Moving through trauma and loss to process anger and emotion in a beneficial way for the week of 6/24/2018 to 6/30/2018

Good guidance in difficult times.

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So I was half watching a documentary about vampire bats and came across the bit of data that those bats who have eaten well may share their food with other bats who have not. They are more likely to share with bats with whom they have a relationship. The narrator commented that this act of “apparent kindness” also benefits the entire colony.

Is this love or is it just an instinct for preservation of the colony? Is there a difference? Is it better to think of love as some “benefit free” feeling, based only on the identity of the beloved, or is it factually recognizable as a sharing of resource for the health of the community?

For me, it doesn’t matter. My mind responds to the idea of efficiency and mutually assured survival more than it does some “mushy” idea of free love for the sake of feeling. I like to think of our acts of kindness as efficient and pragmatic ways to ensure the survival of a species and ecosystem (including all species on this sphere). That doesn’t mean I personally deride any idea of “benefit free” feeling, just that my brain understands efficiency and the utility of sharing food with a community member who is hungry.

I make no statement as to “right or wrong” or whatever is the best way of looking at these things, but I found it a very interesting and clinical way of looking at the way we treat each other. For a moment, I thought of some alien, outside narrator watching a human mother nurse her child and saying the same thing Attenborough did in the documentary.

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On Comfort

A wise friend of mine posted on Facebook this morning “If we never thank God for every smile, then why do we blame him for every tear?”

This triggered an avalanche of reflection for me. I’ve lived through times of ease and plenty, and I’ve lived through times of austerity and struggle. I’ve found that I reflect on this one summer of my life with a strange amount of nostalgia.

I was in rural Alabama, in a relationship with a person who made my life constantly uncomfortable and difficult. We were staying in a house where we only had half-permission to stay. The house had no air conditioning and another resident who showed up sometimes, drunk, and significantly armed, often belligerent and legitimately dangerous. We had virtually no money and our only food for weeks was bologna from the last-chance grocery, non-nutritive white bread, and cheap sour cream and onion potato chips.

We’d get up in the morning and try to make a plan to better our lot, count our pocket change and opportunities. We didn’t have a cell phone, internet, jobs, or gas money to get more than a few miles. By the time we made peace with that, it grew too hot in the tiny space for us to even move. We sat almost motionless in the heat, sweating on the scratchy couch, sharing the one or two cigarettes we had between us.

Sometimes there were random threats of eviction or harm through the day. Sometimes, small boons like a couple shared cigarettes from random visitors or a little leftover food that showed up in the fridge.

Why was this a good time? Why do I continue to reminisce about this miserable summer. I remember now feeling hopeless and distraught, riddled with anxiety and depression, but my memory of the time is sweet. The little gifts that came our way and the small happinesses shone like bright stars in the endless night we were immersed in.

When I think back on times when I had a regular paycheck, abundant cash, and more or less good social times, I don’t have a fraction of the pleasure I do when I think of the summer I survived in that shack in Alabama. Why?

It occurs to me that I hear people often plead for happier, easier times from whatever “higher power” they believe in, questioning WHY do things have to be so bloody hard?

I would never wish to be back in that shack, half fearing for my life most of the time, but that experience changed me in ways too numerous to mention. When I would meditate or pray about my circumstance, the answer was always “wait”.

Perhaps I’m better for the waiting. Perhaps I’m stronger from the struggles. Perhaps those times just give me the perspective to rejoice in the gifts that show up even when times are darkest. Either way, I will not blame any higher power for the difficulties I’ve endured, for they have made me infinitely grateful for every glass of clean water, breath of safe air, and night of unthreatened sleep.  That gratitude and peace, to me, is worth every agony I’ve felt thus far.


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Drop by Drop

It’s ok to be tired.

It’s ok to buy the frozen pizza because it was a long day at work and everybody needs to eat dinner tonight.

It’s ok to buy the gas powered, second hand car even though a new, efficient turbo diesel or electric car might be better for the environment.

And it’s ok to be confused as to whether an electric car is better because battery production is toxic and electricity still relies on people who go into the earth and mine coal … or nuclear plants that rely on highly dangerous processes and materials. Or is it better to run on petroleum products that may fuel wars in other parts of the world?

