Aftermath

Similar to afterthought except as applied to actions, aftermath describes the consequences of causal events.quart arm

While afterthought can be considered more benign, cerebral, and sort of “arm-chair, quarterback”-ish on 3rd down plays; …aftermath can be more like “sacked quarterback goes out for the season with broken arm—team in turmoil”-ish.

Afterthought can be second-guessing and reconsidering one’s better options afterwards instead of beforehand.

Aftermath can be the seconds, minutes, hours, days, years, even decades following a questionable decision or wide-spread disaster that can irrevocably change the course of lives forever.

Afterthoughts of what we might have done better, rather than what we did do at the time, may haunt us indefinitely.

bombingAftermath is the inevitable result of our bad decisions, choices, or actions that adversely affect (and keep affecting) others besides ourselves long after the initial action occurred.

Where we as global citizens are right now is caught in the aftermath of decisions made by unscrupulous leaders throughout the world many decades and even centuries prior—decisions made by those who were trusted and depended upon at the time, to put humanity’s welfare above their own personal greed and self-focus.

What does this mean to all of us in the NOW?

We are presently living in the aftermath of bad decisions—decisions traditionally based on fear and hatredintegrity—decisions based on self-interest and bids for power and control of resources, finances, and real estate—decisions based on short-term, more immediate benefits and gratuities, rather than long-term sustainable values that help raise people from crushing poverty and provide a solid chance at self-determination.

So with the American election season presently underway, as these latest supposedsaviors of family values and middle-class economic stability trot out their inflammatory one-liners and slash-and-trash campaign tactics, please keep in mind that any afterthoughts you might United States presidential election, 2016have the day after the election for NOT voting in primaries and in November 2016, mean nothing to the rest of us; because we will be too busy dealing with the aftermath of voter apathy and irresponsibility to even consider it.

Listen, …and I mean REALLY listen to what ALL candidates say and claim as his or her platform of beliefs; and then ask if he/she can provide verifiable records of action taken in that same regard before making a decision to give that person your valuable approval.

I think most of us are tired of living in the aftermath of a power-person’s bad decisions made through self-interest and adhesion to conventional party-politics.wisdom integrity

Actions, like wars, have consequences.

Let’s make sure that we all aren’t someone else’s afterthought this time.

Let’s be their primary consideration for a change.

Let’s stop living in the aftermath of someone else’s personal ambition.

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Collective Wisdom

This is a subject that both fascinates and puzzles me: collective wisdom.

collect consciousnessIn some ways it refers to the Emile Durkheim concept of the Collective Consciousness—that each of us in our own tiny spheres of awareness is actually connected into a far greater ocean of awareness by those frequencies within the “human range” that are available for our reception.

“The totality of beliefs and sentiments common to the average members of a society forms a determinate system with a life of its own. It can be termed the collective or creative consciousness.—Emile Durkheim[6]

But collective consciousness and collective wisdom are not quite the same.

Collective consciousness may contain the collective ignorance, attitudes, and judgmental biases of the masses, whereas collective wisdom contains the mature-thinking, accumulation of smaAsimovrt choices for human evolvement amassed only after determining the difference between those and the immature, not-so-smart ones that can get you killed.

One could call collective wisdom the inherent survival kit of a species.

Collective wisdom tends to be ancestral-based as it is often the tribe’s or a culture’s acquired wisdom handed down to a younger generation by the elders of the previous one.

So collective wisdom is commonly considered the learning-from-your-mistakes and not-doing-that-atiger easting grassgain tales that are retold generation after generation, such as: despite their lean and mean appearance, tigers aren’t really vegetarians so don’t try to offer one a handful of grass. It would probably be the last time you tried it.

It’s the sort of thing that your grandparents and parents tried to instill in your psyche before you ventured out the door of the house for the very first time: “Be careful of strangers—look both ways when crossing the street—walk to school, don’t run—and don’t pet the dog next door because HE BITES.”

The puzzling thing to me about collective wisdom is that it isn’t held in as high esteem as it should be because despite what our surviving elders tell us, we just keep doing those same things we know that we shouldn’t do:

  • We try to convince the hungry tiger that nutritious kale is far better for his colon than is our leg or arm. (Please let go!)
  • We try to be nice to strangers because we know that even perverts need friends. (And who doesn’t want to help a lonely pervert?)
  • We are simply too busy looking at our iphones and ipads while driving because no one walks anywhere anymore, so who needs to look both ways no matter where you go? (Besides, I’m sure they’ll see me and stop.)
  • And we know that the neighbor’s dog is just the sweetest, little, misunderstood poochie you ever laid eyes on, despite his frothing, snarly face and warning growls. (Oh he surely won’t bite ME.)

