Saturday, December 31, 2011
When you say to a sick person, "You would be fine if you just exercised more," that is not helping.
When a person is trying to clear all the clutter out of their house and you give them some useless knick-knack as a gift, you are not doing them a favor.
When a person is struggling with something and you say, "It's not that hard," you are not helping.
The above three examples are all cases of making things worse. I hate when people make things worse like that and then expect to be thanked for their helpfulness.
Helping others is about listening. It's about attuning yourself to the wishes of others. It's about treating other people with respect. It's about appreciating what others have to offer.
A lot of people seem to think American Beauty was a wonderful movie. I hated it. To me, it's about a man who quits his job, neglects his family, and spends his time lusting after a friend of his teenage daughter. Meanwhile, his wife brings in the family income, takes care of the kids, prepares the meals, and takes care of the house and yard. And, the movie portrays her negatively for being uptight and glorifies her husband for being such a free spirit.
Spending time with my family over the holidays, I was reminded of this movie. No, things in my family are nowhere near as bad as they are in the movie. I just felt that some people were working for the welfare of the family, while others were not considerate of the efforts being made.
It started weeks before, as I planned my travel dates. I tried to find out everyone's schedules, and plan travel dates that would allow me to see everyone. Once I made my plan, I notified my relatives, so that those who still had not formed their plans could plan accordingly. Then, weeks after I had made my plan, my brother informed me that he and his family would be visiting my mother's house on a day that did not coincide with my plans. I had to re-work my plans, and after considering the alternatives, chose to cut short my visit with my father, because it was the least bad of the alternatives.
My brother and his family said that they would be at my mother's place from supper on one day through supper on the following day. My mother and stepfather planned menus and bought groceries to accommodate this plan. Then, at lunch on the second day, my brother and sister-in-law announced that they did not plan to stay for supper after all. It made me mad that my mother and stepfather, who don't have a lot of money, had gone to the trouble of buying food for a meal, and then my brother and sister-in-law decided they were not going to show up for that meal.
The lunch on the second day was our big meal, our Christmas dinner. Usually at my mom's house, we don't have sweets. Sometimes my sister-in-law tries to avoid sweets, but other times she enjoys them. A few weeks in advance of the Christmas dinner, my mother asked my sister-in-law whether or not they should get dessert for the Christmas dinner. My sister-in-law said yes, so my stepfather bought pies. Then, on the evening in the first supper, my sister-in-law mentioned that she did not want any dessert for Christmas dinner.
What bothers me is that my mother and stepfather went out of their way to accommodate the family, and those efforts were trampled on. I feel I am often in the same position. I feel like I'm always looking out for other people -- my family, my friends, and the people I serve in my job. I look out for them, and they take what they want and then leave me behind. I had a friend once who always wanted to spend time with me when I had a car and he didn't. Then he got a car and a girlfriend, and suddenly he wanted nothing to do with me, and alleged that it was all because of my own flaws that he wanted nothing to do with me.
I stayed an extra day at my mother's house in order to see my brother and his family. After they left, I went to my father's house. As I prepared to stay overnight at my father's house, I found that I seemed to be allergic to the blanket I had been planning to use. I got a different blanket, and that one seemed to be okay. However, my father told me all the places I could look for blankets, jackets, etc., in case I should wake up in the night and find I was allergic to this blanket after all.
After all the energy I invest in looking out for other people, someone was looking after me. It was like after tightening my coat against the cold, I could bask in sunlight. And it was not only that it was that I was being looked after. It was that I had a partner, someone who shares my belief that looking after people is the thing to do.
There is some emphasis in our culture on being assertive, standing up for yourself, not being taken advantage of. There are people who think that if I feel I am helping others but others are not giving back, that's a sign that I should be more assertive. But for me, standing up for myself means standing up against those who tell me I should stop helping others. I will not stop looking after other people because other people tell me I ought to. Instead, I seek to build a community where everyone looks after each other. I will look after people, but I will focus that energy on people who are trying to build the same kind of community I'm trying to build.
Friday, December 30, 2011
Looking at graffiti on a boulder, it occurred to me that maybe some centuries in the future, some archaeologist will look at that graffiti as they try to understand our culture, just as we now look at cave drawings to provide insights into the cultures of the past. At the time those cave drawings were made, were the people who made them rebellious teenagers committing vandalism?
