Thursday, December 30, 2010

Selections From The Collection III - 2010

End of the year compilation of excerpts from my writings over the past twelve months. If any of these selections inspire you to go back and re-read the individual entries in their entirety, you can find them by Name, or Date, on the menu to the right of this posting.

224. Blowing In The Wind: 12/29/10
I saw a flag this morning. It was blowing in the wind.
It reminded me of people flapping their lips, unprovoked by anything other than their own need for validation, or maybe for their need to be reminded that they are, in fact, still alive. Flags are typically prompted by a quiet breeze, a steady wind, or some kind of storm. People, at times, talk just because they’re afraid not to, because they’re uncomfortable with silence. The sound of their own voice somehow mitigates the emptiness, minimizes the discomfort, manages and moderates the environment for them. I don’t begrudge them that. I only wish, at times, that they would choose their audience a little more carefully, and maybe their subject matter. I’m not a very good audience for incessant blather.

223. An Avenging Angel: 12/16/10
Last night I was reminded that life, however it happens,
gets inside of us, and lives there.
It becomes the blood from which we draw
the remainder of our lives.
To the degree that we can manage our own filters,
we should.
Enough of life gets on, and in, us that is completely out of our control.
But it all stays with us.

222. Life’s Re-occurring Dilemma’s: 12/10/10
It is practically built into our DNA to make determinations about whether or not someone is ‘deserving’ of our attention, charity, kindness or time. And it’s especially easy to do when we don’t actually know them. I had no conscious reason to not give the guy some gas, so I guess I may have unconsciously determined him to be unworthy of my contribution, for whatever reason.
And that’s what bothered me.
I don’t want to think that about myself.
And I don’t want to think that about him either.

221. Whatever Happened To Dennis McIntosh?: 12/9/10
For my life to be monitored, and moderated, by others is anathema to everything that my soul is really about. I monitor and moderate myself. It is an internal mechanism that we all have. For me to be measured by a culture that I do not recognize as particularly thoughtful, reflective, necessary, or fulfilling is of little importance to me. I gravitate towards nature, without prompting, and without provocation. The more unnatural our culture becomes, the less interest I have in embracing it, and the less inclined I am to seek acceptance there. In fact, I have no desire to seek acceptance there. I have a healthy degree of self-acceptance that requires little validation from external forces. To the degree I can be free of those concerns, I will be.

220. There Was A Time: 12/1/10
Many things began changing for kids with the creation of new Psychiatric Disorders to cover every nuanced human behavior. With the invent of such disorders, a drug could then be prescribed for every condition.
Not without consequence, this excess of ready-made diagnoses’, and ‘drug therapy’ has been robbing young people of the will to fight through their pain, accepting the pronouncements of ‘professionals’ instead.
Unaware of the arsenic in the comfort food.

219. Thanks Giving: 11/25/10
Giving thanks is not obligatory, but it does make life better.
I feel bad for people who don’t believe in God.
They have no one to be thankful to.

218. Seven Things I Think: 11/19/10
1. If you never question your faith you’re not worthy of it.
2. If you don’t also have faith in yourself you will probably follow someone else.
3. If you follow someone else you undermine yourself.
4. If you can’t trust your own instincts you don’t really trust yourself.
5. If you follow the lead of someone else you sabotage your own instincts.
Unless, of course, your instincts are to follow someone else. (See #2)
6. If your instincts lead you away from the core of your inner self you better develop some better instincts.
And finally. . . . . . . . .
7. If you trust a politician, any politician, you invalidate the meaning of the words ‘trust’, and ‘politician’. (Look them up).

217. A Wire In The Way: 11/11/10
There’s a telephone wire that borders the back of my property, just beyond the property line. It’s clearly visible from the deck, and from many of the windows.
A telephone pole is situated behind some trees, so it is not visible. There is beautiful lush forest continuing beyond the telephone line, displaying a variety of trees. Oak, Cedar, Madrone, Douglas Fir, and Pine. The mountains, ridges, and canyons, stretch for miles into the distance, encompassing many different elevations of topography, and lush blankets of growth. The colors are stunning, and the view is spectacular. The first snow of the year has recently settled upon the highest, and most distant, peak. It will probably be gone in a couple of days if we don’t get another storm passing through.

216. Some Rise by Wrong: 11/5/10
“Some rise by wrong, and some by virtue fall.”
Those words were written by Bruce Hornsby.
I don’t know the name of the song. Maybe you do.
I can’t get over this Lyric.
As a songwriter, I appreciate the difficulty of expressing a thought, a concept, an illumination, with the simple turn of a phrase.
“Some rise by wrong.”
These four short words point out perfectly the inequities in life.
As fallible, often shallow and insensitive people, we too often tend to view, as successful, those who have money, who have an impressive collection of possessions, and maybe a trophy wife to present as the ultimate evidence of that success.
And we are equally inclined to view the poor, the disenfranchised, the struggling, and painfully affected, who go without, as failures, as losers.

215. Trust, and Confidence: 10/30/10
I do not look for life-lessons in the living of my daily life. I do not necessarily even consciously seek to find the hidden in the, otherwise, transparent. When I watch a baseball game I really just intend to enjoy the game for the intrinsic pleasure of the game itself. But life-lessons present themselves to me wherever I am, in whatever I’m doing, and with whomever I happen to be with at the time. I can’t just turn away from those illuminations as if they were a second helping of banana cream pie. That would be foolish on my part. And, furthermore, it would be hypocritical of me to teach if I am not also willing to learn.

214. Mental Chronicles 5: 10/25/10
* Question: “What’s the difference between ‘here’ and ‘there’?
Answer: There really is no difference.
No matter where you go, or how long it takes to get there, once you arrive there you’ll have to say, “I’m here”.
Which is where you started out from in the first place.
Might as well enjoy the ride.

213. Speaking Of Profanity: 10/18/10
“God damn!”
I don’t really like using that exclamation, but
it’s the perfect marriage of the holy and the profane.
Religion, as you well know, seems to create such profound contentiousness between people. The use of religious terminology does the same. I continue to experience
radioactive fallout for something as innocuous as expressing an opinion with words that even imply a connection with religion, no matter how vague, or abstract. I find it kind of disconcerting, and disheartening, that we live in a world where people are not entitled to opinions, where people are knocked down for having one, or for the words they use, like a clay pigeon being blasted out of the sky with a shotgun.
I find it very disturbing, but hey, like it’s gonna keep me from discussing anything?

212. A Certain Lineage: 10/12/10
The forest is a good parallel for life.
There are some aspects of it that we can count on. There is a certain sameness. Generally speaking, the trees are rooted where they’ve always been, the topography is constant, and the rocks continue to lie partially buried like pimples on the surface of the earth. The trails remain in place, wearing into the ground, like a good pair of shoes, over time, conforms to your feet.
It’s what we can depend on, a few of the things that we can anticipate being there tomorrow. Tomorrow is never promised to anybody, but there’s a reasonable expectation that the landscape will be then as it is now, or at least very similar. The constancy, the reliability, the fidelity of nature, as it were, is something that gives security to us in an otherwise undependable, and unpredictable, world. It is, I think, part of the reason I’m so drawn to it.

211. Natureing: 10/6/10
I’ve coined a new word. Natureing.
There are activities associated with words that affect, and impact, our lives.
Meditating, praying, studying, working, exercising, etc. These words, and many others, engage the practitioner in the process that is known as ‘cause and effect’.
A ‘cause’ is something that makes something else happen.
An ‘effect’ is what happens as a result of the cause.
And, obviously, the ‘effect is why people participate in the cause.
I engage in ‘Natureing’ almost every day, and on many days, many times throughout the day. It is simply the process of engaging with nature. Some call it ‘communing’. I don’t really commune, that’s just not my style. But I do participate in, and with, nature. And I fully engage my sense of appreciation when I do.


210. Balance: 9/23/10
There is a natural balance in life. We see, and experience it, in nature. It is a very important aspect of life, an aspect that, if missing from our own lives, leaves us at the mercy of the emotional, psychological, and physical elements of its absence.
In one’s personal life nobody just happens upon balance, or finds it by accident. There is a process of ‘finding’ it, just as there was with my little grandson. And then there is the practice of ‘keeping’ it. Finding, and keeping. Both require some knowledge, some wisdom, and some experience. Experience produces knowledge. Knowledge, when blended with experience, generates wisdom. Wisdom enables us to measure intangibles. And it gives us the wherewithal to deal with them.


209. The Honesty Of Intention: 9/12/10
It may not really matter to you, but I want to say that I have always been someone whom others have been perfectly comfortable projecting their own ideologies on to, their own belief systems. So-called Conservatives have considered me to be either ‘one of them’, or ‘one of those liberals’, depending on what they’ve needed me to be to validate their own position.
And So-called Liberals have done the same, only in reverse on the issues. Truth is, I am neither of those. It’s not good to view people in those terms. I sometimes do, but I try not to. Like you, sometimes I get caught up in the anger, or the immediacy, of an issue, but I don’t subscribe to anybody else’s idea of what’s right, and what’s wrong. I know what’s right, and I know what’s wrong. And so do you. I don’t need an ideology to instruct me.

208. Let’s Stop Throwing Shit At The Wall: 9/7/10
People have disagreements on ‘moral’ issues. They always have. They also disagree on social issues, the need for, and manner of, addressing them, and even the necessity for solutions. People make social issues into moral issues, and they make moral issues into social issues. Maybe every moral issue is also a social issue, and every social issue a moral one, I don’t know. But perspectives do overlap, and it is seldom that part of an issue cannot be shared by both points of view. It is also seldom, however, that one position will allow room for the other. That’s a shame. We are all diminished by that disallowance.
Disagreement is no cause for alignment in totally separate camps, which end up throwing insults at one another like some incarcerated crazies might throw shit at the wall.

