Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Mouse Magic

Last night, I'm sitting at the table reading the newspaper and I hear a 4 year old boy's cry making its way across the yard to the door. Hayden opens the front and heads straight for my arms. I ask what's wrong as he wails away. "Mom let the mouse go!"

We have a medium-sized steel garbage can for storing our black sunflower seed in. It sits near the back door of the old, abandon farm house we used to live in before we upgraded to cordwood. Yesterday, somebody didn't tighten the lid on it. When Annie and the kids when to refill the birdfeeder there was a mouse waiting for them at the bottom of the nearly empty can. With the help of their hands the mouse got the opportunity to run circles around the bottom of the can for a few minutes. Annie then went to pick it up so she could give the kids a closer look. It had different ideas. As soon as the mouse made contact with her hand it scampered up her arm and onto her shoulder, across to Sophia's hand which was touching her shoulder, and down her back to her pant leg and was gone in a flash. Not what Hayden had in mind.

Annie decided to leave the lid off the can for another night in an attempt to recreate the experience. This morning, while filling the dog food dish, I looked down at the can and noticed two beady, black eyes looking up at me.

I gave Hayden the news upon awakening. A few minutes later I see a naked boy running across the yard with mittens on to handle a mouse. It's like Christmas morning all over again without the snow and presents.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Goosebumps and Nixon

If something moves me I usually get goose bumps all over my body. Chris Hedges did this to me the other day in the few comments he made about Richard Nixon. He said that tricky Dick was our last liberal President. Why? That was the last time there was a liberal class willing and strong enough to push a President into signing liberal-minded legislation. He also mentioned that Nixon was frightened to death that the 50,000 or so protestors marching outside the White House in the name of civil rights were going to come through the walls and get him. That's according to Henry Kissinger's memoirs.

Mediocre people usually seek power. It's up to us to keep them in check. That's democracy.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

30 Hours of Podcasts

I downloaded close to 30 hours of author podcasts from The Philadelphia Free Library, and listened to all of them in the car while delivering mail last week. Out of all of them two authors and what they had to say stick in my mind. First, I'll paraphrase Alice Walker: Hope to sin only in the service to waking up. Sin is part of the discipline of who we become. There is no such thing as living without it. Secondly, Chris Hedges said that if we allow unfettered and unregulated capitalism to continue we'll be extinct as a species within a 100 years. The elites, he said, are preparing for the instability that every empire in its endgame goes through. That's part of the reason why they are collecting massive amounts of information about us and storing it in a building in Utah. He also said that theologists call the systems that our corporate state has created "systems of death." I like that term. I'm becoming more and more a fan of Chris Hedges. He's just as dark and doesn't sugar-coat a thing about the predicament we've got ourselves into, much like Derrick Jensen.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

In House Exchange Between Wife and I

My wife and I had one of our typical exchanges this morning. While reading this morning I ran across some really good writing about James Hillman. It expressed well the experience that I've had reading Hillman's work. I liked the section so much, and noticed there was a brief silence in the crying and chattering children, that I thought I'd better take the opportunity to read it to her. Like usual, afterwards she shook her head and wondered what the hell that had to do with anything.

"What?" I asked.

She said, "It doesn't really resonate for me because his work hasn't had an impact on me like it has you."

"I know." I said, "But it was so good that I had to read it out loud to you."

"That's fine. I don't mind listening. It just doesn't have the same affect on me as it does you," she said.

Then I said to her, "You know, it just occured to me that I used to do this exact same thing with a girlfriend that I had when I was 14. We talked alot on the phone. And there were times where I'd sit feeling the same way I do this morning blabbering on about some fascinating idea that someone had talked to me about. I wasn't talking about books or other's writing back then because I didn't read books. But it's the same exact thing but in a slightly different form."

"Ha!" she said with a smile, " I guess some things just never change."

"Guess not."

Here is the writing that inspired this post:

"By the way, a nonromantic friend or partner, too, can be a muse. I've already told the story of how James Hillman entered my imagination, taking up room and board there for decades, giving rise to much creative work. He has done the same for many other people because of the seminal quality of his thoughts and writings. You read him and the seeds get planted in the soil of your mind and sprout in good time. Then you don't know for sure if the ideas are yours or his. He wrote about people starting out in childhood like an acorn destined to be an oak, but he himself was an acorn. You have to read him with care, lest you lose yourself in his brilliance.

"Hillman's anima, his soul, his aesthetic sense mixed with his sharp ideas, the spark of imagination within him, revealed the nature of his muse. He inspired with his imagination and with the world he loved. On the other hand, to me Hillman was a muse taking on the disguise of a friend." ( Thomas Moore, pg. 193, A Religion of One's Own)

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

It's Been Awhile

I did something last night that I haven't done in probably close to 20 years: I ate a Big Mac. Afterwards my wife looked over at me from the driver's seat and jokingly asked: "Do you feel violated?" I thought I could just go with the flow and perhaps even rise above it. But after a night's worth of indigestion and reflection I can honestly say that it'll probably be another 20 years before it happens again.

Monday, May 12, 2014

An Unschooling Reflection

It was my now 14 year old son's first day of first grade. We decided as parents that it'd be a good idea to drive him into school given that it was a new school and experience. I was driving our rusty, old 1990 Ford Taurus, my wife in the passenger seat, my son in the backseat wearing his new school clothes holding onto his backpack. Traveling west on County E halfway between our house and where you turn off onto Hwy. 63 a voice from the backseat breaks the silence as we passed through the red pine plantations.

"What do you think I'm going to learn in school today?"

Without pause I answer, "You're going to learn how to sit still in a desk for long periods of time and watch the clock."