Wednesday, December 28, 2011
My mother blows her nose on cloth handkerchiefs. They are not cloth handkerchiefs that were bought in a store. They are made from old shirts. There were some nice plaid flannel shirts that were secondhand when I got them. I wore them often, but at least 15 years ago, I stopped wearing them because they were coming apart at the elbows. I gave them to my mother. She cut the sleeves off at the elbows. She converted the shirts into short sleeved shirts, and converted the ends of the sleeves into handkerchiefs. She still wears the shirts and uses the handkerchiefs. How old are these shirts? She has had them for 15 years, but there were two previous owners. Maybe they are about 25 years old.
My mother has a nice soft t-shirt that she wears as an inner layer. This was something that I got secondhand, and then gave to her. How old is the t-shirt? Probably older than the flannel shirts.
When people take showers at my mom's house, there's a place where the water tends to land on the floor, because the shower curtain doesn't quite close the gap with the wall. In order to prevent water damage to the floor, my mother puts a folded up old towel on the floor. I asked her about the history of the towel. She said it is the towel she and her sister used to take swimming. "So it's about 50 years old?" I ask. She says, well maybe it's not the same towel, maybe it's another towel of the same kind, that her mother got at the same time but did not use as much.
I still wear a sweater that belonged to my aunt before I was born. I'm in my 40's, so that's an old sweater. It does look a little worn. I wear it as a middle layer, between a turtleneck and a newer looking sweater. It's wool so it's nice and warm. It's a small size for me, which means it fits well under my newer sweaters.
Instead of getting swept away by trendy, expensive forms of sustainable living, we need to remember to go back to basics. We need to learn to live as our parents and grandparents lived.
A few weeks before Christmas, my grandmother's cousin visited my grandmother and aunt in Florida. She wanted to get a stick to take back to Maine from Florida. When she got one, she seemed so happy about it that my grandmother or aunt asked what she wanted it for. She said excitedly, "I'm going to make a Charlie Brown Christmas tree!"
Every day, the first word my two year old nephew says when he wakes up in the morning is "Play." When he falls down and gets a bump, some kisses from his Mama heal all his hurts. He resumes running around the house, chortling with glee.
My grandmother's cousin is old and my nephew is young, but both find joy in life.
Monday, December 26, 2011
There was so much to be done. I couldn't finish it all. But finally I just had to leave. There's a saying, "What's done is done," but for me, it was, "What's undone is undone." I just had to accept that some things were not going to get done.
So now here I am in my hometown, staying at my mom's house. What's undone is undone. Those chores are behind me now. It's a slower pace. I sit and listen to my mom. I sit and listen to my grandmother. This is what we do. We stop and listen to those around us.
I am here in this small town, where families have raised their children for generations. My grandmother tells me of when she was young, how they would gather greens from the woods for food. It was the Depression, and people needed food. I see two teenage girls walking in the woods. It occurs to me that they may be the daughters of my high school classmates.
Life goes on. These houses have stood for decades and centuries. Generation after generation, children went to school, grew up, got married, had children, and their children went to school, continuing the cycle. Feel the age of these hills. Footsteps treaded these hills hundreds of years ago, and footsteps tread them today.
I stand outside at dusk, watching the crescent moon in the west. The bare trees are silhoutted against the sky. The trees in our front yard seem to reach much higher into the sky than the trees on the hill beyond them. The trees on the hill are actually on higher ground. It is only because the trees in the yard are closer that they look larger. And so it is with life. That which is closest to us looks so large -- the tasks at work, the house to be cleaned, the bills to be paid. But if we look beyond, we see that today is only one small part of a much larger pattern.
The way I was brought up, and what I still believe, is that Christmas is a good time to remember that message. It's a time to reach out to others in love. It's a time to re-connect with family, to spend time with those who live far away. It's a time when we think about what our loved ones might want, and to give them gifts that we think they would enjoy. It's a time when we send cards to people who are not part of our every day lives, as a way to maintain connections with them. It's a time when we think of those in need and make charitable donations.
In my own family, we spend the day together. We start off by going for a walk in the morning. Then we have a meal together. Then after lunch, we sit around together opening presents. Opening presents is a way of spending time together as a family. We open our presents, and together we look at them and play with them.
Christmas is also a solstice holiday. The solstice was an already existing holiday, and then the birth of Jesus was put in as an add-on. Winter solstice is a time of cold and darkness. We bring warmth to this season by gathering together, singing songs, and lighting lights. It seems a good time of year to remember someone who brought us a message of love.
