Here we are, at the end of the hardest week of the year, Friday, January 6th, 2023. What is harder than the collision between major hope and petty reality? For example, I set myself the goal this year of mastering my time and yet I found the last three days were very similar to the days off from my day job last year. Little changed. I wasn’t super productive. However, that highlights my primary goal of this blog: sharing ideas and experiences that can inspire thought towards good and virtue. Sometimes that feels like a high bar.
So here’s the short version of my last few days and what it says about me. I spent most of the last few days gaming and spending time with friends and family. In most respects, my normal writing took a back seat. Partly, this is all because I work a low-pay job these days that can still be very stressful on occasion. The other part is that I am at my core a thinker and lover. I can and wish to use as much time as I can with the people and things I love.
What’s more, this is a part of my process, I think. As much of my thoughts are conscious and considered, the production of the conscious mind can be miniscule compared to the capacities of the subconscious mind. Allowing things to process in the background while other processes are in the foreground allows unexpected ideas and connections to come out when the questions return. In this case, my two main thoughts for the background are: first, what kinds of themes or narratives help make sense of the current social-political moment in the world and how to make the world better with that knowledge, and second, how will I further separate my works of fiction from other offerings in their genres without running away from said genres?
I do not presently have answers to those questions, but progress was likely made because no other work was really being attempted. I find it is simply essential to be honest that after working as much as I had from last Friday to the following Monday and the emotional reactions I had to process and let go, I needed the three days to mostly just enjoy those things I most enjoy and need – family, friends, deep and thrilling games, exercise, and so on. It is because of this that I am able to write and rewrite this post this morning with relative clarity and purpose. It’s ok to find that your plan isn’t going to work. It is ok to trust your instincts about what you can and should do. They reveal who you are and there is really little to gain by working counter to who you are.
In summary, this past week has given me a lot to think about regarding my expectations for daily and weekly life going forward. In the short term, I must acknowledge I will write like I want to, not like I’m obligated to some larger mission or task regarding it. I, too, must still live my life. While I have confidence I can potentially do great things for the world and other people, I know in my bones that it will be based on who I am, not just what I am doing. I need to be working in ways that are compatible with the best person I can be given where I am now. I have to trust that as I grow, my opportunities will grow accordingly if I just look for them.
This week has been hard and I’ve not been able to complete any but my highest priority tasks, the essentials really. As with any failure, this is teaching me some things. Things anyone could argue I should have learned already, but I wish to respect the process and just keep going. I have a tendency to ruminate on things and have only recently come to accept just how that really does hobble you compared to to learning and letting go. So instead of the elaborate and well-considered post I had started, I am going to honor the commitment and myself and truth by writing this extemperaneous message instead. I want the world to know I am far from perfect and for all the brilliance people sometimes see in me, I, too, sometimes suffer from personal darkness and doubt.
So I am seizing the moment to drop the doubts and fears and blame I’ve had this week. I need to be doing many things and failing to do them well. I struggle to remember it isn’t all my fault but all my time, energy, and choices are. They are all I have and if I want to rise, I must focus on those, not the external world beyond my reach. If I am blessed enough to have a greater destiny, then it will come to me in due time. I need not force anything. Instead I must strive for focus, here and now. That is all there truly is – evolving now. I may be an illusion of sorts but that illusion may have a purpose: to drive forward and take command of the choices and attitude I have going forward.
All can be accomplished in time. The world is too deep and chaotic to ever be fully ordered except by its own nature. Thus we all must find the humility to see and accept that nature without succumbing to the belief that the nature we see is all that is. That is how one ends up like Mr. Putin right now. He is now a political animal trapped in the cage of a losing war. He will likely soon be wishing it could be over quickly, but who really knows? One can have love and compassion for the people of all countries, even in war, without worrying too much about their rulers and leaders.
That is one lesson I learned just this week: Ukrainian President Zelensky is a man who is easy to underestimate. Like most of the free world I have been impressed and moved by his resolve and leadership under such circumstances and with such a history. What I did not know is that, like me, he has a legal education. This gives me a different kind of hope and strength that my past need never be seen in vain, but rather in search of application and response. Time will never cease it’s spontaneous flow, so I must continue to act presently with only the near future in mind and save the further future for my dreams or risk folly once again.
It amazes me continuously how so many act as if they are masters of the world when it is clear to those who look that they are masters of none. Our world would be a much more stable place if so many weren’t acting so often from impulse and delusion. If we want to to be energy independent and not serve Russian and Saudi interests, we need bikes, buses, trains and better bosses, not more drills and rigs. That just doubles down on our problems or the sort-term gains of those pushing them. We must be able and willing, while we still can, to step back and really consider such choices, but of course, America has its own oligarchs and they are the ones truly served by the government these days. Just like in Russia, they only weaken us by putting themselves ahead of those in true need and taking personal advantage of every situation, rather than seeking true solutions.
