Abusive Relationships, Alienation, Anger, Attached Love, Attachment, Bad Ideas, Cultural Traits, Culture, Emotional Dependency, Free Spirit, Friends, Happiness, Human Nature, Judgementalism, Life, Living, Love, Lovers, Memes, New Love, Possessiveness, Quality of Life, Relationships, Romantic Love, Self, Self Identity, Self Image, The Art of Living Well, Unconditional Love

The Lightness of Love. The Heaviness of Possession.

(About a 4 minute read)

This is how I explain it to myself.  Suppose you meet someone who soon delights you, but who you do not in any way think of as “yours”.  She’s not (at least not yet) your friend, or your lover, or your colleague, or your boss, or your employee, or your client, or your teacher, or your neighbor,  or your — anything.  She delights you, but — as we sometimes say — she means nothing to you.

Let’s say you met her because she sat down at the table next to you in a coffee shop.  Glancing over you see her take a novel out of her purse.  “What a striking cover! I’ve never seen another like it. Is it a good read?”  A conversation starts.  A few minutes later, you are thinking she’s an easy-going, down to earth, and rather delightful person.

Continue reading “The Lightness of Love. The Heaviness of Possession.”

Adolescent Sexuality, Agape, Anger, Authenticity, Being True To Yourself, Education, Erotic Love, Fear, Friends, Gratitude, Horniness, Human Nature, Infatuation, Learning, Life, Living, Love, Lovers, New Love, Passion, People, Possessiveness, Relationships, Romantic Love, Self, Self Identity, Self Image, Self-Flourishing, Self-Knowledge, Sexuality, Sharon, Talents and Skills, Teacher, Unconditional Love

Sharon’s Love for the Horny Misfit Boy

(About a 20 minute read)

Many a beautiful friendship has sprouted from awkward soil.  In fact, most of my deepest friendships in life have begun clumsily.

I know of no inviolate law of nature that dictates the conservative beige panties of a young school librarian cannot possibly be the start of a profound bond between her and an insufferably horny 14 year old boy misfit.  I know of no law that states such a thing cannot happen.

Yet the very last thing on my mind when Sharon’s angry voice shook me awake that Spring morning was, “This is the start of a beautiful friendship”.

Continue reading “Sharon’s Love for the Horny Misfit Boy”

Advice, Anger, Bad Ideas, Buddhism, Clinging, Emotions, Human Nature, Judgementalism, Learning, Life, Living, People, Quality of Life, Terese, Teresums, Wisdom

How to Control Your Anger (Paul Sunstone’s Scandalously Alarming Advice on Anger Management)

(About an 11 minute read)

PAUL: Beat it, Teresums! I’m busy, busy, busy!  I have a post to write today for my voracious meat-eating blog audience, and all I have in front of me so far is the White Screen of Death.  No time for you.  Run off!  Go play with your sailors.  Go show them the real reason Sydney Harbor Sluts go “down under” on their sailors.

TERESUMS: Oh no you don’t, Paul! Not this time! I swore last Tuesday was the very last time in my life ever that I was going to let you shoo me away by lying about how busy you are!  Never again, Paul!

PAUL:  What? What are you talking about?

Continue reading “How to Control Your Anger (Paul Sunstone’s Scandalously Alarming Advice on Anger Management)”

Abuse, Anger, Emotional Abuse, Emotions, Human Nature, Jerks, Life, Regret, Sex, Sexual Abuse, Sexualization

A Jerk in Bed

(About a 4 minute read)

We had been sitting next to each other at the coffee shop’s counter for a few minutes when she introduced herself to me.  Looking up from her magazine, she pointed to the article she’d been reading and said something about it that I can no longer recall.

I was instantly pleased with her for taking the initiative.  I usually like it when women start up conversations with me, and I tend to think of them as a bit adventuresome for having done it.

After that first meeting, I saw her around from time to time.  She would always say hello and we’d usually exchange a few words.  Things stayed casual though.  There was nothing flirtatious in her manner or attitude.

Continue reading “A Jerk in Bed”

Abuse, Anger, Attachment, Bad Ideas, Emotions, Jane Paterson Basil, Quality of Life, Relationships, Self, Self Image, Violence

Poetry Critique: “Weapons of Feathers”, by Jane

(About an 11 minute read)

As I see it, a good poem above all else employs words to evoke an emotional response from its audience, regardless of whether its message is trivial or profound, true or false, or even exists at all.  But a great poem goes beyond that, much beyond that, to reveal a truth — and often in a way that is so fresh and striking, the impact of the revelation is multiplied many fold.