Sunday, October 30, 2011
- Live in a solar house.
- Live in an eco-village with my family and friends.
- Feel healthy.
- Not have to go to a job which drains my energy and goes against my values.
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Thursday, October 6, 2011
Saturday, October 1, 2011
I was thinking the other day that maybe if I dressed more professionally, I would be treated with more respect at work, not only because of how I looked, but because I would feel more professional, and would comport myself more confidently.
I saw the man in the suit, and I saw the busker, and I knew the world of the man in the suit is not the world where I'm meant to be.
The busker is named Thaddeus Gaffer Venar. His life is not what I want either, but he does provide inspiration, in showing that there are lives out there beyond the models of success inculcated in me when I was in college.
One function of a druid is to be a bard. Many modern-day musicians are so highly commercialized that they don't fit with my druidry. (There is no One True Way in druidry, so I speak only of my own druidry. Others may have a different way.) Gaffer exemplifies my vision of a bard. He says, "It's all about manifesting beauty. And there's so many opportunities in the corporate world to manifest ugliness even without consciousness about it that finding an opportunity where I can feed a lifestyle that abuses no one and simply exists to put beauty back into the system is tremendously rewarding."
It's a beautiful sentiment. I admire him for "manifesting beauty" in his music. I also admire the organic farmers at the farmer's market, for food is essential to life. There are so many ways that people can support themselves doing something positive, such as growing organic food, building solar houses, making clothing, mentoring and teaching others, collecting and disseminating knowledge, and making music that inspires people. I have only a finite time on this earth. I want to spend it doing something good for humans and for the earth. But I also need to survive, and I'm still searching for a way that I can earn a living that is compatible with my vision for my life.
Sunday, September 18, 2011
Monday, September 5, 2011
If the Tribe is truly to become her kin, she must be accepted in all her aspects, not just the immediately attractive and 'useful' ones. Spiders, adders, and wasps, thistles, gorse, and nettles, are as much the Land's children as domestic animals and crops or the showier birds, butterflies and wildflowers....While the Tribe's economic needs will necessarily have an impact on the appearance of the Land, care must always be taken that the changes not lessen its variety, that no aspect of its being -- however unattractive or irrelevant to the Tribe's everyday life -- be lost as a result. If the Tribe comes to dismiss such concerns and places its need above that of the Land, the balance in broken, the Land's blessing is withdrawn, and before long the forces that sustain life cease to serve humankind, as we see today.I like the way this makes clear why nature study and sustainable living practices are integral to druidry.
The hearth work, the closeness of relationships, and the inner journeys we have made during the six months just passed will have taught us much that we can use to guide us as we step forth into a more physically active part of our lives....Those heady breaths of fresh, clean, spring air we take as we stand in the doorway are intoxicating harbingers of the Mabon -- the solar hero, Arthur, with all the wild budding world before him. There is a great and rising power here. The whole world feels it and celebrates. Each year, at this time, there will be a day when you know from the sunshine and the bird song, from the feel of the air, from the very vibrancy of the Land, that winter is at an end and a new power is coming.In the past, I viewed the dark half of the year as a time of being cold, a time when nothing is happening, but in my druid studies over the past year, I've come to view it more as described as above. During the past winter, I would meditate by candlelight. When I think of winter now, I think of that candle, with its comforting light. I think of reading while wrapped in blankets. I think of snowshoeing in the woods on a crisp, bright day.
And what I've seen in observing the cycles of the seasons is how they remind us of the seasons in our lives. My life has been in a winter season for the past six years. It has been a very fruitful time. Six years ago, I did not know about either pantheism or druidry, and now both enrich my life greatly. In this time, I have learned to be more attuned to myself, to know when to rest and when to exercise, to know what is important to me.
The past six years have been a lovely time of winter in my life, but I worry that I will stay here forever. It seems to me that after all I learn from reflection, there will come a time to step out into the world again. Will I know it when the time comes? Or will I stay hidden, afraid of change, forever? I feel that I am on the verge of stepping into a spring-time phase over the next few months. However, over the past six years, there have been many times when I felt myself to be on the brink of spring.
One thing is that I have to live within my health. The times when I felt on the brink of spring in the past, it was mainly about hoping to be able to have my previous level of energy and health suddenly bestowed upon me. What I was waiting for was something beyond my control.
