Giving Oneself a Present: And When Being Present Is the Gift

Haven’t we all had the urge to give ourselves a present after a noteworthy achievement or surviving something difficult? I don’t mean after something as frightening as being attacked or an achievement as deep as graduating college or getting married. Those events warrant something public and memorable. But surviving a medical procedure, maybe, or just living through a tough day at work or writing a great song or article, some celebration is warranted.

 

Some people might bake a sweet or buy a new shirt, or go out to the movies. My favorite thing, especially before the pandemic, is to visit with friends, go out to eat, or to the library, or even better, a bookstore. Finding a good book to read is so refreshing for me. Not just due to the anticipation of entering a new world or going on an adventure, but expanding the world that I perceive and thus live.

 

So, this weekend, after a tough week, I bought a book of essays by theoretical physicist Carlo Rovelli called There Are Places in the World Where Rules Are Less Important than Kindness: And Other Thoughts on Physics, Philosophy, and the World. This felt like a present filled with sweetness.

 

In the book, Rovelli includes an essay on yet another book, one by the Indian Buddhist philosopher Nagarjuna who lived around 150-250 CE. The translation of the book’s title is “The Fundamental Verses of the Middle Way.” It is one of the most important works of the Buddhist and Eastern philosophical traditions. Nagarjuna’s essential point is that nothing exists by itself, but only through dependence on something else or in relation to other things, beings, or perspectives.

 

Of course, we have cultural conventions, languages, ways of perceiving and thinking which create for us the impression that individual things exist on their own. But this is all just the surface layer of things, an illusion, maybe a necessary one but still an illusion.

 

Culture itself, says Rovelli speaking as Nagarjuna, is an endless dialogue feeding on our experiences and exchanges, relationships. We are all, continuously, being enriched, hurt, or fed by others.

 

And the illusion culture creates helps us live in the culture. It provides processes and rules, helps us identify the limits of our body so we can put food in our mouths, or walk through a crowd without crashing into others. But without air and the earth to stand on, without food and water to ingest, without parents to give us birth or teachers to instruct; without friends and family to model how to speak, relate, and hopefully how to love, we don’t exist.

 

And at the center is the ultimate reality, nothing but a vast, interdependent set of relations. To borrow from ancient philosophers like the Greek Empedocles who said, “God is a circle whose center is everywhere and circumference nowhere,” each of us, each thing and being, is a center extending everywhere ⎼ that is dependent on the universe we are never separate from ⎼ and whose borders are both here and nowhere. The Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh used to say we all inter-are….

 

*To read the whole article, please click on this link to The Good Men Project.

When Our Borders Surge Outwards to Everything

Back in 1966, when I was 18, I flew to Europe for almost four months of hitch-hiking the continent. I landed in London, circled up to Stockholm. Then flew to Rome, spent a month in Italy. Then to Nice, Barcelona, north to Berlin, and finally Paris, where I flew back to the U. S. I stayed in hostels, slept sometimes on a beach, once in a doorway, a few nights in a guest house owned by someone who gave me a ride.

 

But after the last three years of the pandemic, or six years of threats to our lives, rights, and humanity, such a trip seems like an impossibility, more like a dream or a yearning than an actual memory of a time in my life. How many of us today have the freedom or might risk such a trip? The actual journey changed my life in so many ways, big and small. It revealed depths of history and possibilities of life I hadn’t known, depths in myself, an ability to love, an audacity and courage I hadn’t known before.

 

In the Hague, a woman I had met invited me to see an art exhibit in a gallery where she worked. The paintings were tiny. I don’t remember the exact size but maybe an inch or two square, and of incredible precision and beauty. We needed a magnifying glass to study the depth of detail. I loved it. This was one result of the trip, a love of art. I had expected to be awed by the art of Florence, Rome, and Paris, and was certainly not disappointed in what I saw. But the Hague was an unexpected gift.

 

Ever since then, if I happened to hear about any exhibits like it, I rushed to see them. This led me to discover Japanese netsuke, the 1 – 2 inch carved toggles used to fasten a pocket container to the sash of a kimono. They were made mostly of wood, ivory, or bone. Such art showed how a thing used daily for mundane tasks can be crafted with care and beauty.

