Impossible Utopia

Frequently I find myself battling with duality.

 

I know that a “perfect world” is practically impossible, but I keep seeking Utopia.  It seems the answers to all of our problems should be relatively simple– the real complication is human imperfection, but most commonly: greed.

 

I’ve spent a large portion of my life complaining about why things aren’t as good as they could be.  It always seems so simple.  Why are there homeless people in North America?  Why are there hungry kids in Africa?  Why do people kill for diamonds?  Why, why, why?

 

Asking “why” isn’t very productive; society at large would have us believe that it’s not at all productive: “Don’t ask why!  Just accept it and move on!”

Yet that creates a problem: if we don’t ask why, we don’t uncover the source of the issue.  If we don’t know the source, how can we solve it?  How can we make a better world?

 

The Taoists believe that we should accept our reality as it is, without judgment, and let that be.  I’m sure it’s more complicated than that, but that’s the jist of what I’ve learned about them (so far).

 

Plato, on the other hand, talked about the “forms”.  The “form” of something, was it’s ideal existence.  Without having a “form” (a model) to guide us, how can we know what to strive for?  We could toil all the days of our lives toward an end, but if it’s not the best we could have done, what was the point?

 

I subscribe more to Plato’s ideals, but that’s where I come back to duality: they seem to conflict, yet both are true.  We must accept the world around us as it is– not judging, or pining over how it could be— and yet, at the same time, we must strive to make it better.  How do we make it better if we really accept it?  How can we say we’ve accepted it, if we’re trying to make it better?

 

This is my struggle.  Any insights?

Living Intentionally

A lot has been said on this topic, and I won’t expound it further, but I feel that I needed to briefly address something that changed my life– or at least, contributed to that change.

 

My favourite author has long-been Charles Ludwig Dodgson– a.k.a. “Lewis Carroll”.

 

A lot of misconceptions exist about Carroll, his drug use, etc; these are indeed, misconceptions, based on little more than speculation regarding the oddity of what he wrote.  I’m not addressing this further, however, in this particular post.

 

He once wrote in a letter to a friend, “To be sure, the best rule is that we should not dare to live in any scene in which we dare not die.”

 

I found this to be profound, and it set me on a path.  I quit my job working at a call centre shortly thereafter, and have been making choices to increase my happiness more than my wealth, ever since.  I don’t regret it, even though I now find myself lacking in funds compared to the majority of people I meet my age (or even younger).  I’m also currently in a place where I’m somewhat forced to chase the money– however, I’m now doing it on my own terms.

What Carroll wrote doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t ever do things we don’t want to do– he means that we should live deliberately; live through our intention, and not just pass day by day with no purpose, or simply by “accident”.

Whatever you do today: choose to do it.  Don’t let it choose you.

Peace. ❤

Black & White

I’m glad to see you’ve all joined me here tonight,
I’ve invited you to this place to discuss the black and white.
I’m not talking about race (altho that could be easily segued),
I’m talking about the motivations of people throwing shade:

You see, it’s easy to inevitably get swayed,
I personally, have occasionally gotten played,
By the vacuous systems of distraction on the web,
Which appeal to us in moments of weakness as if we’re plebs;

But the key point, that on this evening I’d like to make,
Is that assertions of dichotomous absolutes are just fake.
No single thing that’s right means that it’s opposite is always bad;
As if having two moms being okay means that it’s wrong to have two dads.

It’s like thinking that if chocolate’s good, vanilla’s gross;
It’s like thinking you can never again have something doughy because you like toast;
As if someone who’s usually wrong can never be right,
Or the night time and darkness are evil because we like light.

You see, I’ve said it before in many platforms but I’ll say again:
Duality is nature’s reality, my good friends;
And I’ve yet to discover enough ways to sufficiently say,
That in between the black and white are a billion shades of gray–

For that matter let’s discuss even that black and white,
Because I betcha I can find a shade darker, and more light,
That an average observer out of context would confess,
Is the same name of the different shade which you suggest

Is called “black” or “white” as I hold up a tinted tile,
And even let you stare and ponder on it a while.
Yet in this regard I confess I’d do no better,
Subjected to the very same test right down to the letter,
The only thing I could say when proven wrong in the end,
Is “There are billions of shades of black, white, and grey, my friends.”

Excerpt: Jim Butcher’s Hospital Escape

The monitor beeped its steady rhythm; an ironic annoyance, simultaneously comforting as it let everyone know that he was still alive.