Now I see it differently. The way I see it now is that there are just a few more things I want to study, and then I want to choose to step out into the world. I want to step out with the same mind and body that I have now. I want to bring with me the growth from this six year time of winter. I want to live in accordance with my body's limitations. I don't expect to suddenly have the energy to do everything I want to do. But just as I have learned from reading and writing, the time is coming to learn from doing and from interacting with others.
Jesuit, Catholic schools have at their core a mission to educate men and women for others....How do you become unselfish, how do you become a person who has a vision that's really common in the old-fashioned sense of the common good? That is the basic vision of a Jesuit education. It's a kind of spirit: to look at people not just as a job, to take care of them, to see them as our brothers and sisters....The school awakens in us a dimension of care and concern. It is an invitation to love....When you are invited to love, you don't exclude anybody....If you're a Christian or you're not a Christian, you are welcome....When you go through these exercises [The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius], that experience of learning to find love not only in other people, but also in a sunset, in a rock, in the sea, in your life as it is happening around you, you say, well, God is moving here....Finding God in all things is the way to sum it up....We belong to one another. If we could all agree on that, and agree to act that way, we'd be better off.This Jesuit vision is so much in harmony with my Quaker vision and with my pantheist vision. Father Kennedy describes the ideal I long for. I am still struggling to put it into practice however.
Wednesday, August 31, 2011
As with spring, the symbol of the autumn equinox is the seed. However there is a subtle difference between the seed planted and the seed harvested. That we planted seeds that we may plant them again may seem like an endless task without point, but it is only part of a much greater cycle. No seed is exactly the same as the seed from which it has grown. Each has within it the nourishment and the memory of the previous cycle....As individuals, we carry that forward in our own developing lives. However, we also carry it forward from generation to generation so that it lives beyond us....Genetically modified foodstuffs...break the cycle of development. If that should happen -- with food or in a wider sense -- wisdom is lost, our strength is gone, and we will wither....we must choose our path and work within it....Tomaotes are no better than fish. However, fish genes have no place in tomatoes.At my job, I feel sometimes like a tomato trying to fill the role of a fish. At home on my balcony, looking at the trees and listening to the crickets, I feel like myself. I feel how I have grown from my parents, carrying forward their wisdom, while also being my own unique self.
Thursday, August 25, 2011
Over the past few weeks, I have had occasion to interact with this person face-to-face a number of times, including one lengthy conversation. The effect continues to be the same. This person is charming. When I talk to him, I feel I want the conversation to continue.
I recently read Elvenbane by Mercedes Lackey and Andre Norton. In that world, elves have the power to create a "glamorie." With glamories, elves can cause themselves to look different, cause someone to fall in love with them, or cause someone to want to do something.
It occurs to me that this charm that this person has is much the same. He seems to have some magic power to cause people to be positively inclined toward him.
I expect that it is most effective in superficial relationships. It's a surface behavior, and when you get to know someone really well, sometimes the surface behaviors become less relevant. But, it is a very useful ability to have.
Several of my relatives seem to have something similar. They travel, and they can arrive in a town with very little, and the next thing you know, people are offering them jobs and housing.
Charm is a very powerful gift, which can make it much easier to get many of the things we want. But just as in the fantasy novels, each gift also has its costs, and each person has different gifts. I admire the gift of charm and wish I had it, but I know that I have my own gifts, and I know that people blessed with the gift of charm may be unhappy or may wish for different gifts. There are people I love who are completely bereft of charm, and so I know that my lack of charm does not make me un-loveable.
Saturday, July 23, 2011
Most situations are more subtle than the decision not to invite a loud, hateful person into my home. Every time we deal with other people, there is the potential for conflict. But it is in dealing with other people that we find the greatest joy. We learn from other people. We are inspired by other people. We depend on other people for survival, for after all, few of us live in homes we have built singlehandedly, and eat only food we have produced singlehandedly. How do we cultivate the benefits of cooperating with others, while minimizing negative consequences?
There is an article called Weeding the Garden about what to do when a disruptive person joins your group. I think it's a good article. It includes points such as:
- Groups have a right to choose whom to accept and whom not to accept into membership.
- Deciding to ask someone to leave the group is a judgment call. You just have to do your best to make the right decision.
- If your group is small, you may be reluctant to ask anyone to leave, because you need all the members you can get, but you may find that when the disruptive person leaves, your group will become more appealing to new members.
- If you allow the disruptive person to stay, often the group will become consumed by conflict.
