Enlightened Conflict

wonder how the same thing can be both

February 7th, 2017

good bad best worst think do life be

==============

 

“I’m always finding humans at their best and worst.

I see their ugly and their beauty, and I wonder how the same thing can be both.”

 

————–

Death

<in “The Book Thief”>

=============

 

So.

 

This quote is said by Death.

 

Yeah.

Death is suggesting he considers humans beautiful … as well as everything else that we are … all the while resting comfortably in his chair awaiting the opportunity to end it all.

 

We all know we're going to die, but it's one of the few human experiences we don't like talking about. How can we change that?

I admit.

 

The thought seems slightly counter-intuitive, but I like thinking the thought that Death is a lot more complicated than we may think.

 

I like thinking that Death sees us … and assesses us … and maybe even judges us a little … as not one-dimensional things to say ‘thumbs up’ or ‘thumbs down.’

 

I like thinking of death as not some grim reaper but rather a thoughtful person who has a job to do. One who contemplates the fact that some days will be good and some days just won’t be so fun.

 

I like thinking of Death One who can see the best and worst … acknowledging that good things can happen to bad people and bad things can happen to good people.

 

And, I imagine, I like thinking of Death as … well … intelligent and not simply some mindless executioner wandering about seeking his next victim.

 

For sure this quote reminded me of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s quote about intelligence:

 

“The test of a first rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function. One should, for example, be able see that things are hopeless and yet be determined to make them otherwise.”

 

 

I believe it was Keats who called this ‘negative capability.’

 

best worst faces life people good badAs he explained <or tried to > “it is when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact & reason.”

 

In other words … you understand, or least come to grips with, that there is a shitload of inconsistency and uncertainty in Life and, yet, you deal with it and do what you need to do.

 

<that’s my translation>

 

The truth in Life is that we really don’t have to be one thing because you’re not another thing – or not be something if you are something <you get it>.

 

It may seem impossible to appear to be a contradiction and, yet, be quite a successful, happy, productive bundle of contradictions.

 

Not only do you not have to be one thing forever but you can actually be a couple of things now … at the same time … in this time & place.

 

I sometime believe individual happiness is found more often than not in our ‘negative capability’ intelligence. In other words … how smartly we can navigate the contradictions in Life as well as the contradiction of what is within who & what we are. If we don’t learn negative capability then we must seem to inevitably seek to isolate being one thing and one thing only as a judge of whether we are living Life well, productively and with focus.

 

And maybe that is why I believe Death was, and is, intelligent — it has mastered negative capability. Death has embraced the contradiction of being one thing and yet living another seemingly contradictory idea.

If Death can see beauty in that which it will inevitably have to end with its own hand surely we can see good in bad … as well as be both bad & good ourselves.

 

Regardless.

 

It seems like there is a lesson in here for all of us. And maybe the lesson is, unfortunately, not that simple.

 

Death looks, on the surface, as one thing … and yet … is most likely another.

 

Death does one thing … and yet … most likely thinks many other things.

 

We view Death as one thing and avoid him … and yet … should we meet him on the street on his way to meet someone other than us … he may greet us with a smile.

 

While Death’s perception challenge  is actually called “affective fallacy” <confusion between what it is and what it does> this is a challenge we all face in Life.

 

I imagine, in the end, the lesson is a simple one … sometimes Life just isn’t that simple.

 

Ok.

 

Ditch the ‘sometimes.’best worst good bad life complicated

 

Life is never that simple.

 

We are more than one thing … we are a sum of all our parts … we are part of everyone we have met <and will meet> … and we are, at our core, a reflection of a multi-faceted character containing aspects of all which we desire to be as well as some aspects which we view slightly glumly as ‘the aspects I do not desire to be … but am.’

 

We either embrace the contradictions or … well … we will most likely suck at dealing with Life and living Life.

 

Anyway.

 

What I do know is that I wish someone taught “negative capabilities 101” because we should all sign up for that class. It would be a better world if we were all competent in negative capabilities.

 

 

=======================

 

“When the first living thing existed, I was there waiting.

When the last living thing dies, my job will be finished. I’ll put the chairs on the tables, turn out the lights and lock the universe behind me when I leave.”

 

Neil Gaiman

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fall winter and finding meaning in death

December 1st, 2016

 like-the-seasons-things-change-fall-spring-winter-time

========================

 

“What I fear I avoid.

