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Neko

Monday, February 28, 2005

To help or not to help 


There are plenty of circumstances where you want to help someone, but you'll mess things up for them if you do (sitcoms are full of that sort of stuff-apparently it's funny when it happens to OTHER people); the problem is usually that you can't possibly know everything that's going on that could impact the one you want to help, or everything that COULD happen to them, often combined with an imperfect ability to analyze what you DO know, or the psychology of the people involved... and, while you're free to take risks with your own life, you're morally obligated to be MUCH more careful with other people's lives, especially if they haven't ASKED you to intervene.

The potential problems multiply enormously when the sort of help you're thinking of giving taps into the unknown, such as when you're considering praying for someone, casting a spell for them, or, as I'm planning on doing, using affirmations and focused imagery; this isn't just because doing so means dealing with energies you don't understand with methods that are crude at best, but also because one of the basic tenets of karma is that whatever you send out energywise will come back to you (some people would say threefold or even tenfold), so if what you try to do turns out badly, BOOM... it doesn't matter what your intentions were (we know what the Bible says about the connection between good intentions and the road to hell, right?), if you cause harm you'll pay for it one way or another.

Ok, so here's the situation; one of the people I love most in the world has written a brilliant screenplay, and everyone he describes it to names one particular actor for the leading role... and, given what we know about this actor, it's the exact sort of movie he'd want to do. Yeah, I know what you're thinking, but a producer has already taken an interest in the script, so there's an actual chance of it getting into the hands of this actor, or someone associated with him; naturally, it's far from being a certainty, and this is where *I* come into it... I'm going to undertake my biggest attempted manipulation of karma ever, to try to draw this actor to the script, and then into wanting to make the movie.

The visualization part will be easy, and relatively safe; I've taped a photo of the actor up by my computer to remind me to repeatedly picture him and my loved one talking about the script, interacting on the movie set... maybe even sitting together at the Oscars, why not think big. Where it could get tricky, and thus where I've had doubts about pitching in, is with the affirmations, since the way I learned to do them is to phrase them in terms of ME getting something, achieving something, whatever; I honestly don't know if I can "project" an affirmation, and, even if I can, how can I be sure that whatever one I use will have the desired results? What if I do it wrong and cause more harm than good? For example, if I ask karma to bring my loved one and the actor together, they could end up in adjoining beds in the emergency room after a multi-car pileup, so I need to be more specific... but, if I'm TOO specific, and try to eliminate every possible undesirable outcome, that can block off so many avenues to the desired result that karma can't make it happen, and, worse, while it's attempting to do so it might miss out on some OTHER avenue that WOULD have worked had I not tried to steer things. Just as importantly, affirmations really need to be simple to work well, because, if you're writing out a near-novel to describe what you want, that disperses the energy you're generating over a wide area, and that CAN'T be good.

With what I dearly hope is laudatory determination rather than hubris, I've chosen to give this my best shot; I've decided to do the affirmations, and just do them the standard way, as "I" statements, so that I don't risk projecting the wrong sort of energy into someone's life. Before I started writing this, my best idea was to have the affirmation be that I'd get a call from my loved one saying that he'd gotten the script to the actor... but then, I realized that I'd have to add that the actor loved it, and that he wanted to do the movie, AND that whatever studio picked it up would keep my loved one involved with the script... too long, too complicated. As I was writing the last paragraph, the perfect way to do it occurred to me:

I, Omni, will get a call from my loved one with totally wonderful news about his script.

This is very simple, gets across the idea of ALL aspects of this working the way we want them to, and leaves every possible path to the desired outcome open... even if, for instance, some OTHER big actor gets involved instead. I'll sleep on that, and, if it still looks good to me tomorrow, I'll do it... substituting the real names in, of course. Do I think this will make something happen? It's so big that I might not be able to, but I honestly think there's a good chance I WILL; my loved one is SO deserving of this success, both as a tribute to his brilliance and to his being one of the best and most generous human beings on this planet... if it's possible for this to work, I'm going to MAKE it work.

Stay tuned.


Sunday, February 27, 2005

Visual preferences 


We nearly all have a favorite color; did you ever wonder WHY you prefer the color you do, and in general why ANYONE prefers one color more than another? Most people prefer blue, if memory serves, followed by green, and that makes a certain evolutionary sense, given the importance of green plants and blue skies when you're a primitive human... but why do some people prefer purple or orange? Since we're not biologically programmed for coordinating outfits or interior decorating (as any straight men is proof of, lol), why do we have color preferences at all?

One visual preference that makes perfect sense is for landscapes that are mostly open with some trees, and with water visible; yes, they actually studied this, and even people who live in areas with radically different landscapes, and whose families had for centuries, preferred the kind I described... which is, noncoincidentally, the setup most beneficial for primitive humans, since we can't go for long without water, and need the open space to spot prey and predators, and trees to hide in and escape the elements under.

We're biologically programmed to like physical features that indicate youth, health, strength and fertility... but why do some of us prefer straight hair to curly, or brown eyes to blue? There are theories that we seek out people who look like our parent of the opposite sex, or our favorite sibling, or who look opposite to them... but none of those theories explain anywhere near all of our often VERY strongly-held preferences about looks.

Oddest of all, if you think about it, are the wide range of preferences we have for virtually EVERYTHING we see; stripes over plaid, small patterns over large, silver over gold, French provincial over traditional American, patterns over solids, dark wood over light, sports cars over luxury cars, modern architecture over classical styles, and on and on and on. We don't have any "wasted" areas of the brain, so there's GOT to be a reason that we're programmed to have visual preferences about just about everything, something that has survival and/or reproductive benefit... but I don't even have a clue as to what that reason might be.


Saturday, February 26, 2005

Hope for supertasters 


According to an article called "The Biology of . . . Bitterness" in the March 2005 issue of Discover magazine, there's new research going on that might lead to a whole new world for supertasters, people who, like me, "have an unusually high number of taste buds. Supertasters tend to shun all kinds of bitter-tasting things, including vegetables, coffee, and dark chocolate"... in other words, many, and sometimes MOST, foods taste bad to us.

An exciting result of the new research into taste is that they've found "adenosine monophosphate, or AMP, a compound that blocks the bitterness in foods without making them less nutritious." Scientists first figured out how taste works (yes, this was news to them, believe it or not), and then:

"Once they figured out the taste mechanism, scientists began to think of ways to interfere with it. They tried AMP, an organic compound found in breast milk and other substances, that is created as cells break down food. AMP has no bitterness of its own, but when put in foods, Margolskee and his colleagues discovered, it attaches to bitter-taste receptors. As effective as it is, AMP may not be able to dampen every type of bitter taste, because it probably doesn't attach to all 30 bitter-taste receptors. So Linguagen has scaled up the hunt for other bitter blockers with a technology called high-throughput screening. Researchers start by coaxing cells in culture to activate bitter-taste receptors. Then candidate substances, culled from chemical compound libraries, are dropped onto the receptors, and scientists look for evidence of a reaction.

In time, some taste researchers believe, compounds like AMP will help make processed foods less unhealthy. Consider, for example, that a single cup of Campbell's chicken noodle soup contains 850 milligrams of sodium chloride, or table salt-more than a third of the recommended daily allowance. The salt masks the bitterness created by the high temperatures used in the canning process, which cause sugars and amino acids to react. Part of the salt could be replaced by another salt, potassium chloride, which tends to be scarce in some people's diets. Potassium chloride has a bitter aftertaste, but that could be eliminated with a dose of AMP. Bitter blockers could also be used in place of cherry or grape flavoring to take the harshness out of children's cough syrup, and they could dampen the bitterness of antihistamines, antibiotics, certain HIV drugs, and other medications."

Speaking as a supertaster, who can't eat most foods, can't eat in most restaurants, and has to worry about every party and get-together with friends because there usually won't be anything I can eat, the very thought that they could come up with something that would make normal foods taste, well, NORMAL rather than awful, is... is... there just aren't any words for the degree of improvement this would make in my life.

Beyond the improvement for supertasters, and the other benefits the article mentions, is one far bigger than all the others; most healthy, low-calorie foods taste at least somewhat bad to EVERYONE, which is why we as a culture don't eat them, or only eat them with so much sauce, cheese or dressing that they're no longer healthy or lo-cal... but, imagine if suddenly things like broccoli and spinach tasted GOOD!! Imagine how much easier it would be for us to diet, to keep a healthy weight, to get enough of the full range of nutrients, fiber, and health-enhancing chemicals, and to keep our fat and salt consumption at proper levels, if a "good diet" didn't taste BAD, making us crave ice cream and cake and other diet-busters. The horrible American diet is responsible for endless health problems, and nothing they've tried so far has changed that... but this might be, at long last, the magic bullet we so desperately need.


Friday, February 25, 2005

Do "cultural rituals" make things happen? 


You've seen it a million times; an educational program showing so-called "primitive" peoples, and often other non-white peoples, performing rituals that those of their culture believe will bring rain, or good crops, or some other major benefit. Now be honest; has it even ONCE occurred to you that maybe they ARE making something happen? I don't mean the psychological benefits of feeling like they've taken control over the scary forces of nature, and of enhanced community spirit, I mean has it ever occurred to you that they're actually altering reality by their actions?

Sadly, we're taught an arrogant and condescending attitude towards those who have spiritual beliefs and practices too far removed from the sitting in a house of worship, being preached to, and reading of holy books that WE engage in; we act as if anything done in tribal or "exotic" cultures MUST be foolish, ignorant and wrong, as if all of those people are morons with no ability to see what's going on around them, no ability to link cause and effect, or notice the lack thereof... as if the entire focus of their very spiritual lives is totally off base. I maintain that it's just not POSSIBLE for all of these cultures that all developed similar methods of trying to affect change are just coincidentally crazy or stupid in the same way; if they've been doing a certain thing for hundreds of years, there MUST be something to it... or else why would they have stuck with it?

