Thursday, January 21, 2016

Verbosity as a Verb

Single-mindedness is a necessary exercise. How else to “go straight to the store and back, you hear?” It is the ticking off of a list of things to do, the accuracy of accounting and accountability, and of our crucial implementation of protocols and standards and expectations that achieves the correct and precise and needed results. (As a child I always wondered why, whenever we sang the song, “London Bridge is falling down, falling down (and again); we all fall down!” I wondered why the builder just didn’t ensure that it was built correctly!) Then too, one such as I very seldom bothers to ascertain all the facts, find out what the song is really about, check out the references, and make concrete objectivity out of situations. ‘One such as I’ am too right-brained, too intuitive, too abstract, too metaphorical, too distractible, and, well, too wordy.

The metaphorical mind is at once a caged bird. The acculturation of centuries incarcerates it, no matter the freedom its flights of fancy may take. At the same time, the now-a-days mind is advantaged by the very history that brings it to this time-period; all of philosophy and technology are married by the progress of humanity. Nature is affected, yes, but it essentially is on trajectories of its own evolution. It is we, mankind, who with intentions may make the shifts within the reaches of our own consciousness, however accidentally we may land. And yet, conscribed to being human, we cannot yet entirely free ourselves from the cages of society; become a member of any family, any group, any belief system, any town, any city, country, continent or even of our world, and there are evident expectations to follow. How else does one decipher the squiggly characters on this page? Life takes the learning of reading, ‘righting, and ‘rithmatic, right? Just how else is one expected to become (paradoxically) independent? Indeed, to each subgroup within the nests that we birds choose (or not) as we progress among the choices in our lives, there is evident expectation that one follows the rules. Indeed, the very cages within which we each exist are there to protect ourselves from others, as much as they from us. In-deed, it is for the sake of simplicity that our cultures keep it so.

“Just call a spade a spade,” my father often admonished me. He had a very distinct left brain. He was a most punctilious person. Every comma and dot and crossing of the T was precise. He preferred five or six word sentences. He liked simple sentences. “Keep them short. Say it in plain talk. What are you reading, Jane Austen?” Admittedly, our language has changed. (There was even a time when OMG was neither ubiquitous nor understood.) Admittedly, it is easier to be clear, easier to understand what another is getting at, easier to convey the list of groceries, easier to deliver the expectations, and easier to get what you want if you deliver or read or use precise language. (Yet still, one confesses, it takes quite a lot of knowledge to understand the modern lexicon. I for one often interchange LOL for Lots of Love, ha!)

Understanding one another is essential 'in our world'. Yet how are we to expand our knowledge and to stretch beyond our habitual expectations if we do not take on, find out, look up, and even use the new terms, the new ideas, and the new implications arising from ‘out there’? Poetry and analogy and imprecision and obfuscation and parables and stories and mythology and even our every-day lying all have their place in the evolution of our consciousness. Yet precision, so very vital to us too, can ensure that the brakes do not fail. Betwixt practicality and purpose, betwixt intention and product, expectation and delivery, and betwixt thee and me there lies at all times the essential action. (LOL.) Yes, what we do defines our lives. Indeed, life itself is a verb, awaiting movement.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Incarnate Incarcerations (on the death this day of Mummy Joan)

[photo courtesy of Jay Newman]

"Be real!" Yet closed doors are so intimidating. Dare one knock? How to reach the beleaguered inside? Especially if you’ve been told not to disturb! So the dying person inside wants no visitors; does not want to be seen so ill. So the housekeeping may be judged. So the succour and the care and the chances of communication are truncated, stilted, breathed by implications through (these) terse little sentences. (And we all know how tone is read into text.) So, like broken grammar and ill-begotten woes, one persists with misguided meanings and platitudes, until an ineffectuality imprisons not only the person inside, but the persons without; rendering impotent those attempting to reach you with their support and considerations. Eventually life itself goes away. Someone is left to mourn. We each are prisoners of our own making. We each are trapped from the inside.