What I fear I pretend does not exist.

What I fear is quietly killing me.

 

Would there were a festival for my fears, a ritual burning of what is coward in me, what is lost in me.

 

Let the light in before it is too late. “

 

 

 Jeanette Winterson from “The Green Man”

===================

 

“Autumn shows us how beautiful it is to let things go.”

 

—–

Unknown

(via ginger-and-preppy)

 

 

==============

 

Well <part 1>.

 

I just read a an article in one of those local papers you can pick up at Healthy Grocery stores which attempted to discuss how this time of the year <October/November/December> is the season of ‘decay and death’ … and how it was a potent time to connect with the dead <and highlighted several celebrations around the world which do just that>.

This thought was combined with the thought we human folk balk at connecting with death because it … well … seems morbid to do so.

 

 

and summer regrets

               getting rid

       of winter wishes

 

summer and i

=======

 

 

Well <part 2>.

 

I balk at the whole concept of ‘decay & death’ as well as the ‘morbid‘ thought.

 

Simplistically, seasons remind of us the cycle of Life <not death> and that death, in and of itself a sad event, contains at its very core the very simple concept that without Death, there is no Life.

 

This was immortalized in pop culture by Blood Sweat & Tears in their absolutely fabulous song “and when I die”:

 

====

And when I die and when I’m dead, dead and gone,
there’ll be one child born and a world to carry on, to carry on.

I’m not scared of dying and I don’t really care.
If it’s peace you find in dying, well, then let the time be near.
If it’s peace you find in dying, when dying time is here,
just bundle up my coffin cause it’s cold way down there,
I hear that’s it’s cold way down there, yeah, crazy cold way down there.
And when I die and when I’m gone,
there’ll be one child born and a world to carry on, to carry on.

====

 

While each Life is a stepping stone for every future generation each death represents a stepping stone for … well … the future.

dialogue with pain

 

I don’t need any Eastern religion wisdom to remind me of this … I think we all know this.

Now … I will admit that connecting with this thought is much much easier for us when we remove any personalized death and accept it as simply a turning of generations. Therefore … one of the reasons we do not celebrate death is because it can get too personal. And if that is a reason … it sure as hell is a good one.

 

But death itself?

 

While death is something we dislike, facing seasons remain something we must face year in and year out. It is a constant affirmation of the turning of time and that some things we may have gained will most likely be inevitably lost in the natural turn of time.

 

And, yes, as today is December 1st I am reminded that Winter is the time of Life’s strategic retreat and conservation of what gives it all life.

 

It is not death. And it is not decay.

 

It is Life’s thoughtful way to insure its existence and survival.

 

It is the time of incubation and rest and restoration for all things to come in the following year.

 

I could also suggest that winter is a time of reflection and … well … comfort. In winter’s dark nights the stars are at their clearest and we have the opportunity to see them as the sparks of potential and wishes and dreams and … well … Life. Uhm. And dreaming is never a bad thing … particularly during the ‘ebb tide of seasonal Life.’

 

I will not argue that as Life recedes in autumn and rests in winter we do, at least emotionally, get closer to connecting with death … but I do balk at thinking of autumn & winter as ‘things associated with death.’

 

.... a time to Reflect ......

…. a time to Reflect ……

I would argue it actually does a nice job of reminding us we need to let go of things. and, sure, maybe we connect with ‘the dead’ better at this time because … well … it reminds us to celebrate what we had and embrace letting go.

 

And that is the thing about winter … it demands to not only be felt but also that you meet it on its terms. Even better … Winter demands us to let go of things we most typically hold onto with ragged claws.

 

You cannot refuse its existence and you cannot ignore what was because what is … is … well … is starkly different. Where Life was once obvious it is now starkly absent.

 

I would note that all Eastern mysticism and ‘being in touch with the universe’ and the ‘natural ebb of the earth’ and all that stuff, at its core, just suggests that we pay attention. Pay attention to whatever energy seasons give us … and more often than not that energy it gives us is … uhm … just good ole fashioned thinking. It gives us the energy to think about our lives, lives lost and lives yet to be lived.

 

Acknowledgement of all of that increases your overall connection not just with ‘the universe’ but rather to the eternal pattern of life and invests a sense of energy into pretty much everything <yourself and Life>.

 

And just as Death breaks things down to the bare essence, winter does the same.

