Wednesday, October 27, 2010

"I I?", said I

Along the many rides between campuses a single sign seemed to speak.  Among all of the advertisements that seem to numb the mind, to motivate, influence, prick away at wants and needs.  Across the piles of concrete and trees I zoomed in on words I had thought I imagined.  "What did that just say?"  hmmm...maybe I imagined seeing that.  Depending on the route the driver chose, it would seem odd to me to see these words, in my own language come to me.  They seemed to shout.  Who is this "I" and why would I care that this "I" is here?  What is it time for? 

That is one way to look at it.  There is a presence about a person who knows who they are.  It's undeniable.  When they walk into a room, something about the way the person speaks that gathers all of the attention and energy of the moment to themselves.  It could be that words are not required, and all eyes are upon them, drinking in their visage.  Perhaps we look for a flaw to feel that moment of triumph that confirms their mortality.  Perhaps that sounds weak, but the honesty of admitting our strange sense of inferiority when we encounter the gifted pricks away at our own being.  People are weak and there are many that can't stand someone that might have more ability.   Those looking glass moments when we see the best or worst in ourselves reflected in everyone around us.  Often you hear the smatterings of, "Who do they think they are!"  Of course that person is oblivious of the heated jealous nature.  Petty and self interested.  Frail and insecure.  We don't like to admit it at all because we have been driven to compete against each other and competition doesn't actually bring out the best in people, no, most often it just brings out the worst.

"It's a dog eat dog world out there." Or, "people" eat "people".

I said there was another way to look at the sign, and it actually seemed so simple.  Many sages since the beginning of time have been telling us a number of things.  Philosophers, scientists, writers, mystics, teachers, and leaders from all points of society have all been on the same road.  The quest for identity.  Here is wherever you are.  Time changes and doesn't change.   However it is always now.  You are the I.  Where does that leave us? 

Determining the what.  The what to show up for.  The what to create.  The what is your choice, path, opportunity, decision.  The what is your life

However, it seems there is a huge problem right now with decision making.  A huge lack of direction is going on, a lack of vision that seemed to have blinded many able bodied people.  We all seem to go after someone because we lack vision for our own lives.  We are on the hunt for the scapegoat.  The sacrificial lamb to blame for our choices.  It is the easy way out.

OR is it?  At the end of the day, you still have to look in the mirror and look at your own life.  Do you really do all you could with your life?  Is someone else responsible for living YOUR life for you?  All of those little compromises you make, the selling out points, the quiet justifications that someone else will fix it or solve it...comes down to realizing that you have to be here.  You have to show up.  You have to realize the time is always now.  You have to present yourself. have to decide to make a difference wherever you are.

I thought about it and we could look at it very differently indeed. We don't need to run away from our ego, we need to stop beating it up and hating it, and we really have to stop giving a damn about what anyone thinks.  We also have to stop looking for two people.  The person to blame and the person to save us from ourselves.  What could we accomplish if we never found those two people?

Perhaps we might even understand how empowered we might feel if we actually said these words.

"It's time...Here I am", said I.

and then did something.

Don't look for testicles.  You are who you are.  Don't be afraid of the reflection.  Perhaps that is why vampires fear their reflection.  There is nothing to see when someone feeds off others...

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A Public Service Announcement From The Youth of the World

Forgive me, I am a woman.  Forgive me, I am a bit naive.  Forgive me, I ask a lot of questions without the need to deceive.  I just wanted to ask all of you out there, perhaps you are in the choir, but for those of you who sing a long to this song...this is kind of directed to those who don't see eye-to-eye with us.  I want to ask how has peace ever come from war?  I can't think of a necessary war, not really.  Most of the wars would or could not have happened if they went unfunded within the last 100 years.  How much is life worth?  How much could be done if we allocated our resources towards getting ourselves off of oil?  Maybe that is what the oil-rich countries are afraid of.  That we would not need them, that we would use less of them and perhaps collaborate more towards a positive future.

If we learned to be self reliant instead of dependent, think of all of the things we could get done and how exciting that might be to build and create with each other instead of having enterprises emphasizing our differences, and though they are bad things.  Really, do we want everyone to be the same?  With the same thoughts, the same beliefs, the same everything when we need our more than ever.

