The Overview

What’s the overview here? Day after day I keep asking myself that question.multi

Why are so many suffering in such horrendous conditions all over the world?

It’s easy to get caught up in the disasters occurring nationally and globally, especially when they directly affect you or the friends you care about in some way, but what is the overview of what is actually happening worldwide and WHY is it happening? Is that is even discernible?

There are many distinct possibilities to consider: climate change, nuclear testing, fracking, air and water pollution, over-populations, disruption of natural eco-systems, solar flares and excess solar activity, pole wobble, electromagnetic devastationfluctuations, mankind proliferating in general and all the corresponding havoc that creates, etc..

Then there are all the subheads under “mankind in general” like: stupidity, greed, self-interest, maliciousness, vindictiveness, fearfulness, fratricide, sociopathic and psychotic behavior, to name a few easily recognizable traits.

I haven’t even touched the theology-related excuses for reasons too onerous to god disastmention all basically claiming God’s displeasure over some aspect of our existence that doesn’t adhere to the doctrine being prescribed by a believer.

I don’t even want to go there!

BUT…at the same time a part of me says that to do an accurate overview you have to be able to VIEW the entirety of the situation from a perspective distant enough to allow random chaos to form patterns of coherence. And WHO/WHAT handles that type of perspective other than an omniscient/all powerful being or force that not only understands the logic of what is occurring but INITIATES the situations that create the aforementioned chaos for a reason we are not able to discern.

catch 22.jpgIt’s a Catch-22. The (book and movie) World War II scenario think-process: You’re claiming to be mentally unstable so you can’t serve in the military, but what is more mentally unstable than to want to be in the military serving combat duty? So you use saying you’re crazy as your defense for not-serving, but the military knows you’ll use it and therefore considers that you must be sane to try not to serve, so they ignore your insanity claim.

(Defined by Wikipedia as “A situation in which a desired outcome or solution is impossible to attain because of a set of inherently contradictory rules or conditions.”)

Which means that in this situation I do believe that there is an overview reason for all the chaos, but since I’m not privy to that level of knowing to declare what it is other than my guessing at it—which is what most religions do in their own unique ways, so any answer that I offer will sound eerily close to a theological argument—just slightly skewed because of my own beliefs.

Meaning my view of the OVERVIEW is not verifiable fact, it’s just a different flavor of belief.

And with that stated disclaimer, here goes:

To me it all comes down to whether or not you believe that life is intentional or accidental. Then that distills down into whether or not you believe there is such a thing as “an accident.”voltaire accident q.jpg

If there are no accidents, then everything is intentional and everything has a purpose and a reason for its existence and function in the world we recognize. We just may not know the purpose or reason for it.

Pardon me for this tangent, but I was just rereading some old Carlos Castaneda quotes this morning about the KNOWN, the UNKNOWN, and the UNKNOWABLE, time cc.jpgwhich tries to define the limits to our human comprehension ability. This description alludes to our limited ability to know or learn things that we previously did NOT know, which are represented by the UNKNOWN. Then there is the infinitely large category called the UNKNOWABLE, which is beyond our present human-existence context and our capability to comprehend.

We can’t get our arms around the UNKNOWABLE because it exists beyond our present frame of reference and mental capacity to make any sense of it or even to conceive of it.

To make my point here with no soothing reassurances what-so-ever: I do believe thatcastenada.jpg there is a reason for all the chaos and destruction happening in the world at present, as well as a reason for all the chaos and destruction that has ever occurred at any time in the recognizable history of the earth, BUT….it is likely a reason we cannot grasp with any certainty, or catalog definitively within the material-world parameters that we know.

So does my overview help to calm our fears and anxiety over the nasty situations many are experiencing world-wide?

Not in the slightest.

gods handWhich is the very real example of WHY religions grew in popularity over thousands and thousands of years of human existence—to make sense of the UNKNOWN and to speculate on the UNKNOWABLE, because it’s a pretty scary world out there if you’re on your own and you don’t have a group structure to support you.

Shared risk is shared relief.

And the knowledge we gain over the course of our lives only matters in how we use it.

I concede that some things are knowable, and to that I would say that the overview of catastrophic destruction is that it creates opportunity for change and revision—a clearing of the palate sort of thing for the next course of action.

The key point to consider is that the next course of action is truly up to each of us. How we react to chaos and devastation is how the next phase of our lives unfolds.

At present, whatever situation in which we find ourselves, no matter how horrific, simply IS. Our only choice is in how we acknowledge that fact and move forward to a better existence for ourselves and for everyone else in the world that we know, …if we can even define what that might be.

