The Lives of the Dead

Some of the most interesting people I meet are dead…

Archive for the category “wisdom”

An Important Life Lesson

 

As most of my American readers undoubtedly know,  the new Roseanne Show (a revival of the long-running hit sitcom which ran from 1988-1997) has been canceled after the star and creator, Roseanne Barr,  tweeted some hateful racist comments.  (It was hardly her first time.)   So hateful were her remarks, that not only did the network immediately cancel the new revival, but stations which, for decades, have been broadcasting the reruns of past seasons have pulled them off the air.  Financially speaking, that means the end of residuals (i.e. TV royalties) for those original cast members.

I’m not going to get into the politics of this however it does illustrate one of the themes of this project:  “Be careful what you wish for.”

While some of the original cast members have gone on to play great roles and garner professional acclaim (i.e. John Goodman, Laurie Metcalf) there are others who haven’t been seen much since the end of the first run.  Certainly, the cast members who re-upped with the new show were happy about its revival but I assume it must have been particularly great news for those who haven’t found much steady industry work these past few decades.

I can imagine some of them feeling overjoyed and relieved that they would finally be back in the saddle, making good money again.  But now, not only do they go back to whatever career (or lack thereof) they had before, but they have also lost the income stream from the old show.

***

One of the things I’ve learned from listening to these stories and writing this blog is that life unspools exactly as it was meant to, which is why it is pointless to get too excited or depressed about one’s fortunes in the moment.  What seems like incredible good news today might turn into a nightmare tomorrow; and what seems to be a disaster today might well turn out to be the best thing that ever happened. (I can personally think of plenty of times, in my own life, where that was the case.  I even find it to be true of current news cycles.) You really cannot know until the end, and even then, perhaps not.  Thus, it’s far less stressful to simply take things as they come,  gleaning from each moment whatever life lessons are offered.

 

I’m not suggesting that we should not savor the joy or that we should ignore our sadness. There is much value in both  I’m saying that it’s pointless to plan.  Happiness is not a state which magically manifests at some point in the future when a certain set of conditions are met.  And in pain, when it comes — as it inevitably does — there is growth  (Remember: shit is fertilizer!)

 

The secret to happiness is this:  learn to be happy twenty minutes at a time.  Before you know it,  you will have been happy for an hour, then a day, then a week, then months and years.  The more happy moments you can string together,  the happier life will be.

 

As they say in Yiddish,  “Mann tracht, un Gott lacht”  (Man plans, and God laughs)
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Love Me, Love Me Not

First published March 4, 2015

sad marble angel

Ag

I was a disaster at love. My relationships never lasted more than a few years. I fell in love with the notion of love and never saw my partners as they really were.  I was interested in others only as long as they allowed me to feel within a narrow spectrum of emotion; as long as they didn’t force me to consider my own responsibility too closely. When my feelings began to stray beyond those parameters,  I might become angry or demanding or hurt or fed up.

None of my behavior was consistent with truly loving someone. I was never willing to stick around to do the work.

I thought I was doing the work. I thought I was being the mature, sensible one. I believed that what I wanted was within reason, and within my right to ask.  I wanted them to behave in the way which I believed was the correct way to behave. I wanted them to reciprocate my feelings.  To feel as I did. Respond as I did. Desire as I did. Love as I did.

I had lofty concepts of love, which, to my great heartbreak, no one else seemed to share.

When they finally would not or could not live by my standards, they would either leave or gradually stop making any effort until I ceased asking; until I abandoned my feelings and went away. This process was not without drama, which was mainly my own doing. It was, ironically, the very drama they’d been trying to avoid. It was the behavior which always proved them right in the end.

I believed myself to be loving yet tragically unlovable when in fact, I was quite lovable but tragically unloving.

