QUOTE OF THE MONTH
“When will justice come to Athens?” they asked Thucydides. He answered, “Justice will not come to Athens until those who are not injured are as indignant as those who are.”
QUOTE OF THE MONTH
“When will justice come to Athens?” they asked Thucydides. He answered, “Justice will not come to Athens until those who are not injured are as indignant as those who are.”
I mean, we see it every day. The call to gratitude. We are told to journal it. We are told to start every day with it.
Well I read something the other day that got me to thinking that perhaps we are looking at it wrongly, or at least superficially.
Let’s be real here.
When do we invoke this “count your blessings” doctrine?
Usually when crap is going badly for us. When the winter has been too long, or we are challenged by a health issue, or a loved one dies, or doesn’t love us any more. When the kids fly the coop, when the sinuses act up, when a promotion falls through. The list of human bumps in the road are endless.
And somebody reminds us, or we remind ourselves, to remember how darn fortunate we are “all things considered.”
So we dig our way out of the hole by posting a list of ten “gratitudes” each day, or we write in a journal, or we at least start our meditation/prayers with a list. Partly this greatly enlarges our concept of what we can be grateful for of course. The flowers, the sun when it has rained for days, a really good cup of coffee.
But what underlines much of this process, either consciously or otherwise, is an assumption of who or what one is to be grateful to. In fact, it’s pretty much in your face in some meme’s I’ve seen on Facebook.
We thank God for this, that, and everything good that happens to us. We thank God for a sunny warm day for that outdoor wedding, for surviving that heart attack, and for keeping us from that awful accident at that spot we passed only seconds before.
And that creates the great unspoken counterpoint.
Other people died in the accident we avoided. Others don’t survive their heart attacks. It rains on plenty of outdoor weddings. What have these folks done wrong? not enough of?
When we give gratefulness to God for the good, we automatically suggest that others weren’t deserving enough, didn’t believe enough, well enough, or something. Not enough. We however, are “good” enough.
God must love us a lot since we have all “this”. And God, consequently must not love them as much.
That is what we mean, even if we don’t think it.
And of course even our prayer of gratitude is not pure. It’s done for a purpose. To get us out of our sad/angry/scared place.
Surely we should be grateful. We work hard, we are patient, we study, we have friends and family who help us. All these things can be the point of our gratitude and no doubt deservingly so. Whatever my parents were or were not, they got me to college, allowed me the opportunity to become a lawyer, make a good living, set myself up for a nicely comfortable financial life. I owe them my gratitude. I also owe it to myself for all those endless days and nights of studying that first year of law school without which their funds would have been wasted.
But when I take it up the scale and I thank God, then I’m heading in a whole new direction.
For then I must posit and belief that God is a meddler. God is a minutia freak. God is pulling an infinity of strings to make sure that I got that education, that job, met that man, moved to that place, and on and on and on. Once you start here, you can’t stop. God ends up being responsible for every tooth not rotted with decay. God becomes responsible for somebody remembering to post birthday greetings on your Wall.
Free will is out the door, because it’s all part of God’s plan, that fall-back position for “I don’t know how the hell this happened”.
And if it’s one way, then it’s all ways. God is also responsible for the flood that ruined your home with not enough insurance to cover the repairs. God is at
fault the reason for sonny boy not getting into Princeton. God ruined the souffle.
Because He is either in charge or he’s not. There’s no middle ground. It’s all part of the great mysterious “plan” and it’s gotta happen that way. You have to have a headache on March 7, so that a husband doesn’t keel over from a stroke because you didn’t make that chocolate cake that was the last straw that would break the blood vessel’s wall two days later.
And if all that is true, then people who are shot and killed in Syria today were only dying because God willed it. It was for that higher purpose “plan”. And if people live with not enough to eat, well they are supposed to. There are slippery slopes, and this is one of them. Start down the path to praising God for the good in your life, and you have to admit that he causes all the bad too.