I was watching the National Geographic channel today (had you guessed?), and one of the programs was showing the violent ways that some cultures use to persuade ancestral spirits or deities of various kinds to give them good crops, healthy livestock, and so forth, and it came to me; here are large groups of people, involved in rituals that make them think about the desired outcome over and over again, with intense focus and emotion, with spiritual fervor, with total belief that greater powers will respond with what they're asking for, all magnified by risk, pain, blood, and the shared frenzy... and, given what I know about the power of these things even in individual people, how could they NOT be accomplishing SOMETHING with all the power they're putting out? When members of these cultural groups are interviewed, they always say that their rituals generally bring about the desired results, such that it objectively looks like they ARE making things happen pretty consistently, but we immediately discount their claims as endless coincidence, or distortions of the truth, or wishful thinking... but by what authority, and with what PROOF, do we do so? Just because their skins are brown and not white, they wear traditional clothing rather than suits and ties, and they don't have MP3 players and SUV's, does that give us the right to treat their descriptions of their spiritual experiences, and the real-world results thereof, as if they were children prattling about their imaginary friends? Why do we refuse to accept that they're telling the simple truth, and thus that maybe the things they do WORK, if not all the time, at least as often as, say, the medical science we believe so strongly in works; having power/ability doesn't mean always having ENOUGH power/ability to achieve every goal, and, in the same way that we don't discount medical science because they can't cure everyone every time, we shouldn't discount the possible effectiveness of cultural rituals because THEY don't work 100% of the time... what we SHOULD be doing is studying and learning from these things, instead of turning up our noses and dismissing them.

What are we afraid of?


Thursday, February 24, 2005

When is it lying? 


Most people's first answer to that question is; when you say something that isn't true, of course. But wait... that would mean that writing a story or even telling a joke was lying, and in fact some of the more strenuous religious denominations believe that that sort of thing IS lying. Technically, they DO have a case, but we as a culture make an exception for things like joke- and story-telling, because no one thinks that they're being told "the truth" when they hear a joke or story, nor does the teller expect them to, and thus there's no attempt to actually deceive involved.

Another exception is the so-called "white lie"; when we tell a woman that her ugly baby is beautiful, or tell someone who's too boring for us to date that we're seeing someone even though we're not, this IS, once again, technically a lie, but because telling the truth in these cases would be cruel and hurt people's feelings, we see telling a lie as the lesser evil, and therefore not REALLY lying because it's meant to do good rather than to deceive per se... and there's that gray area provided by the goal not being to deceive again.

So, we could say that if we tell an untruth with the goal of deceiving someone, THAT is a lie... but, what about OTHER ways we try to deceive, often done specifically to avoid technically lying? Are not those things just as bad, morally speaking, since intention is so important? More to the point, do they count as lying, since the result is to make someone believe other than the truth? Some people take a hard line and say that if an actual untruth wasn't told, it's NOT a lie; you need to be VERY afraid of most of these people, because they're just the ones who'll try to deceive you, and/or aren't capable of seeing all sides of a topic... I don't know which is worse, frankly.

I saw a classic example of a maybe-lie in a commercial, noncoincidentally right before I started this post; the husband tells the wife that he "didn't have one piece of cake" that evening... and then we see a "flashback" of him eating TWO pieces of cake. The deception here is that what someone would normally mean by what he said is that they "didn't EVEN have" one piece, which means they had NONE, but by changing the phrase a little, he allows his wife to still get that idea without actually saying it, and thus without lying... or WAS that a lie, since he deliberately gave her the wrong idea with the intent to deceive her?

What about partial truths? For example; your sister is supposed to be dieting, and, when you ask her what she ate for dinner, she tells you she had salad and a chicken breast... and doesn't mention the rest of the chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy, rolls, butter, and half a pie with ice cream. This one is sort of an indirect lie, since it gives the impression that the facts that have been given are ALL the facts when of course they're not; would you count it as lying, though?

Some folks who are skillful enough deceivers can tell the actual truth, but in such a way that you believe it to be an UNtruth, and are therefore deceived; for example, if a woman asks her man if he was ogling the woman who just jiggled by, he'd roll his eyes and say in a sarcastic and contemptuous tone, "Oh yeah, *I* ogled THAT woman," which is of course the truth, but makes it sound like the woman was beneath his notice, and so of course he did NOT ogle... is THAT a lie?

Then, there's the slipperiest one of all, the "lie of omission"; you do something that you know perfectly well that you SHOULD tell your parents, spouse, etc about, but when asked general questions about your activities, you talk around the potentially upsetting one, and tell yourself you haven't actually lied, even though you've deceived someone deliberately, because you didn't say ANYTHING on the subject. Because most people have at least a FEW secrets, there's a strong bias towards NOT labeling this one as a lie.

MY take on all of this is from a form vs substance angle; the substance is whether or not a person attempted to deceive, and I don't much care what form it takes... if the end result is that a person believes that something other than the truth IS the truth due to someone's desire to deceive them, then a lie has been told. *I* don't lie, and I have no patience whatsoever with being lied TO; if a person just shrugs at the lies of others, or makes excuses for them, it's all too easy for them to justify doing it themselves, so I HAVE to take a hard line here to preserve my own honesty... and, because it gives me the added benefit of sorting out the honest from the dishonest when I proclaim my position and see who agrees and who argues.

I took a break and asked my husband about the 4 cases of "lies without explicit untruths being told," and his analysis was that all 4 counted as lies; what a relief!! :-)


Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Beware the power of your thoughts 


I've written many times about how thinking about something, especially repeatedly and/or with emotion, can draw it into your life, and also about how by the process of affirmations (1st described in my post of 1-12-04) you can create certain events that are beyond your direct ability to influence; there's a subtle but powerful point about all of this, though, that I hadn't considered until I read a post on my buddy Andy's insightful blog

http://goddessofmanynames.blogspot.com/2005/02/magick.html

the crucial insight in which was:

"I have read that the first rule of magick is invoke often and that alone is a powerful mantra. The more you invite something into your life, the more it will manifest itself. Invite love into your life and watch as family and friends fill your life with love. Invite fear into your life and experience how fear will begin to color everything you do.
Banish often is the other big one. Many practicioners don't understand this. If they want to banish, say junk food, and they chant and pray that junk food leave their lives, they are not banishing junk food, they are invoking it. The more they mention and focus on junk food, the more power they give it. Instead, invoke healthy food and remove from your life the things that bring contact with and thoughts of junk food. The less you think about it the less it will bother you. It really is that simple."

I don't know much about magick, but the idea of being able to alter reality with chants and prayers and such is conceptually the same as what can be done via affirmations, visualization and other manipulations of karma; it's different words and procedures for the same actions... actions that we do somewhat blindly, because we're dealing with forces we can't perceive directly, and that blindness means that we should REALLY think through how we try to affect change. Now that I've read about it, I must agree completely that focusing on something, even if your intention is to "banish" it, CAN draw it to you instead if, for example, your emotional focus is on the undesirable thing and not the action(s) you want taken (as emotions supercharge your efforts), or if, as Andy says, including the undesirable thing in your thoughts makes you obsess about it. Although I think it IS possible to, for example, get someone out of your life by focusing on them via affirmations, etc (as I've done that), I think that process is FAR more fraught with peril than I'd ever considered, because it WOULD be all too easy to slip up and have it backfire; therefore, one of my rules for this sort of thing from now on will be to try and find a way to "ask for change" that does NOT focus on what I want gone, but on what I want to come to me, as in the "think about healthy foods coming in, not about junk food going out" example.

In a different post

http://goddessofmanynames.blogspot.com/2005/02/warmth.html

Andy said:

"I'm pretty sure that you have to find a point of willingness to try to do things in such a way that you are not harming others before Divinity enters your life. It's kind of like having a trial version of software on your computer; plug in the password (in this case willingness) and boom, there is the Divine. "

That sure sounds conceptually similar to what I've posted recently about sending out the right sort of energy (created by doing good things for others) and getting the use of power beyond what humans can normally access in return, doesn't it?

Clearly, I'm going to have to delve into Wicca MUCH more deeply; I'm not willing to believe in a Goddess any more than I am to believe in God without proof (nor do I DISbelieve without proof, of course), but the Wiccans seem to have some understanding of how the engine of karma works, and probably have a few things figured out that I haven't gotten to yet... and I'm eager to check out a few more parts of "the elephant."


Tuesday, February 22, 2005

"Presidents' Day" 


(Why the quotes? Technically, "Presidents' Day" is actually "Washington's Birthday," and thus is NOT officially a celebration of Lincoln's and Washington's birthdays, but ONLY of Washington's:

http://www.infoplease.com/spot/washington1.html

As much as I've always idolized Lincoln, we're all taught a great deal about him and what he did, but almost nothing about what made Washington great, so today's post is dedicated to Washington only.)

Does anyone think anything about this day except happiness to have a 3-day weekend if you've got it off, and dismay if you don't? Probably not, but we SHOULD, so let's take a moment to remember the great man that this day commemorates:

Washington was a stunningly successful general, especially given the horrendous odds he'd been up against, and played a pivotal role in getting the Constitution adopted, so it's no surprise that he was wildly popular, or that everyone wanted him to run our new nation; what might surprise you, though, is that there were those who wanted him to be KING, and had he gone along with the idea he could more than likely have sailed into the position unopposed... and we'd have a monarchy instead of a gov't based on the people. Luckily for us, Washington was every bit as great of a man as we were brought up to believe, and so:

"At the conclusion of the Revolution, George Washington occupied a position of unchallenged authority in the 13 former Colonies, and there was strong sentiment in the Continental Army for crowning him king. Washington was appalled by the idea and angrily rejected it when it was broached to him by Col. Lewis Nicola, a Frenchman who had served under Washington and is reported to have had a great deal of influence with the officers in the Continental Army.

