Thursday, September 25, 2014

All Good Things

I do not mean to be shallowly optimistic or habitually cynical. What I mean to be is informed, committed, intelligent, compassionate, open-minded, engaged, and interested in who I am, what I am doing, where we are as a culture, as a world, as human beings. There is so much happening on large-scale stages in our world today that demands and needs our attention, our understanding, our resolving.  I understand, now, that we do not have to know the infinitely changing physical details of each dramatic situation to understand what path we want to take and what energy we choose to contribute, just as we do not have to know each chemical within our bodies and the name of each muscle and nerve that makes us to understand the basis of who we are and how to support our healthy structure and energy of life. We do have to want to know, and begin to seek the knowledge that teaches us to know more about ourselves and what it means to support a good life, which supports a collective “good life” as we define it. We must be open to expanding our definitions of life, too, or we will not be able to go with the changes that offer the opportunities that life reveals to us every day, every moment, from “near” and “far.” What I contribute to the world is my life as I live it. Love more, love better, be love and think always of what it means to have the gift of being alive. We have to know what we want to create before we can become conscious of our power to create.  This is a beginning of wisdom. Choose wisely ... .Laugh lots. Bake cake, eat cake, toast all good things that come.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014


My mind is prone to wander into mazes that may be playful and fun but not as productive perhaps as … so many other things and perhaps another look at habits of mind and remembrance. There isn’t anything so scary there anymore, in that dark path, where twilight once hovered and slipped into a sometimes beautiful blanket of dark and moon. Moon-shadows that light the ground like outstretched limbs rest in full length, awaiting full light. Heat returns as sun rises and all nuance of light and dark changes. It is the thrill of a page turning, lunar light over water. Absolutely captivating.

The thrill of a page-turning is as simply beautiful as a leaf turning, a leaf floating, borne by any wisp of wind or even silence, to the ground waiting below, where it will begin to dissolve, slowly, into pieces, fragments, becoming almost fossil-like if we know how to look. The map and story of that leaf remains, in memory – ours and the Earth’s and the tree’s – as we honor the simple turning of seasons.

The delight of glittering sunlight is like a glimmer of a smile on a face which lights with love, remembrance, memory of laughter, and the spark of what will come next, an outstretched hand, a thought as a bridge to new tomorrows, and the absolute joy of come-what-may, the adventures we create and are.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

"Excellent Sheep" and Spiritual Growth (More on What's Love Got to Do With It)

“Instead of being intervals of freedom, they are breeding grounds for advancement.” What are we trying to advance and why?

David Brooks writes about William Deresiewicz’s vision of what it means to grow up (I’m paraphrasing – he says “what it takes to move from adolescence to adulthood”).  What it means to be educated in an environment that encourages a mind to discover what it is that is “worth wanting.” He writes about how in Deresiewicz's view elite universities have been absorbed into the “commercial ethos.” Stephen Pinker, the much read and visible psychologist, suggests that the university’s job is cognitive. He says “… I have no idea how to get my students to build a self or become a soul.” Students should acquire specific, practical knowledge. Brooks articulates what we have before us, as these thinkers suggest: three distinct purposes for a university: the commercial purpose (starting a career); cognitive purpose (acquiring information and learning how to think); and the moral purpose, as Deresiewicz offers in his new book, Excellent Sheep:  The Miseducation of the American Elite and the Way to a Meaningful Life. Brooks articulates perfectly, I think, that “people in authority no longer feel compelled to define how they think moral, emotional and spiritual growth happens.”  Either they don’t think it’s their place or they don’t think they know.

I had a college education in the early 80s, after a boarding school education in West Africa. My first “classroom experiences” began in a converted carport where my mother taught us, her four children, and other children who dropped in at different times. She incorporated what was called a correspondence system, which homeschoolers will recognize. I was born the third of triplets and we had an older brother, so we had a good beginning for a classroom. We graduated from high school in Nigeria and returned to the US for college. It took me a long while to sift and absorb and understand and balance that college experience (as I’ve written about in my “memoir), but all in all the incubation and environment was a wonderful one for me to begin to balance all of the energies of life I’d lived so far and was introducing in this next big new phase of life adventure that college is and was. There were wonderful professors who were passionate about their mission to teach young minds as they embraced the big world of both people and ideas. There was enough of a range of students to always offer a new horizon to watch, engage, and learn from as one’s mind opened to all that was offered. I am eternally grateful for that incubation, especially the professors whose intense mission helped create a great and warm environment for learning and advancing the life of the mind along with the Life of the individual and the individual as part of a collective.

