Thursday, January 24, 2013

Noah St. John, "The Last Mile"



I shared this beautiful spoken word piece with my literature class this morning since recently we were arguing over the question of what "literature" actually is. To a person, all the students agreed that this piece written and performed by a 15 year-old boy is literature. He moved them, he delighted them, and he had something "important" to say--it could even be considered a piece of protest literature, demonstrating that gay marriages are just as much marriages as any other marriage. They got to occupy his shoes for five minutes. We then moved on to some other short pieces in our textbook. The first was Jamaica Kincaid's "Girl." This one some liked, while others didn't. One student said, "It reads like a list." And, that is entirely true. Can a monologue of a list be literature? Maybe. What's in the list? What does the list reveal? Is there anything contradictory in the list? How can the girl be both a fetching, charming woman who'll catch a good man but not be "the slut [she] is bent on becoming?" What does the list say about social expectations regarding women?

What is my job, if not to open doors and invite them to walk through?

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Finally, Some Peace


Sometimes miracles really DO happen.

1. My brother is recovering from his stroke. We had a great conversation on the phone today, even joking about the Super Bowl. I think he'll be just fine.

2. Throughout it all, despite the stress, despite the occasional temptation to just drink and forget it all, any cravings disappeared as quickly as they came. I dismissed the thought of alcohol with a shudder and an "ugh."

3. The world unfolds, consciousness blooms, and things are progressing just as they should. We are blessed in so many ways.

Friday, January 18, 2013

For My Brother



My dear brother,

We haven't been very close since we were kids. Heck, even then we weren't close, as in sharing secrets and conspiring together. Part of that was just you being a boy and me being a girl. We had our sibling spats. And I was a goody-goody two shoes compared to you. Getting good grades (except for the inevitable Bs in math) came easily to me, whereas you had to struggle for Cs. I didn't ask Lois to compare you to me but she did it anyway. In retrospect that was unfair. What was it Einstein said? We're all geniuses... but if you judge an elephant by his ability to climb a tree, you're going to think the elephant is stupid.

Then we were separated: you off to the Virginia Home for Boys, she having convinced a judge you were a delinquent (hardly. But being put in there got you labeled as one); and me, shortly after, to foster care, my having convinced a judge she was an unfit parent. The abuse was unbearable. Neither of us was safe in that household and we were both better off out of there.

So life conspired to make us never tight as some siblings are tight. We dipped into and out of each other's lives on occasion but have never really depended on each other in any serious way. I've always thought you were a sweet guy--not a mean bone in your body. But like me, I guess I've always known you were an alcoholic, because you drank just like me, going on benders. I remember Raye setting her foot down, insisting you drink only on days you didn't have to work. That seemed to keep things well enough in check for you. I know there were times you wanted to quit drinking. Just never really stuck.

Of course, drinking with Type 2 diabetes is asking for trouble, but you know that. You always joked about "the Luck men" and how they die in their 50s. Okay, so now you're 52. Now you're in the hospital with your second incident of diabetic ketoacidosis, and you finally quit drinking this past August. So, big brother, why aren't you better?

Maybe the MRI will tell us more. Maybe you got a concussion when you fell and hit the floor. Maybe, like Steve, you had a stroke. I pray the part of you that's absent now is just floating in the ether, waiting to rejoin that body in the bed. It's not your time, big brother. I know what you went through with Raye and I know you don't want to put your wife and the rest of us through that. But guess what. We want you to. We're hurting already and we'd hurt a million times more just to have you hang on longer. We don't want you to fall away. No, we'd much rather you return to your senses and get better and thumb your nose at the Luck family curse.

It does mean getting some exercise and eating right and staying sober. I can help with the sober part. Maybe you're worried I'll submit you to unending lectures and insist you go to AA. I promise you I won't. After being sober for over three years, I can tell you that all that's really needed for sobriety is faith of some kind. It's the faith that brings you peace and comfort and removes the desire to drink. Otherwise, not drinking is just white-knuckling it through your days and nights. Trust me when I tell you that YOU have a purpose for being here; you are one of God's many wonders; you were not meant to leave us so soon. You still have so much to give. I'm here to tell you that now is the time to really start living. You have a loving wife who needs you.

