Tag Archives: philosophy

Embrace

“You don’t know my mind, you don’t know my kind. Dark necessities are part of my design.”  RHCP

We stood in the hallway of my mom’s little home, saying our goodbyes. My mom, observing my sister and I, made the comment that we were as different as light and dark.  The silence that followed needed no explanation:  we all knew who could identify with which description.   I was the dark one.

I wrestled with this, and only now that I’m ‘middle-aged’ am I finally getting a handle on its meaning.   Darkness is often, in our society, associated with everything bad, revolting, and horrible.  I know myself not to be that kind of person, yet it’s obvious my choice in movie and book genres always portray dark forces that cripple the hero so that he or she must overcome monstrous challenges in order to declare victory, rather than finding my entertainment in comedies or romance.   I know that I tend towards sadness more than happiness, pain more than pleasure, and I’ll almost always choose the unknown adventure over promised security.

Yet, it is a necessity to have such darkness in our midst; this is an age old philosophical idea.   We would not know those among us who tend towards the light, for one thing. Could my family identify my sister as the ‘light’ if she were also compared to ‘light’?  And without a measure of darkness to strike against, how do we know how light it really is and to what degree it exists…is it bright against the dark like a welcoming porch light in the winter storm, or is it a small glimmer that only elucidates the next step of the path?

Besides embracing the notion that I personally have a bent toward the darker aspects of life dynamics, I’ve also navigated the difficult task of embracing the darkness that dwells within.   This is some of the most important time of introspection I have experienced.  It is difficult to look in the mirror and finally notice the shadow behind my eyes; the feelings behind some of my moods.  It is even more difficult to hold the image and acknowledge it for what it truly is – a part of me as much as my happiness.  It is even more difficult still to wrestle with that part of me and accept it, to find a place for it to sit within my soul; to understand that it doesn’t make me a ‘bad’ person for doing so.  In fact, it makes me a better person as I am more inclined to sympathize, more conscious of my self.

There’s a relief in it for me as well, I confess.   Coming from a Christian upbringing, I was taught that anything ‘bad’ was to be blamed on demons or the devil, some outside force over which I had no personal control or even understanding (hence our societal perception of ‘bad’ mentioned earlier).   The comprehension that ‘bad’ exists within as a means to compel me towards goodness rather than the idea that I am subject in some way to an outside boogeymen gives me a sense of control precisely because it enlightens me to certain undercurrents in my personality – awareness is everything.  And, I think,  when we can balance within ourselves the daily struggle most of us undertake to do the right thing and be ‘good’ against the inherent ‘bad’ we all possess, it’s not a stretch to claim that we gain a kind of confidence and strength, our steps become surer, our actions more and more deliberate when we do so.   Therein lies relief – and empowerment.

Embracing our own individual darkness is not a new concept either.  Luke Skywalker’s venture into an unknown cave revealed the face of his enemy instead…Harry Potter closed his eyes to see Lord Voldemort…Jesus’ forty days of wandering tested his personal weaknesses…The story line runs throughout human history as clearly as our DNA can be traced to certain areas of the world.

When considered at a personal level, and embraced as a necessary “part of our design”, darkness is not so scary and becomes a natural component of our world-view – this awareness empowers us in very real ways.

Yours,

Frankie

  • this short audio clip was helpful to me when working through the process of acknowledging my own darkness, it speaks of Carl Jung’s ability to do so within himself and how it empowered his world view.
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Promises

Losing a child is an unfathomable event, but these things I promise you:

You will feel like your body has failed you.  It hasn’t.  And someday it will prove this to you.

You will feel as if the darkness inside has no end, and no matter how bright the sun, there will never be a light in your heart again.  But the darkness will eventually give way to light, time is your friend.

You will feel that you will never be able to manage a genuine smile again.  A day will come, though, when that smile crosses your face and you realize you have survived somehow.

You will feel like no one can understand your pain.  You will be right, but there are those who would at least help carry it for a minute.  There are those who will at least validate your heartbreak.

