Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Least of These

My life has been crazy lately, stumbling around hoping to find the door to growth (that's part of the problem - I'm looking for a door). Growth is mostly a matter of learning how to think and act differently. Fighting childhood engrained, bible based philosophy while comparing it with "humanistic" philosophy has been a challenge because I see problems in both. Religion has taken good ideas and used them to separate, shame and control people and I cannot abide any religion. Yet many non-religious philosophies are very selfish, another thing I cannot stand. While still trying to be open minded, I have had to admit that there are some good ideas and wisdom in religious scriptures. Now this isn't to say that I think you will find the true Christian God and Jesus if you just look at the bible with a different perspective. Instead I think you can find helpful thoughts for how to better be part of the only thing I believe to exist - the Universe.

Moving On - Hoping For Growth
Recently, my love and I moved into a house relishing the idea of having our own space; however, that wasn't to be, at least for now. We had one person who was supposed to live in the basement but decided they wanted to live upstairs and commandeered the space with seeming disregard to our thoughts and feelings on the matter. This highly angered me because I've felt disrespected and unappreciated most of my life. I thought I had been treated this way because I didn't stand up for myself so I tried to do that now. Being further maligned and called "uncaring, unreasonable" and several other things after refusing to back down against selfish people has been exhausting and further angering.

Attempts were made to try and ameliorate that situation to little avail and the roommate moved out. We found someone else who was willing to live in the basement which was perfect except that in addition to being a friend, he was also my boss for the first time. Because we share a house I was on edge wondering if he was going to think I did a good enough job. Would it create an awkward situation at home? Even if the world is falling apart, at least I still had my little bubble at home: but it wasn't so much a bubble anymore. I really try to do my best at everything but I find it extremely difficult to do a good job when I think what I'm doing is stupid. In my head I know that I need to care because otherwise I'll be fired and develop a bad reputation. Mostly though I've believed that lazy people are useless and I don't want to feel like that - it's too familiar.

As we see ourselves, so is the world. 
Many times when you finally realize that you should be treated differently, you think as I did, that it's because you aren't standing up for yourself. What you fail to see is that you want to be treated differently but still see yourself negatively. I'd never been good enough for myself and I just wanted someone to tell me I was doing "okay" so that I could relax just a little. Eventually the disparity between how I want to be seen and how I felt I was perceived and treated reached a head and I "stood up for myself" by blowing up. As I sat on my couch unemployed, unsure of what to do, staring down into a chasm of depression, self hate willing me to fall in, something in a youtube video spoke to me. It was rather in passing, the man stated "the universe is a reflection of us".  He gave an analogy related to work and that's when something clicked. I began to realize I was perceiving other people's attitudes a certain way because that's how I perceived myself. 

More Roommates and....
While all the roommates were clearing out our old house, I was notified that my SIL and her boyfriend would need to stay with us for "a week or two" until their house renovations were completed. I was slightly put out that I wasn't asked but mentally conceded because hey, it's family and I can't imagine saying no anyway. The two weeks has turned into more without a definite end in sight as most construction projects go which isn't a big deal except that I do like to have my space. I've spent the last two weeks reading and reflecting trying to better understand myself and what I need to do next - how to not blow up again. Last night I was given a situation, a test where I again felt like my opinion didn't matter. 

My SIL was at a wedding in the country that morning where they found a beautiful dog alone in a field. After trying to find owners in the area without much luck, the bride said she wanted it but couldn't take ownership till she gets back from her honeymoon at the end of the week. You guessed it, we have it for the week now bringing our dog total to 4. My attitude was anger at not being asked but also because I knew it was putting more responsibility on me (My name is on the lease, what if it damages something? What if it gets my puppy sick?). Not only was I stressed but also felt imposed upon. I was going to have to deal with this animal during the day because someone has to while my SIL and her boyfriend are at work. When I went to bed I was incredibly stressed out and angry to the point my jaw was hurting from all the internal conflict. Trying to find sleep somehow, I realized I was having trouble respecting myself. Who am I? What am I doing? What is the next step in my path?