"Let me conjure you then," Washington admonished Nicola, "if you have any regard for your country, concern for yourself or for posterity, or respect for me, to banish these thoughts from your mind and never communicate, as from yourself or any one else, a sentiment of like nature."

http://gwpapers.virginia.edu/project/news/washington/roberts.html

Be honest with yourself; if YOU were offered a kingship/queenship, wouldn't YOU probably take it, especially if you'd put in the years of service and sacrifice that Washington did for America?

Washington is one of the main reasons we won our independence; our Declaration was bold and brilliant, but without Washington running the army it would have been meaningless. He came out of retirement to preside over the Constitutional Convention. He served 2 terms as president although he REALLY didn't want to serve that 2nd term; he died a mere 3 years later, which hardly seems fair considering all the work he'd put into this nation. If you still don't see why he deserves to be held in such high esteem, consider this:

"Literally the "Father of the Nation," Washington almost single-handedly created a new government -- shaping its institutions, offices, and political practices.

Historians agree that no one other than George Washington could have held the disparate colonies and, later, the struggling young Republic together. To the Revolution's last day, Washington's troops were ragged, starving, and their pay was months in arrears. In guiding this force during year after year of humiliating defeat to final victory, more than once paying his men out of his own pocket to keep them from going home, Washington earned the unlimited confidence of those early citizens of the United States. Perhaps most importantly, Washington's balanced and devoted service as President persuaded the American people that their prosperity and best hope for the future lay in a union under a strong but cautious central authority. His refusal to accept a proffered crown and his willingness to relinquish the office after two terms established the precedents for limits on the power of the presidency. Washington's profound achievements built the foundations of a powerful national government that has survived for more than two centuries."

http://www.americanpresident.org/history/GeorgeWashington/

Keep in mind, when all this was going on, there had NEVER been a free nation before in the history of the world, and there had NEVER been a colony that had thrown off the rule of the motherland and become a country in its own right; all of what our Founding Fathers did had to be envisioned in a vacuum and created on the fly without precedent or a safety net. If we're great today, it's because THEY were great, GIANTS among men, and Washington was first among them, a leader of extraordinary ability who, by making America in its current form possible, is one of the most influential human beings to ever walk the Earth; I hope you enjoyed the long weekend if you had it, but let's all take a moment to remember WHY we had it.


Monday, February 21, 2005

Point of view part 3 


Tonight, I saw the movie "Frailty"; there's a serial killer on the loose, and a guy (Fenton) shows up at an FBI office claiming that his brother (Adam) is doing the killings... and that he's sure he can take the agent he's speaking to to where the missing bodies are hidden. As they drive to the young man's childhood home, he tells about how one day his father went crazy, informing his boys that an angel had told him that he had a mission; to find and kill "demons"... which is quickly shown to mean that he'd abduct people, take them home, and butcher them with an ax, burying the bodies in the rose garden. He claimed that when he touched the "demons" with his bare hand, he could "see" their sins; the younger son (Adam) says that he sees it too, but the older one (Fenton) of course sees nothing, and eventually decides he has to tell someone what's going on... and this leads to the predictable death of the police officer who goes out to the boy's house at his insistence to see the bodies. Fenton is punished for telling, and forcing the killing of a "non-demon," by being locked in the dark in the "killing cellar" until such time as God spoke to him... and he's in there with no food, and water only once a day, for over a WEEK before he goes crazy enough to hallucinate seeing God, at which point he's released, to be taken to "kill a demon" as soon as he's recovered. The kid is clever, though, and when the moment comes to chop off the "demon's" head, he kills his father instead, and buries him out in the rose garden with his victims; the boys report the father as missing, and, as they have no mother, the state takes custody of them.

By this point, the FBI agent and Fenton have reached the rose garden... where Fenton reveals that he is in fact ADAM, and that, while it is indeed Fenton who has done the recent high-profile killings, HE has ALSO been killing... "killing demons." Adam tells the agent that he has killed his brother, who never saw the visions that he and his father did because HE was a demon, and that he's going to kill the agent as well, because the agent killed his own mother... which the agent, stunned, admits IS TRUE. How had Adam known about this? God told him. How did Adam think he was going to get away with killing the agent, when other people at the FBI office had seen him? God was going to protect him. He does the deed, and plants the agent's blood-smeared ID at his brother's house.

When the agent turns up missing, those who met the man he'd gone off with were asked to describe him... and they CAN'T. They bring in the tapes from the security cameras... and they're all blurred over Adam's face. Using the only solid clue they have, the name he'd given, they go to Fenton's house and find a cellar full of bodies, and the aforementioned FBI ID; case closed. One of the agents goes to the sheriff's office, and... the sheriff is ADAM. They shake hands, and, although this man met Adam the day before, he doesn't recognize him.

This movie ended up being MUCH better than I expected; I was totally sucked in about Adam being Fenton, and that the father, and later on Adam, were psychos, right up until it was revealed otherwise.

So, was Adam a noble sheriff, a psychopathic killer, or an instrument of God's vengeance? It all depends on your point of view, on how much you know of the truth; within the framework of the story, NO ONE knows the truth but Adam, as those he kills die as soon as they learn that he "magically" knows what evil they've done. Literally anyone else learning of what he's been up to would think him a raving lunatic, and undeniably a serial killer as well... but they'd be WRONG. Only someone who knew ALL the facts would see the truth, a truth wildly different than they'd believe could even be possible UNTIL they knew everything... and the fact that this movie has come so hard on the heels of my realization of that very concept in relation to the spiritual realm (thanks to the poem about the blind men and the elephant), and the related concept of the incompleteness and subjectivity of our point of view (thanks to that poem and my revelation about the rat and the squirrel), tells me that karma is trying VERY hard to get that lesson into my head; that what you THINK the truth is is very much dependent on your point of view, that your point of view depends on what you perceive, and that what you perceive is often a tiny % of what exists and is therefore NOT "The Truth"... because "The Truth" encompasses ALL things.

I'm clearly in the spiritual enforced-learning zone right now; it's a little scary... but thrilling.


Sunday, February 20, 2005

What do you expect? 


Even the most logical people tend to have a significant lapse common sense in dealing with relationships; they expect folks to act in ways contrary to their basic nature... and also to CHANGE their basic nature, which is even more ridiculous, and a whole 'nother topic. Yes, a person can CHOOSE to act any way they want, but, no matter what you do or say, they'll nearly always choose to act in whatever way's natural for them... and if you expected otherwise, you have no one but yourself to blame if you feel disappointed when things don't turn out the way you wanted. I'm not saying that you don't have the right to be upset if, say, your partner drives around with your grandmother's oversized birthday card in his car for a week after he was supposed to have taken it to the post office for special handling (yes, my husband did that one), since adults, and kids over a certain age, MUST be able to handle certain basic things in a proper manner... I'm just saying that you should EXPECT people to "misbehave" in whatever areas their personality predisposes them to, and not be shocked or hurt when they do exactly what you should have expected them to do.

Where this can be hard to accept is in areas where a person will act contrary to their own best interests; it just goes to show you how POWERFUL our basic natures are, that we'll suffer again and again and never change, even if we want to. Granted, a few of us DO manage to change, but that just fools us into thinking everyone can, and will, and it just ain't so; based on observation, I'd say most people either don't want to change or are incapable of doing so even when their LIVES are at stake... the folks who just can't manage to force themselves to exercise even when their doctors tell them to do it to hold back the ravages of diabetes or heart disease are prime examples.

Here's a little story that I read a while back that I use to illustrate to friends who refuse to see why someone won't "just stop" doing something what's going on:

The Frog and the Scorpion

Once upon a time when the world was young, a frog was sitting on the bank of a river. A scorpion came out from under a rock and asked the frog to carry him across the river. "No way!" said the frog, "If I let you on my back, you'll sting me, and I'll die!" "No, no," promised the scorpion, "I won't sting you, because you're doing me a favor, and I'll be grateful; in fact, I'll be your friend and protector from now on." The frog liked the sound of that, so he let the scorpion get on his back, and started swimming across the river. When they reached the middle, the frog felt a bolt of agony in his back, and cried, "You stung me!! We're BOTH going to die now... why did you do it?!!" As the water swallowed them up, the scorpion replied, "What did you expect-it's my nature."


Saturday, February 19, 2005

Why does boredom exist? 


I can see being bored if you're stuck in a situation where you have to pay attention to something monotonous, such as a math lecture or a business meeting, but how is it POSSIBLE to be bored when you can do what you want? When did we lose the ability to entertain ourselves, even when we have homes full of gadgets to "help" us?

Why was "help" in quotes? Because I think that things that encourage us to be passively entertained, such as TV and stereo, and that provide endless entertainment choices with no effort, like the computer, the videogame system, or, again, the TV, have robbed us of our ability to have fun the way our parents, grandparents, etc used to do effortlessly.

It wasn't that long ago that people used to gather at friends' homes every evening to play cards and shoot the breeze, or sit on the porch with drinks and snacks and shoot the breeze; if folks weren't getting together with others, they were building or otherwise creating something (my mother used to do embroidery, for example) or reading... boredom wasn't on the menu. Nowadays, in addition to all the traditional pastimes, we have hundreds of TV channels, thousands of DVD's available for rent and purchase, new music and movies of every kind coming out all the time, magazines dedicated to every possible interest, bookstores the size of warehouses, more videogames than we could ever learn to play, and so much stuff available online that it would take pages to describe it all... and people are BORED. Have we lost our MINDS, or has the sheer volume of fun things to do simply overwhelmed us and prevented us from really enjoying any of it for long?

When someone tells me they're bored, I ask them, "Did your TV, stereo and computer all break down today?" *I* have dozens of albums I love that I haven't listened to in YEARS because I have no time to just sit and listen, I'm so far behind in my reading that I'll never catch up, I never get to see even the most intriguing movies until they get to HBO, where I can watch them while doing 5 other things, and my bookmarks are bursting with interesting websites that I'll never get to browse even if I stop needing to sleep; I wish there were enough hours in the day for me to do everything I'd like to do, and to run out of things to do every once in a while so that I'd have a chance to BE bored... but then again, I wouldn't be, because there's always new stuff to do, and, even if there weren't, there are all sorts of interesting lines of thought that I can spend DAYS at a time thinking about... I'm just not CAPABLE of being bored no matter how much free time I have.

