Saturday, December 31, 2011

Weekend Wise Words

Be Smart! Be Brilliant!

Happy New Year's!

I don't know why my blog has been so heavy this past week. Maybe because it was the first time I've had Christmas without my kids as they've now grown up and moved out. My son is in Portland, living the life and I'm so happy for him. My daughter, slightly younger, is backpacking through the world, literally, and living the life, as she sees it. And I'm so happy she is enjoying what this world has to offer. Even though she's scaring the hell out of Dad. Maybe it's because I have a couple of weeks off from my intense day job so I can write day and night and kick out at least the end of my novel and a screenplay I have worked on through most this past year. So I've had time to watch in the background, quite a few good movies and documentaries.

But this is the New Year's weekend and a new year is dawning. A chance for a fresh start. Yes, it's arbitrary, but it's a good kind of arbitrary. The Catholics were onto something with their Confession. Confess your sins and transgressions, and move on, to try to be a better person. Reevaluation and reexamination are good, but then you have to go and try to do better.

So, go for it. Make 2012 a far better year than any previous one. Go ahead, give it a shot, what have you got to lose. Make changes for the better, even if they hurt a little. Stop relying on credit if you are. Stop eating wrong, or so much. Understand that if you are overweight, EXERCISE enough on a daily basis, so it doesn't much matter how much you eat. Educate yourself. Read. Watch documentaries, and not just ones that already agree with how you think. Evoke change. Occupy you life, occupy your country. Demand better conditions.

And now, as it is the weekend, and with all that having been said, I offer some positive quotes on a new year.

A very Happy New Year's to you, your loved ones, the citizens of our once and hopefully again, Great Nation and the citizens of the world!

An optimist stays up until midnight to see the new year in. A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves. ~Bill Vaughan

"Be at war with your vices; at peace with your neighbors, and let every new year find you a better man." -- Benjamin Franklin

Year's end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us. Hal Borland

People are so worried about what they eat between Christmas and the New Year, but they really should be worried about what they eat between the New Year and Christmas. Author Unknown

I made no resolutions for the New Year. The habit of making plans, of criticizing, sanctioning and molding my life, is too much of a daily event for me. Anaïs Nin

Good resolutions are simply checks that men draw on a bank where they have no account. Oscar Wilde

New Year's Resolution: To tolerate fools more gladly, provided this does not encourage them to take up more of my time. James Agate

It goes Christmas, New Year's Eve, and Valentine's Day. Is that fair to anyone who's alone? If you didn't get around to killing yourself on Christmas or New Year's, boom, there's Valentine's Day for you. There should be a holiday after Valentine's Day called 'Are you still here?' Laura Kightlinger [I can most definitely relate to this one]

"Now there are more overweight people in America than average-weight people. So overweight people are now average, which means you've already met your New Year's resolution." Jay Leno

"Every New Year is the direct descendant, isn't it, of a long line of proven criminals?" Ogden Nash

Friday, December 30, 2011

The Ground Truth - a documentary on war

I just watched a documentary titled, "The Ground Truth". I'm not going to accost you with images of the horrors of war here. I think the words are bad enough. But we need to take care of people when we send them in harm's way. And we have always fallen down on that account.

First let me say, I when I was younger, I was ready to go to war. I wanted to kick ass and take names. Then I got to work in the military with many of the vets who were there in Vietnam, which would have been my war and I only missed going to by a hair's breadth. And I started to understand reality, aside from nationalistic pride and youthful exuberance, foolishness. From that time on I opened my mind and started to see war from the other side.

Every American, should watch this documentary. And every one should be angry at the treatment of our veterans.

I'm not going to tell you all that was in this film, you should check it out yourself. I will say something, however. And if I seem like I'm being "heavy handed", after watching that film, I guarantee you, I'm being rather light handed, compared to how I'm feeling at this time. I'm sure some may have gone to war and come out unchanged, though I don't see how. But that is beside the point, they are not our vanguard in the realm of those damaged by war; those damaged by it are. If you feel what I'm saying is nonsense after reading this, then watch the documentary, or go to a modern day war. Then reread this, especially if you've had a limb blown off, or had to live through these nightmares.

We seem to run on a credit card mentality for every little thing in our life. We go to war, for oil? And claim it is for something else, when we should have finished the war we started over a decade earlier. So ironic that Bush started the Gulf War, and his son, ended it, so much later. We send troops to fight and die but we send them in with second class equipment with the hope of catching up later and if some die, tough beans. We let their families send them protective equipment, and we should be ashamed as a nation. We kill and maim innocent people in the cause of fighting terrorism, when we were in the wrong country. We watch as our young are maimed and die. We do not watch as our "Heroes" return from battles, broken in spirit and body. We do not accept that war and what they have seen and lived through, can cause PTSD, can give them mental problems; we try to dodge the expense that accepting that would cause us because, those soldiers, should just cope, right? Because war is no different than normal life back home. Right? When they return, we expect them to blend into normal civilian life, after giving them license to kill, maim, see horrible things, watch the enemy who are other human beings, die before them; watch women and children die before them, sometimes at their own hands, sometimes accidentally, sometimes on purpose, which is the most damaging.

We do those things. We avoid dealing with those things. We don't want to know we do those things.

I could almost handle that, I suppose. But to then turn a blind eye, and not take care of those who were damaged, sent at our beck and call, those who answered that call with courage and pride in their mind's eye, only to later be disillusioned by the reality of war and our foolish mismanagement; is all far worse than what the terrorists have done in provoking us in the first place.

But we are the "good people". We are absolved of wrong doing, because we are the good guys.

Get on Netflix, watch "The Ground Truth". Watch it with your eyes and mind open. Feel bad for a little while, but don't worry, you will forget it shortly. After all, isn't it the job of those damaged in our wars to remember these things? Because they are the ones who have to hobble around, feel depressed, scare their spouses and children with their duress and outbursts; then perhaps, commit suicide.

But we don't have to worry about it. Apparently, it's not our problem.

When you leave the theater of war (yes, they call it a theater, they don't like to use the word "kill", either), they ask if you have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). If you say yes, they don't let you have the one thing you want more than any other, to go home. They keep you in the country, where the war is on. To get you "healthy" again, before sending you home where you could infect the civilians with what? Reality? Truth? Information about what is going on? If you answer no, then you don't have PTSD, even though it can easily takes a while to sink in and returning home, seeing what is normal once again, would have to trigger that.

One veteran in the documentary mentions how he has seen vets in wheelchairs, rolling from one department, one building, after another, around and around all day just trying to straighten out a paycheck issue. But we take care of our war heroes, our veterans. Right?

Such is our mentality.

It reminds me of our issue with school teachers. Those lowly paid, poorly trained individuals who teach those who will one day run our country and our retired lives. We can't afford to pay them properly, so we just don't think about it. But our children come first. Our veterans come first. We are the good guys.

Or, perhaps we're simply deluding ourselves?