 

Many of the etchings of Japanese artists like Norikane Hiroto and Tanaka Ryohei are small, approximately 3 by 4 inches, although they also created larger works. Their art brings us to beautiful rural Japanese landscapes with human dwellings, but no humans. A deep quiet fills everything. Many pieces by both artists are in black and white, while others include color.

 

Norikane doesn’t try to copy nature but lets the power of a place speak. Often in his art, one element stands out over the rest. In one famous piece a snow-capped Mt. Fuji stands powerfully above a village, stream, and bridge.

 

Tanaka’s etchings are so precise and clear, that a sense of great harmony fills the scene. Each detail, each place, awakens us to see how all details and all places fit together. His art reminds me of the line by English poet William Blake: “To see a world in a grain of sand…”

 

We don’t always know how much attention to give to details. We can easily overdo it, get hooked by one detail and miss the whole ⎼ lose the forest in the individual trees, for example. Or we do the opposite, focus on generalities, and miss out on how each act, in each instance, the details are what pulls the whole together. How the way we choose what to wear in the morning, for example, or brush our teeth, salt, and pepper our food, or take a breath influences our day. We can get lost in what we expect, or think is true, and miss what is staring us in the face….

 

*To read the whole piece, please go to The Good Men Project.

The Snow Falls in Slow Motion as the World Turns too Fast: We Age Slowly and Feel It Suddenly

After several days of dangerous weather throughout the nation causing too much death and disruption, a “cyclone bomb” in many places, going from rain to ice to blizzards, with extreme windchills ⎼ temperatures changing where I live in a matter of hours from 45 degrees Fahrenheit to zero or below ⎼ today is cold but the snow is falling lazily, individual flakes dropping from a still, gray sky.

 

Inside myself, there’s a stillness in the center of a storm. A feeling that my life is changing too quickly, that I’m aging too quickly. Despite being 75, until recently I had felt internally maybe 35 or 40. Still exercised an hour and a half to two hours each day. Still wrote blogs each week. Until a year or so ago, despite being retired from regular teaching, and when the pandemic allowed it, I still led an after school martial arts class at my old school. But not this past year. One health concern after another, and the sickness and death of friends and family ⎼ this is aging me.

 

Add the earth in tears with so many species in crisis and near extinction; so much hate, politically manipulated hate and violence, thanks a great deal to a former President who, despite now being out of office, is still lying about and working to overturn an election he had lost, overturn democracy. Then there’s the invasion of Ukraine and the pandemic ⎼ this ages all of us.

 

My dad died at age 96. Before dying, he looked me in the eye and said, “you know, this man is dangerous.” He was warning me that DJT reminded him of the early years of Hitler. He would say the would-be dictator’s name, but wouldn’t say the German dictator’s name, and wouldn’t say ‘Nazis’, just pronouns, ‘him’ and ‘them.’ This wasn’t a warning I needed. But it did make the DJT presidency even more real and frightening to me.

 

Months earlier, my dad had talked about spending his whole morning just getting dressed and ready for the day. And then most of the evening getting prepared for bed. I wasn’t the most understanding, then. My comparative youth got in the way. But now I feel what he was saying. We age to the point where we spend most of our day waking up and then going to sleep. Or maybe, we do that our whole lives without realizing it, preparing for life instead of realizing we’re living each second of it.

 

We think death won’t touch us, then it does, and powerfully. At some point we need to look at the slowly falling snow and realize here we are. This is it. We’re falling; we have been falling since we first stood up. And now, the flake of snow is getting closer to the ground.

 

Can this closeness turn the whole thing around and make us also closer to waking up, to wising up as we get closer to dying?…

 

 

*To read the whole post, please go to The Good Men Project.

The Yearning Underlying Each Day, Especially Each Holiday: How Do We Rescue Clarity and Order from Chaos?

We can expect so much from a holiday, like Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa, and New Year’s. And it’s not just because of the hype, the commercialization, or the social demands. Just think of what and why we feel as we do about any holiday. The desire for a break, to let loose or rest, to see friends and family, to celebrate inspiring people, our history, culture, and coming together as a community, for a religious observance, or to start life anew.

