Memory and Innocence

One of the most remarkable things about being human is our capacity to consciously remember past events.  Yet interestingly enough, rather than treasure this unique capability, we often refer to our earliest years as the years of “innocence”. The years when we were at our purest form, our most noble if you will.  Yet it is in our toddler years that we do not yet have the gift of memory.  While it is certainly within our makeup, we haven’t yet become aware of it and how to utilize it effortlessly in our daily lives either consciously, subconsciously or selectively. 

It’s worthy of note that the one feature that truly sets us apart from the other animals of the world is rarely exploited for the betterment of our species.  We rarely use it to reflect on the mistakes of the past in order to avoid the same pitfalls in the future.  Instead, we find ourselves nostalgic for those early years when we didn’t have the capability to be reminded that we’re imperfect.   

The Grey Emotion – Hope

I read an interesting point in a book by Serbian writer Svitaslav Basra yesterday.  He said, “you can only find hope in unwritten words and sentences”.  

Unlike emotions such as sadness, fear, anger and happiness, when you think about it hope is a far less definitive concept.  The others are usually concrete realizations happening in the here and now, not potential states of being which will pivot on what transpires next in your life.  You can have hope that the sun will rise tomorrow.  Yet a storm may come in and replace what would have led to happiness to despair for example. It’s not a given that it will come to pass.

It’s an exemplary emotional state in the sense it is the only one I can think of that is purely future oriented.  The others are all mired in the past or present.  So in a sense it is an exclusive state of being incapable of 100% accurate prediction as to its outcome.  It is also probably the only emotional state which is always coupled with something else.  You hope for happiness typically, (although I suppose it is possible you hope that the person sitting across from you on the bus that pushed you aside earlier to get the better seat slips on a banana peel at some point during his departure and is thus thrust into a state of unhappiness). 

Maybe that’s why the concept of hope holds such a special place in our lives.  Lets face it, without a little mystery we’d be completely hopeless, mired in a present with nothing to look forward to. 

Our Protective Instinct

How many times in a day, a month, a year, or even a lifetime do you stop in your tracks and contemplate what is happening inside of you at that very moment?  Things such as how fast is my heart beating?  How fast is my blood racing through my veins? Are my hair follicles extending from my skull or graying? What is happening to the food I ate an hour ago?  It seems we hardly give it a passing thought.  Yet we feel obsessively compelled to build homes and cars and to design coats, shoes and umbrellas to constantly safe keep our physical being. 

Where does this innate sense to constantly take shelter come from?  After all, animals don’t do it to anywhere near the neurotic extent that we do.  It often seems we go out of our way to avoid the very nature that sustains us.  Most of us spend far more time in our lives confined to boxes of various sizes rather than relish raindrops on our cheeks and thistles in our hair whilst swatting flies off our noses. 

Is it a subconscious, constant, all pervasive fear of death and an obsession with prolonging its arrival as long as possible?  Yet if it really is something so basic at the root cause, why do the majority of us have so little notice, interest or tender thoughts for the miraculous life force within us that works tirelessly to keep us functioning properly. 

It almost seems as if we ignore the assembly line in the hopes of avoiding the inevitability of a finished product rolling off the line.  But that is treating humanity as a homogenous mass rather than a mass of individuals. 

Rather, it seems we should marvel at the ever present miracles taking place within us that make us… us.    It’s meant to give us all the energy and ingenuity we need to explore life to the fullest.  So leave the box without the umbrella.  Toss the GPS and simply walk down streets you don’t recognize all in homage to the life force that for a reason we will never know was given to you and you alone.

“Resurrection” isn’t as uncommon as one might suppose.

I was watching a show on mechanics the other night and something occurred to me.  When we think of the term resurrection most people think of it purely in the context of human beings returning from the dead such as depicted in the Bible.  However if you take the human context out of it and look towards other things, you soon begin to realize that resurrection is all around us everyday. 

Take for instance a music concert.  What was live on stage does not have to live on via memory alone.  It can be relived again exactly as it was experienced the first time on CDs, DVDs, records and other recording devices.  The same goes for special events.  Who doesn’t record them on a camcorder these days?  You can bring the event back to life over and over again.  The only difference is the time and place in which it is re-experienced.

Some other random examples:  when you wash your clothes you are regenerating them back to their original form before they got dirty.  When you mutter a phrase your mother used to say without even knowing it, you are bringing her spirit back through your words.  You are in essence resurrected every morning when you recover from an inescapable period of unconsciousness. 

When you think about it we spend a great deal of time trying to capture and recreate the past which in turn erases a good deal of newness in our present.

Unclaimed Blessings – Older Singles

There was a gem in the local paper this morning from an anonymous commenter that I felt compelled to share.  There have been several articles as of late that have been rather unkind towards those who are well into their life spans, yet have never married.  A situation with which I can well sympathize.  My ringless finger has been like an irritating rash for the past twenty years that absolutely everyone seems to notice and in turn feel compelled for some inexplicable reason to comment upon whether they know me or not.