Perhaps, our priorities are messed up. Perhaps. I mean, is that even possible? Have we grown to devalue life so much that we can't see beyond the expense? If we can afford to go to war, why can't we afford to clean up after it? Why does the government try to ignore, devalue, our veteran's claims when they need help? But if we simply disagree that they need help, then we don't have to help them. How economical for us.

If only....

How is it we don't accept PTSD as being as prevalent as it obvious is? How is it, you can think that a normal Human being, can enter into a war zone to see some of those things, close up, where their life is also on the line, and they do not come out of it with a traumatized spirit, with nightmares, paranoia? And their life being on the line is paramount, because watching these horrors is hard enough, but when you are there, experiencing that you may be next, or just almost were, it is an entirely different thing.

Perhaps, if we calculate in the costs of the after war along with the war prep and deployment, perhaps we would go to war less? Surely, when there is genocide happening, every country in the world should send in troops to end it. Immediately. Surely Israel would be first in line when genocide is happening, anywhere in the world? Perhaps if it was generally accepted, I don't know, that genocide is wrong(?), it would be necessary far less than it is? Then those who commit genocide, would think twice if they knew, once they start, the entire world will immediately crush them. After those types of conflicts, wounded vets could return home and even though they are knowingly defective for the rest of their life, they would know what they were doing and why. That can make a great deal of difference in one's attitude. Was that the same for the Middle East recently? Then why do so many vets wonder now, what they are doing there, or why they were there?

Steel sculpture
Above: 70,000 steel ball bearings, representing the projectiles we use to kill each other, were welded together over two years to create the life-size sculpture by Marcus Eriksen. About the motivation for this sculpture, he says:

"On Feb. 24, 1991 a truck filled with a dozen marines making a steady B-line for Kuwait City stopped the convoy when I yelled, “Hey look a body!”  The paralyzed figure of an Iraqi soldier lay 50 feet from the incinerated jeep he was blown from.  His knees were bent, eyes and mouth open,and his intestines poured out from under his shirt.  We were both covered with specks of oil from the fires nearby, and soaked by the rains that made me miserable, yet washed his face clean.  Before he died he must have waved his arms, like the way kids make snow angels. He made wings in the sand.  My angel in the desert."

How can one not be moved by that experience? And as these experiences go, this is a rather light one. 

I would say that we should never go to war, but that I know, is unreasonable. There are bad people out there. There are always, seemingly, new people who want to abuse those under their care. I would ask however, that we only go to war when absolutely necessary. Not when a president or a political party needs a boost in ratings. And that when our citizens, our soldiers are damaged, physically, AND emotionally (CAN you be damaged physically and not emotionally in a war?), that we do something for them, everything we can. And acknowledge their issues and see that they have the help they require. And follow up with them, possibly for the rest of their lives, or at least for the next ten to twenty years. Sounds expensive, right? Tell me, did you actually just have that thought pop into your head?

Maybe if the cost after the war exceeds the cost of going to war, we will start to be smarter about our actions and more circumspect.

I would like to believe that the world is in the throes of the end of adolescence and these wars are fits of growth into adulthood, our possible, only the end of childhood and terrifyingly moving only into adolescence. Either way, I would like to believe that we are closing in on a time when we will no longer have to have wars.

But whether we will continue to have them or not, we still must pay attention when our veterans say in documentaries like, "The Ground Truth", that many still aren't getting the help they need.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Our new God, Status Quo

Recently I wrote a blog about how energy is the big evil. And that may be true in the ways I delineated. But that is the physical side of things. The emotive side I believe, is status quo. Two small words. They sound rather innocuous, don't they? I always thought of the status quo as a good and proper thing.

How many things have been done under the paradigm of maintaining, or increasing, the status quo? How many unethical transactions have been perpetrated? How many people ruined or imprisoned? How many murders, how many wars?

When I look at our current crises, I find the same thing. Greed. But greed isn't so much gluttony, as it is fear and laziness. And an addiction to comfort. We all have it, to some degree. And it's a good thing, to some degree. But the degree to which it has become the standard operating procedure, is pathetic, and scary.

Strike that, it's terrifying.

I have seen Congressmen/women making decisions that include our country continuing on as we are, with the consideration of murdering thousands of people, or maintaining dictators, thugs, murderers, all in the sacred name of, status quo.

We find there are secret, behind closed door type meetings. Secret, because the moral of us might object to abusing people in other countries whom we may never get to meet personally. I know I have no desire to abuse people I have nothing against. But then, I don't like to abuse anyone, unless it is to get them to stop abusing me, or others. Yet we have paid people to do this kind of thing, for us. For... us.

How we have practiced all our lives through religion for one, to turn a blind eye, to turn the other cheek, to hypocritically ignore what strictures we have dedicated ourselves to believing and following. I have heard person after person say they believe in the bible and all it says, until I pointed out many, many things in it that they said they would not follow because they were contra-indicative, illegal, simply wrong as they know it in their "gut", or because they contradict the same stricture elsewhere in the bible.

And we have grown up with that from childhood. I asked my parents about something I read in the bible and their answer? Just ignore that. Shut up. Or you can't understand God's mysterious ways. Etc., etc., etc.

But this isn't about religion. It's about status quo.

It's about how we have ignored what our leaders have been doing, or not doing, for decades. For forever maybe. How did we get in this situation? Who allowed it? Who, is responsible?

In the end, we are. We all are. But then, we hire people do do what is right, to find out what is right, then make a proper and ethical decision and carry it out, and be responsible for their actions. But, do we? No, we let them make the wrong decisions, then get away with it, as they point to us and say to us that it's OUR Fault.

Uh, I don't think so. Sounds like obfuscation to me. Shirking their duty. And their responsibilities. Again.

We really need to start holding people responsible and having laws that allow us to do so. That latter part, is kind of important. Our laws are pretty screwed up. Our concept of Law is good, we just need to do something we seldom do, but it interrupts the status quo and it's expensive. We need to adjust once in a while and we need to wipe some laws off the books occasionally.

That's the small picture. The big picture has to do with nations, and people who are not American citizens. We need to go into their countries, we need to negotiate, we need to not abuse them. Make a good deal? Certainly. But rip people off? No. Because that in the end, as we've seen with the Middle East, is against our long term interests. And oh, it's wrong, too.

Yes, we need energy. But that isn't necessarily oil, okay?  We may need to make some drastic changes. But the funny thing is, we should have done this a long time ago. Who didn't do it? Our leaders. Gee, we keep coming back to that.

If and when you have a CEO who does a bad job, runs the company into the ground, what do you do? You fire them. What do we do now a days? We give them $10 million and send them on their way.Is that right?

Now tell me, does that really make any sense to you? I could go into how much more a CEO makes than a more lowly person at the bottom of the company, or the majority of the employees there, but let's not get off the track here.

We also need to not abuse our own Citizens. Something we're losing track of when it comes to fear and terrorism. We have been building our way around our constitution and the laws that protect us all for a while now.