207. Relationships 2: 8/31/10
I know we’d all like to consider ourselves as independent of our parents, but whether we want to admit it or not, relationships are modeled by parents.
We grow up learning how to conduct relationships by watching how our parents conduct them. Children grow up to imitate, and perpetuate those behaviors. If we grow up in a healthy family, where honesty trumps deceit, where openness overrides secrecy, where courage conquers pretension, we are much better equipped to enter into adult relationships than if the opposite would have prevailed in the family.
If parents are open and honest with each other, as well as with their children, those children have a good start on having similar kinds of relationships as adults.

206. Relationships: 8/18/10
Relationships take effort, a lot of effort. They must be defined, and they must be negotiated, otherwise they tend to fold in on themselves like a parachute catching a downdraft. They can be an expansive element of one’s life, but can also become a dangerous inversion of one’s expectations. Relationships, to be successful, require that both parties play by the same set of rules. And if they don’t, it is only a matter of time before they implode.

205. The Tranquil Sky: 8/3/10
The tranquil sky, stretching wide across a lingering horizon, painted with the loving hand, and expertise, of one who knows what stimulates, and invigorates, the soul of a man such as myself. I do not suppose the Artist chose to paint it for my pleasure alone (although I’d like to think that) but for you as well. I can only hope that you are awake this morning to embrace it. The expanse that is my view from where I write creates, and enables, a similar expanse from inside me, from deep within the hidden recesses of my faith, and of my sometimes pain, extending outward now, opening my arms to the possibility of the unforeseen, the unexpected, and the mostly undeserved.

204. It’s Really Not That Important: 6/28/10
I used to think there are a lot of things in life that are important. Too many things, maybe. I used to think that it was important to determine what is important, and then to add those things to my priority list. But the list would keep growing, and there would always be something of priority waiting to be addressed. I guess it’s good to pay attention to things, but not necessarily to everything that might end up on the list. Anything, really, could find its way to the list, and then once it’s there it would become a priority, no matter how far down the list it might happen to be. After all, if it’s on the list it takes on the mantle of importance, and that makes it important whether it’s actually important or not.

203. Trails: 6/19/10
Over the past year my wife and I have spent considerable time cutting in walking trails through the forested land that we are fortunate enough to ‘own’ (as if the earth can actually be owned by someone). But the sections we worked were those that, by virtue of their natural flow, kind of designed themselves. We just had to follow their lead and do the clearing. Of course there was some decision making in the process because there were many junctures where the trail could have gone this way or that, or the other way even. Although most of the options appeared to be good, ultimately, we had to decide on the direction. When those trails were finished we could walk them, pleased with, and somewhat proud of, the outcome because it truly was a partnership with nature. Nature, in a sense, quietly guided our willing hands.

202. I Don’t Trust Happiness: 6/7/10
Unhappiness is something you can depend on. It will never leave you as long as you continue to embrace it. It will be your constant companion, through thick and thin, through brief moments of elation even. It will be waiting to comfort you as those occasional, but fleeting, feelings of happiness return you to its care. Unhappiness takes little effort, and it comes quite easily to those who seek the familiarity of its presence. It can be like a warm blanket, or an old friend. It can be shelter from the world, or from the wind. Unhappiness will follow you like a shadow, without invitation, and without argument or disagreement. It will cling to your soul like molasses.

201. Clearing Out The Clutter: 5/3/10
A man I know has recently been working around his property, clearing brush, trimming trees, cutting down the dying, the dead, and the unproductive, and opening space to provide himself with some breathing room and a better view.
I have been doing the same since becoming owner, and caretaker, of some beautiful acreage in the mountains. When property is neglected, left unattended, it becomes whatever it will become by virtue of its own untamed nature. However, in order to coexist comfortably with nature, one must be, undoubtedly, amenable to compromise. One must allow for the natural world to exist partially on its own terms, but require it to exist partially on the terms that he decides on for himself. To allow the full force of nature would prove to be overwhelming, and eventually threatening, to the sensibility and wellbeing of any individual. To succumb to the will of nature would not, could not, ever turn out for the better. But, conversely, to subjugate nature entirely to one’s own will would, ultimately, reduce a persons life to confinement in an over-controlled, finely manicured ‘natural’ prison of one’s own making. A gated community, if you will. A place where you pay other people to control the wild around you, to protect you from the natural world.

200. Number 2 Hundred: 5/18/10
I like that number. I like the way it looks, and I like the way it sounds. When I was younger, playing on different sports teams I always wanted to be Number 2. I never wanted to be ‘1’, or ‘#1’, or even ‘Number 1’. Being ‘Number 1’ would be way too much pressure. And it’s kind of a self-aggrandizing number anyway. But, actually, I wouldn’t mind being ‘Number Won’. That would be kind of cool. I like the implication of that.

Anyway, back to my point. I didn’t really want to be ‘2’, or ‘#2’ either. But I always wanted to be ‘Number 2’. I never could be. They don’t allow special numbers like that for guys like me. Maybe for LeBron James, if he wanted it, but not for me.
If I’d had to settle for ‘2’, or ‘#2’, I’d rather have been ‘two’, or ‘too’ even. Or better yet, ‘Also’. Being ‘Also’ would be awesome. ‘Also’ means ‘too’, which sounds the same as ‘two’, which actually is ‘2’.
Well, it gets complicated.

199. An Ode To Spring: 5/13/10
Here in North America Spring is rapidly approaching, there is an amorous arousal on the Continent, and with it comes the inclination, compulsion even, for humans to do what most humans do to ensure that we, as a species, continue to exist.
Friending on our Facebooks, and Tweeting on our Twitters.

198. Loving / Being Loved: 4/30/10
Loving is not necessarily always doing what somebody else would like, or even what they think might satisfy them. Sometimes it is being, for them, the voice of reason, the solid ground from which their soul can take root and grow.
Sometimes love is coming to the rescue.
And sometimes love is doing nothing at all.
In many respects it takes the love of others to enable our own ability to love. But it can also be said that loving enables ones ability to be loved.
It works both ways.
Personally, I think that when we cultivate loving, the love of others finds us.
It just finds us, usually unexpectedly,
but it finds us.

197. It’s Really More Simple Than It Seems: 4/15/10
Life is never easy, but there is a less complicated way to live, there is a general guide to live by, a means of keeping ones equilibrium in life. It is often the second choice of any given individual, but it is, ultimately, the best choice. It is a tried, true, and historically tested manner of being. It is ancient wisdom, and it is applicable in contemporary life as well. It is not complicated, and it is embraceable by all but the truly self-indulgent. It is for those wishing to live in harmony with consciousness, and for those simply wanting not to stray too far from what they know to be of value and importance. It is a principle that allows the pleasure, and the enjoyment of life, but holds at bay the temptations that call to us like sirens in an enveloping fog. It is a place where honesty trumps deception, and where kindness supercedes self-service. It is a place of self-denial by choice, rather than by imposition. It is where integrity resides, and self-importance falls away like dead skin.

196. What Are We Thinking? 4/11/10
You’ve probably been reading about the sexual abuse scandal involving U.S. swim coaches who have been molesting, groping, and secretly taping numerous young female swimmers around the country. Thirty-six coaches have been banned for life. Now I bet that really makes us feel good about ourselves! Not that they’re going to go coach somewhere else, or anything like that!!!
Question: If all the so-called ‘authorities’ are so motivated to prevent the devastation in these children’s lives, why do they not have the courage to make changes that actually work?
Answer: Oh, I don’t know, could it be that ‘harmless’ little Political Correctness (Personal Cowardice) gene I’m always talking about? Just wondering.

195. PoliTricks: 4/7/10
Don’t read this if idealism creates, and governs, your ideology. It’ll only make you mad.
Idealism used to be the social/political domain of Hollywood, thirteen year-old girls, and fifteen year-old boys. Unfortunately, it has now infected a disproportionate number of actual adults. I’m sure it has nothing to do with the pot we’ve been smoking like tobacco, or the pharmaceuticals we’ve been chewing like candy.

194. They Sense Us: 4/2/10
After receiving my Census survey, which contains questions that are none of the Governments friggin’ concern, is it any big surprise that the form is supposed to be returned to the “2010 Census Data CAPTURE Center”? What, do they want to know where to find me just in case I happen to disagree with their policies? They’ve asked for my name, and my phone number. My phone number? Why would they need to call me? Are they afraid that maybe I counted the number of persons living at my residence wrong? Or might they just want to chat? They’re not entitled to my name, or my phone number. I am entitled to anonymity. I, personally, am none of the Governments business.

193. There’s Something To Be Said: 3/23/10
It’s been said, “When you have nothing to say, it’s usually best to say nothing.” Most people, typically, do have something to say, but most people, also, will usually say nothing. Something is often better said than nothing being said because saying something can give someone else’s deafening silence some illuminating context. Are you following me? It can reveal the silence to be what it frequently is, insecurity, fear, or intimidation. The spoken also gives the silent an opportunity for its own expression, to move beyond its, otherwise, timid and invisible nature. It can give silence an opportunity to speak, or, if need be, to hunker down and embrace its own timidity. Some people can remain silent forever, and some people just need the expression of others to initiate their own. Saying nothing seemingly implies, albeit wrongly, that there is nothing to be said. That will sometimes be the case, but there is almost always something to be said.

192. Pride of the Irish: 1/17/10
They call it Saint Patricks day
but I can’t see where the man did me no good.
Who made him a saint
anyway?

Is that something like
an uncle?

Just because he wore a big hat,
carried a long staff,
was white, had a beard
and drove some weird snakes
outa town
don’t mean nothin’ where I live.

