meditation · nature · procreation

Asking Mother Nature the Question.

2.4.19.jpgin middle earth

she plants.

a sphere of molten darkness

she walks hunched continuously

planting step, planting step

But what if none of your seeds bloom?

The earth, the temperature, the noxious?

but this is her job, to plant

to lay the seeds and leave

nature fate eventuality

do its own work

she’s unconcerned for the future

because her part is

to plant them.

not judge or

maneuver or fret:

Seeds must be sown

simply

because they must.

And she is content.

 

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meaning · nihilism · philosophy

Rainbows & Permafrost, Anthrax and Lollipops

2.1.19.gif“I’m having a mini-existential crisis… Erm, No, make that a full-blown existential crisis.”

Anthrax reindeer?

“Anthrax reindeer.  And, you know, I’m kind of excited about it; I’ve never had an existential crisis before.”

The end result of questioning what I want my legacy to be—and therefore what I want my life to be—in concert with the dawning awareness of the inevitable degradation of our planet is leading me into my first true existential crisis.

While surely there have been points in my life when the chips were terribly down and I questioned the point of putting myself through any further days, mainly those were of the stereotypical, “Life is awful, may as well end it,” crisis.  Whereas this is more of a, “Life is perfectly fine, if not really good, but so what?”

I’ve never had a ‘Life is Good’ existential crisis before.  I’m pretty curious about it!

I never studied philosophy; never read Man’s Search for Meaning; never read Sartre or Goethe or James.  What did they have to say about all this “sound and fury”?

I begin to apprehend Macbeth’s meaning when he intones after his wife’s suicide:

Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

Whatever the “meaning” of the life we make now, whatever the legacy, whatever the impact (positive, negative, or neutral) we have on the world and those around us, in a few millennia or sooner, it’s all a dust bin anyway.

So, why bother?

Just the very human search for meaning is meaningless.  The narcissism of humans to think that it “means” anything at all!

I can be and am curious, I can be and am grateful.  I can laugh and love and enjoy and squee… but there is no “point” except the doing of it.

In the Deepak/Oprah meditation today, they said there is no beauty or awe or wonder until we create it.  A sunset is meaningless unless my consciousness gives it meaning.  They further underlined the “centering thought” for the day: My being embraces life with gratitude.  And I agree that there is merit to the idea that simply by being alive we are impelled to find the goodness in it, that by my being alive I am impelled to improve my own life, the lives of those around me, and the future humans of this planet by making choices that align with my moral and ethical values.

Yes, making positive choices since I’m here anyway is fine.  But.

Short of self-harm, let’s see what else I can discover in this nihilistic chapter that I’ve opened.

 

collaboration · dissatisfaction · performance

“And suddenly solitude fell across his heart like a dusty reflection…”

10348598_10204752582560629_6563317244555255994_n
2014.  Way too long ago. 

He closed his eyes. The dark doors within him opened and he entered. The next performance in the theater of Grenouille’s soul was beginning. ~ Patrick Süskind

Maybe it’s the staid nature of the neighborhood around here, the increasing pressure on some time-sensitive projects at work, or the subtle undercurrent of the kids question, but I’ve been feeling itchy.

Since I began at this school two school years ago, I haven’t participated in any theater.  I had to give up my folk duo’s monthly performance because it’s staged late on Sunday evenings, which also meant giving up my weekly practice sessions with my music partner.  My piano buddy and I haven’t met since I moved up north.  And my own piano stand is in Oakland, while the keyboard is in the attic.

While writing is a creative outlet—and when I blog regularly, it surely helps to calm the brain gremlins—I’ve realized that writing is a pretty solo and solitary venture.  When I’ve felt most engaged, I’ve also been a part of something performative or collaborative.  Something where I get to create with other people.

And I feel kinda itchy and lonely for that.

What happens when I neglect those social, collaborative arenas is that I begin to pick out the flaws in everything else.  And, if you’re living with me, you’re probably going to get the lion’s share of that!  And that’s not fair, because it’s also not reality; it’s a microscoped circle of vision about an aspect of my life since others are atrophied.

My energy gets low, my irritation gets high, and it’s easy to lummox into a myopic spiral.

It’s unclear to me at present the exact action steps to take toward broadening my creative and productive vivacity, but noticing that I’m teetering on the edge of Limited Perspective is a start.

 

fiction · fun · scifi · writing

A start to an experiment.

1.30.19.jpgYou’d think that after four months of waking up in a space bunk, Sam would remember not to sit up and bash his head, but he had other things on his mind.

Rubbing the sore spot, again, he swung out from his cot and placed his feet onto the heat circles lighting up beneath them.  The morning scratches were the same as back on Earth, but the eternal thrum of the ship around him meant all his cells were slightly agitated at all times, like living in New York City or near high power lines, a perpetual sonic collider you accommodate like a broken toe.

The clever pocket doors from any sci movie–or Walmart–swished open as he approached, and Sam entered the bright white hallway, now dressed in the regulation wool garments woven with anti-bacterial nanotechnology.

To be continued…

(To J, for encouraging me to try something new,)

 

children · legacy · mortality

Yes: Jump. But Where?

1.29.19.jpgAt a women’s meditation retreat a decade ago, the question of “legacy” was posed.  In answer to, “What do you want your legacy to be?,” a trend emerged around the circle: the women who had children nearly all said their children were their legacy.  Done and done.

At the time, I felt that was such a cop-out.  That’s not a legacy!  Where’s the “you” in it?  Where’s the manifestation of the gifts and talents that only you can bring to the world?  That’s about your kids, not about you!

Clearly, I had/have some issues with judgment;P

But, as I consider kids myself, I’m brought up short on what I want my answer to the legacy question to be.