You will feel robbed, indeed you have been.  Yet, there are gifts that arrive with the pain – deeper understanding, greater appreciation of joy, the ability to live in the moment.

You will be tempted towards bitterness, it can’t be helped.  The human spirit however, is strong and resilient, you will be able to find peace instead.

You will be angry.  It’s okay.  There is nothing fair or right or just about this, anger is justified.

You will die inside from grief, but I promise you will live again one day for happiness.

 

 


Beginning Notes: For My Niece on Her Graduation

 

madgrad        Graduation is a ceremony celebrating your academic accomplishment, but it also marks the beginning of adulthood and entrance into a world where second chances and do-overs are rare.  I humbly offer a few notes to you upon this beginning – born of my own observations, mistakes, and experiences – in order that you might have some tools to help along the way.

 

  • Nurture yourself, starting now.  We girls are really great at supporting everyone around us; our friends, family, significant others, the stranger who needed a hand with her groceries.  What we don’t realize is that we must also take care and nurture ourselves – mind, body, and soul.  Neglecting to do so will result in depression, burn out, and unhappiness.   So right now, I hereby give you permission to be selfish to the extent that you claim time to do this.  Maybe it’s a solitary walk, or a night in with just you and your favorite movie, or an afternoon alone in the park, make time for your self.   This note is first and foremost for a reason.  It is imperative.

 

  • In our digital age the pressure to be ‘like’ someone is immense, and burdensome. Be ‘like’ yourself.  This is your life after all.  Concentrate on figuring yourself out, and own your strengths and weaknesses.  Put your experiences and truths into action instead of someone else’s.   It is the only way to live a full life.

 

  • Do these things every day:

Wash your face before you go to bed.

Shave your legs and use lotion.

Do a set of squats before you get in the shower and another when you get out.

Meditate.

 

  • Know that there is a difference between sex and sexuality.   One is about the act, the other about how you express yourself.    Be free.  Embrace your likings and disliking’s, communicate with your partner, enjoy the intimacy, use birth control.

 

  • Choosing someone with whom to share your life is much like choosing the right pair of shoes.   They have to fit just right, and look good with the rest of the outfit as well.   They have to last a while; a girl must be economical above all things

Build a solid foundation of friendship…

Chemistry is everything…

 

  • Take time to be with nature.   Admire a sunset.  Smell a flower.  Watch children play.  Listen to a bird’s song.   These moments will keep you grounded.

 

  • Therapy/counseling is useful sometimes.   Life is messy and rarely turns out the way we imagined – an objective opinion, a neutral voice, and a sympathetic ear help immensely to sort out the chaos.

 

  • You are accountable only to yourself, with the exception of a few loved ones around you.  You owe no one an explanation.   However, this is a heavy burden.  It means acting with reason as much as possible and taking the hits when you haven’t.  Learn from your mistakes and don’t make the same mistake twice.  Know that others make their own mistakes; therefore we should dish out grace as generously as we dish out homemade ice cream on the Fourth of July.

 

  • We live in a competitive world and in a most competitive time, but we must support each other as women.   Be kind to each of your sisters.  Be a good leader by finding ways to cooperate and opportunities to congratulate.

 

  • Setting up a house means more than just buying furniture.  You will also need curtains, towels, silverware, cleaning supplies, mops, and a thousand little other things for which you never knew your mom went shopping.

 

  • Recycle and Repurpose.  Use a credit union instead of a bank.  Hire someone to do your taxes.  Check the oil, water, and tire pressure of your car regularly.  Pay your bills on time.

 

  • Love.   Love yourself first or you’ll have nothing to give.  Love your family next because they are blood and support you no matter what.  Love your friends with reckless abandon, they enrich your life.  Love your work or find a different job, time is short.  Love romantically – give your heart over entirely at least once to someone else – the pain is worth it and you’ll learn things about yourself you’d never learn otherwise.  Love every sunrise, it means you have another day of life.

