Saturday, April 22, 2017

I Finally Arrive in the 21st Century...

At long, long last I caved in to the pressure and bought a "stupid" phone. I am not an idiot. Well. I am not an idiot ALL the time, but that cursed device makes me feel like one! I had to turn off the autocorrect feature because for one thing, it would not let me cuss. It would change all of my cussing and profanity into similar but entirely incorrect and inappropriate words that did not have the precise meaning I needed to sincerely express myself.

Then there is the maddening problem of the N letter never typing in the first time. Why does this happe ? It causes my texts to look like shut!

It is supposed to be a phone but I have only used it for calls about a dozen times. I missed the first three or four calls because I did not know how to answer! Every other goddamned function on it happens at the lightest touch of the screen. Someone had to tell me that you swipe across the button to answer. After that I noticed the flashing direction arrows next to the 'answer' and 'end call' buttons.

I can ask aloud and, verily, from the sum total of the human species' wisdom and knowledge, an answer appears instantly on the screen. (I now know that Ian Somerhalder is 5'10" tall.)

Now when I am dining out with the younger members of my family, I too can whip out my phone and silently ignore the dearest, most important people on the planet who are also staring at their phones.

My phone can tell me where an address is and how to get there. I can take unlimited photos of everything at any time. Better yet, I can record in living color, sound and movement the mundane events of my life and share it all with the rest of humanity - if I want to and if I can figure out the technology.

I admit it is sort of fun.

The irony of the modern smart phone is that I speak less to my family now than ever before. One of my brothers answers my calls about 85% of the time, the other 1% of the time. If I call, text, message, Facebook and email enough times, the 1%er eventually answers or calls me. My son's limit is around the sixty second mark for actual conversation, and that is only if we have not talked within the last sixty days. He is available by text most of the time though he has mastered the art of texting, reducing every fact and emotion to the absolute fewest characters possible. He is a Zen master of minimalist texting.

On the other hand, my daughter and I burn through texts and video chats and voice messages and live calls every day as if we have not seen each other for a decade. It is awesome.

To maintain a single apron string tie to my grown son, he and I play scrabble using our expensive and outlandishly functional smart phones. An app provides a method to play scrabble over time and distance, and a game can span several days. He has obliterated me in all the games so far, usually by at least 100 points. My vocabulary is more than adequate to spar with him, but I have not been using my smart phone to my advantage by looking up "words that end with the letter z" or "words that contain J". I do not know the common two and three letter nonsense words that can make two and three other words at once in the later stages of the game for 40 and 50+ points. He kills me with those in the end game.

You can guess which text is mine...

Monday, April 3, 2017

Loop Quantum Gravity Theories and Other Farm Related Discussions

My neighbor, a retired PhD, has been reading scholarly books about quantum theories, including an advanced college text book to help translate the terms and ideas. (My feeble efforts over the years have been to read layman's books such as "Einstein's Universe" by Nigel Calder; "The Dancing Wu Li Masters" by Gary Zukav; "The Elegant Universe" by Brian Greene; and "Introduction to Superstrings" by Michio Kaku.) I also spent a lot of time reading everything on Stephen Hawking's web page way back when I got my first desk top home computer. (Remember AOL?!) At any rate, I have not had occasion to discuss theories of relativity since my good friend Karl died almost 30 years ago. The discussions with Karl lent color and depth to much of my poetry written as a young woman and has fired my imagination since.

I admit I am intimidated by my neighbor's formally educated mind. I know my undisciplined and heavily existential bent is no match, but I do not let that stop me from making an ass out of myself. Here is my response to her summation of her recent inquiry into loop quantum gravity and string theories:

"You want to know something truly amazing? The more I get into the Buddhist world view, and the more I find out about the TRUE nature of what those monks had been doing in Tibet all of these centuries... our modern scientific theories coincide with their incredibly disciplined mental inquiry into the true nature of reality. At its purest, Buddhism is not considered a religion and the Buddha was not considered divine or a deity - but considered "conscious" or awake. It is amazing to me that the mainstreaming of relativity and quantum theories roughly coincide with the dispersion of the Tibetan monks across the world. I have been reading a lot about some of the contemporary Buddhist adepts in discussion with the best theoretical western minds and realizing they are discussing the same conclusions. Isn't that astounding?