And maybe that is the connection.

 

When things are at their barest, when we are drawn closer to endings rather than beginnings, we inevitably ponder the ‘great perhaps.’

 

Back in September I wrote this on the first day of Fall:

 

 

 

I think we all seek a great perhaps of “what I know can be”. I think we all know what a better world really looks like. I think we all want to see the beauty that can be found in what is better in everyone.

 

And maybe it is within Fall and the falling leaves we begin to better grasp that failed plans and failed dreams can beget new plans and new dreams. And maybe it is within Winter where , in ts barest of bare essences, we are forced to begin envisioning what could be in plans and dreams because it is left to us standing in the bare environment around us.

time-seasons-change

 

 

What I do know about all seasons is that they are markers of Time … and poetically speaking … Time is always hungry for many of the things we dearly want to endure and do.

 

This makes Time both beautiful and doomed. Yeah. Time is beautiful and doomed. And that is where I really believe the whole ‘morbid time of the year’ goes astray.

 

 

for it seems all of Fall’s stars

                       have fallen

and often summer and i

run through the last warm days

through the cool grass

       gathering stars caught in people’s dreams

with the intent

           to toss them to Winter

through windows of dawn.

 

Summer & i

======

 

 

We, especially in the West, hunger for time.

Conversely, time itself <to us Western folk> has a hunger and its hunger is for ‘things.’

It is a nasty emptiness waiting to be filled.

 

Well.

 

If there is one thing humans are fucking great at … it is filling time and stuffing whatever we can into any emptiness we can find.

 

Death and dying makes us reflect. It forces us to do so. Just as the bare often starkness of Winter does.

And it makes us reflect on what ‘stuff’ we have crammed into whatever Time we have had.

 

Oh. Maybe what it really forces us to do is reflect upon time. and that is where death truly makes us feel uncomfortable … not any morbid feeling but rather it’s just being dead livingthat we have been indoctrinated to focus on living … living life to its fullest, not wasting any time, to do lists that never get completed and just doing shit <just do it>.

 

Nowhere in that list of shit I just shared does death have a place. In fact. Death represents the exact opposite of everything society & our culture almost demands we think about 24/7.

 

And when forced to face death, or feel a need to connect, we are much less likely to celebrate but rather assess … assess our doing mantra versus ‘stop.’

 

Look.

 

Most of us don’t purposefully ignore connecting with death and those who have passed away because of sadness <because if it were we would be more likely to actually do it because the opposite of sadness is reflecting upon the inevitable happiness> but rather because death and past lives force us to reflect upon our ‘doing accomplishment’ <as well as it forces us to stop … which compounds the feeling of ‘shit, I haven’t done enough and I am not doing anything now>.

 

Yeah.

If you can get beyond the ‘doing’ aspect inherently death is more about sadness <loss of something or someone or time> more so than morbidity. Conquer the sadness and you have conquered death.

 

And all of this is just not that difficult <if you are willing to actually think about it>.

 

winter-fall-snow-season-change-lifeSeveral cultures do celebrate the autumnal solstice as the time life & death is closest. I would argue it is less a celebration but rather recognition of that which came before, and that which is dying, so that what will be will come forth.

Generations beget generations just as falls beget springs.

 

Death begets life.

 

This doesn’t mean we should celebrate impending death but rather recognize, even in sadness, life & beauty resides in the future.

 

Fall is of beautiful dying.

Winter is of starkness of death.

Spring is of rebirth from death.

 

This doesn’t mean you can find beautiful things to enjoy throughout any season.  Seasons simply remind us of the fact time does not stand still and no matter how hard we try and fill up the emptiness time offers us day in and day out … leaves fall, winter comes and spring arises.

 

I believe it is the Celtic wheel of the year describes this time of the year as Samhain … “the veil between the worlds is thin.” Just as several other cultures they use his time to reflect upon “that which was.” In my pea like brain … it is a celebration of navel gazing. It is an intentional event to purposefully explore the valuable relationship not only between Life and Death but the past and the future.

 

Listen to the cry of falling leaves,

            but winter breaks the silence

and warms us with words

of how to change it all

      before the Fall completely ends.

So, So

 

Look.

reflect brain things

 

I don’t believe we do not celebrate death and dying because we think it is morbid. I tend to believe we do not traditionally do so because we, as in Western civilization versus Eastern, don’t celebrate reflection.

