Thursday, October 26, 2017

Revolution's Rub

Art by Milo Manera (on Pinterest)

Revolution gnaws at the fetters. It itches. It festers. And it can galvanize. Unless we activate in us the seeds of revolution up until our individual "moment of poof", that ineluctable moment at which one ceases to live, we may else but be trapped within centuries of inescapable immutability. That's what happened to the Egyptians. Three thousand years or more of little change. Imagine! They experienced no revolution. (Yet which individuals still lie, stifled?) And then came the Romans.

"Et tu Brute?" Yes, we are essentially esoteric. We hanker with trivia towards the objective of mental and material acquisition, or not. And when at last we shuffle off this mortal coil we've hardly conceived of the plagiarisms we've garnered en route.  (Isn't phraseology generative?)

Yet the mercurial combination of the six elements that comprise each one of us; Hydrogen; Oxygen; Nitrogen; Carbon; Calcium; and Phosphorous, are like the six Figures of Speech, or the six Themes of Conflict. Six, six, six, a number of its own significance. As for ourselves, so too for all of them! Six elements in magic apportionments; a unique recipe for each individual. Yet despite that uniqueness, we continue to cluster in clans and under customs and in cliques. And we yield to the status quo. We await some other leader. We await some savior. We await. And time slips by. Self-reliance, self-actualization, individuation, and independence are not our birthright, it seems; we learn these aspects of ourselves through hard-won experience. Or not.

Attribution is our nemesis. What makes a thing of value is directly proportional to the value I give it. (A plastic horse is a plastic horse.) Hence sentimentality. Hence souvenirs. Hence collectibles of things and the emotional 'necessity' to complete sets, or volumes, (especially if you're like me.) Like pursuing that book, or a cd that someone referenced. Or what about binge-watching a tv series? Someone else's life can indeed be so much more interesting than every-day reality.

In the grand universal scheme, we make knowledge of the particulars, like naming the universe:
"My very exotic mother jerked suddenly under Neptune's pillow." 
"If Mercury begins the sequence and Pluto ends it, it makes sense."
 ("Ah..., Mercury, Venus, Err, ... Oh! A mnemonic!")

Esoterica can be disarming. In the six Elements of Classic Composition (see my sea-star Blog essay below*), or in the six Themes of Conflict; or when considering the Seven Deadly Sins; or the... Well, the list goes on; in all their fragmenting there is not necessarily the intuition of Unity. Or is there? Surely history itself, with its wars and revolutions and horrors and pretexts and pretensions (and achievements too) has been perpetuated by mans' fairly constant fragmenting of the health of the whole? We tend to particularize. We see isolated instances and may presume them to epitomize the whole; we see the bulk of the bell curve and forget the many outliers. As for me, so for you, but not necessarily as for you, so for me. It's easy to judge. It's easy to hate. It's easy to subjugate or control (if one is more powerful). It is not easy to lead, to inspire, to elevate, and to integrate.

Thing is, bottles of wine with the labels 'Revolution', and 'The Rebel', (recently shared along with a visit to Canada's parliament building,) as well as memorable phrases like "my moment of poof," enliven this discourse. We yoke together everything that brought us, each of us, to our birth, or not. Known, or not, it's called 'Family Constellations'. Apparently, the genetic imprinting is so deeply imbued in us that we scarcely can escape habits programmed by DNA. And then we go on to learn more. We add on. But just how much, actually, do we consciously choose? To what degree are we given to thinking about our thinking? Always? Continually? Therein lies the rub.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Small-Talk Subtleties

My Dear Friend,

How delighted I always am to hear from you! The news of your life swirls in my head from time to time, and although I do mix up some details, I can always refer back to our last conversation, communication, or missive. Yes, I miss you. I think of the light in your eyes. I hear the tones of your voice. I recall your laugh. These are the individual things that drew us to each other, and they are the knots in the weave of time, keeping us from fraying apart. But unlike my tapestry metaphor, in which the representation of one's life eventually becomes a series of static images, our story has an ongoing vitality; in fact, even the memories become coloured, layered, govern alternate truths as I forget the particulars and the precision of the past. And yes, unless we keep up the chit-chat, we may indeed lose contact altogether. Especially if we change addresses.

How do I address the warp and weave of the past? How do I fill you in when the movements of my own patchwork have been so varied? And for that matter, yours too! You've met friends, lost things, lost people, lost some of your hopes and dreams. Who has not? As Browning wrote, "Ah but one's reach should exceed one's grasp, or what's a heaven for?" And just how much have we not each indeed achieved in the grasping for life itself? The things we've acquired. The friends we've made: 'reason, season, lifetime'. The new family members who've joined the proverbial tree. The old family members who've had to leave this life. Pets too. A dog. A cat. A bird. All configure in the emotional attachments we've taken on. No not all is catabolism. Not all is entropy. Much of our lives has been enlivened by the rejuvenating spirit of yet more and more experience; new words; more adventure; more things to do; to go see. There are new people to meet. There are new problems to solve. There is this or that place yet to go to, too.

Did I tell you that we were last in Kalimandura? No? Impossible to find! Yes, spent a glorious ten days there. The walks. The shopping. The beaches. The bargain hunting. It was so interesting. Got the t shirt. A good place to go! And next is Ortangmyrig. Yes, it's a place we've been to before, but we’ve some dear friends there, and they're a lovely couple. You'd really like them! 

