Everyone knows there is plenty in this world to worry about. Even those who avoid the world and national “news” as much as possible can’t help but note the downward spiral in their own financial situation, especially if they or those they love are unemployed. There is the constant push to destroy God given rights to life and liberty, and increasing efforts to criminalize and control everything. Then there is the cost of everyday necessities, increasing due to the sinking national economy and shrinking dollar. A great many people are seriously worried about their health, and the increasing Obummercare insanity replacing free market medicine and insurance. And so much more. Did you know that stress, worry and fear, are far more detrimental to good health than you might think?
It’s almost impossible to know the truth about the “news” or, often, even what’s really happening in our own area. Even people who are present during disturbances and crises seldom have a grasp on the whole problem, much less the whole solution. And, unfortunately, this creates a sort of vacuum that we too often fill with our imagination, our prejudices and the ghosts of our past. All of which can and will be used by the unscrupulous to direct, or even precipitate the next crisis. Trust, but verify. Don’t expect to know or understand everything. Do you need to know? What could you do about it if you did? Good questions to ask yourself, I think.
No hero on a white horse is going to come along and save the day. Not this election, or any other. And expecting the politicians to limit their evil and restore our “rights” is as empty of promise as intergalactic space. Maybe more so. And hoping to do that by threatening not to re-elect them would be a hysterical joke if it wasn’t so painful to watch good people continue to believe in that insanity after all these years, after watching endless rubber room elections.
What can you do? You may not agree at first, but I think there is something we can do, and it has to start with each of us as individuals.
I wake up every day around two or three in the afternoon, make a cup of coffee and turn on the news, just waiting for the day when it finally happens, the day that something finally snaps, and I am listening to Sheppard Smith breathlessly trying to describe shaky video of a mob of 500,000 or 800,000 pissed off taxpayers that has invaded Washington and are lining every street in D.C., armed to the teeth, and erecting scaffolding on the National Mall.
Actually, that’s not how I think it is going to go, but I promise you… what can not go on, will NOT go on.
While I disagree with the “everything is a sickness” approach to problems, the article is otherwise spot on.
In one experiment, participants were left alone in a room for up to 15 minutes. When asked whether they liked the alone time, over half reported disliking it.
In subsequent studies, participants were given an electric shock, and then asked if they would pay money to avoid being shocked again. Not surprisingly, most said they would trade money to avoid pain. However, when these same people were left alone in a room for 15 minutes, nearly half chose to self-administer an electric shock rather than sit alone with their thoughts.
You read that right.
(Which is so not punny.)
Think about what this means. Just being is so painful that we are willing to hurt ourselves to avoid it.
And this is perhaps the saddest truth of all. I am created in the image and likeness of God, yet somehow that isn’t good enough for me. So I fill my Facebook feed and my calendar with self-important busyness to avoid just being. In the process, I not only miss out on the peace and beauty that lies within myself, but I also miss seeing that same beauty in others, because my manufactured urgency has covered it up with anxiety and worry.
Monday evening, after a good day’s work, I relaxed in a recliner with a cup of hot, sweet tea. You know how it is; relaxing is often not actually relaxing, as our minds rove from the things we didn’t get done today to the things we’d better do tomorrow, then back to the things that happened 10 years ago or might happen 10 years in the future.
But that evening I really relaxed. I felt profoundly happy to be in my little house, looking out a big window at a small, pleasant view. For once I wasn’t bothered by the fact that one of the windows within my view runs an inch downhill and slants an inch toward the inside of the house (“Maybe the wall bowed,” says Contractor Mike. “Window installed by morons,” says I.) For once I didn’t notice all the projects still to be done or all the little things out of place. I just relaxed.
I felt profoundly grateful, profoundly peaceful. “Thank you,” I whispered. Thank you to the universe, at that moment so pleasantly arranged. Thank you to readers who’ve made it possible for me to live.
Thank you to the activists who are out there doing those Agitator things I used to do (and more power to them). Even though I have no hope for change within the system, even though I accept that government is truly beyond any law, even though I now reluctantly accept that there really is a class of people engineering the deliberate ruination of freedom (and not merely a class of people who see freedom a little differently than we hereabouts do), I’m grateful that moments like Monday’s exist beyond politics, beyond economics, beyond all those “outside” things.
I was grateful and at peace. And better, the mood held all evening.
I didn’t know at the time that my neighbor across the street had gone off that morning to his job of restoring old houses, been felled by a monster stroke, and was then on a ventilator in a distant hospital.
They kept him on the ventilator until yesterday when his daughter was able to make it here from the midwest. When they pulled the plug, he was gone in 10 minutes.