How, I have no idea, but that seems to be the way of things lately. Why? To maintain the status quo, to continue to have safety everywhere in America. Well, I'm all for that, but then again, America stands for something and we need to stick up for that too, even when it causes us some grief, or pain.

If a bully beats you up, you fight back. If you don't, they keep doing it. When they stop, you don't keep beating them up. You don't keep harassing them every minute of the rest of their lives. You use reasonable responses. But you don't put up armed guards at the entrance to everywhere, just because one place has had problems. If there are problems there, you evaluate them, find out why they happened, ask if that can spread, what behavior is causing it to occur, are there socioeconomic elements that need to be addressed, and so on.

This isn't touchy-feely egg head stuff, it's cause and effect. And the fix, is hard to do and expensive sometimes, but we either do it correctly, or we do it wrong. And we've gotten into we either do it cheaply, or we do it wrong, also? What kind of thinking is that?

There is no answer here to give. We simply need to talk more about these kinds of things. When you find things in your life that are nonsense, speak up about it. People will look at you like you're nuts sometimes, but the more people talk about it, the more odd it will start to sound and the more people will want to make things right. Just pick a word, repeat it aloud or in your mind until it starts to sound, odd. Understand? The more we bring up these problems, sooner or later it will sink in, people will get the point, and start to wonder, to ask questions, to feel there is something wrong.

Koyaanisqatsi. Native American Hopi tribe for "Life out of balance". It certainly is.

What we need here isn't to suddenly make everything right. Frankly, I think that is impossible.

What we need to do is change our paradigm for how we make decisions. We need to change our way of thinking about things. We need to apply critical thinking against nearly everything. I agree that we need some fantasy in life, it is a basic Human survival skill and to lose that would be ludicrous.

But we need to start getting used to becoming adults in the modern world. We need to shuck off our childhood and deal with things in a critical fashion. If we run out of water, we die. If we pollute our environment, our social environments, if we don't start thinking world wide about everything, we're going to be in some tough ways; very possibly, far sooner than we think.

The days of just doing what is expedient and worry about the costs later, or let our children or grandchildren deal with it, are over. Very soon we will be making decisions on what will affect us within a few years. For many things, we are there now.

So the next time you hear someone in charge say they have done something very creative to maintain your statu quo, ask them what they mean by that. Question authority. Question too, the little guy, the "dumb" guy, because even the village idiot has his story to tell; question the guy who has nothing to do with it, but might himself have a creative idea, maybe one that spreads a positive influence rather than negative ones. Think outside the box. Think. Challenge.

But be ready. In the end, yes, it's all our responsibility. But someone has to be in charge, to push the buttons, give the orders, make the decisions, take the responsibility. That has got to mean something. And remember, we do not apply the status quo to everything.

When someone breaks the law, or breaks a corporation, or a country, they don't get a golden parachute and retire to Martha's Vineyard. They go to jail, they lose money; they do not make money, they stop doing what they are doing; others stop doing what they were doing. They get punished for their bad behaviors.

 Does maintaining the status quo sound now like the cool thing is used to be? This wasn't meant to be an ad for the Occupy movement, but they certainly have a point and I think I've just supported it in a way that has nothing to do with them. It just makes sense.

I suspect that statu quo was always this way. We just didn't see it all until we were better educated and the world continued to shrink for us until now, along with instantaneous communications, we have woken up from our intellectual slumber and have come to see reality as it really is. And it's pretty scary.

Status quo, sure, if you like; but it's at your, and all our our peril.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

My ex wife and that Life Decision

I was just sitting here, watching a movie on TV that gave me a thought. The film was titled, "The Good Heart". A strange little film that DirecTV gave 2.5 stars. But there was something gritty about it that I was attracted to.

Suddenly while watching it, it hit me. I had a thought that brought me back to my ex wife and I realized something about her. About us. I realized the moment, the defining moment at which our life together began to decline. Until finally, after ten years together, we divorced.

I usually put in some interesting photos in these blogs, but I'm not going to this time. This is not one of those kinds of articles. This is a pure and important few words and one of the hardest to write pieces I've ever done here. So, I think I'm just going to state the facts, and see how it goes.

I wish you the best of luck in your life and I'll say that again, later. I've made my decision, regardless how much I may not now regret it. I want to, but I can't. And maybe I shouldn't regret it. Maybe we both made the right decision those, now many years ago. Maybe it doesn't feel like it, because I don't want it to have been right. Either way....

If you ever have a situation with a loved one, where you feel you have to make a decision between the two of you going on with your lives together, or making a major change between you that could end things, then you should read the rest of this. It will meander a little but I need to give enough background so it really sinks in.

I've been divorced now since about September 2002. We were married about 1994. When I met my lovely ex-wife, she was twenty-two, thin, in incredible shape and very attractive. She was living at a horse farm. A sixty-five stall horse farm, modern, with offices in the front of the barn containing the stalls, with two modern apartments above the offices; inside, a round pen next to the sizable arena.

You could feed the horses from upstairs, walking along with a wheelbarrow and dumping grain and/or alfalfa or timothy, or whatever, down a chute; all according to the card on each chute, for what each horse required individually. I ended up moving in with her once we realized that I was spending the night more often than not. It was a drive back to my own apartment, so I would stay over and go to work in the morning from there. It was just easier, and we truly enjoyed one another. It was a very good love affair.

She worked hard, herself, got up before dawn, working till late into the night.

Since she would get off so late, I got used to cooking her dinner. She would drag her cute butt in the door and I would let her wash up, then hand her a plate and she would watch a TV show with me while she ate. That was hard for me, because I had sworn off TV for some years and was pretty antiTV. If I could, I would wait and eat with her. Then she would eat a pint of Ben and Jerry's ice cream.

Even then, she was in incredible condition. She rode horses pregnant, up almost until she delivered. Then delivery was pretty fast and painless, much of it I'm sure, because of all the exercise. She would be so tired, that within the hour or so of getting off work, coming upstairs, eating dinner and okay, only half a pint of Ben and Jerry's because she loved feeding me half. Of course, then I had to try hard to burn it off at the UW Huskies' gym the next day, during my lunch time at work.

I worked at the UW at the time and she lived and worked in what was to me, the middle of nowhere. After the ice cream, she would inevitably fall asleep, so I would inevitably have to pick her up and carry her to bed. What was no big deal, she was light, I was strong, but the way into the bedroom was tight and I'd have to be very careful not to crack her head, or my elbows and get her to bed without either waking her, or the baby in the next room over.

Her female friends "hated" her for her being able to eat ice cream every night of the week and stay so thin and attractive. Isn't that always the way of it? But honestly, everyone loved her. Women were just envious that she could eat ice cream and get away with it. But she got away with nothing. She rode and worked the  horses sixteen hours a day, five, six days a week sometimes, seven. I used to warn her she needed to have less ice cream and coffee, it just wasn't healthy. But she had that "cowgirl up" attitude which gets a lot done but can be rather destructive, especially for a workaholic. She lived on the caffeine and sugar in her multiple mocha a day habit.

