On Happiness

Many believe they are happy. Many believe they are not.

What is happiness? An illusive, impossible dream?

Would we be happy if we had a little more? Would we be unhappy if we had a little less?

If you’re wondering whether you are truly happy, then here is an exercise to help you decide.

Imagine time travel is real, however there is one inescapable catch. When you travel back you forget everything that has already happened, including that you have traveled back and are reliving something that has already occurred. Everything that previously occurred will recur, precisely as it did before.

Nothing changes.  Not a breath, not a moment. Every instant you relive is repeated. Nothing changes.

If you know this and would do it all again, without the slightest change, then you have known happiness.

Happiness realized: Is the truest measure of happiness, that we would go back in time to relive it precisely as we already have?

Where does happiness dwell? In the past, in the moment, or in the future? Happiness Realized, is the past. Momentary Happiness, is now. Unrealized Happiness, is the future.

Should we trade Unrealized Happiness for happiness that is real?

What is happiness that is real? It is the happiness we have now, soon to become a memory.  You may be tempted to trade your current moments for possible moments that may never come. That decision is entirely yours and yes,  there are times when the payoff is huge.  For example investing time in your friendships, or increasing your exercise to reduce your weight. However there are many times when there is no payoff at all and all you ever get is the possibility of future happiness.  Experience may teach you to tell the difference.  Personally speaking, I’m not willing to do something that makes me miserable yet promises to reward me at some indeterminate time in the future.  But you’re not me, are you?

Perhaps the following mantra might touch you…

Live the future such that you’d gladly relive it once it becomes the past.

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Tamryn

The names that touch our Souls.

Some think I named our oldest daughter.  Some think I made up her unique name, for until she bore it I knew of no other who did.  I did neither of those things.

Tamryn.

While still a teenager I had a dream in which I learnt my first child would be a girl, and that her name was Tamryn.  Not that her name would be Tamryn.  That her name already was Tamryn.  This happened about eight years before I met my then future wife, the same wonderful woman to whom I have now been married for so close to twenty-nine years it doesn’t count.

Early in our courtship, during opening negotiations, I said this to Suzanne, “Oh, by the way, our first child will be a girl and her name will be Tamryn.” {What are proposals of marriage if not negotiations of crucial importance to our long-term happiness and well-being?}  My statement was an assertion of fact, not a negotiable element in our relationship. To my surprise Suzanne accepted, with the proviso she would have the right to name our second born.  {She did, and Dannielle has rejected attempts to correct the spelling of her given name ever since, but that is an amusing story for another day :)}.

When Suzanne fell pregnant with Tamryn her gynecologist asked us if we wanted to know the baby’s gender.  Not only do I think such predeterminations are a cop-out, but I already knew both Tamryn’s gender and her name, so I said, “No.”

For all of you with unborn children, I encourage you to be concerned with your child’s health more than you are with its gender.  Suzanne and I never accepted the often repeated offers of revealed gender for any of our four children, nor did we ever want for gender appropriate clothes or toys.  And yes, there is indeed a fundamental difference between the things little girls and boys like. However, you either know that already or you’ll find out, assuming you are fortunate enough to someday look into the eyes of your own newborn. Believe me when I say that moment is one which will forever change you, and one you will never want to forget.

Our firstborn was wide awake and alert at delivery.  Tamryn’s inquisitive eyes proclaimed the answer to a riddle she had clearly pondered whilst in the womb, “So this is life!”

Mere moments after she was born, Tamryn looked deep into my heart.  I will never forget the intelligence I saw within her sparking eyes.  I knew she meant, “life on the outside”, and I also knew she was already an old soul. Indeed, I think it may have been that I knew Tamryn long before either her conception or her birth.

Could Tamryn have been any other than who she is?  I don’t believe she could.  Just as I don’t believe any of us can be other than who we are.  Yes, many choose to reveal a false face to the world, however I think in their heart they are unhappy and that their soul is deeply discontented with their deception. Is truth finally revealed not a wonderful relief?  I think that the source of that relief may well be our soul.

Your given name may not be who you feel you are.  If, on some profound level, you are not content with your name then you can change it.  Perhaps you even should.

But your Soul?

Your soul is you.  Since you cannot change your soul and it is with you for your forever, do the wise thing… treat it as best you can.  Treat your soul with honesty, for if you don’t you surely cheat yourself.  Listen closely to its seemingly indistinct murmurs, for its words are crystal clear… you need only care enough to hear.