I’m not saying that God sits back and never does a thing. I think he speaks to each of us urgently every moment, begging us to rise to the occasion. And if we do, we’re looking out for ourselves, our loved ones, and all the people we don’t even know. We’re kinder and better to ourselves and everyone else. God urges that surgeon to be the best surgeon and completely focused. He begs her not to drink the night before. BUT SHE EITHER LISTENS OR DOESN’T AND IF SHE DOESN’T, AND HER HAND SLIPS, SHE’S TO BLAME, NOT GOD, FOR THE PATIENT’S DEATH.
You see what I mean?
That’s how God is God and we are we, fault-prone humans with free will to do or not do as we choose.
So by all means, give thanks for all you have. It’s a fine practice. Just remember who you need to thank and who not.
God can be thanked for much, but micromanaging your little life? Ahhh, not so much.
Make that people confuse me.
Except myself. I don’t confuse myself.
But I do find myself confusing.
I’m not confused about what confuses me.
Now that we have that straight, we may proceed.
I’m complicated. I know. Everyone is, but some people are not, and most people aren’t very, yet I am very. So I’m unique in that.
I’m what is referred to as a renaissance mind, not to be confused with a renaissance person. Da Vinci was a renaissance person, brilliant in a whole series of categories, or at least able to hold his own with experts in myriad fields of interest. I’m not Da Vinci nor would I wish to be since he is dead. I’m thankfully still flapping my jaws.
No, I’m a renaissance mind. That means that I have grandiose interest in lots of things but the general attention span worthy of no expert. So, I can chat generally on a whole lot of topics but if you look closely you might, just might find that the depth is shall we say, lacking. But let me point out, I still know a heck of a lot about a lot, which is more than I can say for most of my fellow humans.
Which is not to be judgmental in any fashion. For I see no obvious merit in knowing a lot about a lot of things. It’s perfectly fine to know a very lot about a couple of things. As most spiritual guides will tell you, it’s perfectly fine to be as you are and not actively seek nirvana or whatever you call enlightenment. There is no right or wrong here. Just choices.
Where I find myself uncomfortable with me is that I’m always vaguely twitchy. I mean instead of writing, I could be beading, or baking, or reading down the stack of books that never isn’t growing upward and outward. Or gardening. Or meditating. Or getting into that re-organization of my craft room which is fresh with tons of new shelf space and begging to be sorted and prettied. Sometimes I think that where crafts are concerned its more the “setting up” than the doing that fuels my passion. I have three crafts in process, and I spend a few minutes on each a day–hardly an addiction.
Days like today make me even more twitchy. Which is a nicer feeling word than anxious. I don’t like surprises.
I had today all planned out.
It’s all unraveled now.
You see, we were going to the Home and Garden show at the convention center followed by lunch.
It started off right. I took Diego on his walk and noted that I was going to be one very unhappy woman come Monday. Why you ask? I assume you are asking. Because with Daylight savings time going into effect on Sunday, our walk will commence at what is truly 5:00 a.m. as the sun doesn’t rise, and I’ll be back to walking in the light of a flashlight beam. Which is boring first of all, and second, makes animal sounds all the more scary when Diego stops, looks intently into the darkness and growls.
But today was nearing the sunrise over the mountains and the wind was light, and the walk was uneventful. I started the Friday wash, and reminded the Contrarian that we were leaving around 9:30 a.m., and make sure you are dressed in your big-boy clothes.
Being a thoroughly responsible person, I picked up the paper to double-check the TIME, and frowned. “What day is this?” I queried. “The seventh,” he chimed. “OH FREAKIN’ FUCK A DUCK!”
“Whatsa matter?” he bellowed.
The damned House and Garden thingie is not until tomorrow!” I moaned, near tears (no not really, but I thought the effect dramatic).
Now to people who are kinda, laid back, this is puzzling no doubt.
But to ME, it’s a catastrophe, because a host of other chit is based on that schedule.
Tomorrow was to spatchcock a whole chicken on the grill with a soy-based sauce.
Tomorrow was to make a cheesecake.
Tomorrow was NOT TO DRIVE ANYWHERE.
So, I have to reorganize and I mean NOW!
