the way it is

27 12 2008

i hate to begin by saying i hate something.  but i do.  so i must.  i hate that people believe that saying “well, that’s just the way it is,” is the effective end of a conversation, as if the truth of the statement transcends any possible further examination or argument.  people seem to truly believe in the infallibility of the “way it is” and act as though it’s the Berlin wall being patrolled by the tyrannosaurus rexes, the SS, and thousands of evil Jedis.  what about thinking about why it is the way it is?

my biggest problem with it is the confoundingly smug manner in which this statement admits defeat… and those who stand on the sentiment couldn’t be less aware of it.  to wit:  you’re saying that you’re recognizing whatever concept you’re discussing as being reality, but you’re implying that you don’t believe it’s they way it should be, and worse, that you accept it.  if you’re the kind of person who accepts something they don’t believe is right, then you’re the kind of person who believes in the way it is.

which is an excuse.  why do we use excuses?  to excuse ourselves or someone/thing else from responsibility.  to free ourselves/otherselves from feeling at fault for not making sure that something desirable happened, or that something undesirable didn’t happen.  but if you’re going to go to all the trouble of rationalizing any perceived failure, you may as well go ahead and have a second look to see how rational it really is anyway.

i’m well aware that if your municipality doesn’t offer recycling service, it’s a pain in the ass to separate your recyclables and take the refuse to a recycling center however often it’s needed.  but don’t complain that your municipality doesn’t offer service.  it’s the way that it is–true enough. but that’s no excuse. what you’re really saying is that you are aware that you have things to recycle, and even feel that it’s a worthwhile endeavor, but the obstacles presented overcome your will to make it happen.  i think the second part of this realization, while implicit, is often overlooked even though helps to offer a little insight into the impeccability of your life.

it’s an issue of motivation at its heart.  the fact that one laments not “being able” to do something proves that they know it’s the “right” thing to do.  that they don’t do it is just a fact.  that they let themselves off the hook at such a flimsy explanation is a hole in their character.  does that sound dramatic?

when i’m at my mother’s house, as i now am for the holidays, i don’t collect her recyclables and take them to the recyclery.  i have traditionally excused myself because it’s a pain in the ass.  how much of a pain in the ass?  i’d be basically spending time i use otherwise to overeat and dick around on the computer, or watch television and play a video game (pinball lately).  so it’s probably a small thing in the grand scheme, but refusing to do what i believe is right and filling that time with activities i knew aren’t constructive or positive exposes me for what i am.

now, i have to be exposed for what i am while i’m on the path to being who i wish to be, so i don’t mind such revelations.  i also know better than to think myself awful for every lazy moment–we’re all entitled.  but to feel as strong and as good as you can feel, i know that you have to live as impeccably as your mind knows you should, and i know that each flaw that i leave unpatched is a hole in my character, as it would be for anyone.  you have to look your excuse in the eye and, most likely, find that it’s not a worthy excuse and that you must act differently in order to put that issue to rest.

as much discipline as it takes to handle personal inconsistencies such as these, and they are important to handle, it’s all the more difficult to deal with relations to the rest of the world.  or, as i like to call it, capital R reality.

a common problem loop i find myself in is the culture/role debacle.  i have this argument with some people who want to know what i’m planning to do to support myself now that i’ve been intentionally jobless for almost 6 months.  i have no idea.  i tell them so.  i tell them that i have a hard time seeing myself being happy as part of the system.  i used to say that i was satisfied working for the dental school because nothing i did brought harm to our environment or to other people, but i couldn’t stop thinking about my other role as consumer.  the food, the electronics, the clothes, the furniture, and anything else i bought all carried the mark of unfair business practices, exploitation, and environmental destruction.  i didn’t know how to handle it.  so i quit and started really thinking about a proper reintegration. and i don’t have my answers yet.  i know that i can live happily with basically none of the physical trappings of my previous life, but that i also really get a lot from some of those trappings.  like this computer.  even still, i could live in what wouldn’t be considered poverty to billions of people around the world and could feel much better about myself.  i guess that would be patching one of the big holes in my character–to live well on little.  a minimum wage joe who lives reasonably and harms as little as he possibly can.

