Vestigial Appendages

While reading a novel I ran across a humorous sentence—the main character was describing his boss’s mindset against treating others with basic human dignity.  “He viewed doing so as a vestigial appendage”—meaning it was similar to wisdom teeth and the appendix in human anatomy—an unnecessary present-day function and a left-over remnant from an vestigial.jpgancient time.

I chuckled at the reference, thinking it worthy enough of further consideration to have written it down on the napkin beside me. Those two words inspired memory flashes to my ninth grade Biology class—possibly a test question using that same mouthful, multi-syllabic, moniker for “the appendix” that I would eventually have removed forty years later.

In our current world, we deal with society’s vestigial respect dignityappendages all the time, but I wouldn’t call treating people with dignity and respect as one of them. Unfortunately in the last decade, our society has devolved into this particular mindset. We don’t respect others—we don’t respect differing opinions—and we don’t respect those who think differently than we do.

When a presidential candidate, and now The President of the United States, calls people that he wants to demean or diminish by childish, hurtful, disrespectful names, it lowers social mores in general to the level of street-slang and playground taunting.

Hearing a candidate for president doing so is disgusting, but hearing the chief representative of the American people doing it daily is appalling and unacceptable.

The problem, in my humble opinion, is that there are too many other adults who enjoy the childish nature of disrespecting others—too many people in our nation who like to put others down just to feel better than them—too many people who like to feel superior or separate from others for cliques.jpgone fleeting, delusional moment in time and alternate reality.

It’s like reliving junior high all over the nation—with mean-girl cliques and popularity trumping group camaraderie and compassion for all others.

Grow up people!  We are better than this!

Treating people with basic human dignity is NOT a vestigial appendage.

As the Senate now shows its take on the health care bill to the rest of us and many responsibilityviewing it aren’t surprised at the Medicaid cuts to people who need the most help, or the abundant tax cuts for those who need it the least, this situation is simply representative of a far deeper problem: How do we view ourselves in relation to all others around us?

Societies are only as strong as their treatment of the weakest among them. If some members of a society are considered expendable and not worth the rest of our time or expense, then how do you make the determination of where each of us rank in that same scenario?

hands of societyAre we already expendable now or perhaps will we be in another decade or two? Is there an age limit to caring about others? Are others too old, too young, too challenged, too needy, or just too much trouble?

When other people’s problems aren’t presently MY problems, how will I feel when suddenly life flips like it often does and I suddenly need help, and now MY problems aren’t something anyone else wants to deal with?

What we are seeing right now are the warning shots of a aree to respect.jpgGreat Society in peril of losing its sense of humanity—of losing its premise of basic human rights and dignities—of losing compassion for others, or failing to recognize that by one nasty twist of fate, you or I could be on the wrong end of someone else’s refusal for social responsibility.

This is a certainty: That social pendulum has to swing back to center soon or it is just a matter of time before we ALL will be considered vestigial appendages—easily removed from public consideration by a surgical slice—or the slash of a pen.

Do you want to find yourself on the operating table this year or maybe the next?

I know I don’t.strong together.jpg

When UP is DOWN

That’s the bad thing about constant chaos—it destroys your sense of normalcy.

When illusions shatter like fine crystal smashed against stone, what remains is the broken glassreality of hand-cutting, glass shards left to gather; and that seems to be what we are doing most of the time now—constantly collecting the broken pieces of established Presidential protocols.

Critical mass was reached last week in the continuing saga of our Democracy under siege by a self-proclaimed “change-agent” who admires dictators.

The Acting US Attorney General assigned a Special Prosecutor to take over the Trump Campaign/Russian Interference investigations because Congress couldn’t be trusted to not be sppolitically influenced in finding the TRUTH, no matter the consequences; PLUS the President himself was directly interfering in the investigation—particularly by firing the FBI Director who had been leading it. (And then moronically admitting it on national television that it was indeed what he had done.)

However even chaos has its own system of dissolution and realignment. In Literary Criticism, which is “the study, evaluations and interpretation of Literature” (Wikipedia), that system of dissolution and realignment is called Deconstruction.

The effect of Deconstruction is like tearing apart a house just to see what it was made deconstructof—meaning you deconstruct it board by board until you have reached the ground on which it once stood. You may ultimately find your answer to the “what’s it made of?” question but you will unfortunately no longer have a structure to shield you from the harsher elements of life.