- Sometimes people may have a legitimate complaint about your leadership. Consider that there may be truth in the views of those who criticize you, rather than immediately dismissing them as troublemakers.
In a less restrictive group, I will 1) not engage in interaction with members whose behavior I find destructive, 2) speak to the group's leaders about my wish for the disruptive behavior to be controlled, and 3) take a public stand in favor of more constructive discourse.
In a more restrictive group, I face the possibility that if I speak up, I may be kicked out too. I may choose to speak up, I may leave quietly, or I may stay and look for more subtle ways to bring about a more positive climate.
I may choose to join a group or leave a group. I may try to change a group from within. I may choose to seek a leadership position in an existing group. I may choose to start my own group. When we choose to be a group member, we choose to live with that group's rules and leadership. Although the best leaders welcome input from members, it is not the responsibility of the group we have chosen to join to be exactly as we wish them to be.
And what of arenas other than group membership? If someone were to write a comment on my blog that I didn't like, I could delete it if I wanted to. That is not censoring their free speech. They can have their free speech on their blog. This is my blog, the place where I express my vision, not someone else's vision. If someone tells me that I should pursue a more lucrative career, that I should be more outgoing, that I should be more adventurous, I may consider their comments seriously, just as the group leader must give serious consideration before deciding to eject a disruptive member. But in the end, it's my own judgment call to decide what feedback to listen to and what feedback to ignore.
In living my life, my job is to seek the path that I believe is right. Everyone else around me is seeking their path, and the way that looks right to them is not the way that looks right to me. We learn from others. Others learn from us. But ultimately, we are each responsible for our own path.
Friday, July 22, 2011
Climate change is here. What can we do?
That is one question I have been asking myself. Another question, as I read about the ancient druids, is what is the role of the modern druid?
It seems to me that these two questions are linked. It seems to me that there's a force in our society that values profit and image above all else. The media offer news stories that will titillate, that will make money, instead of news stories that will inform and enlighten. Politicians seem more concerned with projecting an image of toughness than with making things better for people. People voraciously consume the earth's resources. We buy food flown in from across the globe.
The role of the modern druid is to grow an alternative to the forces of profit and image. The role of the modern druid is to build a world based on caring for each other and for the earth, to build a world based on knowledge, compassion, respect, wisdom, truth, and beauty.
How do we build this world?
- We need to learn about nature. Learning about nature cultivates an appreciation of nature. Those who learn about nature take care of nature. And we need to learn about nature not only to cultivate our appreciation, but to gain knowledge so that we can figure out how to support the survival of our habitat.
- We need to cultivate attitudes of caring for each other. Such attitudes are cultivated in the words we choose to use, in music, dance, stories, and art, in meditation, stillness, nature, ritual, and religion. We need this because whenever people come together, there will be differences, and differences can lead to hurt and anger. Parents need to be gentle in raising their children. Often those who end up in our prisons are those who grew up in abusive environments. We need to come together in positive ways, because it will take the time and talent of many to build the world we want to create. I feel inspired to go out and do what is best when I attend a Pete Seeger performance, or when I read a book with a heroine I can relate to. We need to be conscious of our choices in our words and in our art, to choose messages that inspire compassion, wisdom, and courage.
- We need to be guided by knowledge. We need historians, librarians, and teachers to preserve and pass on knowledge.
- We need to develop the knowledge and skills for sustainable living. We need to develop organic farming, wildcrafting, hunting, shelter building, food preservation and preparation, sewing, weaving, spinning, renewable energy, first aid, and healing.
Saturday, July 16, 2011
I emerged from the book to find myself living in the city, living where I hear harsh voices arguing, and sirens. And I thought, indeed, we have lost our religion and we are declining.
But I don't believe that it is the loss of pre-Christian religions that is at the root of our problems. When Jesus came and said don't worship things, but instead, serve only love, treat all with love, including those you have previously rejected due to their sex lives or their ethnicities, that was a good thing.
Problems aren't caused by one religion displacing another. Paganism, Christianity, atheism, or Islam -- any religion can be used for good or it can be used for evil.
In the book, the religion of the Druids taught mindfulness of the seasons and respect for nature. It taught that as we must harvest plants and animals in order to sustain our lives, we must do it in a way that allows plants and animals to continue to thrive, that they may continue to sustain us in time to come.