Cells in a Body
One of the books I'm reading compares us to cells in a body. If they do their jobs properly, there should be no need of worry for provisions. If that was true, what was my purpose so I don't starve? When I woke up this morning, I was much less stressed because before drifting off to sleep, I finally admitted that I am okay with failing. I don't have the energy to fight the monsters of my own self hatred anymore. I'm totally cool with being me even if it means I starve to death. This morning when I brought my puppy in from going potty I saw the orphan everyone but me was showing love to standing in the hallway wagging her tail. At that same instant the question was still blazing in my mind - what am I supposed to do? I knew the right thing to do in that moment was to treat this dog with love so I started walking her outside as the word "purpose" clanked around my soul. 

That's when some words Jesus had said to his disciples recited themselves in my mind: "if you've done it to the least of these, you've done it to me." Instantly I knew I was wrong for the way I had been feeling. I don't believe that there is a god separate from us anymore but that we are all part of this universe completely interconnected. The "least of these" still applies notwithstanding Christianity: loving and respecting even the smallest thing is doing the same to the whole because it's all one. I've been sitting here looking for a purpose because I want to feel like I have worth other people can recognize and define. How else do we make money and survive if people don't think we are worth anything? But I've been approaching it all wrong. My purpose is in front of me and I've been ignoring it because it doesn't seem to put me any further along to fulfilling my needs. It's selfish which is the core of evil. 

What is Evil?
Evil comes when a person (or cell if you will) decides to try and be something different because it doesn't feel sufficient or has it's perspective warped. They are disconnected mentally and emotionally from the rest of the organism which removes them from sustenance except what they steal. Disconnection brings pain because we are then open to fear and abuse as we look for approval, validation, and comfort that may be taken away at any second. Evil is the actions we take to fulfill those needs without consent. Many people settle for the space right next door to evil - mutual using. You consent to being used because you are getting enough and when you don't, you'll leave and be free to go since they knew what was happening all along.

Convicted
Christians talk about being convicted which most of the time is accompanied by a large amount of guilt and shame. Religious conviction further reinforces you being a piece of shit that can't get things right unless you try harder. I've been missing opportunities to live my purpose because I'm so busy looking for it. Realizing that didn't make me feel guilty - instead I felt sad that I had had it so wrong. I still don't know what I'm doing other than trying to be open to the smallest moments but that brings hope because accepting the basic truth behind this is very freeing. When you show love to the inconveniences, the irritations - the least of these, you are doing something without expecting a return. That is reaching the highest purpose because you cannot reach down in a pure heart until you've completely accepted yourself and place in the Universe.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

The Universe is God

A few minutes ago I realized that not only on an experiential level, but also at a logical level I can cease to believe in an god except the universe: the universe is God. 

Some prerequisites
God claims to be:
Infinite. 
Separate from us (because one person sinned). 
Male (I cannot think of a single scripture that attributes female as being any part of God). 

The Infinite Separated God.
You cannot have infinity and something apart from it: otherwise this isn't infinity. Religion claims God is infinite and science claims the universe is without end. Infinity cannot be proven outside of the fact that our minds can imagine it. But it also cannot be disproven satisfactorily. Just because you hit a wall doesn't mean there isn't something on the other side. A God who claims to be all encompassing in every way but is separate from us, holier than us, supreme with us as his creation - is a flat out fraud. 

The Masculine God
In Genesis 1 it says "let us create man in our image...so God created mankind in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them". I'm not sure why it makes a point of saying multiple times that humankind (referred to a man) was created in gods image except that it's to prove a point. Notice that it says "male and female he created them". This is where the writers perspective shows up. If male and female are god's image, then why is a masculine pronoun being used as the creator? You see this ramp up in the very next chapter. Genesis 2 claims God decided that "it wasn't good for Adam to be alone" so god knocks Adam out and makes a "helpmeet" of one of the dudes ribs. Woman supposedly means "taken out of man". This is where the writer shows his/her mysognistic hand. Men and women are born from a woman. Our DNA all starts as female and becomes male. The idea being purported here is preposterous. 

Based off of this logic, I don't understand how any reasonable person can accept a god other then one that everything and everyone is part of. If anyone can prove it wrong, I would love to dialogue because I only seek the truth. 

More and more people are believing that our reality is based largely on our perceptions. If this is the case the Christian God is the construct of a woman who hates herself and sees herself as less just like an anorexic sees themselves as fat. 