It kills me that people who should be thrilled with the choices they have for THEIR free time have lost interest in all of it and are wasting their lives being bored; I wish I knew the way back to having fun, but you can't MAKE someone have fun, or train or program them to have fun... things either feel fun or they don't. I'm guessing that if you were to spend a year in a cave with nothing to do, EVERYTHING would seem fun after that; are any of the bored people out there willing to do without stimuli long enough to get their joy back?

Robert Heinlein used to say that it was amazing how many people wish for immortality who can't fill a rainy Sunday afternoon... and he said it before DVD's, the internet, videogames, and even cable TV existed, before we as a nation became so hooked on nonstop, right-now, effortless, and often passive entertainment that we don't know what to do with ourselves anymore to make our free time pleasant. The REALLY scary thing about this is; what happens when we RETIRE, and no longer have work to take up the majority of our time?


Friday, February 18, 2005

Are you SCARED? 


Think how many times people have been manipulated into doing things by someone asking if, or suggesting that, they were scared... as if being scared of something, generally something anyone with a brain WOULD be scared of (or at least anxious about, but "anxious" isn't a powerful enough word to manipulate with), was a horrible thing. Actually, the sorry truth is that the same people who don't judge against those who engage in bad behavior DO judge against those who hold back from doing stupid (and sometimes dangerous) things even after being goaded about it, which might in theory be horrible if you care about their opinions... but I digress.

It's astonishing how quickly even otherwise intelligent people will leap into action if someone asks if they're scared... even if the action in question isn't one where fear could actually be involved, like reading an article by someone with different political views. I'm proud to say that, even as a kid, this one NEVER worked on ME: If the action being referred to was dangerous, I'd say, "That's dangerous, and only a stupid person would do it... and I'm NOT stupid." When I got a little older, I'd add, "But, if YOU'RE stupid, then YOU go ahead and do it." If there was no danger, and thus no possible fear, I'd say, "There's nothing here to be scared OF, and I'm not going to do it just because you SAID I was 'scared.'" If someone kept after me, I'd keep saying "no"; it's always amazed me how quickly OTHER people cave in under repeated sniping, because nothing bad happens to you if you DON'T give in.

Adults often have a backup line to use on those who don't fall for the first one, such as "why don't you just do it?"; my reply to that is "Because I've decided not to." Occasionally, I'll hear the more subtly manipulative, "Can't you just do it because I asked you to?"; my reply is, "Sure... just as soon as YOU agree to do what *I* ask YOU to do"... no one's ever taken me up on that one, lol.

Another angle is, "You SHOULD do it"; my reply, given with a laugh in their face if they're being really pushy, is, "Who are YOU to tell anyone what they 'should' do? What are your qualifications to tell other people how to live their lives?" I'm still waiting to see if anyone's got a comeback for THAT one.

Then, there's the old grade school standby; "Everyone else did it/does it/is going to do it." My response is always, "I don't do things just because other people do them; I think things through and decide what's right for me."

There's an easy, rock-solid rebuttal to EVERY attempted manipulation of this type; I don't know why more folks don't use them, but I strongly recommend it... why let people get away with asserting that sort of control over others?

I guess the big question is; WHY are some people so eager to force others into doing whatever random stupid thing has come into their minds? I've never for one second had the urge to try to use any of these sorts of ploys to make anyone do something, so I'm at a loss; what's the payoff? Are some people just so pitiful that they get a thrill if they can, GASP, get someone to do some trivial thing by uttering the right phrase?


Thursday, February 17, 2005

Point of view part 2 


Today, I saw something awful on my patio; a RAT. When I saw the little scurrying body, my first thought was that it was the squirrel, and I was HORRIFIED to see that it was a rat instead... especially since my husband had gone off leaving the back door standing open AGAIN today, only a few yards from where the rat was seen (GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR). My reaction to seeing a rat rather than my little angel boy got me thinking:

Before we started being visited by our much-loved ground squirrel (which I wrote about in my post of 1-24-05), my husband used to refer to squirrels as "rats with fluffy tails" and "rats with better publicity"; as outraged as I always was by that sort of thing, he has a little bit of a point... looked at objectively, one small rodent IS very much like another. Why do people in general loathe rats and think squirrels are cute? Point of view.

To a hawk, for example, a rat and a squirrel are pretty much identical; furry little meals. In our most primitive days, we looked at them the same way; if we could kill it, we'd eat it, and we didn't analyze it or think in terms of some critters being "dirty" and some being "cute." Where the difference arose is when we started having stores of food; rats would come into a cave, or a hut, to steal food, and a squirrel wouldn't. Rats would also chew up all our stuff, and squirrels wouldn't. As we got more advanced, the press for rats got worse and worse: Rats would infest our homes, so we started seeing them as vermin. Rats would eat our garbage, and that made us see them as "dirty." When their close association with us, and their unfortunate tendency to harbor fleas which carried diseases deadly to humans, combined to wipe out countless thousands of people in various plagues, we came to see them as utterly despicable... all while the worse a squirrel ever did was steal seeds from birdfeeders. The rats didn't change, our point of view changed... and therein lies a powerful message.

The way we view spiritual matters is greatly affected by factors that have as little to do with the truth as the sort of fleas rats get has to do with what a rat is like. One of the biggest problems this causes is in the division most religions make between their beliefs and those of so-called "primitive" peoples; things like animism, "faith healing," and divination have been spurned as "pagan," forcing those of us who want to see as much of the truth as possible to have to learn "remedial spirituality" to catch up to where we WOULD have been had we not, in our arrogance, decided that cultures with less technological advancement had to be wrong about everything.

Getting past the roadblocks caused by my point of view is STILL a struggle for me in some areas; I look at things like astrology and numerology, for example, and my immediate reaction is "what a bunch of nonsense"... but I used to think that about animism, too, until I read what Brian Goodwin had to say on the subject (see my post of 3-16-04), and I'd probably think that about spirits and psychic abilities if I hadn't experienced them for myself, so I KNOW I need to try to give these sorts of things a fair shake. ANYTHING that a substantial # of people believe about how the universe works needs to get a fair, objective chance to show its stuff; the truth, after all, is likely to be more unbelievable than any of us imagine.


Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Point of view 


American poet John Godfrey Saxe (1816-1887) based the following poem on a fable which was told in India many years ago:

The Blind Men and the Elephant

by John Godfrey Saxe

It was six men of Indostan
To learning much inclined,
Who went to see the Elephant
(Though all of them were blind),
That each by observation
Might satisfy his mind

The First approached the Elephant,
And happening to fall
Against his broad and sturdy side,
At once began to bawl:
"God bless me! but the Elephant
Is very like a wall!"

The Second, feeling of the tusk,
Cried, "Ho! what have we here
So very round and smooth and sharp?
To me 'tis mighty clear
This wonder of an Elephant
Is very like a spear!"

The Third approached the animal,
And happening to take
The squirming trunk within his hands,
Thus boldly up and spake:
"I see," quoth he, "the Elephant
Is very like a snake!"

The Fourth reached out an eager hand,
And felt about the knee.
"What most this wondrous beast is like
Is mighty plain," quoth he;
" 'Tis clear enough the Elephant
Is very like a tree!"

The Fifth, who chanced to touch the ear,
Said: "E'en the blindest man
Can tell what this resembles most;
Deny the fact who can
This marvel of an Elephant
Is very like a fan!"

The Sixth no sooner had begun
About the beast to grope,
Than, seizing on the swinging tail
That fell within his scope,
"I see," quoth he, "the Elephant
Is very like a rope!"

And so these men of Indostan
Disputed loud and long,
Each in his own opinion
Exceeding stiff and strong,
Though each was partly in the right,
And all were in the wrong!

Moral:

So oft in theologic wars,
The disputants, I ween,
Rail on in utter ignorance
Of what each other mean,
And prate about an Elephant
Not one of them has seen!

http://www.wordfocus.com/word-act-blindmen.html

This poem has been in my mind all day today, and it makes a powerful point; the forces of the unknown aren't visible to us directly, making us the equivalent of blind people trying to grope around and make sense out of what little we can perceive. The thought has belatedly come to me that there are very likely many aspects of karma that I'm utterly unaware of, because I've seen no evidence of them; perhaps, as in the poem, MOST of the aspects of karma have escaped my notice so far. It's an awe-inspiring thought.

Which PART of the "spiritual elephant" we "see" is as important of an issue as how much of it we perceive; it's all a matter of point of view, like in the poem. The thing about point of view, though, is that, although it's always limited, it can be CHANGED, so that we can see more to add to what we saw before... and then, it can be changed again, so we can see still more. At least in theory. This is why I've tried so hard to see the validity of the beliefs of all religions, but I need to do more than look at the "visible" part of spirituality in order to see the truth; I need to find totally new angles from which to observe karma, although I'm not sure yet how to do that.

If you're sure that what YOU see in the spiritual realm is all there is, consider the rainbow; you've seen rainbows all your life... but do you know what the back side of one looks like? The answer is; a rainbow doesn't HAVE a back side. Don't believe me? Try this: Have someone point a garden hose up at an angle, turn the water on, and make a "spray" out of it; then, you stand with the sun behind you and shift position until you see a rainbow. Once you've got it, keep your eyes on it and start circling around it; once you get past the point of seeing it nearly edge-on, it will "vanish," because the sun HAS to be behind you for the physics involved to produce the rainbow This is shocking to witness, because it seems impossible for something to not have a back side to it, but it teaches a valuable lesson. It also points to an equally valuable question; what shocks might be in store if I can manage to get around to the "back side" of KARMA?


Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Valentine's Day 


Most women look forward to Valentine's Day; most men hate it. Men in general dislike occasions where they're expected to come across with appropriate cards and gifts; they see high expectations in the women, and thus a high probability of failure... despite the fact that it's not remotely difficult to buy a card or gift, especially for someone you presumably love and know well. Valentine's Day is by far the easiest occasion to buy stuff for, as we all know what constitutes a romantic gift, and we'd be hard-put to ever forget with every ad showing us and every store bursting with special displays; despite that, men seem to dislike it more than every other gift-giving occasion put together... I think it might be the idea of being "forced" to be romantic, as opposed to doing it when they feel like it (which in many cases is never, granted).

Today, my husband did ok with the card; it was moderately gross, but in a funny way, and that's about par for the course for us. To beat the V-Day rush, he got me a Godivas and a giant balloon early; the flowers will be a day late because they inflate the prices on the 14th, and it's hard to find flowers I like because of all the roses (which I do NOT like). He did well with the gift, too, although that's mainly because he was prompted in advance; he didn't buy it until today, delaying my dinner an hour in fact, but at least I got both it and the card today... he's usually at least a week late with one or the other.

He doesn't mind buying stuff for me, although his timing is always off (as with everything else he does); where he always flops is with spending "couple time"... lots of guys balk at this, but he goes above and beyond. Most women complain that the man just planted himself on the couch with the remote and considered it couple time because the woman was in the room; MY husband, who has plenty to say on a variety of topics when I'm on the phone, on the way to use the restroom, deeply concentrating on writing something, or trying to watch a movie, will have NOTHING to say when we're supposed to officially be spending time together. Today, as soon as he finished his dinner he ran to take a nap; he asked me to get him up at midnight, but it took 3 tries and over an HOUR to get him actually vertical. Then, after a brief sojourn in the bathroom, he sped by me (I was in the family room) to do the dishes; once he'd used up as much time as he could in the kitchen, he disappeared... and, when I finally went looking for him (calling to him is useless, as he has headphones on and punk music blasting), he was messing around on the computer. I prompted him about the promised couple time, and, a few minutes later, he joined me in the family room; he laid down on the floor about 10 feet away from me and closed his eyes... and just laid there, not saying a word. Needless to say, when someone has that sort of rude and disrespectful attitude, I don't play into it by trying to drag pleasant conversation out of them, nor did I buy into his claims of having nothing to say, or allow him to give a speech on the subject; going on and on about why he supposedly can't think of a single thing to say does NOT count as couple time. I let him lay there and waste an hour and a half, at which point he went slinking off, complaining that *I* should have done the talking, in other words that I should have tried to force a conversation out of him, so that he could lay there in silence, speaking only when badgered to respond, and could then complain that I bombarded him with a monologue... which, not being new at this, I did NOT oblige him by doing.

Within a week, he'll be complaining that we're not spending any time together... sigh.

We've got another one of our many anniversaries coming up, and I've announced a new plan to make that day better; between now and then, every time he interrupts me to talk about something, my reply will be "write it down," and then when the next attempt at couple time commences, he'll have a LIST of things to say, and no excuses left. He of course protested the idea, but, when asked which was more important, his being able to talk the moment he thought of something or doing more during couple time than laying silently on the floor, thanks to his behavior he had no choice but to make having topics to talk about for couple time the top priority.

Marriage is NOT easy, and is frequently not fun either; to make one work... well, it helps to have a less problematic partner than I do, but in general you have to use your head, keep track of their behavior patterns, and figure out how to make things work better. If you're unwilling or unable to do that... you won't have to worry much about things like Valentine's Day and couple time.


Monday, February 14, 2005

An astounding example of "pure karma" 


I have a dear friend who's one of the best people I've ever known; it would literally take HOURS to describe all the people she's helped, all the charities she's worked for, all the time, effort and financial sacrifice she's undergone to assist anyone who needs it... she's even saved several people's lives. She's had terrible health problems for about a decade that started when she was living in the home of a despicable woman who repaid my friend for the endless favors she'd done for her (including countless hours of free childcare) by betraying her in a uniquely grim way; her aggressive young son pushed my friend down in the kitchen, breaking her elbow in 2 places... and the mother LIED and told all their mutual friends that my friend was making it up, was telling awful stories about an innocent little boy, despite the fact that the child freely, PROUDLY, admitted to having done it. It's no surprise that my friend's immune system evaporated under all that stress and upset (as is all too often the case, many friends who should have known better immediately turned against her, grrrrrrrr), and then she was mis-diagnosed by the doctors, went without treatment for the worst of her illnesses until an article *I* read in a magazine showed us what she had, got poisoned by some herbal remedies an alternative physician gave her, got nerve damage from acupuncture... writing this down, I can barely believe that all of this happened to one person.

That's not the amazing part, though; despite her pain, despite being partially paralyzed, despite the stress, despite not knowing from one day to the next what her health would be like, despite having to move back in with her parents at an age when other people are moving OUT and getting their careers going, she NEVER changed on the inside; her caring, her willingness to help people, her selfless giving of her time and energy, her passion for charity work, and her innate goodness remained the same. I've been in AWE of how she's plowed steadily on when most people would have just lain in bed whimpering, and of how she managed to continue to believe that karma would eventually make good on all of it (she's a Christian, but tends to look more to karma than directly to God... she's not as clear as my other "Christian metaphysicist" friend is as to what the connection is there, she just is sure that they both exist). Oh, she had her occasional moments of despair, as she's only human, and when this happened she'd call me and I'd reassure her that her time was coming, that she had a HUGE load of good karma due her, and when it came it would lift her up higher than she ever imagined.

She has now been officially "lifted"; she called me with the news today.

She has many friends that she's met from her fund-raising efforts, and through one of them a sequence of events that seems right out of a movie got her face to face with someone who is VERY important in international politics; someone with whom she hit it off BIG TIME, and in the blink of an eye, my friend is traveling all over, meeting important people, getting on a first name basis with senators, going around in limos with bodyguards, attending Hollywood premiers and being bombarded by people who want her to do this, run that, come to this gathering... this woman who lives with her parents and hasn't been able to hold down a real job since her health collapsed has suddenly become SOMEONE.

She's having to get a passport for the first time in her life, because already TWO trips to a foreign country she's always dreamed of visiting have been set up, all expenses paid, AND for which she'll be getting $ for doing a variety of tasks. She's having to go to 2-3 events a DAY on the weekends, she's had to give up every shred of personal or private time because she's being pulled in so many ways by people and organizations that are too important to turn down... it's to the point where I'm becoming concerned for her health, because she's not getting enough rest and nutrition, she's literally THAT caught up in this whirlwind. Everything she ever dreamed of, and a hundred times more, has all been handed to her RIGHT NOW; it's the most incredible avalanche of karma I've ever seen.

Although she agrees with my advice for her to start getting massages and drinking those icky nutritional drinks to build herself back up, she's speculating that she's going to be healed now, now that the positive energy is sizzling all around her; I certainly hope this is true, and her belief in it might MAKE it true, only time will tell... I think that the miracles are nowhere near being over yet, and I told her so. She was expressing her amazement that all of this had happened the way it did, as she's the sort of person who stays in the background, never trying to push herself forward to take credit for the things she does, never trying to get anything back from people... and the fireworks went off in my head, because this is EXACTLY the concept expressed in the movie "Magnificent Obsession" (my original post about which was on 1-30-05), the idea that if you did good things without any expectation of receiving anything back, wonderful things would happen to you. I told her about the movie, about how it led to new spiritual insights for me, and she agreed with the idea that generating that sort of positive karma, and keeping your karma pure by not becoming bitter and hateful and miserable when bad things happened to you, would in fact lead to... the sort of things she's experiencing currently.

Is it a coincidence that so soon after I had that epiphany, a real-life example showed up? Nope. Is it a coincidence that this woman who has given nonstop her entire life, with a pure heart, is now receiving beyond her wildest dreams? Nope. Is there any doubt in my mind that the timing of this is karma's way of showing me that I'm on the right track? Nope. :-)


Sunday, February 13, 2005

Memory=reality 


You know who you are, and who all the people in your life are. How do you know? Memory. If you get amnesia, you won't remember who they are, or who you are, and no amount of looking at photo albums and such will tell you; if your memory is wiped, unscrupulous people could in theory tell you ANYTHING about yourself and your life, they could even fake up a bunch of photos without too much effort, and you'd believe it... because your concept of reality comes from your memory, and without your memory you don't know WHAT reality is.

What if the entire omniverse was just created 5 seconds ago, complete with the 6.1 billion people on this planet, and all of us were created with a full set of memories; how would we KNOW? We wouldn't, because memory is all we have to judge what's real; if we remember it, we believe it's true, even though we're all aware that false memories are easy to create, and if we do NOT remember something happening, whether the something is the creation of the omniverse or a message being left on our answering machine, as far as we're concerned it never happened.

I finally saw "The Forgotten" today (no surprise there, right, lol?), and what makes it so terrifying is that we all understand that if some sort of beings DID have the ability to erase memories, to replace them with new memories, and alter the very few records that exist of what we do (and for most things we do there are NO records), they could play us like a virtual reality game, and we'd never know.

Do you ever wonder why we aren't always seeing ghosts, or aliens, or angels, or whatever else it is that some people say they see all the time? What if we ARE seeing them, and they're just altering our memories to make us forget? What if, every time you have that "goose walked over my grave" feeling, it means you saw something astounding and it didn't quite alter your memory fast enough, leaving you with a chill seemingly from nothing?

No, I'm not saying that's the way things are, I'm just mulling over the fact that we plain don't KNOW what's really going on in the omniverse, because all we have to "prove" the existence of 99% of what we think is real are memories... and we usually don't remember more than a tiny % of what we've done in any case. Can you remember what you had for lunch 5 months ago? How about 5 weeks ago? Heck, most people couldn't remember for 5 DAYS ago... it wouldn't take much work to alter our memories on minor things, would it? They probably wouldn't even have to alter the memories of those around us, because it's not like we go around asking for confirmation of things we remember; we just assume that whatever we remember is true. Even if you DID ask a friend, people have differing memories of things all the time, and no one thinks twice about it; we each believe our own recollection of events, and life goes on.