It doesn't matter by what name we call our religion or our gods. What matters is that we must remember to be grateful for all that we have, that we must care for other people and for the earth. In order to thrive as a species, we need to work together in cooperation rather than to kill each other, and we need to care for the earth if we are to continue to find resources for food and shelter. We have religion in its many forms because it helps us to remember to do these things. But sometimes we forget the necessity of caring for each other and the earth. Sometimes the forgetting takes place in the context of religion, as we re-interpret our religion and use it to justify selfish ends. Or sometimes it takes place when people turn their backs on all religion.
It does not matter what label of religion or lack of religion people apply to themselves. What matters is that they care for each other and for the earth. When that caring starts to slip, we are diminished.
Friday, July 15, 2011
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Then we went home and had supper. I was worn out from the day's adventures, but my sister was not. As I lay resting in the living room, she washed dishes in the kitchen. I could hear her singing to herself, happily and un-self-consciously. She sang "On Top of Spaghetti," a capoeira song in Portuguese, and something about a bear with honey on his paws.
As I listened, I felt so blessed to have my home filled by her joyful presence. These are the moments that make life precious.
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
Last night, I was reflecting on the spring equinox. Spring equinox is a time when we are half in light, half in darkness, but we are turning toward the sun. That fits with how I feel. In the past few days, I have been thinking of all the things I use -- car, computer, cell phone, clothing, food, etc. I try to choose organic, locally grown, fair traded, recycled, and re-used products. Sometimes I succeed, and yet so many of the things I use don't fit these categories. I try not to use too much energy, but in recent days, I have felt it necessary to turn on the air conditioner.
In the same way, I try to devote my time and energy to making the world a better place, but too often, it seems that just surviving exhausts all my time and energy. I want to reach out to others in kindness and love, but too often I find myself discouraged and irritable.
And so, I live half in light, half in dark. I can never achieve all that I apsire to, but I can continue to reach for the light.
There's a song, "Every Flower" by Peter, Paul, and Mary:
Every flower's reachin' for the sun
Every petal opens when the day has just begun
Even in the city where they grow up through the street
Every blossom needs the sunshine to makes its life complete.
Some are torn out by the roots and cast aside
And some might be arranged for a bride
A flower's just a seed when it's young
And every flower's reaching for the sun.
Some are bent by fears they cannot see
And some are touched by love and set free
A flower's just a seed when it's young
And every flower's reaching, every flower's reaching
Every flower's reaching for the sun.
Sometimes I feel torn out and cast aside. Sometimes I feel bent by fears. Sometimes I feel I'm just a seed, not yet a flower. But still, I'll keep reaching for the sun.
Saturday, May 21, 2011
Sunday, May 15, 2011
Sure enough, it looked like the aftermath of a tornado. The mats the kids were supposed to nap on were everywhere, and so were the kids. Rather than trying to get their attention, Hosea just settled into a corner with [his banjo] Jeanette, opened her case, tuned her quickly, and started to play, softly, a medley of old lullabies his grandmother had taught him. The banjo notes fell among the screaming, running, fighting children like rain. And, like rain, at first the music just ran off them without any effect. But as he willed calm and peace and sleepiness into the music, gradually fights broke up, kids dropped down onto mats, the noise quieted. Some of them looked up at him in suprise, as if they hadn't realized that he was there; others dragged their mats over to his corner and flung themselves down to listen. Yawns began, and yawning was contagious. Eyelids drooped, heads went down onto arms. --p. 296
The song's words spoke of love, of endless forgiveness and healing, and as Ace sang, everyone in the room felt those things, blending into the magic, soothing the frightened panicky people, making it easier for the spell to do its work. --p. 420
"It's what I do," she said bitterly. "I can make anybody believe any kind of lie.""But you weren't lyin'," Hosea said. "You were helpin' them see the truth. Girl, ain't it true that there's love, an' love forgives? Ain't it true that God -- whatever name you want to call Him by -- don't want nothin' for us but what's right and good for us? It's a powerful Gift, if you use it rightly. Have you evern thought that if you were given a goodly gift, you could choose to do goodly things with it?" --p. 421
...those thousands of listeners looked in the mirror of her song, and saw themselves....Saw, at least in this moment; and, at least in this moment, realized all the pain they were creating. Realized that the Grace that had sacrificed itself for them, had done so in vain, because in their hate, their fear, and their rejection of everything that was just a little different from them, they had turned away from that Grace, and into the Shadow....But it's never too late to heal, the music seemed to say. Let the anger pass when the time for it is done, and leave the hate behind forever....You have stood in the Shadow, now come to the Light, for the Light will still, ever and always, welcome you, forgive you, want you still. Flawed and ugly as your hearts and soul are, the Light wants you to come home and be made beautiful again. --pp. 304-305.
