Archive for the 'advertising' Category


April 24, 2014

I very much appreciated Richard Rohr’s reminder this morning that “Without all the inner voices of resistance and control, it is amazing how much you can get done and not get tired.”  That’s in today’s Daily Meditation.

Gita and I have talked about this, too — couldn’t do it without “letting go” and “turning it over.”

Now, I am perfectly prepared to believe that I could do this better.  I put up resistance (like a kid pushing the spinach to the side of their plate), I fret, I get ahead of myself, I try to get other people to act in a way to prevent a future problem (like trying to get them to correct, before it is filed, a tax return that has mistakes in it).

I think I see two additional issues, in addition to “letting go” and “turning it over,” but, as I said, I am prepared to discover the issue lies with me.

One is volume.

I just end up with too many things on my plate as a result of being open to and able to do caretaking.  The inflow can feel as if it exceeds my processor’s capacity.

The second is society’s (unreasonable) demands.

The two kind of intertwine.

I once heard someone say that she thought of the nursing home in which her mother lived as being like “one big alcoholic.”  She meant that the institution could be as difficult to deal with as a human alcoholic, and with similar patterns of behavior.  I’ve felt similarly about other institutions, including schools, hospitals, social services, the justice system.  Whether it’s damaging behavior by the institution to a loved one or demands from the institution on me (as a caretaker), it can feel as if what I am called upon to do exceeds the amount of energy I can give it without too much damage to myself.

It’s no secret that patients in hospitals and nursing homes who have caretakers of their own weighing in as case managers do better, get better care, etc.

So where to draw the line between detachment and involvement?

It’s not just the wisdom of knowing the difference between what we can change and what we can’t, it’s also putting a boundary on how much of ourselves we can deploy without too much depletion.  Inflow from prayer and meditation certainly helps, but I think outflow can exceed inflow if care is not taken.  On the other hand, there is an instinct or desire to try to prevent or ameliorate suffering of others.  Part of that is wrapped up in trying to avoid pain — something we are encouraged to do by our norms and our survival instinct.  I think there is also a part of helping others in some situations that is from pressure from social norms more directly, regardless of where we think we should be drawing lines and regardless of inner guidance about where to observe boundaries, of what’s ours to do and what’s not.

My sense is that we have with our current social organization shifted around responsibility like a hot potato or like a shell in a game in which something is being hidden beneath one of a number of inverted cups.  Some techniques we seem to me to use to do this include, for example, narrowly defining our piece of the project and expecting others to do more;  littering, on the justification that one little piece won’t hurt;  setting systems up in such a way that requires a person without authority or control to have responsibility.

I don’t know if human free will can “clog up the plumbing” of the system of human interaction and society, or whether it’s the case that any system we devise can work, so long as those who have to use it interface adequately with divine help.  But I admit that sometimes I think we have developed a system that doesn’t work, especially for the long run.

For me, the questions are relevant to the issue of how much better a situation can be expected to go — because I am often hearing from others that things could be better if I just _______.  I have run through a fair number of _______, and I am here to say they do not necessarily work as advertized.  Maybe this is why 12-step programs refrain from advice and why the most general helpful source I found after Willy died was actually Al-Anon, the program for family and friends of alcoholics, although Willy was not a qualifier of mine.

At any rate, I conclude for now that working on my part of the equation, so long as I do it gently, can’t hurt, but that I should also be wary of assuming that optimizing my own part will result in things going better in other ways.


Algorithm, confirmation bias, or synchronicity

September 19, 2013

I posted the previous post and then went for a walk.  I got back and started on my usual tasks.  I googled “Crow on the Cradle” done by Jackson Browne for accompaniment, and when it was finished, I clicked on another Jackson Browne and David Lindley live performance (turned out to be “Before the Deluge”).  I got treated to an ad first.  It was about how MetLife walked the woman who was testifying in the ad, through the process of applying for life insurance — it was over the phone and easier than she thought.

I usually get ads on YouTube about stain removal.  This MetLife life insurance ad was a first for me, so it stood out.  And yes, it did remind me of my blog post about walking my mom (using a different method) through a phone conversation about a financial matter, despite her apprehension and with a positive reaction to the experience.

Do I know whether there was a material connection between the two incidents?  If I have looked at shoes online and shoe ads pop up on webpages I later browse, I assume cookies and algorithms and whatnot.  Here if what happened was due to such things, it would take a lot more sophistication in the software, so I don’t assume it was the mechanism.  Is it confirmation bias?  The two incidents happened close in time and with not much business in between (basically just my walk).  Is it synchronicity?  I don’t like to get too caught up in terms and definitions.  The way I would put it is that it feels like being an unwitting recipient of an unadvertized “buy one, get one free” special, or like pulling an apple off a tree and having another one fall down beside you as the branch returns to its place.  It doesn’t feel random.  And a mundane mechanism is not obvious to me.

Even without my ego to perceive both events in relation to me, they both happened in close succession in the same locale.  A post goes up, an ad with a similar theme plays on YouTube on the same computer a short time later.

Bubble gum wisdom

November 21, 2012

I bought a package of bubble gum the other day, and I left it open on the kitchen table at some point.

My back was to the table as I was reading something on my computer.  Jordan was cooking, and suddenly he said, “Try explaining the taste of bubble gum to someone who has never tasted it.”  I thought to myself, “Oh wow, he’s somehow encountered that sort of famous idea about trying to transmit to someone who hasn’t experienced faith what it’s like to experience faith.”  (It’s usually sugar or candy, not bubble gum, that is the example used.)  And then he pointed out that he was reading what was printed on the inside of the gum package.

So was this packaging copy written by someone who was familiar with the spiritual context and use of the idea, or did they just kind of stumble into the thought while thinking only about the gum?  I get a kick out of it either way — I love when the sublime and the mundane meet and mix and it isn’t altogether clear which is primary and which is the spin-off.

Web advertising and synchronicity; reincarnation, too

October 14, 2011

I got this localized ad from recently for a special (cut, color, and blow dry) at a nearby hair salon, and I’m wondering what I typed into my computer to produce that email, and then I got to thinking that if I weren’t aware of the existence of algorithms for sending ads targeted to their recipients’ already disclosed interests, I might take it as synchronicity with my discussion of my pastafarian hair or something.   Which, in turn, got me thinking about how this illustrates my sense that the web and technology recapitulate phenomena that exist in other formats in the world.

And that, in turn, got me thinking about the function of conceptualizing things in terms of reincarnation, and I thought, “Oh, it allows me to validate an experience of mine, and that makes it easier for me to move on from it.”