Friday, October 31, 2008

Hard to Love....

Sometimes it's really hard to choose love...

As much as we might want to try.

This post is kind of personal and stupid. I won't be offended if anyone clicks away. It's just something I'd like to say. Thinking "out loud".

Tuesday, I went to apply for a part-time job. There's something I want to get done by January and a part-time job would help me do it. I'm not the only person who's tight on money right now ~ but I'm the only one who can do anything about my situation.

I didn't actually apply. I'd called on Monday and was led to believe that all I had to do was show up. So, I decided to take a long walk there. It was a pleasant day weatherwise. Not hot. Not cold. A little bit cloudy. The walk was more than a couple of miles but I was looking forward to that part.

Once I arrived at the "job site", I figured I'd be shown how to do the project which was building a simple database. There wouldn't even be much programming involved. If anything, it was a high level data entry. I'd been told that I could take the information home and do it from here. We'd even agreed on a price.

When I got there and met the woman in person, I could see it in her eyes that she didn't like what she saw. It wasn't an age thing, either. She knew from the phone call that I am "retired" which is usually a keyword for "not young and spry".

Maybe it was the clothes, although I know when to modify that. I'm not a moron. I didn't go in there looking like a temple dancer. If anything, I looked like an old hippie ~ which is how I look all the time. Maybe I looked like her ex-mother-in-law. Those things are always impossible to pinpoint. It could be anything and I'm not going to waste my energy trying to figure it out.

She gave me the "we have other people to talk with" speech and I knew right then. The call the previous day had been deceptive. I got up and left with a probably rather curt "good luck".

I went across the street to a shopping mall and consoled myself with a Thai lunch at a restaurant. Then I walked back here.

As the day went on, I began to ache. Every muscle. By the end of the day ~ and the next day ~ and yesterday, I felt like I'd been beaten up. All my muscles ached, my throat was sore and every step felt like walking through thick molasses. I was sick. As in no-shit-I'm-really-sick sick.

This morning, I feel better. Not entirely healed. But I do know the origin of the sickness and why I felt the way I did.

I seem to have a constitutional inability to tolerate dishonesty. This almost-Asperger's quality to my personality makes living in the world really difficult sometimes. Most people lie to avoid confrontation. They lie to make their own lives easier. They lie for a variety of reasons.

I'm not suggesting that we should be so honest that we're cruel. I don't think honesty has to be "rigourous" in the sense that we say everything that comes into our heads without regard for anyone else's feelings. I believe we can be honest and kind at the same time. To do so respects another person's autonomy and dignity. It allows them to make choices.

Is it unreasonable to say that I think it would have been perfectly okay for that woman to be honest with me? To simply say, "this isn't a good match and here's why"? What is the purpose of the deception? Why mislead me to benefit herself?

It's times like that when I find it hard to choose love in my life. It's times like that when all the old toxicity releases itself into my body and makes me sick. The root cause is rage. Unexpressed rage.

My rage isn't outwardly aggressive. It turns inward and makes me sick. Then it globalizes. Now that makes a lot of sense, doesn't it?

It's an unhealthy dynamic and I'm aware of that part. I know that consciously choosing to love is important at those times.

It's important to choose to love because then I can feel some compassion for someone who is so uncomfortable that she couldn't tell another human being the truth. I can feel some compassion for the fact that she is likely not even aware of the damage she does when she misleads someone, leads him or her to believe something that isn't true, causing that person to take action on her words. I can feel some compassion for someone who is not living the life she could probably be choosing, if only she knew it existed.

I'm no longer angry at her. I just feel a sort of hollowness. And I know for certain now that I can never knowingly dunk my toes into that lake again.


Thursday, October 30, 2008

We All Need To Be Inspired....

"I can choose peace, rather than this."
A Course in Miracles

This morning, I was talking with someone about Obama. Well, we were talking about Obama.

One of the things we discussed peripherally is how all of us need to feel inspired by others. No matter how much we claim to be entirely self-contained, that we are all islands, the need to hear words that inspire, read ideas that make us feel hopeful and to live lives that have purpose ~ all of it matters.

Tonight, I watched Obama's TV special and could feel and see the inspiration he provides. People legitimately like him. It was evident in the way they looked at him, the way they talked to him. It wasn't about cheering or turning the interaction into a rally. He's someone they would like to sit down across a table and have a good conversation with.

I was especially impressed when he talked about healing the nation.