I know, a bit of a tangent, but let’s be honest: if we struggle against a machine, it is this machine of money and power and selfishness. We need not accept the Manchins and Capitos , and Bezoses of our society for us all to be healthy, wealthy, and free. Indeed, to truly be so, we must all learn the lessons life offers, grow stronger and more independent and remove their power as best we can and relevel American society and then the world to better support ALL humanity. I can see a day, likely far off where the dream of a virtually borderless and peaceful world comes to be – where money and borders are mere accounting mechanisms which have little bearing on individual human beings beyond informing what is needed where, when, and by whom. We must accept that greed will always be a part of the human condition, but I have yet to find a good explanation for why it must be allowed to be the driving force of our lives. I know freedom and equality are mine.
Any and all of us can be heroes with we dedicate ourselves to doing what is right. That is the beautiful thing about heroism and righteousness – not the fake shit people try to force – the hard bitter, beautiful necessary kind like being shown by both Russians and Ukrainians right now. In the intellectual sphere where Americans can demonstrate respect for human equality and freedom, I wish to take this opportunity to speak to the American perspectives on the conflict. I also wish to explore how America may proceed to take responsibility for its past mistakes that helped allow this war and help build a better future, whatever that requires of us. Before that, I feel obligated to make some disclaimers.
I want to start this difficult essay with a sobering fact: most of the Russians invading Ukraine right now may still not know they are even fighting a war. It has been demonstrated that Moscow believed they could send a mostly conscripted army into a neighboring country as if it were another military drill. It turns out many of the Russian troops are more surprised by this war than the Ukrainians they are unwittingly fighting. It seems likely, if hard to confirm, that Russian forces have already suffered severe losses and Ukraine is still mobilizing and improving its efforts to counter all Russian operations, even sinister terror attacks by infiltrators behind the front lines. All of this must be taken with due caution as there are obvious reasons for the defenders to misrepresent things to the world as much as the aggressors. On the other hand, the Ukrainian government seems to be taking great pains to live up to the European ideals they wish to claim as part of their independence, being as open and honest as they can be rather than taking advantage of the situation. For this, I do not entirely reject their claims as propaganda. I simply refuse to deny the possibility I am wrong on that. I am first on the side of truth, then on the side of the innocent, and only then on the side of the righteous. I hope the following discussion will demonstrate this. I can and will side against my own country’s government and policies where I can find fault in them.
Enough of the disclaimers now, I hope.
To the brothers and sisters of Russia: Outside a powerful minority that doesn’t have to speak openly to influence things, America mostly wishes it didn’t have to deal with this, either. Most of us want better roads and schools and jobs here at home, not foreign conflicts to send our troops towards. There are lots of Americans who don’t want to have to deal with the Russian government; many others have learned that Putin has kind of a problem for a long time. Despite our complicated histories with each other, most Americans barely give any thought to it on a normal day in what were normal times. Many Americans don’t understand their own Constitution anymore, let alone the NATO charter or Cold War and Russian history. This kind of thing is the challenge of our times, right up there with climate change.
How can the ordinary citizens of the world help each other right the wrongs of their governments without making things worse for each other? How can Americans and other peoples of the world help people like the Russian people be heard, feel secure in your own country to speak with full openness and honesty about whatever you choose, and find happiness and prosperity without further violence? Is there any way the Russian people can undo such an awful political system as theirs without risking everything?
See, whenever there is a major war in Europe, America has tried not to get involved, but America exists because Europe forcefully made itself the center of the world through the same imperialism that inspires said wars and then Americans took that imperialism as an excuse to conquer most of the best land of our entire continent, committing crimes against humanity on the indigenous nations along the way. So, now we are so large and wealthy even our economy alone can tip the balance of power in Europe. WWII basically taught us that even if we try to stay out, that may increase the bloodshed, whereas the Cold War mostly avoided any major war at all by being as involved as possible without taking over directly. We learned to trust our own ideals in away we didn’t before, though many Americans still don’t really understand those very ideals. This is part of how we elected that disaster Trump and then threw him out.
Only a major war could compete for the attention of Americans right now with Covid still around and our own civil strife brewing menacingly. Now we see Ukrainians fighting for their homes and country and families, and we are reminded that our ancestors twice had to do the same, long ago. We want Ukrainians to win this war for their independence, but that doesn’t mean we want ordinary Russians to lose anything. However, we also can’t risk direct involvement because of the nuclear weapons our countries possess. Tet it is hard to see how this kind of thing isn’t inevitable with the nature of the Russian government and no other way to influence that government than by reminding the Russian people of a hard truth: none of us are really separate in this world. We are all connected by cause and effect of a coherent world in which we often live as if divided in different virtual realities of our own minds.