I never knew Andy well. He was a character who’d chew your ear off about conspiracy theories. He was the guy who insisted that poisoning knotweed would make me a “Hitler” to his bees. But he was kind and generous. He and his wife looked after my dogs (and spoiled them rotten) while I was at the beach last month. One day he needed to use my power for a few hours to run heavy equipment, and to my shock he pressed a $50 bill into my hand afterward and refused to take it back even after I chased him down the street trying to return it. ($50 was more than my entire electric bill that month.)
His best friend lives around the corner. The three little boys down the street loved him dearly. His 86-year-old mother-in-law lives next door.
I stopped by the mother’s place and asked what they needed, how she thought her daughter would handle it. “She’ll be alright,” Vi said. “We’re Finns, you know. Sisu.”
What can you do at a time like this? Cooking is always the easy way to deliver a useful form of care. I don’t know how it is in other parts of the country, but where they’re from, their house would now fill up with weeks’ worth of food — all those people saying, “I care” without being intrusive. I don’t even have an oven for baking the traditional midwestern “hot dish.” I feel at a loss. Then I feel selfish even for thinking of my concerns.
Andy’s friend Richard, who told me the news, used to fly planes and sail sailboats. Now he keeps bees and grows the biggest veggie garden in these parts. The bees and the garden sound better to me, but Richard says Andy’s death makes him want to get up there in a plane again or out there on a sailboat, never mind that he’s probably 10 years older than Andy was.
Sure does make you think. Sure does make you want to live, whatever your idea of living might be.
You know how last week I went off in a huff, unable to endure the stupid that blasts from the ‘Net these days like an old-fashioned Texas gusher?
Well, I decided for sanity’s sake to knit a dragon. This dragon.
Here it is on day one. That’s its head.
And. I was back online an hour after I huffed away. Sigh. Can’t win.
‘Cause this dragon, though probably only of intermediate knitting difficulty, was beyond me and right away I had to look up how to do some of the stitches. (Books tell this, too, but I left the excellent Knitting For Dummies with Joel when I left the gulch back in ought-10.)
So much for offline resolve. It’s as Ellendra noted in comments: love the peacefulness, miss the resources. The Internet: can’t live with it; can’t live without it. Now double that for anybody who makes a living on line.
But anyhow, I got my dragon done today. Here it is.
I’m thinking about giving it “fire breath” if I can find some flame-colored yarn. Could be a fun gift for a little kid.
And here it is being worn. Sorry for the blurry pic.
Not quite sure what I’ll do next to stay sane.
OMG, what if I run out of sanity-maintenance ideas?
An acquaintance made two statements about the same event. The statements are incompatible. One is probably true. But it’s impossible that both are true. Only question is which statement is the lie and which the truth, and that’s not answerable.
But no, this is not some version of that conundrum in which you have to figure out how to act on a statement made by someone from a tribe of liars and you might get eaten by alligators or something if you don’t guess right.
In this case I don’t much care which statement is true and which false. The specific matter is minor. Nothing is at stake. No alligators are involved. My rambling brain is just piqued by the nature of the lie, which would be very different, depending on which statement is false and which true.
I loved you from the moment I laid eyes on you. I saw your potential when you were just a raw young thing, before you even knew yourself.
I was wowed by your intellectual promise as early as 1987, when you helped me upload an article to a magazine editor (oh, that 300 baud brainpower!). You seduced me with your charm when a single funny FidoNet remark about “being in Claire’s shoes” led to a long romance. I remember my first glimpse of the real, mature you, when a client said, “Hey, you’ve got to see this. It’s this thing called Netscape that gets you on to something called the Worldwide Web.”
Oh, those were the days!
You and I were destined for each other. It was clear.
You were so gallant at first. Without you, my first book would have disappeared into underground press obscurity. You kept that from happening. You introduced me to entire new communities of friends. And what friends they were! Bright, committed, liberty-loving people who would never have found each other — if not for you. You were the great personality who drew us all together. You were the charismatic leader, the spark that lit the bonfire, the grand beating heart of something new and awesome. You made it possible for us all to experience and explore things we’d never dreamed.
You were the center of the world. You still are. But something’s changed.
A month ago, some “interesting” discussion developed around my mini-review of Vin Suprynowicz’s (highly recommended) new book The Testament of James. Religious sensibilities were offended by the thought of finding God via chemical assistance. (Never mind that trying out those unfamiliar mushrooms or leaves probably informed all the world’s religions at some point.)
Now, with support from some very important biochemists, Vin answers one commenter’s most vehement objections.
Feel free to comment here or at Vin’s place. But this time (unlike last) trolls, if any, will be spotted and ejected more quickly.
Walked to the grocery store this morning, arriving just before opening. The lot was nearly full and the street outside lined with parked pickup trucks and SUVs. Unheard of on a Sunday morning. Clerk opened the doors — and out of those vehicles poured guys. I’m guessing there were six men for every one woman.
It’s SuperBowl Sunday in the NorthWest and the local team is playing for the second year in a row.