Friday, May 31, 2013

Play or Pay

The other day the library sent me Phil Jackson's new book Eleven Rings. Outside of coaching two baseball teams, practicing with my sons, and taking care of life's other priorities I've had the opportunity to read twenty pages or so out of ER. This morning I was taken by this quote by Lao Tzu:

The best athlete
wants his opponent at his best.
The best general
enters the mind of his enemy...
All of them embody
the virtue of non-competition.
Not that they don't love to compete,
but they do it in the spirit of play

This is probably one of the biggest challenges I have noticed when I'm coaching, especially in tight games. The spirit of play (I don't know if play necessarily needs to be light) turns into a must-win situation. I don't think this is a bad thing. It's just an observation, I guess.

There is something deeper that I got from the Lao Tzu quote, though. As a culture we don't keep that spirit of play in mind when we engage The Community of Life. We annihilate our competitors in the biological community. If they're competing with our food and our food's food we are at war with them. And we're going to go extinct if we don't stop this.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Responsibility To The World

I downloaded and listened to this interview on the mail route yesterday. JCP said something that really resonated with me: "We're not responsible for the world but to the world."

In my experience keeping this attitude has been easier said than done.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Not Looking Up

If you see the Buddha on the road kill him.

"On Problem with the sibling society is that, in its intense desire to get away from hierarchy, it unintentionally avoids all vertical longing."-- Robert Bly, pg. 213, The Sibling Society

Sunday, May 26, 2013

I'm Not A Believer In Evolution

The other day I had a family member tell me that they believed in evolution. I bristled. I almost responded by saying I don't believe in anything. But then I thought do I really know that? There must be a belief somewhere up there that I believe in. Anyway, like usual, I ran across a quote in a book that I'm currently reading that speaks to this. The idea of believing in evolution, or anything for that matter, just doesn't sound like a good idea to me.

"Everything exists in the moment. This moment is the basis of all creation. The universe wasn't created the Biblical six thousand years ago or even the scientific fifteen billion. The universe is created right now and right now it disappears. Before you have time to recognize its existence, it's gone forever. Yet the present moment penetrates all of time and space."-- Brad Warner, pg. 80, Hardcore Zen

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Saving The World

"Saving the world can only mean one thing: saving the world as a human habitat. Accomplishing this will mean (must mean) saving the world as a habitat for as many other species as possible."--Daniel Quinn, Pg.6, Beyond Civilization

Friday, May 24, 2013

The Schooling Question

Our kids don't go to school. When asked about it I usually say we homeschool our kids. From now on I'm going to differentiate and tell them we unschool.

I have to admit unschooling is tough to deal with at times. The very idea of allowing our children to follow their nose in their pursuit of learning can be frightening. Being a parent who has spent close to 14 years in the public compulsory schooling system probably has something to do with it. Given that most adults around me keep telling me that kids need structure and schooling probably has something else to do with it. Of course, there's the fact that my grandma was a grade school teacher who grew up during The Great Depression and came of age during The New Deal may be a factor too...

Thursday, May 23, 2013

My First Day of School

This morning I found myself sitting on the couch looking out the front window at our birdfeeder. There were cardinals, nuthatches, pine siskins, and various other birds (Even a few chipmunks) that were feeding on black sunflower seeds and playing around. As I was doing this a thought came to mind: This really lightens the heart. Generally, in the morning, I'm pissed off about some aspect of our way life. I don't know why. It could be the coffee or it could be the books I read. Who knows.

While doing this it occurred to me that the kids in my community were on the school bus on the way to school at that moment. Then it occurred to me the same was true for me when I was child. At that time in the morning I was either on the school bus or in my parent's car on the way to my grandparent's house, and if not their house then the babysitters. Then I was taken back to my first day of grade school. I spent the first twelve years of my life growing up in a trailer court. And on school mornings all the kids of the trailer park would meet down at the bus stop at the main entrance of the park. On that morning the school bus pulled up and the kids that have done this before were getting in line to await the opening of the sliding door. As they did this I took off running down the highway that ran along the front of the court. It wasn't planned, it just happened. My mom had to run down the highway and drag me back to the bus. I was in tears. I did not want to go to school. I hated the idea of being away from home all day.