You may not be used to the difference, but in America our rights our so broad that people have died from Covid-19 as they continue to rant about the vaccines being evil – literally their dying breathes defending the lies that killed them. We all have so much to do to be a part of improving the world for the children of today to have something better tomorrow. In America, we must deal with our ignorant assholes like Trump and those who still support him without violating the very rights we are trying to protect. Y’all in Russia apparently need to consider how to free yourselves in much more fundamental ways. In “Captain America: The First Avenger” the scientist who invents the super-soldier process to create Captain America to fight Nazi Germany says to the future Captain, “most Americans don’t realize that the first country the Nazis invaded was their own” and more and more Americans will need to understand that in many ways the same is true now in Russia – Putin invaded your state and turned it more and more against you to settle some argument with us. We will remember that America is relatively safe from Putin compared to the Russian people themselves
If there must be something done with Putin, I expect words and necessities of life will do more than planes or tanks ever could. As an American, there is little I can or should say about the affairs of the Russian people other than that. We do not want conflict with Russia, but we can more than accept many forms of competition. Most Americans also want a world that is diverse and imperfect over some utopian idea of equality. Perhaps one day the world will run on Chinese computers using Russian software bought with American money. Who knows? But we certainly can’t have anything half that good if we remain afraid of each other and allow ourselves to become hostile or our governments hostile in our name.
To my Ukrainian brothers and sisters: We in America see you and are overwhelmed with joy at your bravery and ideals, even as we are shocked and pained by the suffering you endure so tragically. I, for one, am sorry we failed to find a way to avert this. It may never have been in our power to do without something worse taking its place. That is a question only higher powers can answer and we all share the human dilemma of never getting such a revelation. However, we will continue to do what we can as best we can. this may mean that only our arms and funds can be allowed to reach you. Just know that some of us would be willing to join you directly in the fight, if such action made sense and was needed. We are so impressed that this may not even be needed. We thought that you might need us worse than France or the United Kingdom did over 100 years ago. In your tenacity and cunning to defend yourselves, we see a reflection of ourselves that some of us are afraid we may be losing. Thank you for showing us and the world that free, fun-loving people defending themselves are the most terrifying enemy of all. We hope this tragedy will at least educate the other tyrants of the world that the best they can hope for against free people is peace because war against freedom and democracy will always be their end.
In keeping with that, I hope that America will commit even more to the peace that follows that it has to the war. I hope we can use our brains and distance to offer wise counsel to Europe as to how peace and security can be offered and trusted by ALL nations, both you and Russia. That is the great tragedy: by trying to fairly offer aid and defense to small countries we have given the larger country its own pretext to fear. Our greatest leader once said “the only thing to fear is fear itself” and he offered this wisdom when fear of the last European war threatened to sideline us against the coming of the second despite it, by comparison, to be an obvious threat to our country, too. I do not believe that Putin will last long enough or have the power to so attack another country after Ukraine. I will thus resist calls to directly interfere with Russian affairs beyond aid to Ukraine in this conflict. While I disagree with my President that Americans shooting at Russians is automatically World War 3, I respect his care not to test the theory that it might. I simply believe that Russia will evolve from this and we owe it to all to right our negligence in allowing conditions which led to Putin’srise to power there.
That, not NATO, is America’s real sin here, in my opinion. After the collapse of the Soviet system we rushed in to try and make money and prove our ideas as fast as possible. This instead allowed the utter destruction of true law of any kind there. Gangsters and thieves stole the vast wealth of the Russian people for themselves, creating the kind of desperation a man like Putin could exploit to take total control. I understand also that some of this is also about Russian history and culture. If Russian politics are to change, its culture must change. America and the rest of Europe can not do that. We can only continue to try to demonstrate our cultures and values and how many nations may still act as one world when called to do so. We may be able to offer material encouragement for improvements in legal and political culture in Russia before they are fully implemented and demonstrate our honesty and commitment by making good on those promises once Russia’s promise begins to be truly realized.
The rest of the world is watching us all. We must accept that ideals can’t be used as pretexts for power anymore. They are promises to ourselves and each other and are more valuable than anything else because they are the only things shown to have the potential to end all unnecessary suffering and end all violence between human beings. They are the best of us – our legacy to future generations. We should not discount them or abandon them. We must instead learn to trust them and take risks to keep them. If we can risk ourselves to make peace, that is so much better than doing the same to win ashes through war.
I would apologize for not writing more, but that would be a misrepresentation or a twisting of the facts. In truth, I haven’t PUBLISHED anything here, but I have been writing a lot – just not finishing much that feels right for this blog. That’s life, I guess.
I probably don’t have enough readers for it to matter, but publishing regularly is an important step to getting views and regular readers. Ergo, I can and will be focusing on improving my process and circumstances so that I publish more. One thing I am going to do is focus more on the inspiration of the moment – not getting bogged-down in the more abstract ideas that are really deep background, anyway. Just the spark of thought, in a cheerful, accessible way.
We all need a leg up to get where we’d rather be, and maybe some encouragement if we thought we were there before falling from our saddle. I know I have. Just this morning, I got some very upsetting and frustrating news: I am back in virtually the same place I was three years ago after spending hundreds of hours and hundreds of dollars to get past a certain point in my professional life. But that is life, you know?