If you’re interested in old souls encapsulated in the bodies of the young then my work, Malmaxa, might interest you.  Who knows, you may even encounter the Soul I knew long before our Tamryn was conceived.

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Deeds -versus- Words

A virtual friend, Camille Sanzone, emailed me today. I have taken the liberty of quoting her email in order to set the stage for my response. I am sure she won’t mind, however if you’d like to find out why I am sure of this please listen to her online radio show Tie a Knot and Hang On! Help has Arrived! It airs every Wednesday at 1p.m. Eastern Time.

Camille’s email:
I just saw a poster on LinkedIn that says:

Actions always prove why words mean nothing.

Made me think of you, naturally, and your fondness for words.
How would you respond to that?
Camille

My {slightly edited} response:

I would like to respond by saying the statement is unadulterated bull@#$%. Of course I wouldn’t use those words in a public forum…

Sadly, I see this type of idiotic pseudo wisdom touted often. I generally ignore it.

Action undertaken without thought is accurately described as thoughtless, however it could be equally accurately described as wordless. You see words are the means by which thoughts are conveyed. Thoughts precede words, and words precede any thoughtful deeds. Whether those deeds are malign or benign doesn’t matter one iota – words have preceded the actions we otherwise know as deeds.

If I was to tweet about it I might say:-

Words are the embodiment of thoughts, deeds are the embodiment of words, thus any deed undertaken without words is utterly mindless.

Let me finish by pointing out something inescapable about these allegedly powerful deeds which prove words mean nothing… they can only be described with words.

Thus without words it is in fact deeds that ultimately mean nothing.

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Wealth’s Poverty

~ Wealth’s Poverty ~
~
We lie atop the sacrificial slab,
and with our quill,
our heart we stab,
blood words upon our skin we scribe.
Our hope?
That others those blood wrought words
will read,
and from spiritual poverty
be freed.
~
The goal of every word
we write?
To free another from
our plight.
Our truths we see, we say,
and for our truths
we’ll fight,
and from darkness,
the willing
we will
drag
to light.
~
In the shadows do the wicked dwell,
from whence the poor,
with false hopes cast as arrows,
they fell.
With mistruth they bind the masses,
spreading hopes of salvation,
which they buy,
then tell.
Lottery promises of escape from poverty,
they sell.
Hopes, of freedom from this
mortal hell.
~
A piece of soul-scribed skin,
from our flesh they flay,
a map they intend to use,
to help them find their forgotten way.
~
We won’t beg, or plead for the wealthy
to stay.
You see,
our stolen words do the rich mislead,
for though salvation’s map is true,
the needle-eyed gate is one
which rich thieves will never
pass through.
~
Peaks of luxury do the wealthy climb,
while down below their workers wade in slime.
With no excess sufficient to their unsated greed,
they’ve let this world slide and slip to seed.
Loud do they their lying anthem proclaim,
“There will always be the needy!
So let them toil and bleed
while upon their labors,
we,
the wealthy,
feed.”
~
And yet unshuttered eyes easily do see,
the rich have finally gone insane…
Their mad intent?
To keep this broken world,
the same.
~
For their obscene wealth,
the rich feel no shame,
and on the burdened shoulders of the poor,
heap they all blame.
~
Unwanted garments from their shoulders slough,
gourmet delights uneaten,
left to rot,
till from their banquet tables,
once good food falls with a putrid
plop,
sustenance they’ve let turn into
slop,
while from hunger
they let the poverty stricken
drop.
~
When will we,
the victims of wealth’s poverty,
from our indentured slavery
turn, not flee?
~
I fear
not soon
enough…
~

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On dé·jà vu

dé·jà vu
pronunciation: dāZHä ˈvo͞o
noun: déjà vu
a feeling of having previously experienced the present situation.

dé·jà vu, also known as “Further thoughts on Fate.

I wonder if those who have never experienced Fate are simply too blind to notice it, too insensitive to feel its feather-light touch, or too scared to think again when dé·jà vu fills their mind with memories they at first think are not their own?

Am I making too much of nothing in an attempt to prove Fate exists?  Nope.  I don’t need to prove Fate exists.  Why?  Because I know there are billions who don’t believe fate exists and that nothing I say or do will sway their minds.  And then there are other souls who already know Fate does exist.  Likewise there is no need for me to prove anything to them.