 

We’ve all experienced the excitement and anticipation that preceded the opening of gifts or the joy of attending celebrations of a holiday. Or the sense of disappointment when things did not go as we wished they would. I remember as a teenager how awful and alone I felt when I didn’t have a date for one New Year’s party.

 

And it’s not just because as children or as adults we got off from school or work on a particular day or week. The social and commercial hype can be so strong only because there’s something in us humans that yearns for what the holiday hints at, something even beyond the social world.

 

Many of us know that Christmas, for example, has roots preceding Christ, in ancient Rome and beyond, in celebrations around the winter solstice; Chanukah, Kwanzaa and New Years are also about the solstice ⎼ and new beginnings.  The first month of the year was named for Janus, the double-faced Roman god of doorways and the portals to Heaven, who looks both forward to the future and back to the past.

 

According to author Diana Ferguson, in her book The Magickal Year: A Pagan Perspective on the Natural World, December 19th was the original date of the Roman Saturnalia. This holiday commemorated a lost Golden Age and was presided over by the fertility god, Saturn. As the old god relinquished his throne, the sun was hidden, and chaos and darkness ensued.

 

When the Julian calendar replaced the old Roman one in 45 BCE, the celebration was moved to the 17th and extended to the 23rd. The people of Rome let loose. All work came to an end, schools closed, criminals went unpunished, and sexual inhibitions were forgotten.

 

After a brief respite, came January. New consuls, or rulers took office. 3 more days of celebrating ensued. Fires were lit. People decorated their homes with laurels and there were celebrations, and groups singing in the streets. When Rome became Christian in the fifth century C. E., the church adopted much of the old revelry.

 

Christmas Day was originally set on January 6 and is still celebrated on that day by the Eastern Orthodox Church. (We now have a very new significance for this date.) With the adoption of the Julian calendar, 11 days were eliminated from the year, and the holiday moved to December 25th. That date had earlier been celebrated as the Birthday of the Unconquered Sun, to Mithra, a personification of the sun, who first appeared in Persia around 1,400 BCE, and became popular with Roman soldiers by the first through fourth centuries CE.

 

According to Ferguson, even further back, in ancient Babylon and elsewhere, there were celebrations staged on that date for a seasonal rebirth of light out of darkness, and life out of death. The Babylonians celebrated the first birth of everything, the Creation itself, when the god Marduk was born from the formless, watery womb of the mother goddess, Tiamat (who Marduk killed when she threatened the world with chaos).

 

And before that, ancient peoples must have always wondered, as the world grew dark, would the light ever come again? Were these changes due to some cosmic drama, or just changes the whole universe naturally goes through? And what role if any could we humans play in these transitions?

 

There’s this yearning many if not all of us feel, to get beyond the human social world to something deeper or bigger, something more real, maybe; more meaningful. To feel the seasons in ourselves?

 

If we believe in God, to feel the truth of God. To understand death and its place in our lives. Maybe to get to the home of consciousness itself, to where feelings, thoughts, and explanations are created. To get to where mind emerges from matter, like light from darkness. Or maybe it’s the other way around? Maybe matter emerges from mind, or they both are born together from an indefinable emptiness, like Marduk from the formless womb of Tiamat?

 

How do we bring light to our world and rescue order from chaos? Or how do we bring more clarity and kindness to our moments of life, or to our decisions about how to live? How can we find in nature the strength to bring compassion and justice to the human world? This is one thing we might want from a holiday, time to put aside so we can wrestle with such questions.

 

Happy Holidays! And may some clarity come to us all.

 

*This post was syndicated by The Good Men Project.

 

 

How We Look Is Not Separate from What We See: Giving Form to What’s Most Intimately Ourselves

Sometimes, we surprise ourselves with what we can do, with what we know and don’t know.

 

I retired from teaching secondary school ten years ago. But last night, in my dreams I was once again teaching. In many classes, ten, twenty, thirty students or more showed up. In others, only one or two.  Maybe students had begun to assume that I would always be there and took me for granted. Or maybe they were too distracted by their personal lives, or I was getting too tired. Whatever it was, my dream-self decided it was time to retire.

