Monday, October 21, 2019

He Vexes Me

Little doubt the long shadow of Trump has caused the 4 month plus gap in posting. I didn't want the blog to become political and so much of what dominates my country is purely political. The gifts associated with this man tend to be comparative--akin to saying, "well things are bad but at least I don't have cancer." While true, it has always been my desire to be more sophisticated and nuanced than that. I do believe Americans are far more aware that the institutions that we've taken for granted are vulnerable in ways never thought possible, and that they serve a purpose vital to the nations sense of purpose and order.

Trump has also exposed a significant portion of Americans being deeply troubled. Soul sick. Oblivious of their own obstinate behavior. They remind me of members of Jim Jones' Peoples Temple or L.Ron Hubbards' Scientoligists, they have purposely and willfully divorced themselves from reality.

The last order of business is my self-inflicted identification of visits from different countries to my web site. If I had only known what I was getting myself into! It has become so cumbersome that I want to "look the other way." Ignore it. But Gambia came aboard this morning and it resembles nothing more than a finger stuck in to Senegal's side that, metaphorically, it was like God poking me in the gut. Rationally, there is no reason for Gambia's geographical existence--yet there it is! So to with my roster of countries.

As a review, I noted Equatorial Guinea, Mongolia, and Puerto Rico had brought the number up to a nice, round 100 in the post, "One Hundred 1-12-19." However, they weren't officially brought "on board" in the grand scheme of things; see, "Housekeeping 11-10-18." (note my tendency to start shirking?) So with that caveat, I will bring all things up to date--with a nod to some overlapping.

NEWCOMERS: Equatorial Guinea 12-7-18 Mongolia 1-19-18 Puerto Rico 1-11-19 Palestine 3-19-19 Nicaragua 3-20-19 Malta 3-27-19 Bangladesh 3-29-19 (rather astonishing run there of 4 countries in ten days) Azerbaijan 4-11-19 Paraguay 5-3-19 Kosovo 6-21-19 Lebanon 7-3-19 Bosnia-Herzegovina 8-5-19 Morocco 10-15-19 Gambia 10-21-19

Albania--Algeria--Angora--Argentina--Armenia--Australia--Austria--AZERBAIJAN--Bahamas--BANGLADESH--Belarus--Belgium--Brazil--Bolivia--BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA--Bulgaria--Cambodia--Canada--Chile--China--Costa Rica--Columbia--Czech Republic--Denmark--Ecuador--Egypt--El Salvador--EQUATORIAL GUINEA--Estonia--Faroe Islands--Finland--France--GAMBIA--Georgia--Germany--Ghana--Greece--Guatemala--Honduras--Hong Kongin yourself and make --Hungary--India--Indonesia--Iraq--Ireland--Italy--Israel--Jamaica--Japan--Kazakhstan--Kenya--KOSOVO--Kuwait--Kyrgyzstan--Latvia--LEBANON--Lithuania--Luxembourg--Macedonia--Malaysia--MALTA--Mexico--Moldova--MONGOLIA--Montenegro--MOROCCO--Netherlands--New Zealand--NICARAGUA--Nigeria--Norway--Pakistan--PALESTINE--Panama--PARAGUAY--Peru--Philippines--Poland--Portugal--PUERTO RICO--Qatar--Romania--Russia--Saudi Arabia--Serbia--Seychelles--Singapore--Slovakia--Slovenia--Spain--South Africa--South Korea--Sweden--Suriname--Switzerland--Taiwan--Tanzania--Thailand--Trinidad and Tobago--Tunisia--Turkmenistan--Turkey--Ukraine--United Arab Emirate--United Kingdom--United States--Unknown Region--Venezuela--Vietnam--Zambia--Zimbabwe.

That brings the count to 111. If you are a fan of numerology, you just cant miss how appropriate this post has suddenly revealed itself to be. So that's what Gambia was all about! Sometimes you just have to say, "WOW!"

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Yetzer Hara

"The inclination toward evil." This is the dynamic my country currently operates under, spearheaded by our President. We must resist this tendency. We do so by identifying the impulse. By naming it, we limit its power and influence. Until you can describe what it is that you are experiencing, you exert zero control over it. You cannot correct a problem until you have identified the problem. And so I bring you, "yetzer hara." 

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Amos 5:13

And that time is nearly up. The symbolic strike the event at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris represents is hard to ignore. The name and what it represents in my life can not be misinterpreted. One can go back to 'Wake up the Echoes' (10-28-12) or 'Sand, Sunni's, and Couscous,' (7-17-16) to pick up the subtle significance that leaked out over the years. The call is clear, regardless of the possible politicization of the blog. Evil must be confronted wherever it appears.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

One Hundred

I mentioned in Housekeeping (11-10-18) that the blog had reached 97 different countries. Yesterday it hit 100. (Equatorial Guinea 12-7-18, Mongolia 1-1-19, Puerto Rico 1-11-19) I was surprised it happened as quickly as it did. I took some satisfaction in the accomplishment, albeit tempered, when I researched how many countries do exist. The number is 196. (Taiwan is a matter of some debate, but since it is on my list, I have included it) There are other lists that have the number at 256, but include "countries" like Bouvet Island. No one lives on Bouvet Island. Located in the South Atlantic, "the nearest human life resides thousands of miles away, making Bouvet Island the most remote on the planet." Given that, (and other similar examples) it seems reasonable to settle at 196.