It’s appropriate to be angry that those who make decisions at the highest level of government or business make it difficult for regular, hard working people to make good, ethical, clean decisions. It’s also ok to forgive that and do the best you can.

Just as an ecosystem relies on the very smallest and the very biggest living creatures to have balance and overall health, societal systems rely on the most humble of us and those with the most wide-sweeping power to work together to bring forth a healthier village, town, city, country.

There is evidence in the marketplace that the voice of the regular person is heard. The very fact that an “organic label” is something the consumer can look for is evidence that the interests of the consumer are heard and do affect the means of production. This is not a war to be won, but a daily matrix of choices for every household. The stone is eroded by water, drop by drop and the wide, open system is changed by small choices that are possible on a daily basis.

Even if you buy a frozen pizza to go along with your organic, farmers market produce.


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On Willful Inefficiency… or the Root of All Evil

Perhaps even atheists repeat the admonition that “the love of money is the root of all evil”… a phrase common to the point of cliché. Yet there are many who do harm without any clear profit motive.  Is evil a character trait or a symptom of a greater, deeper problem? From whence do these behaviours arise? Is willfully inefficient social design an underlying cause of the public tragedies which proliferate on the news feed?

So what is the opposite of evil? Good? What is good? That’s easy… Good things make people feel good and well in their minds and hearts.  Maslow’s hierarchy is a generalization of what things make people, in general, feel well and do good things. We like to call a lot of this “human right” territory. It’s easy to see that food, shelter and community (among other things) help people do their best work and have healthier relationships. Who wants an airline pilot or kindergarten teacher to have to rely on food stamps to buy food? Not only is it a wound to the soul, it’s also potentially dangerous.

When a bus driver or pilot or police officer is unduly stressed by the burden of simple things like the cost of fuel to drive back and forth to work or how to buy school clothes for their children, they don’t do their best work. At some point, their health will fail, and, certainly, one could have concerns about the quality of work they do. When parents are financially pushed to take one or more spare jobs just to make ends meet, the children suffer from their parents’ absence, and behavioural problems are bound to follow.

Although simplistic for the sake of brevity, I would like to propose that “evil” could be defined as willful inefficiency. The desire to value and be valued, to connect with others, and to share with others, is almost universally ingrained in healthy human psychology.  Desires for vengeance, fear of further loss, and legitimate pain from being wounded, cause people to behave in ways that cause harm to others. We look for “reasons why” bad things happen… blaming parents or tools or faults in the brain… but the chain of blame doesn’t go far enough. The goldfish doesn’t think much about his water, and the citizen often ignores the structure of society as long as they can make it through one more season with some hope ahead.

Willful inefficiency is organized beyond the sphere of the “regular guy”. There is no single target for blame, but as science reveals further and further that working in the dirt can have anti-depressant effects, that parents being present for their offspring is a good thing, that working too many hours with too little reward destroys a body, there is a next question… Can the values of a society be changed to allow individuals to seek their own health and happiness without fear of devastating and inescapable stress and debt?

The nice lady at the corner store told me she worked ten days in a row with no break. I don’t have to see her bank balance to know that financial security is likely foreign to her. I don’t have to be in her home to know her fatigue and stress compromise her relationships and food decisions.  She shows up to work and does her best and the best years of her life slip away. I do not suggest that a “hand out” is an answer, but I have serious questions for a society that considers this a normal way to live… For those who organize and legislate and take from the “peasants” who clean our floors, mind the till, and raise tomorrow’s children. This is not efficient, and it’s not human.

Inefficiency is in inadequate health insurance, overprocessed foods that fill the markets and don’t nourish. It’s in the corporations that allow misleading and harmful “food like products” to be produced and in the advertising professionals who find a way to make people buy more of them. It’s in the for-profit schools and prisons and in farm subsidies that still don’t take care of farmers. It’s in planned obsolescence of electronics and the marketing strategies that drive consumers toward the next car, phone, or gadget. This is the “death by a thousand cuts”.  This is the manifestation of evil and we, the people, can do better, one vote, one purchase, at a time.


