Archive for the ‘ I drank what? ’ Category

writer’s block

Writers read.  I hear that all the time.  Writers read.  Some readers write, but all writers read.  I am a writer.  I haven’t read anything for a very long time.  Time to start reading again.  I’m starting my first run of The Brothers Karamazov.  Wish me luck.

the only thing we have to fear…

So, it’s been a while since my last post – I’ve been focusing more on ARGYLE, getting the site ready, researching which domain/hosting site to use, which state to incorporate in, and biting my nails anxiously waiting to get my taxes done so I can pay for all of this.  In these trying times, I felt that today I should continue blogging about being a better ‘you’, and how fear can bring you the exact opposite of what you want.

If all you want is peace of mind and a sense of stability, but find yourself constantly spiraling out of control, most likely you have forfeited control, and that you have put your fears in control.  The first step to gaining control of your life is realizing that you have let fear control your life, up until  now.  The actions you take thereafter are the most crucial and takes constant, daily practice.

5 ways to let go of fear and gain control of your life:

  1. Understand that you have ultimate control of yourself… and only yourself. “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent”.   Suffice to say, no one can “make” anyone anything.  You may be bombarded with influences – mild and powerful, good and bad – but you are the ultimate decider of which influences you allow yourself to be affected by.  At every moment, you are granted the power to choose how you act and [maybe more importantly] how you react.  These critical choices form who we are in the present.  I stress in the present, because…
  2. Understand that the past is past, and what is done is done. There is no changing what has been done.  A  major crippling mindset is the guilt or fear or resentment you hold onto from past events.  There is no changing what has been done to you, and there is no changing what you have done.  What is important to understand is how you act and react in the present, in order to let past events go, therefore no longer letting the past cripple you in the here and now.  Holding on to the past keeps you from being the best ‘you’ when it matters most: now.  Holding onto the past doesn’t help yourself nor your loved ones – in fact, holding on is extremely detrimental to present and future peace of mind and sense of stability.  You are who you are by your actions and reactions now – not in the past.  The same is true for others.  People are people for how they act and react now – not the past.  Just like you, others are not perfect, and just like others, you are not perfect.  Your character is constantly being forged by every new moment, by every new action and reaction.  With every moment, you create yourself anew.  Forgiving the past is also a big key in controlling yourself.
  3. Breathe. Fear and anxiety are very strong emotions that can present very quick fight-or-flight responses from you – thus making it very easy for you to forfeit your control and let fear dictate your actions and reactions.  Notice in yourself the times when these feelings start to arise, consciously recognize them, and make an effort to breathe.  This allows you time to not react.  Unless you’re in combat or a life and death situation, reacting in fear rarely [if never] has favorable results – and most often presents you with the exact results you dreaded in the first place.  Breathe.  Take time to gain composure.  Compose yourself.  Let reality come back to you, and dispel the fantasy in your head.  Drown it out.  Let it fade into nothing.  The fantasies you play in your head only reinforces your fears – but only in your head and not in reality.
  4. Stop playing scenarios in your head. Some people do this more than others.  Some people focus on past scenarios, some focus on future scenarios.  In both instances they are borne from fear, and in both instances they convince you of a false reality.  You want security, so you desperately want to “know” – even when there is no way you can truly “know” anything by just thinking hard enough about it [usually interjecting your fears into it].  These made up fear based “realities” you play over and over in your head are extremely poisonous.  They keep you from seeing the real realities and keep you from living in the moment without fear.  No matter how true it seems in your head, it is cutting you off from your own control, security, and also those around you.  Once you start believing your fear based “realities” in your head, you’ve cut off the real reality around you and truths of the people around you.
  5. Understand that fear breeds suffering and confidence breeds strength. Remind yourself of this a couple times a day.  There has never been a triumphant success story of fear, nor has there been a tragic downward-spiral story of confidence.  See all the people around you?  Those around you who are consistently unhappy and much of the time play the victim role are chock full of fear and lack confidence, while those who are consistently happy, calm, stable, and all around generally healthy don’t have much to do with fear and have a great deal of confidence.  We all don’t want to be the former and strongly desire to be the latter – that is why the self help industry is, well, an industry all of it’s own.

