Enlightened Conflict

you can only see as far as you think (and women)

July 31st, 2014

 women change the world stump


“What I hate is ignorance, smallness of imagination, the eye that sees no farther than its own lashes. All things are possible. Who you are is limited only by who you think you are.”


Egyptian Book of the Dead


thinking multiple thoughts

“We’re all in the same game, just different levels. Dealing with the same hell, just different devils.”










I could write for days with regard to how little we actually see because of the way we think.



But instead I am going to begin by sharing a TV commercial focused on changing the way we see things <and how we should think>.



And, oh my, what a fabulous message … what a fabulous visual <that could have been miserably produced if not done carefully> … what a fabulous commercial:


women mans world

Break the Box: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u2GIu5ZpnTM


<note: this may be one of the best commercials I have seen in a while … and yet … I would give it a D- grade for meeting its objective … but give it an A+ for inadvertently delivering a better message>





Here’s the deal.



To me this commercial isn’t so powerful because it is against sexual violence … I think it reaches a higher level … and that is good.



I think it elevates to the bigger idea … that one person thinking differently … and acting upon it … can make a difference.



A HUGE difference.


I sometimes think we forget one person can make a difference as we get all caught up n the rhetoric with regard to what we are acting upon.


Words get in the way.


We want to label everything.



And as soon as we label something … it is like heuristics .. that simple label creates an image, and a thought, and a perception … and sparks an attitude.



We see and think one thing.



And that one thing can stop the one act that can make a difference.



“Sometimes, all it takes to save people from a terrible fate is one person willing to do something about it.”

Veronica Roth



Speaking of taking action.



The commercial you watched.




To give credit where credit is due … the commercial is from the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault <TAASA> who launched a statewide education campaign about two Texas sexual violence directed state laws.



The Texas Association Against Sexual Assault (TAASA) is a group committed to ending sexual violence in Texas through education, prevention and advocacy.

They support survivors on their paths to hope, healing and justice. They are a unifying force bringing together parties involved in and affected by sexual assault as a catalyst for change.

TAASA aims to achieve their mission and reach their vision through educating our communities about sexual violence, advocating for public policy change that confronts sexual violence, and finally, addressing and eradicating the myriad root causes of sexual violence.

The campaign can be found at www.HopeLaws.org.


woman when i grow up





That is good stuff.



And with sexual violence in mind I will focus on women, how society <and men> look at women … and some of the ‘labels’ that affect women … and how society kind of sees women because of these labels <perceptions> … and therefore thinks about them … and then inevitably how we behave with regard to women.



And I also imagine I am gonna have to mention that godawful word ‘feminist.’



This ‘label’ may be one of the most polarizing … and detrimental discussions … revolving around women and issues.



I don’t have to be a feminist to believe in gender equality.



Nor do you have to be a feminist to discuss women in society and the workplace.



I am going to use it in the following frame of reference <just to be clear on how I think about it>:



“Feminism isn’t about making women stronger. Women are already strong. It’s about changing the way the world perceives that strength.”


G.D Anderson




The word feminist creates a variety of absurd images which make many people only see so far.



Unfortunately the word, the label, I think also impacts women … how women think about themselves and how they think about each other.



And that is a shame.


It is more than unfortunate.



Women can be bludgeoned to a point where they maybe lose sight of making a difference as an individual.



But … one person can truly make a difference.


And <maybe tritely suggested> that one person almost always is you.


The individual.


And where they can make the biggest difference is actually with themselves.


Therefore if someone has the opportunity to ignore society they then have the opportunity to not ignore how you think about yourself.




“Why do you put your self esteem in the hands of complete strangers?


Helena Bonham Carter



women rebellion Jett



By the way … this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t seek support or look for some affirmation with regard to how you think.



But it does suggest that some of the simplistic labels may have to be ignored in defining your own esteem or how you define yourself.







I do not hesitate to tell anyone that I love the way women tend to think about things … and at times I believe the world would be better off if we had more female leaders <countries & businesses>. It may simply have been my management style … but the women in my groups and companies tended to outperform the men.



But suffice it to say that, at minimum, I believe we would be a better world if there were a better balance in the women to men leader ratio.






How does a woman find support in a society which often bludgeons them with words, labels and images suggesting they are disadvantaged in some form or fashion <beyond a state law like Texas>?








Women speaking out for women is tough.


That may sound weird but hear me out.




Older women speaking out sound … well … old.








Even if they are not really any of those things.


<we see only as far as we think>



Most celebrities don’t sound credible.
<we see only as far as we think>




And the most credible rarely get heard.


They aren’t famous and they don’t get the microphone that often.
<we see only as far as we think>




The young sound … well … young.



And maybe a little naïve on occasion.


Sometimes their lack of Life experience makes it difficult for them to articulate thoughts in a way that makes them relevant to a larger audience <they just sound young & inexperienced>.
<we see only as far as we think>


Therefore … when a youngish articulate female rolls around with the articulation skills to make people listen … and listen closely … I think feminists <or whatever you want to call someone who wants women to have a fair shake in the world> should be shoving them out into the public as often as possible.


<note: I have said this before and until proven otherwise I think Katy Perry, Jennifer Lawrence and Selena Gomez … and maybe Maria Sharapova fit the bill>







I hate the words we use around discussing women … disadvantaged, unequal, strong women … well … add something to the list … women are … well … other humans … other individuals.



