eThoughts : January 1, 2011: Auld Lang Syne

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.


Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Dylan Thomas

The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.

F. Scott Fitzgerald

Sometimes old acquaintances should be forgotten—especially when they suck. For instance, how about inappropriate sensitivities or insensitivities? How about one-size belief should fit all? How about the power of position trumps the power of knowledge? How about individual or community freedoms over individual or community stewardship? The list is nearly endless, yet these acquaintances are the smelly old security blankets we continue to carry around. They don’t work except if our plan is to remain divisive and exempt from a reality that looms a mere six-inches beyond our navels.

I think it was Jared Diamond who said humans are not descended from chimpanzees, we are merely a branch of chimpanzees. I propose we make a resolution to lose the chimpanzee brain—no offense to chimpanzees.

Make no mistake, I think our chimpanzee-ness has served us well. Tis a bit scary to exist in a world that can eat you—and in a myriad of ways at that. But if we want to go beyond being a member of a troop with frights and mites, punctuated by mere moments of tantalizing peace, it’s time we shed the cerebral echo chamber and listen to some other inputs besides our own reverberations. The world is frightening because we’re idiots, not because the world is a priori frightening.

For instance: Desire is not a bane, it’s a frame. Sure, we can get caught up in desire, but that doesn’t make desire itself bad, it’s the inappropriate application that’s the problem. For example, because we might be driven by sexual desire doesn’t mean we have to soak our genitalia in oil for years so we can become loosed from sexual desire, it means we’re so stupid we don’t have the fluidity to shift context. Instead we eschew contexts to avoid what we think we can’t handle because we’re human. Balderdash! We are human and we’re smart enough to handle sexual desire. Get over it and get on with it—lot’s of good things can happen if we pay attention. I hope you all know this. If not, maybe you’re missing something very important to attention and to the gifts we are provided.

The same is true of food and drink. These items are not to be eschewed, they’re to be enjoyed. Eat and drink in ways that enlighten us. I’ve had food that has brought the internal dialogue to a complete stop. I’ve had alcohol that has stunned me into reverent silence. That’s not bad, that’s a gift. Reframe and notice the gain, refrain and notice the bane. What’s this mean? Focus on crap and attention goes there. Focus on the gift and attention goes there. Actually, just focus and notice there’s more than dominant fears afoot—much, much more.

Being a foody or a lush or a sexual addict is not enjoyable in case no one has noticed—they’re a way to avoid enjoyment! Think about that. Avoid these gifts altogether because we’re frightened little mice and it is not desire that has done us in, it is the avoidance of handling desire appropriately that has done us in.

Aha! And just what is the definition of appropriate?! How in heaven would I know exactly? The definition is driven by context, not by static renditions. You might as well ask me what will come up on a road trip. Okay, some things can be said, but mostly one has to do some research and then pay attention besides. Get it together and go. Yes, there will likely be some unforeseen circumstances. Juke a bit from dogma now and then and notice the exhilaration of being alive. Imagine all that can go wrong and you’ll stay in your mouse hole and learn (maybe) the mouse hole.

Why this New Year’s rant? Most of life cannot be learned alone—not that we’re ever really alone. Like marriage (yes, I’m divorced), it takes more than one to let life work its miracles. I’m sick of this polite separation we call social courtesy. It’s not a courtesy, it’s avoidance. We can give each other a break at the same time we call each other out. And we can love while calling for a reality check.

I’m as vulnerable as the next person. This call-out could and has hurt. So what? I say we can keep more than one thought in mind and still function. I say we can be kind and still not go quietly into the night of our fear.

I’m waiting and I need you. And you need me. Let’s make it truly a New Year.

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