It touched something within many of us. This country has been through a lot in the past eight years. What Bill O'Reilly has glibly called "The Culture War" has been an ideological war. It has left scars. Most people (including me) felt and still feel somewhat hopeless about it. Obama makes it seem possible that it might get turned around.

No easy fixes though. No instant solutions. This is damage that runs deep and has become so pervasive that I don't think anyone can wave a magic wand and make it all better. It will take years to turn it around, if that is what American people decide to do.

It will take a lot of willingness to be open, to be able to see a new point of view and embrace it. Creating a national character that includes, as Mario Cuomo said in 1984, love and compassion will have to be a conscious choice.

Barack Obama will be a good beginning but he isn't where it ends. It will require all of us, all of us who are willing, to adopt a new way of life and thought. It will mean reaching outside of the self (and self interest) to include others as part of our human community in a meaningful way. It will take prayer for those who pray, determination from those who are strong and a willingness to inspire by those who are so gifted. We will inspire by the beliefs we hold and the behavior we choose. We will choose by the kind of society we create. Every single day. It will mean challenging ourselves on all levels, doing the internal work necessary to be a part of a national evolution. It will require a willingness to give up harshness and duality, aggression and power-over, the belief that every person is on his or her own, that human value is determined by utility and monetary wealth.

It will be the foundation of the metaphorical village, creating both personal attitudes and public policies that encourage togetherness, the end to separation and simply choosing to love.

That is what it will take after election day, after the votes have been cast and counted. Every single one of us can choose to be a part. I hope we do.


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A Social Conservative Against Proposition 8

Today is the "Write to Marry: Blogswarm for No on 8" which is being sponsored here. Please visit.. and add your own post if you choose to write about this.

So far, I am one of the few social conservatives who has spoken out against Proposition 8.

There are many reasons for that, some are the standard "I know gay folks who are really cool" and "it's wrong to hate" reasons.

Both of those reasons are valid. They're just not the reasons I decided to take a stand against it.

I've never been one to believe personal feelings are necessarily a valid reason to create public policy. I'd rather look at the big picture and try to determine the long range social implications.

Most would agree, I suspect, that marriage creates stability in any society.

Most would agree, I suspect, that three important characteristics of any value system would be courage, character and commitment. That is something that's sorely lacking in this particular society and has been for a long time. Look at the marriage statistics. While I haven't researched it at this very moment, if I'm not mistaken, 50% of marriages result in divorce. That creates a root instability as children grow up without two parents. It has created a cheapened view of commitment, essentially saying "I'm only committed as long as it feels good".

So how in the world does it make sense to tell 10% of the population (perhaps more) that their courage, their character, their commitment to each other, shouldn't be recognized when so many complain about this very same breakdown in social values in traditional marriages?

There seems to be a misconception that gay people are only in relationships for sex and lust. (Actually, that is why I prefer the term "gay" to "homosexual" which implies that it's all about sex.)

Gay people's relationships are the same as straight people's relationships. They love the same way. They fight the same way. They want the same things. They value the same things. They want stability, just like straight people. They want commitment. Just like straight people. They want rights. Just like straight people.

To imply that their relationships are less valid, simply because they are not like "our" relationships (an erroneous belief anyway) can be described in only two ways ~ discrimination and judgement.

It has been said that choices are be made from two foundational feelings: love or fear.

We can choose love ~ or we can choose fear. Discrimination and judgement come from fear. Acceptance and inclusion grow from love?

Which would you rather choose?


Sunday, October 26, 2008

Kids.... Teenagers... Young Adults

Friday night, I attended a fundraiser for an educational scholarship program. The basic idea is to create a fund that students can use to continue to attend college. There were five or six students who were ready to graduate and had benefited from the program. They all acknowledged that without the fund, they would have been unable to attend college.

As always, there was excellent food, wonderful music and great company.

Something came up in our discussion that night. There were probably ten of us to a table and the conversation gradually warmed up as we got comfortable with each other and stopped talking only with the people we knew.

We got on the topic of kids, how they have a drive and motivation and how some seem to bloom very late.

One of the people at the table was a 24-year-old woman who never opened her mouth once through the entire program and sat sullenly with an iPod stuck in her ears, tuning all of us out.

Her situation, in short, is that she lives with her mother, has only had one job in her life and has not gone to college. She basically spends all day at home on the Internet. She's snarly and disrespectful to her mother who, by the way, paid for her to be there.

