Sunday, September 5, 2010

16 Things That It Took Me 45 Years to Learn

I just read an essay by one of my favorite writers Dave Barry. It is entitled “16 Things That It Took Me 50 Years to Learn.” If you would like to read it, it can be found at:

And so, after reading his essay I am now inspired to write out my own 16 things. Here they are. If you wish, please write out your own and send them to me. I’d love to read them.

16 Things It’s Taken me 45 Years to Learn

1. Good friends matter more than anything else in life (even though at times they drive you crazy).

2. Whatever you think is going to happen won’t be it. Ha ha.

3. When you are feeling up, don't worry, soon you will feel down. When you are down, don't worry, soon you will feel up. This is not manic depression. It is the nature of life.

4. Living with another species or two (or five) soothes one’s soul, even if it involves a lot of slobber and sweeping up of hair.

5. True love does indeed exist.

6. Nobody, and I mean NOBODY (I’m talking to you Jesus, Buddha, Muhammad, etc..) has ever really figured out what is going on. We all just take our best guess and go with it. If anyone says otherwise, don’t trust them.

7. One always has the option to change their mind (at least I think so at the moment).

8. The things that bring the most joy don’t cost money.

9. It’s really not worth worrying about what other people think. Just be yourself. They are all worrying about what you think.

10. I am both my worst enemy and my best friend. Me, myself, and I really need to get together and have a serious discussion about this.

11. One should always trust a gut feeling.

12. Make choices so that when you look back, you won’t be embarrassed but proud. This also helps to keep you from murdering a cheating lover and hence keeps you out of jail (I know this from experience).

13. When you are really really angry at someone, don’t respond to the person for 24 hours. You’ll never regret the delay; you may regret a quick action.

14. I’m not in competition with anyone despite what they (or sometimes I) think.

15. It’s fine to do whatever you want as long as you don’t hurt others and keep in balance. In fact, it is really best to do so.

16. The only thing we actually really have to do in life is die.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

We Are But Infants

Yesterday, David and I went to the Fortscape event in Baltimore. We are both part of the Fortean society and have been to many of these festivals before. Ah, you don't know it? It’s not as bad as it sounds. It is no cult of people in mauve wanting to castrate themselves and follow a large 14 legged cat (though David said he met someone there who claimed she actually was in contact with a 14 legged cat). It is named after Charles Fort, grand collector of anything odd -- raining frogs, ufos, Bigfoot, pyramids, 10-foot lizards, and so on. And so the festival is really a series of lecturers who lecture about anything. Some are clearly daft. Actually, whenever I go to these things, I guarantee you I’ll be either leaving the room on account of either laughter or boredom at some point. However, it’s worth sitting through the paranoid schizophrenics to just hear one brilliant person blow my mind. Here are my thoughts after listening to that one lecture.

The current average human is a moron. I include myself in this condemnation.

Yes, yes, we have roads, we have light bulbs, we have chocolate pudding pops; but, only a select few know how to make these.

The current humans are idiots.

We are helpless. We are totally dependent upon our society to provide for us. We cant make, we cant grow, we can’t eat. We are babies.

Go ahead, move to the wilderness and see what happens. Get electricity? Um, I suppose you must first need a generator-this means metal-guess you better go mine it somewhere and smelt it. Build a house? Nails…damn….same problem. Glass….hee hee. Plastic…ah plastic.. best drill an oil well. Ah, now what? Um…how do I build a house anyway? Plumbing?

The “average” person 1000 years ago knew how to manage these things (ok well not the electricity or plastic, but they figured out how to exist without it). I just saw a picture of a building built 5000 years ago. The roof was made of stones. They were stones laid upon stones just loose in a spiral, each somehow supporting each so that now the roof has stood for 5000 years. Go ahead, get any local builder to do that!