The thing is, I’ve still learned a lot from my failures. I’ve learned the most about myself and how success is sustained. Part of success is defining it for yourself. The other major part is being in the right position to make that attainable and realistic. Turns out, I still haven’t quite found that for myself when it comes to that goal, but the key insight from my falling short may very well be that my heart was never in it for that because its really in other things that are equally important, maybe even more important given where the world is at today.
I know I want to be a happy, healthy member of a just community. Only a small sliver of remedial justice comes from courtrooms these days. Whereas, all justice is rooted in healthy human hearts and minds. That’s where the greater work is, and that’s where I want to be in my work.
Despite bitter claims to the contrary, I have been writing for myself for some time. It is past time that I begin to make something of it which I can share with the world. Truth is a funny thing – the more and more you pull at it, the more there is pull at. Yet, I find I never tire of the pursuit of truth, so long as I can find joy along the way. Truth be told, not all truths are joyous, but facing the pain in some truths leads to the pleasure and joy of the enlightenment we can gain from facing them.
I remain a very fallible person. In fact, as I get older I find it harder to tell whether I am even growing wiser or more foolish. I hope it a sign for the former that I increasing find the concern humorous, if not worthless. We each have one life to live, and I have always intended to live it. The challenge for me, rather, is that I realize now that our fallibility is no weakness. Human frailty is simply a matter of limitations which all life shares with us – likely for good reason. So I must make choices and accept that I may not do everything despite a certain boyish desire to do just that.
Perhaps that is why I keep coming back to writing: on the blank page anything is possible. Many lives may lived in excerpts of imagination. Problems may be posed and answers analyzed. Most of all, I find that it is in the crafting of ideas through language that I feel most myself, even as I play at being someone – or something – else entirely. I recently realized that the key for meaning in life may be in facing the assured hypothetical: what if this is it – all you ever do – and no one else cares: was it worth it?
As it regards writing and a few other activities, I can answer an unequivocal “YESSSS!” because if nothing else I feel a little better as a being in this strange existence every time I even try regardless of the results.
Of course, then there are those wonderful moments when it becomes apparent that a connection to another mind has been made. These thought-sparks I am compelled to throw catch fire in the ready hearth of another mind previously less inclined. That is one of life’s greatest rewards by itself.
This post is but a pin hole into the whole of my thoughts the last two days. They’re all a pleasing tangle, but they can do with a bite or two of the brush. Some might even see the light of day. First, I should try to sum up the week that was all the same. Then there’s the first meditation of the week on quite the day. From these observations, I believe some insight can be distilled worth cheering. Bottoms up!
This being the first full week of the new year 2023, it seems only appropriate to review the early returns on the annual goal. In a previous post ( change-time ), I dedicated this year to mastering my time better. One week has already been most instructive. Work is just one part of life, but there should be something in it for you beyond the material compensation and should synergize with familial and social life. People remain the point, and time is how we keep score. At the same time, the game is still made up: the points don’t matter in the end. Rest is best for sustained success from test to test. Routines form blocks of reliable material which can add up to monumental things over time. Outline, then refine. The hits keep coming…
Monday was fast paced for the last day of my work week. Even people you don’t like can be good to you if you let them, but believe them when they tell you who they are. It’s ok to be different. Peace is sacred; no less so when it is lively. Focus finds the flow. Timing is is knowing when to go…
There is a magic to Saturday mornings. Even as I sit behind a desk at a real man-meets-post point in life, I am buoyed by the fantasy of stretching out, swaddling my inner child, and enjoying some inspiring tales of heroes and villains in a distant and ancient galaxy full of strange life, soul-magic, and all too human falls. Especially as an adult, this vision brings me great comfort and joy.
Even as I write this, I am shocked by the purity and potency of this pleasure. It remains innocent of further longing or resentment that it is not the present. It feels near enough to my reality that I feel little loss.
Perhaps the answer is that I don’t need to watch Star Wars today because we all got some new Star Wars this week in a 2-episode premiere of Bad Batch season 3. Of course, I had to watch it while I could, and I am glad I did. I don’t want to over analyze this content right now, but for what it’s worth, I liked what I saw and especially like what I believe this season is setting up for later on.
Ok, I lied. I LOVED this start to this season. I already like this show and I don’t see that changing. I like the setting, characters, and themes. All of the foundations laid in the previous seasons get some nice payoffs here without feeling rushed, which is really nice. When I think of how other shows have started seasons recently, I’ve noticed many suffer from a lack of this kind of teaser payoff.
At first, that seems like it should be expected. On the other hand, it’s natural and probably right to want episodes of any show, anywhere in the run, to have enough internal structure and importance to stand on their own. Some content in the Binge era forgets this in favor of using the lack of immediate gratification to increase the tension the audience feels and that can be fine for me, but Star Wars will always want and need to very accessible to younger and less commited audiences.
