the inner workings of a machine. The only grey areas in mathematics are assumed.
Psychology, sociology, and cultural anthropology are three other areas I find myself studying. Though they're not as black and white as, say, learning to change the oil on a car, they present their own set of unique challenges. As a species we've opened the doorway to this knowledge but still, these areas of interest are largely undiscovered countries waiting to be explored.
And then there are those subjects that aren't well defined, where science, psychology, emotion, spirituality, and philosophy mix and battle it out upon a plain of often emotionally charged opinion and fantasy. This is what many call the supernatural, but I find this a bit pompous and arrogant--mankind's attempt to tell the universe what aspects of reality are "natural" and which are somehow not. Some call it the occult, a viewpoint which I personally find uneducated, presumptuous, and superstitious. Though I feel no strong need to label it the term "paranormal" fits perfectly. The term "para" is from the Greek meaning beside or beyond; though Webster's dictionary defines paranormal as "not scientifically explainable" (should read "not scientifically explained"), the term paranormal literally means a phenomena that's outside of the normal, i.e. something that's abnormal.
I've been fascinated by this areas of study since I realized there were things in this world that were mysteries and there's nothing that attracts my attention more than a mystery. You name it--the Loch Ness Monster, Big Foot, Yeti (cousin to the Big Feet), UFOs, space aliens, ghosts--I've studied it. Sometimes I come to the conclusion that it's based on a hoax, sometimes I see there are legitimate reports and fascinating cultural stories going back hundreds, if not thousands, of years. And sometimes I walk away with no firm answers what-so-ever.
In the search for truth that's a perfectly acceptable position to find oneself in.
Since just before the turn of the new millennium interest in the paranormal has grown. The X-Files really started the trend and now there are dramas where psychics help cops and reality shows where psychics help cops--I wouldn't be totally surprised if one of these days they make CSI: Psychic Miami. The History Channel now shows programs on Roswell and space aliens and there's this show called Ghost Hunters where a bunch of gits run around proclaiming every sound and spec of floating dust a ghost.
I've spent a great deal of my life studying ghosts and what I've learned may surprise you. I've watched the television programs. I've read the books. I've had a few experiences that could be explained by ghostly phenomena such as lights turning on and off on their own and I've attempted to use Ouija boards (with no success, I might add). I've come to be able to sometimes sense when a spirit is around (typically through psychic empathy [duh]) and I've known at least three psychics who can communicate with those in the spirit form. And though I'm far from satiating my thirst for knowledge I don't have anywhere near all the answers...
...but I have some.
You'd think, for instance, that ghosts are particularly unique beings but the truth is they are eerily similar to some types of people. For instance ghosts appear when they're least expected (though they tend to appear in places and in forms we would expect them to such as old houses, lonely country roads, or cemeteries). If they choose to communicate their focus tends to be tight, that is they suffer from tunnel-vision, and have a difficult if not impossible time hearing or responding to the living in a meaningful way. The real irony is that they're stuck but don't stop in one spot long enough to recognize their condition. Trapped in an ethereal counterpart of a psychological disorder, their relationship with the living is inconsistent, one-sided, and usually meaningless.
This is the world of the ghost.
Spirits, on the other hand, can talk, share, listen, dance, learn, and grow. If you're walking through a cemetery and see a spirit it's because they wanted to be seen, there was meaning behind the experience. Spirits are awake and their intent is clear, purposeful, and bigger than themselves. They say what they mean and they mean what they say so they always, always keep their promises. Not surprisingly, they are all spiritual warriors; they do not shy from difficulty or conflict but jump into the fray with the understanding that knowledge is often gained through struggle, perseverance, and courage. Their true nature is one of understanding and forgiveness, curiosity and creativity, honor and responsibility, acceptance and love.
That is the world of spirit.
Not surprisingly, spirits visit me when I call out for wisdom or support. My grandmother, who passed away several years ago, tends to comes to me when I'm feeling sorry for myself. She reminds me that life is hard, that nothing is free, and she gets a little stern with me when I feel something's "not fair". She reminds me to work hard, take responsibility for my actions, love devoutly, and to stay on the path. Another spirit, who shall remain nameless, visited late last year with a rather unique message. She chuckled saying, "Of course I'm okay," then she became quiet and forcefully told me to stop feeling guilty for the poor and often destructive choices of my distant past, that "you've gotten your ass in gear, I don't need to hear your sorry tale"--she continued to inform me, in so many words, that if I made similar choices in the future she'd come back and "kick my ass".