So odd, so strange, so foreign to think that rather than "evolving" we have de-evolved. Our brains are less strong. Where once we had to memorize stories from elders verbatim, now we have the web. Whereas once we had to calculate in our heads, now there is the calculator. Once we had to do all for ourselves, now we do nothing, our brains are nothing but sheep jelly. world...cubicle world.."little house little houses and they're all made of ticky tacky."

Finally, after all this "evolution"-The nature-less people.

In sum, our "evolution" and "innovation" and discoveries has reduced us to the level of infant.

Our society as a whole has many things. As individuals though, we are babies. And babies are very very VERY vulnerable.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Heaven or Hell-it is our choice

I’m feeling like I should write something. I’ve been negligent, as always, in keeping up with writing. Somehow it seems like I never have time, though I know that is just an illusion.

We (my husband and I) watched Grey Gardens tonight. If you haven’t seen it, it is well worth watching. The acting is astonishingly brilliant. It is about two women who shut off the world, shut off their surroundings, and continue in such fashion until they are living basically in one room of a mansion with no water, phone, or heat, and every room but the bedroom is piled high with cat food cans and trash. They are not depressed about this. Not even disturbed by it-or if so, only mildly.

Meanwhile, I grouse at my loving husband because he didn’t do the dishes the night before.

The mind is a powerful blessing or weapon. With it we can create a paradise out of a dung heap or a fiery hell out of a Shangri-La. In the Washington Post Magazine this weekend, there is an article about a man who decided to become a Hare Krishna. Now, he is revered as a saint, but when he first came into his beliefs he ran into trouble in Argentina. There, they didn’t look kindly on “cults” especially at that time, so he was imprisoned. The jailor, in an effort to humiliate him, demanded he clean up a floor smeared with human feces. At first he balked, and who wouldn’t? But he decided that it must be a test that Krishna had sent him. And so, he cleaned up the floor in joy (as he put it) and did so over again much to the amazement of the guard. Of course, it was not Krishna who gave him this joy, it was the decision he made within his own brain that resulted in the joy. He could have done it all for an eggplant, it would have made no difference (no offense to Krishna).

C.S. Lewis once said in his story, The Great Divorce, that those who end up in heaven will feel like they’ve always been there, while those who end up in hell will likewise seem like they’ve always been there. I see this around me all the time in the people I meet. I’m sure you do too. There are those individuals who seem just set on being miserable, victims, unhappy with everyone and everything. It doesn’t matter their circumstances. They could be rich or could be poor; status is irrelevant. They are settled in their state. Then, there are those who are always happy, content, smiling, hopeful, loving and again, the status is again irrelevant-they might be rich or they might be homeless. Somehow, they are just always happy and peaceful, no matter the circumstance.

Obviously it is the mindset that makes the life. Circumstances have nothing to do with it. Choices of how to react to circumstances have everything to do with it. True happiness comes from one’s own mind, not the swirl of the world and its happenings

The truly great thing about being human is having the power to choose. The truly tough part about being a human is that we have choices. In many ways, it’d be so much easier if we didn’t. Yet, the fact is we do. A person cuts me off in traffic and it is a multiple choice exam. Do I: A. honk at him and give him the finger B. Snarl and cuss and comment on his mother C. Laugh and sing D. Pray that he is okay, for something must be wrong for him to be so clueless. The options are endless. That is our great dilemma as humans. That is our great power as humans. We are never victims. We are choosers. We create. We either do this consciously or we just go into default mode and we do so unconsciously.

Let us embrace our humanity and consciously choose to create heaven here and now despite whatever gross and unfair circumstances have been flung at us. We do not need to be in denial of reality. We need only to smile in the face of it and choose peace and joy in full knowledge of it and despite it. When Jesus said “the kingdom of heaven is within you” maybe this is what he meant.

Friday, January 8, 2010

beagles and humans

I’m not a very good blogger. I rarely do it. Tonight though, I feel like writing so here are my musings.

