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Category Archives: Waxing Philosophic

Learn To Do You First, The Rest Will Come

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Do your own thing and whoever shows up, shows up.  This is my personal version of “Follow your bliss…”  It’s your ride.  Make it a good one.  Took me a long time to learn that.

I have always tried to accommodate everyone, even for my birthdays.  When I say I’m going to be somewhere, I can almost always be counted on to do just that.  I pride myself on it.  But not everyone shares the same priorities in life.  What is important to you may be trivial to another.

One of the keys to happiness is learning to accept reality.  It’s pretty important in love and relationships too.  If I don’t accept my friends, my family, my significant other as they are, and for who they are, then it’s hard to be happy with them.  It just ends up as a fix them, or fix me scenario.

This doesn’t mean I have to like everything about someone or even tolerate the things I don’t.  I am free to end or modify those relationships as needed.  I get to set boundaries and expect others to respect them.  I get to say yes and no when I feel like saying yes and no.

I think it all comes down to the old adage, Know Thy Self.  I know who I am.  I know what I like and what I don’t like.  I know what I can tolerate and what I abhor.  I know my strengths and I know my weaknesses.  And in doing so, I’m also able to recognize these things in others.

One of the things I know is when I’ve done something that displeases another.  It was a talent I developed in childhood.  My mother had a bit of a mercurial temperament and I never wanted to be the source of any of her upsets.  But being a child, you just pissed off adults even when you weren’t trying.

So I became a very conflict adverse person, rarely being able to come at things head on and often sacrificing my wants and needs to keep others happy.  It’s probably why I enjoyed and even needed a good amount of time spent alone.  No one to satisfy but myself.

But I like people and I like shared experiences.  I don’t want to be alone all the time.  No matter where you go, there you are and my people pleasing habit was always close by.

After much introspection, I know that the way that I am is the way that I am.  It’s not a good or a bad thing, it’s just me.  And I like me.  I wish that everyone liked themselves.  Self-loathing is the source of so much misery in this world — for people and the people they inflict their misery upon.

If you do one thing this year to improve your life, I recommend you make it this.  Love yourself more and more each day.  Whole new worlds will open up for you that you never even knew were available.  Someone loves me more than I ever knew was possible.  All I have to do is let him.

We all have a light that burns brightly but it’s up to us to stoke the flame.

 

 

 

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It’s Just a Ride

There were a lot of emotions coming up after last night’s election results.

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Started off the night eager but as early results started pouring in, that started to wear off.

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Well that’s interesting but not at all unexpected.

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Yep.

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Really?!?

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You’ve got to be kidding me!

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But then those words of wisdom from the great Bill Hicks echoed in my mind… It’s just a ride

Just a choice between fear and love.

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So, fuck it!  And enjoy the ride.

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Love All the People.

 

Wisdom Remembered

In the chaos and hullabaloo of life, it’s easy to lose one’s calm.  When viewed as a whole though, life is no worse or better than it ever was.  It just is what it is and that is that.  It’s a dance with steps forwards and back and forwards again.  Cha cha cha.

When my younger self was anxious or fearful, and I had exhausted the limits of what I could handle, I would usually get really still and quiet.  In the stillness, thoughts would rise up from the depths.  Sometimes in the form of an image or a phrase.  But always the exact things I needed to hear.  I got a reminder this weekend of something that I had already learned but had forgotten for a bit.

The world is not an ugly place.  Ugly things sometimes happen in this beautiful world.

Just because there has always been war and strife for as long as humans can remember, just because fear and anger drives people to do horrible things to each other doesn’t mean this is what has to be.  Life is not inevitable, but you have to remember that you will always go in the direction that you are headed.

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How we behave is a direct function of how we view the world.  When we view the world as a scary and dangerous place, we will treat it as such.  If the world is impersonal, then we are at its whim. Some people see scarcity where others view a bounty.  Kindness and cruelty are two sides of the same coin.

What you see can often be what you get.

What’s it Like in Your Town?

Once there was an old and very wise man. Every day he would sit outside a gas station in his rocking chair and wait to greet motorists as they passed through his small town. On this day, his granddaughter knelt down at the foot of his chair and slowly passed the time with him.

As they sat and watched the people come and go, a tall man who surely had to be a tourist-since they knew everyone in the town-began looking around as if he were checking out the area for a place to live. The stranger walked up and asked, “So what kind of town is this we’re in?” The older gentleman slowly turned to the man and replied, “Well, what kind of town are you from?” The tourist said, “in the town I am from everyone is very critical of each other. The neighbors all gossip about everyone and it’s a real negative place to live. I’m sure glad to be leaving. It is not a very cheerful place.” The man in the chair looked at the stranger and said, “You know, that’s just how this town is.”