I’m not sure that I can define it other than it will likely be a shared goal, vilsack goals.jpgrather than a self-interested one.

I’ll go with that.

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Transcending Archetypes

Jung book.jpgTranscending archetypes means changing or evolving through established patterns of behavior.

If you are not familiar with archetype theory check out psychologist Carl Jung’s work on it and Caroline Myss, the author, for her books Archetypes and Sacred Contracts.  (For Myss’s archetype list see this page: https://www.myss.com/free-resources/sacred-contracts-and-your-archetypes/appendix-a-gallery-of-archtypes/ .)myss arch book

What both have established is that as humans, we tend to follow set patterns of how we perceive ourselves in the world and likewise, how we act/react to that perception; i.e., that if you view yourself as a warrior then you are continually at war with anything that seems contrary to your opinion of how it should be. The example might be that if anyone should tell you a differing opinion of a particular situation, you will defend your own opinion to the point of doing battle over it.

The problem with warrior archetype is that you are continually at war over just about everything, because you are wired to defend at all costs—that’s how you see your role in life; and during extremely difficult times, warrior archetypes survive better than most others. So there are good reasons for being a warrior, but they mainly involve doing battle with others for some reason. The problem arises when warrior creates reasons to do battle, rather than looking for more peaceful modes of operation.

warrior.jpgOr if all you know is war, then what else is there for you?

So how does someone transcend an established way of viewing the world and an established pattern of behavior?

How does warrior stop viewing the world around him/her as something to conquer—a gladiator’s arena in which to pit oneself against all takers—where personal survival is the sole focus?

And likewise, how does victim archetype, (which is a passive, accepting or even inviting the aggression of others behavior pattern, often established to gain sympathy or favorsArchetypes circle 2.png from others more powerful) change to be a bit more warrior-esque to better defend herself?  How does s/he stop trying to covertly manipulate others, and overtly declare independence and autonomy from them?

It takes changing your mindset—changing how you perceive the world around you and changing how you normally react to the stimulus that you do perceive.

I think maturity helps—putting a few decades of experience under your belt; deciding that when you keep finding yourself in the same situations just with different players, and it always seems to result the same for you, that maybe it’s less about the other person being the problem and more about your own behaviors as the likely culprit.

In other words, you have to want to change the patterns of your life, and to do that you have to accurately assess what they are. For doing this assessment I would suggest Myss’s two books mentioned earlier. The have helped me to see my dominant patterns so I can at least attempt to tame myself when I recognize an ensuing encounter that might normally trigger my natural reaction, giving me a conscious choice to try another mode of reaction rather than my most likely one.male war.jpg

Example: I do rebel and warrior very easily. But I would prefer to operate more from sage and mediator. To shift my own life view for my mode of behavioral operation requires yodaan intentional intervention meant to produce a more desired result than the usual one I experience.  It means I have to define my reactions to others that I will allow myself to reveal, and to avoid those reactions that are not helpful to achieve my long-term goals.

Many times it means getting my head out of the immediate moment and putting it into the desired future result. If I can do that, then I can curb my natural tendencies and redirect them into more productive behaviors.  But it takes practice and strong intentions to make those changes in oneself.chart

If it is any consolation to anyone, transcending a no-longer-productive archetype seems to come more naturally with age. But the desire to do so must be present or it simply will not happen.

Simple Words

“One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple.”
― Jack Kerouac, The Dharma Bums (1958)dharma bums.jpg

 

From Barnes & Noble page “Published just one year after On the Road, (Dharma Bums) is the story of two men engaged in a passionate search for Dharma or truth.

Their major adventure is the pursuit of the Zen Way, which takes them climbing into the High Sierras to seek the lesson of solitude.” (It’s suggested that one read On the Road first for proper context to this novel which could be considered Part 2 of the first one.)Kerouac.jpg

If you haven’t yet read either of his novels, you may have studied Jack Kerouac’s influence on modern literature, as well as his documented pursuit of spiritual clarity for himself and for others.

For those who wish to glean techniques from other writer’s talents, assessing Kerouac’s rawness and meaning refinement throughKer quote 2 (2) simple-living description is a solid path for a writer’s own self-discovery and inner-world exploration.

It follows the most important writer’s dictum: Keep it simple, clear and concise.

Using Kerouac’s poetic example in The Dharma Bums, his theory on “good writing” is being as artistically precise as a Japanese Haiku.