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Amnesia and Resurrection

I frequently get in this rather complicated discussion about the nature of human existence…

I am adamantly resistant to a lot of “time sensitive” things people do… I could go on for paragraphs on that, but I’m sure anyone who knows me can fill in the blanks…

Invariably, I find myself in the position to ask whether the person I’m having the discussion with believes in reincarnation. It seems to me that if one has the general idea that life goes on in some interesting way after body death, the “pressure to perform” or build a legacy or some other such thing kind of evaporates. There are those who believe we just go from one body to another in our long quest to “get home” or escape the cycle or realize our “true nature”… but there is no objective evidence that that’s even possible. Even if one were to claim memories from another life, there’s no real way to explain that mechanism or nail down the process in any scientific way.

So that’s all great. But it seems to me one of the limiting factors in evolving in ONE life is our persistence of memory. We all live many lives… My child self is no longer “alive”. That person exists only in my memories and those of my family and friends who were around at the time… and those memories only agree in places as our aging minds rewrite our stories with time and perspective.

But we have to let go of our child selves, our teenager selves, our college selves etc etc in order to move forward and become the next self.

So… if reincarnation is “a thing”, why on Earth would one want to hold those memories all the time. If we come back over and over, would we want to remember the families we left behind or the friends who can no longer be reached easily? That sounds agonizing.

Maybe the body doesn’t have to die for us to be reborn… maybe we just have to be prepared to let go of old stories that no longer serve the future… And regardless of “proof” of what happens after death, the idea of being able to continue “my work” (such as it is), beyond the timer of this little, squishy biological device I live in right now, makes me a better and more peaceful person today.

And today is all I figure I really have anyway. Everything else is kinda hazy till I get there.

Onward and upward.

With love.


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Because of his unnatural and, some said, unholy affinity for numbers, Alfred was kept out of certain areas of the house.

It unnerved the ladies when he counted their stitches as they sewed.

The swordsmen were disturbed when he tried to teach their horses to count.

So Alfred spent a lot of time alone.  He counted the bricks in the hearth, the steps to his room, the books in the library. For some time, he even made effort to count the leaves on the trees, but the number changed too frequently. Every time the wind blew, he had to start over.

“There’s a truth”, he would say, “in numbers”.

“If you just pay attention to the reality in front of your face… It’s all there. All the answers.”

But almost no one would listen.

Alfred walked with a certainty and peace that struck everyone as intensely attractive, but intensely disturbing at the same time. Holding the feelings simultaneously only added to the eerie feeling of his presence.

When he joined the family for meals, they found themselves unable to speak at length about any of their troubles, as Alfred always waved them away with a silly saying and occasional string of numbers that made no sense to them.

So they offered to bring him meals in his room. It was just too awkward…

For what does one have if not the tedious complaints of the day? What else is there to consider? The sun rises.

The sun sets.

Alfred counts.

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You are the only person.

You are the only person.

You are the only person you have.

You are the only person you have to please.

Please, you are the only person.



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Sounds like you’re desperate to be visible, but ok…

Small child dances in socks on linoleum.

Watch me Mom!

Artist starves because marketing is Selling Out.

Man screams into the void of dead air.




Tether me with the validation of your eyes. What do I do if not for you?

You should be proud of me. I tried hard.

I may float into the ether without the anchor of your response to my being.


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Old words

I was cleaning up some old papers and found this. I must have written it, but I don’t have any idea when or why.


Drunk on the music

Intoxicated on notes too beautiful for a man to have written

So you must have been an angel, an avatar of exquisite futility

I try not to sing the words,

But I am drawn by the nectar of your incomprehensible insight and self-aware impotence


I know now there is nothing for man to do

You taught me there is nothing worth doing

There is nothing worth doing but gazing on the beauty of a moment

Whether I affect it or not

Whether I am important or impotent

No one will know and no one can say

No man has the authority to have an opinion

Or an opinion on an opinion

This is the Schrodinger’s Cat of philosophy

It all matters and doesn’t matter at once


We have won and we have lost

No one here gets out alive

Arise now mighty warrior. We have already been killed and now we are invincible.


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