If you are enjoying this blog,  please click the link to subscribe and receive posts via email (new posts every three days).  Think of others who might enjoy it too,  and help spread the word! Post your favorite stories to social media.   Email a particularly apt link to a friend.   Even better,  talk about the concepts with others (whether you agree or disagree. )
Also,  I have just started a discussion group on Facebook,  for conversations about any of the concepts/issues in the posts.  Honestly, these are things in here which I don’t fully understand myself.  I would love  get your thoughts on this…even if you think this is all a bunch of hooey! 
-Adrienne

The Harshing of the Mellow…

first published June 5, 2016

cassandra

Cas

I fancied myself a tragic Cassandra, my warnings to the world ignored and unheeded. I could recognize the birth of a killing wave long before even a ripple fluttered beneath the water. I paid attention when the stone was dropped,  and could accurately calculate how long it would take before those waves engulfed  the shore, There, the revelers and the workers plowed on,  willfully oblivious to impending disaster.

I was not well-liked. Few wanted to be reminded that their own greed and selfishness and laziness and ignorance were contributing to an inevitable crisis.  Nobody wants to be lectured by someone who is in no better a position to stop the juggernaut than they are. The best way to get through life with any measure of happiness is to ignore the sword that hangs over all our heads.  But I could not let anyone forget.  I would not allow them the luxury of denial or ignorance.  They mocked me, condescended to me, ignored me because I could see what they refused to consider.

It didn’t matter that my predictions generally played out as I claimed they would. I was not sought for my advice.  Instead, I spent my life on the edge of panic, without hope, certain every moment that the end was imminent.

But of course the end is always imminent for everyone. This is the human condition. Each generation eventually dies. Society, technology, mores…they are always changing,  sometimes unrecognizably in a short time. What is calamitous to the parent is perfectly normal to the child. As the older generation loses its ability to adapt,  the young easily inhabit the new conditions, having known nothing else.  The human race is resilient, after all.

In the end, the pattern unspools as it was always meant to.  All the millions of moving parts conspire to weave the future in the only way possible.  My dire warnings and fears were for naught.  What did it matter that I could see further than most? There was nothing any of us could have done to have made things turn out differently.  There was nothing to do but wait for another tide.

—–

If you are enjoying this blog,  please click the link above to subscribe and receive posts via email (new posts every three days).  Think of others who might enjoy it too,  and help spread the word! Post your favorite stories to social media.   Email a particularly apt link to a friend.   Even better,  talk about the concepts with others (whether you agree or disagree. )
Also,  I have just started a discussion group on Facebook,  for conversations about any of the concepts/issues in the posts.  Honestly, these are things in here which I don’t fully understand myself.  I would love  get your thoughts on this…even if you think this is all a bunch of hooey! 
-Adrienne

There For Each Other…Again

 

 

Where: Somewhere along the beach in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia. When: August 2012. What: Three young men enjoying the sunset together. Camera info: Contax G1, 28mm Biogon, Kodak Portra 400.


 Maj

I was born into a family who lived on the outside.  We were not part of the main culture.  We did not follow their customs or traditions. We did not celebrate their holidays.  What was perfectly normal for us was an oddity to our neighbors.  Our family tried to be as unobtrusive as possible.  We made a special effort to be friendly, polite, law-abiding.  My brother and I were encouraged, cajoled, pressured,  to do well in school.   We did not know too many others like us except for extended family,  and they did not live very close.

I was the only one like me in my class throughout my lower school years but late into secondary school,  I met a few other boys about my age. Had we met in a place where everyone was like us,  we probably wouldn’t have chosen each other.  Personality-wise,  we were nothing alike,  but by this shared odd circumstance,  being three of a kind in a sea of others, we became bonded.

These boys remained my dear friends all through my life,  even after we discovered larger communities of our people, and tapped into its business network.  Ever after we didn’t need each other anymore.  Despite our differences,  we remained close.

We forgave each other sins that would rend other relationships asunder.  We trusted each other with secrets nobody else in the world knew, not even our wives.  We were brothers.  It was understood that if something should happen to one of us, the others would take care of his family.   We were responsible for and to each other.  We shared a storied history.

We didn’t discuss or analyze the nature of our friendship.  We all understood it the same way.  There was nothing to discuss. We knew what had to be done.  We knew what had to be said.  And we knew when to do and say nothing.

I sometimes I forgot how much they meant to me.  Sometimes,  I took them for  granted.  Sometimes I needed time away from one or the other one  because he exasperated me so.   Sometimes,  there was anger, and it seemed as if the friendship might be over, but none of us felt quite whole without the others, and so somebody would apologize. They would make the effort to reconcile.  They would recognize their own fault in it. They would take responsibility for it.  And in this way,  we grew as men.