One of the first things I was typically asked was whether or not I was a homosexual, quickly followed by the aside – not that there is anything wrong with that.  It’s interesting how they always include that aside as if the subject matter cannot be broached without it.  That in itself tells you they aren’t asking the question with heartfelt understanding in mind, but with malicious intent to stigmatize you with tired stereotypes which they themselves clearly believe in.

Well the answer is I’m not, never have been, and am not in the slightest bit curious or tempted by said proposition.  As my mum would say, it simply isn’t my cup of tea.  And to answer the predictable follow up question, no I’m not in denial.    I am of a sound mind and know exactly what makes my heart sing and it is most assuredly the complete opposite of myself.

So once that initial bit is out of the way, desperate to be right about at least one thing in their shallow lives, the accuser usually runs after me to ask yet another inappropriate question that goes along the lines of – I bet you got really hurt before and you’re scared to take a chance again.  Nope.  That is usually followed by the oh so helpful suggestion that I go online to a dating site and pick up a complete stranger.  No thanks.

Then of course in their frustration, not having a “cause” for the “effect” they really scratch to the bone and say something along the lines of you must be self-centered and cold.  I love that one.  It’s never that I’ve been surrounded by inadequate people – as I used to tell people, “it’s not me – it’s them”.

Here’s the truth of the matter – and rest assured it’s not a carbon copy story that can be applied to all unmarried people – men or women.  Everyone’s story is different.  In my case, I honestly enjoy being alone.  I am an only child, I enjoy serenity, I don’t constantly need an audience.  I got to travel the world, do as I wished, and in all honesty, until just a few years ago when I finally did meet someone with whom I’m still in a relationship with today, I just really wasn’t terribly interested in meeting everyone else’s expectations for how a typical life for a woman should plod along.

I didn’t want to marry my “best friend”. How incredibly boring.  We have the capacity for passion, why settle for less? I want to be so wildly in love that decades from now when I look up at my husband from my breakfast toast I still want my heart to skip a beat as I see a sparkle in his eye that is mine and mine alone.

As Robert Frost said it is worth choosing the path less chosen.  Be true to yourself, your path is yours and yours alone.  Don’t let someone else chart it for you. So hang in there ladies and gentlemen.  You may never find your soul mate, but it certainly doesn’t make your life any less fulfilling.  Be the kindest, most educated and inspiring person you can be.  It won’t blunt the countless knives that will never stop being thrown at you by insensitive idiots.  But keep in mind the ones who are the nastiest and the loudest are usually the ones in the unhappiest marriages themselves.  Feel sorry for them, they have to take their frustrations out on someone because they don’t have the courage to lead the lives they truly desire for themselves.  They’re imprisoned in stereotypes from which they will never escape even if they want to because  they themselves swallowed the key.

Despite the myths, no, you can’t die from loneliness.  It can make you mighty miserable.  But it is also a powerful fuel for finding purpose “outside the box” and I will tell you from experience that that can be very fulfilling indeed. It helps you evolve into your true self and there is nothing more attractive than that. So, in returning to the inspiration for this rant, the anonymous gem in the paper was this.  Someone wrote the comment, “long time single people are simply unclaimed blessings.  Be a blessing to yourself and the world around you and you’ll find the rash doesn’t itch quite so bad.

Do We Really Embrace Freedom Of Speech?

I find it ironic these days how practically everything people say is put under public scrutiny.  It doesn’t really matter if you’re famous or just an average citizen venting on a blog.  It’s incredible how people will come out of nowhere to slap a label on you, warranted or not, based on superficial impressions of what your words mean tainted with their own personal agendas. 

The irony is whilst we judge practically everything said around us, whether directed at us personally or not, throughout the week there are still countless numbers of these very same individuals who march off to a church, mosque, temple, synagogue etc. every weekend to worship those (Jesus, Buddha, Saints  etc.) who in their day put convention aside and spoke their minds despite public ridicule.    

Daring to venture off the track

When we’re born we come out screaming. Perhaps subconsciously we know the roller coaster ride has just begun and we’re anticipating the first drop. What we do become aware of soon thereafter is that just like any ride, it does have a termination point. Some people accept the inevitability with grace, others spend their life fighting it with everything they’ve got and the majority drift somewhere in between – albeit mostly with a strong dose of apathy.

I saw a man riding a bicycle down the street today with a cigarette in his mouth and bouncing a hacky sack from hand to foot to hand. Yes indeed, as he was riding the bike he alternately was lifting a foot off a pedal to kick the sack, then replaced the foot and lifted a hand off one of the handlebars to catch said sack. Then replacing the hand and removing the opposite hand to start the juggle all over again. It was fascinating to observe. Here I was travelling down the road, obediently between the lines, following the speed limit set by people I don’t even know and have no compelling reason to unquestionably obey. I found myself envying the juggler riding down the sidewalk on the wrong side of the road, defying gravity and doctor’s warnings about lung cancer.