That's the funny thing about spirits, they'll visit when there's something meaningful to say, share, or teach, otherwise they're off doing their own thing. If you say, "Hey, come back, I wanna talk," they almost always respond, "Why? We've already taken care of everything that's spiritually important. Give me a call back when you need me. Take care and I'll see you later." Though at first they come across as snooty, spirits are loving, focused on results, and will be there when you really need them. Ghosts, on the other hand, show up when they want to show up, are self absorbed, and are so involved in their own world they won't give you the time of day. Spirits will check to see if you're available, ghosts will barge in without knocking. A spirit will say little but it will always be in the form of wisdom, guidance, or love. Ghosts seem only to love spinning elaborate diatribes about themselves, vanishing into thin air the moment their self-imposed reality is questioned. Spirits have no such insecurities but will listen and accept what is with the understanding that this is necessary for growth and enlightenment. Ghosts only "grow" when it benefits the superficial projection of their self-image. Spirits are beings of knowledge, wisdom, and responsibility. Ghosts are imprisoned by their lack of the same qualities.
Spirit or ghost, these forms have nothing to do with the inhabitation of a body but are states of mind demonstrated by choices made visible by conscious acts. Words are not necessary for the existence of spirit but they are air to the ghost. For my part I welcome spirits, not ghosts, into my life.
So are ye spirit or are ye ghost?
June 3rd, 2006
Long but good Saturday. Woke up. Took shower. Picked up co-worker, took him to bike shop to pick up his scooter. Went for a ride with Vipassana. Relaxed, took nap. Had moment of clairaudience (rare for me). Picked up 300gig hard drive for my primary machine. Picked up daughter from friend's house. Went to home depot to pick up: kitchen sponges, copies of house key, electrical switch, electrical connectors, knob for hot water heater. Arrived home, mopped garage floor with steaming hot water and bleach. After years of not being able to find out why the hot tub water heater has been intermittent I found the problem and fixed it (and all for under $5!). Made soy cheese sandwhiches for daughter and I. Watched a movie, had a Corona, she fell asleep. Tucked her in. Installed hard drive in computer, finished move. All in all a good day.
To finish it up I'm cleaning out my inbox. Here are a few miscellaneous items I'd like to share so I can delete them:
Item #1: Bathroom Etiquite. If you're like me you're one of the guys that thinks it's a major faux pas to be standing at the urinal next to another man, both of you with penis in hand, and strike up a conversation. Wrong, wrong, wrong. So for those of us who are too shy to pee while someone asks us how are family is doing:
Item 2: Fear of Girls. If you're like me you grew up playing Dungeons & Dragons because...well...so here it is for those of us that have enjoyed LARPing for whatever reason:
Item 3: Barats & Bereta. Are they plastic? Are they real? Are they wooden? Are they steal? Or are they just screamin' poofters? I dunno, but they're funny as hell:
Item 4: Live to Ride, Ride to Die. As we all know motorcycling can be dangerous, I know this as well as anyone. It's important to be well trained, wear the right gear, keep your bike in top notch condition, and don't do anything stupid like wear a t-shirt and shorts and get on your boyfriend's crotchrocket when he says, "Lets do a wheelie." Live and learn and...browse this site at your own discretion:
http://home1.gte.net/res0ak9f/bike.htmItem 5: Runners Knee. Damnit, I haven't been able to run in about a month due to this knee. It's gotten better but it's been very strange jogging 3 to 5 times a week for a year and suddenly not having that time out there with nature, away from everything, just running. So here's what I've been doing:
Item 6: Mr. Spock? He was my childhood idol... Are ye Vulcan or are ye Hobbit? Check it out:
Well, it's time for night night so night night,
June 2nd, 2006
With the exception of this journal entry, my site does not include the following disclaimer:"All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental."
You see, I'm not terribly creative. Since was very young I've lacked the ability to create a fiction that is completely baseless or fantasies that has no resemblance to any real person, living or dead. For better or worse the characters in my stories were always based in some way, shape, or form, on someone I've met, known, seen, or otherwise recognized in some fashion. I make the mistake of observing the world around me and commenting on it using simily, as in, "His appetite was like a cowboy's after a long day on the range," or metaphore as in, "He was a steam engine of obstinance." I simply lack the creativity to write about things I've never heard, seen, smelled, tasted, or touched.
I have suffered from this acute form of retardation since I was born, having only started to learn about the universe around that time. Although there is no known cure and I cannot rightly use legal disclaimers of dishonesty I have sometimes stumbled, often fallen, and all in all found somewhat of a balance in my writings. True, sometimes characters of people I knew sneak in, but in my defense I write what I write out of the truth of my heart and my experience. My writings are neither positive or negative but simply explorations of perception, understanding, and belief.