and the person i’m speaking with says “well, if that’s what you want, then do it,” usually with a little disbelief or pity in their voice.  except, i have to tell them, that then i’m an indentured servant to a horribly run and decidedly exploitive economical structure that’s finally on the verge of collapsing under its own greedy manipulations.  i’m helping the people who have control and are using it to intentionally (it seems) careen billions of people toward devastation, when what i really want is to have everyone see that our financial system is a scam and hope that we’ll figure out some sort of meaningful and pragmatic revolt–like walking out of cities and jobs and gettin’ real agrarian, man.  and whomever i’m speaking with will say, “well, that’s not going to happen.  you have to get a job.  that’s just the way it is.”

it is?  it still sounds like an excuse to me.  i guess i’m still undecided because of how difficult it is to look this excuse in the eye, or worse–to act in an impeccable manner so put the issue to rest.  that doesn’t mean that i–or anyone else–doesn’t know what’s right for them even though we claim to be excused due to circumstances or undecided because of difficulties.  i categorically roll my eyes at all of us.


brain static

25 12 2008

i’ve long said that i was tired of not being able to think clearly enough; that the immense amount of input in our world was too much noise for a person to have time to peacefully consider any thought to the extent that any thought would deserve (as i believe one can learn something important from just about any object or occurrence, no matter how insignificant it may seem); and that wading through the barrage of information and manipulation that is our sell-buy-desire culture does much to enervate even the most aware of us to the point that, should a quiet moment be found, it’s still a feat to maintain the focus needed to think through even simple things satisfactorily.  i’m not the brightest bulb in the shed, but it’s got to be difficult at times even for the most able among us.

last night, as i lay awake in bed, very physically exhausted, my brain persisted in rattling off all kinds of interesting thoughts to me.  this has happened my entire life, but last night was a vivid and clear enough experience that it reminded me of my years of basically being an insomniac–every thing meant a thousand different things, and i had to sort it all out and understand the world a little better before i could rest.  i’m sure the reasons that my musings have faded include a more solidified conception of the world around me, and of the self within me, and probably simple need for more rest, but i found myself being a little disappointed last night.

i had three or four ideas that i was toying with, and i wanted to write them down.  i wanted to write them out.  but i didn’t.  i convinced myself that i could remember them through morning and write about them then, even though i knew that if i did remember them, i wouldn’t take the time to write them in the morning.  i think i did remember one or two, even.  and i know they’ll recycle, and probably pretty soon.  but, you know, motivation failure.  i disappointed myself.

you’ve probably already observed the detrimental effects of the brain static i started to write about before i completely allowed myself to digress.  less coherent copy, for one.  what’s the point of this, even?  wait, i remember.

i have a harder time keeping it all together when i’m around others… because the tv’s always on, the dinner decision is never resolved, the assface at work never doesn’t force us to complain about him:  people are replicating the static fed to us through our environments.  everything’s ongoing, unresolved, and demanding.  when i want to think, i have to turn everything off and get away from everyone, because you can’t turn us off.  it’s hard enough for me to simply stop doing and take the time to just be–the only real time that things become a little transparent for anyone–and i actually work hard to do so.

is there any chance we can form a global holiday from static?  people stay silent, cars stay still, TVs stay off–let’s even throw the breakers in our houses so that the high-pitched whines from our electric devices, most especially the nonstop shrill shriek of refrigerators, my sworn enemy, can be absent as we stop doing and just see and hear what’s around us?  i foresee some frantically anxious people who don’t know how not to have tasks and bored children and a lot of mind benefits that people don’t necessarily expect.

the harried, hurried, busy-ness of the business of our lives is artificial, planted in our routines and pitch-raised expertly by the society we think we’ve formed.  i’m not so sure that we formed it, really.  but we sure do know how to perpetuate it.

a dream

9 12 2008

i awoke this morning from a highly detailed dream.  perhaps they’re all highly detailed, but i mean to say that i remembered this one very well.  i was involved in some sort of game that took place in faraway jungles.  there were many of us there: perhaps 7 men and 7 women, and the native people were controlling the game.  it seemed as though it was set up reality-show style, unfortunately, but there weren’t cameras or outsiders.  there was also no physical prize to be won; the point of the game was to be challenged and see how strong you were.  the people there, i think, were basically people who believed there was more to the world than what could be seen, and were seeking to know it.  there was to be a game each evening until only one was left.  the first game had us in pairs, a man and a woman together.