I tend to believe they mostly are ‘disadvantaged’ by nothing more <albeit it is a big nothing> than how people think.



They may be disadvantaged by heuristics … the labels and words and silly soundbites we want to use in today’s society to summarize more complex ideas and thoughts.


We should be thinking broader.



We should be thinking beyond some labels.


For example:



“Screw writing “strong” women.

Write interesting women.

Write well-rounded women.

see with your heartWrite complicated women.

Write a woman who kicks ass, write a woman who cowers in a corner.

Write a woman who’s desperate for a husband.

Write a woman who doesn’t need a man.

Write women who cry, women who rant, women who are shy, women who don’t take no shit, women who need validation and women who don’t care what anybody thinks.

THEY ARE ALL OKAY, and all those things could exist in THE SAME WOMAN.

Women shouldn’t be valued because we are strong, or kick-ass, but because we are people.

So don’t focus on writing characters who are strong.

Write characters who are people.”



I like this because I don’t like comparisons between men and women.


I tend to believe we should address all people issues equally.




And I think this way because I tend to believe many of the issues which are often deemed ‘gender specific’ would be alleviated <or lessened> if we thought this way.



I do think it is kind of crazy <as a man> that there is any discussion about ‘well … why are we so focused on women … men have issues too.’




It’s crazy because something like nine out of 10 eating disorders are suffered by women



It’s crazy because something like 95% of cosmetic surgeries occur with women.




It’s crazy because while men are more likely to experience violence on the streets than women … can a man really suggest that they understand the feeling that there is no point that a woman doesn’t think about security when alone on a street.



It’s crazy because while men may be physically stronger than a woman <in some cases> that doesn’t mean men are in any way mentally stronger than women <and we men seemed to get this shit confused a lot>.






Seeing as far as you think.




Back to that thought.



Oddly … I find the labels surrounding gender equality create debates which end up being very inward-looking <men to men & women to women>, hostile and relentlessly futile and extremely off putting.



What about simply being … well … a humanist.



Because … simplistically … limits on what anyone can be should not be defined by anyone other than yourself … and certainly not by society.



“Why do you, or they, or anyone get to determine my limits?”


Veronica Roth



This puts all onus on the individual … you alone … with no one to blame if it doesn’t turn out the way it ‘is supposed to.’


I know.


I know.



Society doesn’t make this easy.




A society which sees only as far as it thinks.powerful beyond measure 2


And to conclude … that is why I like what Sarah Silverman says:


“Stop telling girls they can be anything they want when they grow up. Not because they can’t, but because it would have never occurred to them they couldn’t.”


Sarah Silverman




stars and shrinking

July 1st, 2014

stars and shrinking human


“If people sat outside and looked at the stars each night, I bet they’d live a lot differently. When you look into infinity, you realize there are more important things than what people do all day.”

Calvin and Hobbes



We seem to focus so much on what we do every day … the ‘doing’ in Life.

And while Life doesn’t force us to do so it certainly encourages us to do so.


Life does this by throwing obstacles and things to do and responsibility in front of us seemingly as we take each step into the day.

Because Life does this … it is seemingly impossible to do anything BUT think what we do all day as the most important thing.
And I am not here to suggest what we do each day isn’t important.





Maybe I am just thinking about it.

Thinking about it in a way to make sure we aren’t doing so because we are … well … shrinking.


Shrinking before the immensity of Life.immesnity of life norman-mailer




Immensity of life.


Let’s face it … it is easy to shrink before it.


Day to day, surprisingly, is actually easier for us to face. Not suggesting it is less difficult … just easier. It is represented in … well … things.


Things to do.


Things to say.


Things to check off on a list.


Things to put on a list.


There is never a shortage of ‘things.’

Life is … well … immense.


Immense in its intangible and vagueness.


I imagine I am suggesting we don’t <or at least make the attempt> shrink from purpose in Life simply using ‘what we do in daily life’ as an excuse.

shrinking focus on

But it is hard <really hard>.


Because ‘purpose’ is vague.


It is ‘doing good’.



But … does that mean doing good for whomever is in front of you at the expense of someone else? … or doing a greater good for the planet at the expense of someone in front of you?


Yikes <again> … yes … those choices are real.


Simplistically we try to believe it is simply ‘doing the right thing.’


But sometimes the right thing for you, or from your perspective, is the wrong thing from someone else.


It is ‘having a good heart’ <meaning well>.


But does that absolve you from meaning well but still causing harm because meaning well sometimes means not making the hard decision.

Or sometimes it does.



Purpose, to be meaningful, is a combination of intangible higher order type stuff … with some tangible daily <or weekly> decisions and choices.


And it is not easy.


And it is not easy on top of what you do in your daily lives.


I do believe most of us realize there are an infinite amount of ‘bigger things’ to be done.


I do believe most of us realize there are more important things than what people do all day.


And I do believe most of us shrink before the immensity of Life.



And I do not mean that as a criticism … just as something that is normal human behavior <or reaction to what is in Life>.
I don’t have answers here.
Just questions.


As in questioning whether I pay enough attention to things beyond what people, and I, do all day.