I also went to graduate school and, after a little meandering path, received a Master’s degree which was satisfying to me at the time.  With some struggle, I had accomplished a goal. Five or six years later, I was introduced to a woman whose career was as an R.N. and also began teaching what she called Spiritual Philosophy.  Though I had been born the child of missionaries and was deeply incubated in religious teachings and culture, I discovered I did not have a definition of the soul that was satisfying to me as a mind. I thought I knew what “the soul” was, yet after listening to teaching about the soul for a few years and being asked to define the soul, I discovered that my answer did not really make sense to me – it was simply something I had heard and been taught at some point, but it did not have any true meaning that was valuable to me as a mind, to continue expanding and exploring and make this definition useful in my everyday evolution.

We have this dual concept in our world about what is “practical” and what is “spiritual,” I think, which harks back to  our ancient beliefs about the material and the spiritual; the lofty and the low; the body and the spirit. What Spiritual Philosophy has given me, as I continue to study “the meaning of life,” is a definition of the soul (as the mind and emotions), what it means to be designed as an evolving spirit consciousness, and the structure of what we have given ourselves to follow as physical human beings who are made to “live a good life” – the Ethical Values which are our spiritual heritage and embedded as part of our physical design.

Just as with any system of beliefs, we can pick and choose what we want to learn and we may also think we already “know it all.” We may think we are open to learning but mightily resist being taught. Children and parents the world over may smile at this enlightening thought, as I do. I have learned that we are “attracted to” (curious about) what we want and need to learn, even if we are not consciously aware of why we need to learn it.  We are energy and energy must move and change. (We have learned that.) It is our soul (as our mind and emotions) that, as energy, is attracted to and by energy and attracts other energy.  If we think about “energy” only as natural gas, oil, or calories burned, we are denying our mind and emotions (as our soul) the satisfaction of coming to know itself in the thrill of its adventure of life and growth.

Once we are motivated to want to learn something new, we have truly begun to expand our mind. We commit ourselves to learning, to growing as a mind. Our body knows how to grow itself – as a mind, we have to learn to support our optimum physical growth. We also have to learn to support our mind and our emotions in their optimum growth. These realms of knowledge support our spiritual growth, just as our spiritual growth supports a healthy mind and a healthy body and a happy life. We don’t have to know how to “build a soul,” as Pinker writes – we do need to know that we are a soul, of dual mind and emotions, and that we are designed to expand our consciousness. Acquiring useful knowledge is a main mission of the soul; but how do we define “useful knowledge”?  The intellect is not alone in the Universe of our internal mass consciousness. The mind and the heart are not designed to act independently, just as we humans are not designed to live on an island alone, as our own universe. Until we begin to think about what is our human design, in more than just physical ways (how can we fix the heart; why do we have high cholesterol, etc.), we will gather a lot of data, but not necessarily be truly educated (civilized).  We will not have to spend lots of money to study, again, why drinking more pure water is good for our overall health, beginning with our cells; why neurotoxins defeat our design of being healthy and energized as; why being kind and compassionate to ourselves and each other is a lesson we are all invited to learn to better our human and planetary health. And so on.

We learn only when we want to learn. There is always more to learn.

Monday, September 08, 2014

Another Scrimshaw, Surfer, Art Form Connection

Another Scrimshaw, Surfer, Art Form Connection

I love this! Finding "real-world forms" as we go.

Peter Spacek -PS: "I know. It’s weird. As I started to cut up old boards, I began to see real-world shapes. A book in a rail cross-section, a smile in a fin curve, a perfect barrel in a delaminating glass job. The shapes themselves kind of told me what to etch on them.
RG: And unlike many surf artists, you actually infuse humor into most of your pieces.
PS: Well that’s always been my style, part of my “artistic persona.” Or to put it another way, I’m a sucker for a gag…so I saw no reason to stop." Surfer mag - check it out!

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Just Listen.

Rather than suggesting logic while defying sense (as I read in a review of Laurie Anderson's Kronos Quartet collaborative Landfall), I like the suggesting sense while seeming to defy logic.

So much of what we sense becomes entangled in a maze of ... something that we try to identify in bits and pieces ... that we forget that we are the creators of our own maze. Hurricane Sandy made landfall and ruined so much. Laurie Anderson writes of seeing floating keyboards and such, and looking at the good side, that is, never having to sort through any of this stuff ever again. There is something restorative about such cleansing. About having to let go.

Instead of "convert or kill," what about cleanse?

Laugh. Paddle. Move. Dance, or something like it.

What if we had to register Poetic Licenses?

Climb a ladder, swim through a doorway, unearth an ancient cave, scale a tall building (if only for a selfie), identify a mountain, remember geography and the way topography teaches us to know our own journey, if we're paying attention.

Just listen.