Not every narrative must be suitable for minors, but that level of maturity should probably be more exception than rule Star Wars. That said, a lot of Star Wars can be better understood in terms of when you can imagine most people watching it in an idyllic kind of way. Some Star Wars films and shows are best for after dinner, a couple are best saved for after the kids’ bedtime, and some are perfect for Saturday mornings.
I’m happy that Bad Batch sticks a solid landing in my book for that Saturday morning slot. It’s a sign that competent and responsible hands remain fully involved in producing this great work. On Saturday mornings, we don’t need to worry about pirates and market forces. That’s what the rest of the week is for!
Welcome to 2023! How will you be spending your time? How do you even think about that question, and what even is time, anyway? As we begin a new year, time is what’s on my mind. How can I better understand, use, and master my time? Well, some of what I write here will attempt to offer answers, but sometimes I want to simply pose and explore the questions regarding a topic. The hope is this process may help me and you all think about these things more clearly and act more effectively going forward. What blows my mind is that we can share this idea-space about time, even as we consider it at different times. Yet, should we approach the notion appropriately, who’s to say we aren’t together, here and now, just in a different way than used to be possible before.
The basic idea here today is that time can be considered a universal unit of change, THE essential component to describing any motion or process. However, there is an issue there that this idea is just that, an idea rather than an existential element, and thus very hard to separate objectively from the observer. Of course, this is all very difficult to understand, and that is my only point today: even the most basic element of our lives is devilishly difficult to understand if you really try to get to the bottom. It can be done, and some of the insights that can be drawn from it are powerful. Here are the two I wish to highlight today:
Time as we usually use it is an artifact of society and culture based on a basic dimension of our existence.
Time is inseparable space and action, making any abstraction about time which does not lead to improved action or organization in some way an almost blasphemous waste.
These ideas lead to a few natural conclusions. I hope these are obvious from these insights, but I want everyone to share in these ideas, regardless of ability to arrive at them on their own. First, our inventions regarding time management are some of the most powerful ever devised and deserve some respect. However, they are still just that – inventions – and thus are not sacred the way time itself is. In other words the game is the score. What happens is closer to what is than merely when it happens or how many times it happens, if you will.
I have always struggled with managing time. Most of my efforts have felt like a strain and I consider it a personal strength of character that I recognize strain as unsustainable and stop it whenever possible. That only means that I have yet to find the right way for me to manage my time. I am likely neurodivergent and it should surprise no one upon hearing that that perhaps I have been trying to imitate the wrong systems for my lifestyle and personality. In particular, I yearn to live in such a way that I can stop to smell the proverbial roses without worry of what I might be sacrificing to do so.
What this leaves me with is a broad-stroke approach to start. In my life there really just three categories of time spent: routine activity, cultivation, and production. Routine activities are just that, those activities that have good reason behind doing them often and with minimal change between repetitions. Cultivation is activity that takes time and attention, but suffers from quantification. Gardening, relationships, and education are a few examples of what I think of as cultivation activities. I love them and want to make time for them, but making the time in the schedule is really just the inverse of sparing that time from over-thinking and analysis as I pursue those activities. I intend to manage that time to make it more timeless. Production is where a certain lack of detail in terms of time works the other way. Results or measurable progress and effort are the point here and time within the block of time for it is just as important during the process as it is in finding and making the time to even consider it
Today, I am embarking on a new effort to make full use of this platform to do what I have said I would do many times, but have yet to follow-through on: write and post more regularly, even daily. For someone who feels a deep sense of personal belief that expressing my thoughts to the world is a fundamental part of my purpose for living, this failure to date is a weight on my neck I must let go. All it takes is getting started anew. So today, the last day of the year – and a Saturday to boot – I want to summarize the major elements of a very busy year for me.
Just today, this morning while working, I began brainstorming ideas that will make it easier for me to write every day and it is serendipitous then that my core idea for Saturdays is to offer summaries, not just for the week or year, but to have a day every week dedicated to reflection in itself. I could summarize a current or historical event, a trend, controversy, or just a story from my week that seems to somehow define or redefine the week, month, year, or some other timeframe or set of circumstances. This is all I am striving for here, today, then: to draw the outline of this year for me and the world and what it has taught me or how it has challenged me further. Let’s go.
Major highlights of the year 2022: I changed cities, again. I changed jobs and fields, again. I started therapy in earnest and I believe I have made substantial progress in being more self-sustaining, even as I better understand how to show up for and support others. I started out feeding the hungry in a political framework with a loose association and learned just how lonely trying to lead without resources can be. I saw Russia invade Ukraine and Ukraine dash Russian delusions of superiority. or even its sense of competence. I saw the leading countries of the world grapple with a grave conflict they did not want, but made possible by refusing to admit its possibility. I saw clearly for the first time how often and easily deep issues of trauma and scarring can be cloaked in political and morale principle, just to dive headlong into unthinking and damaging partisanship. (America is capitalist evil: therefore, Russia good no matter what.)