It would seem that is what is happening to our Democracy at present—Deconstruction. It is being tested by an unscrupulous agent of CHAOS—even in his own mind—who is attempting to deconstruct our Constitution and three levels of governance in favor of his single-ruler, autocratic aspirations.

Dare to cross him? His signature television quote “YOU’RE FIRED” would be his immediate response to you.

The gut-churning question for many of us was: How long autocracy.jpgwould his autocratic governing tendencies be permitted to continue without congress or the judicial system stepping in to stop him?

 

Well, two days ago a counter shot was fired across Trump’s bow to bring TRUTH and FAIRNESS back to the investigatory process. Perhaps a few congress-people awoke to the fact that without restraints on his attempts to seize more power, there could be public revolts that might affect their own congressional lives. Self-survival seems to be the one thing that they DO understand and will defend.

impeach.jpgImpeachment is a common subject for discussion now on news shows, as is the increased mention of Amendment 25 that I posted previously.

We don’t know where this all will lead. I know I have my preferences, but I will be content to see genuine justice served with fair hearings and investigations into abuses and criminal behaviors of all involved parties, no matter who they might be.

Who knows, perhaps in the near or distant future he himself fired.jpgwill hear those words he made so famous on his pseudo-reality TV show: “YOU’RE FIRED!”

I hope so, because this isn’t HIS “pseudo-reality” that the rest of us are living.

The Last Hundred Pieces

pokey jig.jpgSomewhere in a blog, either this one or a previous, I’ve mentioned that I am a jig-saw puzzle fanatic.

Give me a thousand or fifteen-hundred tiny knobbed-bits that insert into other tiny knobbed-bits, and I am good for a few days of studying, comparing, assessing, and inserting them into some semblance of intended unity.

(Bare with me please, there is a philosophical point I will eventually make here.)

Once the straight-edged pieces which represent the framework of the intended picture, are separated from the mass and put into one pile, the re-joining process begins.  framework.jpg

With a framework soon established, the rest of the prospective pieces rely on color, tint, and hue for possible frame connection.

So with that basic info in mind, today I am now down to the last unattached, hundred pieces of a particularly difficult puzzle that has taken me well over a week of serious concentration.  And whenever I reach this point in a puzzle completion, it is usually a piece of cake to wrap it in an hour or two.

Jaguar puzzle.jpgBut as I was automatically sorting the last pieces into separate piles per their knob locations and particular shapes for easy selection and insertion attempt, I realized that I had changed my initial puzzle focus and strategy. I was simply filling open holes now in the puzzle and was making remaining-piece determination more so by the negative spaces left to fill rather than color similarities of the pictured image.

When I recognized my focus shift into the-last-hundred-pieces-strategy that I tend to resort to for completing any puzzle image, it dawned on me that there was something deeper to consider here than pitting positive images against negative spaces.

As we move throughout our lives from childhood onwards, we focus on building an early life framework for ourselves to help us determine who we are as individual beings, and to ferret out what we truly want from our lives. We often paint pictures in our minds to use as blueprints for creating those future realities from our fantasies; and then we go about amassing and inserting the assorted puzzle pieces necessary to get us to that completed ideal-life image we hold so dear.

For those of us who have been around quite a few decades, we may have tried to fit many random pieces into our life-puzzle depending on the positive image we always maintained of how we wanted our life to look at completion.face.jpg

Sometimes those knobby pieces fit into proper place just like we wanted them to do. And sometimes they didn’t. But that didn’t deter us, because we just kept working on our incomplete “life puzzle” trying to make something cohesive and beautiful from our unification attempts at life’s seemingly random events.

But similar to the nearly completed puzzle on my card-table at present, when we get down to the last hundred pieces left to complete the pretty picture of our lives—it is similar to the latter decades of our lives, where we are basically shifting strategy to fill in the negative spaces left for us rather than building an expansive future image centered between the framework of four established sides.

And to fill in that remaining negative space in our lives, we look for shapes that fit the boy.jpgholes that are left to fill. In effect, we likely change our life focus. We now focus on the details of filling in holes still left to complete our life picture that we had originally envisioned.