In at least one area we KNOW our memories are fooling us; quantum physics shows us that time does NOT work the way we think it does, and in fact may not exist at all... so, our memories, which tell us that things happened in a certain sequence BASED on something called "time" that we think exists a certain way, MUST be at least somewhat inaccurate. I can't describe HOW they're inaccurate, because I can't imagine a reality with no time, or a different sort of time... and this shows me how limited the human brain is as a tool for understanding the omniverse. Still, it's the only tool we have, so all we can do is realize that things aren't always as we perceive them, that things exist which we can't perceive at all... and that it IS possible that forces we can't name are influencing our gray matter, distorting not only our memories, but our perceptions as well.

I'm going to hope very hard that Discover magazine has some articles on the latest discoveries about the true nature of reality in the next few issues; this is going to drive me NUTS until I can get a better handle on it.


Saturday, February 12, 2005

If you had ONE wish... 


... what would it be? (The standard rules apply; you can't wish for more wishes, or to have magic or superhuman powers.)

World peace? Human nature would have to be radically changed for this to be possible; we'd have to lose religion as we've known it, too. We'd have to be passionless blobs with no spiritual awareness to NEVER fight each other... the mammalian equivalent of slugs.

An end to hunger? To produce enough food for everyone, the climate would have to be changed in many parts of the world, with who knows what bad effects, and deserts, mountains and arid areas would have to be turned into fertile fields... and what happens to all the species of plants and animals that already live there? What about biodiversity?

An end to poverty? The only way for NO ONE to ever be poor is if all the stuff they need would be given to them even if they didn't work... and who would do the work necessary to provide all of that for the world's MILLIONS of impoverished people? How many people who currently work would stop if they could suddenly live comfortably NOT working? And who would work hard enough to pick up the slack? Who COULD work so hard and well that they could each provide the necessities for hundreds or thousands of people? If, instead of being worked for, all that stuff was coming from, I don't know, outer space, what would happen to the progress of the human race if no one had to work anymore? What would we become?

An end to sickness? Imagine how people would behave if no amount of drug use, drinking, smoking, eating, laziness, and indiscriminate sex would impair their health. Imagine what the population of the world would be if sickness took NO lives; imagine how much hungrier the poor of the world would have to be to feed them all. Imagine what it might do to the biosphere is all disease-causing organisms were eliminated; if, instead, we just became immune to them, imagine what would happen to the other creatures of the world as the organisms mutated to try to infect new hosts. If ALL creatures became immune, that would in effect eliminate all the organisms... and explode the populations of animals, which would then starve. And what about cancer? It's a form of uncontrolled, "improper" growth; can we eliminate IT completely without negatively impacting the ability of the body to grow new tissues the way it needs to? Are YOU willing to take that gamble?

An end to hate? The evil people of the world would LOVE to not have to be hated anymore; more to the point, we have the human nature issue again.

An end to evil? Same as the end to war, if you think about it.

An end to unwanted pregnancies? The population of the world would plummet... and the wildly reduced population of the younger generation would be unable to do enough work to support US when we get older.

An end to suffering? How is it POSSIBLE for us to never suffer, when loved ones die and acts of nature destroy what we build... would we not have to lose much of our capacity to feel? If we no longer mourned the passing of our loved ones, or wept over the losses the innocent endure every day, what sort of creatures would we be? We can't wish for the events that CAUSE suffering to stop happening, either; we can't stop death, the weather, the existence of FIRE... what could we be, immortals standing around on a flat surface in a static universe? !!!!!!

There's just no way to wish something wonderful for all the world without creating a disaster.

OK, what about wishing some good stuff just for a small enough group to not cause a catastrophe; say, your family and friends. This MIGHT be workable, as long as the population as a whole never figures out that your group has something special; people would literally KILL to try to figure out how to get what you have for THEIR loved ones. But what if you wished a huge lottery win for all of you? Read some of the articles about the isolation, the loss of friends, the loss even of sense of self, that's common among lottery winners; you can't suddenly become rich and hold onto all the things that make your life happy NOW... it changes you, and how everyone treats you changes too. Maybe YOU wouldn't mind that, but it's a heavy load to lay on your loved ones.

That leaves wishing something for ONE person. If someone dear to you is terminally ill, was crippled in a car wreck, lost everything when their house burned down, etc, you could probably safely wish them a cure, or enough $ to get back their old life, if you worded it carefully; if YOU are the one with that sort of problem, you could safely wish it for yourself. If you're lucky enough that neither you nor your loved ones has that sort of need, then what?

Would you wish to always be happy? There's an old line about how only the village idiot is always happy; how else could the tragedies of life never make you sad? Would you WANT to be happy even when horrible things happen? That's not even HUMAN.

Would you wish to have the guarantee of being loved "forever" by a romantic partner? What would the karma be from altering someone's mind and heart to make this happen?

So, what's left? If there's something your life is empty because you can't do it, such as paint or sing, you could wish that ability for yourself; if you were smart, and set it up to look like you took lessons and everything fell into place for you, no one would know how it happened. Barring that, you could wish yourself a long, healthy life... but what happens when your $ runs out? Would you want to live 30 years on Social Security? Would you wish for a secret stash of wealth to wisely use only when necessary, or to get you some of whatever special things you've always wanted? What if you have a heart attack 6 months later, or contract a serious disease; would you still prefer the wish to have been for $? I guess you'd have to weigh all the factors in your life and decide between health and wealth... unless, as is the case with ME, spiritual issues occupy your mind all the time.

I'd be tempted to wish to KNOW, to understand everything, to see the real and full truth; imagine what a life I could live with that knowledge!! I could probably use it to create wealth, to live a long and healthy life, and who knows what else. On the other hand, what if, once I knew "The Truth," I wouldn't be ABLE to do much of anything, for fear of disrupting karma? I'm sure I couldn't know that in advance, so...

I've got it!! I've never heard this given as an answer before, but it's so simple; I'd wish that whatever I'd think at the end of my life would have been the best thing to wish for would BE my wish!! :-)

(I was tempted to just post the question and my final answer, but I'm going to leave the rest of my post as it is because it shows the path I took to GET to my answer; I think it's interesting just as an intellectual exercise.)


Friday, February 11, 2005

What my husband thinks is sexy 


This is the time of year that much lingerie is bought by men... and returned by women. (A side note to the men; if you give a woman something to wear to turn YOU on, that is NOT a gift for HER, so don't try to pass it off as one.) MY husband never buys that stuff for ME, though, as it has no appeal for him whatsoever... his idea of what would be sexiest on me runs as follows:

1) A pair of his boxer shorts; most guys think it's cute when their woman wears their SHIRT, but I wear big shirts all the time, so there's no novelty to it... I dunno if he's thinking role-reversal with this one or what, as he won't tell me, lol.

2) Thermal undershirt; granted that it's a little more form-fitting than what I usually wear, but you'd think only a lumberjack would find this one attractive... maybe that's what he's secretly imagining himself to be?

3) A baseball cap; this one is primarily appealing because it messes up my hair (chaos always appeals to him).... and there's that role-reversal aspect again, hmmmmm....

4) Backpack that looks like a giant stuffed animal; he thinks it's "cute," and in general finds my love of stuffies to be endearing rather than nauseating as most men do... I think it makes me seem less intense or some such thing.

5) Big fluffy slippers; the crucial element of this is that I'd have to be walking around with them on, because they have thick foam soles, and when I first got them I'd walk around going "sproing sproing sproing," or if I was in a hurry it would be "sproingsproingsproing," and he was always egging me on to do it, so... it sounds vaguely psycho now that I think about it, but he LOVES it.

Can you imagine anyone wearing ALL that stuff together? I've never been able to manage more than one thing at a time; beyond a certain point, his being stimulated would be negated by my feeling like an idiot. Fear not, though, because the weirdness works both ways:

I've been questioning my husband about this topic as I've been writing about it, and, when I TOLD him I was writing a blog entry, he feigned disappointment and said, "I thought you were planning a surprise." Little does he know; what *I* find sexy is unusual also, and I've found where he'd hidden his black vinyl jockstrap, BWAHAHAHAHA!!


Thursday, February 10, 2005

A romantic getaway 


With Valentine's Day being adjacent to a weekend this year, I'm guessing that a record # of "special couple trips" are getting ready to commence; since my husband and I are geeks, we don't go for that sort of thing, but it can be amusing to think about.

Have you ever seen the screamingly funny movie "History of the World Part I"? It contains one of the most hilarious scenes ever filmed; in the segment about the glory days of the Roman Empire, Empress Nympho needs to pick partners for the orgy to be held that evening, so, after the vestal virgins put on their "No Entry" signs (yes, they really did, it's that sort of movie), a bunch of soldiers come marching in. They line up, and we see them from behind; the camera pulls back... and we see that they're naked below the waist. The empress, who's NOT looking the guys in the eye, shall we say, goes on down the line, saying, "Yes... no, no, no, no, no, no... yes... no, no, yes... no, no, no, no, yes... no, no" and so forth, ending with, a wide-eyed, drop-jawed "YES!!!!!!!" The commanding officer gives the order to "quick-time harch," and the empress and her secretary watch this with their eyes big and their heads bobbing meaningfully up and down... and the empress says "I LOVE quick-time harch!!"

Edit: If you don't mind seeing bare male butts, you can watch the scene here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0bmt3BMU3xs

Now, if I were single again... and the jury found me not guilty by reason of having endured all the stinky socks and unflushed toilets a human being can stand, lol... MY idea of a romantic getaway would have just this sort of selection process to provide me with a partner; having seen quite enough of male genitals to last me 20 lifetimes, however, I'd be more interested in who had the hairiest chest... and the tightest butt, too, I'm not totally jaded. I know that seems like an odd idea, but I just don't think I could feel romantic about a man I actually KNOW, one I've seen walking around in his boxer shorts belching (or worse) and scratching his groin; I think a no-strings fling with a hot stranger would be the way to go.