My disclaimer, if I were to write one, might read as follows:"All characters appearing in this work are articulated projections of my perception and experience. Any resemblence to real persons existing outside my conscious mind, whether they be gross charicatures or highly accurate psychological profiles, represents an honest exploration of one sentient being's existence."
So I know this guy at work. Nice guy. Nice motorbike. Got the gift of gab. He knows who he is and he is, last time I checked, based on a real person (namely himself).
We sit in adjoining cubes, you see, and we spend a good deal of our time talking--and not necessarily about work. Okay, so we hardly ever talk about work. And I can't help but notice that in many ways we are polar opposites. I grew up in a family of introverts, he did not. He is a verbal story teller, I prefer the written word. When he gets a good buzz he becomes quiet, after I've had a few drinks I can't stop talking.
I find our differences absolutely fascinating.
As I'm not capable of pulling purely fictional people out of my ass I ask your forgiveness and again remind him not to get too cocky.
So the real question for me becomes if I experience something in life and I wish to share it how do I do so without portraying someone in a positive or negative light?
Wait a second.
Aren't "positive" and "negative" subjective terms? And isn't it possible for someone to read my words and bias them and project their own meaning into them? Psychology says yes. In fact, it says that's about all people are capable of doing. Regardless of how clearly I articulate myself you will attach meaning to my words and your meaning won't necessarily be mine. That is simply the nature of things.
This is my life. These are my thoughts. This is what I have to offer, the best I have to offer. I paint the universe in my own fashion. When you visit here you paint it in yours. It is my hope that your readings and viewings within the sage filled walls of The Temple lead to an artistic joining of styles culminating in beneficial meaning and higher truth.
June 1st, 2006
When I was three my parents moved from Australia back to the United States. We lived in Spokane, Washington for a short time then moved to Prineville, Oregon to a beautiful home in the country where I grew up.
Living in the country was a great experience. We had a small farm, only 3.5 acres, but we had a few sheep and a few cows, a dog, and cats, tough but loving outdoor farm cats. Since there were rarely kids my age living anywhere close my brother and I had to be creative when it came to filling our time and chasing the cow was only interesting until the ram slammed you up against the barbed wire fence a few times. We'd play in the woodpile making forts and we'd play in the garden play-gardening and making forts and we'd get on our bikes and shoot down the country road one way then up the country road the other. And like most kids growing up in the 80's--at least those of us without Atari 2600's--we spent our Saturday mornings watching cartoon, other days watching The Muppets, and me, I'd become enthralled with the world of science fiction, in particular Star Trek (or what we'd now-a-day's call "Classic Trek").
The year was 1976.
I loved that show. The colours were bright. The computers were cool and "futuristic". But in particular I grew to love the view of the universe the show demonstrated. It was a hopeful one filled with passion and energy, where discovering truth, standing up for each other, and putting your life on the line for something meaningful was just part of the routine. Capitalism? What a vaccuous ideal compared to things like curiosity, friendship, and courage!
That was 30 years ago. And it sometimes seems like it only happened last week, or at most two or three weeks ago. I can close my eyes and see myself only three foot nill laying on the orange shag carpet with a pillow under my chin and my stuffed Eli under my right arm and the TV glowing three feet from my wide open eyes.
And then I open my eyes and I'm here typing. The year is 2006. Two digital wide screen flat panel monitors sit in front of me, one showing the web page I'm currently working on, the other is playing a rerun of Married with Children which will magically change over to a program on social psychology in about 20 minutes.
In 1976 a thirty year span would have been a literal eternity. I might as well have time traveled to the fall of the Roman Empire as go back and see the state of things after World War II had been won. Those black and white films from D-Day, the capture of Berlin, or the bombs being exploded over Hiroshima and Nagasaki--that seemed like forever away, untouchable, and something I could never truly understand or experience.
And so last night while I half-watched an old episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, I realized that it has been about thirty years since I was introduced to Trek and it was thirty years before that that my grandfather served with the United States Air Corps. And I realized I can close my eyes now and I'm there reading the newspaper headline: "Nazi's invade Poland." I close my eyes and I'm there, watching Rome dissintegrate before me, I close my eyes and I see Moses crossing the deserts and I close my eyes and no humans have touched the earth...yet.
"In the room the women come and go talking of Michelangelo."
P.S. I took this screen shot today. I was 17 when I first saw this episode and I remember because I'd only been with one girl at the time, I was still very hopeful, still very trusting, and still very naive. Notice the blooper, the reflection of the guy chewing gum.