“I’d rather learn from one bird how to sing
than teach ten thousand stars how not to dance.”
E.E. Cummings

——–stars and thinking boy


I imagine I believe that while I do not have the answer today if I keep asking the questions maybe I will get closer to an answer tomorrow … or in some day after that.



I kind of think that is what looking at the stars reminds us of.


ragged claws across the universe

December 31st, 2013


“I should have been a pair of ragged clawsragged claws brains

Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.” – TS Eliot



“Do I dare disturb the universe?” – TS Eliot




Both lines above come from TS Eliot’s poem The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.


In the 130 line poem Eliot explores Life from the depths of the ocean floor where one scrabbles out a living on ragged claws to the heights of the universe … and the immensity of Life that resides in between.



At least that is what I see and think when I read it.


And unfortunately <or fortunately> I am no literary expert and therefore do not have the ability to tear his writing apart evaluating what they call ‘literary allusion’ <… pulling from Donne, Dante, Shakespeare and Marvel to Chaucer, Hesiod and the Bible. A reader has to take these allusions on board to get the most out of his poems, though on the surface they are fairly accessible>.



I can only tell you what I think after I read it. That must mean ‘what is on the surface’ is what I imagine the experts would suggest I am doing.

So take what I share with a grain of salt <but read the poem>.



I admit that TS Eliot poems tend to make me think … stark language steeped with cynicism and a hint of urgency driven by desperation but always with an introspective look at Life.


ragged claws sense of ourselvesThis poem is about a person’s desperation that time in Life is running out and he hasn’t made his mark on the world.


I believe most of us have an ongoing thread of ‘am I being meaningful’ in Life. It is ongoing from the time we begin wondering what we will do in Life through the moment we step out of school and into the real world and continues as we do what we need to do day in and day out to survive and be the best we can within the circumstances we exist in.


I do tend to believe with age … we begin to obsess a little more over the whole idea of ‘being meaningful.’

That is what the poem makes me think about.

A man looking back on his Life, and at his life, and desperately assessing what could have been.


in my pea like brain the whole idea centers on adequacy.



Equal to what is required ior expected but not exceeding it by much. Adequate is suitable to the case or occasion. Nothing to rave about but meets what is needed.


I purposefully chose adequate to share my thoughts because it suggests we have what it takes to do what we need to do in Life … yet … is adequate enough?


Most of us muddle through Life with small glimpses of something bigger. Maybe it is slightly beyond our grasp for some reason we cannot truly understand … but the glimpse remains etched in our minds in such a way we tend to come back to it again and again in our thoughts.


I am no prophet—and here’s no great matter;

I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,

And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker,

And in short, I was afraid.



Is this what we fear as we ponder our lives?


That Death mocks us as it awaits our arrival?ragged claws someone to tell

The arrival could be years away … but it can be seen mocking even from afar.


I imagine the thought behind the mocking is found within us … in that I was afraid I was not good enough, did enough … or been enough of what I could have been.


I wasn’t adequate to be anything more than what I was.


There is a self-consciousness with constant introspection and anxiety about mortality and fragility of ‘doing something’ in life.


The poem digs deep into a self reflected desperation … which I don’t see as all consuming … but rather a moment of deep thought. A thought so deep that Life begins to become overcome with feelings of self-consciousness and regret and echoes of a hundred indecisions and a hundred visions and revisions.

The hundreds bombarding you in that one moment.


Luckily we tend to shed these moments well … and move on.

When we don’t we tend to be haunted.


Are we haunted by the Life led?

Or by the Life which we never led?


Regardless we are haunted.


This kind of soul searching for meaning is often simply seeking a richer association with Life than simply scrabbling with ragged claws.


And in that search and introspection of adequacy we often seem to dare to peek at unimaginable heights. The heights which we are uncertain we are adequate enough to not only explore but to survive and prosper.


Which leads to my favorite part of the poem.


There will be time, there will be time

To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;

There will be time to murder and create,

And time for all the works and days of hands

That lift and drop a question on your plate,

Time for you and time for me,

And time yet for a hundred indecisions,

And for a hundred visions and revisions,

Before the taking of a toast and tea.


In the room the women come and go

Talking of Michelangelo.


And indeed there will be time

To wonder, “Do I dare?” and, “Do I dare?”


ragged claws thinker doerAh.

Do I dare?

Do I dare to walk among the disdain I expect from the people who talk of Michelangelo?


Am I good enough to accept that I will have my time just as you have yours?


Am I only adequate to use ragged claws to survive the day to day depths of life?


Am I adequate enough to actually dare to do, and be, more?

To actually disturb the universe?


And then there is the immensity of Life that resides somewhere in between.


I tend to believe while we do not dwell on these types of questions … most of us ask them of ourselves at one time or another.


Ok. I will admit.

It is poems like this … at times of the year like this … that one ponders whether they have made a mark in the world.

Have they done something meaningful or maybe more importantly … ‘am I meaningful.’ And I don’t mean to people <because someone always cares about you> … I mean meaningful to something bigger … Life.


It is only the arrogant who say ‘yes I have.’


The majority of us just wonder.


And there is a discomfort in not knowing.

Not knowing if you have not only been adequate or whether you would have been adequate doing more.

Discomfort in not really knowing how ‘big’ we could be.