I also notice that with my puzzle completion so near, I tend to slow down and savor the remaining piece possibilities, because once that puzzle is done, it is DONE!  Nothing more will need my attention there.  At that point there is simply acceptance of the puzzle’s ending, my appreciation of the actual effort in that process, and allowing a day or two for simply admiring the completed image that had been so carefully reconstructed from all those random “life” pieces.

Then after the admiration stage, I just crumple the completed puzzle into random pieces once again, put it in the bag/box with the pretty picture on the front, and stash it away until next year.  (I actually have about 25 puzzle boxes I work through every winter. I know—obsessive.)

But wait a minute, one might think that if you have already put a puzzle together once that the second or third attempt to do so again is so much easier—right?  Well,….not so much.multiframes

Just like with having lived so many previous lives in so many different contexts and conditions, every present-life puzzle is just as difficult to complete as the one before it had been to construct. Our only advantage to recognizing that we have had many attempts at defining our life’s framework and completing our desired future image is that at some point in our spiritual progress, we stop and assess where those negative spaces are left in our soul’s evolution. We do this so we can determine what is necessary to complete the total picture of reconstructing our Wholeness—perfecting our reunification with the ONE.

And guess what?

THAT is the very puzzle we ALL are working on right now.

So Many Questions

(May 18, 2015 repost to avoid writing a variation of the same thing in my head today.)

Seems like the older I get, the less I think I ever did know.

It isn’t that I’m losing knowledge along the way. It’s more so I’m realizing that those certainties I once felt about life in general, really weren’t. There are no genuine life certainties to be had; and life isn’t what it once seemed to be in the brashness of my youth. It’s just not that simple.

The sureties and certainties that we repeatedly tell ourselves ddelusionaily are often indicators of some deeply-guarded delusions created by the egoic mind. They are “deeply guarded” for a reason: we base every facet of our lives on those core beliefs—everything from WHAT we do, to HOW we do it, and most importantly to the WHY we do it aspect.

While this sounds a bit ridiculous to think that we are basing our lives on such serious inner fantasies, it actually means that to us they are NOT fantasies at all because we consider some of our deepest beliefs to be above intense inspection or reconsideration.

Those are the core beliefs that we aren’t going to change our opinions on without ample evidence to their flawed nature, because we’ve already invested far too much thought and emotion into them (as have our parents invested their time drilling them into us from infancy onwards).

We grew up believing in these things—being force-fed these things in some instances, and even now, those beliefs tend to bolster our mental concept of WHO we are as a person and WHAT we want (and deserve) from life—hence that’s why they are considered CORE beliefs.

To CHANGE a cobeliefsre belief is to create before us a sudden swampland-crossing where prior we had stood firmly anchored on solid psychological pavement. That fast-dissolving sense of inner solidity and environment framing, no matter how imperfect it may later be proven to be, made us sure of a purpose to our life and even provided us tangible future goals of creating a better life for ourselves and for our loved ones—i.e.: good jobs, lots of money, quick advancement, supportive families, the GOOD LIFE, etc..

You’ll recognize those swampland-crossings as unexpected illnesses, divorces, deaths, job losses, financial upheavals, addictions, assaults, betrayals, etc.—anything that suddenly shifts your perspective out of the “my life is flowing smoothly” steam of living and into sudden and complete chaos where firm-footings no longer exist.

That’s the point where your core beliefs come under the greatest inspection. If your beliefs help you through the toughest life issues without losing your sanity, they may be solid ones. If not, you will likely be searching for greater solace in a different belief system; and you’ll also be questioning whether your earlier beliefs were in fact, delusions—things you told yourself because that’s what you wanted to believe, NOT because they were true.

I can’t speak for anyone other than myself on this matter, but over the many decades of my own existence my personal beliefs have evolved—sometimes year-by-year. Learning to think for myself from college onwards was a major step in becoming my own person, rather than remaining the person that my parents or childhoquestionsod authorities tried to mold me into being.

And for many of us, that’s what “coming into our own” is all about—finding our own way rather than being told which way to choose, or how to act, or who to wed, or what to do with our lives, etc. Moving out of our parents’ and authority figure’s shadows is the most important first step that many will make toward establishing their own sense of purpose and destiny.

That being said, there are only a few guideline questions I might suggest if you are searching for the right path for you:

  • Is it a path based on love and compassion for yourself, as well as for all others?
  • Is it a path that makes you feel happy about yourself and how you spend your time? (NO GUILT allowed on this path.)
  • Is it a path that nurtures you, and gives you a deeper sense of expansion and future possibilities in THIS world, not the next one?
  • Is it a path that allows you to grow and BE who you truly are?
  • Is it a path of FREEDOM—or are you forever tied to the expectations of others?

