Jun 04 2009
I have been notified that I have not posted here lately, so…. and my kids have informed me that I should write about what I know, what I have direct experience of…
I have a cold. Not a killing cold, just a medium one. It’s the kind of cold that decreases my energy by about 50%, and my enthusiasm about life by about 85%.
Since I have a cold, I can indulge in moaning. Moaning is very therapeutic for me. I lie there and moan, or sigh, which is very good because:
May 29 2009
This weekend I went to a place where EVERYONE was armed. Not just armed; although everyone was carrying deadly weapons, some people were literally festooned with them. And we’re talking DEADLY weapons; not meant for hunting, but meant for KILLING. Killing people.
I myself was armed, of course; although I didn’t go there for the weapon side of it, I wouldn’t dream of showing up at this event unarmed. I wouldn’t feel completely dressed, you know?
Strangely enough, not a single person was hurt by these deadly weapons. Not a scratch. And I doubt that anyone was hurt going to or coming from this event. Nor do I believe that many people will be hurt by these deadly weapons.
And besides, I LIKE weapons. There, I’ve said it. You ain’t going to get my fifteenth-century Muramasa longsword without a stiff argument.
Follow me after the fold, as I attempt to explain why I felt safe in the middle of an armed society.
May 26 2009
You might not have noticed consciously, but it already happened; and even though you might not be consciously aware of it, you know it on a different level. Do you want proof? consider this:
Remember $4/gallon gas? of course you do. It was the kind of horror that makes red-blooded Americans (As the inhabitants of the United States of America like to call themselves) question the meaning of life. It meant that we couldn’t joy-ride any more. It took all the flavor out of parking and necking (or petting, if you were that advanced) even though those pursuits went out the window with the advent of bucket seats anyway.
It spelled the death of the Hummer. Suddenly, vehicles designed for the battlefield weren’t so fashionable any more, except for certain people in Montecito; but we all know that Montecito is the graveyard of the elephants anyway. What recession? In Montecito, it doesn’t exist out on the road. Of course, who knows what happens behind the electric gates and impenetrable hedges? And I have to say that one does see quite a few Priuses among the Bentleys (!) in Montecito, so it’s not ENTIRELY devoid of consciousness.
Basically, the jump in gasoline prices sent shockwaves through the USA that affected everybody. No matter that the price of gas descended again; everybody knows that it could jump up anytime, and is, as we speak, rising again, ruled by the fickle winds of ‘market forces’. The knowledge that events and people beyond our control could raise the prices to four, or even more, dollars per gallon has affected our whole way of life. We (Or some of us, anyway) actually THINK before we jump into the car; we wonder whether we really NEED to make a special trip to town for a hot pretzel; should we consolidate errands? does anybody else in the family need something that we can get while we’re out?
I think that it’s an excellent omen for Earth day. And besides, rest assured that as soon as the oil barons feel that they can raise prices, they will. Right now, certain people are saying something to the effect that “We can’t raise them too fast, we’ve got to wait until this ‘recession’ is on the way to recovery, and then we’ll raise them again!”
I hate to tell them, but the damage has been done. The Hummer factory is closed, which is the actual proof that the revolution happened; the Hummer was a stupid car for deluded people who bought the illusion that they needed a Hummer to A- Keep them safe in a crash B- make them feel like G.I. Joe C- some other ‘statement’ that the car manufacturers and oil sellers persuaded people to make.
So…. what makes you think that I hated Hummers from the beginning? and that I’m persuaded that the people who can’t get rid of them will eventually just walk away from them the same way that some people are walking away from their mortgages on houses that are now worth less than the payments? And that four-wheel-drive cars are great… on a ranch in Wyoming, but not really necessary for a trip to Von’s?
The funny thing is that all the stuff is still there. Houses, trees, food, things, they’re still there. The only thing that changed is some abstract thing called “Value” that somebody decided things were worth.
And something very important really has changed; more people are planting gardens, more people are recycling, more people are car-pooling, as the pocket-book nerve gets pinched ever harder. There’s signs of hope, of an emerging consciousness, of a real revolution. People are starting to realize that the things that they took for granted are actually gifts from the Creator that can disappear the next day, and that cheap consumer goods are not as much fun as getting together with one’s family, friends, and society and doing things that don’t necessarily require the burning of gasoline. Among other changes. I’ve tripled the size of my vegetable garden, and when I finish posting this (Which I posted on DKos, where it disappeared without a trace, probably because it wasn’t RELEVANT enough, or whatever the people there judge to be relevant) I’m going out to plant more stuff; I don’t want a single vacant space in that garden!
Welcome to the world; welcome to Earth.
May 22 2009
Imagine the most intense men’s cocktail in existence; a heady mixture of testosterone, adrenalin, and blood. Mix in a liberal amount of noise, money, and sweat and you may be getting close to the experience of a Balinese cockfight. I had been to a little village cockfight, but I had to leave due to the presence of my friend, who is American (As the inhabitants of the United States somewhat erroneously call themselves) and female. Women, at least all the women I know, do not do well at cockfights. They do not understand the religious reason for a cockfight, which is that in Bali, just like everywhere else in the world, the Gods demand blood. Oh, you think ‘western’ religions are immune to this? You obviously don’t know history very well, or perhaps you simply choose to ignore it, as many Americans do.