It was only after they were both gone that I truly understood how important they’d been to  my life.  I didn’t survive them by very long.  We were all old men when we died. But that short while of living without them was spent in the contemplation of their friendship, and its importance to all of us.   How blessed I felt to have known these simple men.

Now we are together again and always will be, in some form or another.

——————

If you are enjoying this blog,  please click the link above to subscribe and receive posts via email (new posts every three days).  Think of others who might enjoy it too,  and help spread the word! Post your favorite stories to social media.   Email a particularly apt link to a friend.   Even better,  talk about the concepts with others (whether you agree or disagree. )
Also,  I have just started a discussion group on Facebook,  for conversations about any of the concepts/issues in the posts.  Honestly, these are things in here which I don’t fully understand myself.  I would love  get your thoughts on this…even if you think this is all a bunch of hooey! 
-Adrienne

 

photo credit: Simon Garnier    http://www.simongarnier.org/three-friends/

 

The Long Mistake

 

Originally published February 11, 2015

tree heart aeg

To

I made a big mistake which took me a long time to recognize. And as my life went on, I compounded that mistake until there was no going back.

When it began, it was just for fun. I wasn’t looking for anything more than a temporary distraction. But she was not the kind of girl one trifled with. She made me laugh and she made me think. Each time I thought I had come to the end of her, she pulled me in deeper.

And before I knew it, I loved her. And she loved me.

We were bound. We both knew it. But she alone tended the tie that held us connected.   She kept the line in good repair so we would not drift apart. I paid it no mind because I assumed she would always take care of it. Often, I would drift away from her until we were out of sight of each other. This hurt her, I know. She wanted to let go, but could not. All I had to do was tug the line, and there she would be at my side, loving me again. In my selfish, childish heart, I believed it would ever be so. She was mine forever and nothing would ever break us apart.

Eventually, she stopped minding the rope. For her, there was nothing much at the other end except me with all my faults and lies and disrespect and silences and selfishness and carelessness of her feelings. The line began to fray with neglect but I did not notice until one day, I pulled and came back empty.

She had finally moved on and was lost to me forever. The knowledge of it made me sick.

Losing her was my first mistake.

My second mistake was living the next decades as if it didn’t matter. Everything I did was just another form of running away from my feelings, from relationships, from the fear of my own vulnerability.

As I got older and felt the end coming near, I realized I needed to make amends, not just to her, but to all the people I’d hurt and disappointed. She was gracious and listened to my feelings, out of habit no doubt, because she was kind. But she was not moved. My words changed nothing. Apologies are meaningless unless one sincerely intends to stop the very actions one is apologizing for. My bad behavior was already too deeply engrained. It was too late to change and part of me that would have made any difference. She had no reason to forgive me; no reason to trust me. She didn’t need my love. She didn’t need my friendship. I didn’t even understand what was required. I had nothing to offer her or anyone else.

The pain of the loss hit me anew. Finally, I was beginning to understand just how much I had wasted. She had been my moral compass. From her, I always heard the truth. I should have held her close. Instead, I let her go and spent my life adrift. If we’d stayed together, I thought, I might have been happy. I might have lived a peaceful life. She would have kept me righteous. She could have stopped the self-destructive cyclone my life had become.

And so I regretted not just the loss of her but what my life had become without her. And I died choking on that regret.

All the currents of my life had pulled me away from her. I was destined to travel no other route than the one I traveled. It was not for her to keep me on course. That was my own duty. Certainly I could have kept her if I had loved her more than I hated myself, but if I had been able to do that,, I would have had to have known then what I only understand now.

The tragedy of my life was not that I lost her. The tragedy of my life was that I’d missed the opportunity to learn how to  love.

 

——————

If you are enjoying this blog,  please click the link above to subscribe and receive posts via email (new posts every three days).  When you think of others who might enjoy it too,  it’s easy enough to help spread the word! Post your favorite stories to social media.   Email a particularly apt link to a friend.   Even better,  talk about the concepts with others (whether you agree or disagree. )
Also,  I have just started a discussion group on Facebook,  for conversations about any of the concepts/issues in the posts.  Honestly, these are things in here which I don’t fully understand myself.  I would love  get your thoughts on this…even if you think this is all a bunch of hooey! 
-Adrienne

 

The Cure for Unhappiness

First published February 8 2016

zen bound

Ipo  (yes, him again!)