We treat reflection more as  a personal thing and not a larger more public event and celebration.

 

Should we celebrate reflection? Shit. I don’t know. But understanding that seasons can offer us enlightening thoughts about how we actually think about death & Life & holding on & letting go is surely not a bad thing.

 

As for Fall and Winter? I do not think of death and decay. I actually think of flowers. Huh?

 

I credit Mark Strand for making me think Winter is the time to bring flowers into your Life as he describes Winter in his poem called Blizzard of One:

 

“A time between times, a flowerless funeral. No more than that …”

Mark Strand <Blizzard of One>

Every funeral deserves flowers. Every Winter deserves thoughts of Life.

defining serial philanderer versus serial creep

October 14th, 2016

yes no hand statement 

 

Well.

 

Let me say this about Trump … because of this asshat I have had to have more conversations about guys, what we do and what we say, and don’t say, and why we do the things we do, or don’t do, then I have in years.

 

 

trump-not-all-men-are-like-thatOn October 9th I had to walk through what guys really don’t say in a locker room.

 

And what guys do say <and they don’t say any of the shit that Trump senior & junior imply we do>.

 

Today I felt the need to define the difference between a serial philanderer and a serial creep.

 

Now.

 

The Trump campaign is gonna do their damndest to blur the distinction the best they can.

 

Ignore the blurring.

 

I am gonna make it simple.

 

A father, husband, or any adult man knows the one guy you don’t trust around your wife, girlfriend/partner or … well … any woman. They are on constant low level “flirt status’ trolling for anyone who expresses even one iota of interest.

They are the ‘dogs’ who just want to sleep with any woman they can.

That guy is a serial philanderer.

 

 

A father, husband, or any adult man knows the one guy you don’t trust around your daughter.

That guy is a serial creep.

 

That was, and is, simple.

 

Now.

 

There is going to be a bunch of crap being thrown around to blur the discussion and to attempt to create some random equivalencies in order to attach Hillary to Bill <and inevitably> to Trump on this issue.

 

As Trump would say … “disaster” of a plan. ‘Poor judgement.’

 

A wife is a victim of a husband’s infidelity. Period.

 

A woman, all women, are victims of a creep. Period.

 

thinking inside head possibilities finiteBill. If we were to judge him thru a 2016 lens, versus whatever year lens we are trying to go back to, yes … he is guilty of .. well … I am not sure what he is guilty of.

He has faced allegations of which none have been proven in court <and the women , I believe, have had their day in court>. He had sex with a consenting adult <that is infidelity and not a crime>. So I guess in 2016 lens he would be viewed as a serial philanderer. But I also don’t remember him ever using the words Trump does nor do I ever remember him treating women in general as Trump does. Nor … which everyone seems to forget … do I remember Bill showing the overall pattern of disdain for people beyond women.

Regardless.

Adultery is adultery. On that issue both Trump and Bill were adulterers and philanderers.

Not a crime. Just a moral crime.

 

Trump. Here is Trump’s problem. He has been a bragging hyperbole driven lying asshole throughout this entire campaign. For the most part … everyone knows that he exaggerates everything. But. When you listen to the bus “grab & touch anyone I want” tape. And listen to what he says. And you combine it with everything else you have seen and heard … well … you sit back and go … whoa … that’s not exaggeration or sexist stupidity … I believe he actually does, and did, that.

 

Bill didn’t paw at women. He slept with them as an adulterer.

Trump not only was an adulterer but he took advantage of his position to touch, kiss and non consensually paw at women <while verbally demeaning them>.

That makes him a creep.

 

 

Hillary.

I don’t think she can say this <because she would be crucified> but I think she would say thru a 2016 culture lens she would have acted differently back in business context young old thinking smarterwhatever year that was. We view sexual assault <as well as many things culturally> differently now versus then <thankfully I may add>.

But that is a guess.

What I do know is that it is only hearsay that she did anything to the women. She stood by her husband as her husband lied to her. She stopped standing by her husband <speaking out against allegations against her husband> after he told her the truth. That’s kind of what wives do.

They are the last ones to know, the last ones to believe and the last ones left out there feeling & looking stupid. And that is why trying to tie her to her husband’s infidelity is a losing strategy. Women know that.

 

And to suggest she is an “enabler”? geez. That suggests she was the Madam for Bill’s whorehouse. On so many levels, mostly by simply viewing Hillary through a brainiac thought leader lens, that seems incredibly unlikely.