There were a lot of questions, and no answers. What started the fires? How was he not dead? Who was the burned man, with nothing else aflame near him? How were his wounds cauterised? Who were any of these people to him, and who was he to them?

Most importantly: who was he at all?

Agent Stanfield stared blankly from behind pitch black wrap-around shades– they helped against the glare of the flourescent hospital lights, which always gave him a headache.

The beeps of the EKG were almost like a metronome, keeping time for some rhythm that nobody but Stanfield could hear. A melody struck up in his head, and he began to sway back and forth, adding complexity and breaks to the beat of the EKG.

In his mind, a dance club careened with swirling colours, sexy young women, more exctacy than one person could take, and drinks, drinks, drinks!

He was startled out of his fantasy by a heavy caloused hand cupping down abruptly upon his shoulder. He turned to look back at the interloper– it was Agent Ashwen.

Ashwen was an Indian fellow, good looking, young, fit, and an expert at Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He had three kids, all U.S.-born, but he was a transplant.

“Status?” Ashwen asked, dispassionately.

“No changes,” Stanfield replied, his eyes already blanking and glazing back over in a haze of his own imagination.

“Keep us posted,” Ashwen said, straightening his black-and-white Ralph Lauren suit, “I’m gonna grab a coffee.”

Grab one for me too, Stanfield thought– and thought he said aloud– but actually said nothing as he drifted back to his night-club fantasy.

A gorgeous young brunette danced her way up to him. The lights were disorienting, as was the blur and rush of the extacy. She was wearing cat-ears, a mesh see-through top with no bra underneath, and tight, form-fitting booty shorts which didn’t fully cover her ass. She swayed her hips alluringly at him, and poked her bottom out as though daring him to slap it. He wanted to, but felt like he’d get in too much trouble if he did it and she actually didn’t want it.

She looked back at him with this innocent glance– he didn’t know what to make of it. Was she making eyes with him? Did she look forlorn because she really wanted him to touch her, or was she just checking for space so that she wouldn’t accidentally dance into him? He took a chance, he pressed against her. Her eyes went wide and she gasped, feeling his hard–

— another hand interrupted his beautiful dreams; this time, it was the patient, clasping Stanfield’s own hand.

A grizzled, sun-browned man with wild and wirey hair which reached out in all directions like the rays of the sun, he looked like he had wrestled with a mountain and lost.

“Mr. Doe,” Stanfield said, hoping the man would respond. The man locked eyes with him, and seemed to peer into his soul. The man saw Stanfield’s dreams, his visions of being in a better place, and he penetrated through even these to see Stanfield’s nature– and this shook Stanfield. He recoiled his hand suddenly, gasping, his eyes quivvering as though on the verge of tears, and after mere moments of this he got a hold of himself.

“Mr. Doe, we have some questions for you.”

The grizzled man took a deep breath and stared silently at the ceiling, placing his own hand on his chest.

“Butcher,” the man said.

“Excuse me?” Stanfield replied, raising a brow.

“Butcher,” the man repeated, with no further explanation.

“You’re a butcher? Or you mean I’m a butcher?” Stanfield queried.

“No. I’m Butcher. I need to go,” the man replied flatly.

“I’m afraid you won’t be going anywhere for now,” Stanfield replied, actually relieved to finally have a dialogue with this guy instead of baby-guarding an unconscious body as he had done for the past 11 hours.

“Says you,” the man replied, as flatly and dispassionately as Ashwen had been in his previous command.

“You may not have noticed–” Stanfield started, but at that moment the lights in the room burst into a bright flash, and with a small explosive POP, Butcher’s handcuffs were broken and he lept out of bed and to his feet.

Stanfield recoiled, still blind from the flash, unable to see what was going on.

Butcher smirked and glanced over his shoulder to see his open-backed hospital gown revealing his ass to the world. He shrugged inwardly, and threw the private room door open, casually making his way out as though he were walking out of a movie theatre in which he refused to see the rest of the film.

“Amateurs,” he scoffed, and sauntered undisturbed right out of the hospital, and into the dark night.

Eat Local, Think Global

I’ve made it a point to try to be more conscious about where my– well, really everything— comes from.  This is especially true of my selection of food.

In the first place, I prefer to shop for groceries at actual grocery stores instead of (the big W, whose brand I refuse to give even the slightest publicity that my blog would grant) despite its more convenient locale and operating hours.  Sometimes I go nearly a month without getting any food, because I keep finding myself short on time to go somewhere besides W.  Eventually, I may break down and get the stuff I immediately need from there, but any other time I’m looking for local-grown farmers markets or narrow-focus shops for my food.