Eventually the bus driver and my mom got me calmed down. I ended up sitting in the front seat of the school bus that day. The bus driver assured me everything would be okay and she'd take care of me.

Throughout my life I've looked back on that experience simply as a young boy not wanting to be away from his mother. But it occurred to me this morning that it wasn't just about a young boy being too attached to mom. I may not have wanted to leave my family. And I'm not just talking about my parents and my sister. I'm taking it beyond mom and dad and sister. I'm thinking about the frogs in the crick alongside the house, the baseball diamond just a few hundred yards away, the old abandoned camper that used to sit in the field, the red recliner that my dad used to sit in after work, the old basketball hoop in the yard behind the house.

There was something inside of me that morning that just didn't want to go to school. And there are days like today when that something is alive and well.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Don't Trust Anyone Over Thirty?

"Another way to put it is that people under thirty-five cannot teach themselves or others to eat the shadow. The initiation rituals hinted at in 'Iron John' imply and suppose old men who teach younger men how to eat the shadow. That teaching did not appear in the sixties, and it's not appearing now. Old men like Reagan, in fact, are teaching younger males how to project their shadow, not how to eat it."--Robert Bly, Pg.56, A Little Book on The Human Shadow

Monday, May 20, 2013

Not Innocence But Beauty

Once and awhile, as a father, I'm able to remember this.

"Not its innocence makes the child's psyche so susceptible to corruption of its desire, but its attachment to beauty. Eating disorders, media addiction, hyperactivity and victimization by exploiters are based in the child's native desire for beauty in this world comparable to the richness of its fantasy in the unconscious soul."--James Hillman, pg. xv, Inscapes of the Child's World

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Tribal Denial

"People are fascinated to learn why a pride of lions works, why a troop of baboons works, or why a flock of geese works, but they often resist learning why a tribe of humans works. Tribal humans were successful on this planet for three millions years before our agricultural revolution, and they're no less successful today wherever they manage to survive untouched, but many people of our culture don't want to hear about it."-- Daniel Quinn, Pg.12, Beyond Civilization

Friday, May 17, 2013


"International trade and the whole corporate state are based on a set of delusions that have been institutionalizing and hemming us in for six thousand years. We weren't always so destructive. But for some reason maybe six thousand years ago we began to see ourselves as separate from the world, separate from--and set against--other tribes, other cultures, other species: others. How you behave depends on how you see and feel your self. Once we see ourselves as separate from the rest of the world, we start to see every other being as a mere thing, and we begin to believe that we can get away with working our will on the world, that there wouldn't be negative consequences for attempting to do so, for pretending we're separate. But as you once wrote, Derrick, ignorance or denial of ecological law in no way exempts us from consequences of our actions."--George Draffan

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Melancholy, Madness, and Morning Coffee

For years now I've made it a habit to get out of bed before everyone else does in my house. I sit alone with a book, pencil, notebook and coffee. This morning I found myself sitting at the kitchen table with a black cup of coffee reading this passage out of A Blue Fire.

"We find the senex in our solitary taking account, sorting through, figuring out; alone behind the wheel on the way to work; head under the shower, under the dryer; alone at the kitchen table looking down into black coffee, in bed staring into night--the senex mind tying together the unraveled fringes of the day, making order.

"Here is our melancholy trying to make knowledge, trying to see through. But the truth is that the melancholy is the knowledge: the poison is the antidote. This would be the senex's most destructive insight: our senex order rests on senex madness. Our order is itself madness."[James Hillman, pg. 215, A Blue fire]

I sit here frozen and distant with my cup of coffee...

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

What To Do, What To Do

A smart insight into depression.