These are a few questions that I would have found helpful to me when I was in my early twenties trying to decide on my own path to take back then.

bike of freedomIf you are so inclined, you might try them on for size and see how they feel to you in YOUR life right now.

Life is amazingly short, even if it doesn’t seem like it at the time. Find yourself (and your true calling) early and enjoy every moment of your life daily.

The Juxtaposition of Expectations

I was fascinated by this image—the subtlety—the softness—the ephemeral quality where the horizon is inferred yet not easily distinguished—and most of all, non pink flamingos.jpgwhere the expectation is reversed of seeing black flamingos against a pink background with a pink sun.

To me it is powerful on many levels: You have the incongruity of subject matter whose very name suggests a distinct color, you have the distinction of the silhouettes cast against the pastel backdrops, and beyond all of that, you have the mirror reflections of sky with birds crossing a suggested watery surface that gives the impression of floating above their own shadows.

My mind quipped, “It’s a juxtaposition of juxtaexpectations. Nothing here is what you expect it to be: not the sun, not the birds, not the sky or the water. You aren’t even sure where the horizon meets the sky.”

That’s what makes it so powerful.

It could be my Graphic Arts training, but when I see an image this strong and almost other-worldly it gives me pause to assess why it is so impactful.

True, there could be considerable image manipulation here through filters and color adjustments to achieve that unusual background hue, but compare the image above to a few additional images that cover the same subject matter, and then see for yourself how pastel sky waterthe photographer/artist really took the walking flamingos to a new level with his rendition of them.

flam sky.jpg

 

 

 

flockflaming in water

 

Celebrating Grayness

(Written 10/23/02, Edited 8/21/16)

Outside the day was as gray as my hair appeared in the mirror that morning, and I sighed just thinking about it.cloudy.jpg

“I’m not nearly as morose as I sound,” I thought, but the enticing dreariness was convincing me otherwise. “It’s a dark day,” I said to my mirrored reflection. “But so what? We all have dark days. The sun can’t shine brightly every day.”

It’s easy to go with the mood of the day—to slide into cynicism and negativity. Why not? Who cares? Gray days are meant for gray moods, aren’t they?

Gray is that inbetween color—including all the multi-shaded variations ranging from blackest black to whitest white. There are a lot more gray areas than there are the polargray shades.jpg extremes wherever you look—whatever you see. Even silver is just light gray buffed to a high shine. There’s nothing wrong with gray. If you could actually see their true hair colors, some of my best friends are going gray. My favorite cat is gray and white. My favorite slacks outfit is gray. (Well, it’s not really my favorite, but it looks sharply astute.) That’s what gray does for you. It gives you subtle distinction.

So I was having a “subtle distinction” day. Yeah, I could go with that.

That definitely describes it better than calling it a “gray” day. A “subtle distinction” day is a day devoted to nuances rather than contrast, detached engagement rather than enthusiastic support, and perhaps even contemplative acquiescence rather than flat out refusals.

Today was the day for “maybe.” Today was the “perhaps” of lingered consideration. Today stood mootly by with glazed expression and simply said, “I AM, …or I think I AM, …if I don’t think too hard.”

Gray days are for indecision. They celebrate fence-sitting, hem-hawing, shrugging shoulders, sagging heads, blank stares, mumbled responses, luke-warm coffee, and melted ice cream.

At lunchtime a gray day will promote clerk indifference, order confusion, bad choices, and frustrated.jpgsitting in ketchup.

At dinner, you will see crabby faces, hear stinging comments about your cooking, and you will wish that you lived alone.

Gray is for quiet contemplation far away from the nasty attitudes of others.

Gray is for monastery cubicles lined with slender white candles that allow you to watch melting candle wax slowly fill the pewter holder until it spills onto the shelf and then the floor knowing that the residents won’t scold you for not blowing out the candle sooner.

Gray is for stupor—for simple, unabridged “nothing” existing between the ears.spouses.jpg

Gray is grumbling spouses and cranky workmates, all in the same day.

Gray is finding, as you are ready to leave for work in the morning, that your garbage bag has been shredded in the night by the neighbor’s dog.