So here I sit, writing, which I now have time for, and the cheesecake is cooling on a rack, and the laundry is spinning and drying away, and we are still going out to lunch, for not only did I get the day wrong, but the time for tomorrow. It’s at 9 a.m instead of 10 a.m and we won’t be there long enough to eat in town, so it’s pork chops and somethin’ and somethin’ yet to be decided tomorrow, and the chicken can’t possible be ready for today since I had just taken it from the freezer, and so that recipe is off until next week, Saturday, and who knows about the meatball casserole come Monday?
But I think I have it all straight now.
Meanwhile, since I’m a renaissance mind, I’m grousing fairly frequently as I hear the “speech” given by one major GOP asshole after another. Seriously how do normal looking people get so geeked up by trading lies back and forth in some group masturbatory extravaganza?
Boehner is out this year, and the “other” white Bush just had to be on vacation this year and couldn’t attend which is probably because he is bucking ma-Babs and might take a run at the Presidency anyway and needs to appeal to Independents who are NOT people who know much of anything but DO get a little scared by the rhetoric of a Ted Cruz who they are not yet aware of but will be at least three weeks before the nominations are being decided.
Meanwhile, McConnell came with a rifle to look all teabaggerish in his Charlton Heston mime, which means he is REALLY REALLY SCARED he’s gonna lose. Rickie Santorum has been relegated to day two, since nobody cares. Wayne la Pee Pee LaPierre, ranted about having a gun in every room, every closet, every vehicle, and perhaps a side holster on the kid’s bike just for extra-sure safety. All because Obama is gonna take your guns ya know.
As if that weren’t enough to make you upchuck your morning coffee, fundamentalists, I find are still the most insanely illogical but perversely self-serving people I know, or rather am forced to know, wishing I’d never met them, let alone spent untold numbers of hours being close to their toxic brains all before they discovered that the “bible interpreted my way” brought much personal satisfaction and the obvious scapegoat for all personal bigotry and selfishness.
I was nearly thrown off my horse this morning (figuratively, though I once owned a fine sorrel quarterhorse named Patty who had good form, a great canter but was afraid of bridges), when I was grousing that I had forgotten to put a pair of slacks in the wash, when the Contrarian offered this gem: “That’s okay babe, I left a pair of my shorts in the garage.”
“Are you changing your clothes in the garage now?” I screeched in an octave above human hearing.
“NO,” he snidely proffered, with that look of contempt that only a man dealing with his wife knows how to do, (similar to the one she has when dealing with him–in fact we might have mirrored that look at that very instant–which could cause a black hole in space I’m told). “I was going to throw them in the washer, and walked out into the garage forgetting,” he snarked.
Don’t get me started on mechanical hands as I call him. His brain short-circuits a lot (and I have the MRI’s to prove it), and when it’s out of mind, it’s out of hand, meaning that when he “forgets” what’s in his hand, it opens and drops said item where ever he may be. I cannot begin to tell you the strange places I have found “things”.
So, all told it’s been a bad start.
And it’s my turn to pick where we go to lunch.
And I would rather be reading the latest in Scientific American on the “Revolutionary tools that will reveal how thoughts and emotions arise”, since as you can see, I could use some help.
It ain’t easy bein’ me. Seriously.
Laughing through the nonsense.
P.S. why does anyone care what wrong-ways McCain, Bilbo Kristol, Lindsey *Pink* Graham, or Dick Vadar Cheney HAVE TO SAY ABOUT ANYTHING? Have they ever been right?
I haven’t posted a book review here for some time, having moved that part of the operation over to Extraordinary Words.
But, since I’m owner, operator, and often sole practitioner of said websites, it is always my prerogative to bore the crap out of new audiences whenever I get the hankering. You are of course always free to click elsewhere.
I’m rather taken with Mr. McKenna generally but not in a guruish sort of way. I like what he says, though I remain open to the idea that he is just another huckster on the road with a good gift of gab, a reasonable understanding of the newest of the New Age twists, and the marketing talents of a sharp Madison Avenue/Internet bright bulb to pull off a nice living.
That said, he makes some considerable sense. Not all of what he says is new of course, but he does have a way of saying things that rather strikes one as accurate.
His best argument that most of what passes for “enlightenment” teaching is pure hogwash is simply the question: So where are the glowing testimonials of the “newly enlightened?” I mean people have been following some of these “masters” for decades. Why are there no graduates?