On Sundays, I would get up on my day off, and before the sun came up feed all of the horses in the barn for her. Even in the dead cold of Winter, in only my bathrobe and slippers (so cold too), I would get the wheelbarrow and feed the horses, then climb back into bed, frozen. She would wake enough to realize what I'd done, and move over to warm me (which I always felt was amazing as I was so cold), and we'd fall back asleep for another couple of hours.

When I first started going out to visit her at work, before I moved in with her, her clients would bring her an extra large Orange Mocha, with pentuple (5) shots. They just wanted to do something nice for her. So did I, so I would stop on the way in, and bring her one when I went to see her. It was a twenty mile drive from Seattle for me which was why I ended up spending the night sometimes, and then when we realized I was there all the time, I just moved officially in. Since the owner was Catholic, we finally broached the subject with her and she had me pay rent, but at $250 / mo. it wasn't bad, more a token payment. What was irritating though was that after we got married, she never told me I could stop paying that.

The first day that I got her that orange mocha, I stopped in the small town at the coffee cart that she frequented, the one just before exiting the town to go up the dead end road, at the end of which, was the farm. When I ordered the drink the woman looked at me and said, "I know who this is for." I said, "How? She said, "Only one girl orders this in this town. No one orders an orange mocha, just her." She laughed. I laughed, but was a little confused.

When I got into the arena inside the barn, she was very closely watching a young girl riding around her in circles as she shouted corrections and constructive advice to the her. She was giving a riding lesson. That's what she did, gave riding lessons, and trained Arabian horses for horse shows. She had been working with horses since she was about four. She had earned or won enough money when she was younger, to afford to go to a live-in at riding and boarding school in England for a year to get certified for teaching equitation (English style riding) and jumping (up to five feet).

She laughed a little when she saw me standing there, off to the side, with the drink. I said, "What's so funny." She nodded with her head and there off to the side of the arena, were three other drinks her clients had brought her that she had yet to get to, and probably wouldn't; and those were along with the giant ugly black and pink thermal container she always had full of her special mocha. She got through the day, drinking that damn cold drink all day long.

I felt at first a bit dejected, having gone through all that trouble and money. I was incredibly broke at this point in my life, having recently been divorced and paying child support; it had taken me nine months to move out from where I was renting a room in a house, to a studio apartment and driving out to her farm was eating up my extra money. But then I realized that she was someone special and that people saw that in her.

I have always seemed to be rather good at finding women for long term relationships, who are very special individuals, typically reflected in the attitudes of all who have known them. And she too was someone very special. She was one of those people whom you only wanted to bask in the warmth of her attention. Something I later found, after our divorce, was wonderful when you were in her good graces, but a nightmare when you weren't, or worse, in her bad graces.

After I'd been living there with her for a while, she came to me one day and said she had been given the opportunity to do horse shows with the main trainer who lived next door to us. It was an opportunity to do what she had been building up to all her life. She said she told them she didn't think she could, having an infant to raise. But she'd think about it. In asking my opinion, I thought about it for a moment, then said, "Of course, do it. This is your chance." She told me that I didn't know what I was getting into (people kept saying that to me about her, and about the horse show industry, it wasn't till a few years later, that I realized how correct they were).

So, I told her that if that were the case, then I would support her all I could, and when I couldn't deal with it anymore, I would continue to try to support her, but when I really couldn't do it any longer, I would tell her. But that was my issue. And if that was who she was, I wasn't going to stop her from living and being who she was. On the other hand, I needed to be allowed to be who I was too. So, if I really got to a point where I couldn't take it anymore, I could tell her, and leave, if I had to at that time.

What I hadn't counted on, was that it wasn't so much myself who couldn't handle it, though I did find it nearly impossibly miserable at times; but, it was her who couldn't emotionally maintain that lifestyle. Though honestly, that was mostly because their clients weren't rich. If she'd had well off clients, rather than clients who wanted to feel like they were really well off, things would have gone much better. At some point, you simply have to recognize that you have to pull the plug if you can't make enough money, or you can't get the quality of client you need, or you are destroying yourself, or your family. Here is where that "cowgirl up' attitude was destructive to her, and us. She simply couldn't recognize failure and the biggest gift in business is to recognize that and make appropriate adjustments, or when to end things.

She went on her first out of town horse show. Four days into her being gone, I started to have my doubts.

Did I forget to mention that when I met her she had an eight month old baby? To be fair, I had a five year old boy myself. But he lived with his mother most the time. That was interesting in itself.

My dating history had been rough since I had gotten divorced. I got divorced because I found my wife having a secret lover, which made the institution of marriage a little crowded for me. I had decided years before, I wouldn't hide things from potential dating partners. And that decision had come back to bite me on several occasions.

Let me explain that. I met the most beautiful girl in the world, just after I broke up with my girlfriend after college; we'd been together for six years, four of those years during our university life. After college, we moved back to our home town, and went to an apartment finding company together. Then we broke up. We still had our subscription available to me. She used it and quickly found a place. Then once our lease was up on our house, I needed to use it to find myself a place to live. I got to talking to the secretary who I had gotten to know there and asked her out. She asked what happened to my girlfriend, being a little leery of my invitation, and so I told her what had happened. So we went out.

I told her the truth while we were having drinks at a bar that night. I wanted this girl something fierce. But I was honest. She was honest back and told me, that considering I had no money, no real job (I had a job but not a good one yet), some bills to pay off (but not a college loan, my G.I. bill paid for my college), and she had guys who were giving her free cars and jewelry. She said she liked me a lot but....

Later I met a girl that worked at Elaine Powers aerobics, a business next door to where I worked. She was very cute, very tall and thin. We had drinks and I found that she was ex military, had several houses and was building something for herself. I was honest with her about my financial status. Again, it just wasn't right. It was right for me, but not for her.

Years later, after getting divorced, I had trouble dating again because of this type of thing. Women were quite interested, but once I said I had a young child, they were not so interested. Which I didn't understand, because I thought women found that endearing. Uh, no. Even though he wasn't living with me full time. In fact, one night, I was dancing on the dance floor at a bar with this very cute girl I had just met, actually, she came up to me. We were talking as we danced. I don't remember what she said, but the natural response was to admit I had a young son. I thought about it, thinking, I could easily be sleeping with her in short order, but I should get it all out in the open. So I did. She stopped, looked up at me. And simply walked away. End of story.

So when I met my ex, and she said she had a child, I a bit got excited about that. I said that I too had a child. She got excited about it. From that point on, everything seemed to click.

Eventually, we got married. We bought a house and moved out from the farm. She kept doing horse shows and training horses and riders, although she switched affiliations a few times. I'm getting to the point now.

Doing horse shows was tough. It was tough on her. It was tough on me. It was tough on the kids. She had to be away from home, and worked very hard. But being a workaholic, she loved hard work, working till you were exhausted, then hitting the bed and passing out. I had to take care of both kids, go to bed alone every night, missing my wife, wondering how faithful she really was being (I never had a girl break up with me until I was thirty, then two major relationships in a row had affairs on me, so give me a break here), and I had to deal with our daughter crying herself to sleep asking where mommy was and why she wasn't there. I had to lie and tell her reasons I didn't really believe in, but I did my best to put on a good face, until I got out of her bedroom. Then I had to go to sleep wondering the same things.