I made some new friends, lost some others, but most of all spent a lot more time towards the end of the year with my family and closest friends, and this focus helped tremendously. For example, the family had a large reunion/vacation early in the fall. I hadn’t seen some of these folks in 18 years. One toddler I hadn’t met yet! I capped the year by making the whole family a slideshow of some of the best photos of the week. I never thought I could see so much value in something that will never have a price. I have never believed price was the same as value, but this experience in particular highlighted something for me about experiencing life, creating with that inspiration, and having people you love in your life to share that good work with when you’re done.
This year, more than anything, reminded me decisively that cynicism and nihilism are lies we tell ourselves when we have lost confidence in our own ability to make good on our potential to fulfill a purpose of our own choosing and design or that whatever we do is too small and insignificant or uncertain to matter. I now believe that such a view of our existence is closer to a terminal infection of the mind and spirit than it is to truth or wisdom. Even if we spend our entire life looking up at stars we will never reach, just for the chance to tease out some insight or knowledge that wasn’t known before, who would call that a wasted life? If the stars, alone for eons in the cold and dark with no one and nothing to appreciate their powerful light and warmth – not to mention their forging of the very matter needed to make life possible as we know it – could look out and somehow no that we tiny, fleetingly mortal living things see them, love them, and even believe they, the stars, are our distant kin, then how could the very stars not validate that we serve a purpose? Could it not simply be our purpose to know and love in a universe that would be truly cold without us?
That’s why I am here. It is why I still want to write, and to write this blog in particular: I believe it is my purpose to inspect, investigate, and relate to ideas and people and to find the inspirational energy and the clever answers to perceived obstacles for others and delivering that inspiration in as many ways and to as many people as possible within reason.
2022 was a hell of a year, but time marches on. The units of chronology are our invention to serve us in using our fluid indefinite, yet finite time alive well. This I have decided is the single greatest lesson of the year for me and thus my challenge and resolution in 2023. I will better support the big stuff by minding the smallest stuff most carefully, and there is nothing smaller yet more priceless than each instant spent in service to those people, places, and ideas we love.
Thanks for reading, and I hope you’ll be back again for tomorrow: this blog’s and 2023’s first ever “Sunday Funday” when I think I will likely share my thoughts and stories about the relationship of play to art and expression. Much love! Peace! And a Happy New Year to you, wherever you may be.
Hello, whoever you are! We may not know each other and I know I have been away, but make no mistake – I’ve missed you very much. I’ve been pretty busy finally experience the plague that is Covid-19 firsthand and trying to get myself out of a mental and emotional funk of sorts. The good news is I am back and better than ever!
Sometimes you have to fall a little to realize how far you’ve risen, and that’s how I would describe my last few weeks. I have fallen, forgiven, recovered, reset and rebounded to great effect. Personally, professionally and so on. I am happier than I have been in some time. It’s not that I don’t have troubles or stress at all – I’m a long way from the exotic beach of my dreams – yet I am handling everything so much better and really figuring things out in ways I have been afraid to before.
I say afraid and I mean it. I think it is important to embrace everything that we are, but fear is something I especially struggle to recognize and admit. Especially because to most, this fear may seem especially silly or tragic – totally my own doing. I have previously been afraid to admit how unique I really am in so many ways, how much I think I can do but don’t quite know how to unlock. For much of my adult life I have bounced from feeling around in the dark, to trying to accept the kinds of plans and goals that are better suited to frankly more normal people.
I mean no offense to those more typical of the population than I am – it’s ok. I even envy the normalcy, but I must admit that chasing it has done me ill as much as chasing wealth or fame might have. It’s just not me. I am the outsider inside, the architect of invisible worlds, a potential doctor for society. I want to bring the best of myself to offer the world, if only more on my terms, for the nature and impact of those terms is half of what I could offer. I want to do well by all, including myself. I want to work hard, accomplish my mission to the extent I can advance it, and then enjoy those things I enjoy most: open-ended conversation with comrades, long meanderings through nature, especially her aquatic corners. I want to muse on space and the far future. In short I feel inspired to be my best because nothing less will do.
I am here to write because I understood long before I really knew that my best talents lie in part in the luxury of language, a love for all life, and a nasty tendency to know that which others would hide or never consider. I still see that our world is in a grave kind of danger and that oddly the very peoples putting us there are us and we are our own guardian angels unactuated. I do not mean to be literally supernatural in saying this, but isn’t there something often just beyond explanation involved in inspiration. I like to think it is the mystery of those imaginations of others we haven’t sampled yet that provides this magic. We can see the results and intuit what may be beneath, but we often do not fully know and the certainty of that unknown to us is all the more gratifying because it hints at just how real and powerful it is.