Wherever you find unhappiness in your life, seek the place where the spirit is shackled to the ego, then sunder the bond.

The spirit’s sole purpose is to ascend. The ego is ballast holding it earthbound. Loose the ties. The perspective broadens as you rise. What confounds and hurts when standing in the midst makes beautiful sense from a distance.

Humans pursue happiness in various ways but there can be no true peace until these knots are severed.

First, however, the knots must be acknowledged.

The ego manifests in our desires, our expectations, in our sense of entitlement from the rest of the world.   It manifests in our need to be loved and acknowledged. It manifests in the way the world is reflected back at us through the eyes of others.

But you are not these things. You are not your possessions or your job, not your social status or physical entity.

When you feel the pain of the ego, ask yourself “What does this represent?” “Why do I want this so much that not to have it will cause me pain?” And, most importantly, “Who am I without it?”

 ______
 
 me: This came to me the night before we hosted a big holiday party. I’d been cooking, baking, cleaning, setting up for days. I’d been on my feet for ten hours. My back was screaming. Finally, at 2am, thoroughly exhausted, I collapsed into bed, so happy to finally be able to rest. And then, IPO! (he’s so insistent!) Wouldn’t let me sleep until I wrote it down!
But as soon as it came into my head, I realized this was something important.
I’m generally happy and positive with very few things that nag at me, so this is not the kind of subject that normally occupies my mind. It literally popped into my head apropos of nothing. And not only that, but when I was so exhausted, I could barely formulate my own thoughts.
Since then, I’ve been thinking quite a lot about this.   When I consider the things which have made (or make) me unhappy in life – incidents or phases or interactions with others which made feel hurt, frustrated, angry, depressed — in every case, this unhappiness was/is indeed a result of my ego. Of course, even knowing this, it’s not so easy to let go but at least it puts me on the right path to solving the problem, and puts the responsibility firmly in my own court.
I know this for sure: the more in touch we are with our spiritual essence,  the less we need to possess or achieve in order to feel whole.

______

If you are enjoying this blog,  please click the link above to subscribe and receive posts via email (new posts every three days).  When you think of others who might enjoy it too,  it’s easy enough to help spread the word! Post your favorite stories to social media.   Email a particularly apt link to a friend.   Even better,  talk about the concepts with others (whether you agree or disagree. )
Also,  I have just started a discussion group on Facebook,  for conversations about any of the concepts/issues in the posts.  Honestly, these are things in here which I don’t fully understand myself.  I would love  get your thoughts on this…even if you think this is all a bunch of hooey! 
-Adrienne

 

The Subtle Bouquet of My Pain

First published Feb 5, 2015
Wine_Flood-es

Phi

I had so many opportunities to understand. I turned my back on almost every one of them, avoiding unpleasant emotions as much as possible. Of course, I did learn a few things along the way but these were mostly passive lessons. I didn’t throw myself into life, savoring every emotion, turning the flavors over on my tongue until I could discern the subtle nuance in the bouquet, the way an oenophile considers a complex wine. I did not understand the difference among love and lust and obligation and affection and self-serving need. I never picked up on the connection between insecurity and anger. I didn’t recognize the link attaching my deepest fears to my most self-destructive behaviors.

Instead, I festered and stewed; ate myself up with anger and resentment. I blamed everyone else for my misery. I never looked to the source of the problem which of course, in one’s own life, is always oneself.

It is only through the closest and most brutally honest examination of our emotions that we find our own truth, and the peace that comes with it.

——————

If you are enjoying this blog,  please click the link above to subscribe and receive posts via email (new posts every three days).  When you think of others who might enjoy it too,  it’s easy enough to help spread the word! Post your favorite stories to social media.   Email a particularly apt link to a friend.   Even better,  talk about the concepts with others (whether you agree or disagree. )
Also,  I have just started a discussion group on Facebook,  for conversations about any of the concepts/issues in the posts.  Honestly, these are things in here which I don’t fully understand myself.  I would love  get your thoughts on this…even if you think this is all a bunch of hooey! 
-Adrienne

 

Ipoism, Part 2

Originally posted February 2, 2015
scribe
 (Continued from previous post. Still taking dictation from Ipo!)