Jane’s poem, “Weapons of Feathers, so decisively achieves the first goal of evoking emotions that to spend much time examining the fact would be like pondering whether or not an approaching hurricane could be properly called a “storm”. There is little need here to go into the matter.

But does the poem reveal a truth?  And if so, does it do it in a fresh and striking way?  Those are the questions I will address here.

Continue reading “Poetry Critique: “Weapons of Feathers”, by Jane”

Anger, Critiques, Emotions, Outstanding Bloggers, Sexuality, Sledpress

Poetry Critique:“To Carmen, Upon Belting Him One”, by Sledpress

(About a 4 minute read)

Dear Readers,

Sometime ago I spent a lovely afternoon in the Manitou Public Library reading a book of advice to poets.  The author was convinced that the secret to great poetry was “swing”.

More than anything else — including rhyme, meaning, imagery, etc — a great poem had to have swing.  By which he meant that the lines had to more or less seesaw back and forth.

Any theory of poetry that focuses us on just one trait to declare it the single most important trait is, of course, easy to quickly dismiss.  But before we dismiss this swing theory, I think we should consider a couple things about it.

Continue reading “Poetry Critique:“To Carmen, Upon Belting Him One”, by Sledpress”

Anger, Emotions, Infatuation, Love

Challenge: Make Your Love Letters More Passionate!

Some years ago, I opened up an email from a casual friend one morning only to read some of the most hateful, poisonous words I had read in my life.

She dumped one vulgar word after another into her first two or three sentences — they were a smoking garbage pit.   It astonishes me she had room enough left in those sentences to get at what upset her about me.  But she did.

Apparently, I had been leading her on.  In fact, she had only that morning put it all together to realize I wasn’t romantically interested in her.  How deceptive I had been!

As you might guess, that was all news to me.  I had no recollection of having given her any reason to believe I might be romantically interested in her.  I asked her a lot of questions about herself, but my emails to her had always been about neutral topics, such as the fall leaves in the mountains, my thoughts on the Bush-Cheney presidency, and what I thought of objective truth.

The more I searched my brain, the more I could come up with nothing to have encouraged her.  Until, that is, I dimly recalled having fake-flirted with her some months before.  But that couldn’t be it!  I mean, we’d been joking with each other, right?

I guess not to her.

Reading three sentences was enough.  I scrolled down far enough to see the email went on and on and on, but I deleted it then, without reading more.  I felt no more obligated to read the rest than I felt obligated to love someone simply because they expected it of me.

Still, the thought has since then occurred to me: Wouldn’t it be nice if more love letters were to convey as much passion in their first three sentences as her hate mail had?

So that’s my challenge for the day to any and all interested parties: Write the first three lines of a love letter and make those words ring as passionate as you can.  Please post your effort in the comments below.

Anger, Boredom, Emotions, Free Spirit, From Around the Net, Hope, Horniness, Human Nature, Life, New Idea, Outstanding Bloggers, People, Relationships, Self, Self Identity, Self Image, Sense of Relatedness, Stolen From The Blogosphere

A Critique of “Why Books are Living Things” by D. Wallace Peach

(About a 7 minute read)

Sometime around the age of 16, my heart suddenly bloomed — riotously bloomed — for a much older woman than me.  Although older, she was stunningly gorgeous and just as creatively free spirited as she was gorgeous.  I had never met anyone like her before.

She was so much more fascinating than the girls in my high school.  The one thing  I thought I valued most in people — very much including girls — was intelligence, and I thought the older woman possessed gobs more intelligence than the girls I knew.  “Why can’t more girls be like her”, I would think.  Poor girls!

Yet, I didn’t fully know myself in high school.  It wasn’t precisely intelligence I valued.  It was intelligent creativity, with the emphasis on the latter.  I wasn’t much of a fan of being dumb in creative ways, but I was a huge fan of being intelligent in creative ways, the more creative, the better.  The older woman was so creative, intelligently creative, that she was a genuine free spirit.

Another thing I didn’t know about myself at the time was that I was afflicted with adolescent depression.  As a consequence, my emotional range most days was pretty much restricted to boredom, loneliness, anger, and horniness.  But she added hope to that mix.

I began to hope that, even though she herself might not be for me, there might be someone out there like her who was for me.   Quite a positive hope.

In fact, the only great negative thing to me about the much older women was the fact she wasn’t real.  She was the character Star in Robert A. Heinlein’s novel, Glory Road.    Empress of the Twenty Universes.  Mother of dozens of children (via egg donation).  Recipient of special medical treatments for longevity.   Intelligent.  Creative.  Free spirited.

And fictional.