Jed on the other hand claims that he “graduates” about two students a year from his make-shift ashram in Midwest Iowa. Of course we have no way of knowing if that is true, since Jed is apparently not his real name, and the location of the ashram is as far as I know, unknown to all but those who somehow “find their way there.”
You can see that I am a skeptic.
All this stuff that Jed talks about is just clear enough to get your attention yet just vague enough to give no real direction. We are to ask ourselves “who we are” and we are to “peel away the false” until nothing is left but the truth. It is a bit like Justice Black and pornography, “I don’t know how to define it, but I know it when I see it.” We will know we are enlightened when we are.
We will lose ourselves, the I of us dissolves into the unity of all. We will not find bliss, so much as “well of course”. It’s better than anything, but really lots of people are having a good enough time in the dream world and shouldn’t bother. It’s okay if you choose not to chase the truth, because everyone is where they should be, things are as they should be, and everybody gets there anyway, some time.
Which means I guess that re-incarnation in some form must be the vehicle.
I’m told that the moment one “takes the first step” (realizing most everything one has learned up to that point is a damnable lie) is usually quite earth shattering. Meaning that for some, the shock sends them into mental hospitals until they have worked it out. As one of his guests, Julie, said, ” I spent fifteen years reading New Age books, meditating, being a vegetarian, doing yoga, and going to lectures, and it’s all for nothing!” She was put to bed and told to sleep.
Well, I can believe all that is true. Which is not to say, and Jed would confirm, that all these things, reading, meditating, yoga, etc,., are not good and laudable in themselves. They all have benefits and are worthy to do if you are so inclined. But lead to enlightenment? No. They won’t do that. At best some meditation may give you a glimpse of unity here and there, but even that is not the true unity–the non-dual type which is our destiny.
Somehow I’m told the universe is a good, decent and supportive place, and I can trust that if I’m reading his book, then the universe figured I was ready.
I read all this stuff that my spiritual practices have gotten me zilch, and I gotta say, I’m not bent out of shape. I mean I’m not feeling betrayed, used, or even a bit wild-eyed and lost. After all, I’m ready so the universe seems to suggest. So what’s to get upset about. If I’ve spent some years doing a lot of things that haven’t brought me an inch closer to enlightenment, why is that upsetting? Apparently I wasn’t ready until now.
You see how you can get around all the skeptical questions?
Worse, Jed says that every path is unique. So his way, which he doesn’t endorse nor push, is his way, not anyone else’s. He’s at best functioning as a series of bumper guards as you careen down your unique path. He just nudges you back on the road when you are threatening to run off a cliff.
Which sounds pretty okay.
Still it leaves one with a lot of questions, and mostly definitely on your own.
Which he says is how it’s supposed to be. No warm fuzzy group hug. You just must be relentless in questioning everything, taking nobody’s answers as true, and focusing on arriving at what is true. Once there, self is gone, and you participate in this grand stage show watching the rest of the world act out their parts, no longer caught up in the drama yourself.
So far I have figured that I think. Whatever I is, I have some ability to think. Whether that is mine, or part of something else is something else again. I figure something created this appearance of material stuff. It would seem this entity (God or whatever you might choose) is benevolent since there would be seemingly no point otherwise. Beyond that, I confess I know nothing.
We are (we ego beings) all afraid because not one of us (save the few who are enlightened) know what is coming. We are sure of only death and we have no clue what happens then. We only have beliefs, theories, and mostly hope.
I am mostly not a supporter of “self-help” books for I have found from my own experiences, and surmise across the board that they all work and they all don’t to about the same degree. Meaning, that if you happen to be pretty much “like” the writer, you might too benefit, but that percentage is indeed small. Books that are focused on helping us achieve enlightenment are no different. The difference in McKenna’s book is that it is unique in telling you that you’re pretty much on your own. That applies to EVERYONE, so ironically, his self-help is perhaps the only one who truly helps all.
I find his book helpful in helping me to focus on what matters. I’ve ordered the other two which with this one constitute the “trilogy”. If nothing else it helps to understand what enlightenment is not. What it is, is the journey we are all on, like it or not, knowingly or not.