Sounds to me like
he must have been a maniac
or somethin’
Besides,
he’d prob’ly get arrested
if they caught him doin’ that
today.

191. Chica, the Dog: 3/13/10
Starting out, I have to say I recognize that listening to someone talk about their own dog is not much different from listening to a parent talking about their child, or even showing slides of the family vacation. If you’re not intimately acquainted with the object of affection, or if you weren’t there, you’re probably going to be bored with hearing about it. “My little Amber is the cutest, smartest, most unique child I’ve ever known. She’s only a year old, and she can already count to three.” Never mind that little Amber is actually the only child the parent has ever really known. But, it is almost impossible to separate those sentiments from the larger reality of who little Amber, or in this case, Chica, actually is. So, if you don’t want to hear about my dog this would be a good place to stop reading.

190. The Honesty Of Anger: 3/10/10
He is not an honest man, and I do not intend to entertain his disingenuousness throughout the future. I take to heart many of those valuable historical parables so many of us were raised with, and this one in particular.
“Beware of wolves in sheep’s clothing.”
No matter how many times they might mention God, or their church.

If he were in trouble, or in need, yes, I would offer him assistance.
He is a fellow traveler on this planet, and our commission as humans is to love one another. But sometimes love requires that a situation be dealt with directly, that one not protect another’s fraudulent position. Sometimes love requires taking the more difficult stand. And yes, sometimes love requires the honesty of anger.

189. My Fathers Desk: 3/3/10
I have my fathers desk. He gave it to me when it became apparent that he would never be using it again. My dad has gotten very old. It’s an old desk too, an old school teachers desk; ironic, because my dad was never really a teacher. Didn’t have the patience for it. There is a lot of wear and tear on this desk. That’s one of the things I like about it. I also like that it was his desk. I don’t like new things very much. They lack depth and character. Old things always contain a lot of interesting assimilation. Assimilation is the process of becoming part of, or more like, something greater. This desk is greater than it was when it was made. It has a lot of living engrained in its finish, and in its wood.

188. Life Is A Three Act Play: 3/1/10
Life has a beginning, a middle, and an end. We tend to think of life as a one-act play, but actually, we’re born, we live, and we die. Those, I believe, are three separate acts. If we include the Beyond, there are four. We tend not to see the ‘born’ part as a segment of our life, nor do we see the ‘die’ part that way. We only see the ‘life’ part as significant to living. I see all three of these acts as separate and independent of each other, but fundamentally intertwined with one another, and equally significant as well.

187. I Have A Good Wife: 2/25/10
There’s a difference between being a good woman, and being a good wife. I have known many good women over the years who would not necessarily be very good wives. But, to be a good wife one has to first be a good woman, the two are very inter-related.
I’m not an expert on wives, or women, for that matter. But I am an expert on what applies to, and relates to, me. My wife certainly fits well within those parameters. And she is a good wife. Some women consider being described as ‘a good wife’ to be an insult. I suppose that’s because they, myopically, choose to relate to the description as the totality of what they are seen to be. But I don’t think anyone ever meant to describe their own wife as ‘only’ a good wife, and nothing else, at least not anybody you’d really care to know.

186. Avatar, The Movie: 2/22/10
I saw ‘Avatar’ yesterday. If I’m not mistaken, it took eight years to make, and cost about 250 million dollars, and sometime before I even get this blog posted, it will break the all-time record for dollars earned, breaking the record set by ‘Titanic’, which was also made by James Cameron. It’s been reported that many people leave the movie feeling dizzy, disoriented, and depressed. Although I understand why so many leave depressed, I just left angry. The movie’s feelings-based politics, and social ideology, were insulting to anybody with the courage to subjugate their feelings to the reality, and truth, of historical context.

185. I Wish Him All The Best: 2/19/10
I just finished watching the Tiger apology on TV.
I’m sure many of you saw it as well.
I have been critical of Tiger Woods. He has been a man that I have never respected because of his Diva, arrogant, egocentric behavior on the golf course. I have respected his dedication, and the hard work he devoted to his craft, but I never respected him as a person, or as a man.
Until Now.

184. Mental Chronicles 4: 2/18/10
As some of you know, I like to watch the auditions of American Idol. I stop watching when the competition gets to Hollywood and everybody starts pretending that they totally support their competition.
But I remember one young American Idol wannabe’s audition, who, before her song, stated that she thinks she ‘deserves to be’ the next American Idol because if she were chosen she thinks she’d make ‘a good role model’. She went on to say, “You know, I’d recycle, and I’d care about the people in Africa, and stuff like that.”
Huh! I was under the impression that I was watching American Idol,
not the Miss America pageant.

183. Thought Casserole: 2/13/10
I’ve probably never had an original thought.
But, most likely, I think of different things than you do.
And that makes my thoughts worth expressing. The same is true of yours.
You think of different things than me.

182. Internal Congestion: 2/10/10
Writing takes me out of myself. Out of my internal congestion, you might say.
Now, those of you who know me would probably agree that it’s a good thing for me to get out of myself. I wouldn’t say that I’m ‘into’ myself, per-se, it’s just that I do live ‘within’ myself. That would be a very comfortable place for some people to live, but not necessarily for me. Kind of scary in there sometimes, kind of confusing at other times. I might even say ‘exasperating’. But, nevertheless, writing takes me out of myself.
And that’s all I’m going to say about me.

181. Love: 1/26/08
I was watching a movie the other night. I would not call it a particularly good movie, in fact, I won’t even bother to mention the title because it is not really the point of these thoughts. However, there was a line in the film that got me thinking. I know, you’re probably wondering, “OK, what’s he thinking about now?” But here’s the deal. One of the characters was saying that he had heard from several Hospice workers he knew that, when on their deathbed, the two questions the dying seemed to ask themselves were, 1) “Have I ever loved anybody?” And 2) “Has anybody ever loved me?”
Interesting questions.
Interesting because they are the kind of questions that, I think, we would seem to take for granted. “Of course I’ve loved somebody, and of course somebody has loved me.” Seems like a no-brainer, the kinds of questions one could answer without really even having to think about it. But are they really?
If love is so prevalent, and so common in an individual, why is it that one of the two deathbed questions just happens to be “Have I ever loved anybody?”

180. Only For Today: 1/21/10
Snow covers the ground today like hope clothes the faith of pilgrims. Icicles hang low from eaves left frozen overnight. My warm breath rises in the morning chill like prayer seeking the mind of God, or His ear, to be more exact. Trees droop heavy with the weight of change, the sky having quietly dumped its own burden when it became too much for its weakening arms to hold. Some of that load now left clinging to Pine branches high above the ground, wishing, like the sky, for a little relief of their own.

179. Such Unimaginable Happenstance: 1/14/10
Pray for the people of Haiti, particularly for the children who lost their parents,
and the parents who lost their children.
And while you’re at it, give some thought to the misdirected importance we give the privileged in our own county. Tell me that, in Gods eyes, there is not a broken, wounded, misplaced, or suffering child in Haiti that is not equally, or more, important than the spoiled royalty we serve with our money and adoration. Tell me that Michael Jackson’s life, or Anna Nicole Smith’s, or Farrah Faucet’s, for that matter, was of greater importance than was the baby of a poverty stricken mother whose shantytown shack has fallen down in shambles around her, her child lost to the rubble of such unimaginable happenstance.

178. Dirty Little Secret: 1/13/10
I don’t normally write about my business dealings, or personal health issues, except maybe to illuminate a particular behavior, or to demonstrate some aspect or another of human nature. But I feel rather compelled to let you in on a situation I encountered yesterday in the course of attending to an illness I’ve been struggling with for the past two weeks. I’ve been laying low with a bronchial infection, which began as a mild cold, progressed to a persistent cough, and ultimately, became the bronchial infection that I ended up seeking treatment for. It’s a serious, but not life threatening condition, unless left untreated, in which case it could develop into pneumonia. I should have obtained a prescription of antibiotics earlier, but like many men do, I put it off until it became very apparent that I better do something about it.

177. Parking Meters: 1/10/10
I’ve been thinking about Parking Meters.
Don’t ask me why. I just think about what presents itself.
So, let me see if I have this right. In the City, the taxpayers pay for the construction of the streets, their maintenance and repair. They pay for the installation and maintenance of the parking meters. They pay the salaries of the parking police who are employed to catch them parked with expired meters. They pay to park there, then they pay the expired meter fines (taxes) that can range up to a couple of hundred dollars, depending on the location and time of day.

176. The Hole We’ve Been Digging For Ourselves: 1/8/10
The hole we’ve been digging for ourselves is the hole we’ll eventually bury ourselves in.
Our society has gradually become so dismissive of the dishonest, inappropriate and reckless actions of one another that we find ourselves slowly burying ourselves alive in our own behaviors. If it seems to you that things have gotten too far out of control, it’s only because things have gotten too far out of control. By ‘out of control’, I’m not speaking of being independent of the control of others; I’m referring to the alarming loss of self-control so evident in the lives, manners, and actions of so many, including our supposed leaders and ‘role models’. The younger generation is mimicking the behavior of the older generation who in turn are mimicking the behavior of the younger generation.

175. My Continuing New Years Revolutions, 2010: 1/1/10
This is a personal inventory of the New Years Revolutions I made for 2009.
I’ve graded myself to see where I stand. To my way of thinking, there’s no reason to make new revolutions as long as I can keep making excuses for not keeping
the ones that I’ve already made.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Blowing In The Wind

I saw a flag this morning. It was blowing in the wind.
It reminded me of people flapping their lips, unprovoked by anything other than their own need for validation, or maybe for their need to be reminded that they are, in fact, still alive.
Flags are typically prompted by a quiet breeze, a steady wind, or some kind of storm. People, at times, talk just because they’re afraid not to, because they’re uncomfortable with silence. The sound of their own voice somehow mitigates the emptiness, minimizes the discomfort, manages, and moderates the environment for them. I don’t begrudge them that. I only wish, at times, that they would choose their audience a little more carefully, and maybe their subject matter. I’m not a very good audience for incessant blather.