Discomfort in the belief that our ‘adequate’ made us little.


Discomfort in not really knowing if you could have been better … done better … and made a better difference.


In the end.

I gotta tell ya.


Having a tombstone read “he dared disturb the universe” would be quite a legacy.things doing wooden



To close.

A thought from Marianne Williamson which seems to tie well with the poem.


Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.

Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us.

We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous,
talented and fabulous?

Actually, who are you not to be?



Have a great 2014.

Dare to disturb the universe.


ragged claws——–


To read the entire poem.

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock – T.S. Eliot:    http://www.theotherpages.org/poems/eliot02.html


using your body to make a statement

November 18th, 2013


“I will write in words of fire.

I will write them on your skin.

I will write about desire.body making a clinbed a tree

Write beginnings, write of sin.

You’re the book I love the best,

your skin only holds my truth.” – Neil Gaiman




I love what young people <tweens & teens> are doing these days with using their bodies to make a statement.

To be clear <part 1>.


This is not about tattoos <although I have something to share at a later date on that from a sociological standpoint>.

This is not even about temporary tattoos.

This is about temporary messages being artistically delivered on their skin. Everywhere and anywhere on their bodies … from hands to feet to back and front.


It isn’t a fake tattoo.

body making a brain painMaybe it is just body writing <like sky writing?>.

And it is frickin’ awesome.


To be clear <part 2>.

I do not believe this idea is anti-tattoo or young actually listening to older people suggesting that committing to something like a tattoo is for life.


I actually believe what they are doing is attitudinal … a reflection of a generational attitude.


And this attitude even has a name. Trendwatching <a trend futurist group> calls this type of attitude ‘transumerism.’

And boy oh boy does it embody our younger generation.transumers words



At the foundation of this generational attitude is a fact that in today’s world we are putting a higher and higher value on the temporary and the transient.


Uh oh. A lot of older people find this extremely uncomfortable.

They wonder why no one can be consistent any longer. Or make a long term commitment. Or relax on one idea or opinion or thought anymore.


Instead the young are embracing many opinions and thoughts. They appear to have learned to embrace a thought of the day. To feel free and express what they think now … express an opinion in the here & now.


Their view?

We are being topical.

We dare to make a statement in the moment … when we believe it is most impactful.


Impact is in the moment and not the grind <although they are not opposed to the grind but that is another article>.


In fact what they are doing is showing us a fairly big attitudinal shift … culturally. Experiences are starting to out-value ‘things.’ The intangible and the temporary are building a higher value than many fixed unchanging tangible items.


Fixed items are losing value by becoming synonymous with boredom, with hassle, with quickly-out-of-date, with maintenance, with taking up too large a part of budgets. Heck. Even taking too much of our lives.


This is an entire generation of ‘transumers.’ They embody an experiential based economy and culture.


This transumer generation is driven by experiences instead of the ‘fixed’, by sensory entertainment, by discovery, by fighting boredom.

body making a backUhm. Long term?

This means as adults they will increasingly live a transient lifestyle, freeing themselves from the hassles, and attitudes,  of permanence  <ownership and possessions>.


The risk?

In the inexperience <I hesitate to say immaturity> of youth it can become an obsession.

By that I mean the fixed is replaced by an obsession with the here and now, an ever-shorter satisfaction span, and a lust to collect as many experiences and stories as possible.


It is an attitude of … “hey, the past is … well … over … and the future is uncertain … so all that remains is the present. So what the hell … I am going live and make a stand in the ‘now’.


This means that attitudinally the young are finding more and more status not from ownership of products & things but from an ability to change and make statements … which change and evolve and adapt.


There are winds of change shifting traditional status cues while still doing so in the unchanging important of appearance <or how one looks> in the young. From a larger perspective we need to take note that this means they are gaining more status not from traditional labels <geeks, jocks, preppies, etc.> but status based on attitudes and beliefs.


The young are demanding expression <and demanding status from self expression>.


They are figuring out how to make their own mark in the world … not staying still, nor silent about what they feel or believe.


As one professional body writer suggests:


“… I think that when we write a message in a part of our body, we touch the hope that this message is stronger than a simple piece of paper or other material

When we use our bodies courier, we speak from the heart ..” .

<note: There is even a website for how to do a ‘sharpie tattoo’:  http://www.wikihow.com/Create-a-Sharpie-Tattoo >



Digging deeper in transumerism.


This thing they are doing is representative of ‘temporary freedom’ or ‘fractional ownership’ of an idea or thought.


Trying out new things, escaping unescapable commitment and obligations, dropping formality and offering endless new experiences. No wonder that this idea is catching on with the young.



They are curious.

Less judgmental because expression changes and varies <it is more difficult to be judgmental on a moving target than a stagnant target>.body making a real men


I love how these kids are figuring out how to make an impression and remain silent.  It reminded me of a quote I saw attributed to the Dalai Lama:


“Sometimes one creates a dynamic impression by saying something, and sometimes one creates as significant an impression by remaining silent.” – Dalai Lama


I am certainly not suggesting today’s high school youth embody the Dalai Lama. But they are figuring out ways to express themselves in powerful ways.


I love this trend of type of body writing.

I love how our young are learning how to not only express themselves but show how to express thinking … real thinking.