Gray is having your toddler sit on your lap with a wet, leaking diaper when you are already 10 minutes late for an appointment.

Gray is discovering an ironing rack full of clothes to press and none in your closet to wear.crabby woman.jpg

Gray is welcoming your new neighbors with open arms before realizing that they like staying in your house better than their own.

Gray is having Sunday buffet with in-laws that smilingly criticize your every thought, word, and deed.

Gray is the smell of something rotten when you open the front door after a two-week, summer vacation and remembering that you meant to put the newly-purchased hamburger into the freezer rather than on the counter beside it.cat in litter.jpg

Gray is having a cat that occasionally “misses” the litter box and leaves little “Uh-oh, better cover this up,” front paw tracks up the stairs, through the foyer and onto the livingroom carpet, before nesting in your favorite recliner.

Gray is for taking a deep breath and helplessly watching that 3rd button from the top pop off your blouse while meeting your new employer.

Gray is for shaking your head in disbelief at how every stoplight changes to red, just as you approach them.vaccum grass

 

Clearly, a gray day is meant for thinking all these gray thoughts, and then laughing at the craziness you call your life.

Archetypes and Metaphors

Referring to my Aug. 5 post: “We Do Not Yet Understand,” I had that avatars theme looping through my noggin yesterday.

The concepts of archetypal symbology coupled with the words “LIFE as Metaphor” kept archetypesslipping into the avatar scenario playing in my head. To me, archetype theory is a very important subject.  I’ve been fascinated by C.G. Jung’s theories on archetypes for decades.

Caroline Myss also provided a great exposition on the subject in her own book, Sacred Contracts: Awakening Your Divine Potential. I recommend those reads to anyone wishing to explore the subject further.

sacred contracts.jpgI’ve always felt that there was far greater importance to the archetypes theory than most folks acknowledge, so when all my afore-mentioned thought tangents converged—the archetypes symbolism merged with the avatar imagery while LIFE as metaphor phrase kept bouncing between my ears, I recognized the significance of the union.

Let’s consider that WE are avatar archetypes (set players with a game plan) per Jung and Myss; and as archetypes we are here exploring certain life themes (If you are not familiar with archetypes Myss explains over 70 archetypes on this page:  https://www.myss.com/free-resources/sacred-contracts-and-your-archetypes/appendix-a-gallery-of-archtypes/ ).

Those life themes are the “tasks” we are assigned for this life experience—tasks that create learning situations where we explore our reactions, emotions and thought processes pertaining to how the symbolic archetype that we represent (i.e., victim, warrior, savior, …etc.) views and responds to the potential situation.wheel.jpg

The primary, personal archetype that WE represent would naturally perceive the situation a certain way (i.e., victim/perceives a possible threat, warrior/ perceives a hearty challenge, savior/ perceives the sacrifice necessary to intervene,…etc.).

So how that archetypal avatar (meaning YOU or ME) would react to the situation would be dependent on the clarity and strength of our self-concept besides our own interpretation/perceptual filter of what was happening to us.

But then how does the LIFE as metaphor come into play?

Per www.dictionary.com, “A metaphor is a figure of speech in which a term or phrase is applied to something to which it is not literally applicable in order to suggest a resemblance,…” .

metaphors.jpg

Okay, …but to me, a metaphor goes beyond a “suggestion of resemblance,” it creates a word image packed with emotional residue/personal memories used in the sentence to convey a deeper association to the subject matter than the literal statement can carry on its own. It touches a deeper part of us than the cerebral description can muster.

So when I repeat the phrase LIFE as metaphor, I mean LIFE is far deeper than surface appearance “doings” and is only the superficial representative of a greater implication; or what we do in our daily living is only representative of something we may not be able to comprehend any other way.

LIFE as living metaphor means that our daily doings are symbolic representations of the greater reason that we are here exploring these scenarios as specific archetypal avatars.

We aren’t just players in the Grand Play of LIFE, we are also the directors of the actions and playwrights of the endings.

Our main problem is that we don’t comprehend our multi-functioning capacities in the larger picture.

I asked in the previous posting on avatars what our 7-D SELF gets out of watching our 3-D self struggle around with these challenging situations. I’ll ask it again a different way using a metaphor:

theatre.jpg

What does the playwright get out of writing, casting, directing, and watching his/her play being performed?