Later I had a private conversation with someone about what we each would do if we had a kid like that.

Here's my plan: I would disconnect the Internet. First thing. She would not be able to sit on the Internet all day. I would make it very clear that she is expected to get a job. At 24, she's already past the point where I would provide an education for her. She'd need to do it another way. Grants, scholarships, loans ~ whatever she decided. I'd provide housing only.

One thing is clear. I would not totally support an able-bodied 24-year-old.

I'll grant you that I lean more toward "tough love" when it comes to those kinds of things. I would have been a very strict parent. Compassionate and caring, of course ~ but there are certain standards of behavior I would expect. Cultural considerations aside, I believe kids need to develop something on their own. If they want to continue living at home, that's great ~ but they need to be contributing to the family.

If she has a medical or psychological problem, of course I wouldn't toss her out on her ear ~ but she would be expected to follow medical directions or see a counselor regularly. Hopefully, those needs would be apparent before she got to that age though.

As for the iPod, there's no way in pluperfect hell any kid of mine would have one at that age if she didn't have a job. And she wouldn't have been listening to it at a public event. I would have told her to take it out and put it away. There were people her age at the table ~ so it's not that she didn't have any company in her own age range.

Parental laziness does a kid no favors. Providing everything they might want so they have no motivation to contribute to the family income is called enabling and it will never serve the kid well. I wonder about that sometimes because I've met so many parents who allow their kids to remain adolescent until their mid-20s. It might be the easier road but there are karmic implications for not giving a child what he or she needs to provide for themselves and their families. When we have children, we are expected to teach them and guide them. No kid should have to leave home without benefit of an education, an understanding of household finances, how to use credit, how to manage a bank account, how to cook and how to take care of basic life issues. I would also hope they have some foundational values to make choices and decisions. Ultimately they might choose values different than mine. As impossible as it is to believe, not every human being has an attraction to Thai culture (ahem) ~ but they need something. When we get hit in the head with the big stuff, we need something to fall back on and guide us.

What do you think? What would you do with such a 24-year-old as I've described?


Friday, October 24, 2008

If this doesn't give you nightmares.....

...nothing will.

This is one of those "Be Brave" things. While I know everyone's drivers license picture is horrible, most people don't look hung over.

(No, I wasn't! :)


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Wellness Wednesday: Accepting Reality....

It was interesting to read the comments on what we would all do if we didn't have any limitations.

Of course, limitations are a part of life, too. The culture most of us were raised in proports that we should all have anything we want, whenever we want it. There are no limitations. There are only opportunities. "Challenges are just opportunities with the wrapping still on."


Horse puckey!

I think part of growing up is accepting that we all have limitations of one type or another. I have health limitations, financial limitations, age limitations and social limitations.

One of the best ways to be well in my opinion is to create a life worth living within those limitations, rather than denying them. To accept them gives us a realistic operational framework as a baseline.

I think it's much healthier to do that instead of hanging on to magical thinking, the belief that if we just want it hard enough or believe it strongly enough that we can have everything we ever dreamed of.

Dreams and fantasies are largely a child's pursuit, a way of developing creativity and establishing possibilities. As long as they are realistic, it can help a kid come up with self-knowledge and the ability to discover his or her own passions and natural inclinations. In adults, unrealistic fantasies are very unattractive.

Read the personals ads in any newspaper to show the disconnect between reality and fantasy.

What do you think?


Monday, October 20, 2008


Yesterday I wrote about my mainstream fantasies fading to black.

Actually, that happened a long time ago.

My mother tells me (and I have a vague recollection) that when I was six years old, I told her firmly that I would not grow up, get married and have babies. Of course at such a young age, I had no idea what else was available ~ but I knew the "building" life wouldn't be for me.

It's not that I put these things in a hierarchy and determine that one way of being is more important than another ~ or even more socially relevant. Obviously though, householders are very important. Without them, there would be no "us". People need to have children and create that life. For those of us who are not attracted to it, it looks as foreign as something from another planet. It is hard to understand the basis of it.. or how it can appeal to so many.

For those of us who live nearly always in our hearts and spirits, fairly removed from material existence, it looks like a burden. Day-to-day responsibilities and the burden of having to be constantly building, creating and improving feels Sisyphean.

We are about ideas. My best times are spent in fairly deep contemplation, usually about the nature of life on this plane or some other philosophical conundrum. I'm an observer, rather emotionally detached from dailiness.