After a few years of that, my wife got home from yet another horse show that had left her distraught, stressed out, not very happy. This had been an ongoing cycle with her. Something obviously wasn't working out. It was the guy she worked with, in my opinion. He was the boss, the farm / brand owner. A pompous kind of guy I wasn't very fond of. Anyway, it seems her clients had not been paying for her room and board as they were supposed to as part of the training package they were buying. She was bouncing checks sometimes just to eat. For her to have dinner, it was the cost of the meal, plus a $25 bank fee for not enough money in the bank account, one or two of those a day, for a week long horse show, well, it adds up. And she's only eat maybe one meal a day. When you work that physically hard, you need three square a day.

I told her she needed to tell her clients to pay the hell up. Pay what you agreed to. But she was just too sweet, too nice. It melted my heart. She was disintegrating. I could see this "career" was ripping her apart. What she had lived her whole life working toward, was disintegrating all around her, and her right along with it. And she was bringing us down with her.

But I had told her that I would support her, as long as I could.

So I had to tell her, "You have to tell your clients to do what is right." I told her she had to make them pay up. But she was too immature, business-wise. She actually had a two year business degree, but putting it into practice, well, that just isn't something they teach you in college. So finally, I told her that either she needed to quit her career, or she needed to grow a thicker skin.

This was the moment. This was the defining event that became the turning point in our marriage.

Because after this, she had to either quit, or get toughened up. I wanted her to quit. But I said, I would support her. And I did. She tried, she really tried to handle things. She did grow a "thicker skin". She grew up more. But eventually, it just wasn't enough.

For one trip, she went away to her longest show. Three weeks long, in the southwest US. Albuquerque, I think. When she returned, it was obvious to me she was very near a nervous breakdown. I could feel it, the air in the room felt tense even. She was trying hard to make it, but it was an unwinnable situation for her. She simply had the wrong clients. It is a hard career field and few can really make it. So finally I realized that there was only one thing left for me to do. I put it off for a few days, but finally I had to say something, regardless how it made me look. This wasn't any longer about me, it was about her.

So I did. I told her, she either had to quit her "career" or, I was leaving. Of course, I wasn't leaving, but I had to make my point. It was me or horses. I tried to tell her it was because she was very near a nervous breakdown, it couldn't be more obvious to me. My degree was in psychology and I knew what I was talking about. So I made the decision, I would either ruin my life, end our marriage, but I would save the one I loved, from herself, if that were the case. I knew I might end up with her hating me, even, but this was literally killing her.

So, in the end, one night she went to dinner with the guy that owned the "Farm" brand that they worked under. At that dinner, she told him she was quitting. His response, which neither of us saw coming, was that if she was quitting, then he was quitting. What the hell did that mean? Well, that kind of told me, it really wasn't working for either of them. But from that day forward, she blamed me for ending her "career", just as I knew might happen. Now I say "career" and not career, because a "career" is more a hobby and doesn't make you money. And she wasn't making money, in fact I was subsidizing things for her. And we needed more money coming into the family, not my paying out so she could have a job.

So I suppose both of them owe me for their moving on in life. He went on to become a network engineer or something, making more money than he ever had and within a few months, was making as much as I was in the IT industry, and I had been doing it by that time, for some years. She went on to turn her attention to raising the kids and volunteering at the school. She became the Guardian Angel of teachers at whatever school the kids were going to. She tried a few jobs but even with her two year business degree, she wasn't really, or didn't think she was really, trained to do much other than horses.

In the end, I lost my marriage. I lost my one true love in my life. I know that, because when I look back now over my life, she is the one that really pulls at my heartstrings. She would argue with that, but she wouldn't go back to the point in time that I would, when it all began to crumble. Back to the day that I told her, "You need to either quit, or grow a thicker skin."

See, what I'm trying to get to here, is that we don't always see in time, we don't always see what it is, we don't always understand what is happening, in order to make that right decision, to save both people, to save the relationship. Too many relationships end in a split up or divorce.

In looking back on it now, I see two things. One, I needed to be more argumentative with her about things. She liked that. Some people need a solid wall to push off of. That wall can make it feel wrong, to feel it is abusive, to the one acting as the sounding board, the other person's outer voice, to give their inner voice a place to work things out. The one acting as the sounding board, needs to understand that it is not meant to be abusive to them. The other thing is, I needed to tell her that she needed to quit that destructive career path, sooner. Much sooner.

She was one of those types of people who do not know when it's good to stop, to quit, to give up. Give up, or fail, were not in her vocabulary, unless it was regarding a marriage, apparently. She lived her life with the "cowgirl up" attitude. Which is good and admirable, up to a point, from which it then becomes completely destructive. I needed to see that point, and say, "stop". To beg her not to grow that "thicker skin", perhaps. To no matter what, not grow that thick skin because that would kill who she was and all too possibly end whatever we had together.

There were other issues at hand, surely; she was the child of an alcoholic, she was herself a workaholic; having come from a family that found close personal relationships difficult to manage and so work and distance gave them the buffer they needed. I came from a more close family who tended to work things out openly (okay, my parents used to have horrible fights when I was a child, which is why I refuse to argue and bicker in a relationship; but remember, argumentation is good, bickering, is bad).

And then being quite human, I had my other, my own issues to deal with. Life just does that to us.

In the end, sometimes, instead of growing a thicker skin so that we can deal with life, we really just need to adjust our life, so that we can continue to be the beautiful person that we had been. So, when you come upon that moment in life, where you have to make that decision, or push it upon another, really think about it, first.

Don't get me wrong. You may hear regret and a touch of heartache in my "voice" here, but were she to walk back in my door right now, I wouldn't, well I won't say, "take her back", but I wouldn't try to go back. We've changed, she's not the same woman I was once in love with. And that is part of my point in all this. That lovely person began to disappear the day I told her she needed to grow a thicker skin. That was me, putting a nail in the coffin of that awesome person that I so dearly loved .

But don't get me wrong. I'm not so egoistic as to think what I told her that she needed to do, is what made her become an entirely different person, which she did. I know that she made the decision to do it herself. Yes, she heard what I said, but she knew already that was the case, it just took someone saying it for her to really pay attention and begin to do something about it. It took someone she cared deeply for, who she looked up to, not to let her down, but to give her the answer to help her make the right decision.

Now, whether we admit it or not, the other person in our life, frequently, is that person. Yes, we are adults and all, but also, we are vulnerable and that is in part, why we have relationships. So if you don't know that, wake up. This is most especially hard for macho, or independent types (which she was and always will be).

What I'm trying to make clear here, is that rather than say what needed to be done, to stop her destructive career, that it wasn't working and she needed to put an end to it; we should have just ended it. But I chickened out because of her reaction to quitting. She could throw a fit and make you want to back off. Beware that tactic and don't let it rule your life, whatever happens.