As I pondered yesterday the idea of not having children, suddenly it made the idea of death seem all the more looming and permanent.  That’s it.  Out, out, brief candle.  Poof.

So, what do you do with the time that you have?

For the first time, I began to see things the way J had before we’d met, before he’d considered having kids: a life of far-flung adventure, outdoorsiness, travel.  A life — as it was looking to me then — of filling the hours.

To me, as I imagined it yesterday, it looked like a manic, pell-mell careening through my years.  A “must do before death” muttering below my breath.  A panicked, gobbling up, blind and blindered race against the clock.  It didn’t look balanced at all.  It didn’t seem intentional at all.  It looked like it may often look: a willful dervish to drown out the immediacy of death.

Because kids or no kids, I’m gonna die.  (SPOILER!)

I’m in the habit of pouring my days through the hourglass unmet, unnoticed, unintentional.  Kids or no kids, that’s no way to live life!

I know that sending my progeny into the future is in itself a legacy.  But I also see that I need an answer to the question of the worth and effect and meaning of my life, whether or not they’re there.

What do I want the sum of my days to mean?  In what activities, and to what end, do I want my hours to be spent?

Being intentional with these answers will offer me solace, ground, and purpose, regardless of my uterus’ status.

 

children · ecology · quandary

To be or not to be?

1.28.19.jpgAt the risk of getting pulled off course (whatever course that may be!), my thoughts have been returning lately to the question of whether or not to have children.

There are many detractions or concerns that, written in a “no” category, could persuade me toward not procreating.  Reasons such as financial concerns, time concerns, fears and worries about the physical, emotional, and mental health of potential children, concerns of how my past chemo treatment and my and J’s moderately advanced ages might affect the genetic viability of children, awareness that we both have mental health and addiction issues in our family trees…

So, Yeah!  There are plenty of reasons to feel trepidatious about having kids!  But none of the above is the one that really brings me pause right now.  It’s a crap shoot, and yes, those kinds of challenges could possibly be real, but the one that I know IS real is the possibility of bringing a child into a planet that is not going to be able to meet the needs of the people on it.

I was reading about the melting “permafrost” after watching an episode of “Madam Secretary” (which I love) where an eco-warrior was infected with smallpox after doing work in Siberia.  And while the smallpox infection wasn’t based on true events yet… anthrax was.  A person was infected with anthrax after the thaw exposed an anthrax-infected reindeer!  The melting of this layer of frost will release more CO2 and methane than humans have produced in all of our history.

Add to this: the insect apocalypse, polar vortex in NY, drought in CA.  Draining the (literal) swamp for human building releases CO2 that plants had been holding on to; continued degradation of the rainforests that keep our planet stable; increasing hardscapes that reflect heat back into the atmosphere… and I begin to feel increasingly selfish about having children.

Do you bring an unwitting person into a planet that is not doing so well?  Do you place this burden onto another generation?

Of course the optimists around (or within) me say, “Well, maybe you’ll produce a scientist who will help forestall the inevitable.”  Yeah, maybe.  But what about that inevitable part?

There are many reasons to have children, some more selfish and selfless than others.

Is.

It.

Fair.

to ask a new human and potential line of humans to take up the mantle, too?

 

economy · finance · savings

Don’t get mad; get informed.

1.24.19A little over a year ago, the penny dropped on the concept of “inflation.”  For several years now, I’d been able to save a little money each month and the number in my savings account was slowly rising a few pennies a month.  I’d had my money in my regular bank’s savings account and had considered that the “right” thing to do.

Then, I was walking in a park with J, and for reasons which are lost to time, he wound up explaining the following:

A cup of coffee that today costs one of my dollars will next year cost a dollar two.  But I will still only have the same thing called one dollar.  Meaning that conceptually, even if I save that dollar, I’ll only have 98cents where this year I have a whole dollar.

What this idea sent me into was a panic.

Because for more than five years, I’d diligently been siphoning off money every month into my savings account — but now realized that there was a hole in the bottom of that bucket called “inflation.”

No matter the fact that it was in a savings account (and yes, technically I was “saving”), that money was also leaking out a sieve with every moment it sat in a near-no-yield account.

I was appalled.  I literally dropped his hand, stopped walking in the middle of the path, and was aghast.  WHAT?!  Wait, what?!  Explain this again.

And he did.  And I didn’t move.  He eventually nudged me on as I felt the foundation of savings I’d been building crumple to sand beneath me.

If the price of everything goes up about 2% a year, but my dollar in the bank is not growing at that same rate, I am losing money. (sort of)

Nearly immediately, I researched savings accounts that could rival the rate of inflation and found Synchrony Bank and Marcus Savings, each of which now have savings rates of over 2%.  The 2018 rate of inflation (CPI, in this case) was 1.9%, meaning by putting my money in those savings accounts, they ARE actually earning money, which is what I had thought my savings account was doing in the first place!

I had imagined that by putting my money in a savings account, that each month those little additions of a dollar here and a dollar there were EARNINGS.  It turns out that, because they weren’t keeping up with the rate of inflation, they were not only NOT earnings, they were indicating a LOSS.

Forchrissake.

For years, I had felt self-esteem about saving every month.  Which is great, and well and good, and I continue to think that it is important.

However, with the penny, nickel, DOLLAR drop that I had last year, I realized that all of that hard earned money was actually a drain.

So, I suppose this is a cautionary tale about ignorance of the financial system — because understand it or not, like it or not, want to be in the “system” or not, I am a part of it.  And, I DO want to be in the system, because that can be where benefits are.  If there are options for me to increase (or at least HOLD) my teeny weeny wealth while I SLEEP, then I should do everything I can do to that.

And while I also later made other choices that increase that yield, starting with moving my savings to a sturdier bucket was a start.