Yes, those previous examples were more so the logic of the “moronic” collective consciousness, NOT the collective wisdom.not so google glass

But still you counter: “Hey….I mean, if collective wisdom was so important to us, why didn’t they put a ‘collective wisdom’ button on my Google Glass?” (Like “duh!”)

Well ….maybe next upgrade.

Making Meaning

If there were a recipe for living successfully and there were willing cooks to concoct it, how many fragrant loaves of “meaningful lives” would there be?breads

(It’s a trick question really.)

In essence I’m asking does living successfully equate to living a meaningful life?

Perhaps the answer might vary and lie more in the eye, mind, and body of the perceiver.

ordinaryI mention this here because I discovered long ago that I could write about any topic that flitted between my ears, and that each one would be EQUALLY important to me since every aspect of our existence on this earth is ripe with miracles and meaning. It’s just that some of the more mundane things that we experience daily are simply too familiar for us to recognize their genuine significance.

To me, meaning is something that shouts “IMPORTANT” to us in some way; but meaning by its very nature also implies that it might be more of an aesthetic/spiritual importance than a material one.

So the next question might be: Does living successfully imply a spiritual or a material standard of success?

Again for that answer, I think it would be up to the perceiver who would consider what “success” means to him or her.

Personally, time has shown me that material success and monetary pursuits are enticing challenges that can indeed offer greater opportunities for experiencing a variety of “things” that money makes possible.meaningful life quotes

But creating a meaningful life has little to do with material/financial success. In fact, a money-based focus usually obstructs feeling genuine meaning in our lives and often pits our higher intentions against egoic pleasure.

To a deeply-spiritual person (and I’m not saying deeply-religious as it’s not the same thing), spirituality is a connection to a source of energy and inner nourishment far greater than earthly confines can provide us. Material items and possessions simply cannot rival that depth of inner satisfaction.

To a deeply spiritual person who feels that intense connection to a power far greater than his earthly presence—who feels his spirit’s transcendence far beyond the body it inhabits—to THAT person, a meaningful life will be viewed as a successfully lived life, and vice versa—a successfully lived life will be a meaningful life.

To all others who do not feel that amazing higher connection to something far greater than themselves, I do not know whcartoon on meaning-Calvin and Hobbsat their answers would be, but I am thankful that mine would be considered one and the same.

So if all of life is considered a miracle, then all aspects of our lives are mini-miracles, and they should be considered as such—all are equal in value and equal of consideration.

All are fair game for meaning exposition. The quest is to simply uncover it.

Taking It As It Comes

tornado and farmIn the aftermath of severe storms, people gather together supporting one another, while they plan how to get on with their lives. Communities become like extended families of genuinely caring individuals who find a way to make life better for those in the greatest need of help.

In the Midwest (I’m in Iowa), many have had wind and hail damage this spring, with a few areas hit worse than others. We were lucky in our location and had only straight-line winds and golfball-sized hail requiring roof and siding replacements.

But a few miles to the east of us, barns and entire homes were obliterated by a tornado. It all depends on where the storm tracks as to who gets the worst damage, or who skates by with minimal affectation. Last year we were lucky and skated free when only two blocks away from us trees throughout town were downed and siding ripped from many homes—but we were NOT so lucky this year.

So I’m sensitive to the way life can suddenly change for anyone; and hochaos graphicw those changes can create havoc to habitual living, forcing change and complete start-overs in many lives. There is a Chinese ideogram that states: Crisis creates the opportunity for change, but some would call it a necessity for change.

To many, these are just the challenges that go with life in general no matter where you live. Challenge-wise you simply learn to take it as it comes. If you are knocked flat, you take a moment to get your breath back and then stand up again—brushing yourself off and getting on with your life. We all learn to do this, one way or another.

What I and those in my community are going through is pretty mild compared to the major devastation that many have endured over the last few years, and I am thankful to be sitting safely in my own home as I write this. The same cannot be said for everyone. So as challenges go, for us this one is minor compared to many.

But it only takes a few situations like these to discover how interdependent we all are on each other for support and encouragement when we need it. Many helping hands make short work of sorting through a field of debris, or removing the rubble from toppled buildings, including rescuing loved ones from beneath them.

Parkersberg tornado helpIn farm country as soon as the danger passes, dozens of trucks show up out of nowhere to areas of devastation, and people jump out with work clothes on to start the massive cleanup. Tables of food instantly arise from the suddenly cleared yard to feed the folks helping those who were unlucky enough to be in the path of destruction, but LUCKY enough to have friends and neighbors to help them through the bad times.