With the man chosen, we'd need a properly stimulating setting; none of the traditional trappings like red satin sheets and rotating beds would do it for me, though... what I think would be REALLY "inspirational" is a suite set up to look like a cave (but not IN an actual cave, as that would be cold and damp), with piles of giant furs (FAKE, of course) for a bed, and those lights that look like torches (because they have little fans blowing around cloth thingies that look like flames) on the walls. Room service (hot guys in loincloths) would bring platters of beef ribs and fresh fruit, so that we could eat a suitably primitive meal before... er... getting primitive.

During less active periods, the push of a button could lower down a TV that would allow me to get my nightly hit of Nick at Nite and TV Land; there'd have to be a computer with a DSL connection in there somewhere too, of course... not even the hottest guy in the world could make me forget about email and eBay searches and such.

Seriously, though; why does "romantic" have to mean cheesy, foofy stuff like they always have in the honeymoon suite? What could be better than fur and flickering torchlight in a cave, harkening back to the only time in human history that sex was NOT weighed down with all sorts of religious and cultural issues? Heck, I probably COULD have fun even WITH my husband in a setup like that.

In a pinch, I'd even give up the TV. ;-)


Wednesday, February 09, 2005

A sad aspect of human nature 


When someone is attacked or mistreated, and they respond any way other than with stoic silence... how do you react?

A typical scenario is for the attacked person to speak in their defense, and the attacker, or, worse, an observer, will say something like, "You don't have to be so DEFENSIVE" with a malicious smirk, and anyone who's around will generally agree. Firstly, there's a world of difference between being defensive, which means someone reacting where there's either no real attack, or where they DID do something bad, and they know it, and are trying to bluster their way out, and defendING, which means merely speaking in one's own defense; the former is seen as a character weakness, and the latter is what we should EXPECT of anyone who's not a doormat. Secondly; when did we decide that the victim can't speak up on their own behalf anymore? Why should the attacker not even pay the small penalty of being rebutted? Why do observers jump in to add insult to injury of the victim, rather than to kick the attacker's butt? Why are we so offended by the victim doing anything other than suffering in silence that we feel the need to snipe at them? This reaction is so common that a typical ploy of the attacking type is to make ridiculous accusations against someone in the EXPECTATION of their outraged response, at which point they'll slam-dunk them by playing the "defensive" card... with the added bonus that this will usually turn all the listeners against the victim, AND make them tend to believe the accusations.

It gets worse; another weapon in the attacker's arsenal is to throw out a LIST of accusations/insults, knowing that every one of them will require a multi-line rebuttal... and that that will somehow, through a process I've never been able to understand, make everyone turn against the victim. WHY does seeing/hearing a victim defending themselves for more than a certain # of sentences make us rule against them? I've even caught MYSELF looking at a lengthy rebuttal from a victim to attackers on a forum and thought, "Give it a rest already"; I've been instantly horrified, of course, and my full support snapped back to the victim where it belongs, but I can't explain why I, with my history of defending people, could EVER react like that... which makes me think that it's gotta be a human nature thing.

It gets even WORSE; should the victim react emotionally, even to the extreme of tears, people don't leap in to comfort them and berate the attacker, they belittle the VICTIM for being too sensitive, or a crybaby, or not being able to take the heat (so they should "get out of the kitchen," although no one has suggested that maybe the ATTACKER should get lost, grrrrrrrr)... doesn't anyone besides me see something WRONG with that? As you might have guessed, this whole line of thought got started when *I* had a moment of this sort of awful reaction; I was watching "Lord of the Flies," and one of the little boys, who has endured a great deal of abuse, fear and suffering already, has his glasses stolen by the "enemy tribe," leaving him blind and helpless under circumstances where his very survival was already in question... and, naturally enough, he starts to cry. Hopeless, frightened, miserable crying. Despite the inarguable fact that he had every right to cry, even had he been an adult rather than a child, it instantly put my teeth on edge, and made me wish he'd knock it off; again, I corrected my reaction right away, but that I had it to begin with, even when I think he SHOULD have been crying, shows me that there's something biological, cultural, or both that makes us tend to instinctively turn against victims when they react or respond.

Human nature can be an ugly thing.


Tuesday, February 08, 2005

A Christian friend weighs in 


I'm lucky to have a friend who has studied the religions of the world since her teen years, is a firm believer in karma (which she sees as something created by God to do His will), and has a broad background in science, in addition to being quite the authority on Christianity; she's the best person I know to bounce spiritual ideas off of. This evening, I filled her in on what's been on my mind for the past week or so, and she agreed with my conclusion; belief in and of itself DOES connect you to... SOMETHING extremely powerful.

Over the years, she's had several periods of major crisis when she's asked God to step in and get her life under control, and each time things miraculously fell into place shortly thereafter; she agreed with what Joel Osteen said about God requiring you to keep moving forward, rather than your just expecting God to deliver everything to you with no effort on your part, and of course with belief being CRUCIAL to getting the desired results. I asked her if, had her faith not been solid at any of those times, had she NOT fully believed that God would help her, would that have made a difference, and she immediately said yes; when asked WHY she thought that, she couldn't answer right away, and that in itself was interesting to us... she answered out of pure instinct. She thought about it, and said that if you did NOT believe, you were testing God rather than submitting to His control, and thus were NOT showing faith; furthermore, because of free will and God's desire for us to all have it, He would NOT put His power at your disposal unless you asked, unless you made the conscious choice to give up control and let His power work for your benefit... which is just what Osteen is talking about when he says that God "can't" do good things for you unless you let Him, unless you're willing to allow Him come into your life and work His wonders.

I asked my friend if, as I'd recently been thinking, belief, in God or in whatever, is the crucial element of the process that allows us to have access to power beyond what we normally have; she replied that belief is the ONLY way for a person to connect with God's power, not faith but BELIEF... and not belief in God, but belief that the power of God would be put at your disposal if you asked for it. Since she views all religions and spiritual paths as being, at the root, the same thing, because God has a different facet of Himself for each culture, each religion, even each person, such that each of us sees Him in whatever way is best for us, she also agrees with the idea that the existence of religious beliefs in every culture means that people everywhere have always perceived power beyond what humans generally wield, and have developed procedures, from animal sacrifices to rituals to prayer, to allow them to tap into the power... whatever it is.

I brought up the assertion Scott Adams made about doing affirmations, that it was important to not envision too specific of a way for the process to bring you what you want, because a more specific process limits the # of paths between you and your goal and reduces your chances of getting there; she thought that trying to dictate to God how to give something to you would be testing Him, or not trusting Him to figure out a way, and thus would be BAD, but beyond that, she said that to REALLY get the full effect, the big miracles, it was necessary to be even LESS specific than I'd ever considered... that your request would have to be more along the lines of "Help me, show me the right path, point me which way you want me to go," rather than "Give me $ for the rent, fix my car, bring me a man." So; the very purest form of belief would have you asking just for your life to go from where it is to a better place, and trusting that somehow you'll get from point A to point B, and at point B you'll find many good things.

wow

This sort of belief sounds very, VERY hard; my friend, a devout Christian her entire life, says that it was hard for HER to believe to that degree, to totally trust that she could give up trying to do things her way and just let God steer her... if SHE could barely manage it, I have limited hope for MY ability to do so at this juncture, especially since she's focusing on what she believes to be a being that loves her and wants the best for her, and all *I* can focus on are energies, a mechanism of sorts, that is incapable of loving or caring, only of processing karma.

I can control my thoughts, both to make things happen and to prevent drawing bad things to me. I can use tools like affirmations to multiply the power of my thoughts. Having seen that these things DO work, I can multiply the power even more by adding the power of belief; now that I know just HOW powerful belief is, I can increase the effect even MORE by trying to have active belief going on when I try to make something happen. But... BUT... the biggest "tool" of all, the ability to go beyond trying to reach a specific outcome and just open myself up for energy to come in and create a better life for me whose form I won't know in advance... the very thought makes my eyes bug out of my head. Karma isn't capable of making judgments, and, although certainly the energy of my thoughts, combined with the influx of karmic energy being presumably "positive," could in theory bring an objectively good result that would be in accordance with what I like, there are no do-overs with this sort of thing, and I see no guarantee that what I'd end up with would be better than what I'd get if I made purposeful efforts, even after adjusting for the fact that I'd have to have MADE those efforts, which might take alot of my time.

OF COURSE there's no guarantee; that's where faith comes into it. But, I have no faith, just a primitive understanding of how the engine of karma works. I want to take this spiritual journey as far as I can in every area, and I'd love to see the power of total belief in action close up; do I want to experience the ultimate rush of power badly enough to take the attendant risks? I... will get back to you on that one.


Monday, February 07, 2005

Enlightenment from Joel Osteen 


On 1-30-05, I wrote about the movie "Magnificent Obsession," and the epiphany I'd gotten from it; ever since that night, my mind has been orbiting around and around the idea that the very fact of having belief in something, whether deity or otherwise, that has "power" either unlocks our own power, taps into the power of that something, or both. With perfect synchronicity, I remembered to watch Joel Osteen tonight, and he had some astonishing input:

The way he explained it, you're NOT limited to your own power when you try to take actions that are beyond what you've done before; because God wants you to keep learning, growing, moving forward and expanding your horizons, if you get to the end of what you yourself can do and continue to try to make progress because you believe that God will help you, God will give you some of his "supernatural power" (Osteen's exact phrase) so that you can achieve more than you ever dreamed possible. All you have to do is believe, and make the choice to give the presumably impossible (for you) thing a shot, and BOOM, it's done.

How many THOUSANDS of times have you heard someone who has accomplished something amazing give the assistance of God most or all of the credit? As a non-believer, I've always dismissed this, but what if it's TRUE? Not the part about there being a God, as I have no proof either way about His existence, but the idea that these achievers WERE able to receive power via their belief that DID make it possible for them to succeed?