I love the attitude <and behavior>.


And I think we old folk should start learning how to accept an entire generation of ‘transumers’ built upon an attitude of ‘loving the transient an temporary.’ I say this because our tendency will be to slow them down and suggest that they are missing something. We may focus on what I referred to as ‘fractional ownership of an idea’ as a bad thing. Instead we should be encouraging them and teaching them how to maximize that which they are and invest in making fractions wholes <like bricks in a foundation>.


Now that is an attitude that will need some strength on the part of us old folk in order to change.

And change is hard.



body making a loveUnless you are young.

Because they are seemingly embracing some ongoing aspects of change <but still holding on to a very strong moral compass at their core>.


But … most importantly … they are not just embracing change … they are addressing cultural attitudes and societal ‘misbehavior’ by taking a stand. They speak out on things that they believe need saying.

Silent … but powerful communication.


In the end?

 body making a statement


“You’re the book I love the best, your skin only holds my truth.”



The skin of our youth may be holding truth up before our eyes.


We just make damn well sure we see it.


creating strong roles for women

October 30th, 2013


Well.female power ambition

Like it or not … the entertainment industry does play a rather significant role with regard to our attitudes <and some behavior>.


The one attitude discussion that always gets me … in fact … aggravates me … is the whole discussion surrounding ‘strong roles for women.’



And what aggravates me is that we even talk about the fact there are strong roles for women. Why should it even be a discussion? Why isn’t it just something that just “is”?


As in something like the fact we breathe to live. Or as Joss Whedon says… “Equality is not a concept, not something we should be striving for, equality is like gravity … misogyny is life out of balance and it sucks something out of the soul of every man and women confronted with it.”


I find it aggravating that we still spotlight women in shows like Homeland, The Closer, Covert Affairs, NCIS, Bones and others as remarkable partly because they are women and not simply interesting characters.


I find it aggravating that in this day and age we have to discuss ‘women can be whatever they want’ in high schools and yet are challenged by these same young women we are encouraging with regard to what role models they should be following <among the few> … and at the same time you get the questions from the young women you can scan the young men in the room and they are snickering or joking about ‘stay at home’ or ‘cooking & cleaning’ <of which you know that if even a splinter of truth is within the snickers there is a significantly larger issue at hand>.


I find it aggravating that we still not only suggest it is the differences between a woman and a man as an excuse for how things are … but an actual REASON for how things are.

female power balls

I find it aggravating that we still refer to strong women in male terms <characteristics> as if someone needs male characteristics to be strong and, conversely, a female characteristic is ‘weak’ <or softer>.


I find it aggravating that we assign gender tags when a leader is a leader … strong is strong … and being good at what you do is being good at what you do … and none of those things are driven by your gender.


What I don’t find aggravating is a speech Joss Whedon gave in 2006 at the Equality Now Conference.


Whedon imagines himself at an imaginary press conference answering the same “dumb question” he is asked “400 times” by reporters … why does he write strong women characters?


Starting off with the anodyne answer that it was due to his “strong mother”, his “engaged father”, the fact that female characters are allowed emotions, or just because “women are hot”, Whedon finally shouts: “Why aren’t you asking the 100 other guys why they don’t write strong female characters?”



I am including Joss speaking … the short version is absolutely fabulous … almost extraordinary in the world of speech making in terms of its concise ability to make the point of which is aggravating me.


The fabulous short version < http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NqsIFlTVoXQ   >


The full speech <8 minutes>: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QoEZQfTaaEA





It aggravates me that we can play a 2006 speech, a fabulous speech, and the issues still resonate today.female power soy mujer


It all aggravates me because I know too many strong women to name in this post.


In fact … I cannot name one ‘not strong woman.’ Every woman I know either externally exhibits whatever we want to deem ‘strong’ …. or internally … at her core … has the strength of however many men you want to line up and judge their strength.


We confuse strength as a definition.

Confuse it with muscles and ability to move tangible objects.


And it aggravates me that we do that.


female power anyn randWomen are just as capable as men to move mountains of ideas and thinking and people.


Creating strong roles for women? The whole idea that we have to talk about it aggravates me.


The real discussion should be <to quote Sheryl Crow> … “are you man enough to be my man?”



Are we men strong enough to play that frickin’ role?

nothing remains but certain shreds of the wall

August 16th, 2013


“Of these houseswalls shards of color

Nothing remains

But certain

shreds of the wall.


Of so many

Who were close to me

Nothing is left

Not even that.


Of my heart

No room still stands

Where it lies

In the most tortured village.”  - Giuseppe Ungaretti



When I read these words … well … I was almost stunned into silence.


To be fair to Giuseppe … I found multiple translations of this work and this was my favorite … and because he is dead I can’t ask him if I got the right one.

To me?

I got the right one.



Those words … and what I thought when I read them.


Memories are a mixture of good and bad … gains and losses.


But these words are about loss … about a heart standing in a tortured village … with no room still standing.




I have never lost to the extent of the poem’s author … however … we have all lost something in our lives … or known someone who has.


And I mean lost something truly meaningful.


I say that because those real losses in Life, to me, are not really about pain … they are about emptiness.

A lack of … well … anything.