Some would view that as dilettantism. Self-indulgent nonsense. Many wonder why we don't just settle down and get busy shifting. As one person blogged some time ago, most of life is shifting things from one place to another.

Being contemplative isn't dilettantism though. It is something that drives us, makes us feel whole, gives us a sense of purpose in the world. When I was trying to live that other life, even in its modified form, it was like a trip through the hell realms because I couldn't find any purpose. Every day was hollow and meaningless. I could never create and build in the traditional way. My marriage failed because I couldn't connect into that world. When I returned at the end of the day to my house full of "stuff", I wondered if that's all there really is. When I looked at my husband, I wondered why we were doing what we were doing. That unrootedness led me to do a lot of drinking. When I stopped that, I was face-to-face with a full existential crisis and had to start making changes.

Any logical person might wonder why I am writing all this drivel. It's not of any particular interest. Simple. I'm trying to be understood. Often I feel like a singular voice in a universe that doesn't speak my language. The ghost in the machine.

Why I feel the need to be heard and understood at this stage is unknown. For now, I'm just going with it.

One of the ways I realized this is that when I think about what life would look like if I had no limitations, it always comes back to this basic path.

I wish all the cultures of the world, including my chosen one, placed more relevance on it.

So.. let me put this out there: If you had no limitations ~ financial, cultural, physical or emotional ~ what would your life look like?


Sunday, October 19, 2008

Sacred Life Sunday in a Manner of Speaking....

I always feel a bit deceptive when I label a post as "Sacred Life Sunday" because the truth is that I don't particularly like weekends.

Never have.

This is another part of living the kind of life I do, one that is separate from the mainstream.

Over the past week or so, I've been making actual progress toward getting the things done that I need to do to move. The main thing, of course, was dealing with the systems enough to get legal again with my drivers license. (It was expired and I had to renew it. The clerk was astounded that I could get along as long as I did without legal ID. Actually, it was quite simple. Nearly everything in my life is automated. My bills are automatically paid. I don't write checks. My funding comes in a monthly direct deposit. It's simple to live off the grid, thanks to the Internet.)

Anyway, I am making a lot of calls and filling out lots of forms, trying to find housing in either Berkeley or Humboldt County. Some of that requires phone calls, faxing or express mailing. I can't do that on weekends.

Weekends leave me feeling cut off. Another drawback is that most of the people I know are in family units who typically spend their weekends together. During the week, I am more engaged. The people I know usually call during the week because their family members are at work, school or doing something else.

So.. there's nothing sacred to report about my Sundays. My life is freeform enough that my sacredness depends on the day I happen to focus on it - which may or may not be on Sundays. The idea of scheduling sacredness is rather absurd.

This past few days, I've been thinking about Sister Kathryn's comment to my past post. She writes of being a nun for 43 years and how they've created a supportive, almost socialistic, community. In really pondering the comment, I can almost grab the thread, realizing that is how I would have liked to live. It's a missing piece. An idea without form. If I'd known that when I was 20, I might have made some very different choices.

Instead, I wasted a lot of energy and too many years fighting against the tides of the mainstream. No salmon-like moves here. It was always very hard and alienating.

I kept thinking that if I uttered the right password or knew the secret handshake, I would unlock the door and the mainstream would open wide. It would embrace me. The light would stream in and the stars would sparkle.

It never did.

So... looking from this vantage point, that of a nearly senior citizen, I'm aware of how much time I wasted. I wandered from this to that, never connecting to anything, because I couldn't find the secret that would unlock the door.

Not that I regret it. Well, maybe a little. My choices were my choices ~ and I'm sure I've gotten something important from the life I ended up living. Still, I would never encourage anyone else to take my path. My belief now is that if you have a passion, honor it! Don't let anything else get in the way, especially someone else's expectations. I wasted far too many years trying to please people who wouldn't have been pleased, even if I'd walked on water and turned water into wine.

At the root, we all know who we are. Denying it doesn't make sense - and before you know it, a 57-year-old face is staring back at you in the mirror.

What I do know is that it will be very different in the future. Berkeley is a pit stop. When I get to my heart's home, I will be spending a lot of time at the wat. If possible, I might even take a year and live a monastic life. The draw is becoming stronger all the time as I let my mainstream fantasies fade to grey.

I'll write a bit more about what a monastic life in Thailand will look like for a woman. It's different than for a man (obviously). In the interests of keeping this post a reasonable length, I'll save that for a few days from now.