Finally I understand exactly what Sheldon Kopp meant in his title: If You Meet the Buddha on the Road, Kill Him! McKenna gives us the medicine and he has added no grape flavor. It really doesn’t matter if you decide to take it or not.
How’s that for a review?
As a kid I remember trying to figure out how Santa could visit every house in our subdivision let alone the city, state, country, WORLD.
I puzzled over a child’s book about the moon and various theories about how we got it. My favorite was the one where it was like a giant pimple that got bigger and puffier, and then like taffy stretched until it tore loose.
On and on it went. The search for what was true.
I figure that search if taken seriously (most don’t of course, and live out their lives in normal day-to-day fluff until one day they cease breathing), it leads to one of two outcomes.
If it’s undertaken in some desperation and fear of annihilation, then I figure it leads to fundamentalism. Such folk breathe a sigh of relief, life is survivable!, and close up shop and live out the remaining time in normal day-to-day fluff until one day they cease breathing. Since the journey was taken in desperation, the conclusion that “I am saved, no more need be said or thought” becomes the black box of all black boxes, survivable by the onslaught of all FACTS to the contrary. It thus becomes not a search for truth, but an easy fix to my anxiety issues.
The other outcome is never really an outcome at all for most, but entails a life spent in searching. Unwilling to accept the first “pretty” truth offered and thereafter to sit with the
Ultimately we end up with a lot of possibilities but few sureties.
We leave a trail of discarded theories and books behind, encompassing the fields of philosophy, theology, particle physics, neuroscience, and cosmological models. (Am I the only one who bemoaned the loss of a pet theory such as the “steady-state universe as the damnable “facts” insisted I must?)
We read about Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Confucius, Buddhism, Sikhism, Zen, New Age, Old Age, Wiccan, and every conceivable “science” of the mind.
And it all comes down to partial answers and belief.
Every so-called guru has his/her answer, but as Jed McKenna asks, where do they roll out their “graduates”, i.e. fully enlightened beings, meaning people who KNOW? Every teacher has those who claim he/she has “changed their lives forever” and an equal number who cry charlatan. And they are probably both right.
I’m told to seek what is true. What is unalterably, perfectly, demonstrably true. And I am asked to ask again and again, “who am I?” Those operating in delusional dreams will answer, wife, mother, seamstress, student and other rot. Those semi-conscious, like myself, will respond smartly with a great deal of egotistical holier-than-thou-ism, “a spiritual being having a human experience”. We are both equally wrong I suspect, or both right. I doesn’t matter.
We have no proof we are either. We only think. René’s famous quote “I think, therefore I am” or cogito ergo sum to those who want to appear smarter than the average dog, is trite, and quite possibly wrong. For we must recall the Matrix and it’s consciousness in the circuit board which is merely an update on Plato’s cave.
We are left in the end, as I see it at least with nothing more than the statement that “a mind exists”. It may be mine, but that is just the beginning. There may be others, and perhaps one great one, or we may be all parts of one great one, or we may only be a created computer “mind” inhabiting a stage, playing out scripts or doing inprov at the behest of “a” mind.
I can only operate from this mind that I appear to have. The rest is all supposition and appearances.
That may be the only truth, this thinking thing, and I might well be wrong in that too.
If you have ever had the experience of sitting in a group of people at any social occasion or otherwise, and felt suddenly “pulled back” and aloof from all going on around you, observing even yourself from a “corner” of the room, then you know what I mean here. Is this reality or have we slipped in these moments into an open doorway we mostly fail to see? Do we glimpse the Matrix as it were, in such moments?
Are we like Jim Carrey in The Truman Show, or like Bill Murray in Groundhog’s Day? How can we tell?
We are told we must wake up! And we do this by asking questions and being relentless in stripping away the rot and retaining only the kernel of truth at the center.
Is there a center? Is there anything beyond the peelings?
I can reach the point that tells me that I am not what others think I am, nor even what I think I am. I am the product of what others have thought of what I have said, thought, and done, and how I have responded and molded myself to that. Where did I conform, retreat, stand my ground, or ignore what others said? How strong was my “self” or non-self as the truth seekers would say? When I peel away the layers of this false me is there a me at all in the end?