Because both books were written at the rise of the Beat generation that preceded the Flower Child (Hippy) generation, there are rough attitudes expressed that might appall a sensitive reader.  But Kerouac’s vision and the handling of his subject matter are a study in distilling thought to poetically capture and convey life’s most precious moments.

“One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple,” he said.

I agree. That statement is my primary creed as well.

Writing is a communication between/among two or more “readers” to share thoughts, concepts, or instructions.

Writing can convey emotions over a distance—where deepest feelings are often captured best in similes and metaphors because those appeal more to the intuitive right brain than the analytical left. That’s the value of Haiku—it bridges the brain hemispheres between word symbols and emotive imagery.basho quote

Haiku is thought essence crystallized.

As Kerouac suggested in The Dharma Bums, if you want to capture the power or beauty of a moment use a Haiku to transcend earthly limitation.

But it also requires artistic discipline to craft the proper phrase, while utilizing a writer’s higher resonance with the subject matter.

“One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple.”

Yes.

A Short Story Collection of Rick Bass

Rick Bass.jpgShort stories capture little vignettes of life as compared to a novel’s more-lengthy theme exposition and character development.  A good short story is every bit as difficult for a writer to master as is a good novel because you have far fewer pages to make your point and show your world view. It requires great clarity of vision and a high degree of literary skill. In other words, it takes discipline.

Do NOT consider short stories as the Reader’s Digest version of a novel. They are very different genre and as such offer a unique and rewarding reading experience. To me they are like browsing a buffet of favorite foods all stretched out before you to sample a bit of this, and then try a little of that until eventually you’ve sated your appetite. This book is the buffet grazer’s banquet.

And as mentioned previously, I really love a good writer—a word-magician who can string a few random syllables into multi-dimensional prose with such ease and grace that is effortless to read while being transformative in the process.For a LIttle While

This book I’m now exalting is called FOR A LITTLE WHILE: New and Selected Stories of Rick Bass.

As a short-story writer, Rick Bass could be the resultant love-child of Jack London coupled with Ernest Hemingway—birthed and nurtured by a Jungian midwife. His writing style is succinct, precise, sensory stimulating; and often depicts his characters’ intimate, dependent relationship with their environment.

Bass often shows how the environment has shaped each of the characters in his stories because the characters and the land itself often seem interchangeable with and indistinguishable from each other.

As a writer he subtly captures the depth of human interaction/emotions by describing actions (it’s what you DO, not what you SAY that counts). A character’s speech or dialogue might reveal conscious, flowing thought but actions reveal the unconscious motivations at work that drive the plot (and the life).

Overall I think Rick Bass really goes places that most writers never go—into the psychological core of basic human belief that drives their behavior—a spiritual connection to the land, which he often then parallels to animals of the same region.

tree tops.jpgIn fact in this collection of stories, there is an overwhelming oneness of every living thing interacting with their environment. That natural interdependency is often ignored in the prose of other writers—perhaps because of other writers not recognizing it. Bass, however, reveals the basic matrix of life itself—exposing the soft underbelly—with all its species interconnections and dependencies.

But more importantly is that as a really good writer he does it all so simply and elegantly—and that’s what just blows me away.

He doesn’t get salacious with his story line. He doesn’t go all horrific or deranged. He takes a rustic setting with simple born-of-the-earth people and examines each character’s internal machinations that translate into daily doings in such a way that it reveals WHO those characters are as human beings.

He shows the reader that WHAT his characters are swans on lake.jpgdoing in response to life’s challenges and grind are reflective of WHO they are; but it also helps us to see WHY that should matter to any of us. Bass deftly unveils how our simplest daily actions define our lives—it frames how we view each other, discloses how we treat each other, and clarifies what true life-lessons are learned during our journey here, whether separately or together.

rooted humanYou won’t read a Bass line claiming that life is fair or unfair; only that it is LIFE with all its beauty, tumbles, and bruises. He frequently shows how those strongly-rooted-to-the-land individuals derive their very life-essence from the land itself—how those “firmly planted humans” with feet to shuffle rather than burrowing filaments can more easily flow with and/or resist the life challenges that might test us lesser humans to the limit of our strength and stamina.

Anyway, I could go on and on here, but I think the book is a great short-story collection, especially for nature-lovers. The writer, Rick Bass is a phenomenal talent, and I’ll be reading more of his offerings soon.th

It comes as no surprise that he is an environmentalist.  He writes of nature and the land that supports us like an adulating lover extolling his beloved’s attributes.