We admire those who say it like it is, full of conviction, full of certainty. We admire those who feel so self-assured that nothing and nobody gets in their way. We admire those who lead and dominate and control from their self-righteousness. Don’t we? Irony! These are the ones who started religions. These are the ones who created political movements. These are the ones who invented institutions and rules and regulations and expectations that we all submit, subscribe, conscript, and cauterize ourselves to the status quo. Historically, these are the divisive trend setters. These are those who would have us follow in obeisance and even gratitude. Give to the coffers! Submit to the greater will. Wear the uniforms of religiosity and cult and club. Show by one’s very garb that one is a-This (and certainly not a That!)

Yet, let me not to the marriage of medians and momentum admit impediment. We each are prisoners of our own making. Most usually, for one to become a-This or a-That, it takes the eschewing and disavowal of a-Something Else. And not until we've had our fill are we perhaps ready to spill over onto the map of that which is Yet More. Problem is, that map is most usually set out by others who have gone before. It is not easy to find new continents, new lands, new rivers, and new streams of consciousness to explore. How do we course beyond the boundaries of our established selves? How are we readily freed from within?

Yet surely there is freedom from the prison of the self? After all, we persist in trying to reach beyond the bars of our fiscal and physiological means to attain yet more. We rake in the memories and that which we can touch in an ever-increasing memento of the past, year for year. Our memoirs would give much to the passages of significance to us, naturally. After all, we attained! We conceived. We bore fruit. We existed! And we grew! Or did we? Yes! We grew like those who went before us. We grew like those who are around us. We grow older, and old. And eventually we indeed are sans teeth, sans eyes, sans ears, sans everything. (Not true, Mummy Joan?) Then are we free? Or do we stay forever caged in someone else’s concept of Eventuality?

Can enlightenment imbue the very atomic structure of our cage-bars? Can enlightenment course through the skeins of our brains, untangle our hearts, and set wing-ed the dross and dearth of our corporeal selves? Does it give breath itself a sense of breathing, and breathing itself a sense of living, and living itself a sense of life? Do we but need intrude on ourselves, enter the dark cracks and woven seams and descend the crevasses of our own beings? And in that manner, can one have no need to go beyond the door and intrude upon another?

Or are we to stay caged, locked up behind the portals of our self-containment, hardly really Real, at all? 

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Whither The Weather Whether Wherever?

Analogies eventually run aground. Yet provisioning for a paradigm shift has its fits and starts; it’s a rocky feeling on the incumbent vessel as it’s tugged at the tethers. Obfuscations abound. Some shifts are so subtle we are not aware they’re taking place. We awake the next moment to realizing that what we (‘always’) saw on the port side of our lives has been swung to starboard. (A ‘Child of God’ phrase can be off-putting, let alone to one who has never seen the sea.) Yet in such realizations (particularly once one has adapted to the new terms of existence) one is aware of being afloat in a new world of possibilities. Yet there are some paradigms one invites in with a fuller knowledge of what can be, and they are not necessarily to be actualized with gentle subtlety. Some shifts in the status quo take a massive amount of thinking, of feeling, effort, hoping, and even praying. Twixt circumstance and chance and opportunity and luck lies many a slip to keep one at harbour. Yet at last to set sail, one’s spinnaker billowing, is indeed to feel the momentum of what is yet to be. For what journey is not a quest for something yet more? And what venture is not a mission embarked on for other vistas and attainments yet to explore?

We can be trapped by our own inertia, and can spin our wheels like hamsters within the confines of our cellular existences. One’s moving geographically is not necessarily freeing oneself from a cage. We trade in one set of habituations for another. We may live within a larger set and thereby attend a larger playground of opportunities, yet remain essentially the same person. (“And what’s wrong with that!?”)

If enlightenment is a journey and not a product then seeing more and more vistas in this world may not necessarily change the attitude, responsibility to the Whole, or habitual proclivity of the voyager. Ships were made to voyage, though they be safer left in the harbour. And many a vessel, tended to and cared for while moored within the breakwater can appear altogether more pristine than a vessel constantly out at sea. Comparisons are deceiving. The captain of the cabin cruiser sees a sea differently from the captain of a tanker. At base of this analogy of voyages, vessels, and opportunity, is the issue of who really is ‘in charge’? Integration, in its fullness, is much more difficult if one has never even seen the sea.