Does it matter?
Is it better to live in the illusion rather than be no-self?
It’s all about fuzzy concepts of non-duality in which mind and the universe are seen as the same. It’s a thoroughly Asian concept prominent in most Eastern religions, but finding purchase in the West among neo-Platonists. Mostly the West interprets it as a mind/body oneness.
Somehow this is seen as preferable, this non-dualism, but why that is so is not yet apparent to me. It’s also considered de rigueur to claim that the universe is a friendly place ready to do our bidding. Again, I’m not sure why.
If I come up with something I’ll be sure to let you know. But I’ve been told that we each have our own row to hoe and the universe will deliver us what and who we need exactly as we are ready to receive it, and in that uniquely unique fashion, we are all in this on our own.
There is peace in the truth.
(PS. If all this sounded slightly black, then I definitely set the wrong tone. It’s quite E N L I G H T E N I N G. )
Since the very title is a presumption, it seems right and logical that we do.
So bear with me.
Let’s assume some things:
Okay, so perhaps we are not so sure of those things, but the ideals are what we are after here, and those are certainly the ideals of Olympic competition, along with brotherhood, the international symbol for ma and apple pie, and the general touting of human excellence, there having been no Nobel’s or Oscar’s or Pulitzer’s at that time.
So of course we realize that all has gone terribly wrong in the ensuing millennia.
Today the Games are a nationalistic entertainment extravaganza wherein somehow one country is judged better than another by virtue of how it schemes to “help” its athletes win while still not getting caught for cheating. All kinds of political points are scored, lost, won, and wasted in the pursuit. Of increasing concern is the degree to which polluters, human rights violators, and countries unable to feed their own masses somehow manage to sweep, cover-up, board-up, or wall-off, these embarrassments while “hosting” these circuses.
Everyone waits with bated breath, (whatever that actually means) to see what Vlad Putin and his “nipples on display” ego has in store for gays and other dissidents once all the lovely people have gone and Russia returns to its cold, stark realities. We politely have looked the other way “for the sake of the athletes” and most of us will sanctimoniously report that his “opening and closing” paled in comparison with Beijing’s and even London’s.
Meanwhile a half-dozen impoverished countries will bid for the right to use dwindling resources to build venues which often go unused once the games are over, while poverty haunts the senses within blocks of these palaces of extreme waste.
So if I were handling things, this is what I’d do:
No doubt there are a hundred things wrong with what I have devised. But seriously this stuff is getting to be a joke and something must be done.
And is it time to devise a definition of eligibility? Are we going to have professionals or amateurs or some of each? Since we cannot stop the corruption of countries paying and supporting athletes to give them a hand up, we need to figure this out too. I have no salient opinion on this at this time. It’s fraught with landmines I fear.
On to MARCH MADNESS!
And you thought she would go quietly into the still dark night, returning to her lair, climbing into her sarcophagus, bidding adieu to Marcus, after relinquishing her role as beard to his hetero pretensions.
Bat shit crazy don’t play that way.
She continues to play the game of stupid queen of the mountain better than such noteworthy rivals as Sarah, Phyllis, and Marsha, all rolled into one. Michele Crazy Eyes Bachmann once again wins the gold metal for craziest damn woman to ever have a vagina.
But then she doesn’t. See that’s the really fine thing about this new pronouncement by the bible in one hand, gun in the other, reparative theory is your friend, nut job, is that it truly is shocking. See, while Marcus has always been firmly wedged into his closet of gayness, his beard, was really a man all along.
Yes, Michele, nobodies, Belle, is a guy. It’s a fact.
Here’s how we came to know.
She spilled the beans…or shall we say she spilled the gonads for all to see.