"Dame Melancholy may also appear as the embodiment and vision of depression, where she brings wisdom, as she did to Boethius, who was betrayed and thrown into prison when not yet forty. There his suicidal melancholy conjured the feminine figure of Wisdom, who dictated to him his Consolation of Philosophy. Depression and the awakening of one's genius are inseparable, say the texts. Yet for most of us there is much depression and little genius, little consolation of philosophy, only the melancholic stare--what to do, what to do." -- [James Hillman, Pg.212, A Blue Fire]

My experience with depressions have been plagued with ideas like: You're born with a chemical imbalance. This is just the way your great-grandfather was. What sin have you committed? You've got to get out of this and get yourself together.

Perhaps the consolation of philosophy wipes those away.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Chainsawing Brush

Chainsawing brush out of fence rows this morning. Body sore before and afterwards. Now I turn to The Te of Piglet for some inspiration. A few minutes later it's found:

"High winds do not blow all morning;
Heavy rain does not fall all day.
Are not these made by heaven and earth?
If the power of heaven and earth
Cannot make violent activity last,
How can you?" --Tao Te Ching

Time to start gearing up for baseball practice.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Believing in Fictions

“The final belief is to believe in a fiction, which you know to be a fiction, there being nothing else.”--Wallace Stevens

I pulled this quote from this blog post titled: Real Presences. A big thank you to Thomas Moore for keeping James Hillman's work present.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

No Need To Remember

"The story is held in your soul, and the soul has no need to remember."--Daniel Quinn, At Woomeroo

Friday, May 10, 2013

Work and Pleasure and God

As a child I was told by a family elder that "God put you on earth to do one thing: Work. And don't you forget it." If I could go back in time I would've responded with "Work is a beautiful thing if it brings you pleasure."

Perhaps that should be the final measure of your work's worth. In other words, maybe the question that should be asked: Does my job bring me pleasure?

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Rules and People

"The longer I live the more I worry about people and the less about rules."--Ingrid Maritine

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Brief Comment on Gayness

I don't understand the problem with Jason Collins (NBA center) coming out of the closet. If you don't like gay people then don't date one. It's pretty simple to me. The day we get sex and our sexual orientation under control it's all over for us.

Sunday, May 05, 2013

Got The Old Journals Out

Penciled in on July 7th, 2009:

"Peoplehood is impossible without cultural independence, which in turn is impossible without a landbase."--Vine Deloria Jr., Pg. 180, Custer Died For Your Sins

Now that I think of it, I'm pretty sure I've posted this before. Oh well, it's worth posting again.

Saturday, May 04, 2013

The Food is Locked Up

"Making food a commodity to be owned was one of the great innovations of our culture. No other culture in history has ever put food under lock and key--and putting it there is the cornerstone of our economy, for if the food wasn't under lock and key, who would work?"--[Daniel Quinn, Pg.5, Beyond Civilization]

Our two hanging birdfeeders were raided last night. The black sunflower seeds have been emptied out of one and the brand new suet cake missing out of the other. While walking out to the mail car this morning Annie noticed fresh bear tracks in the crusty snow. So, I'm assuming it was a black bear that had itself a snack last night. The interesting thing is that it didn't knock down any of the feeders or bend over our pole. In other words, no damage was done. I don't think a human could have made less of a mess.

It's the opening day of the Wisconsin fishing season today. There is still ice on a lot of lakes around here. I noticed on the front page of one our local newspapers one of the headlines read "This will probably be one of the latest ice outs ever recorded in modern history."

Friday, May 03, 2013

Pain and Pulpwood-Cutting

The quote below speaks to me. Why? I had to decide who I was when I was eighteen, and I did. I became a pulpwood cutter. I went numb from the neck down. But it wasn't about being comfortably numb, it was painful as hell.