Saturday, May 7, 2011
- Often, I become depressed when I am coming down with a cold. I don't realize it at the time, I just feel depressed. Then the next day when I wake up with a sore throat, it's like the dawn hits me: "Oh, the reason things seemed bad is not because they are bad, but because I was coming down with something."
- During the times in my life when I regularly talk to someone I feel connected with, I don't get depressed.
- I am also less susceptible to depression when I live with someone, even if it is someone I don't feel connected with.
- I am most susceptible to depression in the evening, and when I'm home alone.
- Getting lost in a fictional world for a long time (in the past, I watched TV, not it's only books) can cause depression, but it can also cure depression. It seems to me that during the absorption in the fictional world, there comes a time when I hit bottom or something, and after that, I come back from the depression.
- Listening to music or doing movement such as dance or tai chi can be helpful.
- I tend to be depressed when I come home from an event at which there were many people and I did not feel connected to them.
Thursday, April 28, 2011
I have no idea what I'm going to do when I graduate. I try to feel drawn to some particular course of action, but I don't. There must be something that's right -- but I just can't see it. Am I ever going to be able to see it?
Sunday, April 17, 2011
Saturday, March 12, 2011
Sunday, March 6, 2011
Monday, February 21, 2011
Monday, January 31, 2011
I like to think that in times of dormancy and stagnation, I have within me the potential to blossom and grow.
Perhaps I live a more withdrawn life now because the world out there is not so hospitable. When I do find more hospitable conditions, I do reach out to absorb the sunlight (for example, enjoying time with friends and family).
Sunday, January 30, 2011
- Late Friday afternoon, I got a call regarding the job I had applied for. It was a job that I thought I would love, and thought I was qualified for, but I told myself that that for all jobs, there are many candidates, so the odds of anyone getting a job they apply for are low. I was prepared for their choosing another candidate over me. However, that's not what they did. They found me so unsatisfactory that they decided to do another search rather than offer me the position. When I got the news, I thought of two other rejections I had experienced:
One was that two days before, I had been to tai chi class. My tai chi teacher always tells me to drop my shoulders. On this day, she also told me open up my collarbone. She pressed on the places she wanted me to adjust, to show me the posture I was supposed to adopt. She demonstrated exercises to practice at home. Unfortunately, my body does not know how to adopt and maintain the desired posture upon command. She seemed quite exasperated, and went into scolding mode. She said, "If you keep doing that, you'll get frozen shoulder and you won't be able to move your shoulders at all." I was a bit shocked. She has always seemed like someone who is patient with beginners, who knows that we can't be instantly perfect. I assumed that she teaches because she likes to teach. I take the class because I want to learn. In our society it is, unfortunately, considered acceptable for adults to scold children, and some supervisors actually seem think it is appropriate to scold employees, but in an adult education setting, when students and teachers are both there because they want to be there, why would scolding come into it? In scolding me, she deflated my interest in tai chi. I thought about quitting the class. I had been practicing tai chi almost every day, but after that day, I went for three days without practicing it.
The other thing I thought of after hearing about the job was something that happened some months ago, when I joined an e-mail list. I was excited about joining a new community. I fantasized that they would be impressed by the wisdom in my contributions. Instead, they hated my contributions so much that the moderators blocked my posting.
What these incidents told me is that no one wants what I have to offer.
- Friday evening, I went to a friend's house. I enjoyed family time with a couple, their toddler, and their dog. The dog was very excited to see me. Being with them, I was restored to feeling like a normal person, rather than like someone no one wants.
In addition to enjoying the warmth of the chaotic family time, I also enjoyed the more reflective time I had talking with my friend's husband when my friend took the toddler upstairs to put him to bed. My friend's husband mentioned that he never had to look for a job. He has had two jobs since finishing school, and in both cases, someone told him, "Hey, you are needed over here. Apply for this job."