I want to continue to communicate, better and farther and more meaningfully each time I do so, and I want to do it with the intention of brightening the lives of others and encouraging them then to do the same however YOUR inner light seems to move you so. And if you remain unsure where your light is or if you really have one, trust me: it’s there. It may only be a spark, but there is a reason why it is called en-LIGHT-enment. If you just try and look and listen when a brighter feeling appears in your life, no matter how small, take note of it and appreciate it and ask it gently from whence it came. By showing it that basic courtesy, which is to say yourself the courtesy, I bet in time the light within will arrive more often and more intensely if you let it. It’s ok. The thing to understand about the light is that it never truly removes the darkness. It just leaves it less lonely and cold.
Hello, All: I see that I am off my normal schedule. Our times are turbulent and my time to write here is short. What I can say is that I am still writing but the requirements of the project may limit my personal exposure. However, it is a cause I believe in and involves an action I will have plenty of opportunity to speak on later more openly.
In the meantime, I want to write shorter prose here about related topics raised on as close to a daily basis as I can. Today, I want to address the scourge of fatalism and the power and importance of hope. I am repeatedly reminded of the central relevance to these two concepts from all over the world, and especially in my home region of central Appalachia.
Fatalism is an awful disease on the human soul, a pernicious belief in one’s own powerlessness and low worth to the world. It sees to me a close, in-bred cousin of cynicism, that universal rot on human spirits. Through infection of fatalism one is most likely to focus on those few simple pleasures available while spirally in one way or another to an early grave. No one deserves that life, yet some seem to choose it on some level. Their choices suggest they’d rather live a shameful, deleterious dance with chance than accept that struggle is essential to goals worth pursuing and that such struggle is not exile from happiness or joy.
Quite the opposite, I say. Despite what I have been through – enough to cause me to question the point of my own existence at one point – I have more hope and strength and will to struggle forward in a just cause than ever. Not only have I found proof in the world that my goals and cause are right, but that the world depends in many way s on some measure of mission success. Even if I am so unlucky as not to see much of it’s completion, I will be satisfied in my efforts. They were real and I mattered as more than a mere cog or internet dunce.
Everywhere I look I see the signs of the injustices that plague our world and have for most of history in some form. Alongside these very real pains I see everywhere such suffering need not have happened save for the untreated instability and insecurity in the perpetrators. I still despise wrongdoers, even as I believe my country has lost touch with what is really right and wrong in any reasonable sense. Instead, most Americans follow along with what the rich and powerful tell them is more or less distasteful and thus worthy of punishment. The powerful own the wrongs of our time in proportion to their wealth and unwillingness to apply it for justice rather than their own interests.
I don’t want to literally eat the rich: I imagine their flesh would be too oily and full of awful chemicals anyway. I want from them the means for the rest of us to have some material security and for them the same mental and emotional strength I and so many other more normal people have found through life accepting the struggle which makes success meaningful. In some way I want to trade: the wealth for the experience of truly living as part of something bigger than yourself.
If we all knew our food, medicine, shelter, water, rights and time were otherwise secure, do you really think we would need to debate endlessly whether to protect our planet by treating it as we would like to be treated and actually treat each other?
The real trouble with gender is it’s shallow. Masculine, feminine, or non-binary, so much of what we end up talking about is mostly appearance. Arguably every concept of identity other than the self alone is simply how others see us, not who we are. At the same time, we are social creatures who do engage each other and we can only appreciate what we can somehow experience. So we must see and hear what we can and try to understand. This is the essence of empathy and without it the single biggest similarity between any two people will always be how little we actually know about anyone so long as we continue to place value in such limiting concepts. What we need is to let go of relying on generalizations of groups of people to understand individuals.
Sure, there are components to what we call gender that matter. I’m not writing this to argue that it means nothing, only that gender is given more meaning than it deserves. We all have varying tendencies to conform to certain patterns of behavior, including how we groom, dress, eat, talk, and even pass our time. Some of it is based in our biology – hormones, mostly – but most of it is taught. Taught because of old ideas of who and what we each should be. Yet before it all we are separate creatures in a complex web of life connecting us to more than just communities or even humanity. What is necessary is to reframe the very idea of gender as less a specific code of conduct and more a very basic generalization with some vague use, especially for the less mindful or worldly.
Gender, it seems to me from all my introspection and reading on the topic, used to serve a social ordering purpose that helped keep communities productive that might have degraded otherwise. What’s needed to understand how something so reductive and general could be useful to the whole community are two factors: that humanity’s success has largely been marginal for most of our history, with a great deal of inefficiency and regular setbacks, and the difficult fact of life itself that in the end continuation is all that matters for the sake of a species’ evolution. There is no dues ex machina to save a species that evolves into a corner or has bad luck – whatever works, no matter the apparent morality, is what goes on.
Morality is a human creation, and while it may never decide exactly who carries on the lineages and who doesn’t, it very much seems to distill those principles we can understand and promote that increase the number of people who do pass on their genes and knowledge overall. If you return to the notion that we are social, it makes the most sense that that which is best for all of us are deeper insights into how to treat each other that do not rely on who we are or the things we do which do not directly affect the well-being of others. Instead, we must trust that the best value in anyone’s identity is found in letting us each be and not forcing anyone to try and be something else. Either we can add to society in some way or we clearly subtract. Only rarely are people so anti-social and unproductive as to be a total detriment, and to the extent we do not yet know how or why this kind of person comes to be, there is still value in that existence, too, if only as a living subject of consideration and study.