What an interesting world it would be if we all dared to mess with the ride from time to time. We each have it within ourselves to do it, there is nothing but ourselves to get in the way. Of course all will end at some point, we can’t evade that. But at least we will have taken a route uniquely our own that honors the efforts our mothers made to get us a ticket on the roller coaster in the first place.

Doing away with “leadership”

I often wonder why people feel this innate need to bow before others either literally or figuratively.  All we ever do is complain about governments and yet we insist on holding elections over and over again.  In practically every country in the world they elect the same people over and over again or their friends or their relatives or others who promise to cure all the ills in society yet upon opening their medicine bags they’re empty.  As Mayakovsky said, “clouds in pants.”

Maybe I’m weird but I don’t have this need to be led by others.  Whether in the business world or government or even in religion I don’t feel compelled to look to others to guide me in what I must do.  When there is a collective goal that must be reached – for example peaceful relations within a community- why do we look to the peak of the highest mountain to tell us how to get to the bountiful sea that lay beyond our sight?  It’s counterintuitive.  If you’re stuck in the valley what do you look for?  A stream of some sort that will lead to a river that will eventually wind its way to the sea?  Yes of course.   It’s instinct, not intellect.  We don’t need to ascend the mountaintop, the means to the end are right in front of us.  You have the means to walk or swim on your own accord, no one needs to tell you how to do so or assist you in the effort in order for it to become a reality. 

Even in business, how many times have you as an ordinary rank and file office worker walked into the CEO’s office for advice on how to do your job?  You’d be fired, right?  You figure things out for yourself or team up with co-workers to do what needs to be done.  So what do we look to CEO’s for?  The “big picture”?  How many of you ever even hear from your CEO or pay the slightest attention to the “pep talks” they periodically disseminate to the masses?  If the CEO were to disappear tomorrow would you no longer be able to do your job, would the company fold? 

Just as in a symphony orchestra.  If you can read music, count consistently, and play your instrument will the whole thing suddenly collapse if the conductor walks off the stage?  No of course not.

Another arena of daily life in which we seem fixated on authority in religion.  I got on everyone’s bad side a while back because I refused to bow and kiss the hand of a Priest.  Sorry, I don’t bow to anyone – I’m just as much a child of the universe as the next man or woman.  I think we owe our allegiance to whatever created us, not to each other.  He’s no more capable than I am of solving the big mysteries of existence.   I respect him, but I won’t bow to him. 

Many believe with anarchy comes chaos.  I often think that’s a myth those in power constantly drill into the masses to ensure their own status.  I think that we need to snap out of the delusion that we are feeble and must be led by others.  You can think and act for yourself, you were born with the capacity.  Why discard it?  If you were stranded on a desert island tomorrow with no “leader” would you go mad?  Would you perish?  No, you’d find a way to survive based on your own instincts and freedom of will.  It’s this thing called evolution.

Whose Got The Key To The Cognitive Bounty?

Way back in time before the advent of homo sapiens popularity contests were generally contested and won on the basis of two factors.  1) Who was physically strongest and 2) whether you had a comma or a period nested beneath your caret.

Ah but then Neanderthals were replaced by Homo Sapiens – the new and improved model. Cognitive abilities blossomed. They were chatting, painting on walls, contemplating the past and planning their futures. No longer were they mired in an ever present here and now with no hindsight or foresight.

Fast forward to modern times. Who are the “popular” people? The ones who harvest all that cognitive energy effortlessly for the enlightenment of mankind? Not a chance. Go ahead, turn on the television or read the newspaper. Sports figures (mostly male) are lauded, leaders of countries (practically all male) considered powerful and religious figures (again mostly male) whose meditative efforts more often than not focus on that special nirvana where time is non existent so the past is forgotten and the future irrelevant – they call it a sense of peace. So all that cognitive evolution? It’s like a Ferrari sitting in a locked garage we’ve lost the key to on a remote island that isn’t on anybody’s GPS.

The Good Side Of Madness

In times of yore visionaries were revered.  The more fantastic the story, the greater the awe of the audience, regardless whether you were merely an imaginative bard or you actually believed your fantasy was true.  Many turned to those with spiritual visions which via modern science have often proven to be the product not so much of divine intervention but of temporal lobe aberrations.  Nevertheless people looked for that “answer” or even that “sign” of reassurance that they were headed in the right direction in their lives.  They would travel arduous miles to listen to that preacher in the desert or consult that oracle by the sea.  What has changed?  Are our moral compasses today unwavering or nonexistent?

Today we’re more likely to look within ourselves, if at all, for that fuel that drives us to discard a wicked past or improve on our perceived mediocrity.  Lets face it, now should anyone dare admit to having “visions” such an experience would be unlikely to draw us to that person. Rather it would draw us to our phones to make that emergency call so the person in question could be immediately removed from our vision via institutionalization and thereafter be medicated… often.

So have we stopped sharing our dreams with others?  Does our isolationist approach to spiritualism lead to a more realistic, concentrated effort or is it simply a diluted potion from a potent past?  Do we really want our revelations to be realistic, self-contained and present only when we choose them to be? We may be seeing the world through clear glasses, but doesn’t anyone miss the rainbows?