Selling a Narrative

This morning while reading through some previously-shared, philosophicalAlberto.jpg Facebook posts, I reread this caption:

“When we enter infinity, the past and future are stripped away and only the here and now exists. We are no longer bound to the painful stories from our past, and our future is no longer scripted by our history. We realize that we are not our stories.”Alberto Villoldo

And because that same subject matter actually applied to my last blog post on Tom McCarthy’s Satin Island, Alberto’s last sentence reverberated in my thoughts: “We realize that we are not our stories.”

narrativeSatin Island was about examining the psycho-social science involved in “selling a narrative”—selling a story about the world we live in—a story about ourselves and our relationship/responsibility to that world we all share.

The key belief that almost all religions of the world share is the need for a “Creation Myth”—a story—a narrative, if you will, of how everything and everyone came into being on this planet: i.e., Who pushed the button to make it all happen and what wahands ball of fire.pngs the reasoning involved in the decision to do so.

The “WHO” in those Creation Myths may have many different names throughout the world. And the “reasoning” for such creation is often speculation at best.

Along with that Creation Myth for each religion there quickly follows the “governing rules” for living in harmony and/or conflict with every other being co-existing at that same time.

dao creationThe problem with so many creation myths and those governing rules that soon follow them is that they differ in small or large part from each other. This creates confusion as to which “Creation Myth” and corresponding rules are the TRUTH, which of course by elimination in that TRUTH category, must make the others false.

Herein lies the battle among world religions as to which religion is TRUTH above all others, with the resulting inference being that if THIS religion is the TRUE one, then all others are falsehoods, pitting devoted believers of one religion against the others.sign.jpg

But the actual TRUTH here is that all Creation Myths and governing rules are merely narratives created by human interpreters of Higher Intention; and the believers of those interpreted narratives have actually been “sold” on them in some way, or they would not believe what they are reading or being told.

That’s not to say that the “selling of a narrative” was a questionable practice—even for a Creation Myth. It is to say that what we tell ourselves about our own lives or about the world we live them in is a story that we buy into for one reason or another.

belief sign.pngAnd if, as Alberto says, we free ourselves from our history and our previous stories, we can change our future, because we are NOT our stories. We are NOT tied to our past. We are NOT limited by our personal or world belief systems when we open our minds and hearts to direct experiencing of TRUTH itself

TRUTH is NOT a story—it is NOT a narrative.

TRUTH is a lightwave frequency of such harmonious vibration that when we raise our personal vibration high enough our energy fields immediately slide into perfect resonance with it—we FEEL it on a far deeper level—and we KNOW that it is TRUTH. We don’t have to be told that it is. We don’t have to buy into anyone’s narrative to explain our veryknow truth existence.

We can FEEL TRUTH—OUR TRUTH.

So as Alberto mentions, when we reach that highest level of resonance with Higher Intention, the past and the future simply slip away; and we are left there in that harmonious moment resonating with immediately-recognizable higher TRUTH. That is when we know OUR TRUTH.

As he said: “We are NOT our stories.” We are beyond mere words and explanations created by limited minds with limited understandings telling us what our lives mean and how we should live them in accordance to their governing rules.

Beyond all human limitations, we ARE TRUTHever expanding—ever extending toward greater awareness and greater comprehension.

highest authorityAnd if you ever feel that you don’t quite fit into what others say you should be doing or what you should be thinking, then don’t sell yourself that old narrative.

Create a new one—a NEW TRUTH—just for you.

Tom McCarthy

Tom McCarthy.jpgI don’t just love a good book. I really love a good writer because writing is both a skill and an artform.

In today’s world there are a few masterful wordsmiths who can not only turn a memorable phrase, but who can fully immerse you into their illuminating narrative. Those are the ones I applaud and whose talents I honor when I blog about them.

book.gifAgain while browsing the NEW BOOK section of the library, I ran across Satin Island by Tom McCarthy. Amazing! It’s subtle, distinct, but covertly deep as the Mariana Trench.

Tom McCarthy is definitely a “Writer’s writer”—one who electrifies the mundane with rich philosophical underpinnings masked by dry British understatement.

Without a doubt, LIFE is truly metaphor—and McCarthy’s every word becomes your symbolic stepping stone from banality to profundity, amassed under the guise of simplistic reporting of daily life around him—assessing the journey from here to there and back again.

His main character in this novel is called “U”—no name, just “U”. You got that, right? U is YOU, not directly of course, but by inference and association. He’s very Ericksonian (as in Milton—the great hypnotherapist). And his boss’s name is Peyman (yes, “pay-man”). I laughed when I finally got that.