What can I say? That seems infinitely better than demanding shallow compliance to whole patterns of behavior based on the needs of the shallowest among us when instead we can demand gender be only a baseline to begin the conversations that truly reveal who we are underneath.
A wise man once said, “life is an MMORPG on hardcore mode; you cannot succeed trying to play it alone and you only get to play it once.” Like it or not, we live in a world of worlds now. The possibilities are beautiful and terrifying. While we have whole new mediums of expression and experience partially unbound from the limits of objective reality, so too are we confronted with the classic temptation to avoid the struggle of life for the pursuit of mere gratification. Worse of all, in my humble opinion this week, we are failing to engage a very harmful idea that life can be “played” in only the first-person perspective. I will confront this idea by elaborating on what I mean as it relates to the spectrum of experience from video games most specifically to human experience and behavior most generally, making some stops along the way to consider some relevant ideologies to the central idea: the real power of the human mind is not self-awareness, but social-intelligence.
So first, let’s make sure the non-gamers know what I’m talking about. There are many very different kinds of video games. Here: I primarily want to compare the experiences and resulting inferences and behaviors of two categories of them: multiplayer games played with other people and solo games played by oneself. The key difference between them then should mostly be intuitively obvious. In a single-player game, every aspect of the experience is coded and tailored for the perspective of the individual, whereas, the multi-player game of any kind is processing the inputs of many people and mediating the results back to all those players. One offers an open opportunity to leave reality behind while the other has to more objectively model reality with its subjective experiences in a more objective space. I want to be clear: I love single-player games. I am not criticizing them. What I seek to critically consider here is some of the culture and personal reactions to this format and how to address that intelligently.
So we have the individual. In many ways he or she is capable of independent survival in a hostile world, at least for a time. We think for ourselves, eat our own food and digest it. We have our own eyes and ears and so on. We are each slight variations on the same general model which is self-contained as an organism in an ecosystem. Even better, up to a point we are each capable of adapting to a wide variety of ecosystems and aren’t bound to too specific a niche in any of them. We are usually mobile and self-possessed. The human being is a marvelous thing on its own. However, we are also each small and fragile in the grand scheme. We don’t live extra long or avoid disease or accidents or disasters. In so many humbling ways any one of us can fail any time and there is yet no real evidence that the universe cares at all so as to not gobble us up in its maw and turn our matter and energy over to any other organism or process in it.
How then has humanity seemed to take over the planet Earth?
Though each CAN function as one individual to survive, anyone who has experienced a true team can tell you that we really thrive together. When each of us can focus one a narrower set of tasks and really apply our full energy and intuition and insight to them without worrying about the other factors beyond our zone of action, then we can all perform much better than any of us could have doing it all ourselves. On one hand, this is grade-school stuff, but on the other it is the secret to happiness and success in life above all else.
It’s not even just what the process of team work produces, but the security of knowing that if effort is given for a time there will be time, energy, and resources to spare, even for unfortunate turns of events. This is a happiness and freedom that can’t really be had any other way. We are wired from thousands of years of success in a harsh, cold world to appreciate each other, seek each, other, learn of each other and ourselves and act together. I can say from experience that people who care for and trust each other can take on complex tasks under pressure with striking efficiency to the point words are almost an afterthought all together. This isn’t something possible when driven by basic individual greed. It’s so much more than that. It takes understanding of circumstances, the task at hand, compassion and knowledge of each other, and a commitment to focus totally on the shared goal and meeting the requirements of one’s role in doing it. This is social-intelligence.
I fear that the single biggest issue in American society and perhaps every modern, industrial society is that the trappings of wealth and power from the success of thousands of generations has left us doubting whether this is still the way or not. However, I have faith that everything that is still truly good in our world does in fact come back to this phenomena of people loving each other and working together, only our culture has been influenced somewhat to accommodate alternative approaches which give the false appearance of even better results. Of these approaches I only feel the need to mention this one judgment on them: they lack soul, and that should tell a moral person all they need to know to see how they can be improved by returning to the original human way of cooperation.
So to close I want to ask for help with an experiment: I suspect that I can’t see all the ways my writing of this post could be improved, so by all means tell me how I could make it better. Call me on my grammar, ideas or whatever you think could add to the quality of the post. Maybe I use too any words to say what I’ve said. If you write, then share a link or info to look it up, and I’ll be happy to do the same. Not required, just an offer. I want to write more and the challenge I have found is that I don’t know a lot of other writers well to keep my mind in that game and find the motivation to keep it up consistently with improvements.
It’s a journey like everything else, so I might as well say hello to my fellow travelers. That’s how I want to avoid the first-person fallacy.