“Relax,” says the Buddha, “everything is chaotic and that is as it should be.” Easy for him to say. When there are dependents and creditors and longshoremen and passengers to our lives we are aware we exist not entirely to ourselves. Each person ‘in the know’ of ourselves deserves some measure. And we grow by them, as they do by us. Yet still, we are free to venture, and to change. And a paradigm shift can take place within, as we know, whether one is still anchored in a harbour or set out to sea to be ‘free’.

Self-centricty; Bondsmanship; Ego-centricity; Groupsmanship; Aggrandisement; and Acculturation attends the stages of our enlightenment, provisions our vessels, accords rank and file and determines docking privileges and club-standings and even cabin allocations. And we, as the captain of our very own vessels in varying measures succumb to the greater order, give obligation to crews, or we forge out on our own, only to find ourselves perhaps really adrift from the whole. But to ‘be at sea’ is not necessarily to be lost or adrift or imperiled. No, to set sail within, solo, can be to venture into new paradigms, fully conscious that life is the taking-on of new storms, of new experiences, and of new challenges. Enlightenment lives.

Or one can just stay within one’s vessel and await on and on and on the fairest of weather, perhaps one day to be tugged away... by an ‘other’? Who else to blame if indeed one eventually runs aground? Hm?

Saturday, January 2, 2016

New Year's Nuances

Newness fascinates. Centuries of evolving have given us markers. Birth dates. Year dates. Month and week dates. Time dates too. And tick-tock we live in the interim. But the brand-brand new? Each of everything is really so very attached to The All. So we categorize and quantify. We arrange and organize. And in our accretion there appears always room for adding on to what came before. Seems obvious. Yet the New Year’s Resolutions are decidedly a feeling of turning a page. For me, they are a clean slate.

Or are they?

It is because of dissatisfaction with the old that I want to change for the new. (At Christmas, especially, it’s a pity that my belt-size gets bigger, or that my shirt size swells. I shall decidedly diet, after New Year’s.) But we all know these usual holiday-season maladies are not the ‘real’ new things of which we speak. No, it’s the ‘other’ habits. We want to change our old, last year’s habits, for new, more-better ones.

Somewhere, a very long time ago, there was an article I read that suggested that everything one is and everything one does is habitual. The earlier it is ingrained, the more difficult it is to change. One’s accent is a good example. And there are body movements and ways of laughing and holding the head that are very much like one’s parents and siblings, passed down through the gene-stream. We even think habitually. Neural-synapses course through the corridors of our physiology such that we establish traffic patterns like maps in the cerebellum, like a personal geography in the hippocampus, like star-charts in the corpus-collosum, like contentions in the psyche. Our bodies resonate with impulses. And we react and respond and have attitudes and hold forth and move and do as we much have done month after month and year after year, until the decades add up and up. Still, we make New Year’s Resolutions.

Newness fascinates. It takes apparently 23 or so days to change a habit. “I shall no longer use the F word” is typical. (Well, at least not in company). (Definitely not in writing). (Maybe not in front of my friends). (Perhaps not when I’m driving). (Well, no, not at all). After all, that’s a foul way of thinking, indeed. Do we not hear, see, taste, touch, or smell words? Like sh.... Eewh! A foul word it is, indeed! (Especially at the dinner-table!)

Twenty-three or so days later (after being gentle with oneself for the relapses,) one no longer automatically spews out the ‘bad’ word, or does the old habit; one is changed! Application is the key. We are to keep applying a sense of intention and self-consciousness to the new habit, and we CAN change. Why, even not being able to walk much can be changed. How else does the non-runner eventually train to do the marathon? How else does the surprise of a Ukulele or a Zither (received by friends at Christmas) get eventually to be played? One learns the chords. One practices the new habit. And one acquires the new. Step by step.

“A gentleman is defined not so much by what he does in front of others,” intoned Mr. Jones, my old Solomon House housemaster, “but by what he thinks when by himself.” It was to be one of the great touchstones of my life, that phrase. Yes, new habits begin truly within. The difficulty is in persisting with them, sometimes, without. Changes that are fundamental affect not only the self, but those around us too. While we take on the new we can wrestle and struggle and be difficult. After all, someone usually has to hear you practicing those chords! Still, go for it! Get new. Get brighter. Get yet more light. Happy New Year!