And so I just said the facts, "quit, or have a nervous breakdown". She simply couldn't hear the "have a nervous breakdown" part, to her, that wasn't an option, but to reality, it was possibly the only option. Either way, I would have been blamed for her career ending. But had she stopped right then, we would have still walked away with her as she was, before she got toughened up, perhaps bitter, frustrated, and pretty much angry at the world for her life not turning out how she had always imagined it. Yes, it's the princess syndrome all over again, but that is not the few and far between, many of us are raised with that nonsense. And it's even tougher on those who work hard, and don't expect everything to be handed to them on a silver platter.

One final comment... you can pick apart what I'm saying here and try to attribute it to this or that thing, or me, for that matter, but if you do that, you'll simply miss the point I'm trying to make. This isn't about me. Or, my ex for that matter. This was simply a way to make a point in a way that is raw and personal to me. My point was my point that I hope I have made.

Simply put, if you may ever have to make a decision in your own life, such as I have shared here, understand that it may turn out to have ramifications that far exceeds whatever you think it will do. In the end, it may turn out to be the exact thing that you are trying not to do. I knew I could ruin how my ex saw me from that point on, but I had to ask myself, who is more important in this situation? Should I choose my desire for my wife to continue to see me as she always had and for our marriage to continue as it was; or, if I truly loved her, should I choose my desire to save her from literally killing herself? I knew that it was a lose/lose situation, for me. But I wasn't what was important at that time, as I was seeing it then.

Sometimes you may need to make or force a change in life. It's just that sometimes, you may need to make an even bigger change than you plan, or sooner than you think you need to. The change that you plan for, may appear to be "massive" to you at the time, but possibly, you simply cannot see it (yet) for what it really is. I guess the thing to do then is, when you are considering a big change, a painful change, certainly consider, as we all do, if you can make less of a change than you may think you need to. But also look the other direction. Try to see if you may not need to make an ever bigger change, one that may need to be such a big change, you simply cannot see it, or imagine it. Try, to imagine it.

Remember that sometimes, with only a little extra thought, you can find a far greater benefit. And with all that having been said now, I wish you all the best in life, my friend.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A tall blonde model crosses the street

I had a dream. No, I mean, last night, I had a real dream.

It was a nice sunny, warm day. I was in Manhattan walking along, crossing a street on the crosswalk that was full of people going both directions. There was another guy with me, but we weren't talking, and two more guys I knew, behind us. In hindsight, I think we were headed to a street side cafe for lunch and drinks.

As I approached midway crossing the street, I noticed two women walking toward me, completely oblivious of me, of everyone, deep in a conversation.

The one closest to me, was carrying nothing but articulating with her hands, her companion, perhaps a sister, was carrying something I can no longer remember, what it was.

They were both tall, platinum blondes with very long beautifully cut, straight hair, both model-like in look and bearing, but the one closest to me was very much more so, thinner than her companion, strikingly beautiful. She was wearing all white, with a gossamer thin shirt, open to her diaphragm.

As we approached one another, the one closest to me was saying something passionately to her companion and as she was moving he hands a slight breeze caught her shirt and billowed it slightly, clearly displaying to me her right bra-less breast, her nipple floating, there for only me to see. As I passed by her, so near to me that we almost touched, it nearly took my breath away. I took a breath, and a word fel out of my mouth.

"Damn," I said, in revery and awe of how beautiful that girl was. Immediately, behind the two women, were two other women, wearing darker, more business like clothes, the mass of people continued to move to the sidewalk of their original intent. Suddenly, those two women, who were behind the model like women, lost their conversation and stopped there, mid-street.

The woman closest to me, looked me directly in the face, people crossing with us, simply made their way around us, like a stream of water in a river, flowing around a boulder or two, allowing nothing to impede progress. Her companion looked at her, annoyed by the hindrance. She gave her a look of, "Let it go!". But the women didn't let it go.

"What was that?" she asked, "Why did you say that?"

"Excuse me?" I said.

"That word, what did you say? Why did you say that?"

"What?" I said, thinking about what she could mean, pulling my mind away from the model and her incredible visual that had burned into my mind. My friends were no innocuously huddled nearby, wondering what the issue was. "I said, 'Damn'," I said to her, confused, then realizing what might be happening.

I had offended a woman, but remarking at the beauty of another woman, directly in front of her, on the streets of New York. I had a premonition, I was about to get berated. But instead, she looked at the woman next to her and shared a look of, "I told you so." She looked back at me, her companion slightly, just barely, rolled her eyes, then looked at me, like she was embarrassed.

"And why, did you say,'Damn'?" she asked. About now, I could feel my friends enjoying my wriggling under scrutiny.

"Why?" I said, "Well, her nipple just jumped right out at me, her breast was just there for me to see. And, and--" I stammered.

"See?" she said, looking disconcertedly at me, then at her companion. "I told you so." And with that, they walked off. I looked at my friends and we got out of the street before the light changed.

Then, I was sitting in a booth with them, having drinks along the sidewalk, where we could still see that crosswalk. I tried not to think about the woman who had spoken to me, and instead about the blondes. I looked across at two of my friends, all wearing business suits, ties loosened, looking comfortable.

"But, that wasn't right," I said, "The nipple, yeah, her entire right breast, her torso, an inside look at her form, beautiful, definitely beautiful. But that wasn't what actually sticks in my mind, you know?" I was seated on the outside, a step away from standing up, and my friend on the other side, nearest to the street, looked at me and spoke.

"Her hair," he said, "what I remember now mostly, is how striking her hair was."

"Exactly," I replied, "Me, too. I was about to say that, when those women walked off, thinking, I suppose, that I was being a douchebag."

"Well, you were, right? I mean, we were." The guy directly across from me said. Then the guy seated next to me spoke up.

"So, what we all remember, is the women's hair, not so much their body, their sexual organs."

"Right," someone said.

"So," I spoke up, "That woman, he thought she was so right, was wrong, but only we have the end of this story. What we were really focused on, and even we didn't realize it till later.

"Ex-actly." The guy next to me said. The guy across from me picked up his drink and toasted, we all lifted out drinks to toast, waiting to hear what he would say.

"F*ck her," he said, "To beautiful women." We all acknowledged his toast and knocked glasses, smiling, drinking and then... the phone rang.

I mean, in the real world, my phone in the bedroom rang, waking me up. It was my friend, John, calling to thank me for the Christmas card I had sent him. Waking me up on the first day off of my two weeks vacation, the morning after I had watched some Johnny Depp pirate movie, and drank a growler of Hood Canal Brewery ale. Good stuff, but my head throbbed slightly and my dog wanted to go out, as I had slept in. The world was conspiring against my sleeping in, in peace and comfort.

I sat up, and could still see that beautiful, striking, blonde woman, as she crossed the street. Again I saw her shirt billow out from her torso and again, I saw her in her rarest form, and I noticed her hair as she drifted past me, and that beautiful hair, reflecting the sunlight, slowly faded from my mind.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas! Okay? Well, deal with it!