 

The biggest problem for Trump continues to be actually his biggest most effective strategy.

False equivalence.

 

As he did in the debate the other night he tried to diminish his sexist asshatedness by … well … comparing it to ISIS. Well, yes, he looks good in that equivalence.

 

Next.

 

What he does is to suggest that “well, he did it too” as an equivalence. That may work in 2nd grade but in the adult world individuals are responsible for their actions.

Period.

 

 

The last thing he, and his rabid surrogates, are masters at is ‘isolating an incident’ to create equivalence. He treats each asshat incident as a solitary event and finds an equivalence to diminish its importance <or heinousness>.

And you know what? If it were just one incident most of us would sit back and go “okay, you really aren’t an asshat … you just showed a moment of poor judgement.” But if you unbundle his isolation techniques and rebundle everything that he does, and has done, he shows an overall pattern of … well … being a heinous self-serving asshole bully who believes he deserves anything he wants … and if he doesn’t get it becomes a petulant rich kid focused on some revenge.

 

<the latter does not reflect anything I want in a president>

 

Bill was a good president who was an adulterer. He also seems like he was a public servant to, and of, the citizens of America <and not sexist>. Oh. And he married a headstrong independent smart woman.

 

Trump was an adulterer. A creep with regard to women overall. Sexist. And , in general, the worst type of soulless capitalist you can imagine.

 

Hillary will be a good president who was not an adulterer, did not divorce her husband despite his flaws, has shown no signs of being anything but an ambitious public servant woman … and married an incredibly smart articulate flawed man.

 

All flawed.

 

But not all flaws are equal.

 

Anyway.

 

As Michelle Obama just said in a fabulous speech yesterday … “Enough is enough.”

 

================

 

“We live in the real world, with real problems that need real solutions.

We need someone with pragmatic approaches that include patience and compassion. That is Hillary Clinton.”

 

Idaho Statesman, the state’s most widely circulated newspaper, criticized Trump as insufficiently reliable on conservative issues, or unreliable, period.

===========

 

A presidential candidate can’t say anything, and I truly mean ‘anything’, if its creepy <because no adult wants their son or daughter to be confused in thinking serial-obama-michelle-not-politics-as-usual-1of it as “wow, the guy who is running our country can say it … and think it … so why the fuck can’t I ??!!??”>.

That’s why a presidential debate is … uhm … well … there is no age limit to view it because they are supposed to represent what is the best of us <not the worst>. That’s why words matter.

 

This horrible Donald Trump event is much bigger than a political event. This is a cultural “education level event.”

Someone on twitter called this election ‘the Sweet Meteor of Death’ but I disagree.

 

Our first black president changed America. Anyone would be silly to not think that.

Our first female president will also change America. Anyone would be silly to not think that.

 

And the change occurs in some horrible public ways.

 

But not all change is equal.

 

Obama ran against decent human beings who competed based on ideas and hopes … not racism.

Clinton, a woman, is faced with a non-decent individual who is competing not on ideas … and certainly not positivism or hope … but instead is plucking every misogynist and xenophobic and sexist string anyone anywhere could play.

 

I read somewhere … we are witnessing what Obama’s 2008 campaign would have been like if Obama had been running against a George Wallace.

 

In this case we are witnessing the Mad Men masculinity campaign against the woman of the future.

 

This will define who and what we are as people.

 

I listened to Michelle Obama in New Hampshire on 10/13 <and I am truly speak the truthhonored Michelle Obama is our First Lady>.

 

“Trump’s comments about women have shaken me to my core in a way that I couldn’t have predicted.”

“This was a powerful individual speaking openly about sexually predatory behavior.”

 

“This is certainly beyond the basic standards of human decency.”

 

    This is not normal, this is not politics as usual. This is disgraceful, it is intolerable, and it doesn’t matter what party you belong to… No woman deserves to be treated this way – none of us deserves this kind of abuse.

 

“If Trump is elected we’re telling our sons it’s ok to humiliate women.” 

 

Me.

 

I do not like how Trump conducts his businesses competitively or organizationally … and I do not like how he conducts himself personally.

I do not believe this is who we are as decent people nor do I believe he represents who we are as a country.

And … paraphrasing our FLOTUS … I will not let anyone tell us differently.

Enlightened Conflict