Archive for March, 2014


March 31, 2014

I am not following college basketball closely, although I am aware of the tournament going on, but I got a kick out of discovering just what the orange object on top of the retaining wall at the back of my yard turned out to be — a basketball.

I left it where it was, because I am not sure which yard it came from.



March 25, 2014

What does it mean to do something out of love for someone, whether that love is for God, neighbor, or stranger?  (I was reading this.)  How does it differ from doing it because one is willing to do what one is called upon by God to do?

I think the coloration of the doing probably does make a difference — doing out of love of God, doing out of willingness to serve.  Maybe they are like different diplomatic portfolios.

I have been aware of doing things out of love for God and I have been aware of doing things out of willingness.  I find the second more difficult to do — it requires more detachment, more ability not to be plugged into a feedback system of any sort and instead to navigate and travel on faith.

Of course, both of these postures for doing things are different from engaging in a loving relationship as the basis for going out into the world to accomplish something.  When that kind of love gets mirrored back, there is often no willingness from the original beneficiary to switch roles.  They may even be horrified at the thought of such utilitarianism.

If loving for the sake of anything produces a coloration of motive, then maybe willingness has its place as a simpler posture with less ego involved — I don’t know, but it’s a possibility, it seems to me.


March 25, 2014

I decided the cold weather was over, and cleaned and stored away sweaters and things.  Some crocuses are already out, so obviously I’m not the only one who thinks it’s time for spring.  But tonight I think the low is something like 6 degrees.

If you’re talking about it at all …

March 23, 2014

I was listening to a recording of “Cold Day in July” sung by Suzy Bogguss (my internet searching turns up Richard Leigh as the song’s composer), and it struck me as providing a good vehicle for explaining the kind of things Willy saw, how he saw through the surface.

He would have offered as third party’s response to the lament, “Well, if you were already talking about his leaving or not, about your love lasting forever, your relationship was already in trouble, or the issues would not have come up.”

So he would not have been surprised that the cold day in July came.

But it’s a great song.

Rock salt

March 22, 2014

This winter the local hardware store ran out of it, and I noticed they had it in again yesterday when I passed by and saw a stack of bags in front of the store.

So I went in just now to buy a bag (for next winter, I hope), and after paying inside, went outside to pick up my bag and lug it home.

It turned out to be a 50 lb. bag, not a 20 or 25 lb. one as I had expected.

I got about half a block, set it down, and realized I would have to get a wheelbarrow from home (or my car) to transport it the three and half blocks or so (including up hill) to my house.

I started back to the store, to leave it there until I could return with wheels, and when I was almost there, a young man asked me if I needed help.  I explained to him what I was trying to do and why, thinking he might help me get the bag back the last 20 feet or so to the store, and instead he offered to give it and me a ride to my house.

I accepted, despite the fact I didn’t know him from Adam.

(Jordan is on vacation on the Cape with a friend this weekend, or I would have involved him.)

The fellow even carried it up my front steps.

There’s a lesson in here somewhere, not sure yet what it is.

Revealing the absence or presence of willingness

March 22, 2014

I was thinking through what purpose a behavioral pattern of mine could possibly serve, and this is what I came up with.

I interact with someone.  Yesterday it was someone making something for me.  We go back and forth on materials and price and design, and then they do something I am not okay with, I protest, I am not heard, we repeat this sequence, I go silent, and then eventually I make my dissatisfaction known more unmistakably.

And then I don’t get compromising even then, I get a speech about the person’s integrity, how they know themselves to be this, that, and the other thing, so their behavior can’t possibly be a contributing factor to my dissatisfaction.

Which explains to me why I went silent during that interval between, on the one hand, protesting, while still trying to work it out, and on the other hand, letting the person know it’s not okay with me, while giving them what they want in the moment and then leaving:  there was nothing I could do that would make the situation work out for both of us.

They turned out, as I think I was surmising, not have willingness to compromise, to work together without friction or excessive self-interest.

Seeing this makes it easier for me to choose whether I want to, as they say, throw good money after bad.

I usually get, in addition to the “It can’t be anything I did, I know myself to be more wonderful than that,” some version of, “It’s your job to rein me in.”

No, it’s not.  It is written nowhere that I know that I have to substitute my energy through feedback for their energy in policing themselves.  It may well be that my unwillingness to take up this cost means the relationship won’t work out, but that’s a separate issue.  It may well be that my expectations are unrealistic, but, again, that goes to whether there will be a relationship, whether there will be subsequent interactions, not whether I am required by some objective standard to behave with them the way they want.  They are free to say and do on their end as they wish, I am free to walk away, instead of pushing back, especially after attempts to gain traction to work things out bilaterally have had no effect.

Yesterday’s episode brought home to me that my sense that the other person is not open to adjustment at their end is not inaccurate, and how the story they tell themselves about themselves makes it so unlikely that that will change.

Joy of reconciliation

March 20, 2014

I get a real charge out of certain styles of conversation, when the exchange really flies and it feels exhilarating.  It’s the process as much as whatever content we’re discussing that I get a thrill out of.  (I suspect the experience arises out of a flow back and forth between myself and the person I’m talking to.  Of course, the downside is that while I pick up the ideas and good feelings, I also tend to pick up other things from the person, at least temporarily.)