The loss simply can be found in some black empty hole … holding neither pain … nor regret … nor joy <of course> … just emptiness. It is some space in which nothing exists. A black hole of emotions and feelings.


How can this be?


walls nothing leftThe walls surrounding that which was … are gone. Simply shreds remaining.


And not even walls remain of those who were … just empty space … nothing to hold any feelings inside.



Maybe it is because I believe what I just wrote that I have always struggled when people give advice that suggests you should accept and face the pain when dealing with extreme loss … or as a corollary … the infamously flippant remember the good and happiness.

Why do I struggle with that advice? Because I sense there is nothing to embrace.

There is nothing to face.

And there is often nothing to remember.



No walls remain.

No rooms are still standing.


I know this is my own opinion … nor am I a doctor.


But I just finished rereading Simon Wiesenthal’s “Murderers among Us” <about hunting Holocaust war criminals after World War 2>.

In one part I was struck when Wiesenthal stated one of the biggest struggles in bring justice to bear was that many of the concentration camp survivors did not want to testify.


The people who you would have most likely envisioned wanting justice to be brought down like the hammer of God … were the ones who were most likely to remain silent.


No walls remain.

No rooms still standing.

Their hearts standing alone in a tortured village.


That is how I finally resolved that in my own head.


We would have asked them to speak of emptiness. To explain a dark black hole of nothingness.




Losing something, or someone, meaningful is never easy. walls withinAll I know from my own perspective is that I will imagine it is dealing with emptiness. And treat it accordingly … seeking to rebuild something from which I could find some room, some meaningful room, to stand in.

For I imagine once you have done that … you have begun rebuilding a home for your heart.

Until then … your heart has no home, village or country.



In one of Ungaretti’s other works … he also wrote:

… my heart is the most tormented country of all …


It has been some time since I have found other words that have captured this kind of emotion and made me stop and think.


I always find it thoughtful that tormented and tortured memories can create such powerful poems.

foolish consistency

August 4th, 2013


“Consistency is the refuge of small minds” is often credited to Orson Wells … but it is most likely Orson being smart consistent predictableand paraphrasing good ole Ralph Waldo Emerson …


“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.”




I have to disagree with Ralphie <which is what I believe his mother called him>.


Consistency and <some> predictability gets a bad rap.

In other words … consistency is neither foolish nor refuge of solely small minds.

Nor is it a hobgoblin of anything <let alone little minds>.

<awesome … I was pleased to be able to use the inestimable, and not oft-used, hobgoblin word on my site>


Please note … I write this as a person who abhors being too predictable … in personal life and in business. I like going left just because the directions say go right … just to see what those who tell you to go right are missing.



Here is an uncomfortable truth <at least to me>.


Most of us like some consistency in our lives. Aw heck … I will admit it … most of us like a lot <as in shitload> of consistency in our lives.

Oh. And by lives I mean Life as well as in business.


Despite the fact we so often speak of ‘throw caution to the wind’ <I have often wondered why we actually say that> or that we like to be unpredictable or we like to be spontaneous or ‘be random’ … well … we don’t really.


consistent be-yourselfWe say it … but rarely do it.


We like consistency and some predictability to provide a solid backbone to our lives. And as a manager of employees you absolutely cherish some consistent behavior day in and day out.



When is consistency a refuge of small minds?


That I will simply refer to as “small living.”


It is consistent just for comfort sake.

It is actually lazy living but made worse because it is living under the guise of something else … lack of any risk. Hence the reason I call it ‘small living.’ This type of consistency keeps you from exploring the bigness Life has to offer those willing to discover what is beyond consistency & predictability boundaries.


Here is what I think about that. That type of thinking, in most countries and consistent disaster inevitablelanguages, inevitably leads to a ornière, rodera, keréknyom,   kiima  <rut> or être en rut, in een sleur, essere in un solco, olla kiima <be in a rut>.



Rut … as in ‘an elongated hole.’


Oh my.

So being too consistent or predictable is living in a hole? Yup. And here is a reminder about holes … they typically <a> have slippery slopes leading down to the bottom, <b> it is really really difficult to stop sliding down a slippery slope once on it and <c> you need someone to pull you out of the hole once you are in it <or you stay in it>.


Just as spontaneity is imagined to be better than it actually is <because the other word for ‘spontaneity’ is ‘surprise’ … and … despite surprise’s incredible reputation … the truth is that most surprises are bad> … predictability can become tantalizingly too attractive.



So I have just said predictability is tantalizingly attractive … as well as consistency … and, uh oh, even spontaneity. That certainly explains why Life can be so confusing at times. All things different but tantalizingly attractive <insert a big fat ‘Yikes’ here>.



Explaining life is a shitload easier than actually living it … doing what needs to be done to maximize it.

Let me explain how difficult it can be.


Life best lived walks a razor thin balance of several things:


consistent and predictable<please note … this is not research but rather Bruce quasi-vapid thinking>

-          Consistent/predicted behavior <a planned list driven life>.

-          Planned spontaneity <think vacations or scheduled parties or outings>.

-          Random spontaneity <shit that just happens>.

And I would suggest <using my research brain knowledge> that this razor thin balance is maybe an 80%-15%-5% <with a +/- 2.5% margin of error> Life mix.



Me … the lover of not being too predictable … accepts the fact that having the majority of Life be familiar and consistent and predictable as … oh, this pains me to admit … good.


