Seven…

“Death cancels everything but truth.” – William Hazlitt

Wedding or funeral—which would we rather attend?

That’s an easy one, right?

Wrong.

Something else Solomon said was that it’s better to be at a funeral than a wedding.

Why? Three reasons (and none of them are jokes about marriage, like the either/or question: Are you married or happy?). First, everyone dies—it’s when, not if. Second, it’s wise to admit the first reason and foolishness to laugh when it’s time to mourn. And third, the outcome of honest mourning will lead to a better way of living.

Instead of ignoring death, we’re to become comfortable with it. With what death means.

Death means we’re alive.

To paraphrase Descartes, We die therefore we’re alive.

But there’s a difference between death and dying. Dying is often horrible and painful and harmful to those around—its’ agonizing and impoverishing. While death is closure.

It’s the denial of death that’s debilitating. It’s a form of fear that accentuates itself – it feeds off itself. Avoiding death reinforces the fearfulness of death. When we think about happy things to crowd out the sadness of death those happy thoughts become linked with the refusal of death.

And when we refuse death we’re refusing the opportunity to live.

Refusing death is like attempting to stop time. That’s how we lose life.

We lose life by disregarding the experience of time.

But holding death loosely—a loved one’s or our own inevitably—seems to trivialize the value of life. So we grasp at everything and anything representing life, whether personally in extreme emotional or physical stimulation or vague, symbolic representations we associate with life. Birth. Youth. Energy and vitality. We fear loss.

And depression. We fear depression.

According to common wisdom the ‘red flag’ of depression is thoughts of death. Actually the refusal of death is leads us to the either/or of ignorance or suicide, literally, when taking one’s own life is the honest option of the two. It’s a new martyrdom.

Suicide is a resignation to the future being worse than the past, often because of the past. And the present is regarded as worse than what is unchangeably the future.

But is the future inevitable?

The most unfortunate determinism of life is the inevitable experience of abuse (an extreme illustration of the ordinary). Ironically and predictably nine-out-of-ten who experience some form of abuse in childhood reproduce abusive behaviors in adulthood. The abused continue in abuse.

It’s not time for the inevitable; it’s time to question it.

The past isn’t altered but it’s open to a different reading. Most of what has happened, happens to us. Accidents of birth—when, to whom and in what circumstances; female, male, black, white, brown; rich, poor. We don’t choose these things. That’s the truer truth.

We didn’t choose these things, and we can’t change these things.

Why, then, is guilt our typical response to things unchangeable? Guilt is supposed to show humility, but this humility for being born a human isn’t humility. It’s

The alternative? Living without apology.

Is there another way to tell our story? Another way to account for what’s happened to us and what we’ve done with our lives?

Narrating our story differently, narrating our tales with an eye on what’s next, is a good practice. Instead of an unchangeable past leading to an unalterable future we can find an alternative.

This is our alternative. It’s time to become better interpreters of our own life, and of time.

By its very nature the moment, this moment, is transient. It cannot be grasped. It always dances between past and what’s next. It’s timeless.

And it’s also what’s next. It’s not the future, it’s what’s next.

There is no simple, direct, uninterrupted line between past, present and future. Calling that’s next ‘the future’ gives it a singular, closed and inevitable meaning. It cannot be changed. The only human response becomes resignation to it, and passive aggressiveness as a lifestyle.

An unchangeable past leads to regret (when married to guilt) but an unchangeable future invites worry and inevitable failure.

It’s time, not simply to change the future, live in the moment, or even accept the past.

There is an alternative. There is an option.

It’s time for the truer truth.

Six…

“Half a truth is often a great lie.” – Benjamin Franklin

Peek-a-boo!

Try it.

Seriously, try it.

Who will play? Who will smile? Kids, sure. Maybe an adult or two, but only under certain circumstances.

Adults are, by common definition, serious. Some call it the harsh truth of growing-up, but that’s only half the story.

Adults are somber. And adults are dying. Children are living.

And playing.

What is the opposite of play? If we answer, work, we’re wrong.

The opposite of play is boredom.

And it’s our word—boredom. It doesn’t show-up in dictionaries until the 1850’s and it describes what happens to our lives when we’re overwhelmed by work and technology. It means weariness with repetition. Loneliness from being anti-social. And not knowing what to do with all the time on our hands (unbelievable as it seems, that’s one of our bigger problems).

Boredom and weariness go hand-in-hand, and weariness we understand.

We know the feeling that there’s something missing. There’s just got to be something more.

Or, that we’re missing something.

Have you ever heard someone say, ‘This is boring!’ Or have we ever said that?

We say something is boring because we want to avoid vulnerability. We want to remain untouched. Isolated. When we want to resist humility and make sure everyone knows we’re in charge of our own life.

That’s why boredom isn’t a problem with boredom but with us.

