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?”

 


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.


Today, We Can’t Even

One day the right person’s son will die, and then we’ll get things done.

But today, we can’t even.

Perhaps in the  future our gun culture can be calmed.

But today, we can’t even.

Some day we’ll look back and wonder why we couldn’t meet in the middle.

But today, we can’t even.

Maybe, at some point, we can let go of jingoism to embrace logic.

But today, we can’t even.

Today we walk around with our hearts blown open.  Today we work on autopilot as our brains try to fathom yet another mass shooting.  Today we wake up a little more afraid of ourselves than we did yesterday.  Today we ache for our nation.

Today, we can’t even.