I know, some of you might feel like I do the same thing with my writing, but the difference is that you don’t need to read what I write. Those of you who choose to can shut it down at any time. But, far too often, social protocol requires that one listen to the sound of the flapping, whether it be solo, or part of a group.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking about interactive social conversation, or even the exchange of information, I’m talking about people flapping their lips simply because they can, holding everybody else hostage to their indulgence. You know what I’m talking about. We’ve all been in those situations. We’ve even contributed to them.

A flag is content to be still, to not display its colors, or even its capability. It, in a sense, trusts what it is, and speaks only in response to the prodding of the elements. It does not flap to kill time, to trumpet itself, or even to keep its own company.

More flags, and less nervous chatter, would be nice.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

An Avenging Angel

The sky was ablaze this morning.
I was recovering from the lingering remnants of a bad dream.
It was a long night as I was visited by a once-faded memory.

The sky enabled my recovery, not in any conscious way,
but recovery, nevertheless,
like an avenging angel reaching out of the sky
to slay the inner demon.

Dreams happen.
Sometimes they’re pleasant, and sometimes they’re not.
I learn something about life, and about myself,
in my dreams.

Last night I was reminded that life, however it happens,
gets inside of us, and lives there.
It becomes the blood from which we draw
the remainder of our lives.

To the degree that we can manage our own filters,
we should.
Enough of life gets on, and in, us that is completely out of our control.
But it all stays with us.
Of that we can be sure.

There will not always be an avenging angel reaching out of the sky
to slay the inner demon.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Life’s Re-Occurring Dilemma’s

I was getting out of my car at a service station the other day when a guy carrying a gas can came up to me and asked if I could give him some gas.
I’d had many of these requests in the past. It’s always an uncomfortable situation because it’s hard to know if the guy really just needs some gas to get somewhere, or if he’s running a scam to collect money.

I think the dilemma, for me, is that soliciting gas at a gas station is kind of like someone asking you for money at an ATM machine. It makes perfect sense for the asker (there’s gas available at the gas station, and there’s money available at the ATM machine), but it’s pretty off-putting for the person being solicited. It puts you on the spot. It makes you feel like you don’t really have the option of not giving. After all, you’re filling your tank, so what’s the big deal about donating another gallon of gas to somebody else?

Having been driving for seven hours straight, tired, and pre-occupied, I simply said to the guy “Not today”, and he quietly walked away to ask somebody else. There were no bad vibes, there was no further interaction, and I don’t think he put any more weight on the exchange than I did at the time.

But while I was pumping my gas I thought about the guy, the way he approached me, the look in his eye. I also thought about my response to him. I was not dismissive of him, or rude, I just didn’t give him any gas. I wondered what had made me arrive at my decision. I really didn’t know. But I could afford a gallon of gas for him, and it bothered me that I didn’t give him some.

It is practically built into our DNA to make determinations about whether or not someone is ‘deserving’ of our attention, charity, kindness or time. And it’s especially easy to do when we don’t actually know them. I had no conscious reason to not give the guy some gas, so I guess I may have unconsciously determined him to be unworthy of my contribution, for whatever reason.
And that’s what bothered me.

I don’t want to think that about myself.
And I don’t want to think that about him either.

I’d lost sight of the guy, and went to find him to give him some gas,
but he was gone.

We need to take care of each other.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Whatever Happened To Dennis McIntosh?

A little bit about the position in life that I have, in a sense, so circuitously arrived at,
and why.

So this is a good place to stop reading if you’re so inclined.

People have wondered why I changed the spelling of my first name to ‘Denes’.
Well, a new beginning, that’s all. Just a new beginning.
Nothing to get away from.
Nothing to hide.
I was finished with the old business of my life, and the pain that clung to me like molasses.
And ready to get on with the process of living.

And people have wondered, over the years, why I have been gradually stepping further away from a once active, involved, socially ‘meaningful’ kind of life, and gravitating towards a more independent, contemplative, peaceful life, now in the mountains. And all I can say is, “It’s just a natural progression.” My soul and spirit do not stand up well to the imposed standards, and expectations, of people, parties, social groups, organizations, and religions that I would not, and do not, gravitate naturally towards.

For my life to be monitored, and moderated, by others is anathema to everything that my soul is really about. I monitor and moderate myself. It is an internal mechanism that we all have. For me to be measured by a culture that I do not recognize as particularly thoughtful, reflective, necessary, or fulfilling is of little importance to me. I gravitate towards nature, without prompting, and without provocation. The more unnatural our culture becomes, the less interest I have in embracing it, and the less inclined I am to seek acceptance there. In fact, I have no desire to seek acceptance there. I have a healthy degree of self-acceptance that requires little validation from external forces. To the degree I can be free of those concerns, I will be.

And I’m sure many of you would make the same decision if given the option.

The deeper side of separation from my former life is that, I have, for too many years, been available to too many people, people who have (in a sense) wanted me to be their Jesus. But I’m not him, never have been. Don’t want to be . . . . . .
and never did.

There’s a pretty profound truism in regards to someone wanting someone else to be their rock. Something I’ve experienced first hand, many times. If someone adopts (ordains) you to be their savior, healer, guide, guru, counselor, teacher, minister, mentor, or lap dog, and they don’t get what they want from you, they eventually then want to punish you. In some fashion or another.
Sometimes unconsciously, and sometimes not.
Unfortunately, it seems to be a basic tenant of human nature.

I’ve grown a little weary of being punished for pointing people back to themselves as the source of their own strength, their own healing. And to the force of life that dwells within them. I don’t have a pill for them to take, a quick psychological makeover kit, a just-add-water life-plan, a confessional they can visit, or a salvation strategy they can casually indulge in.
I just suggest to people that they be honest, with themselves, and with others. For some reason they don’t like that suggestion. They find it to be inconvenient, unnecessary, too compromising, too foreign of a concept.

Well, people didn’t get what they wanted from Jesus either, and they crucified Him.
I don’t compare myself to Him, just to the dynamic of having been the target of other people’s expectations. Now, just so you don’t start accusing me of comparing myself to Jesus, let me repeat what I actually said. “I don’t compare myself to Him, just to the dynamic of being the target of other people’s expectations.”
I could have made the comparison to that of Joseph Templeton, rather than Jesus, but you don’t know Joseph Templeton. Probably never heard of him.
So what would have been the point of that?

Too many people have, over the years, had too many preconceptions, false impressions, and expectations, about who, and what, I was. People have measured me by their own social, religious, and political leanings, or by the kind, and degree, of attention they may have, at one time, received from me. They have measured me by their own assumptions, rather than by my own spiritual imprint. Consequently, I have been gradually disappearing from their world, choosing instead to live in my own.
I don’t really see anything the matter with that. In fact, I like it better here.
And I think you would too.

But the interesting part about it is that most people seem to have liked me better in that other life, when they had me stereotyped, defined, labeled, and confined in a very harmless and predictable little box. Of course, who wouldn’t like it better that way? It’s more comfortable for us to keep other people assigned to places where we feel secure with them, where they don’t threaten our status quo, our belief system, our psychic inadequacy, where a person can remain in an image of our making. I must admit, I may have played a part in that creation of myself, but only in unintended collusion with the actual engineers.

I have actually always lived in an alternate space, in a broader expanse of the visible, of the unspoken, the unbroken even, and certainly the unadorned. It’s just that not everybody has known that about me. People have always mistaken my quiet for agreement, my tolerance for affirmation, my moderation for timidity, my compassion for weakness, and my modesty for apprehension.

And they have always been wrong about me.

I will no longer, even inadvertently, reinforce that illusion.
It would not be an honest thing for me to do.
And I think you might know that by now.

So, what ever happened to ‘Dennis’ McIntosh?
Well, to put it simply,
the boy became a man.

I understand the general discomfort with that.
Boys are, in fact, less threatening than men.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

There Was A Time

You may not agree with the following cultural observations.
That wouldn't be the first time.
But they are my observations, and just because you may not see them in your own community does not mean that it is not a serious cultural trend in our country.
One does not see a flood until it is upon them.
Perhaps your particular community is more conscious, or more protected, than the culture at large.
Perhaps not, I don’t know.

In regards to teens, and twenty something’s.
An age of self-discovery. An age of development.
An age of importance.
It is a very confusing world for them to connect to now.

Many things began changing for kids with the creation of new Psychiatric Disorders to cover every nuanced human behavior. With the invent of such disorders, a drug could then be prescribed for every condition.
Not without consequence, this excess of ready-made diagnoses’, and ‘drug therapy’ has been robbing young people of the will to fight through their pain, accepting the pronouncements of ‘professionals’ instead.
Unaware of the arsenic in the comfort food.

There was a time in our history when young people suffering from the torment of disassociation, the pain of internal isolation, the confusion of identity, would be offered meaningful and significant help, assistance towards finding themselves, and getting their lives on track.
Rather than be encouraged to embrace their own ‘peculiarity’.

There was a time when the pain of one’s particular childhood was to be acknowledged, faced, sorted out, dealt with, risen above, and used as motivation for self-improvement.
Rather than to be used as justification for what one has become.

There was a time when doctors, psychologists, and psychiatrists, in particular, but school counselors as well, would encourage, and help facilitate for young people, the discovery, or rediscovery, of self, of one’s true and honest nature, of one’s essential humanity, of the best a person has within themselves.
Rather than to fall back on personal compromise.