We all crave peace of mind and stability.  Some of us already have it, some of us don’t, and some of us are finding our way towards it.  For those who don’t – know that it takes great effort on a daily basis.  Practice until you master it, then practice some more.  It’s not just going to happen.  No new job or new partner or new car or new anything is going to give it to you.  You can claim your freedom from fear and gain control of yourself and your life in the exact situation you are currently in right now.  We all need to take responsibility for our own happiness, our own fate, our own decisions, our own actions and our own reactions.  There is no blame to go around.  Blame is an illusion.  The more we pass blame on to others for our unhappiness, the more we play the victim, the more we give up our control, and the more we forfeit our power to fear.  We are all responsible to and for ourselves.  No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.

my god can beat up your god

Belief  [bi-leef] –noun
  • something believed; an opinion or conviction: a belief that the earth is flat.
  • confidence in the truth or existence of something not immediately susceptible to rigorous proof: a statement unworthy of belief.
  • confidence; faith; trust: a child’s belief in his parents.
  • a religious tenet or tenets; religious creed or faith: the Christian belief.
Faith [feyth] –noun
  • confidence or trust in a person or thing: faith in another’s ability.
  • belief that is not based on proof: He had faith that the hypothesis would be substantiated by fact.
  • belief in God or in the doctrines or teachings of religion: the firm faith of the Pilgrims.
  • belief in anything, as a code of ethics, standards of merit, etc.: to be of the same faith with someone concerning honesty.
  • a system of religious belief: the Christian faith; the Jewish faith.
  • the obligation of loyalty or fidelity to a person, promise, engagement, etc.: Failure to appear would be breaking faith.
  • the observance of this obligation; fidelity to one’s promise, oath, allegiance, etc.: He was the only one who proved his faith during our recent troubles.
  • Christian Theology. the trust in God and in His promises as made through Christ and the Scriptures by which humans are justified or saved.
Religion  [ri-lijuhn] –noun
  • a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, esp. when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.
  • a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects: the Christian religion; the Buddhist religion.
  • the body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practices: a world council of religions.
  • the life or state of a monk, nun, etc.: to enter religion.
  • the practice of religious beliefs; ritual observance of faith.
  • something one believes in and follows devotedly; a point or matter of ethics or conscience: to make a religion of fighting prejudice.

OK, I admit I didn’t have breakfast this morning, so my mind may not be functioning optimally.  Maybe I am simply ignorant.  When I look up the dictionary definition of ‘belief’ and ‘faith’, nowhere do I find reference to ‘knowing absolute truth’.  Under ‘belief’, there is reference to the word ‘truth’, but it is preceded by the words ‘confidence in’ – I’m assuming that implies one’s personal confidence in the ‘truth’.  Now, here is the dictionary definition of ‘truth’:

Truth  [trooth] –noun, plural truths
  • the true or actual state of a matter: He tried to find out the truth.
  • conformity with fact or reality; verity: the truth of a statement.
  • a verified or indisputable fact, proposition, principle, or the like: mathematical truths.
  • the state or character of being true.
  • actuality or actual existence.
  • an obvious or accepted fact; truism; platitude.
  • honesty; integrity; truthfulness.
  • (often initial capital letter) ideal or fundamental reality apart from and transcending perceived experience: the basic truths of life.
  • agreement with a standard or original.
  • accuracy, as of position or adjustment.
  • Archaic. fidelity or constancy.
  • in truth, in reality; in fact; actually: In truth, moral decay hastened the decline of the Roman Empire.

‘A verified or indisputable fact’.  Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but it appears that ‘faith’ and ‘belief’ are the main foundations of every religion, such as having ‘faith’ in such-and-such religion and ‘believing’ in God.  Religion has never dealt in the business of verified or indisputable facts.  As rooted in it’s definition, faith [and therefore religion] is belief that is not based on proof.  That is one of the main points of religions – to submit, sight unseen.  They are meant as a vehicle to help individuals overcome their fears and insecurities and weaknesses [things in religions I believe are supposed to be the equivalent of concepts represented by terms such as ‘evil’ and ‘satan’], and to help guide people to become better individuals.  This is why religious texts were written as parables, allegories, symbolic narratives; so as to be more universal, to speak to a multitude of diverse individuals with the same messages, teachings of fundamental humanisms.  As time went on and these texts passed through a succession of hands that were deemed the highest authority, and therefore the ‘keepers’ of these texts, it is safe to say there has been some [a little or a lot – who knows] editing, adding, and omissions of the texts to better suit the personal convictions of said keepers and/or rulers, as well as revising and reinterpreting as they are translated into other languages.

Who knows how much of the originals are now lost, and how much of the current understandings of these texts are semi-modern/modern additions.  The fundamentals, I’m assuming, are still intact, however muted they seem to be [throughout the history of at least the big three Abrahamic religions].  The big three, by the way, not only have their commonalities  in Abraham, but also in monotheism, the Golden Rule, the condemnation of murder, stealing, lying, and infidelity, and the importance of life, love, honesty, modesty, kindness and forgiveness.  Other very common parallels, however, include the justified breaking of all these holy sacred tenants on large scales: The Muslim Conquests, The French Wars of Religion, The Crusades [9 major crusades from 1095 a.d. to 1272 a.d. and a handful of minor ones until 1456 a.d.], The Reconquista, and The Salem Witch Hunts, to name a few.

