Friday, October 24, 2008

A Warm Comforter

I have to admit the move from summer into fall is affecting me. As the days begin to get shorter, and the nights longer, I find myself being pulled down, somehow, almost as if by gravity. I experience it every year about this time. I love the Autumn weather, the leaves falling from the trees, the squirrels scurrying about on the ground collecting acorns to store up for the winter, the new chill in the evening air, the smell of the first fires burning off in the valley. But it is a time of introspection, self-evaluation and fortification for me as well. A time to take personal inventory, much as one would assess whether or not he has enough wood for the winter, or enough canned goods in the pantry. It is a time to put some of the playful things away, some of the frivolous thinking even, to pull out the warm clothes, the wool hats, the heavy blankets, and the long historical novels. The animals are repairing and upgrading their dens, their nests, and their burrows, knowing that survival of the winter depends upon the diligence with which they tend to their preparation for it. We are very much the same. Winter is a time when depression sets in for many, a time when those who are alone feel even more alone, and a time when those confined indoors for days on end feel, quite intensely, the pulse of their existing relationships. Fall is a good time to fortify primary relationships, for husbands and wives to embrace, to reach a little deeper, to acknowledge the need for one another, to strengthen the bonds, the commitment, the connection. It is a time to be a warm comforter for the one you love as winter seeks to chill our proverbial bones.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Inevitability

“A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority will always vote for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that, every democracy will collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship.

The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations from the beginning of history has been about 200 years. During those 200 years, those nations always progressed through the following sequence: From bondage to spiritual faith; from spiritual faith to great courage; from courage to liberty; from liberty to abundance; from abundance to complacency; from complacency to apathy; from apathy to dependence; from dependence back into bondage.”

Those words have been attributed to many different authors over the years. It is still unclear who really wrote them. Pretty eye-opening stuff. Even though we are actually a Republic, rather than a Democracy, the observation carries the same implication. I was going to offer my comments on the statement, but rather than doing that, I would ask each of you to read it again, and again if necessary, and then forward it on to a friend.

Click on the envelope below to forward.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Living In The Moment

Living in the moment is often defined as living, or should I say ‘being’ fully present. It’s a good concept, and a noble aspiration. But it can also be a meditative state in which ones own personal oblivion takes precedence over the larger state of affairs. It, at times, can be an extreme, focused concentration as well, like in an emergency when all other concerns shut down, giving regard only to the task at hand. It is truly living in the moment, but it proves to be a resolute moment, fleeting in its existence, and in its degree of importance on the larger canvass of life. The adrenalin rush pushes one through the circumstance, but to live there would be an exercise in exhaustion, both physical and psychological.

There is, however, a more general context for living in the moment. There’s a popular consciousness, and push on, for people to seek to achieve that psychological state, to reach an acute awareness, a way of being, a full and deeper use of the now. It has grown out of eastern religious philosophies, practices and traditions, from western indigenous cultures as well. It is a perception, and perspective, that allows one to be free of the encumbrance of history, and the anxiety of the future. It is a place where many people seek to live, but few can actually afford the rent. It is not a place that is easy to embrace for long. Some people still have to make a living. It requires the suspension of what we already know, and disengagement from what we have hoped for. In this regard, living in the moment is actually a very effectual escape, but a vacation destination that is hard to find, and usually not worth the drive. A place to visit, but I don’t think you really want to live there. At least not for long. It’s always good to come home.

When we’re living in the moment life continues to go on, but it goes on around us, it does not include us. The way I see it, life can go on without me when I die.

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Ocean Grooms The Beach

I lay in bed late last night and listened to the sound of waves washing the shoreline of the beach below. The ocean pounds and devastates a shoreline in a storm, but has a way of grooming that same beach when the turbulence is past. The water rakes the sand like you would the leaves in your own yard, leaving all things new again. There’s nothing quite like a freshly groomed beach. No debris, no piles of tangled kelp beneath our feet, no footprints even, only manicured sand stretching north to south, behind us, beneath us, and out before us like a red carpet or a yellow-brick road.