 

  • Reflect the beauty you see around you, and you will be beautiful.

 

I am excited for you to begin your life.  There’s a fresh paved road ahead of you, you are the very first to make footprints upon it.  But there is no end in sight, there are no helpful markers along the way, and there are people who are watching you to follow your example.  As much as I’d like to be there for every stumble, fall, or broken bone, I cannot. So take these notes with you, they might help from time to time, and remember that you are loved dear girl, there are people that have confidence in you.    Auntie.

 

 

 


Bird Wise

The sparrow picks away at some wiggly delight in the yard.  The young morning is sweet with new light.  Work, already.

The natural wont for us to be busy.  Eons old, the compulsion can not be stifled. Fend for a living.

When is man happier than when he provides for his family?  When is woman more confident than when pursuing her passion?  Innate career goals.

I took a moment, a long quiet nurturing moment, to watch the scrub jay sitting in happy calm upon a fence post.   I learned  much.

The winged territorial animal just IS.   He seemed content within himself and his circumstance.  I thought.

Awareness has its drawbacks.  The jay is unconscious of the abstract. Free from its weight.

I released the stress that greeted my day.  Instead I simply saw the present.   Minuscule part of an infinite whole.

I sit and hear a robin perched high in a confident cedar.  Her song is cheerful, seductive.  I am reminded.

It is important to listen, just watch and observe.  Thus I feed the well waters of my soul. I enjoy.

She has no care! she will survive today and that is all that matters.   She sings, not knowing that I am moved.   I have my own song.

I will sing it.

 

 

 

 


The Missing

 

As atheists, we can’t count on an invisible god to get us through our trials.  We don’t turn to a ‘comforter’ when life challenges us.  We don’t appeal to a heavenly deity for miracles that defy nature.    Instead, we turn inward to ourselves.

I’ve been on both sides of the fence:  I spent my time in churches and on my knees,  clinging to some hope that something out there somewhere would somehow ease my pain and see me through whatever heartache I was dealing with.  Now I no longer turn towards a supposed omnipotent energy, I turn inward to myself for comfort, to family and friends for support.

The difference is notable and worth consideration.

Turning outward toward a god keeps us from finding our own strength.  Turning outward toward an entity whose evidence of existence is scant denies us the ability to learn to deal with things on our own.  It robs us of a confidence we find no other way. It stunts our growth as human beings.

It is painful to sound the depths of one’s own soul, it is not easy to learn to comfort one’s self with the challenges of life.   It is real however.   It is rewarding in a way that nothing else is.  It allows us to find a toughness within ourselves we can’t obtain if we turn to someone/something else.   It adds another facet to the diamond of our spirit.   I wouldn’t want it any different.

Here’s to strength, confidence, and growth.   They are ours for the taking…if we’re willing to turn inward and find them.

Yours,

Frankie

 

 

 

 

 


Angry

The wise Teacher says

“Take good care of your anger.”

I want to bury it, forget it exists.

It is a valid emotion however,

Justified more often than we admit.

 

“Take good care of your anger.”

Give it your attention.

It signals a wrong somewhere,

a hurt not healed,

a slight handed over,

a fear buried deep within.

 

“Take good care of your anger.”

Unfold the meaning that lies

behind the  child’s temper.

Free yourself and your soul

Open the door to hope and love.

 

“Take good care of your anger.”


 

Author’s Note:   The ‘Teacher’ to whom this poem refers is Thich Nhat Hanh, the Vietnamese Buddhist whose works are immensely insightful and truthful.   As I’ve been dealing with some of my own anger issues, his phrase “Take good care of your anger.” has been a meditative point for me.  It struck me that the admonition isn’t just “Take care of your anger,” or “Mind your anger,” but “Take GOOD CARE of your anger.”  When I began to “take good care”,  I’ve found that it’s not really anger that I am experiencing, there is a deeper truth that is uncomfortable.  Anger is only a symptom of that truth and once I uncovered the real issue, I could deal with it and move forward in freedom and assurance. Let us be mindful, and take GOOD CARE of our anger…..Yours, Frankie.