Perhaps we are witnessing the actual evolution into a far more enlightened species as these ideas have spread across the entire planet and are consciously available in mundane reality to everyone. What if we are just on the cusp of a profound tipping point of conscious expansion - something akin to all those epochs of time while our ancestors slowly evolved until that one remarkable change produced homo sapiens with our big brains? What if we are soon going to take another leap of evolution and become an enlightened species as well? Hard to believe when the best the USA can do is elect Trump, but not every early homo sapiens unit survived... it was survival of the fittest. Maybe evolution is going to weed out the dumbasses for a millennia or two, starting with those who elected Trump? (I read a disturbing article the other day that blue collar white people are dying at an increasing rate in America - attributed to despair due to economics - but it's just because they are addicted to Fox News.) Only the brightest of the first homo sapiens survived, so maybe going forward only the most conscious will survive to reproduce. By that logic, Fox News is an agent of evolution!"

Her response to that was one line. (I think she understood it was a joke.)

So, that was yesterday. I woke in the wee hours this morning with a dizzying glimpse of ideas too big for my normal thinking. The faint echo of what I had been dreaming was the question of what exactly is the nature of numbers that theoretical physicists can describe the nature of reality using them? And here I was thinking numbers merely evolved as an easier way for humans to barter potatoes for beer or some such basic evolutionary need! It is like when my meditation teacher instructs us to "be aware of being aware". It is too goddamned mind boggling.

My neighbor dropped this little gem on me yesterday: the idea that space is made of discrete particles. Meaning, in my admittedly limited understanding, space is not mere emptiness but consists of quantifiable amounts of the smallest indivisible space "particle". I guess that means we can take infinite space and chop it up into its own "space" atoms. So, if you can dismantle a space particle into even smaller units of something else the way you can break an H2O molecule into hydrogen and oxygen, what would the smallest unit of space be?  And what would its components be? What is less than space?

I will be thinking about this on the drive to work every morning for months!

Monday, March 27, 2017

One Brother's Revenge Against His Bossy Older Sister

There is an established science now of the effect of birth order on children, apparently influencing even such things as career choice later in life. I was the first born in my nuclear family with two younger brothers. If there is one thing in this world that I know for certain, I was born bossy. For as long as I can remember I have known my way was right and everyone else was wrong. Of course, experience has taught me a vastly different truth but to this day my first inclination is that I am right and everyone else is wrong! With such an attitude you know my little brothers never stood a chance.

From the moment he was born my brother Randy was the apple of my mother's eye, so in addition to believing I was the supreme dictator of the universe, I was also inescapably jealous of my little brother. I committed various acts of terrorism against him when he was too small to defend himself - things like kicking up a red ant hill then setting him down amid the angry ants. I pushed him down the stairs. He was a gentle soul who simply wanted to be left in peace but I took every chance I had to torment him I am ashamed to admit.

As we grew a bit older our sibling spats grew into fist fights. Physical fighting only lasted until he became stronger than me then the warfare shifted to sabotage and terrorism. It was every kid for him or herself if there was a chance we could tattle on each other to our mother. As I recall, by some basic instinct of survival, we would not tell on each other to our father who never messed around with getting to the bottom of the matter nor cared about any fine points of justice.

It was not all one-sided. I had worked long and hard to sculpt a clay horse that fell victim to a murderous coup my brother committed when he tore it apart. He could not wait until I discovered the massacre but tauntingly admitted to it during an argument. My poor mother was left to referee and settle such skirmishes.

Of course, my brother and I could knock-down drag-out fight, argue and be generally mean to each other all day long but no one else better lay a finger on either one of us. Then our blood loyalty kicked in, and all the skills we honed fighting each other would be turned against a common enemy. I believe this is how the human species has survived to become the dominate force on the planet.