I was reminded of Star early this morning when I came across a blog post by the author, D. Wallace Peach, on Why Books are Living Things.  It’s a short, thought-provoking read in which Peach essentially makes three points, and it was her third point that inspired me to think of Star.

If I understand her, Peach argues that we can “enter into relationship” with the stories we encounter in some very significant ways:

Books and the people who inhabit them can open eyes, stir the heart, elicit a deep sense of longing or grief, outrage or fear. I’ve fallen madly in love with protagonists, profoundly altered the path of my life, made new choices, expanded my understanding of the world, all through my relationships with books.

Thus, for Peach, stories are fully capable of influencing our lives in the same ways as people — real, living people — can influence our lives.  Fully capable.

To get a more concrete idea of what Peach might be talking about, I searched my experiences until I remembered Star.   I had “entered into relationship” with Star in more ways than merely desiring her.  She set a standard for me for what I wanted in a woman, and that ideal lasted for a few years — until I met at university a woman who dwarfed even her.  The point is, though: Star was in some ways just as much of an influence on me as could be a real person.

Peach’s second point is more novel to me than her third.  She argues that relationships have a kind of reality to them that I never before thought they might possess:

While studying for a degree in a pastoral counselor, I took this great class called “The Spirituality of Relationship.” In essence, it described a relationship as a new entity, a created presence with a life of its own that requires nurturing and an investment of time to thrive.

As an instance of a relationship with “a life of its own”, Peach gives the example of children in a divorce.  The children, if they have a happy relationship with both parents after the divorce, do not grieve the loss of their parents, but might still grieve the loss of their parent’s relationship to each other.

A fair point, I think, but one that seems to conflict with my own view of non-causal relationships as wholly concepts in our mind.  Because Peach’s idea is novel to me, it might take awhile for me to give it a decent and honorable hearing, so to speak.  Something I’m not satisfied I’ve done yet.  Hence, I won’t comment on it further here.

Peach’s first point is far more familiar to me.  Like many people, I am consciously aware of the fact that humans are story-telling animals, and so is Peach.  (It even seems to me that we instinctively tell stories.  That is, that story-telling is an inherent human trait, a manifestation of our DNA.  Why else has every people on earth, past or present, told stories?)  She makes some excellent points about stories:  That they can be filters or lens through which we view our world; that they can guide our decisions; and that they can create a sense of meaning for us.

She goes on, however, to make some claims I’m uncomfortable with, being the fool I am (for further in-depth, detailed information on what a fool I am, see either one of my two ex-wives).  For instance, she seems to suggest that we are primarily — or to some large extent — the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves. I’m not entirely sure that’s precisely what she meant, but if it is then I have an issue or two with it.

I think most of us would like to believe we are the stories we tell about ourselves, at least the good ones, but that we are not.  Not in any profound way.

Now, I do recognize that our stories comprise a large and significant part of our self-image. And that our self-image is something we often take action (or, sometimes refuse to take action) in light of.  I might tell myself stories of when I acted compassionately, in consequence of which, I might now and then act more compassionately than I actually feel towards someone simply to avoid contradicting my stories, or at least the self-image that my stories have done so much to create.   All of that, I don’t dispute.

I would, however, offer to arm wrestle Peach over the issue of just how important self-image (and by implication, stories) is in comparison to the whole of our selves.  Arm wrestle her, of course, because she’d probably win any purely intellectual dispute, but I am a fierce arm-wrestler (I know how to tickle my way to victory).  It just seems to me that self-image is commonly over-blown as a vital component of our individual natures.  It’s like the boss who gets all the credit and attention while the employees do all the work.  I have yet to write a post wholly devoted to what I think of as the self, but I have written some posts that bring up quite a bit of what I mean.  One of those can be found here for anyone interested.

Overall, I find myself much more in agreement with Peach, than in disagreement, which saddens me, given how fond I am of arm wrestling.  Her short but entirely thought-provoking post can be found here.  Now seems a good time to turn the discussion over to you.  What do you think of her views?  Is she onto something?  Your opinions, thoughts, feelings, and challenges to arm wrestling are more than welcome!

Abuse, Alienation, Anger, Authenticity, Bad Ideas, Belief, Christianity, Emotional Abuse, Faith, Fundamentalism, Happiness, Intellectual Honesty, Learning, Meaning, Oppression, Psychological Abuse, Quality of Life, Religion, Religious Ideologies, Self-Realization, Spiritual Alienation, Spirituality, Values

New Rule: When You Lose Your Religion, You must Blog about it.

It is such a common thing to do, it might someday become a rule of etiquette.  If you lose your religion — the religion you grew up in — you must start a blog about it.  If you don’t, you will be accused of bad form!