There was a time when High School coaches would teach, and model, fortitude and perseverance for their players, then step back and watch as pride, and dignity, would emerge in the discovery of the individual’s own inner will.
Rather than accommodating the subjugation of self to one’s own weakness.

There was a time when teachers would quite naturally incorporate life, and character, lessons into the teaching of their particular topic of expertise.
Rather than the vague and ambiguous relativity they are now so fond of dispensing to our children.

There was a time when the reintegration of a person with himself was of prominent importance towards the health and well-being of the individual, when the outward direction of one’s best intentions would enable the internal identity to right itself, and when we, as a culture, were able to recognize the importance of such meaningful achievements.
Rather than giving out awards for the acceptance of self in a perpetually wounded, and compromised, condition.

There was a time when personality disorders, and self-absorbed deviance, would be recognized as personality disorders and self-absorption. There was a time when arrogant and pompous narcissism (which young people learn from pretend-adults) would be recognized as a disassociation from one’s inner compass, from one’s own inner core.
Rather than it being celebrated as courageous individualism.

There was a time when arrogance, and pompous affectation (which is also learned from pretend-adults), would be recognized for what it actually is . . . . . . . . . sad and pathetic self-loathing, the consequence of continued behavior that diminishes the human spirit.
Rather than as a sign of one having finally achieved self-acceptance.

Live with the lie, and you live with the life.

I find it quite interesting that some of the most glaring and serious psychiatric disorders have conveniently been purged from the list to further enable the behaviors they support. In many cases, the very behaviors the psychiatrists and ‘therapists’ engage in themselves. How convenient.
Oh yes, and the drugs they prescribe for every condition?
Follow the money.
And wouldn’t you like to know which drugs these therapists are on in order to make it possible for them to continue to live with themselves?

We no longer seek to repair the broken,
but to integrate it, to redefine it.
Everybody is afraid of being branded as ‘intolerant’.
Eventually, everybody will be broken.

I think that we should not be fooled by Psychiatric labels that are so readily adopted by adults, and even more readily imposed upon young people. We should not be fooled by the elevation of self-interest groups in our culture, by the subjugation of value, by the inundation of increasingly compromised social, political, and personal deviance.

It is the young people who are most affected by our disingenuous lead,
and who will continue to be long into the future.
They are our responsibility.

If we want to celebrate deviance, lets celebrate deviating from these poisonous cultural trends. That would be deviance worthy of recognition.

There was a time when we would call a spade a spade.
I think we should still call a spade a spade.
I don’t think we should call a spade a heart.
A spade is not a heart.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanks Giving

The obligatory Thanksgiving blog?
Giving thanks is not obligatory, but it does make life better.
I feel bad for people who don’t believe in God.
They have no one to be thankful to.

It’s been said many times, and by many different ‘authorities’, that people are considerably happier when they have an attitude of gratitude. There have been studies done on the matter, but one doesn’t really need to consult a study to know if the conclusion is true. One only needs to put the matter into practice in one’s own life to test the validity of its claim.

Going to bed with a thankful heart is the pre-curser to waking up in the morning with one. Waking up in the morning with a thankful heart is the key to ‘having a good day’.
This is not difficult, or complicated, psychology, nor is it Eat-Pray-Love privileged pop indulgence. It is simply the way our human psyches work.
One does not need to search the world for what will make them happy.
Happiness in inherent in giving thanks.

The dictionary defines ‘Psyche’ as “the human spirit, or soul; the human mind as the center of thought and behavior”.

There are a myriad of things in one’s life, or throughout one’s day, to be thankful for.
Do yourself a favor, and choose one.

Choose a different one every day if you dare.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Seven Things I Think

1. If you never question your faith you’re not worthy of it.

2. If you don’t also have faith in yourself you will probably follow someone else.

3. If you follow someone else you undermine yourself.

4. If you can’t trust your own instincts you don’t really trust yourself.

5. If you follow the lead of someone else you sabotage your own instincts.
Unless, of course, your instincts are to follow someone else.
(See #2)

6. If your instincts lead you away from the core of your inner self you better develop some better instincts.

And finally. . . . . . . . .

7. If you trust a politician, any politician, you invalidate the meaning of the words ‘trust’, and ‘politician’. (Look them up).

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Wire In The Way

There’s a telephone wire that borders the back of my property, just beyond the property line. It’s clearly visible from the deck, and from many of the windows.

A telephone pole is situated behind some trees, so it is not visible. There is beautiful lush forest continuing beyond the telephone line, displaying a variety of trees. Oak, Cedar, Madrone, Douglas Fir, and Pine. The mountains, ridges, and canyons, stretch for miles into the distance, encompassing many different elevations of topography, and lush blankets of growth. The colors are stunning, and the view is spectacular. The first snow of the year has recently settled upon the highest, and most distant, peak. It will probably be gone in a couple of days if we don’t get another storm passing through.

The telephone wire changes its appearance, and its prominence, depending on the light, and the time of day. Sometimes it is reflective of the light, and sometimes it disappears altogether.

When the wire is visible I often find myself looking at it, rather at the forested mountains beyond it. Sometimes I look out from my deck and the wire truly is the only thing I can see. I become fixated on it, if you will, and I cannot see anything else. There is all of this beauty above, below, around, and beyond the wire, and yet my eyes see nothing but the wire. There must be a name for that. Tunnel vision, near sightedness, myopia, or something like that.

Then, as I mentioned, there are times when I cannot even see the wire at all. This very moment is one of those times. I cannot tell that the wire is even there. The light disguises it as if it were sky. All I see is the beauty.

There was an astonishing rainbow the other day, brilliant as the depth and breadth of a child’s imagination. It bent across the sky like the stroke of a brush, or a Technicolor embrace by the arms of God. A Waterfall of color tumbling to the ground, in front of me, but beyond the wire.

I could not see the telephone wire, only the rainbow.

People are enhanced when we see their beauty,
rather than their faults.

Don’t let the wire get in your way.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Some Rise by Wrong

“Some rise by wrong,
and some by virtue fall.”

Those words were written by Bruce Hornsby.
I don’t know the name of the song.
Maybe you do.

I can’t get over this Lyric.
As a songwriter, I appreciate the difficulty of expressing a thought, a concept, an illumination, with the simple turn of a phrase.

“Some rise by wrong.”
These four short words point out perfectly the inequities in life.
As fallible, often shallow and insensitive people, we too often tend to view, as successful, those who have money, who have an impressive collection of possessions, and maybe a trophy wife to present as the ultimate evidence of that success.
And we are equally inclined to view the poor, the disenfranchised, the struggling, and painfully affected, who go without, as failures, as losers.

We don’t necessarily make the choice to view people that way, we just tend to exercise the insensitivity of our own human nature. And it is that nature that can skew even the most thoughtfully developed consciousness.

But, in truth, some, do, ‘rise by wrong’.
Fortunes have been made, popularity and ‘success’ has been achieved, quite often on the outcome of dishonorable, deceitful, immoral or unethical decisions, with the habitual practice of such choices. Nobody sees, or even cares about, the manner in which that supposed success has been achieved. We only see the results, and then consider the individual to be successful.

And then, conversely, some, do, ‘by virtue fall’.
The obvious example is the fallen Televangelist who preaches, but, ultimately, pretends at, virtue, as he gets caught up in the benefits that his virtue brings him.
And many others are not so terribly different.
Good people sometimes tend to trade upon their goodness to achieve their own ends.
The unfortunate outcome of that is that their goodness, their virtue, if you will, eventually leaks out of them like blood from a severed vein.

Some, in life, have chosen honorable, ethical, and moral positions that have, invariably, thwarted their own financial rise, and circumstantial well-being.
Far too often those positions, and people, are considered to be weak.
Some have lived by virtue from the beginning, and have never had access to easy money, power, or possessions because of it. And some have ascended to virtue later in life, after having found ‘success’, but have eventually fallen from that position, from their temporal security, with the ultimate embrace of an honorable existence.

And of course, those who have chosen to live a virtuous life often get caught up in the cycle of poverty, making the choice between wrong, and virtue, even more difficult for them, and more compelling.
God bless those whose strength and determination, whose efficacy, enables their own virtue to live.

“Some rise by wrong,
and some by virtue fall.”

Nothing we don’t really already know,
but a reminder for us to ‘SEE what we’re actually looking at’.
And to be the best people that we can.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Trust, and Confidence

The other night I watched what could have been the best baseball game I’d ever seen. Not necessarily the best game ever played, I wouldn’t know about that, but perhaps the best game I’ve ever seen.

Game 4 of the National League Championship Series; the San Francisco Giants vs. the Philadelphia Phillies.

The Giants won the game in the bottom of the ninth inning. I’m a Giants fan, but acknowledging my bias, the fact that they won is not the reason for my profound appreciation for this particular game. Sure, that was part of it, but it goes beyond the actual lead changes, the ‘come-from-ahead’, and then ‘come-from-behind’ dynamics of the game. It really goes to the triumph and redemption of some disappointing players. It goes to a manager’s belief in some players that the fans, myself included, had lost confidence in. It goes to still believing in somebody when that somebody has not demonstrated recently that he is necessarily someone to be ‘believed in’. It goes to a manager trusting in the players that have been entrusted into his care.

All of the players.
And I believe that is a significant reason why his players are succeeding through some big time underdog adversity.

I do not look for life-lessons in the living of my daily life. I do not necessarily even consciously seek to find the hidden in the, otherwise, transparent. When I watch a baseball game I really just intend to enjoy the game for the intrinsic pleasure of the game itself. But life-lessons present themselves to me wherever I am, in whatever I’m doing, and with whomever I happen to be with at the time. I can’t just turn away from those illuminations as if they were a second helping of banana cream pie. That would be foolish on my part. And, furthermore, it would be hypocritical of me to teach if I am not also willing to learn.