Hope everyone is having a peaceful Sunday evening.


Thursday, October 16, 2008

What's this socialism thing?

After watching last night's debate and the introduction of "Joe the Plumber", I began listening to some of the reactions. Throughout the day today, I also listened. Talk radio, television and even my trip to the DMV this morning provided me with an opportunity to hear what people are saying.

Many people seemed to be afraid that Barack Obama was about to introduce socialism to the US. Their voices shook and their eyes clouded over. When pressed to define socialism, they couldn't. They painted word pictures of a Stalinist state, grey and colorless, a drone-like state. A lot of it was outdated Cold War rhetoric.

I began to search Google for an academic definition of "socialism". I found a few but most were so heavily propagandized that I couldn't cite them. As someone who has written for a good long time (over 40 years), I recognize how language is used and the implications of one word being chosen over another.

To put it in very simple terms, socialism is a political and economic theory or system in which the means of production, distribution, and exchange are owned by the community collectively, usually through the state.

Now that hardly sounds like anything Obama has in mind. Obama has never suggested getting rid of private property. Nor has he suggested that all wealth be redistributed. He has said that those who make over 250K a year will experience a tax increase. So I wish people who have not done their research would stop connecting anything Obama is doing to the now thoroughly demonized socialism. That is a word being thrown about willy-nilly without definition to generate fear among an anti-intellectual population which has been brainwashed into believing predatory market freedom equals real freedom. As I've said here before, your ability to choose between red shoes and blue shoes doesn't constitute real freedom. That's market freedom. Think about it.

In my opinion, Obama is offering policies that would bring the US into alignment with the rest of the industrialized world. The US is the only industrialized, first world country on the planet that doesn't have a health care plan for all citizens. It is the only first world country that doesn't provide an affordable education to all its citizens. It is the only first world country that still has a death penalty.

Real freedom is the right to have a job, health care, housing and food. That is civilization.

It really is time to get rid of predatory capitalism and put it in its proper perspective. Capitalism is great for non-essential products and services. If you can make a better DVD player than me, I'm all for it. Capitalism, in its highest form, encourages creativity and innovation. Survival should not be a competitive event. It shouldn't be a crap shoot when it comes to feeding the children.

As far as I'm concerned, the time has come for someone like Barack Obama. The last eight years, which were really a result of eight years of Ronald Reagan have made this nearly feudal state acceptable. It's really time to turn that around and become a respected member of the world community.

Do you agree? :)


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Okay, let's talk about meat....

This is something that caught my interest recently.

When I went to visit with a Buddhist nun a few weeks ago, she told me that I should stop eating meat. She cited the First Precept which states that we are not supposed to kill any living being. She is of a different tradition and they follow that precept to the letter.

I'm more a "spirit of the law" person.

Buddhism, like every other faith, has many different traditions. Mine (Theravada) has no specific rule against eating meat for lay people. I am generally mindful about killing. Spiders don't get killed here and I don't kill insects when I can avoid it. It would be nearly impossible for me to kill an animal. My boundary seems to be convenience. I won't kill a living being simply because it is inconvenient to have around.

Some people interpret the "no killing" rule as only applying to our doing the actual killing. Buying a pound of hamburger at Safeway is different than going out and shooting animals for food.

My immediate thought is that killing for food is very different than killing for sport. Sarah Palin doesn't live here. Intention and purpose are the core issues.

Yet if I really think about it, the idea of eating the body of another being is disgusting. If I stayed mindful of that, I would probably never touch another piece of meat in my life.

But like most people, I do it unconsciously. I buy my pork chops and chicken with abandon, order satay chicken at the Thai restaurant, chow down on pork and pasta or chicken wings without really thinking about it.

Red meat never makes its way to my table. The very sight of it makes me sick.

At some point, I will probably make the choice to adopt a more vegetarian diet. Not vegan. Vegetarian.

So.. how do you feel about eating meat?


Monday, October 13, 2008

They can't be serious....

So John McCain said Barack Obama is a decent guy, a good family man and an all-round fine fellow in response to some ignorant woman who called him an "Arab" and that makes McCain a candidate for sainthood?

I can't believe it!

The sad thing is that if it weren't so utterly pathetic, it would be comical!


Sunday, October 12, 2008

Sacred Life Sunday: Anger is a part of life, too

I've mentioned here before that I have a horrible temper. It's not cute. It's not funny. It is a character flaw.