First, let me say, "Merry Christmas" to you and your loved ones! [And FYI, I'm on vacation and many people have Monday the 26th off, so I'm counting it as part of the holiday weekend and so, next new blog, tomorrow.]

"Happy, happy Christmas, that can win us back to the delusions of our childhood days, recall to the old man the pleasures of his youth, and transport the traveler back to his own fireside and quiet home!"
 - Charles Dicken 

That, is so true, if, you grew up with Christmas as a tradition. For many in America now, that is not true, unless it is from seeing it from afar. But for myself, I grew up with it. Even though I have dropped my belief in Western religions, I still celebrate it and have a warm feeling in my heart every year as it rolls around.

There has been a lot of controversy in recent times about the Christian, or secular, versions of, Christmas.

They have tried to remove the religious element from it ("Happy Holidays!"), leading to scrubbing the name of "Christ". But everyone is so used to calling it, "Christmas" that they grew up with it and it's burned into our collective consciousness; no one really wants to change that. But America now has such a multicultural diaspora that I'm sure, it is noticeable to those people who aren't Christians, or didn't grow up here with this in their childhood, or if they did, found it to be in some way, distasteful, so that they now want it changed since there is an open discussion of it.

TV has cut it out, and this year, they seem to be bringing it back. When I now hear, "Merry Christmas!" I almost cringe. And I find that annoying. Because it has moved along past its religious origins into a secular holiday of good cheer, warmth, and gift giving. The gift giving can and does get out of hand, but the basic premise, to give someone you care about, a gift, a free, no holds barred, no recompense expected, gift, something you would like them to have, perhaps, that they would never buy for themselves, is an excellent idea. I love it.

But really, you know there is nothing wrong with celebrating Christmas. I know some hard cord religious types want to push the original purpose ("To celebrate our Savior's birth") and all that, but really? If you're not Christian? Why would you have to remember that? I mean, you don't have to celebrate that, or even remember or think about it. After all, it's only really going to offend Christians if you are celebrating for other reasons and if others want to take on that Holiday and make it something universal, I think even Jesus, the misnamed individual who's birthday it was originally (kind of) set up to celebrate. And that's okay.

If you aren't a Christian and want to celebrate it for a completely other reason, I do think Jesus would be good with that. I'm not so sure of his followers after he died. I mean, just look how they have cocked it all up for two thousand years. I could go into things about this, how Jesus wasn't necessarily, "The Christ" in the purest intent of the original meaning, so I tend to call him Jesus, not Christ.

If it helps, try to imagine Jesus how he would look if he lived in modern times, rather than in the sandled, robed ancient Galilee region. I'm not even sure, were he to pop up right here, right now, that he would even appreciate having been giving that title of, "The Christ" for all its meaning and historical significance in Jesus' time, which is different than how modern Christians see it. He kept sidestepping that kind of stuff his entire life, until they started torturing him, which will mess up anyone's mind, son of God or not. And December 25, is a pagan holiday, and has nothing to do with Jesus birth.

That is, I believe, his actual name was "Yeshua", and not "Jesus", anyway. But you know how it is, the more well known and popular one wins. Because that is what is most important, not actuality, what was, but reality, what we conceive it to be, right? And he wasn't blonde haired, and blue-eyed, by the way, that doesn't even make any sense if you even, slightly think about it. He must have been somewhat easy on the eyes (you never hear about a homunculus being a prophet), he must have had some knowledge, which begets his being raised in ignorance or low birth, and he must have had some charisma, otherwise, no one would listen to, or follow him.

So no, I really don't see the issue with Christmas being celebrated, just sans the Jesus motif. Santa, is a pretty good stand in, if you ask me, and again, I'm not so sure Jesus would object. I don't see it as any kind of competition between the two. And you really do have to consider that. They already did that, after Jesus died. That is, to allow others, out side of their religion of Judaism or what was later called, Christianity, to join in, be involved, even if from some outside form. And it was a long and ugly battle within the Following.

You see, to become Christian, just after Jesus died, in those next hundred years or so, you had to become a Jew first, then you could be a Christian. That meant, you had to be circumcised, and eat by the Hebrew laws, and with the right people. And a Bris Milah, is not exactly an exciting consideration for any adult male. Paul helped to change all that, somewhat, with Peter's okay, but it was a hard fight to pull off. To allow those outside of the Hebrew faith, to even become Christians.

Again, a misnomer, as in the beginning, Christians were known as "Jesus Followers", that "Christ" related name came later. There is a new movement to be called a "Follower of Jesus" in order to relinquish some of the baggage associated with being called a "Christian". They're on the right track, namewise, anyway. Not to mention, when Jesus died, and "The End" didn't after all happen, the leaders of the Jesus Followers, had to scramble to find meaning in the old Hebrew texts, to explain what had happened, or more precisely, hadn't happened.

That was when they found the idea of all that we now hear about. The original Jesus Followers and later, Christians, were a sect developed from a building of considered, plotted out and manipulated concepts. But now in hindsight, no one sees that, no one educates themselves to know that, no one cares. These more modern followers, just want to "Have Faith". Kind of scary really. Strength in Ignorance, someone called it.

When I asked my Catholic mother years ago what she believed in and she told me what she thought her faith was about, I had to ask here, where she got that misguided concept from and she said, "My parents." When I pointed out that her lovely, but uneducated parents were markedly wrong, she just replied that her parents had taught her and she "believed." Talk about confused. But I see a lot of this with religious type people. They believe in what they believe in by what they were taught as children and that's the end of it. How much has been carried down to our times over 2,000 years, like this?

A couple of weeks later, when she had the parish Priest over for lunch and he heard this, he was shocked and told her directly that, "That is not what our religion teaches or is about." Do you have any idea how often that is a primary element in people's "Faith"? Think about that for a moment. I mean, my mother had it mostly correct, in general, but beyond that, she was clueless.

So, for Santa to take over for Jesus on Christmas Day, to bring goodness and happiness, cheer, and goodwill to men, and women, to give people a brief respite from their daily troubles, when otherwise they would never celebrate a Christian holiday, I mean, what's really wrong with that?

We have celebrated for a long time, on multiple continents with a Christmas tree. A symbol some have told me, is a nod to Jesus being born in a manger, more outside than in, as in a hotel, or someone's home. I've also heard it is a descendant of the "Paradise Tree" and the ornaments are replacements, originally as red balls, for the "Apple" that Eve picked and made some bad choice with in some way.

Wikipedia says: "The tradition still persists that Christmas trees should not be decorated until Christmas Eve, which is the day of Adam and Eve. Legends attribute the invention of the Christmas tree instead to Saint Boniface (c. 680 - 755), the Apostle of the Germans, and to Martin Luther." So, who knows, who really cares? It's fun, beautiful, warm and comforting, okay?