So dark, the media in the west seems to appear.  Fights for money and not for life.  Fights over pensions, taxes, wages...between class systems that are driven by one tool.  A tool that has been given life to take away or add to our lives.  A thing has been given power over the breathing people who have a pulse and don't realize how important being an individual is.  A tool that is fought over instead of shared.  A thing that rules even the elite and moneyed classes.  How far we have to go that we would given intelligence to a hammer and not retain any wisdom.  A thing that has taken lives to pay others to take lives not because war is noble, but because it is paid for.

That we give so little thought to the youth of this age who remind us that "Peace is OURS...IF we want it."  That would mean for all of us.  Revenge?  What good is it?  Revenge can only come back time and time again for it is never satisfied. Nothing can bring you peace but yourself.  Nothing can bring you peace but the triumph of principles.  (Emerson)

When will we rise up out of the dark ages and stop our blood sacrifices to our gods?  Be those gods of money, material, profits and religion or power, take down those sacrifice pits.  Blood spilled for nothing.  Wasted lives that we have no concept of how rare and precious each life is.  YOU were a ONE in a 300,000 Billion shot (Amram Scheinfeld)!  Each life is beyond calculation as far as potential impact.  So why are we told we have to BE like each other?  Oh what opportunities we miss when we fail to see and realize we all are needed.
So on this beautiful day, as I looked at the sunrise and noticed people around me.  Having their own thoughts, dreams and duties I thought of these words by Emerson, and this portion of an essay called, "Self Reliance".  I am glad he wrote them in a time where we were not so politically correct. 

There is a time in every man's education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide;
that he must take himself
for better
for worse
as his portion, that through the wide universe is full of good
no kernal of nourishing can come to him,
but through his toil bestowed on that plot of ground which is given to him to till.
The power which resides in him is new in nature,
and none but he knows what that is which he can do,
nor does he know until he has tried.

Simply put, YOU want what exactly you want for yourself.  It takes just one to stop repeating messages of hate and revenge.  To be able to see and be who you are and not be a 'joiner'.  You can be a third rate copy of your idols or a first rate  Imitation is not flattery.  It steals from everything you could be.  

This world needs you, the authentic version now more than ever.  You have to accept yourself and quite trying to be what you believe others want you to be.  Seek yourself and you will find where your heart is.  I think if people really looked, they would find that the universe IS good, and if we realized that would we need to go to war with anyone?  What do you want?  Why waste the shot we have been given to be here.  300,000 Billion to One...what odds for each one of us!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Laughter of the gods

I write like
Oscar Wilde
I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!
If you want to insult someone, tell them they remind you of someone else.  Tell them they lack the originality of a spider.  Compare them and destroy their original fire.  Prick away their pride and make them but a mere mortal, a replicated gene series that anyone can mix up in a lab.  Take away their identity and turn them back into the lump of clay that they are.  Tell them that they can only repeat the ideas of others and have them hate their own creation.  Breed discontent and confusion and then, finally, you will have killed all hope of any elevation out of their primordial soup.  There are (long pause) no more words to be said.

And if you analyze any section of text, you will get a variety of responses.  I pasted several different entries trying to get an analysis, not accepting or rejecting anything rendered.  The above paragraph came back, stating I write like Dan Brown.  A couple of emails I analyzed had results that ranged from Stephen King, David Foster Wallace to Kurt Vonnegut.  Are we writing what we read at that moment, just repeating the styles and cherry-picking the moments that color our text?

Then again, the artists of this world study strokes of the masters, try to recreate them and spend hours upon hours trying to capture that magic that was once created to recreate it in this era....and then stop.  A sigh.  A palette, a medium, a knife, a chisel, a block of stone...and then....ah damn.  Someone has done it before and they put down the tools and want to scream at the gods that they want to challenge the masters of all time.