 

In one room, a large group of students came to hear and join me in saying goodbye. It was surprising how full of feeling the situation was. We accepted each other so deeply. And I had nothing planned. It was all spontaneous. What I said emerged extemporaneously, as if from all of us together, and included nothing about goodbyes.

 

The way a moment forms has so much to teach us and is teaching us so much as it forms. There is so much there if we can see it and feel it. It’s the ultimate teacher. In fact, we are this forming of a moment. But will we look? Feel?

 

And I woke up. Sort of. The light outside was a gray mist emerging from the dark night, a dawn just beginning to gray. Outside the window, almost no discernible objects emerged from the mist, no trees, or bushes. But in the mostly dark inside, I could discern the placement but not the details of the bed, dresser, and other furniture. And as I wrote down the dream on a pad of paper by my bed, I wondered if anyone in the dream, any student had understood what I was saying.

 

Then I realized the answer in the dream was also a question. Do I understand my own answer?

 

Research and theories by psychologists and neuroscientists speculate one purpose of dreaming is to integrate emotional, and other material from our daily lives. Was the dream an example of that integration process? Was it telling me what my conscious mind couldn’t figure out or was it merely putting into words what I had already concluded? We often underestimate the role the unconscious and the resting mind plays in conscious and critical thinking. Our conscious understanding never gets it all. But if we humbly accept that, sometimes what we find surprises us with its depth and value…..

 

**To read the whole article, please go to The Good Men Project.

We Do It Because It’s What Needs to Be Done: Democracy Won in Georgia

It’s raining, hard, outside. But inside myself, it’s spring. Outside, the very air is misty-gloomy. Inside, I feel happy, hopeful. However, even after watching the returns, seeing him catch up and then slowly be declared the winner, I could hardly believe it. We won.

 

And then he delivered a wonderful speech that no GOP could ever give, because it directly called out the deep wrongs committed in the past by the Deep South. And it showed us someone who could transcend his own self-interest and proclaim that serving the good of we the people is who he is, and what he himself must and would do.

 

Senator Raphael Warnock won the run-off election for a full term in the Senate. And democracy won in Georgia.

 

And DJT lost. The would-be dictator who continues to lie, to cry that he didn’t lose, and badly, the 2020 election⎼ the supporter of White Nationalism who called for the termination of the constitution and who pushed for a person to run for office who was totally unfit to hold any high public office, lost. And Herschel Walker lost.

 

Warnock won despite all the efforts by the GOP to suppress the rights of black and brown and any person of color to vote.

 

This followed a week or more of wins for democracy and the rule of law.

 

Democracy won in New York City. DJT’s family real estate business was found guilty of 17 counts of scheming to defraud, tax fraud, falsifying records, and conspiracy. DJT was personally named in this trial as knowing about or authorizing some of the criminal activities and “explicitly sanctioning tax fraud.” This might lay the groundwork for further prosecutions by the NYC district attorney regarding other business practices and even hush money paid to Stormy Daniels.

 

Democracy won in New York State. New York State Attorney General Letitia James found DJT violated state and possibly federal criminal laws and referred the findings to federal prosecutors in Manhattan. She had already asked a judge to appoint an independent monitor to oversee the company’s financial doings and oust DJT from running the company.

 

Democracy won in Washington D. C. Bernie Thompson, the Chairman of the House Jan 6 investigation committee said they will issue criminal referrals to the DOJ focusing on those who organized or incited the violence of Jan. 6 and the continuing attempts to overthrow the 2020 election.

 

Also in Washington, a federal appeals court on Thursday threw out the decision by Judge Canon, a DJT appointee, for a special master to oversee the examination of government documents stolen by DJT. Canon’s ruling gave support to efforts to slow down the DOJ investigation; and now that investigation can proceed more expeditiously. The 3-judge panel (all GOP appointees) ruled unanimously that Canon had violated basic principles of our laws, namely that laws apply to “all, without regard to numbers, wealth, or rank.”