But what if there was never any newness? What if everything that absorbed damage, was torn apart, devastated, worn down or worn out remained that way? What if cleanup, repair or regeneration was not a part of the natural order? It would be a depressing world. It would be a sad world, like an old dog abandoned on the street collecting fleas and discarded chicken bones to feed himself until he eventually succumbed to the cold of that foreboding and unforgiving world. What if there was no intervention in the deterioration of man or nature? Fortunately, the earth, allowed to break down, has also been designed for regeneration, like those self-cleaning toilets you see on the streets of many major cities. Like the ocean tears up, and then rakes the sand, man becomes victim to his own inner turbulence, but he is also empowered with the capacity to reclaim himself from such personal devastation. We have all been there at various times, and to varying degrees.

I lay in bed late last night and listened to the sound of waves washing the shoreline of the beach below, knowing the water was grooming the sand in preparation of my early morning walk. We should be grateful for, and not take for granted, the ocean, and the waves, that live within each of us. They have been designed to groom our beaches.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Time Crawls By Like Molasses

Early morning, little rest of late. Mom remains in Intensive Care with a machine doing her breathing for her, tubes encumbering any hope of comfort. IV’s and monitors, doctors, nurses, and respiratory therapists doing their jobs like they do every day, like they’ve always done. This just happens to be my mom. It happens to be someone I love, someone I’m connected to this time. People all over the world wait at the bedsides of those they love, in hospitals of varying degrees of competence, and care. Some wait by the beds of family in huts in remote villages, in makeshift field hospitals, or in small rooms in small houses, in tenement buildings, with little hope of change, only the expectation of deterioration, as time crawls by like molasses dripping off an old kitchen countertop. My mom is in the care of good doctors, with qualified staff, and the best technology available to this kind of situation. Still, I wait, we all wait, for time to work it’s healing, for strength to return, for muscle memory to engage so that breathing will respond again. We also wait for the time when we would know that mom would want no more of these medically valiant, and heroic, efforts. We can only wonder which would come first, which would play itself out with the hand of fate, or divine providence for that matter. Continued life, we know, would be a temporary condition, and death, a permanent one.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

As If They'd Never Happened

Trust is not something inherent to an adult relationship. A mature relationship starts out cautiously, and proceeds incrementally as trust develops over time. It is not something implanted like a seed in the psyche of an individual, but more like the development of gray hair, reflecting a history, a road traveled through both smooth and rough terrain. It is a natural progression, and one we are wise to let develop naturally. Individual lives are filled with negative examples of relationships gone bad after having been formed too quickly, and moved along at an unnaturally fast pace. And I’m not even talking about love affairs, just the superficial friendships and casual relationships we form through the course of our daily lives. Elation, followed by silence, and then withdrawal, are the dynamics most commonly associated with, what I call, these ‘rescue’ relationships. People jump into them to be rescued from their loneliness, social isolation, feelings of worthlessness or need for attention. Need creates desperation, which creates poor judgment, which leads to rescue situations. Unfortunately, when they do not turn out to be as promised, they are ended clumsily and hurtfully, most often, as I’ve alluded to, with silence and withdrawal, with no closure, as if they’d never happened, leaving the invested party mistrustful, even more severely withdrawn, and set back exponentially from the place they were at before jumping into the potential friendship.

But it is not so much the harmed party that concerns me here as the one who delivers the silence. What is it about people today that will allow them to dismiss others so easily, like brushing dust off their jeans, and particularly when there has been the pretense of friendship? Why is it that no one wants to engage in the closing of a relationship, to slip out of a friendship gracefully, with regret, and with dignity, rather than shutting it down like a computer? Have the courage gene, and the kindness and consideration genes been genetically modified in us by too much stress or too many hours on the internet? Has MySpace, text messaging, and the nature of our instantaneous relationship culture given us permission to dismiss one another as if we were disposable commodities? Has the delete button on our email programs replaced the social manners and mores we grew up valuing in simpler times? Have honest assessments, and explanations to one another become too difficult, time consuming or burdensome to bother with? Is it that we have become such a self-indulgent, and self-important, culture that the other person no longer matters to us anymore? As families have scattered across the country, as people increasingly work from home, as we become more divided by political and social identities, and in our isolation, are we taking each other for granted? Has the silent dismissal of relationships become a necessity to keeping ourselves afloat, our heads above water? Is it that we are just too busy, too burdened with our own concerns that we have given ourselves permission for the feelings of others to be disregarded, banished to the irrelevance file?

Or has silence simply become the new weapon of choice to be wielded skillfully by the weak of character,
and the weak of heart?
I hope life has not come to that.


I have posted new thoughts and observations on the MUSINGS page of this website.