I'll just let this sit here for now. More to come eventually...

Saturday, September 12, 2015

No!

Anyone who knows me well, knows that this past week has been different to say the least. I've done a lot of thinking and realized I'm fed up with two things: 1. The expectation of perfection and 2. People acting like having boundaries is somehow wrong. Both are abusive - point blank.

Perfection. There's a word I'm quite familiar with. I was taught as a child that God is perfect and we definitely are therefore are headed straight to hell. Oh hey, but since perfection is an impossible task, and God is love, he was kind enough to let humans murder his son as a substitute instead of killing all of us (I can't believe this ever made sense to me - oh wait, I was brainwashed). Even though our own efforts would never succeed, we still were supposed to try to "be perfect as your father in Heaven is perfect" because otherwise we were "crucifying Christ anew". If that's not a way to mentally fuck people up, then I don't know what is.

There you are, stuck knowing that what you do is irrelevant, but still feeling like you have to try to bail water out of a sieve lest you sink before the rapture or death come to rescue you. I've had people say to me "relax, no one is perfect" and it sounds great; but when I've made a mistake, many of those same people have ranged from disappointed to ripping me apart. The truth is I've made a lot of mistakes in my life but what's fucked up is that I can think of very few that were intentional and deliberate. After 29 years of dealing with the people who were supposed to love me saying I wasn't good enough, I left everything but my kids behind.

I didn't realize how far past full pressure I was till this week when I did something rather imperfect and immature at work but still not intentional, just in the heat of the moment. Less than 5 minutes after losing my shit, I knew I had made a mistake but I also wasn't sure how to prevent it from happening again. As I've pondered my life over the last few days, I realized that I should have understood myself better and done something about the situation before stress reached critical field. Normally I would have been hard on myself but I chose not to this time. I regret my actions and take responsibility for them and the consequences; however, I refuse to be ashamed because fuck it, I'm not perfect and I'm finally accepting that. Instead of striving, I just need to be an adult and that requires having boundaries and enforcing them.

Reality is defined by boundaries and if it were not, I suppose everything would simply be one infinite jumbled sea of whatever the stuff every particle is made out of. IBLP, the organization my parents acquired most of their seriously misguided ideas from, put out a book called The Pineapple Story. You can buy it if you want the long version but don't bother. if you are that desperate, I'll write a longer synopsis of it so you don't waste your money. This is the short version:

A missionary decides to grow pineapples on his plot of fertile missionary land. The natives steal his pineapples. Missionary gets angry, loses sleep, becomes an asshole driving the natives away receiving the Bad Missionary award (that could go to a lot of people...) God tells BM that he's failing because he's putting pineapples over the people he's trying to help. Pineapple man extrapolates from this that we have no rights to anything. You know, turn the other cheek type shit but not just cheeks or pineapples - everything. Some obsequious fools took that to mean for example, they shouldn't call the police when men repeatedly broke into their house to rape their wives and daughters. I'm sure from that example, you don't need me to provide others to get the gravity of this lunacy. But hey, I believed this to a certain extent too for a while.

As I've struggled with letting all this brainwashing go, I met with a lot of resistance. Nearly everyone who says "it's cool, no one is perfect" will become upset with someone for screwing up in the same day - I'd put money on it. It could be the barista messing up the coffee order or their partner forgetting to check the mail, who knows, but something is going to bug them because NEWS FLASH, they're not perfect either. Genpop wants you to be perfect because it benefits them but god forbid you throw any restrictions on how they interact with your life and realms of influence: "that's expecting perfection".

Each element and compound have different boundaries and structures. Some mix well, while others release energy explosively when combined. The boundaries you have define who you are just like atomic structure determines an elements properties. You aren't an asshole for having boundaries. If you allow yourself to be dirt, you will be walked on. Yet, you cannot fight every battle - that's what children do. Almost every toddler has a stage where it seems like everything makes them scream. Unless coddled, they quickly learn that their wailing is a pointless endeavor unless something is seriously wrong.