Another major similarity is that the big three are the most prominent proselytizing religions, which I see is vastly different from their call to “preach the word” of their respective religion.  I started out this post describing faith and belief and religion using terms such as ‘individual’ and ‘personal’ because religion is as personal and individualistic as the thoughts in your own head.  The practice of religion can most definitely be a shared experience [hence not only the many varying religions, but also the great number of differing denominations of each religion – so as to bring together a larger number of community members of the same religion but of differing internalizing of the religion].  “Preaching the word” is that beacon for all who choose to practice that flavor of religion being preached.  If one feels a connection with what is being preached, one will go toward that particular beacon.  “Preaching the word” is meant to just be.  Here it is, take it or leave it.  It is meant to just be, because “the word” should be so good that it stands on it’s own – without any seduction, manipulation, or coercion.  If “the word” really is all that & a bag of chips, it should simply be spoken, preached, shared.  It shouldn’t need to be forced upon anyone – no matter how much the forcer feels the forcee “needs” it.

“Oh, but I know an atheist, and I’m concerned about him not going to heaven!”  Really?  And converting him/her is going to “save” this friend?  Common statements of heroism like this sound mighty arrogant and egotistical.  I suppose these converters also wish they had a cape and could fly around converting all the lesser heathens below them.   A fear that a friend might burn in hell for all eternity if not converted first of all, is still a fear [remember earlier – fear=bad].  Second, I could talk to ten people of ten different religions and they could all have the same concern for my eternal soul, and all wanting me to join their club.  Which one would I choose?  Each of the ten claim to be the one and only true path.  How can that be?  If asked to point out the liar, I would see ten different hands pointing in ten different directions – all with equal conviction.

People with this level of religious conviction [and fear] don’t have a corner on the market of conversion.  This morning on Midmorning [on MPR], Kerri Miller interviewed author Richard Dawkins on his quest to convert more people to Atheism.  It was almost exactly like listening to a Christian trying to convert an Agnostic.  Yay, fun.

I suppose in a way, I too am guilty of a similar feeling of superiority, for there are plenty ‘O days where I feel like I live in a world chock full of douchebags.

Out of time.  Gotta run.

there is no spoon

And suddenly… I’m just testing out what it’s like to start out my sentences with “and suddenly”. Anyway, I’ve been tinkering around with the whole life-is-what-you-make-it, mind-over-matter [or, mind-over-self in this case] concept since I first read Chaucer at age three. Kidding. It was Sartre and I was four. Over the years I’ve read a number of books and articles of varying aspects on the subject and watched plenty ‘O shows on Discovery, PBS, etc. The mind is simply fascinating. A great deal of what I’ve read and watched, of course, is speculation, theory, and a whole lot of studies and tests whose answers only raise twenty more questions. This piques my intrigue of the unknown in a big way.

I read a book back in ’95 called The Holographic Universe by Michael Talbot[recommended by my brother outlaw Luke]. The book postulates a theory that the universe is – you guessed it – a hologram. It’s like a real life Matrix in some sense. Based off the independent and collaborative works of renowned Quantum Physicist David Bohm [of Bohm-diffusion, Aharonov-Bohm effect, Manhattan Project and McCarthyism fame] and renowned neurophysiologist Dr. Karl H Pribram [of Holonomic brain theory fame and vastly broadening our understanding of the limbic system] and French Physicist Alain Aspect [of the Bell test experiments fame], Talbot assists in breaking down this concept into more palatable language for the masses – explaining that all we see, know, and experience are not separate pieces of a whole, but rather, everything is connected – albeit at a deeper, not yet perceived level. As we see islands in the water as being separate land masses, when we go beneath the water, we find out that these islands are not separate at all, but rather connected – even by great distances – to each other by the same land mass, just that most of what connects them is hidden from view below the water.

What does this have to do with mind-over-matter and my life-is-what-you-make-it reference earlier, you query? I’m an experimental kind of guy. So when it comes to improving my physical, mental, or emotional health, I like to go beyond the fraction of a sliver of knowledge and understanding of the world around us and experimentally delve into the vast ocean of the unknown nature of our existence that we have yet to discover, and toy around with who we are and what it means “to be”.