Every family will have its own share of difficulties in life, challenges, and failures, just as every player on a baseball team will throughout the course of a long season. It’s often been said that the very best hitters in the game still fail at least seven out of ten times. A batting average of .333 (three hits out of every ten at-bats) is a phenomenal achievement. Very few All-Stars even have that good of an average. Failure is commonplace, in baseball, and in life.

In game four of the National League Championship Series the manager of the Giants showed confidence in his players, as he’d demonstrated all year, even towards those who had not been doing very well at the time. Two players, in particular, were the glaring recipients of his trust. He did not give up on them. He showed that he believed in them.

Not only did he play them, but he put both of them in the starting lineup as well. It was a profound vote of confidence, and they made the difference in the game.
One of them threw out a runner at the plate from center field, and the other hit a double that drove in two runs. Both plays came at critical times in the game.

Those were redemptive moments for the two players.
A couple of months ago I’d given up on both of them, but their manager showed an unwavering belief in them throughout the season. He rested them when they were struggling, but always brought them back to allow them an opportunity to succeed.

As people struggling to make our way in this world, the odds tilt considerably in our favor when we are shown that same trust and confidence by the people we love.
Even when we might not be at our best.

As of this writing, the Giants are two games up in the best-of-seven-games of the 2010 World Series.
But game four of the National League Championship Series was perhaps the best game that I’ve ever seen.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Mental Chronicles 5

And now for some serious reading:

* I recently opened a box of Good & Plenty, and noticed that the White ones outnumbered the Pink ones by about ten to one. Didn’t use to be that way.
So, if there are ‘Plenty’ of White ones, does that mean that the Pink ones are supposed to be the ‘Good’ ones?

And if the Pink ones are the good ones, then why don’t they put more of them in the box?
Just wondering.

* And are they not putting prizes in cereal boxes any more?
Or am I just not buying the right cereal?

* I’m looking forward to winter.
Snuggling up in a blanket and getting away from the glare of celebrity for a while.
Smile.

* Question: “What’s the difference between ‘here’ and ‘there’?
Answer: There really is no difference.
No matter where you go, or how long it takes to get there, once you arrive there
you’ll have to say, “I’m here”.
Which is where you started out from in the first place.

Might as well enjoy the ride.

* Every once in a while I’ll stumble upon an original thought that I can share with you.
Like this one.
“If you happen to stumble upon an original thought,
get back up on your feet and try to avoid it the next time it gets in your way.
The people in line behind you don’t take kindly to the distraction.”

* If trees could speak they’d probably say, “I’ve given you shade, oxygen, firewood, fruit, and shelter.”
If we could speak we’d probably say, “Yeah, but what have you done for me lately.”

PoliTricks
I’ve been trying to stay away from politics, but hey, some things just need to be said.

* I like all these political ads on TV where the politicians are finally coming out and calling their opponent a liar,
rather than the usual clever insinuations.
But what I like most about the ads is that one politician calling another politician a liar
just might be the only honest thing either one of them has ever said.

Kind of like a vulture calling a buzzard a bird.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Speaking Of Profanity

“God damn!”

I don’t really like using that exclamation, but
it’s the perfect marriage of the sacred and the profane.

Religion, as you well know, seems to create such profound contentiousness between people. The use of religious terminology does the same. I continue to experience
radioactive fallout for something as innocuous as expressing an opinion with words that even imply a connection with religion, no matter how vague, or abstract. I find it kind of disconcerting, and disheartening, that we live in a world where people are not entitled to opinions, where people are knocked down for having one, or for the words they use, like a clay pigeon being blasted out of the sky with a shotgun.

I find it very disturbing, but hey, like it’s gonna keep me from discussing anything?

Here are some thoughts that will be dressed in religious terminology. Reject me for the ideas, if you must, but not for the terminology. Words are simply tools to use to communicate thoughts.

I know life in religion, and out of it as well. Having come from a religious background, first Catholic, then Protestant, then without religion altogether, most religious people today consider me to be ‘backslidden’, or at the very least, a heretic. Although I abhor labels, heretic is one that I am actually willing to wear. The dictionary defines ‘heretic’ as “Somebody who holds or adheres to an opinion, or belief, that contradicts established religious teaching, especially one that is officially condemned by religious authorities.”

I can think of no one I’d rather be condemned by than some of our so-called ‘Religious Authorities’. And those I’ve known,
or who have known me, tend to view my beliefs as profane.
But those adverse to religion, well, they usually consider me to be too ‘righteous’.
Well “God damn”, that’s a pretty good balance to have, if you ask me.

And backslidden? Well, having slidden-back from someone else’s prescribed dogma, unfounded theology, and shallow ritual, sure.
I’ll admit to that.

In truth, I am not subject to religious ideological divisions. And it is something that makes many people very ill at ease. But none of us are really subject to those divisions unless we want to wear the labels.

I believe that righteousness exists in one’s willingness to risk the profane.
Going against the grain, or against an existing majority belief system would be considered profane in the eyes of those who’ve traded their own objective capabilities, and perspectives, for inclusion in a group.
Living outside of ‘religious law’, or religious ‘expectation’, even when abiding by ‘internal spiritual principals’, is, more often than not, enough to brand one as ‘profane’, even though those same spiritual principals might be the standard that practitioners of religion actually aspire to.
Just so happens that maybe their religiosity is what has actually gotten in the way of that ascendancy.

In my mind there is a big difference between religion and religious.
‘Religion’, reverence for a set of principles, the practice of a belief system, can be beneficial to both the individual and to society as a whole.
But the ‘religious’ tend to very easily morph into self-righteousness.

Someone who chooses to live by a moral, or ethical, code often runs the very real risk of being lumped in with them as well, invariably branded as ‘self-righteous’. But that kind of myopic perspective, and judgment, is not what I’m talking about here. The branding is, more often than not, just a self-serving attempt to subjugate and diminish another to puff up and exalt one’s self. And that is self-righteousness in spades.

Living life, an honorable life even, does not require membership in a particular religion, although most religions do require membership for acceptance, and authentication, as a ‘good’ person, a person of value.
Oh, I know they say they don’t, but let’s be real here.

To me, the self-righteous are actually the ‘un-righteous’, as it were, whether they be the religious Pharisee, or the secular self-indulgent. Self-righteousness is most commonly associated with followers of religion, but it seems that the secular perspective, and its inversion of good and evil, right and wrong, acceptable and abhorrent, is more the personification of self-righteousness, even, than the demonstratively pious. Not every ‘religious’ person descends into self-righteousness, but the vain and narcissistic, whether religious or not, tend to find their way there with very little obstruction.

The irony is that it is actually the ‘un-righteous’ considering those who have a heart towards true righteousness to be ‘self-righteous’, thus making the seekers of righteousness out to be profane.

Wrap your head around that profanity for a few minutes.

I believe that self-righteousness is the greatest profanity of all.
And there is a very fine line between the religious and the secular. They are more alike than one might imagine. People who are comfortable with their own stagnation, who are living below even the minimal standards they set for themselves, like to proclaim others to be self righteous, just as the religious self-righteous, living with their own ‘spiritual’ narcissism, like to proclaim others to be sinners. It somehow validates each of their failures and makes them all feel better about themselves.

It is really one in the same.


Speaking of profanity, I know that I’ve been kind of ‘all over the place’ with these comments,
but I’m sure that anyone wanting to make sense of them,
will.

For the rest of you,
Oh well!

Catch me next time around.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A Certain Lineage

The forest was familiar this morning.
Different enough from yesterday to keep it interesting,
but familiar enough to perpetuate the deep connection.

The morning hike held new signs of a visitation from animals usually hidden from view. Our dog, Chica, put her nose to the ground and did her best imitation of a Hoover, taking in the scents to determine the kind, and size, of the creatures we shared the land with last night. She was unusually obsessed with the smells today. It was pretty obvious that we’d had some new visitors. She led me to fresh bear scat, and the tracks of a good-sized mother and cub. I followed them around the trails, which ultimately led up to the water trough I’d buried in the ground for the vagabond critters to refresh themselves.

This was not a particularly remarkable morning, by any means, just a pretty cool way to start the day, any day really.

The forest is a good parallel for life.
There are some aspects of it that we can count on. There is a certain sameness. Generally speaking, the trees are rooted where they’ve always been, the topography is constant, and the rocks continue to lie partially buried like pimples on the surface of the earth. The trails remain in place, wearing into the ground, like a good pair of shoes, over time, conforms to your feet.

It’s what we can depend on, a few of the things that we can anticipate being there tomorrow. Tomorrow is never promised to anybody, but there’s a reasonable expectation that the landscape will be then as it is now, or at least very similar. The constancy, the reliability, the fidelity of nature, as it were, is something that gives security to us in an otherwise undependable, and unpredictable, world. It is, I think, part of the reason I’m so drawn to it.

Sure, nature changes, just like people do. You often can’t trust it, sometimes it rises up suddenly, and unexpectedly, to hurt you (a tsunami, an earthquake, a hurricane), and sometimes it even hurts you inadvertently (a drought, the heat, the cold). Some say you can never trust nature. But, by and large, you know the rocks will be there tomorrow just as they were today. And you know that if you carve your lovers initials in a tree (if the developers don’t carve their own initials in the forest) you’ll be able to sit under that same tree in thirty years and remember what you were feeling way back then.

The trees change colors, they drop their leaves, some even shed their bark, but they remain as markers, they remain as sentinels against the threat of everything being in flux. Kind of like your old elementary school. Every year it admits, and graduates another group of kids, but it was there before you ever began attending way back then, and it’s still there, and still the same, all these years since you’ve been gone.