It took me a while to look into it, but I finally browsed Crystal & Rich’s Produce in Farmington, MO, at 525 Potosi Street.  It’s a quiet little green-house-like tent beside the Casey’s on the same street, just before you turn the corner and get to the big shopping plaza.

Their food is as “home-grown” as possible, year-round– bearing in mind however, that they offer more than just what you’re able to get that’s in-season, which means there are a lot of crops and goods which are not grown in Missouri.  That said however, it’s one of the best one-stop mostly-local shops there is, and when Missouri’s harvest season comes up, they’re more local than not.

Much of their produce is grown by the Mennonites’ farms of St. Francis county; other smaller farm contributors play an important role in their stock as well.  Outside of that, they receive many familiar out-of-state produce and goods like you would see in any grocery store– Crystal & Rich’s just puts more effort and love into their grocer-ing.

Remember folks, the more money you put into your own economy, the more comes back around to you.  I mean– sure, you can’t always count on it to be a one-to-one-dollar scale, but generally the closer you keep your money to home, the more reliably it will come back to you– especially in a SHTF scenario.  This is an important concept no matter where in the world you live, but it’s especially important in the United States, where each state acts as its own little quasi-country.  We’re bound by federal laws and regulations, but each state has the ability to act on its own behalf in a great many ways.  It’s great for us to trade with our neighbours, and even states much further away– but as a rule, we should be as self-reliant as possible.

The more we can take care of ourselves (both economically and ecologically) the more positive an impact we make on our world at large.  Aside from our direct contributions, it also sets an example for our peers.

So let’s be an example of self-sufficiency, like back in the old days.  It can certainly be harder, but it’s also a better pay-off in the long run, and that feeling of security in self-sufficiency can’t be beat!

Life Lived, Life Understood

Have you heard of the German author and social critic Thomas Mann?  I never managed to find the original text, so I don’t know for certain that he said it, but supposedly he once wrote, “I would rather participate in life than write 1000 stories.”

The idea, I think, being that he held the experience of life in higher regard than its recounting or documenting.

The film Waking Life puts it in the context that (to paraphrase) life must be either lived or understood, although the character speaking of it then goes on to say, “… life understood is life lived.”

Well, I haven’t written in the past few days, and it’s because I’ve been living life; and life?  Well, life has been riding me.

Over last weekend (starting Saturday, April 22, 2017) my life took a huge unexpected twist, and immense change.  I went from being in a non-committal relationship to having a live-in girlfriend in a matter of two days.  I also found myself in a position of extreme responsibility for her.

At this point, there’s too much controversy (and legal ramification) to say much of anything, but suffice it to say that I’ve been swallowed whole by a twisted back-stabbing/revenge plot cop-drama after-school-special kind of day-time television show.  It’s very “Orange is the New Black“.  I was never a fan of those kinds of shows, and I’m even less a fan now that it’s real life.

I don’t mean to sound like I’m complaining– it’s just a huge development.  It’s hard to focus on anything else when something this big falls into your lap.  As the events become a little more manageable however, I imagine I’ll have more time to write consistently.  After all, I’m still living life.  I’m not sure I entirely understand what it all means yet, or the truth of anything going on around me.  The philosopher Soren Kirkegaard said that life can only be understood backward, even though we must live it forward.  I guess that means I’ll have to wait until I can examine it backward.  I tend to be impatient, so that may be difficult.  Then again, life is difficult.

One thing’s for sure, though: it certainly isn’t boring.

Ennui

I open my front door, and peer out at the “world” around me: I see a serene suburban street, pretty quiet with but a few cars passing now and then.  It’s drizzly out, everything is coated in a thin wet veneer, and somewhat sparkling as the sun cascades softly through the mild cloud-cover.

I hear birds chirping, see beautiful green vegetation all around, Continue reading

More Bull from NYC

As if there wasn’t already enough, New York City, NY, is dousing the country once again with a steaming pile of… well, you see where this is going.

The issue surrounds a statue on Lower Broadway of a “Fearless Girl”, crafted by artist Kristen Visbal. The problem? It was placed deliberately, squaring off against an existing statue at the same location: Arturo Di Modica’s “Charging Bull”, which had formerly been a gift to the city after the major market crash in the 80’s, as a symbol of Americans’ resilience, strength, and prosperity.

Now that this “Fearless Girl” statue has been placed counter to it, the entire Continue reading