An hour or so later a family that was also passing through stopped for gas. The car slowly turned in and rolled up to a stop in front of where the older gentleman and his granddaughter were sitting. The mother jumped out with two small children and asked where the restrooms were. The man in the chair pointed to a small, bent-up sign that was barely hanging by one nail on the side of the door. The father stepped out of the car and also asked the man, “Is this town a pretty good place to live?” The man in the chair replied, “What about the town you are from? How is it?” The father looked at him and said, “Well, in the town I’m from everyone is very close and always willing to lend their neighbor a helping hand. There’s always a hello and thank you everywhere you go. I really hate to leave. I feel almost like we are leaving family.” The older gentleman turned to the father and gave him a warm smile. “You know, that’s a lot like this small town.” Then the family returned to the car, said their thank yous, waved goodbye and drove away.

After the family was in the distance, the granddaughter looked up at her grandfather and asked, “Grandpa, how come when the first man came into our town you told him it was a terrible place to live and when the family came into town you told them it was a wonderful place to live?” The grandfather lovingly looked down at his granddaughter’s wondering blue eyes and said, “No matter where you move, you take your own attitude with you and that’s what makes it terrible or wonderful.”

From Stories for the Heart, Multnomah Books

 

 

Checked Out

I keep meaning to write a blog but then I don’t.

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Checking out has always been my best defense mechanism.  I’m fully aware of when I’m doing it now and I don’t make myself wrong about it.  It usually means I am overwhelmed or frustrated.

Some days, I just want to stay off of social media and the internet.  I see the world around me and I have no idea how to react to it anymore.  I feel so manipulated all the time that I have no real connection with the truth inside me.  Do I care about what I really care about or what I’m told I should care about?

It feels like everything is clamoring for my attention, for my agreement, for my participation.  And the more I am bombarded with, the more I want to completely turn away from it and check out.

I’m exhausted with a world where everything has become crucial and critical, urgent and extreme.  My daily experience is completely out of sync with what I see out there.  I don’t know how to feel about that.

I understand the impulse to go live in a cave or the top of a mountain.

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I’m ready for my media fast.  A holiday weekend is good time to take a mental health break.  No social media, no news, no random internet browsing for a few days.

I’ve forgotten what that was like and I’d like to be reminded.

 

Today is a Hungry Day

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I feel like I’ve been hungry since I woke up this morning.  In fact, I woke up early specifically because I was hungry, but I made myself go back to sleep.  I had to get up early this morning to do laundry so the alarm was set for 6am but the hunger went off about an hour earlier.  While doing laundry, the granola bar that normally hits the spot wasn’t enough and I had an apple too.

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I had my normal breakfast of yogurt and coffee but I was ravenous at noon (an hour earlier than I normally have lunch).  By three, I had to raid someone’s office candy dish and now I’m eating some Chex Mix I got from a vending machine.  Aargh!

I’ve discovered that I’m a three squares kind of gal.  A decent meal usually satiates me for hours.  But for some reason, today it’s just not doing the trick.  It’s going to be a hearty dinner tonight.

This got me thinking about other types of “days” I sometimes have that make no sense.

Every so often I have a Sleepy Day where the eight hours I got the night before seems to have had no effect and by 4pm, I’m ready to face plant right into my keyboard.  Coffee is completely ineffectual too.  Then there are times when I have Anxious Days.  For no discernible reason, I feel anxious and ill-at-ease, like something bad is about to happen even though nothing terrible comes to pass.  And then there are the dreaded Angry Days.  Things that normally pass by unnoticed become the source of volcanic-like rage.  I’m pretty much pissed off all day even if no one can tell (I’m a rager on the inside).

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It’s days like these when I’m reminded that I’m not completely in control of the U.S.S. Marie.  I don’t decide to be hungry all day regardless of what I eat.  I don’t think, this will be the day I can barely keep my eyes open.  I can’t even remotely predict when that guy who doesn’t clean up after himself in the office kitchen will chap my hide.  But these things occur.

One of the greatest paradoxes  in all of spirituality I have discovered is learning to take responsibility for all of one’s life while knowing that you aren’t in control of what happens within it.  Come to think of it, life is nothing but paradox.  It’s an enigma wrapped in a puzzle surrounded by mystery.

If you love something, set it free.  Be committed to a cause but not attached to the outcome.  The more something scares you, the more you should probably do it.  The more you learn, the more you realize you don’t know.  And the pièce de résistance: the more afraid you are of death, the less you will enjoy life.