I know that. It's a rather revolting character flaw and I don't like it at all. When I get really angry, it's hard to identify colors. It's a seething, rocket-propelled instant trip to somewhere I'd rather never go again. Typically, it's called a "hair trigger temper". I get over it as quickly as it comes on but I'm like a raging bull for 15-30 seconds. Then I'm spent. The only good thing is that others rarely see it so I don't have to spend the rest of my life on my knees, apologizing. I have enough consciousness to leave a situation before it gets to that point.

It's a dangerous place to go. In my case, given other health problems, it could send me straight into a stroke.

For the past three weeks or so, I've been angry at someone and didn't tell her about it. I kept thinking it would resolve itself.

She contacted me this morning and I went ballistic.

Here's the issue: She was unreliable. She told me she was going to do something, didn't do it and didn't even acknowledge that she'd left me in a lurch. The circumstances are irrelevant. Let's just say that I showed up and she didn't. Then she came along a few days later, made a commitment to do something and never followed through.

Then she merrily traipsed into my world this morning, ringing my cell phone at an ungodly hour and started sweet-talking about something totally unrelated, as though none of it ever happened. She wanted me to do something.

Ugh. Argh! I was so pissed off, I saw spots. Unfortunately, I said some things that shouldn't have been said and were decidedly un-Buddhist. I snapped the phone shut.

That seems to be one of my greatest triggers. I do take responsibility seriously and I value my word. I might be late. I might screw it up - but if I say I'm going to do something, it happens. If some cataclysmic event occurs and I can't follow through, I apologize. And I mean it!

I also am very forgiving, as long as someone acknowledges that they did make a commitment and didn't keep it.

That's not really the issue though. In the larger sense, I've come to the conclusion that anger is a part of living. We all get pissed off. I don't believe anyone who says they never experience anger. Such a person is either dead or numbed out on some chemical. We all get mad.

The point is being able to use the anger to build bridges, not burn them.

I burned one this morning. And there's no repairing it. The damage is too extensive.

So.. this could be an interesting discussion. How do you use anger to create a bridge, rather than burning it?

I have a lot to learn there. Obviously.


Friday, October 10, 2008

Weekend: Dealing with Controversy

This morning, I watched someone on one of my mailing lists apologize for being "controversial".

This got me to thinking.

I have an easy time listening to views that are different from my own. Maybe it's a result of having been significantly different in so many ways in the past. Granted, there are times when I want to be with like minded others and to have conversations that don't require explanation or debate. That's just natural.

But I don't understand anyone who can't deal with controversy or completely shies away from it under all circumstances.

The old admonition to never discuss politics or religion just means the conversation will be very boring.

I've watched people discuss absolutely nothing for hours and I have a hard time not interjecting something with a little bit of bite, just to stay awake. I can't stand small talk.

I like controversy. I like lively exchanges of ideas that expose me to different ideas and different ways of living.

How about you?


Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Wellness Wednesday: Sometimes we just have to admit it....

Sometimes we just have to admit when things are not optimum.

And when we do ~ and something amazing happens.

For the past few days, I've been feeling pretty badly, missing my old wat connection. In a moment of weakness, I sent an email to one of the members, trying to find out if some of the problems could be resolved.

My email was ignored.

That was the final step, the final blow I needed to know that, yes, I really had to put it behind me. It's not going to work out and I am not going back there. I made two friends out of the experience and that's as good as it gets.. which is pretty damn good, all things considered.

For quite a while, I've had a slip of paper around here with the name of another wat, one that was continually badmouthed at the old one, so I never called them.

It's a Thai wat, actually. I was told how bad the people are there, how they're just a bunch of "old Thai women who have married American men and all they ever talk about is money and what their husbands bought for them."

Anyone who knows me would know how unappealing that would be. I just never followed up on it.

The truth is that sometimes people don't tell the truth. At that time, WLP (the old wat) wanted me to stick with them because I was useful. In retrospect, I can see now that they left out the part Lenin was willing to say outloud.... "useful idiot". They figured by badmouthing the other one that I wouldn't leave and I'd continue to serve them.

I'm naive about that kind of thing and tend to take everyone at their word until they prove untrustworthy. I'm may not always be the sharpest tool in the shed but I wouldn't want to live a life being suspicious of everyone's motives. Well, they've proven I can't take their word for anything and it's time to give up.

So I called the new one... which I'll call WSB.

