Rules: find a word at random in a book you have on your person, take five to ten minutes, and write a story or a history or anything you can having to do with the word in question.
The desert wind blows the choiceless sand into the wanderer's face. She covers her face with her handkerchief as the desert engulfs her. Her overall straps are outfitted with pouches upon pouches to aid her task. Her AK hangs behind her, in desperate need of a good cleaning. She trudges forward towards the constant mirage in the distance.
The sand, like her, does not choose where it is going. It is blown by the winds of fate, as are we all. Despite her agency to act and alter her own path, she to is a space to the whim of the wind blowing her. But all of this is outside of her beliefs. She trudges forward towards the constant mirage in the distance.
A shed. An outpost to help keep the city safe. A storehouse of goods for soldiers who protect. A direction she chooses to go.
And my five minutes are done.
I liked doing this exercise. It was fun. Yet I do not think it was really necessary to make me write. It is an exercise designed to get the creative juices flowing and get something down on paper. When writer's block rears its ugly head, I think this would be an apt way to let fate take its course with your story. Find a random word and let it guide your flow. Can't decide which direction your character goes? Maybe it is his memory of a handkerchief that leads him to follow his nose. Maybe it is a shiny new latch amongst a sea of dusty surroundings that tips him off on where to go to find his prize. Like the sand in my story, I do not fully believe we are alone in our decisions. When I write fiction, I think I am going to do this-- let the universe guide my hand in deciding how my characters go about doing what it is they need to do to bring my story to life.
Black and white: I believe that doing something terrible to someone is terrible. Taking a life is atrocious, depriving someone of life is criminal, causing physical or emotional harm is devastating. Yet the truth is it is ingrained in our culture. So far is it ingrained in our culture that all the individuals I have spoken to on the issue have told me that it is human nature to desire revenge or even straight violence. I do not believe that is true. One, I do not and I do consider myself human. Two, we are the only species like this and it cannot be natural. I simply see as Lao Tsu sees, our thoughts have become our character. Let us not let them become our destiny.
I believe doing bad things is wrong. Period. Yet our whole system of justice is built on doing bad acts to stop bad people. Actions like these are the true teacher of our culture. We can tell children to not hit each other, yet by the age of speaking children have already felt our character with eyes unclouded. They see that we believe truthfully in the laws of algebra superimposed on our non-algebraic system. They see that we act with an eye for an eye in our hearts. "I worked hard so I deserve this... They did something bad do they deserve that... They took what was ours, it is fair and just that we take revenge." Revenge is so much a part of our culture that people believe it is natural to feel angry when faced with loss. A mother's experience of loss over a child killed before her time is the first cod example I explore-- however, the example I explore is an elephant mother and her elephant child. It is not my belief that elephants feel the anger our race does. When her child is killed by a lion, does she go to her elephant council and demand they stomple the shit out of all the lions everywhere? No! She feels loss. She grieves. We know this about elephants. Now ask yourselves this simple question: is her lack of desire to seek vengeance a function of her being a stupid animal? The legal reason we do not give tickets to animals is because they do not have the ability to learn the rules and reason right from wrong. It is an accepted fact that dolphins and elephants are smarter than us. A good example is that dolphins can learn about 50 words of human in correct context-- they can listen to sentences. Yet, no human has ever claimed to know any dolphinese. They have the ability to reason, love, hate, question life, think. What they do not know is the rules we have placed upon ourselves.
To explain these rules to a dolphin, let us first think of explaining these rules to an early American settler. I travel back in time and try to explain to a New England settler in the 1700s, "excuse me, chap, in the future, you would have to sign twenty forms and pay six hundred dollars to get a license to sell those flowers and another god knows how much in rent on your land."
"Oh we hardly use that in these difficult times. Six hundred, really? Where would we get it?"
The conversation moves on.
Try explaining it to captain Picard and he, like another moneyless cultures like the dolphins have, would shake his head in shame. The dolphin might completely fail to grasp the concept even with perfect language.
The concept of money as we use it today is wrong. It creates scarcity instead of allowing goods to pass from user to user more freely. That is, it is not the concept of money that is wrong, it is what we deign necessary to use money on and how we treat money that are incorrect. Scarcity and value create thieves with nothing to lose. Scarcity and value create those with something worth stealing. This cycle is much of the reason we have crime at all.
My problem with justice is that the concept teaches the idea that unjust acts require unjust means of punishment. To do wrong is wrong. Is it sometimes better to kill a man to stop him from killing another? Possibly. Is it sometimes acceptable to lie to someone if you know it is the right thing to do? Possibly. Was Robin Hood a hero or a villain? Probably a hero. This world is a world of grey encounters, but we cannot hide behind that excuse. If we want to see a peaceful world, we must act with peace. If someone dies wrong, seek the root cause like prison systems in other countries do. I don't mean to tell you to back down when trouble arises. Stand up if necessary, but remember and have reverence for the fact that in doing harm, you are perpetuating a cycle of violence that created the situation that required you to fight your way out of it.
Watch your thoughts for they become your words, your words become your actions, your actions become your habit, your habit becomes your character, your character becomes your destiny
So I was browsing Facebook and read a quote something along the lines of, "almost all gay babies come from heterosexual couples".
The quote was designed to take the idea that the quality of being homosexual, being one that is born into people, is given to us by our parents who conceived us the old fashioned way. While a fun quote, there are some unsettling undertones here that need to be addressed.
First, it is a blame game. Many seek to blame someone for this genetic dysfunction and this quote gently reminds those seeking blame that this may be their own child and blame can be inward.
Second, the whole idea of being gay BEING a genetic thing bothers me. I am not trying to imply that homosexuality is a nurture thing and not a nature thing, I know this better than most. I am simply saying that this in itself is yet another way the populous blames LGBT traits on something. "Oh it is not a choice, if you are gay, you don't have a choice." While true, our clinical outlook on the issue transforms the issue into a clinical issue-- and lumps it with other clinical conditions like polio.
This mindset is incorrect.
In the Hindu culture of the past, there was a caste system. Priestlike Brahmin were born into their life path. Pariah, Royalty, everything was based upon genetics, yet so frequently stories were told of how blind love was. How a bandit queen who had her eyes burned out could fall in love with a celibate Brahmin, how kings frequently invested their riches into housemaids, the list goes on and on. Today we accept there is no caste system and love between castes is a non-issue, yet we cling again to the idea that sometimes love is just blind to the boundaries we have again placed upon it. The ultimate irony here, the ultimate connection is that we are living out this same story over and over again. We are the ones creating our own discomfort by placing restrictions on love.
Where does this mindset of restriction come from? My answer is greed. The concept that a person can own something is our problem. These two issues seem separate, my dear readers, but the great irony is that they are connected. Let me explain my reasoning.
We live in a society where everything is property of another. I implore you to try to convince me that economic slavery does not exist and you and I are part of it until we decide not to be. This way of being has been the foundation for so many generations as is to be completely normal. It leads us to subconsciously greed. Even the very purest of the pure have their experiences and their life if no other ties. The word "ties" here is so perfect a word. I am tied to my life. I am attached to it. Yet it is a single tree in a vast, beautiful forest and I am tied to it and cannot move. My ties are not so much a cage that my vision of the forest is impaired, yet I am still tied up and tied down by my ties. For each tie we have, we are less free to see that most open and glorious forest.
So in tying a price and ownership to basically everything on this earth, we constraint not only movement and the ability to share, but also possibilities and the ability to see. This, my dear readers is how these are related. When ownership moves into the realm of love, we hear people say, "that love is not like my love. My love is sacred. My love is the Lord's love." Our eyes become closed to the truth that love is not a thing, the truth is that love is a force that pulls on us much like gravity. It is a force that pulls us to do what we were born to do. We can either tie ourselves down and cling to our spot or we can tumble with the current of love and fly free to wherever our love pulls us-- a love that is truly blind to all convention because no convention ties love down.
This phrase came out of my big mouth today and I couldn't help but fall in love with it.
Irony is just another connection in disguise.
Irony is one of those words whose definition never seems to match up with the places it is used in. The actual definition of ironic happenings are events whose consequences are somehow opposite if the expected norm, usually in a comedic way. A cod example might be a sign set up next to an empty room reading, "illiteracy club meeting 6pm". The irony is laced in using words to point out the meeting of a club if people who do not use words. Another example of a different kind of irony would be a great king of old hearing prophecy of his own death and posting fifty guards at his bedside only to have one of the guards betray him. The irony is that his own actions bringing about what his actions were done to avoid.
Yet what do all of these situations have in common? They have us in common chuckling on the sidelines. What are we laughing at? The connections. If something is ironic, it is likely because we know something the players do not. We see the whole of the tragedy and understand that it happened for a very obviously counter-logical reason.
Become a watcher in your own life, in the vast play of this whole universe. Chuckle at the ultimate connections and ironies.
On many occasions in my life, mentors have referred to me as an old soul.
The term never quite yielded its true colors and I could never quite say I confirmed or denied these continuous claims. One of the frequent troubles I encountered with the term was whether or not an old soul would have such a wonder of life as this one. I always assumed I was a young soul because I have always had this sheer wonder. My only conception of young and old that I have learned from humans tells me that young have wonder at the beauties of the world and old have a knowing and experienced appreciation for them. If I have a soul, I do not think it has any experience at all of this human experience of beauty. I can feel it writhing in my heart, pulling me to go experience that and see this and do that and live this. It is like a child in a toy store; it is a young soul.
Another wrote on this topic and made a checklist for old souls. I was curious, so I read along.
She said older souls have an easier time learning the deeper lessons of life and death, see the body as a shell for the soul, have or are curious about more innate psychic or healing abilities, become spiritually aware at a younger age, have a knack for getting into situations that promote spiritual growth, consequently get into trouble with society for them, forgive others with incredible ease, have much less ego, are much less materialistic, have a deep connection to eras other than their own, are a loner possibly because of that, have an apparent disconnect between the reality they see and "the real world", and have an endless, ENDLESS thirst for truth.
She also said that there are some souls so old that they predate or transcend humanity. These souls may have a home planet that is not Earth. They may have come here to help with Earth's ascension or something.
I don't really know what to think of this list. I mean on first glance I feel that I hit every single one in one way or another, but ... I think a lot of people do. Who doesn't have some era like the steam punk or ancient Egypt that they have a hard on for? Who hasn't thought some form of magic or another exists? Who hasn't been a loner? Are we all recycled souls? What is a new soul? Where does it come from?
My reading continued elsewhere.
And my readings lead to a much deeper place. One I will mention at another time. Sorry for leaving this post with so little closure, but that is where I am at on the issue.
I do not write like Rumi. This is a given as I am not Rumi, but I find his writings beautiful and have been trying to analyze how and why so that I may incorporate parts of that beauty into my own work.
Rumi rambled and rambled, saying the same thing over and over again as he sought to capture the rapturous emotions he was drowning in. Eventually, he would always realize his efforts would never quite capture the truth and he would get more and more abstract before ending entirely with Shams. The result is so many attempts piled together like a book of old sketches. Flipping through them, one sees so many individual pictures-- some detailed, some anecdotal, some abstract, some painted, some written in the air with a hand. Each beautiful, yet one gets the feeling that they are all connected. Looking at the sketchbook as a whole, the pieces blend together and his whole truth becomes more visible in the blurred image of all of them as one.
My writing is much more poignant. This is not necessarily a bad thing. To keep to the simile consistent for comparison's sake, my sketchbook is like a comic book. Each paragraph is a very detailed piece of the puzzle that fits together in order. I use smaller statements, more stylistically similar so that the reader may see what I see. However, no eye sees as my eye sees.
Rumi knows this. His writing at its core recognizes that the whole of experience is so subjective, yet there is a deeper undercurrent felt by all. The many different sketches in each of Rumi's works tries to capture that undercurrent by not attempting to capture anything specific at all and letting the reader feel his joy through his writing rather than pointing at the joy by the definition of the words.
Let me say that again. Rumi's joy is felt through his writing and his attempt to capture something beautiful. My writing points at the joy I am experiencing. To me, writing is telling a story to say something or show something beautiful. To Rumi, writing is a joy and, therefore, is a joy to read.
In order to write more like Rumi, I should try to find joy in simply speaking; I must throw away my attempts to create structure and let the words flow through me. When a lion roars or an empowered youth yawps, the conscious choice of what sound comes out is the last thing on their mind, yet the sound made, however incoherent or formless, communicates perfectly the soul that needs to be spoken. I must forget the control and pinpoint accuracy I use to show what I want to say, I must yawp and let whatever garbage noise come out be understood in perfect clarity by the soul within it. That is what Rumi knows and that is how Rumi writes.
"Love you too. Walk forward every day and embrace each moment as it comes. Don't dread the future and never regret the past."
This statement is easy to say, but hard to live. It is the essence of being courageous. When it is hard to be this, I pretend to be it. When I am terrified out of my gourd (whatever that idiom means), I try to pretend that I have this grace under pressure. I try to pretend I am courageous like Aslan and wise like Yoda. I pretend to be logical like Spock and emotionally in tune like Anara.
All of this pretending and sometimes it can be hard to remember who I really am. The truth is that I am whoever I am today. The me that breathes is the best me I can conceive of being. The larger my imagination, the larger I have the potential to be, regardless of inside and out.
I ask what this means. Am I pretending to be someone I am not or am I being someone I pretend to be? ... I want to believe the latter. The thousands of lives I have read or otherwise experienced mold who I am. I elaborate on their themes and build myself into creation with my breath. Who I am, who my soul is, I may find that out one day, but for now I have the ability to be whomever I choose so long as I continue to breathe.
I am the fool in the shape of a tree. ... I don't really know why I said that, but it sounds pretty cool.
So when I think of food service, I think of cooking serving people food, plain and simple. Yet today a completely obvious thought hit me. Serving food to customers faster lets a restaurant serve more people. Cutting time yields more income. Therefore a restaurant like mine that serves at most blanched and grilled, but mostly raw ingredients, can serve food faster and get more customers in and out the door even during busy times with less labor.
Duh. I mean this isn't rocket science, yet the thought had never crossed my mind.
What troubles me though is how this must affect the financial thoughts of the wigs behind food service industries. Thoughts like this have created things like "food warmers" where a joint will cook ready foods and have them sit in trays under heavy heat so that a customer can get in and out with no cook time seen. Prices can be cut and labor can be cut to compensate while maintaining or increasing profits due to increased volume. I don't like this purely because I know that the longer food is cooked, the more nutrients it loses. By the time many faces meet food in these places, they may as well be eating incredibly tasty cardboard for all the nutrients left.
This model CAN work with things like salad bars and places like mine that create and cook on the spot, but I believe it unacceptable for any foods that one would cook to serve in their own kitchen.
... Yes. Duh. I don't think I will get many disagreements from my readers, yet the masters of industry that forge our cultural norms through their mass produced practices have MADE this something that is thought of as something people just do.
It is not ok. Fight it with the only vote you have been given-- fight it with your dollar. Make food fresh. Eat with love.
"How and why do you actively make friends and stay friends with high schoolers? They are so <insert any of the things that people say about high schoolers>."
Some nameless adult asked this of me.
So I humbled her like a fucking mountain: "Sure, high schoolers are simpler folk than those older than 20 or 30, but they also have something that we lack. They are just old enough to understand the world around them, yet they still have this hope and simpleness of being that burns brighter than we can even dream. They have not seen the world as you and I have, but if we are completely honest with them, we can enlighten them to it and they can rejuvenate us of it."
I can't remember if I have talked about this before, but he I go anyway.
I have a serious problem with "justice." The whole idea of someone getting "what they deserve" or "being punished for what they have done" or even "paying penance" in a forced way seems wrong. It feels like retribution; it feels like an eye for an eye. That feels wrong.
Muhatma (an title in the Indian language translating roughly to supreme teacher) Ghandi once said, "an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind." He is thought to have been speaking of wars breaking out because one man killed someone close to him which in turn causes them the pain requisite enough to want to kill another in vengeance and so on. I think this very powerful statement extends even further. I believe that no matter what reason anyone has, taking a life or harming another outside the natural order impacts us and is inherently wrong. We hear stories all the time of cops killing to prevent a life from being taken and being rocked by the experience. Or cut throat businessmen who, despite their personal success, are haunted by demons of greed and depression.
For whatever reason, no matter how just it may be, to do wrong to another (outside of that natural instinct) is bad for the soul.
Let me elaborate on "outside the natural instinct." What I mean is this: why don't police officers give tickets to J walking pigeons? Why don't we arrest Tigers for mauling and eating animals as we would a human without a license doing the same? Why is it that some people are driven to take it upon their soul to see justice served? Why is it that others serve to create the chaos needed to make those justice servers whole? When we act inside this natural order, we are whole. When we act outside of this natural order, our souls become haunted.
Justice to me is nothing more than stabbing a man because he stabbed someone else. Pretty it up all you like, but at the end of the day it is retribution, plain and simple. I don't suggest we simply let killers roam free, I simply suggest that the natural order will fix many things. The perils of these haunted hearts do cause many of the problems that create them, after all.
It is an idealistic dream at best, but always remember: I am be a dreamer, but I am not the only one.
I came up with the title of this post and ... well I only hope I can do the title justice. Here goes nothing.
The event that spawned this post happened at the end of my day of work. Unlike my norm, I followed a coworker to her bus stop to continue an interesting discussion and proceeded to roam slowly from there down to my stop to find my train home waiting for me. I hopped on and began writing. My attention wavered and I looked up to see a beautiful young girl. She is a friend of a roommate I know only by name, reputation, and a few pictures from a photo album I saw once on my her computer. I take a chance and ask this girl I have never met, "excuse me, miss, is your name Melissa?"
My intuition is not wrong and we get to know each other. Now in complete intuition mode, I randomly feel like having some tea so I ask her if she wants boba tea too. She loves boba tea. Little did I know, my roommate was going to take her to get boba tea soon as she arrived.
Later that night, I am hanging with some of my kittens (high school friends) who just got back from an Imagine Dragons concert in my city. awesome. On my way home, I miss the train so I go wait for a friend to pick me up and while waiting, some young man and his friend approach talking to each other. I lock eyes with the speaker and instantaneously his question to his friend is genuinely addressed to me.
He asks something along the lines of "how do we calm the fear of the unknown and do what we know can't not to do?" I knew in my heart of hearts that he is asking me for advice on girls and the acquiring of numbers, yet he asked me in this most unique way. My eyes never leave his as I think and reply.
I say something like, "we can't focus on what happens if we fail for it doesn't really matter-- at the end of the day, our lives are fleeting and that isn't meant to be a source of worry. It helps guide us to let our true feelings flow from sacrum to throat and manifest into being; trust your instincts and in the unlikely event you do something silly because of them, realize that it doesn't matter-- you may never see them again and you will always know you did what the lion in your heart demanded you do."
We share a moment and he says, "I somehow knew that you were just sitting here waiting to answer my question. You, my friend, are going to go out into this journey of life well prepared."
He crossed the street and my roommate's car rolls up LITERALLY as he is half way across the street. I told them about it immediately and their only response was, "are you sure he didn't disappear half way across the street? If he did just walk by, he was J walking and I don't remember seeing anyone." I couldn't respond. I really didn't know at that point. Had it simply been a dream?
I digress. This story is distracting me from my point. This intuition, this superlative luck, it defies probability. Is it luck that put me next to Marissa on the bus? Is it fate that I missed my train and crossed paths with that random sojourner and his question? Is chance that I watch a movie and almost immediately get a call from a long estranged friend asking questions about it-- or that one time when I had a dream and something like 7 people contacted me in the same day with heart felt messages?
This grace, this oneness-- it can only be described in Rumi's terms as The Beloved. It is the universe; and it is the realization that I am not a single drop in the ocean, I am the entire ocean in a single drop.
Hearing gripes about minimum wage have made me think. As is often the case, I have thought of these issues before, but sometimes one has to really live in the universe if a plight to really understand it.
The minimum wage is a fine way to keep workers safe from being paid too little. However, it is also a very easy way to organize the institutions if financial slavery. I notice that the minimum wage of an area and its cost of living are perfectly correlated. As a mathematician, I don't say those words lightly. In rural areas where the minimum wage is 8 an hour, it takes about half a paycheck to afford a place to live and the food and basic utilities will leave enough discretionary spending in line with a certain standard of life that is very well defined. In cities where the minimum wage nears 11 dollars, it still takes about half a paycheck to cover rent etc. Housing price norms are predicated by the amount the populus can pay. Having a unified amount the average person makes allows greater and easier market control. The system of minimum wage may or may not be designed to help the lowest earn enough to survive, but that same system IS being used to give the poorer EXACTLY enough to be worker bees and not much more.
Economic control, I like the sound of that. Let's control greed like they control growth. What if we institute a national maximum wage? Calculate what the most a person (note I use the word person and not human being as I would normally) could possibly need to not be hindered by it (minus growth projects) and say that anything more goes in as extra taxes unless donated to the charity of your choice.
It wouldn't be a perfect fix, I can see dozens if exploits just glancing at it, but it might help. With a maximum in place, the rest of the profits would either be donated or shared with the ones doing the legwork. What are most people going to do? As a business owner, I would hire friends and family and keep those profits my business is making where I can see them. If I am doing still that well and better, then I can feel joy knowing I am giving a little to charity too. But knowing business owners, I can foresee many charities opening up where other businesses would funnel profits through. I can also see entertainment industries like sports just simply imploding under their own excess, yielding a drop into ticket price and an explosion in growth projects and charity.
At the end of the day, I have to ask myself: if we did institute a maximum wage in order or protect or conserve a standard of living for a subset of the population, are we any better than them? If the minimum wage is designed to lock us in, and if I feel that sucks, then what right do I have to impose a similar doctrine on another person? None. I do not believe that a maximum wage would be the right thing to do. I DO believe it would go a long way to fix the problems we face, but my dear readers, I am not Adrien Dwight. I believe truly in doing what is right and not in doing what will fix the world.