Ideal

 

I admit I have a wont

For perfection in every thing

In my home, my work,

And even my society.

 

I hold the standard high, Proclaim

“This! This is what we can achieve.”

Here’s a goal on which to fix our gaze.”

 

High and lofty are Ideals.

In their absence we’ve

No kind of map or compass,

No social steering wheel.

 

The Ideal is not realistic,

I get it.

It’s never played out or lived.

 

Yet without It’s fire and passion,

Without It’s noble dream,

There is no vision and we’re left to wander,

“Where do I go from here?”

 


Twenty-First Century Treatise: Applying the Laws of Nature to Human Civilization: Installment No. 2, Personal Balance

In the First Installment of the work “Twenty-First Century Treatise” we examined the idea that our current way of living has allowed us to become distant from Nature and we’ve forgotten some of Nature’s Laws in the process.   We discussed the notion that no matter how complex our civilizations and societies become, we are still bound to the Laws of Nature in the same way the stars, the weather, and our fellow four-legged animals are bound to them and even our social constructs must conform to those Laws.   Two of the most important Laws to which we are subject are those of Dichotomies and Balance.  Nature is ubiquitous with various forms of light and dark, positive and negative, male and female.  Nature is also constantly striving for balance among the multitudes of those opposites.  Our personal lives are no different, we struggle for balance in this area as well, just check out the self-help section of any local bookstore.

Personal Balance

Beginning with our physical being, our selves demand balance.   Consider that our bodies work diligently to keep our temperature at a toasty 98.6 degrees.  If we do not keep a balanced sleep to wake ratio our brains do not function right, we are irritable and prone to make poor decisions, even to the point of putting ourselves or others in life threatening situations. Our bodies work best on a balanced diet and any weightlifter knows the importance of getting in their ‘leg days’ in order to keep a physical symmetry.

While our bodies automatically balance themselves, because we have a conscience, we also seek balance between our body and mind, our work and home, and within our relationships.  In this day and age however, it takes almost no effort to become imbalanced in our personal lives.

There is an interesting issue hidden within the idea of mind/body balance that’s important to understand, and its the reason we become imbalanced so easily.  This particular kind of balance wasn’t really a big deal until our societies became so complex that we work mostly indoors.  Remember, until just  two or three hundred years ago, we were living much more intimately with Nature, our work schedules followed the cycles of Nature as we worked mostly in the summer and during the long daylight hours.   We also engaged in a much more physical lifestyle:  we had to labor over the soil to provide our food and we walked or rode to our destinations. (Interestingly, and I would submit in natural reaction to our less physically demanding work, we’ve created an entire industry of exercise equipment and gyms in an effort to give our bodies the workout they miss with our new sedentary way of life.)  Our brains and minds developed in concert with our bodies over millions of years of intimate, consistent interaction with Nature.  The mind and body balanced without effort.  Now however, our constructed way of life allows us to completely defy Nature’s cycles of night and day, summer and winter.  We keep to a rigid 8 to 5 schedule, every day, regardless of the season and the light.  We ignore our internal rhythm, wired by millions of years, and pull the ‘hoot owl’ or graveyard shifts (we aren’t  meant to be a nocturnal animal).   Scientists are finding out that workers who pull the ‘third shift’ have significantly more health problems including messed up metabolisms and increased risks of some cancers and heart problems.  Our disconnection with Nature and discordant lifestyle inherently leads to mind/body imbalance; I surmise that many of our health problems are manifestations of the stress related environment in which we currently find ourselves.