What does it all mean? Not much. It is simply acknowledging a milestone. But that carries more significance than you realize. I know I "turn on" my dopamine when I achieve a goal and see my efforts rewarded. Since dopamine contributes to feelings of pleasure and satisfaction, I have given myself a gift in my acknowledgement. Dopamine is also a neurotransmitter, a chemical that ferries information between neurons. It is part of the "neural network" development inherent in G-G-G that I referenced in Gift Return. (1-3-19) Last, but certainly not least, is what's known as "capitalization." (the social sharing of positive events. Langston University 1994) Conoley, Vasquez, Bello, Oromendia, and Jeske more recent study (Celebrating the Accomplishments of Others: Mutual Benefits of Capitalization 2015) has examined the positive effects available to YOU as just a listener.(in your case, reader) So, not only have I given myself a gift in "One Hundred," I have extended one to you as well. It is the intrinsic nature of G-G-G that it operate in just that way.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Picture Perfect

For the rest of January I ask you consider employing the "perfect" technique. What it involves is you thinking (or even saying out loud) "perfect" when you accomplish something. Let me provide some examples: you stumble out of bed and immediately pour yourself a cup of coffee. Perfect. (automated, preset coffee maker!) You finish brushing your teeth. Perfect. Turning the key in the ignition, your car starts. Perfect. You arrive at work without being rear ended or experiencing a fender bender. Perfect. Don't have to stop at the store on the way home? Perfect. Do have to stop? Perfect. (you remembered) Kids and spouse (pet) alive as you walk in the door? Perfect. Food to eat, TV to watch, radio to listen to, Internet to peruse, book to read? Perfect, perfect, perfect!

Let me be clear. Excellence does not require perfection. I am not suggesting you become a perfectionist. What I am recommending is you develop the capacity that allows for the possibility of perfection already being at work in your life. And let me just add I want you to be honest with yourself. If something goes sideways or heads south, be candid in your assessment; 'that was perfectly awful.'

If you can manage this until the end of the month you will establish a routine. This method then becomes a tool you can utilize in crafting more of your experience into gifts. (spiritual alchemy) Gifts trigger a natural reaction of gratitude. The habit becomes self-perpetuating.

Try it. (what have you got to lose?) If it seems preposterous you need not share it or declare it. It will be your little secret. If you forget for a day or two, no worries. Just remember that, as in all things, "practice makes perfect!"

Saturday, January 5, 2019

The Pains You Feel

...are messengers. Listen to them. ~Rumi

This is the beginning. Here is the path toward understanding how and why that which wounds you, redeems you. It is spiritual "alchemy" of the highest order. More from Rumi; "You have to keep breaking your heart until it opens."

This prospect pleases no one. (How can anything hurt this much?--This blistering, burning vessel I've touched--Someone remove this cup from my lips--It's wrenching my soul to tattered strips) Still, the archetypal stories are consistent; we must go where we least wish to. We must embrace the pain that paralysis us.

Life is constantly holding an intervention. The day we come to see "rehab" as a gift, rather than a punishment, is the moment in time the tide turns.

"There is a tide in the affairs of men, which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries." ~Shakespeare

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Gift Return

I am not so simple to believe you will view all experiences as a gift. Not by a long shot. I honor your initial response for any particular event up to and including rage/hate. (There isn't a lot to be said for suppressing emotions) What I do ask from you is while you rage or hate, don't turn a blind eye to the gifts you do currently enjoy. Don't act as though the roof over your head or the food on your table are of no consequence. (just try going without them for a couple days) Exert yourself in times of trial remembering that, as bad as things may be, you are not without gifts of some sort or another. If we are honest, as bad as things may be, we are usually able to employ or recruit some resource(s) to help alleviate the emotional, physical, mental, or spiritual hell that has descended upon us. 

While any particular situation holds the power to devastate us, it is essential to maintain a reality of that event only being part of our "experience." Again, being honest, there is no rational reason for you to believe of the 7 billion people on the planet, you are somehow exempt from "toil and trouble." That being the case, what we understand is that which we cant eliminate, we mitigate. And the way we mitigate any negative experience is viewing it as a gift. 

Yes, yes, yes, I know. You don't want the particular "gift" you've received. "Return to Sender!," you scream. And you curse God, the devil, and the deep blue sea; "FUCK IT! What did I do to deserve this!," is your mantra. And I get it. I truly do. But as true as that sentiment may be, what I ask of you is to nurture and promote a neural network capable of absorbing the shock of an experience without spinning off into drugs, alcohol, or destructive behavior. And G-G-G is the way to develop that neural network.

The main point I wish to emphasis is your initial response to any given experience doesn't have to be that it is a gift. Only that you consider cultivating the mental dexterity that allows for a day where you may view it as a gift. That will be enough.