So.... come back to us. You are blood of my blood. I promise to be a better little sister, not the standoffish snot I've occasionally been. We once talked of meeting up in Las Vegas for a visit--well, Vegas probably isn't the best idea now, but how about Hawaii? Some R&R with the four of us in a condo near the ocean sounds just about right to me. Snorkeling with sea turtles is something you will never forget. What say you?

I swear I have half the known world sending prayers and healing thoughts your way. Receive them with love, light, life. Get better soon.

Your loving,
Joyce

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

We Must Seek Out Peace



All of us, at times, have been guilty of war. The goal is to set our egos aside, at times even sacrificing our comforts and being willing to embrace change in the face of fear, to ensure all human beings may experience what it is to be free.

On Meditation


I like to think of meditation as prayer in reverse. Instead of talking to God, you just become receptive and listen. Sometimes, God will speak.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Horse Love



It has been far too long since I visited Golden Gate Fields, so I swung by today to watch about half the card and visit with some of the horses in Steve's barn. This one was particularly sweet, though unlike the others, he wasn't too interested in hoovering up a carrot. At the end when the video bumps and I say "hi," that's the horse nudging me to come back and give him more scratchies. So, I did.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Alan Hovhaness: "Mysterious Mountain" Symphony



Sometimes when I'm feeling melancholy, a beautiful piece of music will lift my spirits. This piece did so today.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Still Here

Oh, so much has been going on, and I haven't found the time to take a moment to catch up on blogging. First, I have to ask those of faith--any faith at all--to please send prayers and healing thoughts to my brother. He's been in the hospital on life support with diabetic ketoacidosis. I'm happy to say he is off the breathing machine now, but he's still not fully responsive. He has a long road of healing and life adjustments to make, which won't be easy, but with support and our collective caring, he will.

Also I'm all booked to go to Egypt with a friend (and a group of fellow Rosicrucian students) at the end of May. Hopefully the political situation there will have calmed down a bit by then. If it's not safe to travel, then the State Department won't let us travel, but it sounds like it's shaping up to be a wonderful trip. We'll visit the Pyramids, of course, and Luxor and the Temple of Karnak, and the Abu Simbel temple, the Valley of the Kings, and other places such as the Temples of Isis and Hathor, including a 3-day cruise on the Nile River. I've been reading a book on interpreting ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs and boy, are they a mind bender. So far the main problem I'm encountering when transliterating is that the symbols making up a particular word don't have to be in any particular order. They may go from right to left or left to right and then up and down or down and up, depending on the available space and how the arrangement of letters would fit. They also often leave out vowels as well and only put in the consonants. I was hoping to learn enough to at least be able to read some of the glyphs in the temples, but I'm not sure how much I'll actually be able to master by May, what with school in session. Oh well, at least I'll know what a cartouche is when I see one.

Beyond this, I've started dipping into Tom Campbell's My Big Toe trilogy (see several posts below), which is a colossal book. Between it and hieroglyphs and student essays, I suspect that will comprise the majority of reading I do over the next several months.

I remain sober and happily so.

I laugh more at absurdities and keep asking the big questions--what does it all mean? I feel lately like more of a receiver than a transmitter. I'm not sure I have any answers except for tons of possibilities. But what is life, if not a journey and a process?

And this sums it up. There's a fire crackling in the fireplace, and Jerry is sprawled out on a blanket in front of it roasting himself. Spaghetti sauce is bubbling on the stove. I'm still here.


Monday, January 7, 2013

Desiderata

Go placidly amidst the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexatious to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. With all its shams, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.
                                                                    ---Max Ehrmann

Friday, January 4, 2013

I once blogged about the Emerald Tablet here. So, what IS the "One Thing?"

According to physicist Tom Campbell, it is one great consciousness. (Emerson called it the Oversoul; others call it God.) Reducing your own entropy (the clutter in your ego-brain via meditation) and raising your own consciousness will take you to a higher level of perception in which you experience the One Thing.

It's tough to explain, but as an applied physicist who has conducted numerous experiments and has himself had out-of-body experiences and traveled across time and across universes, Campbell explains what he means in the video below. It's 90 minutes long, but well worth your time.


Tuesday, January 1, 2013