We were teenagers when my brother committed the last act of terrorism against me. I devoured books by the dozens and one of my favorite things was to prepare a large bowl of popcorn then retire to the safe refuge of my room to read in peace. One of my brother's friends had a plaster cast of a very large snake someone had killed. It was not even painted but as a cast it was intricately detailed and, of course, uber-realistic. I had a large bowl of popcorn in the crook of one arm, my book in the other when I stepped into my bedroom to see a horrifyingly huge, pure white snake curled up on a little pink fuzzy rug. There was one millionth of a stunned second before chaos!

Yes, my brother absolutely knew the ultimate weakness of his first and most formidable enemy: my fear of snakes! Even though some part of my brain registered that there were no such things as pure white snakes, all other data indicated "huge snake" and my lizard brain took immediate control. I simultaneously screamed bloody murder, threw the bowl and the book as I astral projected down the stairs, leaving a trail of fresh popcorn. This was the best possible outcome for my brother and his friend, who were howling with laughter. I was crying adrenaline tears of fear and relief and outrage. My mother, who never made an effort to hide her opinion that I typically got what was coming to me even as she tried to judiciously settle our sibling squabbles, took my side though her defense was lukewarm. (It WAS funny!) She told my brother that sort of thing was not funny to a person as afraid of snakes as I was. But it was damned funny to my brother and his friend... and to me, still, all these many long years later.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

How Is It ...

If you live long enough, eventually you will get sucked into the world of medical tests which are basically various tortures that cost an immense fortune. I have been lucky to enjoy good health most of my life - knees not included - but recently I had the experience of a heart sonogram. Images of my beating heart were visible on a screen in real time. It was the first time I have seen my own heart. It was dangerously close to a spiritual experience. I immediately considered the cavalier manner in which I have taken my heart for granted all these decades.

It was sobering to see how hard my heart works and to instantly consider the hearts of every living being on the planet. I marveled at the engineering that designed such a tireless, enduring muscle. It commences beating before we even have a brain! As I watched the images of the valves and chambers of my own heart tirelessly fueling my life, I felt a great regret for all the abuses I have committed against it physically and emotionally.

My mother's heartbeat was the first sound I heard in this life. I recalled the thrill hearing the first heartbeats of each of my unborn children. I remembered the times I lay with my ear against my husband's chest, lulled by the booming rhythm of his big heart. I thought of all the times I could feel the mighty pulse of my heart in my temples when working too hard or running or swimming or laughing or scared or mad as hell. Our hearts are merely along for the ride with us - for good or ill.

At some point as the technician was examining each chamber and valve and artery of my wonderful heart, she would switch something then the blood flow appeared in various colors - red, blue and magenta. As the blood entered into the next chamber, the colors mixed dramatically. It appeared as lightning within my heart. Now when I watch an approaching thunderstorm alive with lightning I will certainly recall my own beating heart.

How is it that we forget that our bodies are truly marvels of engineering? How do we forget that our lives are spent on an inexplicable living planet hurtling through infinite space filled with thermonuclear stars boiling light and energy into an endless universe? How do we forget that there is lightning within our own breast?

Friday, February 10, 2017

Invoking The Grandmothers

I usually avoid writing anything specifically political because that is not the purpose or focus of Spiritcreek. Politically charged issues carry a heavy and painful weight in these "generally wretched times" that I would rather not mix into the silliness of this particular blog. Despite certain issues weighing quite heavily in my mind, and my conviction that we are literally in an extended battle for our country's soul, I have refrained from opening my big mouth - for the most part. Ah, the best laid plans of mice and women...

When Mitch McConnell and the Republicans voted to silence Elizabeth Warren, when they refused to enter Coretta Scott King's words into the record - in the very highest halls of the Land of Free Speech? - I nearly exploded. 64 years of being interrupted, man 'splained to, talked over, ignored, ridiculed, dismissed, cussed at, yelled at, lied to and argued with came to a metaphysical boiling point. No, Mr. Mitch McConnell, you soulless bastard. No, Mr. Lindsey Graham, you whining, big-mouthed short man. No.