"As adolescence ends--if there is no effective initiation or mentorship--a sad thing happens. The fire of thinking, the flaring up of creativity, the bonfires of tenderness, all begin to go out, It's as if the Army Corps of Engineers channels wild rivers into concrete banks. This happens to many boys, perhaps most. They become consolidated. They take what is around them--the pulp-cutting job, the few local opinions, the drinking culture, the 'Vocational School'--and they consolidate. They feel they have to decide who they are right now. They have no time to feel the traumas; and now that numbing of pain takes over; that numbing often becomes the essence of male life, much more of essence than domination or power over others. They adopt their dad's way of 'holding it in.' They store anger in their bodies, but worse, as John Lee has said over and over, the men do not learn how to express the anger in healthy, eloquent, or fruitful way. They experience anger but don't know what to do with it. There is a continuum that runs from experiencing anger to expelling anger in two seconds, skipping over verbal expression completely, and the result for some men will be domestic violence, hitting wives and children."

"Most men will not be violent. They will live in this state of expressionless consolidation all their lives, without violence, but without spontaneity or creativity either. The numbing of anger and grief will be the primary task of their psyches.

"The man who remains creative will make art for the rest of his life out of the remnants of infantile and adolescent conflicts. For other men, the end of adolescence means a shutting down of expressiveness and a fading of the fires. That is the way it has been for hundreds of years."--[Robert Bly, Pg. 127, The Sibling Society]

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Close To A Foot Of Snow

There is close to a foot of snow on the ground here in northwestern Wisconsin, and it's still falling. I just got off the phone with my nearly eighty year old grandfather. He said that he's never seen anything like this in the seventy years that he can remember. He said that he has seen four inches on the 5th of May, and that has been gone by noon. He also holds the offices of Town Chairman and County Board Representative. In his twenty years of serving in those capacities he's only had to order the roads to be plowed once in the month of April. Today will be the fifth time since the beginning of April he's had them plowed.

Yesterday I visited with a neighbor who'd mentioned that the United States will be the world's biggest producer of oil in at least five years. He of course was talking about the fields they are currently fracking out in North Dakota. He said it in a calm and matter-of-fact tone. There was no mention by either of us of climate change.

A couple of weeks back my mother-in-law called to let us know that she'd recently watched a documentary that pointed out that with the recent oil discoveries we now have the ability to consume oil at our current rate for a couple of decades. They also predicted that in fifteen to twenty years the human species could become extinct because we will not have cut back on our consumption.

Our batting cage that we recently bought from a family near Minneapolis has collapsed under the weight of the snow. We've had it up for only a week or so. We've had a chance to hit balls in it three or four times. I would have taken the net down, but I never expected this much snow. I'll be going out in a few minutes to start digging the wreckage out from underneath the snow.

The overall feeling in the house this morning is sadness. Personally, I'm pissed and sad that our cage is laying ruined and flat on the ground. But there is much deeper grief that has set in. Why? It's been said for at least a couple of decades now that if we continue to emit the amount of carbon dioxide that we have been into the atmosphere we're going to experience more extreme weather patterns. We've been warned about it, we didn't do anything about it, and now we're in it. I can only imagine what it will be like in ten years,

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Political Feminism and The Absolutism of Equality

"Wherever we would do something as agents, power appears, and where power appears so does our Western history in the word. We dominate in the image of our God, Dominus.

"We can immediately see why political feminism has focused on hierarchical organization as the keystone of 'patriarchal consciousness.' Hierarchy subordinates; power becomes domination and despotism. So, dismantle the table of organization and the declension of power downward from above. Restructure, either in utter equality or into flexible, cooperative, leaderless groups--production gangs, assembly teams, task forces--so as to remain horizontal and not pinnacle upward.

"For this radical shift in direction, sideways rather than up and down, new sins replace the old. Ruthless leveling--no head dare stick up too high. No one to look up to is the price of not looking down on anyone. Respect, admiration, awe go by the board. Other kinds of conformism and political correctness begin to dominate. A new tyranny emerges: the absolutism of equality."--James Hillman, Pg. 99, Kinds of Power