 

Democracy won in Arizona, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. Special Counsel Jack Smith, who was named to oversee the investigation into stolen classified documents found at DJT’s home in Mar-A-Lago and into Jan 6, subpoenaed records of communications between DJT or his aides, and election officials in those states regarding election interference. The records include communications aimed at overthrowing the fair and accurate counting of ballots, and efforts to substitute fake electors for actual ones ⎼ replace electors who would follow the will of the voters with those who would do DJT’s will.

 

Democracy won this week in this country. But there’s clearly a race on. Can Democrats establish enough policies, strategies, and laws to limit the chaos, politics of hate, and continuing efforts to establish minority rule and undermine civil rights by members of the GOP when they take control of the House?

 

Can Democrats and responsible GOP get the reform of the Electoral Count Act passed, in order to eliminate some of the methods DJT used to try to seize unlimited power for himself. The Reform Act would clarify the role of the Vice President and how electors and elections are certified.

 

Can Democrats raise the debt limit so the GOP can’t hold funding the government hostage to carry out their intention to slash or destroy crucial anti-poverty programs or any program that serves the majority of citizens, like Social Security or popular healthcare programs, like Medicare and Medicaid?

 

Can Democrats stop investigations and impeachments planned by the GOP that are without merit.  Their plan includes investigations and impeachments of President Biden’s cabinet, administration, and family, the Department of Justice, and maybe the president himself, despite there being no evidence of anything untoward except the GOP’s own objectives.

 

The GOP aim to undermine the confidence people might still have in democracy, undermine the rule of law and any truly substantive investigations, including into the Jan 6 subversion attempt and other criminal actions. Their efforts serve the interests of autocrats like Putin instead of the interests of most Americans.

 

So, democracy has won this week. We need to enjoy and celebrate it. And remember why we do this ⎼ not that many of us could ever forget it. We need to make our voice heard, to vote whenever we have the chance, and help get out the vote, not only to protect our rights, our world, and our lives, but because it’s what we’re called to do in these times. It’s what people are always called to do, namely what’s needed and what’s right.

 

**This post was syndicated on Sunday by The Good Men Project.

 

Poetry the Universe Writes to Itself: Aging and the Gifts of Friendship

Friends can bring us back to ourselves. Over Thanksgiving with old friends, we each see ourselves in the others. Three of us have known each other for 57 years and we’ve come together for over 40 of those years to share the holiday together. We were freshman in the same college dorm at the University of Michigan. Our future wives entered our lives not long afterwards, anywhere from one to seven or eight years later. We see in each other how we’ve aged, faced threats and tribulations, pains, and losses, inspirations, and successes. How we are facing life now.

 

And it’s all out there for us to talk about. Right in front of us. Each friend with their own gifts and limitations. We give each other tips, perspectives to help us prepare for the next months, years, moment. We talk about illnesses, present and past work experiences, roof repairs, water pics, other friends, podcasts, music videos, movies, books, philosophy, and sleep. Sleep is so tenuous for half of us who, each night, have no idea how much or where in the house we will sleep. Nothing is assumed. We speak of dreams and family members. Deaths and losses. The threats to our world.

 

And then there’s the joy. So much to be grateful for. For the food, certainly. And sure, it’s an old stereotype, but all the men played football in one form or another when we were young, yet none of us attended a football game after our sophomore year. After a few years of college, it seemed so meaningless and violent. But sometime in our 50s, we began to pay attention once again and listen for scores. Especially Michigan v Ohio State. This year, we watched together, shouting and cheering. Even the women were drawn in by the drama and emotion. And then my wife and I had to leave early to return home. Ohio State was ahead by 3 points.

 

But about 3 hours later, still on the road, my wife checked her phone for the score. Michigan 45, Ohio State 23. We won. We actually won. We called our friends. What a celebration ensued.

 

And when we arrived home ⎼ we have 3 cats, but we couldn’t find any of them. They hide from our cat-sitter even though she feeds and talks to them. Sometimes, they punish us for leaving by not showing up. But this time, in 5 minutes or so, one emerged from the basement, one appeared by the door as we brought in the suitcases. Twenty minutes or so later, the third came up behind us, crying. They all cried for food and contact. And when my wife and I sat down later to eat dinner, they sat with us.