A young man answered the phone in broken English. I mustered some of my broken Thai and we managed to have a conversation. It's hard to admit this - but during our conversation, I was crying. He didn't recognize that. I cover up well. Just to hear his voice, to have that conversation, to be welcomed, to feel that "connection" that automatically occurs between me and anything or anyone Thai, caused me to recognize the separateness I've been feeling over the past three months since I broke with the other place ~ but denied. I refused to deal with it head-on because I am notoriously poor at dealing with emptiness. Even if it was bad, it was better than nothing.

So.. what the heck does this have to do with Wellness Wednesday? In thinking about it, I see that if we are unable to admit when something is broken, we have no opportunity to fix it. Additionally, I wonder if holding back, lying even to ourselves, somehow closes off things that might come to us. I was so highly invested in *not* admitting that I was missing that day-to-day connection, that sense of belonging, that I closed myself off to drawing it again.

Just a thought - not even fully processed - but it seems right. At least for now.


Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Pocket full of peace....

Well, I can't say I will never write another political post here but a break from it might be a good thing.

Just this morning, I became aware of how absorbing it can become ~ and the feelings that come along with it are overwhelming. Aggression. Either/or thinking. Winning and losing. That's so completely what I am not about that my center feels sideways, even though these issues are very important.

In my deep, dark and distant past, I was so politically involved that it consumed most of my life and energy. It didn't matter what it was, as long as it was political. It felt exciting. Thrilling even. Anticipation and expectations. Believing we could change the world, one by one. We did. We changed the world. But there was a cost.

Now it exhausts me. I care.. but it's important to keep all of this in perspective.

Today I have a strong desire to be some place like this:

A place to collect some good thoughts, some good energy and maybe even some good food.

....some good music... and certainly a good book!

Just a reminder to all of us to keep focused on the things that are really important. In the end, all of this political stuff comes and goes. It's just dukkha... samsara. As my old grandma used to say, "In 50 years we won't remember any of this."

So.. for those of us who are so caught up right now, I hope we'll honor our inner peace as well. It's just as important as trying to create peace externally.


As an aside, I am open to book recommendations right now. I have an appointment upcoming at the DMV. A book will be essential company.


Monday, October 06, 2008

Terrorist or Freedom Fighter....

"Our opponent ... is someone who sees America, it seems, as being so imperfect, imperfect enough, that he's palling around with terrorists who would target their own country." — Sarah Palin, to donors Saturday at a private airport in Englewood, Colo.

Sarah Palin made this idiotic statement Saturday because apparently at some point, Barack Obama shared planet space with 60s revolutionary William Ayers, one of the founders of the Weather Underground.

I'd hate to think that any of us, especially those of us who were politically active would be nailed to the cross because of someone we might have been in the same room with at some point in the distant past.

But let's go a few layers deeper on this.

Twenty-first century capitalism requires a docile, compliant population, subject population. "Consumer" is put forth as the ideal type, as the model for individual and mass self-identification. It is the population Sarah Palin continually appeals to.... "Joe Sixpack". Her homesy, folksy presentation is generally directed at those who barely graduated high school, who can be found sitting on his or her couch, drinking beer, watching TV after working at some unappealing, soul-crushing job all day. He or she is strictly a consumer.

A consumer is not a conscious creator, not an activist, nor a real decision maker. Instead, consumers are deferential recipients of someone else's wares and services, someone else's choices or a pre-selected range of choices, someone else's ideas or permitted spectrum of ideas, of someone else's rules and manipulations.

But he's the hero in a market society.

And every hero has to have a nemesis, every type its antithesis. When all else fails to strike fear into a compliant population, someone starts throwing around the word "terrorist".

Yes, terrorist. The demon in consumer heaven, disrupter of law 'n' order, killer of innocents, movie villain supreme.

The terrorist... bullets sprayed indiscriminately... bombs exploding like prehistoric meteors. Consumer serenity shattered.

No wonder someone like this most manipulative woman would start throwing a word like that around to win people to her side. No substance, no validation. She is appealing to emotion.

The terrorist: murderer, plunderer, marauder, pirate, bogeyman, barbarian.

The terrorist is as mysterious as he is menacing because he devotes, even sacrifices, his life to something beyond his material interest, to something transcending his own personal gratification. To an idea. To a cause. A nation. A people.

Not that I am condoning terrorism. That would be a violation of everything I stand for, everything my life is about. Hopefully, that is stating the obvious.