Abraxis and Braywurst have been friends since way back. They love music. But he's snobbish about country. She cooks. And always asks about allergies. And then there's Carmine and Dagnab. You'd like them! He mows the lawn. But never before 9:00am. Did I tell you about Erbet's new car? (His sixth.) Or what about Fringlback's new puppy? He barks back at it, angrily! (Reminds me of when I had a dog and a cat. Miss them. Always had to clean up after them, though. Quite a bother!) Makes me think of Grautmug and Hannibal. They differ loudly about the sports they watch. And what of Inezza and Jasper? Heard they left for elsewhere. Never could settle. Then there's Kapok and Linguirra. She loves to ride horses; he's into motorbikes. (I recall slipping the clutch and turfing a friend of mine off my Honda 70, once upon a time.) Oh, and Marvelluex and Nunsence are a fine couple. (One worries, though, that they never argue.) And as for Oseoid and Penelope, why, I heard last they were still wrangling over which meme to wrest; far too intellectual for me! Yet Ribald and Solipsism are the truest of friends, maybe; they do tend to follow me everywhere. Then again, Tiempo and Urval take their turns at betrayal; the persistent drama indeed can be tempestuous. Of course, you'll recall Volmorant and Whatsis; they have taken new residence; in with the new and out with the old!! Such is the lot of Xaveru and Yente and Zola too. Alone. We each dance to our own drummer.

Spiral dynamics, psycho-geometrics, and the seven sins attend this discourse, (though we've hardly mentioned the Memes.) Still, in the small-talk subtleties, it all is a lesson in the listening, indeed. And you? What’ve you been up to?

With love, Me

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Considering Compassion

Compassion is a learn-ned commodity. The taste is off. Honey comes in varieties. A memory makes of something better than it was, or worse. We love to be spoiled. But having walked, it is hard to have to crawl. Having flown, it is hard to be caged. Having had a clear head, it can be awful to suffer a hangover. Life is full of comparisons. And being always fully present is too much to expect; much of life is an escape from the difficult. Yet true compassion arises when we ourselves have "been there", when we can empathize, (which is more than just to sympathize).

The new drug, after the first night, might take "getting used" to. Clogged, cluttered, and chaotic, I tried with equanimity to continue. But the next five days of cold sweats and sleeplessness, fuzzy thinking and my subsequent inability to practice minimizing the chronic pain very much disadvantaged me. Habit made of my moments but brief success. Be polite. Be respectful. Get up. Get ready. Eat. Walk, steadily. Stay the course. Write. Edit. Think carefully. (Dammit.)

So very dependent on our chemistry, even the smallest of tasks can be daunting when we're under the influence of the unusual. Was it so for the wasp that recently sank its mandibles into my marmalade? Keeping still, I watched, fascinated. Oblivious to me, me the provider, the treasure giver, the person who easily might swat it, the creature gorged. And when at last it'd had its fill, like an over-drunk patron at a bar, it bashed into my forefinger as it took flight. "Bzzt!" it reacted, angrily, but did not sting. (Yet surely no flower, ever after, will yield such sweetness.)

Sometimes we can make conscious choices. Sometimes things sink into us without our knowledge, insidiously. So many chemicals. So many poly-this-or-that’s. And since we have to eat and drink and survive, we are continually affected by the molecules entering our blood streams. Just so for the pills I recently substituted: gabbapenton, instead of pregabalin. They represent a $300 saving over my three-monthly regular supply. For three years now my body has responded well, after more than ten years in the power-chair. Back in 2104, only able to walk a few steps, followed by an emergency episode of multiple embolisms in both lungs, it became necessary to move more, to walk again, and to do drugs. A superb Doctor manages me. And between heart, blood, eyes, and nerve pain pills, my daily cocktail has kept me improving. And then I tried (with the doctor's permission) the cheaper drug. And, boy, did I pay!

But five weeks later, my older drug regimen re-established, I walked with my cane more than a kilometer through the nearby forested Devonian Gardens. Soft underfoot, tall treed, shadowed, with shallow streams, some wood bridges, and occasional stairs. Taxiing. Challenging. Once, my cane aloft, my hyperactive mind making it my South African army rifle, I pointed it in fear at the sound of an unseen something rushing at me. Heightened pain sensitivity and age-old memories pricked my sensibilities. But the noise became a big dog who galloped past, followed eventually by its owner. Reality dominates. Yet each step jarred its course through my spine. 

The lonely regimen of self-discipline is a heroic thing, for anybody. One has to break through the synaptic barrier of addiction to the body's expectations. One has to train to run a marathon. A new guitar chord can take weeks of practice to make natural. And self-discipline, that measure of attaining yet more and more over pain, is very much a matter of mind over matter. So too for the addiction to drugs, to booze, to extraneous 'needs', to food, or things. (That wasp might've come back for more, but with the marmalade disappeared it'd have no choice but to visit the regular.) Humans too can have a pot of gold in mind. (Even self-discipline can prove detrimental). But for some, the innate chemical composition of their being needs help. I cannot yet dispense with my drugs, even though I've slowly cut back from nine pills a day to just two. I depend on chemistry. You?