A party is boring, a book is boring, a class is boring, people are boring, work is boring, life is boring, when we refuse to be social. When we reject doing something—anything—on terms set by others. We’re superior and proud and we want to live on our own terms.

And the opposite of boredom is willingness—willingness to play.

So try something: dance.

Randomly, but it’s better with music and it’s best if were the first to dance. We don’t have to be good, and it’s better if others are watching.

Start dancing. And when we start other will laugh at us.

It’s at this point—being laughed at by others—that we’ll need to do something crucial: keep dancing. If we keep dancing everyone else will be forced to do one of two things: keep up the laughter or join in.

Keeping up the laughter will lead to embarrassment (the laugher’s, not ours). We all know that false energy it takes to keep up the mocking and ridicule of others who dare to act unlike what we think is comfortable.

It takes our own embarrassment at other’s embarrassment to sustain that laughter. It’s uncomfortable and it makes others uncomfortable. We laugh like this because we’re showing we’re not like others and because we want to fit-in with these people by marginalizing those people—people who dance.

Joining-in takes courage. Even if we don’t dance with those who dance, we join-in by not laughing at them but smiling with them. We join-in by enjoying those who dance.

So, join-in.

There was an ancient king who brought a holy relic into his city. Instead of sitting in review he stripped-down and joined the procession, dancing without holding back, playing musical instruments and singing along the parade route. And he wasn’t embarrassed.

The daughter of the previous king saw all this and was appalled. This king, she said, distinguished himself by becoming vulgar or ordinary—just one of the crowd.

He said he hadn’t danced for the crowds, or her. He danced in gratitude.

And he promised it would get worse. He would humiliate himself in his own eyes. But everyone else would respect him for this.

It’s time to dance.

It’s time to grow-up and dance, like a king who didn’t care about being laughed at.

 

Two…

“A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.” – Mark Twain

Gullible.

Kids like to play the joke on adults: ‘Do you know that Gullible is written on the ceiling?’

It’s a little more sophisticated than the childish ‘Your shoe’s untied,’ but not much.

Did you know that gullible is written in every book about us?

It’s true.

They’re called self-help books.

So a man walks into a bookstore and asks the saleswoman, ‘Where’s the self-help section?’ She replied, ‘If I told you it would defeat the purpose.’

That’s not funny if we’re looking for help.

And we’ve always been looking for help.

Our ordinary motivational books, self-improvement talks, self-help seminars, speakers and even preachers prey on our preoccupation with pronouns. These books aren’t new, but the pronouns have changed.

Our preoccupation with the first person singular, that is. I. Me.

Interested in the alternative? Try beginning sentences without the second person pronoun—You.

Try having a fight without the second person pronoun! (It isn’t much of a fight.)

And self-help books use the second person to take advantage of our gullibility.

You, yes you!

How does it feel to have that accusative finger pointing at YOU!?

It doesn’t feel good, but neither does the kind of life that keeps us looking for help.

One complaint about us is that over eighty percent of self-help customers are repeat customers.

Customers?

Yes, we’re customers.

Oh, and over eighty percent of all statistics are made up to prove a point.

Right or wrong, either way, we’re not being told the truth. From self-help guru’s we’re told what we want to hear. From preachers we’re told if we do this or that, pray or pay, then God will give us whatever we wish for. Either way, we’re not being told the truth.

Either way we’re being told that it’s an either/or.

Statistically, with one foot in a bucket of ice water and the other in a bucket of boiling water we should be just right.

But we’re not buying that.

If the choice is between ‘We’re fine’ or ‘We’d like something better’ then we would like another choice.

But when we ask for another choice we’re told there a law against that. It’s called the law of the excluded middle. The idea is that something can’t be both true and not true at the same time.

And it makes perfect sense, except it’s not quite the whole story.

It’s not the whole story because there’s more to life than what we can grasp, what we can talk about, maybe even what we can imagine. Either/or logic presumes that all possible outcomes are accounted for.

Either/or logic says this is all there is; there’s nothing more.

That we have no other choices.

A man walks into a bar and asks the bartender for a glass of water. The bartender pulls out a shot gun and points it toward the man and fires, just missing the man’s head.

The man thanks the bartender and leaves a tip.

Why?

The man who asked for a glass of water had the hiccups and the bartender cured him.

There is always another choice.

But it might scare the hiccups out of us.

 

 

One…

“There are few nudities so objectionable as the naked truth.” – Agnes Repplier

It’s time.

It’s time to transform our lives—from the ordinary that shouldn’t have become normal for people like us to the life we’ve hoped for.

It’s time to live our hopes.

Solomon said there’s a time for everything.

Everything.

That means we always live in the time for something.

Now is our time.

No more excuses, no more delays, no better-things to do. In a voyeuristic culture, in a voyeuristic world, and in the mind game of ‘I like to watch’ it’s time to do something worth watching.