That’s just how it is—you help your neighbors and know that if it’s ever your time to need help, they will be there for you as well.

Wherever we live, that’s what we do as caring individuals—we do what we can to help others, knowing that if the time comes that we ever need the help, that same help will be available for us as well.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

You simply have to take life as it comes—good or bad, with gratitude and respect; and then you pay it forward in some possible way because some day you know that YOU might need others the way they presently need you. And that’s the beauty of it all.

Rejection Redux

Rejection is a little like Acid Reflux; …it just keeps coming back up, especially when you lie down at night and try to sleep.

pain of rejectionRejection is the sort of thing no one wants to experience even once, let alone again and again. But for some folks, feeling like no one wants any part of you may seem standard fare. And it doesn’t feel very good when that lump of humiliation sticks in your throat.

If this situation feels like you might own it, then there is the possibility that the word “seems” could mean there may be a perception problem in your social interactions—and perhaps you only “think” that others are rejecting you when actually most folks around us are so completely self-absorbed that if you aren’t a mirror or their iphone, you simply aren’t going to be seen by them no matter what you do.

Then there is the other evidential possibility that for some unknown (or even known) reason, you are being avoided and pushed aside like yesterday’s fashion. For that possibility, you may need a little more research on WHY this might be happening to you.

However, if it is in Junior High or even High School that these rejections are occurring, then being ostracized or avoided is not that unusual as during that time period everyone is trying to discover their own identity, and yet still fit in with similar-acting or -looking kids. Those in adolescence who fail to conform to the rules of “popularity” are often ridiculed or made to feel sub-human. That doesn’t make it right—it just makes it normal.

It was SO normal when I was a teen, that Janis Ian even wrote a song about it way back when that made her an easy million dollars if not more, over the years, called “At Seventeen.” She’s even on Wikipedia—check her out. I’ll put the lyrics on here and every time you think you’re being reduced to an afterthought by another whiney-voiced, snob sneering, “Who are you anyway?” then you just listen to Janis Ian’s song and think: “Yeah, and she made a wad out of that whole rejection-thing. She laughed all the way to the bank, and still IS laughing because Oldies stations are still playing the song once in awhile.”

In other words, Janis Ian made that nasty, humiliating, adolescent character-building, rejection-experience work for her. And so can you.

“At number oneSeventeen

I learned the truth at seventeen, That love was meant for beauty queens
And high school girls with clear skinned smiles Who married young and then retired.
The valentines I never knew, The Friday night charades of youth,
Were spent on one more beautiful. At seventeen I learned the truth.

And those of us with ravaged faces Lacking in the social graces
Desperately remained at home, Inventing lovers on the phone
Who called to say – Come dance with me, And murmured vague obscenities.
It isn’t all it seems, …at seventeen.

A brown-eyed girl in hand-me-downs,Whose name I never could pronounce
Said – Pity please the ones who serve They only get what they deserve.
The rich-relationed hometown queen, Marries into what she needs
With a guarantee of company And haven for the elderly.

So remember those who win the game Lose the love they sought to gain,
In debentures of quality and dubious integrity. Their small-town eyes will gape at you
In dull surprise when payment-due Exceeds accounts-received, at seventeen.

To those of us who knew the pain Of valentines that never came,
And those whose names were never called When choosing sides for basketball.
It was long ago and far away The world was younger than today,
When dreams were all they gave for free To ugly duckling girls like me.

We all play the game, and when we dare We cheat ourselves at solitaire.
Inventing lovers on the phone, Repenting other lives unknown,
That call and say – Come on, dance with me And murmur vague obscenities
At ugly girls like me, …..at seventeen.”

Janis is now nearing retirement. I bet as she sits back and counts all her money, she thanks ALL THOSE happy faceJERKS she once knew in adolescence for that rich portfolio of song-writing material created back then.

Rejection is never fun, but it’s okay. It just makes it easier to see your own unique beauty.

Look at the smile on her face now.

Budgets and Expendables

I usually avoid writing about government policies and politics in my blog because that’s not what this blog is about—it’s about maintaining a higher-frequency focus of living with love and compassion for everyone.

However, I guess I’m still reeling at the news that our Governor (Iowa) is planning to close two of the states remaining mental health institutions and booting out the residents to use “out-patient” mental health facilities in their original communities (if those communities even have them).

silhouette of womanThis subject of cutting the state’s budget on the backs of the most vulnerable people in our society is really bothering me because I think it will adversely affect a personal friend who has frequented one of the facilities over the last several years.