Yet, regardless of whether it ever becomes a rule that you must blog after losing your religion, some of the best written, most insightful blogs I come across started that way.  And so far as I can see, they frankly outclass most — but not all — of the religious blogs.  Especially if you include in the “losing your religion” category blogs written by people who swapped the religion of their childhood for unaffiliated spirituality.

Maybe the losing your religion blogs are so often powerfully written because losing your religion can be — to put it mildly — disturbing.  And “disturbing” experiences have always been one of the fuels of immediate, fresh, and forceful writing.

So why are people who blog about it losing their religion?  Well, from what I’ve seen, there are two primary reasons.  The first gets the most attention, but — oddly enough — might be the less motivating reason.  Namely, the blogger left because he or she could no longer intellectually accept as true the theology or scriptures of the religion.  Typically, their doubts began to mount until one day some point in particular became the straw that broke the back of their faith.

A second reason — and it seems to me a moving one — is they discovered their religion was repressing them.  That is, if you listen to the bloggers, they are often folks who discovered their religion was not helping them to be who they are, but was actually opposed to who they are.

Maybe they were a strong woman in a patriarchal faith.  Maybe they were a homosexual in a homophobic faith.  Maybe they were an intellectual in a mind-numbing faith.  Or maybe they felt they had a spiritual side that was not only unaddressed by their faith, but actively suppressed by it.  Whatever the reason, they are people who discovered their faith was detrimental to their being authentic.

Both the bloggers who left because they could no longer swallow the theology or scriptures of their faith, and the bloggers who left because they could no longer stomach the spiritual oppression of their faith, have frequently been accused by some of the faithful of being petty and malicious in denouncing their former faiths.

Yet, that strikes me as self-serving.  I think it would be more accurate to say the bloggers are, in some sense, mourning their loss.  If they feel anger towards their old faith, I think that’s usually part of the process of any mourning.   Wasn’t it Kübler-Ross who first pointed out that we typically go through — and all but must go through — an anger phase when we mourn a loss?

Now, my survey is about as scientifically rigorous as a limp noodle, so please take my impressions for what they are  — impressions.   But, if my impressions have any degree of accuracy, then perhaps a significant number of people are leaving religion because they find it fundamentally opposed to them.   Aimed at their heart and minds: They find in religion an aggressor.

Anger, Angst, Anhedonism, Anxiety, Attachment, Consciousness, Delusion, Depression, Emotions, Fear, Happiness, Health, Meaning, Mental and Emotional Health, Obsession, Quality of Life, Quotes, Religion, Self, Spirituality, Wisdom

Letting Go

“All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another.”

Anatole France

Sometime ago I wrote about myself (but I think it could in essence be about many of us):

At thirty-seven, I lost nearly everything I owned, including everything I’d built my self-identity on, and consequently discovered the art of dying. I haven’t felt afraid of death since.

“The art of dying.”  I often think of it today as “letting go.”

I know that at times in our lives, we must let go of who we are in order to make way for who we shall become.  But some people say letting go is something a very wise person practices — not just now and then — but moment to moment.  I believe them, but I myself am not wise enough to know how to do that.  The only times I have come close to letting go moment to moment have been when I was forced to.

That does not surprise me.  In general, the closest I come to being a wise person is when I am dragged kicking and protesting into wisdom. I sometimes think that’s true of many wise people.

I do know that when we cling to ourselves we create all sorts of problems.  It’s a good thing when we are quickly forced by circumstances to give up the old, because the longer we are able to cling to the old, the more problems we create (both inside of us and in the world too), the more we suffer, and the more difficult it becomes for us to get out of the messes we’ve made.

Besides, how do we know when to let go of ourselves — or let go of some aspect of ourselves — except that circumstances tell us when?

All the same, the temptation and tendency to cling to ourselves beyond when it might be appropriate is understandable, isn’t it?  For one thing, I bet an instinct or predisposition to self-preservation is hardwired into our genes.  For another, it can be emotionally painful to loose even a relatively minor and comparatively unimportant part of our self identity, let alone anything very important to us.  I know someone who once broke into frantic tears upon discovering he’d misplaced his favorite belt.  Letting go can be very difficult.  Even minor changes in who we think we are can at times upset us.

The threat of a huge change to our self identity can sometimes provoke us to cling to ourselves with a ferocity usually seen only in the largest tigers and lions.   Growing up, I spent four or five years painfully infatuated with a certain girl.  She was the emotional center of my life.  Indeed, I suffered most days and every night for years.   It wasn’t until much later in life that I had the experience to see how I had nursed and cultivated that infatuation — despite the almost crippling emotional pain it caused me — because I was so frightened to let go of my image of myself as her lover.