But in this case, I am calling "baloney" because the definition is completely arbitrary. Even Ronald Reagan said that one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter. It all depends on the politics of the time. The US has a long history of turning freedom fighters into terrorists when they no longer serve its own ends.

So is William Ayers a "terrorist"? I am aware of the fact that he engaged in some destruction of property.. but I am not talking about malicious vandalism. I'm talking about terrorism. I'm not even saying he's a nice guy. He was a lousy tactician. I'm saying he is not a terrorist. Do I think the Weather Underground expressed themselves politically in a good way? No. But that's a tactical discussion. Simply. I don't believe William Ayers fits the standard and accepted definition of a terrorist.

The term "terrorism" means premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant (1) targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents, usually intended to influence an audience. (Operational definition for the Central Intelligence Agency)

Sarah Palin is engaging in her own form of ideological terrorism. She is deliberately stringing words together in such a way as to strike fear in her target demographic. I happily call her on it and challenge her to come up with some substantial evidence that Barack Obama has engaged in anything even close to "terrorism" and how being in the same room with someone who was a 60s revolutionary (there were thousands of us in those days) is a serious concern.


Sunday, October 05, 2008

Sacred Life Sunday: Awareness


Last night, I was on the phone with someone I know very well, someone who lives in The Place That Shall Not Be Mentioned, and we started talking about people we've known over the years who we consider to spiritually evolved. Perhaps not to the arahant level, but coming very close.

For me, it is him. For him, it is a teacher he had many, many years ago ~ when he was still in his late teens. Like most young Thai men, he spent some time as a monk and found his teacher to be so enlightened that "I considered him to be closest to a god I could imagine".

He considered ordaining but like many people, he met a woman, loved her, married her and created children. He started a business and took on the life of a householder, provider, father, husband and store owner. Still, he's always stayed close to the teachings and the elders. He's the only person I've ever known who has managed to stick to his spiritual principles while still engaging the material and commercial world. He's in perfect balance.

In my opinion.

He would disagree.

I scanned my memory banks, thinking of many people I've met over the years, trying to think of someone I considered to be "closest to a god I could imagine".

And came up with a goose egg.

That's not to say I haven't met people further along the path than me. There were hundreds of those. At some points in my life, I suspect anyone and everyone was in better balance than me. I depended on books a lot - and organized religions.

When you think back, who do you consider to have been your greatest spiritual teacher?


Friday, October 03, 2008

The Cool Kid and the Brain...

I knew how it was going to go the minute Sarah Palin met Joe Biden and said "may I call you Joe"?

If we look back, I suspect we all remember the types from high school. The good looking popular girl with the 90210 smile and the shiny hair, personality plus, who glad-handed her way through every social setting. She was a slightly more intelligent version of Cher in Clueless.

She's good at that. She's really, really good at that. Still, at the end, I knew more about her dental work than her viewpoints on any important issues. She repeated the same tired refrains, again and again, because if she kept saying them, perhaps it would make it real. She was selling rather than informing.

A sticky point: I wish someone had coached her on how to pronounce "Ahmedinejad". It's Ah-meh-deen-uh-jahd, not Ackme-dinn-a-jahd. And "Israel" is not "Iz-reel". It's "Iz-rae-el". "Nuclear" is not "nukyuler". Noo-clee-er. Easy enough?

An ability to speak English well is one of the least expectations the country should have for those who will represent it in the world. Respect enough to learn how to pronounce the names of other world leaders is also an important part of diplomacy.

Her views on foreign policy issues are something I would have expected to hear during the Cold War, switching the names and concepts to "Andropov" and "Soviet aggression". The rhetoric was the same.

Joe Biden, on the other hand, came across as the studious one, the guy who always knew his facts and had joined the Debate Team. He was well-coached, intelligent and clear. He was professional.

That doesn't mean I agreed with everything he said. It simply means he presented it well. I would rather have him in front of world leaders.

If nothing else, watching last night did bring me one (as Hayley Mills said in a movie many years ago) "scathingly brilliant idea".

If Sarah Palin wants so much to be in the White House, perhaps she would accept a position as Banquet Greeter.

Then she'd be in her element.

Any opinions? Disagreements? Agreements?


Thursday, October 02, 2008

Debate night....

It's debate night.

This is going to be an interesting one. Ordinarily I don't watch these things because it's all so much showmanship and transparent manipulation that it bores me silly.

Still... this one could be good!

Will you be watching?