It’s an honest observation to make that just a couple hundred years isn’t long enough on Nature’s timeline for our physical bodies to adapt to our lightening speed civilizations.  Should we wonder why many of us in industrialized societies are prone to psychological, emotional, intellectual, and physical imbalance?  I believe it’s a fair assertion to claim that some (most?) of the psychological issues we deal with today – depression, A.D.H.D., bi-polar disorders, and addiction – are really symptoms of our struggle to cope with this new life without sufficient time for physical adaptation.  Children manifest this idea fully – in just a few short years we have wrangled them into cookie cutter classrooms without allowing, or at least acknowledging, that doing so completely violates the way our brains have developed:  that is to be free to be curious and ask questions, to learn by doing and experiencing rather than repetition and performance.  I am of the opinion that most children we deem problematic aren’t really so, they are merely struggling to adapt to an environment that runs contradictory to their Natural wiring and their brains have not yet figured it out.  They are out of balance with the world they are born into and that imbalance demonstrates itself in behavioral problems.

I do understand that some of the psychological illnesses we suffer from are the result of chemical imbalances in our brains.  Science has been brilliant at illuminating how the brain/mind works.  There is strong evidence however that many of our psychological problems are not naturally inherent or physiological issues, rather they are the result of living in our advanced civilizations.  For instance, high stress levels interfere with the serotonin levels in our brains and can cause depression.

It is important to acknowledge at some point that this shiny new way of living we have evokes some real, negative consequences.  It gives us room to be nicer to each other for one; we are all, at some level, struggling as physical, natural beings that live in artificial, unnatural environments.  Awareness also allows us the opportunity to find ways that might help us to cope and adapt, such as making an effort be outside and re-connect with Nature, even for a moment.

While we try to maintain a body/mind balance in life, there are times when a life event happens, or we choose to engage in a project and our mental/emotional state becomes out of balance as a result.  It’s okay.

When such circumstances arise, it important to understand that we are at the mercy of whatever challenge faces us.  Losing a loved one forces us to focus on the psychological component of our being as we wrestle with grief and its inherent wild ride.  – we can’t expect to engage our mental resources when we are trying to cope with the emotional swings of grief.   If I am in the throes of my last three semesters of a nursing program, chances are that I’m not going to have the wherewithal to delve deep into spiritual matters.  If I am a mother and have three children under the age of five, I’m probably not going to be doing a lot of reading (except of the Dr. Seuss variety).  We are not built to multi-task on this level. This is a vital concept.  Too often we berate ourselves or feel inept because we can’t do everything, all at once, but our beings only have the capacity to cope with only on one thing at a time.  We shouldn’t beat ourselves up over our inability to do something we aren’t equipped to do.

On the other hand, sometimes we can focus too much on one component of our minds to the detriment of the others.  One can spend too much time delving into spiritual matters to the detriment of intellectual or psychological growth, for example. Conversely, we can’t ignore our spirituality either.  It is imperative to take time to nurture the soul with introspection and evaluating one’s place and role in the scheme of things.

While we wrestle with mind/body balance and emotional balance, we also must work to strike a moral balance within our personal lives.   The moral dichotomy engages the elements of good and bad within us.  No matter what our choice might be for a moral guide (religious text, doing right for right’s sake and keeping a clean conscious) most of us strive for the light to overcome the dark although it’s hard to believe in this modern age of ours when headlines are fraught with the horrible ways we manage to treat each other.  Yet – if we look around us, at our families, our neighbors, our cohorts and colleagues, its seems we find that most of us really do come out on the side of right more often than not.  In other words, we humans tend to strike a positive moral balance on the whole.   There’s one more clue to this idea that merits some attention:  In all our writings and movies and tales and plays, we always manage to make good overcome evil.  We don’t know how to write the story any other way.   This alone gives me great confidence in our ability to maintain a healthy moral balance.    Would that we could own this trait with more surety.