Not knowing and accepting who you are is like window shopping - you want something, even think you might deserve it, but believe you don't have the money for it. That feeling of deserving the unobtainable is what causes anger to boil because deep down, know you have the power but can't see your way out of it. As that internal struggle builds it gets to a point where the stupid snap behaviors come into play. You know you can do something, you're an adult for Pete's sake, so you just do anything needed to prove a point. Accepting who you are and what you believe not only informs your values, it empowers them. We put up with shit because either we don't think we have the right, or we don't want to deal with the consequences. If you put yourself on an island with a bunch of thieving natives, you will have to let the idea of retaining possessions go to be effective at developing relationships and making a difference. However, a business person would be stupid to leave their doors unlocked in a society with laws to punish malfeasance. Mature actions should be based off of the end goal and your priorities (which should include love at the top if you are a mature adult).

Why are perfectionism and a lack of boundaries abusive? Because other people put them on you to take what they want. We've sat around for too long thinking either we don't have the money for things in the window, or that we deserve things that we do not. I saw this the other day in an article about finances " stop saying I can't afford xyz because the truth is that we find money for what is important to us." Maybe if we understood what we actually are, we would reappropriate the currency to back values that could change our world. Regardless of your opinion on unions, they are an example of a group of people saying "we've been pushed around enough. We're worth something and you need to recognize it." Facebook is replete with bitching about how messed up (you fill in the blank) is in the world, but who's taking the sacrifice to say in an adult manner "I've had enough and refuse to stand for it anymore." Just because you develop some rigidity doesn't mean you are becoming an unsavory person. Diamonds are one of the hardest items on the planet but they still allow light to pass through them when polished. The form you take will dictate the life you lead.

As I said earlier, I regret my stupid behavior (no, I didn't harm anyone) or more accurately, I regret that I didn't learn this sooner in life. In many ways I was expected to be an adult from childhood completely skipping much that and my teenage years. At the moment I feel like that kid has grown to mid teens but it feels like it's been an exponential type of growth - super difficult at first but now years are flying by. None of us deserve to be bullied, disrespected, treated like garbage but we let people do it because we don't find the voice to say "no". Good people don't need to be told no because they have empathy but many people lack that quality and need to be stood up to. That doesn't mean that they are all evil, it simply means they need to be told that their antennas are out of alignment somehow.

We see very little empathy coupled with authority. Most powerful people are sociopaths completely lacking empathy. A bulldozer can get a lot done but life and relationships don't need bulldozers. Many children's favorite word is "no" because they still think they are powerful. We are taught that we are powerless by those who are afraid of us and want to use us. Good parents only take away their child's power temporarily giving it back each day as they grow in wisdom and empathy. Like I said in a recent post, adulthood isn't a tool chest you are given when you leave your parents house and know how to use because you saw them do it. Every day till graduation should be a chance to take out a tool and learn how to master it.

It's time to start saying "no" to the maniacs who have been in power for ages, before they drive us into extinction. Who are you and what are you passionate about? People who have the security of knowing and accepting themselves while possessing empathy could probably change the world.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Spiders

Sometimes I think it would be better to be a spider. 
Sure, most everyone hates you, thinks you're ugly and scary,
But these eight legged creatures continue spinning webs without a care.
A few folks appreciate the "creepy crawlers" yet it is still of no consequence.  
"They take hold in kings houses" observed the great King Solomon.
Maybe he wanted to be a spider too. 
Arachnids are like honey badgers with four more legs.
No owners or masters. 
Going where they will, spinning their webs however they desire,
Unconcerned with whether it's design pleases someone else. 
Sometimes they get squashed or eaten before their time:
At least they lived a life of freedom,
Lived a life that was true. 

Monday, September 7, 2015

Stargazing

Spending this weekend out in the wilderness of Grand Teton National Park for my cousins wedding was exactly the shot in the arm we needed. You cannot escape the beauty (although I can't think of a reason you would want to). As I said yesterday, it puts things in perspective and is humbling. At the same time it's also incredibly inspiring adding mass to the values we are building for our lives. Every experience creates a hunger for more of the same. It's like peering at a black hole and then going a little closer to visit. Eventually you will get so close that the experience and you are inextricable. 

Every step away from the festering blight of suburbia brings me more in touch with who I am and what is important. I hadn't seen many of my family members in attendance in at least 5 years, some as long as 12 years. Three years ago seems like a totally different lifetime since I was nearly a completely different person in almost every way possible. Being able to interact with these wonderful people as a free individual was amazing and as we all were gathered in a circle dancing at the end of the night I thought "if there was a heaven, I think it would be just like this". 