The only truth that matters is the one found within.

A good guru teaches how to dig a thousand layers beneath the ego to find it.

First, you must calm your mind. It matters not whether you recite the rosary, practice transcendental meditation or yoga, or whirl like a Dervish.

Each philosophy, each movement, each religion prescribes its own method of ascent. Many insist their path is the only way.   This is not true.   Dogma is political. It is a way to control. Ritual for its own sake is not the path to spirituality. Ritual is only effective if it quiets the mind and turns thought both within and without.

Choose whatever works best for you. But choose! You must choose! If one method does not work, try another. And another. And another. Do not be lazy about this. It is essential to your spiritual growth.   Without this, nothing else can be learned. So this is the first thing to learn.

The only prayer you need is “Why?”   Then quiet your mind and listen for the answer.

——————

If you are enjoying this blog,  please click the link above to subscribe and receive posts via email (new posts every three days).  When you think of others who might enjoy it too,  it’s easy enough to help spread the word! Post your favorite stories to social media.   Email a particularly apt link to a friend.   Even better,  talk about the concepts with others (whether you agree or disagree. )
Also,  I have just started a discussion group on Facebook,  for conversations about any of the concepts/issues in the posts.  Honestly, these are things in here which I don’t fully understand myself.  I would love  get your thoughts on this…even if you think this is all a bunch of hooey! Feel free to post/ask/suggest/comment.
-Adrienne

 

Ipoism?

First published January 30, 2015

HelixNebula

(Ipo again, yes.   And this is not even the tip of the iceberg! He’s got me on full-time dictation duty!)

It is a human need to explain the things that cannot be seen; to understand the things which cannot be controlled.

For the answers, some turn to formal religion (ritual and dogma). Others look to the universe without ascribing any anthropomorphic qualities or identifying a single creator (philosophy). Others rely on the scientific method, waiting for incontrovertible proof before they believe (science).

None of these are mutually exclusive. All desires coalesce at the All Knowing Eye at the top of the pyramid.   Those at the bottom cannot see the other sides. They each believe theirs is the only path to the top. But the higher one ascends, the more apparent it becomes that everyone is on the same quest, albeit in different languages. Each human on every side, is just trying to achieve understanding.

God is not a being or entity. God is a place. It is the single vantage point from which every particle and law of the universe is visible. From this perspective, the entire pattern can be comprehended. It is the place where all who quest knowledge wish to stand.

Those who pray and think and meditate will surely ascend.  They will gain wisdom and understanding.  But no soul, living or dead, can ever reach the top. They will clamber up the sides in pursuit of it, but the mystery will never be unraveled.

Those who long for absolute scientific truth and knowledge, those who desire understanding of the spiritual universe and those who long to know God, they all pursue the same.

In the midst of this great clamoring for Truth, there are many gurus and teachers, counsellors and priests who call for attention. They offer promises of enlightenment. They flourish because people are lazy. They want others give them the answers.

(continued…)

——————

If you are enjoying this blog,  please click the link above to subscribe and receive posts via email (new posts every three days).  When you think of others who might enjoy it too,  it’s easy enough to help spread the word! Post your favorite stories to social media.   Email a particularly apt link to a friend.   Even better,  talk about the concepts with others (whether you agree or disagree. )
Also,  I have just started a discussion group on Facebook,  for conversations about any of the concepts/issues in the posts.  Honestly, these are things in here which I don’t fully understand myself.  I would love  get your thoughts on this…even if you think this is all a bunch of hooey! 
-Adrienne

 

The Sliver of Light

originally published January 26, 2016

rocks piled

Ca

When I was about 45 years old, I gave up sex. Eventually, I went into religious seclusion so I might focus my full attention upon my studies and meditations of the wonders of the universe. I cut my ties to the secular world because none of it interested me.

I had spent half my life chasing money, career advancement, possessions, — empty goals, all of them. When I finally came to that understanding, I could no longer bear to live in that world.