But, there is only the remains to compete against.  Look at the lives that created, that we admire and elevate and aspire to be like.  I hear the echoes of laughter because as many of my friends would say, you should never aspire to be them.  Of course not!  We elevated their pain and misery.  Scientists that were locked away or killed for sharing their truth.  Artists who were only allowed to create images that glorified the gods of their ages.  When it came down to artists, their lives of paint and disease...or writings deemed to be absolute insanity.  Art consumes and dines on the drama of mankind.  Does it have to be as such?

We scream to be individuals, or I should say some of us do.  Some of us would scream to be a copy (aren't all of the dead celebrities living in Las Vegas?).  Ah, but what is the real quest?  Is it to be loved, as Henry Miller confessed upon his deathbed, "I just wanted to be loved."  But by whom?  I wondered as I watched the video of his final days.  I thought of it as the oddest thing to say.  Did he want his work to be loved or himself, the man?  Even then, it seemed kind of the most selfish thing to say. 

Please, don't think this post is is a statement of simply saying the machines believe it all has been said and done before.  So many lives have been lived that there is no possibility for innovation.  I would say that yes, we have come a very long way, just think about how many times the wheel has been reinvented.  Clay will continue to be molded, paints mixed, and our mediums will evolve as we create images of all that we see and hear along the way.

The gods may laugh at the renderings of humanity, but it is of no consequence, for words always retain the power of its messenger, to create or to destroy.   There is no one to blame.  We have the technology to use in whatever way we see fit and we do have the power to take the human element out of the equation and that perhaps makes me rage at the machine.  We want to be human and not a preconceived notion where everything is a calculated movement.  That is what technology shows us.  That we are studied renditions that takes away the possibility that we can choose to be something other that some form of genetic predestination. 

Yes, we may be simple creatures that have similar experiences along the way, but they are unique as snowflakes.  Humanity wants that.  We wrestle with that.  The art of simply being and not designed. do have something you would like to add, even if it has been done before, so reinvent.  It may be far superior to the original.

It's just a rant...but I like being ever so 'human'.  

Thursday, October 14, 2010

What's Your Source of Power?

Upon my return to Nanjing, I had felt the pull to go back and see the Museum again, as though I may have missed something along the way. We often go to museums to learn something about the culture and past history of a culture. To see what life was like in a time called, 'before'.
As it is commonly known, China celebrates the image of the dragon. Often a dragon is closely associated with wisdom and isn't feared. However, in the west, the common approach is viewed with fearful appearances.   Our mythologies abound with dragon slayers, heralded for their 'courage'. I viewed the stark differences, as almost as if the west would embrace knowledge and sacrifice wisdom.  Actually, there is a lot more to that view.  How many centuries did the west go through telling the people that the 'world was flat?'  Flat or round, the 'discovery'  was little more than a person that was celebrated for having the elite acknowledge what was already in existence.  The world comedy of discovery and declaration comes down to this.  It already exists, but is not universally accepted as truth.

There is a difference between application and information. We can be well-informed, but at a total loss with how to use the information we have. Having all the information in the world and not knowing how to use it, makes a person not more intelligent, but foolish.
As I looked at the ancient symbols and methods of communicating we had at the time, such as chimes for distress, we seem to be ringing a lot of much so, that no one has any senses that are not disturbed. So we try to silence them along the way. Everyone is shouting that the sky has fallen, but no one knows what to do about it. People have seem to have forgotten how to live and rely on others to tell them how to think, feel, and listen. These basic survival skills, which have fallen away for many due to relying on others instead of being able to listen to one's own voice has been costly for many who relied on systems to make their way in life.
As I looked adoringly on these pieces of art, I noticed the screens used for concealment, but walls always have ears. Thousands of years of monarchy rule over many differing cultures, telling them, they must serve their rulers. People did serve them, and often people desire to be ruled, but when will people desire to rule themselves and not entrust themselves to systems? We have societies, but flawed when it comes to the responsibilities of power.
I went back to look at a throne. The interesting thing about the throne was the seat of power. The image of a red dragon, that was normally carefully concealed with a seat cushion. Had the dragon given the monarch their power that was hidden from the people? Or had the people given the monarch their power? So often we don't see the real source of our own power, that comes to us naturally when we refuse to slay dragons of wisdom that come into our lives. If we only favor information then we remain foolish and slay the dragon that could have given us the wisdom of the world.