She ‘splained it this way: See, your Barack…being all Black and all, now he was elected because there was all this guilt floatin’ around, and him being only “half” ya know, black, it was like getting rid of that black angst thing, without technically ya know, havin’ to actually elect one of them. (I had this explained to me by a couple of Christianist ladies, one of whom howled that Obama isn’t black, he’s only half-black, having a white mother. Another explained that questioning his citizenship was not racist, because she had taken in a black girl to care for during her pregnancy’ and she was WAY darker than Obama, which proves I guess, in the mind of a racist, that well, only shades of color matter, but somehow that has nothing to do with RACE-ism)
But, Michele, intoned in her cutie little voice, tis not the same when it comes to women. Nah, America is not yet “ready for a woman President”, and for a coupla reasons. One, there ain’t no guilt in America over women, and two well, there is just no “pent-up desire” which is Michele’s way of saying there ain’t no stinkin’ hard-on for a woman.
And she oughta know, since she RAN FOR PRESIDENT. And since she did, and since she appears to believe her own slimy brain farts, well, it can only be that Michele is really Michael and no woman at all.
That’s the logic of it as far as I can see.
It all just was the “last straw” if you get my drift.
I’ve been reading an essay on a critical examination of the phrase “Sarah laughed” in Genesis. Done from a feminist point of view and gathering the linguistic evidence and the EARLIEST manuscripts, we learn that Sarah was actually laughing at the possibility that her old and dried up vagina might become that moist Eden once again and her old and flaccid husband might actually be able to get it up at his age. As such, it violated the shame/honor society of the Egyptian Jews who were translating the Septuagint into Koine Greek–the same version that would be used by the likes of Jesus and Paul as they read Torah in the synagogue of Jerusalem in the early years of the Common Era.
And if it were not for a long line of women starting with Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who just oddly enough thought that maybe God and the baby Jesus thought as highly of them as it did about all the men it focused on, well, we’d still be in the kitchen, barefoot no doubt and with a child at each elbow and one on the hip as we prepared a feast for the menfolk who were out and about “important” business.
And then, just then, before that I have to contend with a Neanderthal male who,without a single modicum of biblical training purports to bolster his ill-conceived notion that it was solely the “Jews what kilt our Lord,” by suggesting that I was not the least bit attractive from his arrogant pig-oinking position, well, I’m getting the feminist juices all fired up again.
So Michele, pseudo-woman, and Phyllis Schafley and her idiotic “be a good wife” while I make millions writing books and speaking for large fees, and Marsha Blackburn, with her “I’ll say whatever you tell me to if I can just be on camera” drivel, you can all go take a massive flying leap cause ladies, and I do use that term most advisedly, you are FUCKING NOT HELPING HERE as some of us are trying to make a world where girls can grow up to be anything they want and make as much as any man, and that child rearing is EVERY BODY’S business and responsibility, and that women’s ideas about compromise, caring, and compassion just might, JUST MIGHT add a segment to the conversation that MIGHT, JUST MIGHT result in fewer wars and less death, and more freakin’ happiness for all.
So THAT’S what I’m thinking about today.
How ’bout you?
We watched American Master’s Beauty in Truth last night. The life of Alice Walker, best known for writing The Color Purple. She goes to the top of my list of people I’d love to spend an evening with. She joins a list that includes Kathryn Hepburn, Carl Sagan, Woody Guthrie, Malcolm X, Dorothy Parker, Hypatia, Da Vinci, Socrates.
At the same time she makes me feel shame. More of that in a moment. The Contrarian said ditto for him in the shame department for much different reasons. He’s neglected women writers over the years. We talked a while of all the issues she raised.
How she said that “activism is the rent one pays for being alive”, or how she noted that “even the monk who meditates in a cave contributes to the world.” How she was puzzled that anyone would marry anyone “forever” since people come into your life to teach you something, and if we are growing, we grow out of relationships and we move on. As she moved from marriage to a white lawyer to a “partnering” with another man, to relationships with three women. How she birthed a girl and now doesn’t know who she is any more as that daughter streaked the tabloids with “why my mother no longer cares about me.”
How she traveled the world, dipping her hand into causes that fought for women’s and people’s rights, never caring what apple carts were upset. How she suffered the agony of aloneness when her own ripped her apart for seemingly forever over her depiction of Black men in The Color Purple.
How she writes, and how she lives, and loves, and continues to smile gently and get on with the messy business of life.