Elizabeth Warren does not speak for all women, but she damn sure speaks for a very solid percentage of American women, and quite likely a solid percentage of real men. Her voice is the only feminine political voice we currently have so get used to it, you old bastards! YOU are not the only people allowed to speak in this country.

Women are sending postcards to Mr. Trump, Mr. McConnell and Mr. Lindsey with this message: Nevertheless, we persist. When I sat down to address my post cards last night, the names of my grandmothers came instantly to mind. Maybe for the very first time in my life I felt the actual spiritual connection to my ancestors. I know the maternal grandmothers' names far, far back, but I included only the generations of Kansas women. Marilla Jane, Mattie Fern, Mary Ruth, myself and my daughter - five generations of women who, living or dead, are mad as hell. Well, I am not certain spirits can actually be angry but they can certainly weigh in on matters of spiritual significance. My grandmothers weighed in on this deal in a very clear way.

Marilla Jane would not have been able to vote until she was 47 years old. Mattie Fern could just vote by the time she was 21. Mary Ruth voted her entire life. I first voted at age 19 (in 1972). Our votes matter. We are equal under the law and our voices will not be silenced by a bunch of old, soft-handed white men who think far more highly of themselves than anyone else thinks of them.

I know there is a fine line between the meanings of the words invoke and evoke, but I had to look up the definitions to determine whether I evoked my grandmothers, or invoked my grandmothers. Evoke means to draw forth, usually memories or feelings. Invoke means: cite or appeal to (someone or something) as an authority for an action or in support of an argument. As it turns out, I did both.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Supreme Beings

Coming home last evening, I saw Wally toss his head up at the first sound of my car and then leap forward into a joyful gallop toward the barn. His head high and his tail streaming behind, he was breathtakingly beautiful in the waning light of day. I wished with all my heart our paths had converged much earlier in life. He and I would have covered hundreds of miles together. He does not possess the most beautiful conformation of the Arabian breed, but he does possess the grace and lightness of all his forebears. "Oh, Wally!" I thought to myself. "You deserve a far better name!"

Of course, the magnificent gallop was toward the barn because I would soon be throwing hay. Wally knows if he gets there first, he can sometimes grab a few bites of extra hay before Miss Thang gets there with her iron hooves of rule. He also uses it as an excuse to run because that is what horses do.

Though I spent most of my childhood around horses, I do not know a lot about them. I am still a rank amateur except in what I have observed of their behavior during the time spent caring for them. Before Wally there was my dear little Orphan Annie. She was a horse with a sense of humor. She thought it was funny to gently knock me over when I bent down to pound the snow and ice out of the feed tub. I realize the idea that a horse might have a sense of humor is impossible for some people, but once you've experienced humor from another species, it is unmistakable. The intent is clear.

Ginger is too busy making sure she is the boss to have a sense of humor. Everyone better do as she says - or else! She and I have had a minor dispute a time or two. Hard to say who won. I am still walking around without any broken bones, so I guess she grudgingly concedes the ultimate title of Boss to me. Some one has to earn money to buy her hay and hoof care, after all. Since I bring home the bacon, that makes me the real boss. Ginger loves me. Of course she loves Wally more but I am her favorite human being. I humbly accept this affection from her highness.

Wally is a different story. He has never bullied me or pushed me around - except for unceremoniously rubbing his big head against me whenever I put a halter on him! He loves Ginger and takes his duties as protector of their little herd seriously, always going forward toward whatever threat they both can hear along the creek that keeps them on point. There seems to be a sadness in Wally. When the vet visited the first time, he came into the pasture wearing a ball cap. At first sight of a man in a ball cap, Wally snorted in recognition and came running only to slam on the brakes when he realized it was a stranger. I was certain Wally thought it was his former owner and that made me so sad. Wally likes me okay but he does not love me the way Ginger does.