Then again, that is still aiming too low.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

In the Garden of War and Peace

Before Veteran's Day approaches, I thought I would ask instead of celebrating wars and the rumors of wars, or the stories of war heroes, what if we forgot our reasons for war for a moment?   I think I found a wonderful reason to forget them all. It is through remembering them, often hatred persists. We never seem to go forward, only told that we are supposed to hate our enemies and fight everyone and soon we forget why we are all fighting to begin with. There are wars that have lasted centuries, and some, since the beginning of time. Some in the name of peace. Some in the name of revenge. Some for no apparent reason at all, except to profit from it or to secure seats of power.
I have been to many war museums that proudly displayed their conquests over other nations. To record the past battles and victories along the way. Often these museums display the conquered with war trophies and stories that go along with them. However, hidden away, in a corner garden, I found the relics of warfare here. With nature growing all around it. Letting all of it go into the past, with the stories buried in the earth.
It seems ironic find such a peaceful setting. A conflict of seeing such beauty with the cannons now silent and still after taking so many lives along the way. I saw the wisdom of the silent weapons. Neither elevated for patriotic purposes or to be used to rub salt in the wounds of those who may have been defeated. Silent cannons raised and not aimed at another, but raised in a silent disuse.
Instead, they are a dark reminder of how stones were launched against each other. This is no fear of them ever being used again against another life.
As I looked at the inscriptions and saw how other nations may have interloped with this one in the past for their own financial gains, I thought this age, where others try to gain from those who seem less fortune along the way.
Proudly silent they remain in a garden not as a symbol of war, but of what peace looks like. A nation that celebrates peace should be as such and never proudly display weapons of warfare. With silent cannons and birds making their nests in the trees above them.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Naturally Nature

As I left behind the Pearl River Delta in the Guangdong province, migrating north through the beautiful city of Guangzhou, I decided that I would capture the moments I saw on my long journey. I had no idea how starved my eyes were for the scenes of nature after living in Nanjing for nearly six months. The man-made structures are indeed beautiful, but there is no comparison to what the earth provides for us all. Man can only provide for some.
The landscapes breathe out the simple beauty and harmony as I looked out at the Pearl River and all of the waters that feed her.
So as I left, I tried to keep these images in my mind. The beauty. The calm. The depth.
The humble fishing boats in the haze of a setting sun.
And the fields that shout their bounty without making a single sound. This is the real treasure, the reality of the harmony we should all see in those moments when our man-made structures seem to get in the way. This is the beauty of China that few ever get to see. My eyes did not tire looking at her.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Be My Guest

Just three years ago, if you had told me that I would be in China listening to a Mayor give a celebratory speech in their former capital city,  I would have laughed in your face.  At that time I held the views that had still washed my brain; unable to separate politics from people, unable to separate the -isms and -ists. Yet, as I stood there, surrounded by red I took in this semi-bizarre moment as I watched 5 foreign businessmen being awarded honorary citizenship to the sound of light applause as we all held our wine glasses waiting to toast the moment.  I didn't see Communism celebrated in the room.  I saw money celebrated, jobs, self-interest, and commerce....dare I say the word...Capitalism.
As I watched the performers all play their roles, there was no difference.  The music may have been different.  The clothing of their imperial culture displayed.  However, I looked carefully at the venue, held in the purple mountain area.  I saw the haves and no have nots.  I saw the classes of power, money and academia present.  Of course jobs are always celebrated, and the flow of money, but I was struck by the odd performance.  Perhaps it was that I was comparing it to the many ceremonies and speeches I had seen in the past and finding absolutely no difference.
I had felt like I was the only one who openly noticed the show and admired it instead of treating it like wallpaper. 
And the original closing words of George Orwell's Animal Farm came to my mind,  The original ending of the book that existed before the CIA purchased it when they remade the movie.   "The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which."

Perhaps I am one of the creatures looking in just to tell you, there is no difference.  

As Orwell also wrote, Some animals are more equal than others.