And how she writes! How the voices of the characters chatter in her head and she seeks the quiet of aloneness and busily writes down “their story”. She upsets me whole idea of writing novels. She makes me rethink my writing.
Such a powerful presence in our world. And she makes me feel shame.
Shame that it took me so very long to begin to be who I am, and not who I was supposed to be, and desperately wanted to be for far too long.
I mentioned recently that I never saw myself in the house with the white picket fence, standing at the door with lunch boxes, apron, and a lipsticked mouth, waiting on three or four passing blazes of pre-teen energy bodies, to run by with a grab at the lunch as they tumbled forth to school, with a man in a suit and briefcase bringing up the rear, jutting his head to one side to peck me on the cheek as he sauntered off to enter the male world of “business”.
I kept this all to myself, feared that I was strange, and did my damnedest to act like everyone else. Being a bit on the chubby side and wearing glasses put me at a distinct disadvantage which meant I had to try even harder. Add in the fact that I went to a small county school where cliques were EVERYTHING and not being “in” was definitely out, and you can understand that graduation was met with a sigh of relief and the ever-present optimism that college would be better.
Indeed I did not ever see myself as mommy stuff. I was way more comfortable in those young years even seeing myself as Captain Kirk’s First Officer than I was being Donna Reed or The Beav’s mother, June. I mean no disrespect to mothers everyone and anywhere, but having charge of squalling smelly babies was not my idea of a good thing, and I gritted my teeth through a handful of babysitting jobs just to prove that I could.
Don’t get me wrong, I think kids are great, also necessary, delightful at times, undeniably wise sometimes, funny, and all that stuff. As long as they as they belong to someone else.
But I was raised in the time and place that I was and so even though I saw the world from a “liberated” perch long before I heard the word, I did my best to want what I was told I was supposed to want. I scoured the countryside and cities and located the men I was supposed to, and had all the relationships one would expect. Some loved me to death, others enough, some not at all. And I returned that favor. Some were dear friends, some sweet encounters, some were frantic matings between two who just got the instant hots the minute they laid eyes on each other. (I even did it in the police station once.)
They tell me that during her last sickness, my mother was told that I had married. She smiled.
I’m not surprised. She never thought much of my lawyering. Marriage was and would always be the defining feature of womanhood to her. My appellation switched from failure to success with a ring on the left hand, third finger.
I bought into that stuff for so much longer than I care to admit.
I got lucky. Found a great man. One who loved me madly. One who, as the months and years went by and I peeled off the scabs of long- ago received wounds, and showed him all the sore spots, uncovering the ugly scars of things I’d said and done that I’d kept hidden in that secret organ we all have inside that almost no one knows about, one, who, still loved me even then. The flawed me, he loved. And I loved him back a thousand times a thousand for that.
This is all to say that I was not the child, not even the adult who gives less than half a shit what you or anyone thinks and does what they want. I was not the Alice Walker kid who declared at age 13 that she was through with “formal religion” and made it stick. Such people have some hidden lake of self-esteem that they can run to and drink deeply from whenever needed. I knew it not, and so I tried to be as I was “supposed to be” because being liked meant everything, being normal was everything.
I’ve gratefully moved off that stuck spot. I’m me and glorious. I admit I like to play a few games of bingo every day, and I’m reading about feminist criticism as a methodology of biblical scholarship. I care passionately about a host of issues am a true bleeding-heart liberal, feminist (with the facts to back it up), and tell people what I believe and argue with them when they don’t agree with me. I cook, don’t clean, and engage in more crafts that is sane. I was bored with law about the time I figured out I was doing it right. I’m smarter than most, but no genius by far. I know that education opened me up to a world that my provincial little auto town never would have.
I consider myself better than no one. My choices are mine, meant to make me right with me. Your choices might well horrify me, but I make no judgement about why you chose them. That I truly mean. Until your choices impinge on mine or others right to make their choices. Then, Houston, we got a problem.
And I love Alice Walker, and somewhere in the shadows of my soul she’s been mentoring me from afar, and somehow I heard her, albeit it took a long time to get through.
She makes me proud to be a woman. Hell she makes me proud to be human.