But maybe with a fresh coat of paint.

There’s a certain comfort in that.
A lineage, if you will.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Natureing

I’ve coined a new word.
Natureing.

There are activities associated with words that affect, and impact, our lives.
Meditating, praying, studying, working, exercising, etc. These words, and many others, engage the practitioner in the process that is known as ‘cause and effect’.
A ‘cause’ is something that makes something else happen.
An ‘effect’ is what happens as a result of the cause.
And, obviously, the ‘effect' is why people participate in the cause.

I engage in ‘Natureing’ almost every day, and on many days, many times throughout the day. It is simply the process of engaging with nature. Some call it ‘communing’. I don’t really commune, that’s just not my style. But I do participate in, and with, nature. And I fully engage my sense of appreciation when I do.

Back in the 70’s, as a new Christian, I remember hearing many sermons about the ‘Worship of Nature’, as opposed to the ‘Worship of God’. I remember being taught that we must monitor our participation with nature, our love of it, and our indulgence in it. God forbid that it replace the Creator as the object of our affection.

Not an unworthy concept, or topic of attention, but I also remember that most of those sermons were preached by men who had little-to-no involvement with nature, whatsoever.

I do not worship nature. That would be foolish. I wear it like one would wear a comfortable coat. Some do worship it, but, obviously, they have not progressed to the point of appreciating the musician through the song, or the artist through the painting.

I have always immersed myself in the natural world. It has always provided me respite from the hypocrisy of the socio/political world, and of religion. It has never taken the place of my appreciation of God. In fact, it has enhanced my appreciation a thousand times over. I think those people who rail against the worship of nature are not only afraid of the natural world, but are afraid of themselves, and of their own faith, as well. The beauty, and order, of nature has always pointed mankind to the existence of the Divine, and to an appreciation of God.

Natureing is my meditation, it is my time of prayer, it is my work, it is my exercise and education. Much more, even.

Building, and gathering, in religious ivory towers has never been my idea of worshipping God. It is not necessarily even a good pathway to understanding our own purpose, and position, in life. It seems to me, however, and I’m sure you’re quite aware, that the most glorious cathedral ever imagined already exists, above us, below us, and all around us.

In order to connect with the Divine, and even with our own inner selves, it couldn’t hurt to spend a little time in the Garden.
With our eyes open, our ears, our minds, and our hearts.
On our (figurative) knees, as it were.

No standard of dress, or character, required.
Come as you are.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Balance

My grandson is almost five now.
Time flies.
Since close to the beginning of his life I’d been taking him out regularly for some grandpa/grandson time. It started by just taking him out in his own back yard, and then it gradually worked into his dad bringing him to meet me at the park for some playtime. Eventually he was old enough for his parents to be comfortable with me taking him places alone. You know how that process goes.

From the time he became confident enough to walk around I’d spend as much time outside with him as possible. And during our outings I’d always make sure to spend some of that time walking with him on logs, on rocks, or curbs, low retaining walls, planter boxes, lines on the pavement, or whatever else required focus, and, ultimately, balance. My grandson loved doing it. He liked the challenge, and he liked the continuing development of his balance. As a father would, I know my son was doing many of the same things with him as well. Mom too.
And others.

When stepping up onto a log, or something, I’d always take my grandson’s hand and encourage him to ‘find your balance’. He enjoyed the concept of ‘balance’, was visibly pleased when he’d ‘find’ it, and even more pleased when I’d let go of his hand and he still had his balance. If he’d start to lose it I’d encourage him to ‘keep your balance’. He would concentrate, focus, and, ultimately, regain the balance that he was in jeopardy of losing. Sure, he’d lose it sometimes in the beginning, but grandpa was there to catch him, or at least to soften his fall, and he knew that. It led to him being able to readjust his balance during the fall so that he would either land on his feet, or minimize the effect of the landing. It was a lot of fun watching, and being part of, this important development in his life.

A couple of months ago I took my grandson to the park with his bike. We took his training wheels off. Actually, feeling ready to take on the challenge of balancing the bike on his own, he took the wheels off himself. I just provided the wrench.

It was fun seeing him find his balance on the bike, drawing on all the experience he’d had on the logs, the rocks, the curbs, retaining walls, planter boxes, and lines on the pavement. It was satisfying to see that when he began to lose his balance he’d usually find a way to keep it. Sometimes he couldn’t, but even then he would orchestrate a pretty graceful landing, often laying the bike down while he stepped off of it, or kind of sliding on the grass in unison with it. We practiced the dismounts as much as the riding. And he was as proud of a successful landing as he was of a successful ride.

A week or two later his dad sent me a video of my grandson riding his bike like an old pro. Both dad and son were excited, and proud of the accomplishment. It was pretty cool. Made me smile, and made me laugh out loud.

OK now, here’s what I’m getting at. And you’ve got to admit you knew I was going somewhere with this. That’s what I do.

There is a natural balance in life. We see, and experience it, in nature. It is a very important aspect of life, an aspect that, if missing from our own lives, leaves us at the mercy of the emotional, psychological, and physical elements of its absence.

In one’s personal life nobody just happens upon balance, or finds it by accident. There is a process of ‘finding’ it, just as there was with my little grandson. And then there is the practice of ‘keeping’ it. Finding, and keeping. Both require some knowledge, some wisdom, and some experience. Experience produces knowledge. Knowledge, when blended with experience, generates wisdom. Wisdom enables us to measure intangibles. And it gives us the wherewithal to deal with them.

Intangibles are the part of life we have to face within ourselves. They are the inner challenges that we must face alone, without grandpa being there to hold us up, or soften our fall. They are the inner demons we must confront, the assaults on our belief system that we must contend with, the moral and ethical dilemma’s we must reflect upon, and the secret places we harbor that we must be willing to illuminate to, and for, ourselves.
And they are the character issues that we must conquer.

Once you truly find balance it becomes something you never wish to lose. One eventually learns that a steady ride is much more satisfying than a continuing series of unforeseen, but otherwise predictable mishaps.

Only as we are willing to embrace the process will we be successful in finding our balance. And only as we are willing to practice that balance will we be successful in keeping it.

You know what I’m talking about.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Honesty Of Intention

It may not really matter to you, but I want to say that I have always been someone whom others have been perfectly comfortable projecting their own ideologies on to, their own belief systems. So-called Conservatives have considered me to be either ‘one of them’, or ‘one of those liberals’, depending on what they’ve needed me to be to validate their own position.

And So-called Liberals have done the same, only in reverse on the issues. Truth is, I am neither of those. It’s not good to view people in those terms. I sometimes do, but I try not to. Like you, sometimes I get caught up in the anger, or the immediacy, of an issue, but I don’t subscribe to anybody else’s idea of what’s right, and what’s wrong. I know what’s right, and I know what’s wrong. And so do you. I don’t need an ideology to instruct me. Just because life is not black and white does not mean that right and wrong straddles the middle of the gray scale. It usually resides closer to one end of the spectrum or the other. It always leaves room for us to rationalize our position, however. And we do. Actually, we seem to take full advantage of the opportunities. Adherents of political ideology like to dress every issue in the rightness, or wrongness of it. But not only do I not view political issues as right or wrong, I don’t even subscribe to the idea that a point of view is either liberal or conservative. It all depends on what you match the perspective up against.

For example, take the issue of gun ownership, one of the most hot-button issues in our culture today. Most people line up pretty strongly on one side or the other. And I do too. But, for me it is not a matter of conservative vs. liberal. And it is not a matter of right and wrong. It is a matter of pragmatism vs. idealism, and each has validity to the holder of the perspective. The sides are even interchangeable. But to paint them with a conservative vs. liberal brush is just wrong.
Here’s what I mean.

If I live in a community of gun owners, who could, because of that action alone, be widely considered to be conservatives, and I happen to not own a gun, (perceived as a liberal point of view), doesn’t my not owning a gun actually make me a conservative to the liberal ownership of guns? And on the other hand, if I live in a community that strongly frowns on the ownership of guns, (perceived as a liberal point of view), and yet I happen to own a gun, doesn’t that make me liberal to the conservative community standard of not owning one?
Do you see what I mean?

I believe that one’s actual socio/political leanings can only be determined by one’s willingness to honestly consider the merits of the other side, and to embrace those positions which are authentic, and more importantly, which make sense. Notice I did not say “embrace those positions which FEEL authentic, but which ARE authentic.” Rather than aligning with an ideology, one must align themselves with reason, even though reason may contradict one’s own preconceptions, or those of one’s friends. However, you must already know that when one can effectively do that it will leave those who are left embracing a particular ideology very uncomfortable. When it comes right down to it, the refusal to be labeled effectively eliminates division within one’s self because, in truth, most of us hold elastic principles, stretching the gamut of belief.
For instance, you might believe that somebody caught possessing hard drugs should go to jail. But if your nineteen-year-old daughter is caught with those same drugs, all of a sudden maybe you don’t believe that. Maybe you believe she should be offered some help.

In any event, I think ideology has become the bane of our existence. And I think that many young people, in particular, have got it right in eschewing such division. Sure, they got it wrong in believing that Obama represented that ideal (many adults got it wrong as well), but their idealism does not yet allow for them to effectively differentiate between what is honest, and what is a politically calculated manipulation of their good intentions. Deceit, if you will. Although I disagree with Obama on many of his policies, I have disagreed with George Bush on many of his as well.

I believe that as hard as many people try to bridge the divide, politicians, and others, work even harder to enlarge it. It works for them.
For me, personally, It is not so much about an ideological divide
as it is about the honesty of intention.

Young people may not have life figured out yet, but they know what divides their country, their state, their communities, and their families. And they want no part of the charade. Hopefully, the ageing process will help to merge their youthful idealism with an informed and seasoned pragmatism.