Because with some people … using my margin of error … less than 2.5% of your entire Life can actually consist of any true spontaneity … and you could be one of the happiest non-hobgoblins on the face of the earth.



Please note that I believe “planned spontaneity’ is possibly the biggest oxymoron of this generation.consistent spontaneous


We are so obsessed with time and ‘maximizing each available moment’ for fear of ‘wasting anything’ that we actually plan our free time.


This kind of seems nuts to me.


I sometimes believe that in our objective driven world focused on predictability <and measuring success on how well we were able to predict our outcome … even happiness … which seems slightly ludicrous> that we have lost sight of the fact Life is often meant to be lived … to … well … ‘do’ … to discover … and that the discovery is the measurement … not the supposed end value of that discovery.


Do I value the road which was rocky, overgrown and comes to an aggravating dead end as more valuable than the one which was scenic, smooth and ends with a beautiful view?



I don’t know. I would hope that I don’t measure them against each other but rather accept the discovery as the success.

But that is where predictability rears its ugly head.

Predictability and consistency is often measured in today’s time obsessed world as not only the process … the routine … but also in the result.

And maybe that is where I do begin to edge into consistency being the hobgoblin of small minds.

I would be foolish to suggest we don’t all aim for more positive results than negative ones … because we do. Why? Simply because we all want to be happy.

But if you live your life solely focused on ‘only doing what will make me happy’ <or has the highest probability of happiness> based on predictable behavior? Well. That certainly sounds boring <note: and you still will not be 100% successful in reaching that objective>.

And in business? Tt sounds frustratingly non innovative <and a sure path down the slippery slope of mediocrity>.

And maybe that is the point.

Too much consistency and predictability only insures a life of happy <possibly content> mediocrity.

And maybe some people are content with mediocrity … but I would suggest that Life isn’t really meant to be mediocre.

It is meant to be spectacularly exciting … and disappointing. Maybe not all the time <any one of us would eventually get sick if 24 hours a day we rode the world’s largest rollercoaster> but certainly we deserve to see how high we can go … and how low we can get out of.


Because all of that stuff defines our character.

And who the hell wants their epitaph to be “he was consistent & predictable”?


I imagine all I am suggesting is that Life isn’t meant to be little.


Too much consistency and predictability simply insures you have made your Life as little as it can be.

I am not suggesting you have to go hog-wild and ‘live every moment like it is your last’ <which, in general, I tend to believe is fairly crappy advice> but rather … maybe it is challenging yourself to live on that razor thin balance of consistency, planned spontaneity and true spontaneity.



I know this isn’t easy … consistency dangerous freedomand I also understand that there is a huge spectrum of living life possibilities between dangerous freedom and slavery to predictability. I know I personally swing back & forth between the two <which could make anyone’s head a little dizzy on occasion>.


But maybe it is simpler to go ahead and call this type of living as ‘restless consistency.’ Maybe we should aspire to live Life that way … and each of us define our restlessness however we would like … but maintain some restlessness.


It will not all go well.


And I certainly cannot predict any results, good or bad.


Maybe I can predict one thing. Your Life will be bigger.


no darkness just light … and lightbulbs

July 5th, 2013

“There is no such thing as darkness just an absence of light.darkness turn on light dumbledoreunknown


“You can’t have a light without a dark to stick it in”. – Arlo Guthrie



This is about the darkness that lurks within, whether darkness breathes on its own <has its own existence> and … well … light bulbs.



Darkness and light and this whole ‘is darkness a real thing or not’ thought.

Never before has such a thought so seamlessly intertwined itself in faith, science, Life, personal evaluation and hope than this simple thought.


Is there such a thing as darkness?


Is it simply absence of light <therefore all holds within it light … to be found.>?


This is a potential Life truth <at minimum an important Life thought> which seems enormously simple and at the same time enormously complex.


What I do know is that in the art world … black is not a color … it is simply an absence of white.


Making a leap … that implies there is no such thing as darkness.

Is that truth?

Here is what I like about the concept.


Dark & darkness … on paper, in your mind, soul or Life … what can seem so vast and overwhelming in its depth of seeming emptiness … is actually nothing more than an absence of light.


As long as you keep that thought in your mind … darkness can never really win.


It also implies darkness is never complete.

It is never a ‘whole.’

It is simply seeking to become a ‘whole.’


“There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.” – Leonard Cohen


Darkness attempts to fill the cracks in life. But those cracks … those imperfections <in Life and self> are what actually let light in.

Yup. In those cracks in Life is how the light gets in.

<by the way … I love that thought>



I personally believe that while philosophical we can argue there is no such thing as darkness … reality tells us darkness exists. It is in shadows. It is within us. It can be found everywhere.

But I also personally believe that Dark cannot push back light.

Darkness exists only when light fails … or simply gives up.

As long as light accepts its own existence … it will bar the path of darkness.


The corollary to that is the thought that darkness cannot attack you all on its own.

Think about this.

If it helps … try this on for size … if you light a candle in a large dark room a light in darknessdisproportionate amount of darkness disappears … the darkness cannot proactively attack and smother the light. In fact … it is the opposite … the tiny light attacks the vast areas of darkness … darkness only lurks awaiting the extinguishing of light … only then can darkness thrive.