Years later I still find myself wondering if I should've or shouldn't have been so direct and honest.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Spring and Desire

Every spring it seems like my desires muliply.

"Desire takes you on and on until you realize that there is nothing in this world that will calm it completely. Then you find deep religion and learn that the ultimate object of desire is God or the divine, the mysterious and unnameable."--Thomas Moore, pg. 123, A Relgion of One's Own.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

The Two Monk's Story

"In a famous Zen story two monks are walking together and come to a river. A beautiful woman is standing there trying to figure out how to get across. The older monk offers to help and picks her up and carries her. Later, as the two monks resume their stroll, the younger says, 'I thought we weren't supposed to have contact with women.' The older monk replies, 'I put the woman down long ago, but you're still carrying her.'

"The lesson usually drawn from this story is, do what you have to do and move on. From a typical spiritual point of view, the monk picks up the woman and then lets go. No attachments, no complications, no worries.

"But disturbing reflection can be a good thing. Even inner conflict and worry inspire the need to sort things out. In my interpretation of the story, the young monk who can't stop thinking about the woman would become the teacher. He's more human and has the capacity to carry his experiences for a long time and worry about them. In a way, the story contrasts spirit and soul, and I favor the soulful young man."Thomas Moore, Pg. 115, A Religion of One's Own)

It was a refreshing and a relief to read this excerpt this morning. I've heard this story a few times and I've always looked at it from the spiritual point of view. I'm glad Thomas Moore gave us his perspective from the soul's point of view. I spent a lot of my childhood worrying and full of inner conflict, and to have a licensed psychologist acknowledge that this it isn't a genetice defect or something that needs to be fixed is a huge relief, even as a I approach 40.

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Good Video on Right's-Based Organizing

This video is the best introduction that I've seen yet on what Community Rights and "rights-based" organizing is all about.

"Communities, municipal officials, environmental and social justice organizations, and others engages in this "rights-based" organizing have come to a shared conclusion--we can't achieve local self-governance or sustainability under the existing structure of law.

"And further, that in order to drive necessary structural change into our legal system, they must begin by making legal change at the local level, and then drive it upward."--Thomas Linzey from "New Frontiers: Building a Grassroots Movement for Community Rights and the Rights of Nature" video

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Overthrowing The American Government

"I'm not looking to overthrow the American government, the corporate state already has." - John Trudell

Sunday, May 04, 2014

First Day of Fishing Season

Yesterday was the opening day of fishing season in Wisconsin. The events of that day went more or less like this. Woke up and sat on cushion for half-n-hour; started fire in masonry stove to keep house warm; arrived at work and delivered mail until mid-afternoon; stopped at gas station and bought: two bags of Giants sunflower seeds ( one bacon ranch the other siracha flavored), a fishing license and trout stamp; entered a house that looked like a bomb went off from three kids being home alone for 7 hours; started van and loaded up kids; stopped at the closest culvert with trout stream running under it; 14 year old son joyfully fished while I exhaustively kept kids out of road and from falling in fast flowing water; got home and played catch with sons; grilled some burgers for dinner and ate; read book to 4 year old son in bunk bed; passed out with book and son; we both awake at 2:30 AM to take pee and get in bed with wife and daughter.

Oh how the opening day of fishing season has evolved over the years.

Friday, May 02, 2014

Walk Like an Elephant

"In one of his insightful talks Zen master Shunryu Suzuki said that in your practice you should walk like an elephant. 'If you can walk slowly, without any idea of gain, then you are already a good Zen student.' There's a mantra for your religion: Walk like an elephant. It means to move at a comfortable pace. No rushing toward a goal. No push to make it all meaningful." Thomas Moore, pg. 43, A Religion of One's Own

All I need to say about this quote is yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. I think that is why I love baseball so much. A few years back, an elder friend of mine once said, "your a baseball player, the game and its pace fits your character." At that time in my life I hadn't played the game for close to a decade and wasn't coaching. He'd only heard me talk about it and seen me play catch with a weak and wounded arm. I was around 25 at the time and about ten years earlier I had my arm surgically repaired because it would not stay in it's socket anytime I threw a ball. I've never had full strength in my arm since. And ever since then anytime I took the field the feeling of being weak and disabled has always accompanied me. Anyway, the comment confused me because he'd never seen me compete. Nonetheless, the comment has always stuck with me.

This also points to why one of my biggest bitches about paying the bills by means of being a part-time rural letter carrier is that the job is based on speed. You're suppose to try and be back to the office at a certain time no matter what. If an elderly customer wants to sit down with a cup of coffee and chat about their childhood or gossip about a neighbor; or you want to pull over and watch a bear stroll across a field with her cubs, the clock is always ticking, and I despise it.

This also takes me back to a comment that a Facebook friend of mine made about a year or so ago: "It's interesting to me why your work is so far away from what your values are." It's one of those comments, I think, that cuts right through to the bone and arises periodically until the space between the work and the values isn't so vast.

Time to get ready to help out a fellow carrier pedal mail so she can go to a funeral.

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Thomas Moore on Soul and Spirit

"Spirit is the element that wants to perfect, purify, and transcend. It directs our attention to the future, the cosmos, and the infinite. It is abundant in education, progress, and vision. It allows us to advance and move upward in all our pursuits. It directs our attention away from ordinary life, the body, and sensual existence. Soul is the opposite: It lies embedded in our struggles and pleasures, in our ordinary circumstances and relationships, and in the emotions and fantasies that lie deep. We feel our soul stir at family gatherings and visits home, in deep friendships and romantic relationships. Comforting dinners and friendly lunches--food in general--makes the soul come alive. People often bring their soul issues to therapy and yet may need better ideas and a vision for their lives."--Thomas Moore, pg. 29, A Religion of One's Own