the pairs were put onto floating planks in a swamp-like area of the jungle.  most pairs had a few planks and logs either coupled together or very near to each other, but ours was only a single plank with nothing much near it.  there were dozens of giant flowers all around us, with long, whispy lashes all around their perimeters, and they seemed to wave gently all the time, though i detected no wind.  suddenly we noticed that there were hundreds of monkeys, little tree-swingers, gathering in the twilight canopy above us.  one of the natives spoke, and explained that every year, these flowers proliferate and pose a terrible threat to the monkeys, but that the monkeys had devised their own plan to deal with it.  we were to watch the monkeys and make our escapes when we had seen their feat.

soon after, some of the monkeys began to position themselves around the canopy above us, and eventually, a couple of them dropped themselves.  as they were landing, the giant flowers near them snapped violently shut, even the ones that were only tangentially close to the ones that engulfed the monkeys.  the long lashes, it seemed were feelers that told it when to try to trap game.  suddenly, many monkeys, maybe a dozen, maybe two, dropped from the trees above and set off a massive flower trap sequence.  amazingly, the ways that they were hitting were sending the flowers in all kinds of directions, and the flowers were largely snapping each other.  lashes were flying everywhere, stems were standing alone, monkeys were swimming away (or not), and within a half of a minute, the action was spent, and all of the dangerous flowers were sprung or destroyed.  and thus the monkey population was safer, by the sacrifice of some.

then it was our turn to “escape” from the area.  i don’t think there was much danger, but the point seemed to be to get out without swimming.  everyone had some sort of clue attached to their spot.  we looked around and saw people taking parts of their floats apart and reconfiguring them, but we had only the one plank and no tools, unlike the rest.  our clue said something about franchising, which was strange until we realized that everyone else was building out, but also inadvertantly making structures close enough to us that we could use different parts of everyone else’s structures to transport ourselves.  i don’t remember how, exactly, but we did so, and put our mark on everyone else’s planks to arrive at the shore.  everyone made it fine; i don’t think the “games” were meant to determine a winner as much as teach everyone what they needed to learn.

afterwards, everyone came back to my house to hang out and relax.  we started to chat on the walk back and realized that we were all of the same basic ilk, looking for something not entirely determined but happy to be doing so.  i was talking to one guy who i found to be maddeningly familiar, but found myself continually trying to involve a nearby girl, who happened to know the guy i was talking to from before.  i knew no one in our group.  except this guy, who seemed so familiar.  the girl was reticent, though i could tell that she was interested in talking to me more.  she just wasn’t sure she should.  i don’t know why.  at one point, the guy was trying to get her to be more comfortable, and she ended up saying something about how she was here because she was trying to find new ways of exploration, that she had taken all the hallucinigens she’ll ever take in this world.

we got to my house and people sat around, talking or playing cards or whatever while i tried to be a good host and get some snacks and drinks out for everyone.  the guy and the girl sat in the living room nearby, and we continued our conversation.  my friend paul then showed up and sat on the couch, though he wasn’t part of what we were doing.  nobody minded, of course.  someone put a movie in or something and most people’s attention was taken to that.  i was asking paul and the girl what they wanted to drink.  paul told me, and i got it for him.  the girl wanted to know what there was, and i started telling her things.  i gave her so many choices that she got up and came into the kitchen to see.  the things she was considering were the non-alcoholic choices.  we started talking instead of pouring a drink, and it didn’t take long before we both realized that there was an undercurrent to our meeting, though i think both of us were surprised that it was so strong.  still, we chatted away, knowing that we were only buying time before we kissed.

after a few minutes, when we’d gotten about as physically close to each other as we could without touching, she whispered to me “let’s just go to your bedroom,” and i led her into the washing machine room just off the kitchen.  “this is where i sleep,” i said, grinning, and she smiled and shook her head at me.  we slid our arms behind each other and let our lips touch; then turned our heads a little, watching each others’ eyes, not with lust, but with curiosity, and let our lips touch again in a new way.  we didn’t know each other, yet we did. we touched lips again, never even blinking, and finally started to give each other gentle, shallow kisses, still shifting our faces, even shuffling our feet a little in a musicless dance of greeting.  soon, our feet stopped, and our moment full of intent had arrived.  we looked into each others’ eyes for a moment and registered the trust and peace contained therein; we pressed forward and let our lips kiss fully for the first time.  soft at first, then a little deeper, exploring each level fully before moving further, slowly and steadily moving toward the moment that the kiss was all there was, and we were empty vessels, the whole of our beings playing with and through each other within our lips.  Our kiss.