To me who has known of and shared some of her lesser challenges, I anticipate that she will face a sink-or-swim, tough-love approach to coping with her daily life. While I truly hope she can master the stroke necessary to do laps across the pool, I also know the greater likelihood of her failure to do so; and that failure can result in her quickly sinking to the bottom.

What I see as the greatest benefit to residents at a state-run mental health institution is in viewing the institution as a place of sanctuary and security—which are two of the biggest issues in anyone’s mind to establish and maintain their own wellbeing. People need to simply FEEL safe. Even being contained within a locked room provides them protection from “others” when they are in their most vulnerable states of mind and unable to make rational decisions, or to physically protect themselves (and likewise not to harm themselves)

That sanctuary and security assurance will be the first casualty when the residents are booted out onto the streets. Families and friends will be faced with impossible situations of helping/not-helping and not even knowing what “helping” really is, for someone with mental health challenges.

I’ve been trained in many different healing techniques, and I’ve seen how easily the mind can be affected and altered by devices, substances, and the ill intentions of others, besides our tendencies to adversely undermine our decision-making abilities through self-doubt, self-loathing, and self-denigratimental_health_awareness_ribbon_mousepadon.

There is so much at stake when you are messing with someone’s mental health stability. I just can’t believe that these “budget cuts” in state-run mental health facilities are wise or even conscionable for an enlightened society that claims it cares about human welfare.

Don’t take away the only safety net that some of these extremely vulnerable people have. That leaves them with even fewer options, and those options are more likely suicide or jail.

The Lone Star in the Sky

Either sounds like I’m writing about 2000 year-old Christmas-based astronomy or Texas, when actually I’m just noting what I saw early this morning when I looked out my upstairs window: a lone star in the sklone stary.

The most amazing part of this personal observation was that only seeing one bright light in the darkness of the night didn’t mean that there weren’t others out there. It just meant one star was all that I could see at this time due to cloud cover overhead.

Of course, that simple realization then led to philosophical thoughts on awareness and perception and things that most folks could truly care less about this time of year, but hey, …they matter to me. So there you go.

It’s that “just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it isn’t there” thing, which can apply to just about any subject, from racism to mental illness to Spirit—it just depends on your focus.

My present focus is on our perceptual fallibility and humanity’s shifting awareness. Does this mean that staring out the window at 5am is something more philosophically deep than simply seeing a single light in the night sky prior to dawn? No, but it could mean that because first and foremost, perception depends on the perceiver.

Life is metaphor: pure and sweet, bitter and tart. So, how does this “seeing a lone star” metaphor apply to you?

Well, turn and face that imaginary mirror in front of you and then ask yourself, what are YOU looking for in your life? How open to simply observing everything occurring without judgment, are YOU? What does whatever you see “mean” to you? How do you interpret every little sensory stimulus? Is it good for you? Is it bad? How do you know which it is? On what are you basing those instant decisions?

Yes, …one little light in the sky set all of that into motion for me, primarily because this is the time of year when we do some serious reflection on our past year and set some high-hopes for the future one ahead—both personal and collective reflections and hopes.

So seeing that one little light out there in the darkness, but realizing that there are actually millions of little lights beyond my current perceptual awareness of what I am seeing, contributed to an instant question in my mind on whether I viewed this past year—2014—as a “good” year for me or a “bad” year.

That thought then evolved into how CAN I judge the year as good or bad if I can’t even see all the stars out there, or should I even try to do so?

Well, sure, there are incidents and loses that I can directly see and still adversely feel from the past year, but there are other “unseen” influences at work or in progress that I may not presently recognize. That does not mean that some event or process isn’t already at work in some way for my betterment, it just means that at present, I’m not seeing them.

My point (finally) is: No matter what you are feeling right now, even if you look back at this past year of your life and say, “Wow—this year really sucked!”

Or if you reflected back on this past year thinking that nothing good came from any endeavor that you attempted during this past year; it is far more likely that somewhere in the unseen world behind our conscious awareness, spiritual progress and spiritual evolvement were happening for our betterment in some way.

It is also likely that social and cultural evolvement and advancement are in progress for us all. But at present, we are having a little trouble seeing through the density of the cloud cover.

That doesn’t mean it isn’t there. That doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. It just means that sometimes we can’t see and know all the behind-the-scene maneuverings Spirit may have in the works for us until those changes manifest in forms too obvious for our limited perceptions to miss.

Personally, I think 20152015 will be a very important year for all of us. So let’s all set our intentions for it to be that way, knowing that intentions precede manifestation.

Here is wishing all of you peace, love, and light for the coming year ahead, topped in whipped cream, with God’s finest blessings to you and yours.

Hello “2015”—together we can make it a good year!