In this post, I wanted to touch on the relationship between my deeper perception of existence, my everyday perception of existence [and why they differ so immensely], and the effects it has on my daily moods, emotions, drive, self-esteem and self confidence. I’m curious about not only the effects of this relationship, but more so how I can affect this relationship and how I can bridge the gap so much so as to possibly merge the two – to live life via how I truly see life.

Looking up at what I originally wrote as the title of this post [it started off as “Who Can Turn The World On With A Smile”], I confess all I really wanted to say in this post is that I wanted to walk around being more happy and positive, and less pessimistic, cynical and stressed. I used to be far more extroverted back in high school, and quickly thereafter became far more introverted than is probably good for me. Since it’s reached a somewhat unhealthy state, I’d like to shoot for the high school extrovertedness in the hopes I can reach a more balanced middle ground of intro/extro. I kind of miss not having anxiety and having a far greater ability to roll with the punches.

Alright, since this post is getting a bit lengthy and all I’ve done is laid out one big preface [plus, I still need to do my crappy day job], I’ll end this post with a dramatic pause…

…and a climactic “to be continued”. Besides, this is and always has been an on-going topic for me and the studio audience inside my brain, so I’ll have plenty to say for many posts to come [possibly enough to fill a book. Book idea, I say? Sure! Why not!].

TTFN, punks!

the philosphy of fear

When you break it all down, everything bad and wrong and just plain ugly has it’s roots in fear.  Fear is the most basic component of anger, jealousy, greed, violence, low self esteem, depression, and suicide.  The philosophy of fear is simple: be unrealistic and destroy.

Being the most basic, fear is by far the most interesting and enigmatic of all emotions.  Even all the crazy things people do that are typically chalked up to love usually are much deeper manifestations of one’s fear, having nothing to do at all with the object of one’s affection.  Love, like other stronger emotions, can easily serve as a catalyst for expressions of fear.  Because stronger emotions have a more profound impact on our minds and bodies, it moves us away from our homeostatic equilibrium, which can trigger a cautionary response [even with positive emotions] or potentially outright fear – whether founded or unfounded.

This is the beauty of fear that I love: fear can be one of the most irrational emotions.  We can be afraid of the silliest things that, from the outside, we would scoff at as absurd.  Some of the most common fears, according to studies, include the fear of failure [which would coincide with the fear of succeeding], and the fear of being alone – and not just having no one around on a dark night after watching a scary movie, but of isolation, abandonment, and not emotionally bonding with someone we can relate to.

The fear of succeeding sounds like the biggest practical joke on mankind ever.  Take a person who has loads of intelligence and talent who could potentially do anything he or she wants in life, and then paralyze said person with fear, unable to realize even a fraction of his or her potential, left to rot in painful mediocrity.  For what?  What could possibly be better than a good life of living one’s dreams and getting what one wants?  Nothing.  The logic is not there.  Fear can completely immobilize us from greatness for absolutely no reason whatsoever.

Fear also has the innate ability to not only keep us from greatness, but also take greatness away from us, in the same illogical way.  It can tear families apart, drive loved ones away, ruin careers, destroy futures, and prohibit happiness – all without any basis in reality.  Left unchecked, fear can be our own worst enemy.  Learn to recognize and control our fears, and the world is so much less threatening and our lives become so much easier.  This, my friend, is the philosophy of fear.

close the goddamn door!

We’re not heating the outside! [use “cooling” when you read this in warmer climes]

OK, maybe that wasn’t the best analogy I could use, but a good number of us thought for a second that our dad wrote this entry.  Either way, and in a way, we are watching our hard earned time and money go out the door as our potentially greatest resources are squandered in gross inefficiency.  I suppose ‘not maintaining our car’ would be a somewhat better analogy.  The jalopy I’m referring to is our education system [I use the term “system” loosely], the resources being our potential, as individuals.  There’s not much consistency or efficiency in the current model, with the exception of all the great private, magnet, and charter schools trying their best to blaze new trails in academic progress.  The current general standard is not even current, hardly standard, yet is quite general so much as to apply essentially the same instruction methodologies and procedures to essentially every child.  This outdated paradigm has set off a vast multitude of “bigger picture” chains of events that have been corroding our productivity, ingenuity, and our economy.  This, naturally, is not separate from the less tangibles such as happiness [individual and collective] and the motivation to want to do well and be good, for – as we’re witnessing in today’s [now global] economic crisis – everything is connected.