I have read about old horse cultures that built their winter dwellings so they could shelter their horses with them. Of course, horses were the lifeblood of their survival so they would go to great lengths to protect them. But anyone who has ever loved a horse knows that if it were just more practical, living together in the same dwelling would be a great idea! They are just too darned big and then there's all that manure... I will settle for looking out the back door every morning to see my horses waiting for their breakfast.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

The Easiest Things

It is the last day of the year and time for reflection. Contemplation. Comparison. It is a good opportunity to consider any needed course change - adjusting for local conditions as I like to call it. When I was a young woman there were many times I needed to make significant adjustments - in relationships, employment, locale. Those were gross adjustments. As I look back, the mature years of life have been mostly quiet - internal adjustments - fine tuning.

I gave the Christian religion a serious run but it simply did not hold up to the wear and tear of real life. The Christian arrogance of the "true believers" chased me out of adult Sunday school when a young man confidently concluded that my best friend was condemned to hell for being homosexual. With the full weight of all the generations of imperious Christian fascism, he concluded the "debate" with the church's ace in the hole: "It's scriptural!" His tightly sealed lips drawn into a self-righteous frown of stern finality, as if he had just won a debate with Satan himself, showed me most clearly that I was wasting my time with such bullshit. Of course, I did not and do not paint all Christians with that particularly distasteful brush. There are true Christians in this world, and they are gentle, loving people who do not bludgeon others with scriptural hate and intolerance. They are the true followers of Jesus.

Leaving organized religion behind for good was a fundamental course adjustment. The beginning, middle and end of significant relationships were course-altering events. Jobs and friends and neighborhoods and other such details all influenced my journey. When I turned forty, an enormous dissonance plainly revealed itself. I had been living unaware on the very mountain I had been searching for most of my life. It was when I made the conscious decision to locate the mountain that everything changed, though I did not know it for many, many years. It was a simple decision - a mere thought, actually. It was a brief moment I had while sitting on the floor praying. I only recognize that moment in hindsight. It was the merest fraction of a degree course correction that brought me to my current place all these decades later.

Sometimes I imagine my course extending far ahead into future lives, though I cannot imagine what a single one of those lives might be. The Tibetans say it is not an individual, central soul that extends through all lifetimes but that reincarnation is more like "dice, stacked loosely atop one another". I admit I felt faint when I first experienced that statement. It took a couple of years of chewing on that idea, worrying it around like a dog with an old bone until I felt comfortable with it. If that is true, my understanding of it as I sit here today is that our physical lives as we know them are simply small manifestations welling up from an infinite sea of life force and consciousness, loosely bounded by karmic forces and chance. There is so much more!

Knowing something intellectually is a far cry from being able to practically use the knowledge, but knowing something intellectually is also the first step of any journey, even an infinite journey toward understanding. The concept that there may not be a Chief Engineer carefully attending to every, single, minute detail in my life as I once imagined literally blasts my carefully structured "understanding" into infinity. It is almost more than I can safely imagine.

The sacred mountain is within every single human being. It is surely within every single living being, and within things we in the West consider inanimate. It is our true nature. We have forgotten it. It takes a lifetime - maybe many lifetimes - to remember.

The times I have drawn nearest to that knowing, in both spirit and in the flesh, I have been in the sweat lodge. It is in that sacred space, that incredibly hot, claustrophobic, pitch black moment when it is impossible to avoid myself. There I am - every single thing I do not like about myself - what I am ashamed of, embarrassed for, and disappointed in. All the pain and anger I have brought on myself and others - the injustices that have been inflicted on me - it is all there, revealed in the dark as if illuminated by the brightest light. If I may quote myself, that is truly a "well, hell" moment. It is ugly and feels terrible. I eventually realized the point of that moment is to clearly see myself, to find what needs attending. It is also a chance to look beyond - far beyond. It is the easiest of all impossible things.

As is customary: Wishing peace on earth and goodwill toward (some) men - from the Crazy Woman, the Supreme Beings, and Jake the Bad Dog here at Spiritcreek.