 

This year, something extra sat with us. There was a darkness in the house not attributable to the night. A warning in the air, or in me. How many more of these returns do we have? Aging is not about winning but presence. In the dark was a reminder to take in this moment more deeply. To embrace it as much as possible. To do everything I could to give back. This is all there is ⎼ feel it. Enjoy it. Be thankful for what we can be thankful for. Be kind, caring, even if it hurts. Pet the cats, love my wife. And maybe we will let more of the light in….

 

**If you live in Georgia, please vote on Tuesday, Dec. 6, to help protect your right to vote, the right for women to make their own health care choices, to protect the environment, Medicare, and Social Security ⎼ to help stop the politics of hate. Bring water, a photo ID, and friends. No matter where you live, you can help get out accurate voting information.

 

***To read the whole post, please go to The Good Men Project.

The Dream that Heals and the River that Flows Through Us

Recently, just before having a scary medical test, I had a dream that I not only remembered afterwards in detail, but which greatly affected me. Actually, remembered might not be the most accurate way to describe what happened, because I was partly awake even while I was dreaming.

 

In the dream, I was visiting the city of my birth and wanted to call my parents. They were back in the home where I grew up, even though they had moved out of that house several years before either my mom’s or my dad’s death. And in the dream, I knew all this, knew they had died years ago. Yet, I still wanted to call them on the phone, but I had forgotten their phone number.

 

Suddenly, I was with a group of friends entering a restaurant not far from my parent’s old home, not far from my old home. The friends and I had reservations for dinner. But I decided to quickly walk to my parent’s house, tell them I would come by after dinner and stay the night, and I’d get their phone number.

 

When I got to the house, I looked in the front window. Both my parents were there. They were entertaining other couples. But they had a security guard at the door, a tall, strong man standing in a darkened area of the front porch. The guard knew about me, had heard stories from my parents. He even told me about his own son who was training in the martial arts. But he wouldn’t let me in without checking my ID. I showed him my driver’s license and he said I could enter.

 

As soon as I did, I was swept up in the feel, the atmosphere of the past. I was there, in my old home, with my parents very fully there, right there, and yet I also knew they were no longer alive.

 

Then I woke up. Somehow, dreaming this dream changed my whole emotional situation. I felt good, no longer afraid of the medical test, or maybe anything. It was not that I felt my parents could, now, speak to me. But seeing them made my past come alive ⎼ and was possibly telling me something about my future. About not fearing death, maybe? Or about fear itself? About reality?

 

We wander to so many places in our dreams, and we can dream and wander both while asleep and awake. Daydreams, and all manner of thoughts and images can run around our minds all through the day, accessing the same river of imagery as night dreams.

 

The dream clearly reminded me how much I missed my parents and that they were still with me, as me. And that includes so much more than their DNA. No one is perfect, but my parents, more than anyone, taught me to love. But was the security guard a gatekeeper to a mythic realm or heaven, or maybe a form of Charon without his ferryboat, taking my dream mind to the other shore? And why had I forgotten their phone number?…

 

**To read the whole article, please go to The Good Men Project.

 

Ancient Lessons About Reducing Anxiety and Embracing the World

Despite feeling tremendous relief just a few nights ago, when Catharine Masto Cortez was declared the winner of the Nevada Senate race and my wife, and I, danced around the living room⎼ today I feel heavy once again. Why is that? I was so happy the Democrats exceeded expectations and maintained control of the Senate. The outpouring of support for the rights of women and to vote has clarified for all that the GOP war for autocracy can be stopped.

 

But sometimes, we get so caught up in a situation, a worry, expectation, and lose any perspective. We might be too frightened, traumatized, or invested and we see things only one way, as if the moment stood isolated in time. And we lose sight of how the situation came to be.

 

We might lose sight, for example, of just how traumatized we all were by past threats and those still looming. We have the GOP barely gaining control of the House and, of course, keeping control of the Supreme Court. And their leaders, DJT and others like him, are still threatening to seize the Presidency, avoid prosecution for their crimes, and impose their will on the rest of us. And the chaos they might yet cause, with their program of hate, lies, and division, and denying the factual results of this and past elections.