Dec 01 2008
On Saturday night I was invited to play for about a hundred yogis at ‘source yoga’, a studio in town, for the arrival of a swami from India. I get there and stand in a corner where I can hear myself tune, and think about what has happened in the last few days, specifically in Mumbai. I think of so many people who have given a message to us, a message of common humanity and shared values of goodness and compassion. In India, independence would not have come so easily had Gandhi not been there. Oh, it would have come; you cannot sustain a colonial presence, especially with ethnic differences as deep as between the British and the Indians; but somehow his message of Satyagraha, non-violent action, really succeeded where many armed uprisings failed.
I go to play, and the music comes out. I stand there, listening twice. Once for the music that I hear inside, and then again as I try to copy as accurately as I can the sounds that I hear in my heart. Mostly I do all right, and as I resolutely play without any amplifitation in the large and very full room, I let the music take me over until I’m hanging on for dear life as this sound emerges from my instrument.
The swami is late, held up in traffic; they ask if I would play some more. I take my instrument, and in the time that it takes to tune a new thing is there to be freed. I again try to be a pure conduit for the energy, thinking about everyone who has lost someone in the mess that was the siege of the hotels Oberoi, Taj, and Nariman house; the pictures of the young rabbi and his wife, the faces of the two ‘terrorists’ who were photographed, all come together in a face that reflects the intensity of the feelings of the situation.
The second piece starts with the hymn ‘Amazing Grace’, then moves into a terra ingognita of conflicting feelings, odd and jagged melodies contrasting with solemn tones that are like Bach’s cello suites in their sobriety. gradually the sound evolves back to finish where it began, with the simple notes of ‘Amazing Grace’, one of my favorite hymns, full of hope and redemption. I can’t help thinking that the young men who executed the attack left behind a grieving mother, a family burdened by grief; everyone of us pays for this, no matter the exhortations of religious figures that preach that violence is a great way of serving God. And I realize that we, as common humanity, have paid enough for religious differences; We have paid enough and too much for the exhortations of religious leaders who urge violence as a sacred duty, sanctioned by the Creator, who I believe has said no such thing.
And I return to my personal revelation, of Jesus coming to me late at night a few weeks ago and saying just this:
“I am love; first of all and most importantly, I am that love that moves all things. Remember this, and remember that apart from all sectarian feelings and dogmatic sayings I am first and last pure love.”
I pray that we all can move towards this universal love, the source of all good action towards all beings; beyond individual prophets and their revelations, “that love that moves the sun and the other stars”, as Dante so beautifully puts it, pulls all beings toward itself.
Lawrence of Arabia wrote that during one of his travels, he ran into an old blind hermit near a spring of pure water in the desert; and that finally, the old man said:
“The Love is From God, and of God, and towards God”.
That’s all the religion I need. And all the religion that the whole world needs.
Sep 10 2008
You’re riding in the car, and you and your friends are having a good time, laughing, four of you out on a ride… and then the conversation stops.
There’s an embarrassed pause, as the stink spreads; silence, then either a confession or accusations of who caused the stench. Sooner or later, a window is opened, and the offending fart is gone.
The fact is, one person farted, but EVERYBODY in the car is affected. There isn’t anybody wearing an air filter on their nose, so the experience is shared by everyone.
It’s like that with the situation in the U.S.A. and the world right now; there’s nobody OUT THERE; we’re all IN HERE. A person gets shot in Pennsylvania, or Iraq, and we all suffer.
I have a cousin who is very, very rich, we’re talking MEGA- and guess what? She has problems. Problems that make her heart bleed, that cause the kind of pain that makes grown people go to another room so you can’t see them crying. Problems, strangely enough, very much like yours and mine. It’s true, she’s not in Darfur; but she still has to survive in this life, just like you and me.
I see people on the street begging, and I can tell that some of them, like me, are veterans- people who served their country but didn’t marry beer heiresses. They gave of themselves, and a horrible system pumped on greed sold them the idea of patriotism, then spat them out onto the street when it had used them.
I guess what I’m trying to get across is that when there’s suffering, we all suffer. We all suffer from the greed of the weapon makers, the board of directors of companies that make all the hardware necessary for modern war. Pharmaceutical companies that sell a drug for a hundred times what it really costs. Intelligent people who sell the idea that it’s cool to be ignorant.
The most ignorant manifestation of this is people who pollute the environment for profit, thinking that the air they breathe is not polluted with what their factories spew out.
Republicans, Democrats, Independents, rednecks, hippies, plutocrats, beauty queens, smack freaks, presidents, the bottom line is that we’re all in this car together; and finding the solutions to our common problems is more important than fighting over who made the mess. When finally the accusations get old, somebody will have to open a window… so to speak.
So enjoy the sideshow, the electoral race, but don’t forget that after it’s over you are going to HAVE to cooperate with that neighbor with the political sign on his lawn, in order to save your family, HIS family, all your neighbors, and all the people in the world. Save your energy; WE’re going to need it.
Ben Franklin said it very well:
“We must hang together, gentlemen…else, we shall most assuredly hang separately.”
Aug 15 2008
As long as 2000 years ago, the Maya had a great empire- equal to the Egyptians.
Then suddenly, in fact VERY suddenly, relatively speaking, they left most of their cities and moved back to a very simple lifestyle, what was left of them. They left behind brilliant cities, great art, and the remains of a very rich civilization.
The reason? conspicuous consumption. Sound familiar?
If you’re as tired as I am of huge gas guzzlers, wasted resources, and other useless symptoms of excess, maybe it’s time to learn some history. In fact, it may be really important.