What do all the self-help gurus and well-meaning loved ones tell you to encourage you to succeed? Believe in yourself. BELIEVE. I've always seen that as a psychological thing, since, if you do NOT believe in yourself, you can hold yourself back from succeeding, and if you DO believe in yourself you'd try your hardest, and I still think that's valid... but what if it's NOT the only benefit you get from believing in yourself? What if, again, the very act of believing CREATES the success?

You think you know that the verb "believe" means, know what you're doing when you believe... but, what if it's like using your muscles, where you want to walk and your legs move, but it's sort of a "black box" phenomenon, because you have no idea how your nerves, muscles, tendons and whatever cause your legs to move? What if, when you experience active belief, you're putting something into motion, something as unknown in action as the messages traveling down your nerves are unknown to you? What if "to believe" actually means "to activate the part of your brain that can tap into power far beyond what you normally have access to"? The power may be within you, waiting, it might come from a deity, it might be floating all around us... it doesn't really matter in a way, because you don't have to know where it comes from to be able to use it.

One of my recurring themes is that our thoughts create the world, create reality, create karma, and that the stronger of emotions you attach to thoughts, the more powerful they become; what if the greatest possible power we can wield is accessed, not just via thought, not just via deeply emotional thought, but by thought backed by BELIEF? What if we can use this knowledge to sculpt reality in the same way that prayer has been proven to do, the same way those of us who practice affirmations have seen that we can do... but FAR more powerfully? Is belief the bridge between us and the energies of the unknown? Is this why every culture has developed a belief SYSTEM of some kind, the certainty that there's something, or somethingS, with special powers that can be accessed by human beings just for the asking?

Can it really be that simple?


Sunday, February 06, 2005

The Cube Game: The Analysis 


If you didn't read yesterday's post, don't read this one yet, as it'll give it all away; scroll this post off the screen, read yesterday's post, and see if you want to play the game before you read MY warped answers.

The first thing to reveal is what the 3 things we envisioned symbolize: the cube is you, the ladder is your financial/work situation, and the horse is your ideal romantic partner. The analysis of your answers will be alot like dream analysis, in that everything will be symbolic of something else, and only YOU can tell which of the possible symbols have the right "feel" to them; for example, if your horse is white, it might mean that you want to be "rescued" (from the idea of Prince Charming on a white horse), or that you want a partner who's "pure" (a virgin), or "angelic" (very sweet). For every detail you wrote down, then, think of how it might translate into a statement about what it was secretly describing. Some more examples of interpretation are: If your cube is glass, it could mean that you're feeling emotionally fragile, or exposed (people can "see right through you"), or that everything seems clear to you as to what direction to take your personal life, or that you're feeling nearly invisible right now. If your ladder is gold, that can mean that you see yourself as wealthy now, or are sure that you soon will be, or that you're "golden" at work and will soon get promoted, or that you think it's time to "go for the gold" and make a big change. With all that in mind, here are MY answers:

My cube is a Borg spaceship; if you're not familiar with what this looks like, there are pics here

http://1desktop.tripod.com/borg.jpg

http://www.terrace.qld.edu.au/moo/borg/borgcubeexterior.jpg

As to what this choice of cube says about me; that I watch too much Star Trek, maybe, lol? The ship is gigantic, so we can assume that my ego isn't undersized; the overwhelming power of the vessel, the skill of the Borg it contains, their relentlessness and focus, all tie into my feeling of personal power, of my confidence in my ability to accomplish things. The appearance of the Borg into human affairs is always fraught with danger, so the ship seems menacing; that reflects my lifelong desire to stop being Ms. Nice Guy and do the WRONG things for a change (alas, it'll never happen).

My ladder is fairly near the cube, standing perfectly vertical, stretching up and up so that the top isn't clearly visible, and is made of a translucent mother-of-pearl type substance; its height, the beauty of it, the fabulousness of the material, the way it contains all the colors, all speak of how good things are now in these areas in every way, and how hopeful I feel about the future. In addition, the "ladder to heaven" aspect hasn't escaped me, and makes me wonder if my spiritualism will lead to wealth or success for me somehow, or at least enhance what I already have in some way.

My horse is a soft golden color, with a somewhat lighter mane and tail; it's wearing a simple leather bridle, and is placidly grazing, roughly sideways to the cube. The fact that the horse is EATING clearly reflects my husband... and so does the presence of the bridle, hehehehehe. The sunny color, and pastoral calmness of its demeanor, though, point to the sort of tranquil, happy mate that would certainly make ME more relaxed, and thus would be in many ways ideal; my spastic, disaster-causing husband is way off here, but I'll keep him anyways.

I hope you got a kick out of this game; if you try it on friends, or even your partner, you'll find that at the very least it'll stimulate some interesting conversations. Their analyses of your answers will show you how they think of you; if YOU came up with something like the Borg ship to represent yourself, though, you might wanna pass. ;-)


Saturday, February 05, 2005

The Cube Game: The Questions 


This weekend, I thought I'd take a break from rants and ramblings and toss out something like those endless quizzes we see everywhere. This game has been alleged to be many centuries old, and to have been used as a tool for deep personal analysis all that time; I don't know about any of that, but I've used it a bunch of times with wildly divergent groups of people, and the general consensus is that it DOES provide a great deal of insight... I've come out with analyses of total strangers' answers that they thought pegged them exactly, so it's not just people twisting their answers to fit their perceptions of themselves or doing this for their friends. In any case, it's FUN, so give it a shot; if you're brave, post your answers on your blog (and include a link to this post for people to see the questions for themselves, of course). Here goes:

Get a pen and paper ready to write down your responses as they come up, because at the end you'll have forgotten half of it if it wasn't written down. Picture a flat, featureless landscape; plain dirt or sand, and a clear sky-no distractions or embellishments. Then, somewhere in the landscape, picture a cube, a ladder, and a horse. See them clearly before reading further.
.
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Got it all in your mind? OK, now get ready to write:

For the cube: What exactly does it look like? What's it made out of? How big is it? What color(s) is it? What position is it in? How does it make you feel? Write down every detail, no matter how seemingly trivial.

For the ladder: Answer the same questions for this one, and also describe how it's positioned in relation to the cube.

For the horse: Answer all the previous questions, and add: How is it positioned relative to the ladder (as well as to the cube)? What, if anything, is it doing? Are there any items such as a saddle or a wagon there with the horse?

Hang onto your answers; I'll post the analysis "rules" tomorrow, along with my own answers and analysis (which I'm leaving out for now so as to not influence anyone or give anything away). Apologies for making you wait; it'll be more interesting, as well as accurate, this way, honest.


Friday, February 04, 2005

The thrill of spontaneity 


I was tempted to leave this post blank... because, as far as I'm concerned, there IS no thrill. All being "spontaneous" means is that you didn't take the time to plan... and how is NOT planning, NOT thinking things through, NOT pondering all the options, NOT preparing for all eventualities, going to make something BETTER? Oh, I know that some people are just too lazy to work things out in advance, and cover for their irresponsibility by calling themselves "spontaneous," but people who ARE capable of looking before they leap ALSO sing the praises of spontaneity... in fact, nearly everyone I've ever heard comment on the subject has praised it, and to me that's just CRAZY.

Say there's a movie you'd like to see; the pro-spontaneity crowd claims that just dropping everything and running out the door to see it would somehow make the movie BETTER than if you planned a trip to the theater... but how can it, when it's the identical movie either way? The same thing goes for dinner at a restaurant, a weekend out of town, sex... it's the same activity in the same place whether it's planned or not, so how does spontaneity make any of it better?

I've asked people, and the answer is always, "It's something I can't really explain..." Yeah, that's a BIG help... well, actually, it IS in a way, because when someone claims to not be able to explain a feeling that makes no sense, it's a sure sign that on some level they KNOW they're being illogical, but don't want to admit it.

I also wonder how it's POSSIBLE for people to be spontaneous; don't we all have work to do, phone calls to return, kids and pets to feed? Don't we all have busy lives, with stuff that needs doing every minute? What happens to all that stuff when people are being spontaneous? "Sure, let's let the dog go hungry a few extra hours so that we can spontaneously go out tonight; so what if he eats all our shoes and barfs them up on the bedspread?" "Sure, let's let mom think we're dead in a ditch because we didn't return her phonecall within 24 hours; let's spontaneously go away fro the weekend." If you're only being "spontaneous" at days and times when nothing is going on, you're in fact NOT being spontaneous, and if you actually HAVE days and times with absolutely nothing going on... I can't even IMAGINE that, so I can't comment.

When people say that they want to find a spontaneous romantic partner, what exactly does that mean they're looking for? Someone who doesn't care about their responsibilities, and will therefore blow things off to go do something frivolous with them? Someone with no LIFE, who can thus do anything at any time with no harm done? Someone unwilling, or unable, to think ahead, to plan, to organize? What about any of that would be desirable in a mate?

When people say that they themselves are spontaneous, what are they saying about themselves, and why do they think it's praiseworthy?

I understand that this must be one of those things that's programmed into everyone that I'm lacking, that for everyone to love spontaneity there HAS to be something about it that fires off the adrenaline in a "normal" person; despite that, I'm gonna make my pitch for the REAL thrill... PLANNING. There's absolutely no activity you can imagine that couldn't be made better if it was thought through and planned out, so that every element is optimal. An activity where everything goes perfectly has GOT to be better than one where there are problems, not to mention the worry about problems that a reasonable person would be expected to have, both about the activity itself and because they dropped everything from their busy life and left it all hanging to be spontaneous.

Last but far from least is perhaps the greatest benefit of planning; anticipation. Any desirable activity will naturally generate anticipation, and the longer in advance you plan, within reasonable limits, the more anticipation you can have; since anticipation is a strongly pleasurable feeling, why give it up just to be able to say "I was spontaneous"?

Life's too short to make less than the most of any chance to have fun; I'd take having the best out of any situation over having the "thrill" of spontaneity any day.





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