Then there’s another process that can feel real good, too, the process of reconciliation through both people checking in with their guidance (the sort of guidance accessible through prayer and contemplation) and not just mixing it up as social beings.  If I listen for my guidance and they listen for theirs, and we each follow it, we end up, as it were, in the same place — through a process that involves less friction than even following the helpful rules of how to have difficult conversations.  And speaking strictly for myself, I can find the same idea much easier to accept coming from the Universe than coming from the other person — I think because most people coat their ideas with emotional overlays, and as my body does to the base in a vaccine, I react to the emotional coating (sometimes negatively).

There is, of course, something to be said for working out a disagreement face to face or email to email — it can be more satisfying if it works.  But depending on God as an intermediary is very helpful when the social part of the relationship is stuck, especially in what I see as asymmetrical relationships.  The other person just doesn’t want to interact socially with me as equals, and thankfully, there’s a way for me to deal with that without buying into that point of view or insisting that they accept social symmetry.  God provides a fluid interface and a way we can reconcile, if we have willingness.

Sometimes I wonder if the internet is a sort of medium and middle way through which the reconciliation through the spiritual part of us and the reconciliation through our social aspect can meet.  People can write their piece, others can react, and through links and comments and blogs and all kinds of less than personal communication online, things can be worked out.  While I am confident this method can serve a need, I do remain concerned that it leaves a lot of room for confusion and misunderstanding;  but maybe that’s a smaller difficulty than the difficulties that would ensue from pursuing a different method.  I don’t know, I just know my own difficulties with the method — and my own gratefulness for its allowing some sort of communication where, without it, there might not be any, or enough to move forward at all.  And I can always ask the Universe for guidance about how to think about and deal with the method and my reaction to it.

Taking something back, or sharing?

March 19, 2014

There’s this spiritual story about an adolescent who really feels strongly that a grown man has stolen from her her jewels.  He feels equally convinced she has robbed him of something equally valuable, namely, something required to maintain his stature and status in the community.

So how to restore equilibrium?

There’s an attempt, which doesn’t succeed, in which he returns something and she returns something, but they both accuse the other of returning a false approximation of what was stolen.

There are attempts at partial returns, there are empty promises, there are claims nothing was stolen — lots of adversarial attempts to restore without actually completely participating.

In the meantime, they are each using some “ill-gotten gain” from the other to try to maintain themselves.  They each end up in situations in which they are ill-equipped in some way, and this does not serve the greater good, either.

A lot of the trouble reconciling was probably a trust issue — “If I give to you, will you really give to me or will it just be throwing good money after bad, as they say?”

So here’s how it got resolved:  they both were agreeable with sharing with a disinterested third party, and through something like the mathematical transitive principle or something like a concept of mixing cooking ingredients, eventually they both ended up with a portion of what they felt they were missing.  What they shared with the intermediary included the “stolen good,” and through sharing with the intermediary, they had access again to what they considered the good stolen by the other.

Footnote:  disinterested third party did not have an easy time of it, as they were often treated as if they were actually the other person in the dispute.


March 19, 2014

I think we all have flaws as we live in the material world.  Just as Willy used to chide me that when we have nothing on our “administrative matters” to-do list it’s because we are dead, when we have no flaws, I think we are just spirit.

But some flaws are more of impediments to navigating in the world and developing our potential than others.  So we try to reduce the big impediments, in order to reduce distortion to our perception and in order to reduce damage to others and to ourselves.

As to the rest of our flaws, I think we adjust for them through collaboration with others — like blind men feeling parts of the elephant, if we pool our perceptions, we might make up for one another’s limitations.

Dualism about dualism

March 18, 2014

How can it be that it’s either dualistic thinking or non-dualistic thinking?  Isn’t that thinking dualistically to put it that way?

I think there are different varieties of connections we may have to Source, to God, to the universe, to the divinity within us.  Very young children have it in a different way from the way adult mystics have it, and people somewhere else on the continuum I think can have varying levels of conscious connection to the spiritual realm.  Adversity is a factor, I agree, and I think it is especially so in reestablishing the connection after we have developed our personal identity in this world, but different people, as they say, have different gifts — and I think there’s a nature/nurture aspect to how we experience the spiritual, too.  Some people will find their connection through music, some people will be able to translate a spiritual experience into pattern recognition of a different sort when they relate the experience to their worldly lives, as the result of both a predilection for that mode and some training in that direction.  Some people will not translate the experience very consciously — or self-consciously — at all, but live out the results, I think.

We need all the sections of the orchestra to play the symphony of collective life on earth.  Just because we’re not woodwinds doesn’t mean they don’t exist.  Just because we know how to coach playing the brass instruments doesn’t mean there aren’t others who can coach the strings.  I am wary of trying to replace one exclusive way of looking at spirituality with another, and wary of ways that involve too much emphasis on the coach.  What I think is true is that some levels of connection to the spiritual realm seem to need the person who connects to have developed enough of an emotional or cognitive structure in the other parts of their mental processing in order to handle the spiritual experience safely as a human being — without such a developed structure, a person can have the spiritual equivalent of a “bad trip.”  But I think there are a multiplicity of roads — and air routes and water passages — that lead to Rome, and I think people may be having slightly different experiences of Rome depending on how they got there and how unimpeded their perceptual and processing equipment are.