So, when you have a hungry day or an anxious day, just be thankful you are having a day.  It’s all grist for the mill as Ram Dass once wrote.  It’s all part of a bigger picture that you may not be able to see from your current vantage point.

More. More Science.

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I just finished watching COSMOS this week and I gotta say I want more!

Those aren't stars.  Those are freakin' galaxies!

Those aren’t stars. Those are freakin’ galaxies!

I watched the original COSMOS with Carl Sagan when I was in middle school and I loved that but this latest iteration was addicting. We looked forward to it every week just as much as Game of Thrones.  Perhaps we were just starved for something more meaningful and COSMOS was like the best steak I’ve ever had.

Sometimes the information went sailing over my head but that didn’t dampen my enjoyment whatsoever.  In fact, it is what probably fueled my appreciation.  That week about light was fantastic, and I want to watch it over and over again until I completely understand it.

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Sadly, it may be all I get for a while. It appears that while this particular show did well in the ratings, science itself has taken quite a hit overall in the last generation.

It really comes down to the message that’s out there. These days, learning, curiosity and education are not hip or sexy or cool. Making money, being attractive and being famous are all anyone seems to care about. I know this is a generalization, but pop culture is a reflection of sorts of the zeitgeist.

Add to that an active push back against science from religious people or other people who display extreme willful ignorance for some reason or another.  It might be for political or monetary gain but it’s not for the general public’s best interest, that’s for sure.

Some days I wish I could borrow Professor Farnsworth’s What-If machine and see what the world might look like if scientists and thinkers and inventors were the superstars, and sports were just something we did once in a while to pass the time.  What kind of amazing advancements might have occurred?  Would we still be debating about climate change or would we be exploring the solar system and beyond?

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The film Idiocracy is a great What-If scenario that shows what might happen when the stupid people win.

There are several outcomes to our present circumstances.  If the world starts to resemble that of Idiocracy and other dystopian fantasies involving book burning or drugged up compliance then, I agree with the professor.

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Perhaps, in the meantime if you are in a position to influence a child, you might want to try a little of what Neil deGrasse Tyson is proposing and let the innate curiosity of a child be allowed some room to grow.  You never know who the next Newton or Einstein might be.

 

 

 

Turn And Face The Strain

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I’m not going to address any single topic today.  They are all hot potatoes and my hands feel a little tender right now.  I am just left with the overwhelming feeling of chaos.

Whether you recognize it or not, we are watching the old order going down in flames.  I was looking around for a good illustration and I found this graphic outlining the phases of change.

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When we are confronted with a challenge, this is often the way that one moves through it.  It really feels like the “Valley of Despair” up in here.

As long as people benefit from and don’t recognize there are problems for some people, they will ignore or even actively work against fixing those issues.  I don’t believe that heterosexual white men are inherently bad.  I have lots of heterosexual white male friends (I even married one).  But they have been the ones creating and benefiting the most from the current power structure.  If things are going your way, why rock the boat?

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I believe that one of the very real fears that heterosexual white men carry within them is that they fear that if they let loose the reigns of power, the rest of the world might treat them exactly the same as they’ve been treating others all this time.  Straight men fear being hit on by a gay man because then he’s put into the role of sex object (i.e., traditionally a female’s role).  “Don’t be such a girl” is an insult.  Really?!?

Race has been used a way of dividing people since time immemorial.  But who puts that division in place?  People aren’t born with it.  Watch toddlers of all kinds interact.  There is nothing inherent causing them to dislike or mistrust each other.  Families, countries, cultures, etc. drill into children that prejudice and fear.

Wealth has a way of insulating people from the reality of the hardships that many people on this planet face.  And once your physical needs are met ten times over, what in you requires the hoarding of resources?  If you don’t believe that people are entitled to food and water and other life enhancing benefits, you must believe that they deserve to die for being poor or born in a shitty place.  What other option is there?

Rich white men may be feeling ganged up on these days but they’ve used wealth, religion and power to have the run of the place for most of written history.  The rest of the planet wants something different and all their money can’t save them from the changes coming.  Lead, follow or get out of the way, right?

Graphic but true.

Graphic but true.

What we are going through is a necessary phase of our growth and development as human beings.  Growing pains, if you will.  And if we can make it through to the other side, the side where we see ourselves as one and all in this together, we just might make a go of this living thing for all creatures great and small.  If not, we’ll have a lot in common with the Dodo.

Just a drawing in a book.

Just a drawing in a book.

When we ask for change, let’s make sure we actually get it too.  There have been many revolutions and overhauls in the course of human history but for the most part all we’ve gotten is this line from The Who’s song ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’: Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.  Let’s really not be fools this time around.  You don’t need a boss any longer.  You can be the boss of you.