Here’s a quote from the book cover about the novel’s contents: …”U., a ‘corporate oil slick.jpganthropologist,’ is tasked with writing the Great Report, an all-encompassing ethnographic document that would sum up our era. Yet at every turn he feels himself overwhelmed by the ubiquity of data, lost in buffer zones, wandering through crowds of apparitions, willing them to coalesce into symbols that can be translated into some kind of account that makes sense….In Satin Island, Tom McCarthy captures—as only he can—the way we experience our world, our efforts to find meaning (or just to stay awake) and discern the narratives we think of as our lives.”

It’s not an adventure novel—unless your adventure lies primarily in finding meaning from all aspects of your life. He starts with U sitting in Turin, Italy—or more appropriately in the Torino-Caselle airport waiting for a plane home. First sentence is this: “Turin is where the famous shroud isShroud.jpg from, the one showing Christ’s body supine after crucifixion….”

A few sentences later he tells how the Shroud of Turin myth was debunked by carbon-dating, then says, “But that didn’t trouble the believers. Things like that never do. People need foundation myths, some imprint of year zero, a bolt that secures the scaffolding that in turn holds fast the entire architecture of reality, of time… We see things shroudedly, as through a veil, an over-pixellated screen.”

And that’s the gist of his novel: he works for a corporation that makes its living selling a narrative of what contemporary life means so that other corporations can profit from the data in some way (while obscuring the actual ecological damages being done to the planet).

His boss, Peyman, makes a living selling “narratives”—does that mean the narrative is truth or simply whatever Peyman is selling? U asks himself that question.

Overall, McCarthy’s descriptions are kinetic and animated— by the 3rd page into the book I had grabbed my pencil to tag descriptive sentences. One of my favorites involved snoop“double-bumping over a railroad track.”

Will this novel be the book for everyone? Probably not. But for fellow writers who blushingly marvel at a colleague’s writing skills, there is much to admire about Tom McCarthy.

“The World According to Garp”

While watching the early morning news shows, that old book/movie title came to mind: The World According to Garp.

garp.jpgThe book was by John Irving, and the movie starred Robin Williams back in 1982.

When I search the dank archives of my memory, I can still recall snippets of the movie because it was a somewhat dark-themed effort at breeding reality with twisted humor, or as Wikipedia describes it:

“The story contains a great deal of (in the words of Garp’s fictional teacher) ‘lunacy and sorrow’, and the sometimes ridiculous chains of events the characters experience still resonate with painful truth.”

Why the news reminded me of the title is probably because of hearing the many laughable versions of world affairs offered by political candidates who think they want to be in charge of them all. Now THAT consideration is an Irving-esk dark comedy in concept-expansion stage—being both ridiculous and painful to watch.

For most of us, LIFE is an experience that we all share and yet recognize that each of us has our individual perspective skewed perspective.jpgon what LIFE in general means, on how it works, and why we believe that we personally matter to any of the events around us.

For our society in the broadest sense, reality itself is a consensual agreement governed by majority rule, and the majority that does rule determines the acceptance of behaviors, mores, and attitudes for the rest of us.

If we share that “consensus agreement,” it’s great—life is good. But if not, ….well I guess it depends on the majority who is ruling the rest of our hands in circle.jpgbehaviors, mores, and attitudes as to their punishment for being someone thinking or being different than they are.

This is often called the tolerance factor of a society. How expandable or rigid are the acceptability guidelines within that society?

Have you ever thought about this? What about you? How broad- or narrow-minded are your views on major issues that define our society in general?

Marcus Aurelius.jpgMutual agreement on much of anything is pretty hard to come by these days in congress or in coffee shops around the nation. But overall, opinions are plentiful.

That I believe is what we are presently hearing: huge volumes of vociferous opinions on what candidates believe people likely want to hear.

To me, what is most important is to watch and listen to the manner in which these opinions are expressed, and to note how they veer into tailored variation depending on the intended audience. If the message changes from day to day or event to event, what does that say about the speaker?

And if the message is one full of intolerance and hateful rhetoric, what does that also say about the audience listening to it?

Like the fictional character Garp, we all have our own take on the world around us—we see it as WE see it—we judge what we see by how it affects us and those we care most about.

garp plane.jpgAnd like that twisted tale of skewed perspective determining his future life tragedies, we lean toward the perspective that best matches our own.

Hopefully this revised movie version plays out better for all of us than Irving’s did.