My guess is that it wouldn’t hurt the rest of us either.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Let's Stop Throwing Shit At The Wall

In today’s world, there is tremendous pressure to line up on one side or the other of the socio/political, and even religious, divide. It is no longer a spectrum; it is, rather, a tangible divide. The shades of gray that make up the actual realities of our lives are forsaken for the socially expedient alignment of ourselves on the ‘appropriate’ side of an issue. And appropriate is determined more by ones affiliation of friends and acquaintances than it is by one’s inner compass. Compromise is considered weak, and independent thinking is viewed as betrayal. It permeates our government like a bad disease, and filters right on down to the neighborhoods.

People have disagreements on ‘moral’ issues. They always have. They also disagree on social issues, the need for, and manner of, addressing them, and even the necessity for solutions. People make social issues into moral issues, and they make moral issues into social issues. Maybe every moral issue is also a social issue, and every social issue a moral one, I don’t know. But perspectives do overlap, and it is seldom that part of an issue cannot be shared by both points of view. It is also seldom, however, that one position will allow room for the other. That’s a shame. We are all diminished by that disallowance.

Disagreement is no cause for alignment in totally separate camps, which end up throwing insults at one another like some incarcerated crazies might throw shit at the wall.

Life is not black and white, except to someone of limited capacity. It really does consist of shades of gray. It’s funny how one will be so quick to adopt an issue as black and white, but will be more than willing for personal integrity to move around in shades of gray, landing on whichever shade may prove to be financially or socially expedient, and thus, beneficial to that person.

Integrity, however, is the one intention that does need to be expressed in black and white. It is the scale upon which everything can be weighed and measured. If integrity is intact the rest tends to take care of itself. It becomes no longer about being right, but rather about being true, true to ones core values, and, thus, true to oneself. It does not allow for a whole lot of gray. Were integrity to rule our lives, our politics, and our religion, it would be surprising how many of us would find common ground.
Regarding personal integrity, as clich├ęd as the phrase is today, it bears repeating. “It Is What It Is”; a true reflection of one’s alignment with their own soul.

Many people would like to reprogram the inner core of others, but effectively deny the voice that quietly speaks to them from within themselves. It is really just evidence of one’s own deficiency. I’m not talking about behavior. Behavior can turn a deaf ear to that inner voice. I’m talking about the inner voice itself, the living conscience from which integrity emerges like a sunrise out of the darkness.

If honesty reigns on the inside, then, to be sure, integrity will rain on the outside.


To be continued:

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Relationships 2

I know we’d all like to consider ourselves as independent of our parents,
but whether we want to admit it or not, relationships are modeled by parents.

We grow up learning how to conduct relationships by watching how our parents conduct them. Children grow up to imitate, and perpetuate those behaviors. If we grow up in a healthy family, where honesty trumps deceit, where openness overrides secrecy, where courage conquers pretension, we are much better equipped to enter into adult relationships than if the opposite would have prevailed in the family.

If parents are open and honest with each other, as well as with their children, those children have a good start on having similar kinds of relationships as adults.

If, however, a child grows up in a family where one, or both, of the parents are evasive, dishonest, or indirect, that child will learn to protect himself with a host of somewhat other-than-forthright relationships. He, or she, may not necessarily become stunted to the same degree as the parents, but will, more likely than not, conduct their developing relationships in a manner innately designed to provide the greatest level of self-protection. The child learns to deflect, avoid, or ignore anything (or anybody) that challenges (intentionally or not) the comfort of their status quo. They will not take risks in relation to their comfort zone. The fear is carried with them long into their adult lives. They remain afraid of being transparent, of being judged, of being thought of as lesser than how they would hope to be perceived.

Children of alcoholic, or drug-indulging parents face the same set of challenges. Those self-destructive behaviors create a compromised foundation that the parent models throughout their daily lives. The same can be said about divorce or abuse. The child learns very quickly not to trust the parent, withholds their true self from the parent, and continues that manner of relating on into their other adult relationships. Self-protection is always at the forefront. It takes a lot of hard work and a lifetime of continuing self-assessment to break down the need for self-protection.
Some of you have done the hard work, and know what I’m talking about.
Others won’t even begin to engage the work until their lives are demanding it of them.

Obviously, children of dysfunctional relationships often gravitate towards their own addictions, effectively diminishing their ability for healthy and honest relationships. They might even end up embracing some sort of religious fundamentalism. When that dynamic takes hold in their lives, honesty of exchange gets filtered through the prism of one’s own buried pain or unworthiness, often culminating in a stunted ability to be honest and transparent. With the religious person’s honorable, but misguided, attempt to be a ‘shining light’, an example of righteousness, that person is far-too-often just practicing a ‘spiritual’ form of self-protection. It is not courageous, and it becomes almost impossible for that person to see themselves from the perspective of another, less indoctrinated point of view. It is a cloak of invisibility, and it becomes their way of life. It is very difficult, if not unachievable, for someone operating on a more pragmatic level to sustain any kind of honest, continuing, relationship with them.
Sure, some who grow up in healthy families also find the exercise of their faith in religious fundamentalism, but they have the experience of strong bonds, honest communication, and family support to supplement them.

As adults, it is in our own best interest to recognize the relationships from which we have emerged, from which we have been molded, and, if negative, to summon the courage to deny them their continuing influence in our lives. It is not only in our best interest, but it is imperative that we break the chain of self-protection so that our children and grandchildren can be free to function fully, and without inhibition, in this very difficult and demanding world.

I know that nobody likes to be told to 'tell the truth'. But, Tell the Truth, friends. Say what you mean, and mean what you say. Make it your own meditation. Do not be afraid. I dare you. It is the most important step towards the enabling of health in your relationships, and for the generations downstream of your own lives.

Of course you might be asking, “What makes you such an expert on matters of relationships?”
And I say, “I’m not an expert. I never have been, and I probably never will be, but I do pay attention. In fact, I’ve paid attention almost every day of my life. I know what I know, from personal experience, as well as from my observance of human nature and human behavior. I see what I see. I choose to relate to life as it is, rather than how I might prefer for it to be. I will never wear the proverbial rose-colored glasses.
I think you know that.

And that is exactly why you continue to read me.”

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Relationships

Relationships are never easy. They’ve never been easy for me, and I’m sure they’ve never been very easy for you either. After all, they do involve another person, besides ourselves. Most of us don’t have much trouble having a relationship with ourselves, but throw another person in the mix and things can become problematic. Relationships have their ups and downs. They have prolonged periods of both. And they have their periods of dormancy. They have periods of intense mutual interest, and they have times of relative disinterest. Relationships wax and wane, as it were, like the tide.

Relationships. They get complicated. They’re kind of like sex. It’s much easier for one to have an intimate relationship with one’s self than it is to have a personal, intimate relationship with another person. And if you think that’s not true, you haven’t been paying attention to the staggering increase in the world’s consumption of pornography. It is, without question, one of the largest, if not THE largest industry on the planet today.

With the availability of ‘social networking’ sites on the Internet, we live under the illusion that we are connecting with other people. We live under the misconception that these exchanges are bringing us together, that they encourage relationship. But in reality, these sites keep us separate from each other, under the delusion that we are connected. It is far too easy to ‘be friends’ in cyber space, and it is equally effortless to dismiss friends and acquaintances, or to simply ignore the involvement should it require some degree of personal investment. The Internet gives us full control of our ‘relationships’, something we do not have with real associations, and many people have allowed these relationships to replace, or at least minimize, actual ones.
Consequently, more and more people find themselves settling for alternate ways to meet their needs. They have simply given up on real relationships. And with the complexity of maintaining a relationship in today’s world, I frequently have to ask myself, “Who can really blame them?”

Relationships take effort, a lot of effort. They must be defined, and they must be negotiated, otherwise they tend to fold in on themselves like a parachute catching a downdraft. They can be an expansive element of one’s life, but can also become a dangerous inversion of one’s expectations. Relationships, to be successful, require that both parties play by the same set of rules. And if they don’t, it is only a matter of time before they implode.

It’s not as important what the rules are, as it is that they are agreed upon in the development of the relationship. The rules can be tacit, (understood, or implied, without being stated openly), but they must exist for the relationship to prosper. And they must be understood and embraced equally, with honesty of intention, and commitment to upholding the integrity of their purpose.
Something that is sorely lacking with Internet friendships.

For harmony to exist in any relationship, honesty must prevail. Otherwise the relationship is reduced to two people pretending that everything is OK. OK, however, is pretty transparent, even to the least observant among us, and over time even it becomes compromised, reduced to the relationship equivalent of two people talking about the weather. If that is the relationship that is agreed upon, fine. And the weather changes regularly, so there will always be cause for new discussion. A nice safe, formulaic relationship where each party is equally protected from the other. Neither party takes any risks, expands the parameters of the relationship, or ever has to confront their own fears and insecurities. Nobody gets hurt.

And the relationship doesn’t grow.
I’m sure you have your share of those.

But my question is, “Why would someone even want to be in a relationship with someone they feel they need to protect themselves from?” A person could have that kind of relationship on the Internet, or with a box of cereal, or with the order-taker at a drive-thru fast food restaurant.
Why pretend at relationship?

If both parties intend to have a real relationship, they cannot, as people are want to do, pretend that everything is fine when it’s not. Pretension breeds resentment, resentment breeds silence, and silence breeds distance. It takes courage not to pretend that everything is OK, but it takes more courage to see that things don’t get there in the first place. Courage is a quality always in high demand, but, unfortunately, it is also a quality in scarce supply in our modern day culture.

Relationships are never easy, but, unfortunately, we’re learning to replace courage with the simple ‘click of a mouse’.
That’s very sad,
I think.


To be continued: