Archive for the ‘Philosophy’ Category

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When I was in college I wrote a book of poetry and photography.  The title I gave it was Influence of Absence.  I gave it that title because I believed then, as I still do now, that so much of who I am, what I am, HOW I am has been greatly influenced by the absence, almost my entire life, of my father.  My mom used to tell me that I walked like him and had his dry, northwestern sense of humor.  This revelation has perplexed me for decades and the only explanation I have been able to muster is that my gait resembles his because I inherited his bone structure.  My right foot angles outward with every step because of how my legs and hips are constructed.  It’s a working theory.  As far as sharing his sense of humor is concerned, I am open to suggestions to explain this phenomenon.  It makes no sense.  He died before I had any serious verbal abilities and I find it hard to believe that something as abstract as a sense of humor is genetically transferable.  I tend to attribute it to lucky coincidence.  Because of the stories I have been told by family elders, I am perfectly willing to accept that I do indeed share my dad’s dry wit and I consider it a gift.  I embrace it.  Still, he never had the chance to influence me by his actions, by being a role model or actively sitting down to teach me things.  It was his absence that influenced me more than anything.

My oldest sister tried to take his place and she has been another significant influence in my life.  She taught me a lot about playing the guitar, appreciating all kinds of music, doing the right thing and not being afraid to be myself.  She even let me know that, although it was the 1960s and Title IX did not yet exist, it was okay, good even, for girls to be athletic.  I am a ballplayer, a lifelong Yankees fan and a New York Giants fan thanks to her.  Our favorite teams have not done so well lately, but it’s okay.  I learned team loyalty from my sister, also, and I am happy to say that I will never be a fair-weather fan.

My “stepfather” was another big influence in my life.  For pretty much the entire nine years we lived together, he was a fantastic example of how not to be.  He showed me that being cruel hurts everybody involved, that there’s nothing joyous about life as a bully, that meanness is a happiness thief.  Thanks, asshole!  I have not forgotten you, but I have pretty much forgiven you.

The best, most influential professor I had in college, Ignacio, is 80 years old now and still an active part of my life thanks to social networking.  He re-taught me how to think, as a poet and a philosopher, in my freshman year.  If not for Ignacio I would still be that dopey kid who meant well but just didn’t get it.  There’s still a whole universe of things that I just don’t understand, but now I can recognize and accept my vast ignorance.  And speaking of a vast ignorance, is it the opposite of a split infinitive?  Ignacio?

In the very early days of my professional career there was Laurel, who basically, flat-out asked me, “Are you gay?” way past the time that I should have accepted, embraced and explored this myself.  Whew!  Thanks, Laurel, for being brave and coming right out, pun intended, to plainly illustrate the obvious.  Who knows how much longer I would have gone on denying my true identity if you hadn’t come along to positively influence my life.  Where are you now, anyway?

The Merriam-Webster definition of influence, as a noun is

: the power to change or affect someone or something : the power to cause changes without directly forcing them to happen
: a person or thing that affects someone or something in an important way
and as a transitive verb is
: to affect or change (someone or something) in an indirect but usually important way : to have an influence on (someone or something)
The key words in these definitions, I think, are power, change and important.  I am trying to be a powerful influence in the lives of my daughters, an agent of positive change.  Someday I’ll be dust, hopefully sweet memories for them to share, fodder, possibly, for their own blogs or memoirs or screenplays.  This afternoon, at a middle school meeting about the progress of child number two, I was told, by some of the teachers, many wonderful things and that I must be doing a lot right.  It felt great to hear all this, but I can’t take all the credit.  It’s a trickle-down effect.  So be good, be kind, be helpful and forgiving toward the people around you.  The effects can linger for generations.
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The journal prompt one day in August was, What would you change about yourself if you could?  It appeared on the facebook page of the coaching group I attend once a week and we were instructed, by our fearless leader, to answer right there in the thread.  Usually we are instructed to write our response in our journal, which is private, but this time we all got to see everyone’s answer.

I was in the woods at my sister’s cabin when I first saw the prompt.  Standing outside, with my computer on a dry wall close to the neighbor’s house so I could borrow his WiFi, I was getting mercilessly bitten by mosquitoes but enjoying the chirping of the birds and chipmunks all around me.  I don’t have a smart phone, nor do I want one, so I still have to find WiFi to see email and facebook.

My initial response to the prompt was something like this:  Nothing, I’m perfect.  Everything, I’m an idiot.

And because I had just finished reading A Tale For The Time Being by Ruth Ozeki I added:  Perfect person, idiot.  Same thing.

Which it is, really.  And I don’t know, maybe you need to study Zen Buddhism for years and years to really understand how it’s the same thing but to me, without being able to describe why, in words, I just feel like it makes total sense.  We’re all connected, everything is one, minute pieces of the same giant cloth.  There’s an explanation for it in physics, I guess, but that’s beyond my grasp.  If anyone ever came up with one of those machines you see in sci-fi movies where a person puts what looks like a giant colander on his or her head and then miraculously receives encyclopedic knowledge instantly, I’d want to try it out.  I’d ask to be given the knowledge of fluency in at least 20 different languages so I could truly be a citizen of the world and be able to communicate with, empathize with people all over the planet.  Maybe I’d even make Klingon one of the languages, just in case.  I’d also request an instantaneous understanding of as many different philosophies as I could think of right there on the spot, with the wired up pasta strainer on my head.  Then I’d ask to know every single thing Stephen Hawking knows about physics.  And, at last, perhaps I’d be able to explain how I feel to almost everyone.

 

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I really do think that love is the answer.  So what’s the question?  Doesn’t matter.  Make one up.  In its simplest, most basic form, love is my answer for everything.  It is my philosophy.  It is my religion.  And I do try hard to adhere to this philosophy, to open my heart to love, to forgive those who have wronged me and find a way to feel love for them.  I try very hard not to worry about material things.  I’d rather have a hug for Christmas than an iPod.  I have been called a minimalist and I accept the tag willingly.  When I sold my house because of my prolonged unemployment I got rid of a literal ton of stuff.  I no longer own a bed or a couch.  I have no utensils.  I am living with friends and when I start earning a real living again and can afford a place of my own it will be sparsely furnished.  A lot of people would, I think, have a difficult time divesting themselves of all or most of their possessions but I have to admit that having done it, I feel lighter.  Not just physically lighter but spiritually lighter also.  I have been attempting to jettison bad attitudes, negative thinking and sarcasm, which I know can seem funny but in my opinion is the antithesis of love.  And it’s everywhere.  It seems as if sarcasm is the new way, the only way that people can relate to one another these days.  Sincerity is out of vogue for some reason, maybe because it’s not cool enough.  But I appreciate sincerity.  I have no use for “cool.”  I have told my daughters at least 100 times, “As soon as you think you’re cool, you’re not.”  To me sarcasm is just plain meanness expressed verbally.  And I’m not condemning all sarcasm here.  There’s a place for sarcasm in truly brilliantly written comedy.  I just don’t think it needs to be a way of life.  Love is better.

Image            Trust is a tough nut for me.  At times I find myself being very trusting.  At other times, not so much.  Quite often it feels like I’m just trying to get through this life and back to the other side without getting too hurt, too involved, too serious.  Many years ago an old girlfriend nicknamed me “Teflon Kim” because of my ability to let pain and discomfort slide off of me.

I’m trying, also, to somehow not be the cause of any pain.  I hope to not cause destruction, to not be guilty of overusing irreplaceable resources, be they physical or spiritual.  I prefer to tread lightly.  And it’s not because I’m afraid to share my inner thoughts, be involved, commit to something or someone, have trust.  I think it’s more that I just don’t know how, almost as if I missed the first class on being human and I can’t get the professor to go back to the beginning and give me the instructions again.  As a tomboy I had no interest in a lot of life’s milestones; childhood crushes, first kisses, dating.  But I now see that those milestones serve a purpose.  You can’t just go from Little League to Major League Baseball.  You need that in-between stuff in order to succeed as an adult.

I missed out, though.  So I’m hoping to peacefully, quietly, easily get through this life that it feels like I’m faking, die a happy yet clueless old woman and go back and start a new life as someone else.  Only next time, hopefully I won’t fall asleep at my desk for the whole first semester.

It’s not as fatalistic a plan as it seems.  When you think of time as a ball of string, where everything that has ever happened, is happening or will happen is actually one simultaneous occurance, you can begin to accept the measuring of time as a man-made construct, as a tool we gave ourselves to help make sense of our physical existence.  Other tools we created include love and compassion.

For a long time there was absolutely no one to whom I could turn when I needed an ounce, or a pound of compassion.  My mom was gone, my sisters had their own lives, my friends had their own worries.  I knew someone who acted as if showing compassion was a way of enabling another person’s weakness, their “victim-hood,” she dubbed it.  What a load of bull.  People have pain, they have damage, they have places where they are broken into little tiny pieces of timid and shivering shards.  And people with compassion, who claim to love and respect us, are supposed to love even those sharp and damaged pieces of us.

Loving with abandon makes people feel vulnerable.  Acknowledging pain makes people feel vulnerable.  Not having a source of income makes people feel vulnerable.  As if vulnerability is a bad thing.  Discounting my babyhood and toddler-hood, I am probably the most vulnerable right now that I have ever been in my life.  But something good has arisen in me due to this extreme vulnerability.  I have found a willingness to accept help from other people.  I have trusted myself with the courage to ask for it and to graciously accept it when help is offered.  I am usually the helper, not the helped.  It takes a great deal of integrity, grace and strength to be able to give in to help from others.  I don’t know if I do it very well.  It’s almost a religious experience.  And it feels a bit like karma, like all those miniscule good deeds I’ve committed are coming back to me tenfold.

I am so looking forward to financial independence once again.  That magical job is out there, I just know it.  In the meantime, I have been able to stay afloat thanks to my family and friends.  I am truly blessed.  And for that I am truly grateful.

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576431_4359983609964_1552622462_n         Welcome To My Blah.  I Mean Blog.

I believe in the speed of thought, that all I have to do is close my eyes and imagine myself on the surface of Mars and spiritually, that’s where I am.  That if I concentrate and imagine an Earthly “invasion” of peace-loving aliens who would teach us all how to get along and be kind towards one another, then somewhere, perhaps in a parallel universe, it is actually happening.
I believe in reincarnation.  Energy cannot be born or snuffed out in any traditional sense, it can only be transformed into something else.  I am, right now, that something else.  And someday, I will be something else again.  My soul will live on until it is ready to exist as pure energy once again, its original form before this flesh and blood adventure began.
I believe in the inter-connectedness of all there is.  We are all tiny motes of living, breathing, loving, giving, taking, caring, mistake-making and growing collections of molecules who know all truths in our spiritual forms but forget everything to take physical shape.  If we could all, and it would definitely have to be all, get on with the business of being good, not evil, our physical bodies would become unnecessary and we would reunite with everything, as God.  We are not God, the collective goodness inside of us is.  All of us.  No soul may be left behind.
For three years now, I have been mostly unemployed.  By trade I am a television stage manager.  I have met and rubbed elbows with almost every celebrity you can name.  I have traveled the country and the world for one network or another to bring the folks at home the magic of television.  It was always a fun and interesting job, a way to earn a living while I cruised through life, loving, disappointing, being disappointed, raising and adoring three wonderful children, paying the bills and all that pedestrian stuff while I struggled to make time for my two true passions:  writing and philosophy.  I could wear jeans to work and I never had to sit behind a desk in a taupe-colored cubicle, there was plenty of quality time to spend with my young daughters and I managed, in my head, to be a writer and a philosopher, so I felt fulfilled.  Occasionally I felt guilty for not spending my time doing more to make the world a better place, but I always thought if I could manage to be a good person, march on Washington every now and then and spread love and kindness wherever I went, it would somehow be enough.  I just wanted to do my job, go home to my family and friends, teach peace and compassion to my girls and write stories in my head, some of which actually made it down to paper and even into published anthologies.  Basta.  Dayenu.  Enough.
When I lost my job, everything changed.  The bills sat and sat, unpaid and inspiring collection phone calls, the car fell into disrepair, the house was sold, just in time to avoid foreclosure and my kids despised being the “poor” ones in school.  I spent a ton of energy trying to find a new job as a TV stage manager so I could stay within my professional comfort zone and while I have succeeded in finding freelance gigs here and there I have not succeeded in making a real living.
My wonderful friends have encouraged me to stay positive and I have genuinely tried.  They have reminded me to be grateful for the good things in my life and I genuinely am.  They have given me job leads and ideas for which I am genuinely thankful.  Still, I wrestle with depression and self-doubt.  I wonder if I’m truly worthy.  I wonder if my professional skills have diminished and I’m not good enough for network TV anymore.  And, most importantly, I wonder if the universe, by denying me a job, isn’t trying to tell me something important.  The universe, meaning me, connected to everything else.  Like, maybe it’s time to put down my headset and do something more meaningful.  More important.  More… giving of myself.  And this thought frightens me into inaction.
One of the reasons I am paralyzed into inaction is the state of the world.  It truly terrifies me.  There are way too many people on it and everyone is trying to get more elbow room.  The seriously rich have been exposed for the creeps they really are and so the vise gets tighter.  There’s always backlash when a truth comes to light.  The collective “They” want to oppress and control and exploit as many of us as they can.  There’s nothing safe to eat or drink anymore and no one seems to care.  Sure, you can buy organic if you can afford it, but who’s to say if “organic” is even a reality anymore?  I mean, if you’re farmer A and you decide to go organic but you’re downstream of farmer B, who is deep in the back pocket of Monsanto and Bayer and Scott’s and Johnson & Johnson, then how “organic,” really, is your milk?  Or your chicken?  Or your friggin’ potato?  The whole planet is toxic and the corporations don’t seem to care.  We’ve gone beyond the tipping point of carbon monoxide levels in the atmosphere and the corporations don’t seem to care.  There’s a field of garbage the size of Texas floating in the radioactive Pacific Ocean and the corporations don’t seem to care.  What’s a Grrrl to do?
See?  Paralyzing.  To me anyway.  There is so much hatred in this world it makes me tremble.  There are wars everywhere.  Hate crimes.  Human rights violations.  Starvation, exploitation, children forced into prostitution.  Who wakes up one day and says, okay, today I am going to capture some kids and sell their bodies to perverts?
Yeah, I know, I’m on a wild rant.  Sorry.  This world is such a beautiful place.  Human Beings are capable of amazing feats of courage and inventiveness and compassion.  Within my system of beliefs, it doesn’t really matter if we blow ourselves up because we’ll all just become pure energy again until the next wild planetary ride commences.  But who couldn’t do with a little less suffering?  Who wouldn’t want to put an end to unnecessary pain and strife?  And what a shame it would be to destroy this blue-green marble which has provided us with everything, literally everything we have.  I am hoping for a happy ending.  I think it’s time to start seriously working towards that goal.