And we are ready.

It’s our time.

We’re ready for whatever is next because what’s next is all we’ve got.

The past can’t be changed. We can play with it, or twist it, but if we try to ignore it we will be haunted by it. It won’t go away.

The present—now—is ephemeral. It’s worse than brief, faster than fleeting; it’s timeless and seductive. And it’s gone, just like that. If we listen closely we can hear it laughing at us, mocking us.

What’s next is all we’ve got.

And what’s is next is up to us.

It’s time.

Our time.

This is the truer truth.

Begin…

“There are few nudities so objectionable as the naked truth.” – Agnes Repplier

It’s time.

It’s time to transform our lives—from the ordinary that shouldn’t have become normal for people like us to the life we’ve hoped for.

It’s time to live our hopes.

Solomon said there’s a time for everything.

Everything.

That means we always live in the time for something.

Now is our time.

No more excuses, no more delays, no better-things to do. In a voyeuristic culture, in a voyeuristic world, and in the mind game of ‘I like to watch’ it’s time to do something worth watching.

And we are ready.

It’s our time.

We’re ready for whatever is next because what’s next is all we’ve got.

The past can’t be changed. We can play with it, or twist it, but if we try to ignore it we will be haunted by it. It won’t go away.

The present—now—is ephemeral. It’s worse than brief, faster than fleeting; it’s timeless and seductive. And it’s gone, just like that. If we listen closely we can hear it laughing at us, mocking us.

What’s next is all we’ve got.

And what’s is next is up to us.

It’s time.

Our time.

This is the truer truth.

Object permanency and life…

Object permanence is
my greatest enemy;
it teases with the hope
that what I once had
remains, lingering
somewhere behind
the back of time past,
sleepless nights, empty
days, memories dancing
across a screen in my
heart; hiding from
troubles doesn’t make
them disappear, but
the love lost fades
and the only remedy
worth remembering is
I refuse to remember.

The Truer Truth… to begin…

Begin

“There are few nudities so objectionable as the naked truth.” – Agnes Repplier

It’s time.

It’s time to transform our lives—from the ordinary that shouldn’t have become normal for people like us to the life we’ve hoped for.

It’s time to live our hopes.

Solomon said there’s a time for everything.

Everything.

That means we always live in the time for something.

And now is our time.

No more excuses, no more delays, no better-things to do. In a voyeuristic culture, in a voyeuristic world, and in the mind-game of ‘I like to watch’ it’s time to do something worth watching.

And we are ready.

It’s our time to do something worth watching.

We’re ready for whatever is next because what’s next is all we’ve got.

The past can’t be changed. We can play with it, or twist it, but if we try to ignore it we will be haunted by it. It won’t go away.

The present—our now—is ephemeral. It’s worse than brief, faster than fleeting; it’s timeless and seductive. And it’s gone… just like that. If we listen closely we can hear it laughing at us, mocking us.

What’s next is all we’ve got.

And what’s is next is up to us.

It’s time.

Our time.

Our timeThis is the truer truth.

Confidence in disguise…

I feel famous on days like today,
plucky and serene, unhurried by
a schedule everyone else rushes
to keep, naturally pausing to look
into a mirror, chin raised and
finger tips guiding aside a wisp
of hair that falls back lazily,
attractively; exiting into a calm
day to match just me, stepping
onto the bus without a pause or
breaking stride, smiling in response
as strangers try to get my attention,
nodding and turning toward the
window as the sun itself brightens
while other squint uncomfortably;
my uniform hiding behind my
overcoat and scarf which is so soft
and flimsy it’s simply an accessory.

How to deal with a disgruntled employee…

Signed, the Management

It has come to our attention
that you are dissatisfied
with the general experience
of living, or so it would seem;
your constant complaints,
derogatory remarks, groans,
sour grimaces and typical
passive-aggressiveness
leave us with no other option
than to conclude that you
would be happier with
some other company;
therefore, please be advised
that effective in the immediate
future, possibly within as few
as six months, your employment
will be terminated and
a severance package will
be negotiated at the
discretion of the management
based upon your history
of contributions made
during your time with us.

Signed, the Management

Jack of all trades…

Oh, to be a Jack

Jack of all trades, master of none,
was the watchword back in the day
and I always found it so annoying;
an excuse, I was sure, to just ignore
so much going-on, available to me,
ready to become part of my little life
and make it big and exciting and alive;
but because of a distrust in abilities,
my grasp of every little thing, lacking
discernment, the inability to discern
between lust and love, hyper-attentive
distractedness, and the damnable
curiosity that kills cats, I was told
I just didn’t need to know because
people in power like to keep secrets
in order to keep it for themselves;
but I didn’t want their power,
I was no master, I just couldn’t stand
being happy with not being a Jack.