It didn’t happen all at once. It began with a seed but the subject so fascinated me, it became an obsession.

It started with a drug that opened my mind just enough to let a sliver of light in. The first time there was no great epiphany. It was only different enough for me to say, “What was that!?” I’d seen only a glimpse but I knew I wanted to go back there.   So, I did it again. This time I looked for the opening, and when I found it, I moved into it. People call this a hallucination but many so-called hallucinations are more real and more true than what humans call reality.

I did it again and again. I couldn’t get enough of that place. The more I went there, the less I cared about chasing the middle class dream.   My family and my friends lamented.   They felt I was throwing my life away. They begged me to get help for my problem.

The problem was that I didn’t see it as a problem. I saw my family and friends as the ones with the problem. They chose to remain enslaved to the pursuit of meaninglessness.

Of course, as I started to care less about the shackles of modern civilization, the more strange I seemed to most everyone else. They saw me as kind of feeble-minded, my once-intelligent mind now addled by drugs.

There were names for people like me and they were all dismissive and condescending. Society as a whole needs to ostracize people like me, the way I was. If they didn’t, and others joined the search for Truth over Power, the situation could become dangerous.   If people are not kept in lock step with The Human Plan, the entire structure of power falls apart.   Humankind could not function if everyone had their heads in the clouds like me.   Who would run the factories? Who would wage the wars? Who would supply the food for all to eat? Who would produce the goods for all to wear?   Who would build the places for all to live? Who would create the scaffolding upon which the human ego hangs?

The human species advanced because of cooperation among people; the division of tasks.   When one person alone must hunt or gather all his own food, build his own shelter, gather his own fuel, haul his own water, make all his own tools — such a man has no time for philosophy.   But when humans live together in a group, each is able to specialize in their own particular task. The more they do it, the better they get at it, and thus, technology is born.   This co-dependent situation is to the benefit of everyone.

Modern society is built on this same structure, writ large, with each person far removed from most everything he or she eats or drinks or acquires.

So, if everybody followed my way, society would crumble, and humans would go back to having to do everything themselves, either way, leaving no time for philosophy.

But what would society be without a soul? Without a hand on the rudder to keep the human race from being set adrift?

Even primitive man understood this, and designated one person in each group, to remain in touch with the Spiritual.   By so channeling, this person maintained the group’s balance between the quotidian and the heavenly.

This basic dynamic carried forward from small primitive groups to large cities teeming with millions. There are those who have the gift, the purity, and the charisma to remind humankind of its spiritual destiny.

But I was not one of them.   I did not have the ability to make others understand what I saw or how I was feeling.   If I told them what I knew, they would have thought me a lunatic and locked me away.   Instead, I went away from them.

I retreated to a place where I could exist with the minimal. The less I possessed, the less I needed to worry about holding on to it.   Without that concern, I no longer had to work long hours, putting my mind to things that ultimately made no difference.

Work is work, regardless of whether one is digging ditches or communing with the universe.   All work is noble, as long as it gratifies the soul.   Find meaning in your work, and it will show you the path.

My path led me to this new kind of work even though, to those I left behind, it did not appear to be work at all.   I depended on the kindness, generosity and favors of others —   friends and strangers alike.

I earned no money but even still, I had to do physical toil. No good comes from idleness, either.

And that’s where I spent the rest of my days, leading a simple life so I might spend more time in contemplation.

Those from my past believed I was turning my back on life. They pitied me. I, in turn, pitied them. So much wasted time and energy on empty things. The answers were beyond myself and I wanted to spend my life looking,  even if I never found them.

——————

If you are enjoying this blog,  please click the link above to subscribe and receive posts via email (new posts every three days).  When you think of others who might enjoy it too,  it’s easy enough to help spread the word! Post your favorite stories to social media.   Email a particularly apt link to a friend.   Even better,  talk about the concepts with others (whether you agree or disagree. )
Also,  I have just started a discussion group on Facebook,  for conversations about any of the concepts/issues in the posts.  Honestly, these are things in here which I don’t fully understand myself.  I would love  get your thoughts on this…even if you think this is all a bunch of hooey! 
-Adrienne

 

 

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