But really there is so much of the Paganistic involved here, absorbed by the Catholics and Christians in general, just as they absorbed December 25th to eradicate the Pagan Winter holiday and replace it with the other most potent day they could come up with, that of their Savior's alleged birthday. "It says in the Bible that Jesus was born before the sheep were sent out to pasture; no one sends their sheep out to graze in the winter." - Anonymous.

And so it goes on and on like this. But people simply prefer to have "Faith" than to understand what really happened way back when or how that affects them and the reality of their beliefs now. Okay, whatever, it's your prerogative but for myself, I would prefer to believe in and have faith in, what is true and right, than simply made up along the way. You know?

I have searched long and hard, through many religions over my lifetime, searching for knowledge, wisdom, and a religion that made any kind of sense to me at all. I have found that Buddha Dharma, the Buddha's Teachings, makes the most sense, to me. But there too, there has been much ritual and fantastic nonsense put to music in that belief system, as with any other out there. You can try to pick apart my Buddhist beliefs, but the difference is, as I gain more insight, it makes more sense, but as most all other religions go through that same process, they being quickly to fall apart. But that is neither here or there, for this discussion.

Buddha had said that if someone tells you something about the Buddha Dharma that makes no sense to you, you don't have to believe it; it is a way to keep His teachings more pure. As he obviously knew from observing Human behavior, over time people will take control of it for their own purposes, or expand on the truth to make more of it than there was, or was meant to be, or should be. He said to think for yourself. As opposed to Christian dynamics through the millennia of "listen and believe whatever you are told because it's so holy, you cannot disagree". To disagree is to burn in Hell for all eternity. And et cetera. That has led to so many atrocities I cannot count.

And so the Zen saying, "If you see the Buddha on the path of Life (Tao), kill him." It doesn't mean to actually kill him, but to not revere him so much that you lose sight of the Truth. Jesus' many followers have been patently doing that since the beginning.

Brief aside: Famous Vietnamese Buddhist Monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, had this Buddhist perspective to say on Christmas Eve Day:

No not this, the quote below....

 "In the Christian tradition, we learn that Jesus is the Son of God. It means that through Jesus you can touch the ultimate dimension, the ultimate reality, the ground of being, the almighty. We also learn that Jesus is the Son of Man. As the Son of Man, he belongs to the historical dimension where there is being and non-being, birth and death, sameness and otherness, good and evil. Notions that make us suffer. These can the foundation of our fear, anxiety, and suffering. But Jesus is not only the Son of Man, he is also the Son of God. If we get in touch with Jesus deeply enough, then we can see this ultimate dimension. We have to see Jesus as both. In the Buddhist tradition, it is very clear that everyone belongs to the historical dimension and we also belong to the ultimate dimension. This is our nature and we can learn to transcend our notions."

There is more to life than simply following what you think, are the right rules, and being closed minded. If ignorance and fear are the root causes of intolerance, there is obviously a lot of both around the world, and far too much in America.

Anyway, yes it might be nice to call the Christmas Holiday something else, as the phrase has so much baggage associated with it and Christians get so defensive about it. Though I'll grant you, not as bad as Muslims do with images of Mohammed, which are ludicrous. I mean really, if Mohammed heard you were killing people over a cartoon of him, do you really think he'd buy you a drink (okay, doesn't have to be alcohol, right?), yet alone, give you seventy-two virgins? And if that were the case, then basically, arguably by definition, that would make him quite the jerk.

Repeat after me, "We don't kill people, unless it is to stop them from trying to kill us." So, can we first get that one straight? Drawing a cartoon, is not, a killing offense. Nor are religious indiscretions, of any type (blasphemy, adultery, homosexuality, and so on).
The labarum, often called the Chi-Rho, is a Christian symbol representing Christ.

Christians have seen things like the spelling of "Christmas", as "Xmas" in being simply offensive. There is nothing wrong with being offended, there is with stepping over the line about it. It's been claimed that the "X" in "Xmas" was "crossing out", Christ. It's been said that in modern times "Wall Street", or the shop owners in the 1800s, are responsible for that secular attempt. But it's all quite untrue, and abbreviations like this have gone back as far as 1021AD, and by Christians themselves.

So, I would say to the "true believers" in Jesus, "come on, lighten up kids". Really, there is simply too much seriousness attributed to religious beliefs. Get out of the God of the Old Testament and into the newer one (that would be your Jesus, seriously, check out things he said, and not so much what everyone else has said down through the ages, be they his followers or leaders or not). Secular celebrations of Christmas, does do one thing, it brings the word, "Christmas", into the households and consciousness of many unbelievers and the worst thing ti really does, is to give people a momentary relief from life and a feeling of community, love and caring for one another.

Which is why, even as a kind of Buddhist, in the Western parlance, I have no problem with saying to you:

"Merry Christmas!" And may your life and the best of your wishes all come true for you, and your loved ones.

"Are you willing to forget what you have done for other people, and to remember what other people have done for you ... to remember the weakness and loneliness of people who are growing old ... Are you willing to believe that love is the strongest thing in the world ... stronger than hate, stronger than evil, stronger than death... Then you can keep Christmas! But you can never keep it alone." - Henry van Dyke

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Weekend Wise Words

Be Smart! Be Brilliant!

Since this is the Christmas weekend, maybe something on that order would be called for. A Merry Christmas eve day to you all!

Christmas makes me happy no matter what time of year it comes around.
 - Bryan White

The main reason Santa is so jolly is because he knows where all the bad girls live.
 - George Carlin

There are some people who want to throw their arms round you simply because it is Christmas; there are other people who want to strangle you simply because it is Christmas.
 - Robert Lynd

I stopped believing in Santa Claus when I was six. Mother took me to see him in a department store and he asked for my autograph.
 - Shirley Temple

Merry Christmas, Nearly Everybody!
 - Ogden Nash

The Supreme Court has ruled that they cannot have a nativity scene in Washington, D.C. This wasn't for any religious reasons. They couldn't find three wise men and a virgin.
 - Jay Leno

In the old days, it was not called the Holiday Season; the Christians called it 'Christmas' and went to church; the Jews called it 'Hanukkah' and went to synagogue; the atheists went to parties and drank. People passing each other on the street would say 'Merry Christmas!' or 'Happy Hanukkah!' or (to the atheists) 'Look out for the wall!'"
 - Dave Barry

Christmas at my house is always at least six or seven times more pleasant than anywhere else. We start drinking early. And while everyone else is seeing only one Santa Claus, we'll be seeing six or seven."
 - W. C. Fields

Happy, happy Christmas, that can win us back to the delusions of our childhood days, recall to the old man the pleasures of his youth, and transport the traveler back to his own fireside and quiet home!
 - Charles Dickens

Christmas renews our youth by stirring our wonder. The capacity for wonder has been called our most pregnant human faculty, for in it are born our art, our science, our religion.
 - Ralph Sockman

To everyone, I wish you all a very happy and merry Christmas, to you and your loved ones, and especially, to those who are bitter of heart and ignoble of spirit; may a lightness, heavily befall you and bring happiness to you in a way that suffers not those in your realm of influence.