Then there is science.

Scientifically light has existence as elemental particles/waves <photons I believe> in motion as electromagnetic radiation. I mention this because this can be measured in a lab, science has defined and even personally we can measure it as sunlight hitting the skin resulting in a tangible outcome … suntan or sunburn.

Scientifically <I believe> darkness does not exist.  There are no elemental particles of darkness and  darkness cannot be measured or sensed … it is simply a void <hence the term ‘black hole’>.

Theoretically this suggests that what does exist when we label something ‘darkness’ , scientifically, is the relative absence of light.




Now that I have some science on my side.


Life has always contained this duality … I call it a contradiction but if it is easier to accept the thinking … stay clear of contradiction and focus on duality.

A duality within Truth in regard to lies and truth … love and hate … positive and negative … fear and fearless <and a bunch more if I really wanted to come up with more>.


Despite the fact this conceptual abstraction <light and darkness defined as polar opposites … while they may not be at actually at opposite ends of the spectrum> can we give darkness a name?


“Does this darkness have a name? This cruelty, this hatred, how did it find us? Did it steal into our lives or did we seek it out and embrace it? What happened to us that we now send our children into the world like we send young men to war, hoping for their safe return, but knowing that some would be lost along the way. When did we lose our way? Consumed by the shadows. Swallowed whole by the darkness. Does this darkness have a name? Is it your name? “– Lucas Scott


Darkness may not have one name.

Well … okay … maybe one … forgetfulness.

We forget the good in life, the good in people … and the good in ourselves. We forget … which leads to doubt, disappointment and despair.

Darkness consumes in our forgetfulness. It steals into our lives so that it can invite anger, greed, hate, disappointment, doubt, jealousy and other negatives into Life.

Therefore is darkness the absence of goodness or happiness? Those things like hatred, anger, anxiety and greed?  Are they present only when there absence of Light?


I imagine the thought is that if dark cannot attack … it can only swallow you, if you permit it to.


In addition … I like to think of it as the light flows into someone and the dark pulls from someone.

The light pulls one into reality.

The dark actually blinds you from reality <or maybe it simply hides reality>.



I could ramble on this topic forever.

And I will not be able to offer any conclusive answers.

I will admit that at the beginning of writing this with the great quotes I found I envisioned a thoughtful philosophical epiphany-like read … instead I found the questioning non productive and the answers more simple than we think.

That said.

I will use literature to explain what I do know.


“… to get back up to the shining world from there. My guide and I went into that hidden tunnel; Where we came forth, and once more saw the stars.” – Dante


These concluding words of Inferno describe Dante and Virgil’s climb out of the underworld and back to the surface of the Earth.

darkness and certain starsI use this line because as they emerge from the nightmarish trip to Hell they gaze up at the stars.


This image symbolizes the idea that Dante has begun his slow climb out of sin and confusion <darkness> and has taken a step toward optimism <God/heaven in this case> embodied in stars <points of light>.


Light is hope.

Light is optimism.

Light is clarity.


On a separate note.

I think is significant that Purgatorio, Paradiso and Inferno all end with the same word:

-          stele <the stars>


Stars which symbolize light.

“Light is knowledge, light is life, light is light.” – Northern Exposure



What I know <or I imagine> my real point is that darkness lurks everywhere … inside you and in the outside world.

We all have some dark places lurking. Heck. Even Mother Theresa had some <albeit we never spoke about this … she was a Lakers fan and I am a Celtics fan so we couldn’t get past that>.


And this Darkness is sneaky, stealthy, persistent and stronger than it should be.


And while it may simply be absence of light … or however you would like to explain it … in the end … dark is dark.


Darkness is darkness.

We all have it … and we all face it at some point in our lives … and if you are unlucky … every day.

And just as well … light is light.

But they are not equal.

As noted earlier even the smallest light can destroy exponentially larger amounts of dark.


Therefore we should seek light.


Which brings me to light bulbs.


In august 2010 I used this quote: “It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.”Marianne Williamson in this post: http://brucemctague.com/powerful-beyond-measure


She suggests “… your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine.”


We all need light bulbs … inside and outside us.

Something we can turn on when it just gets too dark.Lightbulb

And sometimes we need to turn on the light bulb because we are meant to shine.


And we should go buy a light bulb anywhere we can to light the darkest corners of our mind and soul … and light  ourselves to remind ourselves we aren’t … well … small.

And you know what?

It doesn’t matter where.


I am not a religious person but I respect the churches & religion.


Well … I fund this quote somewhere … “… in a way the church is a business. People are born with dark places in their souls … the church sells them light bulbs.”


I respect anyone and any place that offers light bulbs to those in need.


Sometimes we, myself included, are too quick to point out the flaws in organized religion.

I tend to believe it doesn’t matter where you buy your light bulbs … just get one when you need it.


This particular light bulb isn’t really hope … it is more a belief. A belief that shrinks the darkness calling itself doubt, or anger, or disappointment, or whatever negative aspect you can think of … back into its corner.

This light bulb reminds you that there is not an absence of self in which darkness can find a home.


Light bulbs can be handy in Life.

Because we all need light to stave off the darkness that lurks.


And maybe we all need to shine.

Enlightened Conflict