After we said our goodbyes and retired to our campsite, we dragged our sleeping bags outside to gaze up at the incredible display of the universe. Looking at the Milky Way and the innumerable stars I didn't feel small or weak, but instead was filled with a desire to explore. We spend way too much time with our eyes glued to screens or absorbed in the daily grind that we have ceased to look up at where we came from. I told my girlfriend "if there was a real Star Trek, I would sign up". Imagining all the possibilities out there inspires me to do whatever I can do to learn and explore. After seeing several shooting stars and something I'll never be able to explain, we headed to bed filled with excitement for the future but also sadness that it had to end for the moment. 

Walking away from religion and a belief in a supreme God, I've come to a point where the only two things that bear significance and merit are relationships and respect and understanding of the universe. Everything else is vanity at best. Find a connection to people and places that mean something to you and let the mass of memories grow drawing you closer and closer to the point where it consumes and embraces you.  

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Camping Misadventures

A mountain to the south patched in snow rose out of the mist and clouds, illuminated by the rising sun. The sky transitioned from light blue near the mountain to dark blue directly over head. As I looked up, a half moon was bidding goodbye. It was the perfect scene to snap me out of the bullshit. Last night was frustrating! My partner and I flew out to Wyoming for a cousins wedding yesterday afternoon and didn't land and acquire our rental car till nearly midnight in our body clocks time zone. The campground was an hour away down unlit two lane roads with copious warning signs to beware of wild life. When we stepped out of the airport, it dawned on us that we may have mispacked for the local climate. It also suddenly occurred to us that, we didn't have anything to sleep in at our tent site. 

You're probably thinking "what idiot goes camping and doesn't bring anything?" And I would respond "well said". The only excuse I have is that we have been trying to work and move this last month and it just fell through the cracks. The hour drive from Jackson Hole to Colter Bay provided a decent wind up in the stress department; would they have any blankets available or were we going to freeze? When we finally check in it took 20 minutes of circling around the unlit roads till we located our semi permanent tent where we found only thin foam mattresses covered in that plastic that soaks in the cold. I made a fire and we huddled up together hoping we would make it. 

Curled up with my love listening to the fire crackle while rain beat down on the canvas roof was rather magical but a few hours later it was too cold and we spent the rest of the night sleeping in our rental car with it running. Needless to say I was a little grumpy, very tired and moderately sore as I stared at the mountain watching the sun rise. Looking for some perspective on the situation, I considered this mountain - it had been there for thousands of years if not millions. On top of its age, it is massive in comparison to me and I thought "who am I to be complaining about anything? What right do I have in the face of something that has withstood adversity for so long?" It was kind of like the mountain quietly said "fuck you dude". I got the message - begrudgingly, at first. Perspective is what we need to be at peace in our lives. We focus on tiny little aspects that aren't the way we want them to be while ignoring the bigger picture and how we fit into it. I am a speck of matter, a fragment of consciousness seeking to find my place. While we were on a rafting trip last night down the Snake River, our guide Will told us several stories about the area particularly about several notable people who pioneered this area. Whether the story was mostly fiction or all true, I learned a valuable lesson from the life of John Colter. Colter was the foremost mountain man of his time even at 20 years of age. After trekking through much of this northwest region for a decade, John decided to head back to civilization for a bit. Despite surviving the harsh elements and a harrowing experience with the Blackfoot tribe, he died at 32 because he didn't have the anti-bodies to deal with the bacteria floating around in the general population. When you try to be something other than who you are, it may kill you. Find your place and then enjoy it.

Post script: Despite having a rough first night, our flight into Jackson Hole was delightful due to conversing with the woman at the end of our row. We were able to get some sleeping bags from the general store which was imperative since it ended up getting down to 30 degrees last night. They say the mountains are actually magnets that will draw you back and I can feel the pull already. Before going to sleep in our brand new sleeping bags last night we gazed at the stars for a while. It's one of those scenes where you have to tear yourself away because it is so awesome and vast that you don't want to turn your back on it. We are all star dust looking up into the scroll of our history.