I know a lot of people in his career field, and I've always been jealous of how they are in so much more demand than people in my career field, jealous of how they are wanted, while I am not. But when he mentioned the way he had gotten his jobs, I didn't take it that way. The way I took it was that it's hard to get jobs by applying to them and being chosen from a pool of applicants, so hard that he's never done it successfully. And I also know that his wife came to him -- he did not have to learn the skill of courting, and apply it until he won someone over. She chose him first to be her boyfriend, and later to be her husband.
I felt that all that stuff -- looking for a job, looking for a mate -- is really hard, and I am not skilled at it, but here is someone who is also not skilled at it, and he has a good life, and he is not some loser that no one wants, so maybe there's hope for me too.
I left their house feeling inspired. I knew what I wanted to do. I realized that networking is the way that people get jobs, and that I should do things that get me out there involved with other people. I realized that everything I do, I do on an individual level. I don't work with others to create something together. At the community garden, I talk to the other gardeners, but they have their gardens and I have mine. At the radio station, I have made some friends, but they have their shows, and I have mine. At tai chi class, I talk to my classmate (there are only two of us in the class), but I'm learning tai chi for solo practice. It's not like a dance troupe where you coordinate with others. In my job, I do what I do, but no one is really a partner with me, and one one really understands what it is that I do.
After visiting my friends, I wanted to do three things: a) Get involved in the local sustainable living community to co-create something with others, b) Get involved in the professional association for the type of job I'm trying to move into. Participate in something related to conference organizing. c) Apply to graduate school.
- Saturday, I was tired and depressed. I was fed up with doing chores all the time. I'm always getting groceries, preparing food, washing dishes, doing laundry, reading nonfiction for my druid studies, and trying to work toward doing something other than the job which is sucking the life out of me. I wanted to rebel against chores and indulge myself. I was standing in line at the library to check out a nonfiction book. I got out of line and headed for the fiction section. I checked out Fire by Kristin Cashore, and spent the rest of the day reading it. It was very good. What it conveyed was that life is difficult. We can't live the peaceful life we wish for, because we have responsibilities to fulfill. People get injured. People die. People we believed in turn out to be imperfect. Within ourselves, we have the capacity to hurt others, and to kill others. Life is difficult, but we get through it by loving each other, not only through romantic love, but through the love of friends and family, and family is not limited to our biological family. After reading the book, what came to mind were the words from the refrain of a traditional song:
The water is wide I can not get o'er
And neither have I wings to fly
Give me a boat that will carry two
And both shall row my love and I
What that means to me is that life is too hard alone, but love gets us through it. Also, the song has a captivating sadness to its sound, which expressed the sadness I was feeling when I finished reading the book.
Monday, January 10, 2011
In contrast, in The Urban Homestead, Kelly Coyne and Erik Knutzen say (on page 40):
...bread dough made from wild yeasts and given time to raise slowly is a living thing. It is not cookie dough. Real bread dough crackles and pulses between your hands, full of invisible life. You want that kind of quality in your garden: full of crackling, invisible life and secret happenings. There's bugs in the soil, bees in the flowers, roots being formed, compost breaking down, all sorts of things you can't see going on, but you feel it. This kind of state comes in one way only -- by you doing as little as possible. When leaves fall, let them lay. They're mulching!....Are you getting the idea that your garden is not going to look like Martha Stewart's garden? Good.I prefer the approach taken in The Urban Homestead. I think bonsai is not really for me.
Sunday, January 9, 2011
God is love, only love
Nothing more, nothing less
The song also says
Stories of faith sustain us
As long as we don’t claim that they’re true
(For the full lyrics of the song, go to http://abouttheman.com/wp/the-music/ and search for "God is.")
I believe in love. Sometimes it helps to conceptualize an abstraction by telling stories about a God, or about many gods. I think this can be useful. Any mythology or theology which inspires us to live a life of love is good in my book.
Today, one of my Facebook friends posted the question, "what do you think of a secular humanist, non-deist, who is deeply, and profoundly spiritual?"
My reply: "I don't care what someone's theology is. Whether it's monotheism, polytheism, pantheism, humanism, atheism, etc. people have done good in the name of every religion, and people have done bad in the the name of every religion. If a person's theology moves them to hate, that is bad. If it moves them to love, that is good. Like Fred Small said, "the only measure of your words and your deeds will be the love you leave behind when you're done."
Saturday, January 8, 2011
Druidry means different things to different people, but I think that this is an important part of my own personal path. To me, Druids should collect and pass on knowledge and wisdom. If Druids are members of the intellectual caste, then the Druids of today are the teachers, librarians, and historians.