During those years of merciless clinging, I was usually heavy, depressed, spiritless, and controlling.  You could have been forgiven if you had mistaken me for a religious fanatic.  I had difficulty seeing more than one aspect of a thing, more than one point of view.  I seldom — with a few exceptions — struck out on a new path, did anything different.  Nursing and cultivating that infatuation took most of what I had.

Ever since those years, when I think of what extremes a person might go to to preserve their self image, I am very likely to think of what I once put into preserving mine.

Ironically, those were the years in which Nietzsche was my hero — Nietzsche, the philosopher for light spirits:

“The Cosmic Dancer, declares Nietzsche, does not rest heavily in a single spot, but gaily, lightly, turns and leaps from one position to another. It is possible to speak from only one point [of view] at a time, but that does not invalidate the insights of the rest.” — Joseph Campbell

While it’s true Nietzsche never wrote precisely what Campbell attributes to him, Campbell’s “paraphrase” of Nietzsche’s views ranks as a sharp and accurate enough insight into Neitzsche’s thought.

As I learned the only way I’ve ever learned a spiritual truth — the hard way — there are no light spirits, no Cosmic Dancers, among those who take themselves so grimly and cling to themselves so tenaciously that they cannot let go, they cannot practice the art of dying.

It seems to me Bob Dylan puts a pretty, but significant, twist on the notion of letting go when he sings, “He’s not busy being born is busy dying”.  To me, Dylan’s lyric emphasizes the psychological or spiritual rebirth that so often follows upon our letting go of ourselves.

The dead cling to themselves beyond their expiration dates, so to speak, but those who are alive let go.

Anger, Emotions, Television

Anger and Disagreement

Although I gave the last television I owned to a charity some years ago, I still catch a program every now and then — either by watching one online or sometimes when visiting a certain friend who never shuts off his TV.   When I do watch a program, I’m often enough baffled by how much anger is found on television.

Like most of us, I hear so much talk about gratuitous sex, but I’m impressed there is even more gratuitous anger than sex.  Am I wrong to think actors routinely respond to even the slightest disagreement between their characters by portraying anger?  Or that pundits are always shouting at each other? Even newscasters half the time can’t seem to peacefully interview someone.  Whether it’s my imagination or not, the one thing that most strikes me about television is the amount of gratuitous anger.

Anger is an appropriate and useful emotion in some circumstances.   Wikipedia describes it as “…a behavioral pattern designed to warn aggressors to stop their threatening behavior.”  One can see how anger would be useful, but what is “threatening behavior”?

Going by what prompts anger on television, “threatening behavior” might be no more than someone disagreeing with you.  Offhand, I can think of at least two reasons why it is usually useless to get angry for no better reason than someone disagrees with you.

Many people — sometimes I think it’s most people — respond to anger by themselves getting angry.  And when people get angry, they get stubborn.  So, if we get angry each time someone disagrees with us, the most likely effect is to make others oppose us even more adamantly than they would have otherwise.

On television, the usual outcome when the protagonist gets angry at someone for disagreeing with him is that the protagonist gets his way.  That’s simply the opposite of real life.

Another reason it’s usually useless to get angry because someone disagrees with you has to do with the nature of anger.  Anger impairs both our ability to see the other person’s point of view, and our ability to see the bigger picture.  Among other consequences of that, we are unlikely to find a solution to a disagreement if we cannot understand either of those things.

Of course, on television, there is no reason to find a creative solution to a disagreement because on television one side is completely right and the other side is completely wrong.  But how often does that happen in real life?

So those are a couple reasons, then, why I think getting angry at someone who disagrees with us is usually counter-productive.  Naturally, I’m right about these things.  And, naturally, I’ll be quite upset if anyone contradicts me.

Anger, Barack Obama, Economics, Elections, Joe Biden, John McCain, Liars Lies and Lying, News and Current Events, People, Politics, Sarah Palin

Dear Candidates: Tally Me as Seriously Pissed

Dear Candidates:

Tally me as seriously pissed the bail out plan voted down on Monday — and which will be voted on again come Thursday — failed to contain adequate provisions protecting the American people and the taxpayers, and failed to contain any meaningful relief for mortgage owners.

I was going to vote early.  Instead I’m holding off until I see what kind of bail out passes Congress.

Anyone interested in sending an email to Congress opposing the current bail out plan should go here.

REFERENCES:

Dennis Kucinich

Glenn Greenwald

Nouriel Roubini

Yves Smith