i awoke remembering this girl as though i should.  as though she was still with me, still waiting for me.  as i lay in bed and thought about my dream, some of the things that she and the guy who was her friend began to ring bells in my conscious mind.  Though they looked nothing like them in my dream (well, she still had long, brown hair), I realized that they were just like two people I met at my meditation course a couple of months ago.  Zach and Anastasia.  They’d gone to the same college together, a very small liberal school in St. Augustine, Floriday, where they both still lived.  They didn’t know they’d run into each other at the course.  It just happened.

people’s just people

3 12 2008

so i was thinking about a person with whom i ostensibly have “core differences,” which one must probably consider to be insurmountable obstacles to a healthy, close relationship.  well, not all core differences would necessarily be insurmountable, but these, i think, are as such.  we share a lot of the same opinions–of politics, of people, of lifestyles–but our perspectives of the world, how best to address it, and what is possible within it, are drastically different.

i was thinking about how basically identical humans are from a psychological standpoint.  everyone’s basic needs are the same.  security is the top priority–we need food and shelter beyond anything else, and if those are lacking, any other desires in the world disappear in a puff of smoke as we seek them out.  it’s the same way psychologically.  we want security.  to know that we understand the world around us and have others near who also understand it and to feel confident that we can successfully navigate it to our optimal benefit.  this is where i suppose everyone feels different, and where my and my friend’s schism is pronounced:  our understandings of the world are somehow not the same, and as the other endeavors to bend our view to their understanding, our cherished and needed stability of perspective is challenged, leaving us feeling exposed and anxious.  it’s like kicking the bottom bricks out from a building’s foundation.  a very weak building, apparently, if someone can kick them out.  imagine a sledgehammer if you have to.  do i have to hold your hand through every ill-conceived simile?

so when people sense the onslaught to their long-held beliefs about the world and their relation to it, their minds generally find it easier to become defensive, incensed, or even spiteful in the stead of having to take down their own foundations and consider the merits of a different conception, much less then taking the time to work to assimilate other views into their outlooks.

i have to admit that i don’t generally feel threatened by many others’ views of the world.  usually, they believe things i’ve already spent time considering, and there are almost always facets of their ideas that i harbor as part of my belief system anyway.  so i’m always with and not with everybody.  and if someone looks at things very differently and in a new way, i get excited that there’s something new to explore.  i believe strongly in the unending magic of our universe and it’s a matter of no difficulty for me to think that there are others who are finding bits of it i’ve never experienced or thought of.  and that’s where i want to be.  i also understand that more people are afraid of things being different than how they perceive them, though i can’t understand why they’re largely so unwilling to admit to themselves that different doesn’t mean detrimental, or could even be a very good thing.

the structure, as i see it, is that everyone’s born more or less identical, a life force seeking certain comforts, needing certain conditions to be met to ensure their well-beings.  but then we start to learn from the world and people around us.  suddenly others’ ideas are put into our heads.  ideas like best country in the world and cool clothes to wear and property value and making a good living and smarter than others and other such cultural and personal values that help us to construct a system of beliefs that all seem to depend on the others, as we affix them in layers on the outside of our more simple, direct selves at birth.  before we know it, we’ve grown up differently from those around us, even more differently than those in different economic strata, and significantly differently than people from other countries, other cultures.  and we fail to see that none of our ideas are the correct perceptions of the world. ours so often seem correct.  the people around us add credence to this idea, because though they’re different, their constructions are very similar to ours since we grew up in very similar conditions.  and suddenly everyone outside of our strata just doesn’t get it and simply won’t learn and are, to many of us despicable in the respect.

but nobody’s despicable.   everyone’s doing what they can with what they’ve got.  and everyone should be able to learn that that’s how everybody’s operating.  and everyone should be able to see that in the end, we’re all the same, just with different artifices that can be peeled away as systematically as they were put into place.  and nobody has to defend their tiny views of the world anymore.

so, you know, get started on that.