The way we view education in relation to it’s function in our society and economy reminds me of when my friends and I were starting a band in high school – we wasted so much time in the beginning thinking of a kick ass name for the band, totally neglecting to actually pick up our instruments and pound out and practice new material – we focused on the trivial first while neglecting the substance.  We seem to be stuck in a short-sighted, disconnected mentality primarily focused on immediate to short term profits [at any cost – again, referring to our current crisis], an all-or-nothing, winner-takes-all, dog-eat-dog ultracapitalist mode.  This is a great survival of the fittest model which has been the predominant flavor of capitalism in the past quarter century, but it is a new flavor and is still left unchecked.  In this economic model, ethics are not only a liability, but a luxury which those who have to answer to shareholders cannot afford.  Greed without scruples is now viewed as a healthy component of this new ultracapitalism.  It worked well for Bernard Madoff [until December 11, 2008 – and he would have gotten away with it if it weren’t for them meddling kids!]  Sure, we still churn out amazing doctors and lawyers and research scientists, but not only not enough [at least, not enough of the highly talented caliber], but also, apparently, not ethical enough.  We either have forgotten or have never learned that a solid foundation of a super efficient, super progressive education system is what will not only cement this country further as a world superpower and inspirational beacon of hope, but also sustain this status indefinitely.

Education and it’s function in society is, in and of itself, the initial investment in our socio-economic machine in which we all live in, work in, play in, participate in, contribute to, and ultimately, depend upon regardless of socio-economic status.  It is the primary factor that determines the health of our nation.  We are of one machine with many cogs, and the greater our investment in not only the quality of each cog, but also in the design, the greater return on our investment will be realized through the superior quality of our workforce.  Since there are numerous areas of the education system that could use an overhaul [or redesign], the top three that should be addressed initially are as follows:

  1. INTELLIGENCE: First and foremost, how we view intelligence is a first step must in a complete education redesign.  This has already been done quite successfully for many decades, but in such small numbers and in so many varying styles so as to remain mere specialties or niche methods [which, in a redesign, these valuable niche methods can still serve their purpose].  A good example and a logical starting point would be a comprehensive evaluation, comparison, and possibly the juxtaposition of the more successful components of theories and methodologies such as Reggio Emilia approach, Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences, Waldorf, Montessori, Triarchic theory of intelligence, and so on.  We need to introduce new ways of teaching to every school in the country, from early childhood education centers to senior high schools.
  2. EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION: Invest from the start.  A strong acorn will grow into a strong oak tree.  Utilizing our new view of intelligence, we need to get every Early Childhood Education center on par with these approaches [Reggio is currently one of the more popular emerging approaches to ECE] and establish a large, permanent endowment for Early Childhood Development.
  3. INTELLECTUAL GIFTEDNESS: An immediate correction of the failures we have perpetuated towards our gifted children in the public schools must be implemented so as to give our beleaguered economy a much needed kick in the ass once our nurtured and guided gifties graduate and go on to explore their full creative and innovative potential.

I am tired now, so I will go more in depth on each of these three points another time, when I’m well rested.  P.M. decongestant better kick in or T-bone will smother me in my sleep with her pillow!

:::

a hazy shade of winter

I was born into a family who was born and raised in Minnesota, so naturally, I too was born and raised in Minnesota.  Neither of my parents had any reason to move to another state – both careers and family were firmly rooted here.  I’ve somehow survived thirty three brutally frigid winters in this fly-over state.  Growing up, I can recall shoveling and scraping a 3×25 yard driveway at least once, sometimes five times a week during the longest of our seasons.  During an especially precipitous winter, it would behoove one to shovel the excess snow from the roof, so as to prevent one’s roof and eighty gallons of snow from intruding on the interior of one’s house and thus ruining a perfectly good day.  Hanging up/taking down the outdoor Christmas lights when it’s 10 below [that’s ten degrees below zero, for those who aren’t familiar, you’re welcome] isn’t exactly on the top of the list of reasons why I should enjoy getting out of bed in the morning, either.  When the Governor issues a statement warning the rugged citizens of this cold, cruel state to stay indoors unless absolutely necessary, for exposed flesh could freeze within fifteen seconds [I assure you my friend, that means the moisture in your skin could go from a liquid to a solid state in the time it takes to say “I hear Thailand is beautiful this time of year”.], I tend to stop asking why I still live here, but vow [usually punctuated with more obscenities than necessary] to make this the LAST winter I live here.

My point being, with the economy tanking [or tanked], and there being as much time in the day as there is money in my bank [usually zero for both], when every day seems like such a chaotic challenge, the sub-zero temperature and the ungodly amounts of snow seem to just be the lemon juice on the paper cut.  Why do we continually voluntarily live here?

Pack your bags, T-Bone, I hear Phuket is beautiful this time of year.