This morning at about 3:30 am I was awoken by my three dogs barking like crazy because they heard some other dogs outside. We live in the country with no other house to be seen and in the night coon hunters are nothing rare. So, after trudging sleepily downstairs and out onto the porch with a flashlight and seeing just a couple of beagles, I assumed hunters and went back to bed and quieted the dogs. I awoke about 7:30am to the same yelps and yips. Looking out my window, there were the same two beagles still that I had seen by flashlight four hours earlier. I knew then what had happened.

Snow boots on, forget the jacket, forget the bed-formed hair, in my Barney purple fuzzy bathrobe, a ragged blue nightgown, and long underwear, I stomped out onto the new snow and down the driveway. As I approached the dogs (of course) a car pulled up. Ok, nowhere to run in purple fuzzy shame, I met the woman who asked me if the dogs were mine. “Nope”
And so we together tried to catch them. It should have been easy. They were both obviously in distress, old, not very healthy, shivering, limping, had had way too many litters of pups so that their teats were almost brushing the ground. It was easy to capture the one, for she was rather fat and quite friendly. My husband David came out and actually picked her up and brought her into the house. The other though was small and very scared. My new friend and I tried to first entice then grab her but she scooted away into the woods. “Mary” said she had to go to work and drove off and so I, in my purple fuzzy glory, marched down the road hoping the skittish one could still be found. I feel honored to have given so much amusement to the various landscaping trucks and cubical bound hominids who drove past me. I wondered what story they might attach to this purple rumpled bathrobed women stomping about in a state park at 8 in the morning seemingly in the midst of nowhere. At some other time I would have been amused or horrified, but this morning, I was only worried for the other beagle as it was only twenty degrees here in Maryland this morning and tomorrow night it is going down to twelve. I couldn’t find her and was highly upset, imagining the worst. Thankfully, my husband found her later in the day. Tonight they are both downstairs curled up together fast asleep (the dogs that is; my husband is up here soon to be curled up with me).

I’m not sure what to write here. I want to write “WHAT SORT OF GODDAMNED SCUM WOULD DO THAT TO ANOTHER BEING?!!!!” I want to rant. I want to rage against my species! How can the most intelligent mammal be the cruelest and stupidest as well? How can the most humane also be the most inhumane? Surely we are the worst of all species! We torture our own- what other mammal even conceives of that? Surely, a cat has no feeling for the mouse it tosses, but then no cat sits about in committees conceiving of tortures for other cats, and no cat breeds the same female mice for years only to drop off the mothers in the local park to die when they are no longer useful!

So now, here is my rant.

We are oblivious to the species around us like no other creature on the planet. We’ve wiped out all our predators and shrink wrapped all our prey, what need do we have to think of them?

We have lost our trust, our balance, our beauty. We are the ultimate control freaks of Earth. We do not realize that control is the ultimate illusion. Change is the never-ending law of this universe. Yet, we think we can avoid it by mowing our grass, working a “good” job, investing, saving, having good insurance policies, getting religion, and helping our children do the same thing to “insure their future.” We are completely consumed with the control of our lives. Silliness. Illusion. Pathology.

And so, with such mentality, there is no wonder that a couple of old, over-bred beagles become “waste” and end up dumped after their long years of “use” in our driveway.

I find my species to be an embarrassment. I am ashamed at times to be called human. But now please, allow me to de-rant.

Other times, I feel proud, I feel enlightened. I feel more than what I think I am. For there are those among us who don’t use and throw out other beings. There are those who give hope to this great festering mass of control obsessed, frightened, desperate souls. I could list the obvious: Gandhi, the Dalai Lama, Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King Jr., the usual suspects, but I’d rather not. They are not greater than those the closest to us. I think we all can say we have known one individual in our lives, though they never will get the same worldly recognition. It could have been a parent or a child, a teacher or a student, a neighbor or a stranger, but that one person made all the difference to you. Because of that one person you, or I, am now a better human. Because of that one person in my life, I cannot dump beagles off in the middle of the woods to die. There but for the grace of _______ go I.