 

But not only is no human an island but no moment. The past sets up the present, as this moment educates the next. One moment’s mistake can lead either to another mistake ⎼ or to insight, when we can allow our heart, mind, and senses to be open to it.

 

I was reading a book by Joan Sutherland, a Zen meditation teacher, called Through Forests of Every Color: Awakening with Koans. In chapter two, she talked about how a new form of Zen developed in China in the eighth century in response to catastrophic times. Over just ten years, two-thirds of the population died due to rebellion, invasion, famine, and disease. The Tang dynasty of the time went from a flourishing empire to, afterwards, a barely surviving one, where life was so tenuous.

 

Of course, this mirrored back to me our own time, marked as we know too well, with so much disease, so many climate disasters, and the threats mentioned earlier of violence, and the attempted destruction of our democratic form of government.

 

No moment is the same as any other, but how did people, in awful times in the past, or going through awful times today, cope? Can we today, or those from the past, reveal ways of living that can help us through the pain to something we could welcome, to ways of living that meet our needs and strengthen our humanity?

 

I especially look to people like Zen adepts, those who have spent years studying the mind, body, and heart, and living harmoniously with others and nature. According to Sutherland, the Zen adepts and innovators of the 8th century,  realized that trying to escape their world through a narrow path to personal peace or religious ceremony would not serve them or their culture. They needed a sense of immediacy and, awful as it was, they got it….

 

 

*To read the whole article, please go to The Good Men Project.

Right Now, Election Fatigue is Just Part of What It Means to Be a Caring Human Being

Outside, it’s cold. In the 30s. As it should be in November. The trees, except, of course, the evergreens, are bare, brown, and leafless. Yet the sky is that deep morning blue. And it feels like it will warm up. Even though I’ve been enjoying the warmth lately, almost a week in the 70s, it’s a disconcerting warmth, almost scary in being so unseasonable.

 

Last night, election night, I kept checking in on the results until around midnight, when I went to bed. And then I had an interesting time watching my mind.

 

Rachel Maddow and others from MSNBC had earlier talked about surprising results showing that Democrats could possibly hold onto Congress. And many DJT picked candidates, awful and unfit for office, like Herschel Walker in Georgia, Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania, and Lauren Boebert in Colorado, could all lose. And these losses would show the GOP how much of a liability DJT was. And this would, ideally, lead the GOP to renounce DJT and all he represents.

 

For too many GOP, all that mattered was their power. Absolute power with an absolute ruler. Competence didn’t matter to them. Ethical behavior didn’t matter to them. Serving the people, and working to “establish justice, ensure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common Defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty…” ⎼ the constitution didn’t matter to them.

 

Many didn’t seem to realize that if they served an absolute ruler, their power would depend on HIM (if it’s a him, and it would be). They’d lose any independence. Their future, their character, their well-being, all up to HIM.

 

And for me, in the dark of night, there was such a wondrous desire to say “we could win this. We could maintain control of Congress. We could hold onto the chance to promote justice and domestic tranquility, and act to benefit the welfare of all the people.” But I couldn’t say that out loud, not even out loud for only my own inner ears to hear. I couldn’t risk jinxing it. What ego, to think my thoughts so powerful! So, I listened as deeply as I could until the sound of moonlight filled the room.

 

Then thoughts of the worst scenario showed up. I felt afraid. My stomach tensed, my hands reached up, knocking off the quilt that covered me. I heard lines from different GOP, like Marjorie Taylor Greene, saying the first action of a new GOP House would be to impeach Merrick Garland. Then maybe impeach President Biden and destroy the remnants of democracy. The whole legion of DJT followers, election deniers, spreaders of disinformation, were all ready to deny any elections they’ve lost once again. All working to take away health insurance protections, Social Security, voting and abortion rights, working to turn the US into a a wasteland of lies, resentment, and hate. All to serve the mad quest for absolute power….

 

**To read the whole article, please go to The Good Men Project.