I am thankful to be living in our modern times.   Modern medicine alone is worth the price of admission – we’re able to print 3D thyroids for mice!  I for one am personally grateful for the invention of smart phones.   But within this melee of technology and high speed living, we throw our very beings into a kind of shock wherein we must adapt quickly to new change.  Nature doesn’t work on our timeline however, and we suffer from the inability to adjust to our changing way of life.   Awareness, as usual, is ninety percent of overcoming any challenge, or at least learning to cope with it.   In this case our examination of the effects of a swift changing society gives us some clues as to how we can achieve a better balance in our lives.  It seems that regular doses of the combination of exercise and outdoor time is a key component in keeping our personal lives balanced.   Exercise helps to replace the not-long-ago vigorous workouts our bodies received the past several thousand years (It also goes a long way towards reducing stress levels).  Being outdoors to breathe some fresh air, be aware for a moment of our surroundings to notice a bird or cat or fellow human goes a long ways to re-establish our connection with Nature and the primal element lurking just below the surface in us all.

And while life events force us into imbalanced emotional lives, we can now be aware to give ourselves some grace since we know we simply cannot multi-task on that level. We achieve a good moral balance by choosing what’s right and positive, and most of us do well at this most of the time.   We should have more confidence in ourselves and each other considering we consistently come out on the side of what’s good.

We are physical beings, first and foremost.   A product of years of fine- and not-so-fine tuning and a blip among the millions of creatures on the tree of life.    We are, and will always be, bound to Nature’s Law of Balance just like every other bit of matter that resides within this universe.   Since we have become a conscious, aware animal, we must also  wrestle with the dynamics of  psychological, emotional, and mind/body balance.

May we do so with awareness, and grace.

Yours,

Frankie


 

Look for Installment 3 of Treatise for the 21st Century on March 1, 2016 to examine how Nature’s Law of Balance affects social movements and politics.


The Inability to Sit Still

A dear friend of mine, an amazingly talented painter, posted these words the other day.

“Unless it comes out of your soul like  a rocket.

Unless sitting still would drive you to madness, or suicide, or murder, don’t do it.

Unless the sun inside you is burning your gut, don’t do it.

When it is truly time and if you are chosen,

Then it will do it by itself and it will keep doing it until you die or it dies within you.

There is no other way,

and there never has been.”   Charles Bukowski

 

I’ve thought about sitting still.  I’ve thought often about throwing away the idea of writing completely. It’s not something I do in my spare time, I’ve quit a full time job with benefits in order to work part time, giving me the energy and opportunity to write.  But there are days when I realize that the ‘writing clock’ is almost as slow as the geological clock of the earth and I am certain I don’t have the patience to see it through.  Yet when I really think about it, when I really weigh the consequences of walking away, I always come back to the same thought:  I would explode with all the unwritten ideas, I would forever wonder how many lives I could have affected – even in the smallest of ways.   “Sitting still” would indeed drive me to “madness, or suicide, or murder.”

I am thankful for the inability to sit still however. Such energy lets me know that I am in the right place, doing the right thing.  If I were comfortable enough to sit still, if I possessed the wherewithal to take it out of me and set it aside, then maybe its not for me after all.  Maybe I don’t have the passion it takes to make it work.   If that’s the case then I am better off finding a thing that does invoke my passion, writing is difficult enough without it.

I know I can’t ever sit still though, and I know there are many of you out there who can’t either and whose gut burns with a bright sun. May we encourage each other to wait until it is ‘truly time’.

Here’s to a great week kids, and the inability to ‘sit still’.

Yours,  Frankie

 

 


Heartbeat

Pa Dum, Pa Dum, Pa Dum

heartbeat

Mere nodule of cells,

Clumped, assigned together

DNA Laws ensure a predictable tether.

Beginnings of our existence

Marked with steady cadence.

Life, defined with particular rhythm

Pa Dum, Pa Dum, Pa Dum

In song and pace of walk,

Poetic syntax, even sonic movie motif

The beat is Universal

Carried, performed, within each

Pulse of our commencement

Echo of our very start

Our soul is soothed at its sound

In it we find peace, and comfort

Pa Dum, Pa Dum, Pa Dum.