There is no need for me to prove anything.  Yet I do have a need

My blog has never been about proofs, it has always been about feelings.  Which is what my need is.  The need to share my feelings in hope they stir feeling within others.  In this post the feelings I’m sharing are related to my thoughts on Fate, which I’ve blogged about at various times.  If you’re interested, here is a breadcrumb that might lead you to the trail that led me here.

Fate.

The topic of fate is so complicated it is very difficult to understand.  Please don’t mistake anything I’ve previously said to mean “Everything is set in stone, nothing can change anything, so just give up already!”  Not only have I never said or felt that, but I’m not saying it at all.  However I am having difficulty finding words to explain what my heart reveals.  Enormous difficulty.

If Fate is absolute, then nothing matters.  Right?  No, that is completely wrong.  It is precisely because fate is absolute, that everything matters.

If a good person sees an ill deed done, yet does nothing, then they aren’t good at all.  It is not fate that determines whether people are of good or bad nature, it is how people react to the circumstances of their fate that determines their nature.

If we don’t try, then we are the ones who lack, and we are the ones at fault.

Whether or not our attempts are fated to fail or to succeed does not matter one whit.  What matters is that we make the attempt to change destiny.  It is our struggle which most clearly defines us as worthy.

Worthy or unworthy of what?  Well, perhaps worthy of an escape from the inescapable clutches of the Fates.  Perhaps through access to heaven where we are no longer bound by the Fates, but also from where we can no longer interfere in the fates of those who remain bound.

Lots more thoughts to condense into words.  Lots.  So if you’re of the patient, thinking sort then come back and visit sometime and you may well find further semi-coherent thoughts on the nature of chaos.  I won’t promise when, since when is outside my hands.  But the attempt?  That is not.

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Rhododendron

~ Rhododendron ~
~
A picture of beauty pristine
Of divinity still hidden unseen
Of beauty yet to come
Of a mortal’s desire undone
Of time captured forever
Of moments denied and now never
Of petals basking in sunshine
Of beauty unseen, yet sublime.
~

snapshots, frozen in time

snapshots, frozen in time

I took this picture of a Rhododendron I will not see open in bloom minutes before I left on a trip. Perhaps it will still be in bloom when I return. Hope.

Pictures… they might be considered fragments of eternity captured. Though they don’t truly freeze time, in some ways they do. This flower will still bloom, even while its essence here remains set forever in the fabric of a virtual world.

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On Need

Our most fundamental needs are for water, food, and shelter.

Or are they?

What of air?  Is our most fundamental need, not air?

Air is the product of what? The component of air that is oxygen, {about 20%} is produced by trees, which also filter air by removing excess carbon.

So perhaps our most fundamental need is for trees?

No, I don’t think it is that either.  I think our most fundamental need is for beauty. Thankfully beauty abounds in virtually everything, and virtually everywhere. All we need do is seek it, and we find it.

Is the air not beautiful? When it is clean it is, but when it is dirty?  Well, the air is still beautiful, but the pollution we pump into it?  Not so much.  So I must ask you this, if pollution is not so beautiful, why do we produce so much?

Our most fundamental need is not air, water, food, shelter, or beauty.  Our most fundamental need is for everything.  You see…

Everything matters. Everything.
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Blossoms

Blossom~ Blossom ~
~
You are the blossom of spring
in my step.
A cooling breeze
on my brow.
The rising sun
that greets my day.
The moon as daylight
fades to dusk.
The perfect match
to my lonely soul.
Your happiness,
my goal.
~

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On Words that Offend

If you’ve read anything on my blog, you already know how much words mean to me.  If you’ve read nothing here yet, then believe me when I say they mean a great deal.

Why do words matter so much?

Because words have become the principle means of communication between  humans.  If we can’t communicate effectively then society is literally doomed. Words and their clear, unambiguous understanding are crucial to our very existence.  Words are simply that important, yet we abuse and mistreat them.  We choose to constantly dumb down language.  We teach down to the lowest common denominator instead teaching up to the highest.

Yes, I am well aware words are not the only means of human communication. Indeed of the many ways we talk, I believe words are one of the most flawed methods we’ve developed to let others know what we really feel.

Non-verbal cues hold far greater truth than words ever can, and we don’t need to even speak the same dialect to interpret them!  Non-verbal cues are universally, intuitively understood, need not be taught, and even the youngest understand them.  Pitch and tone tell enormous truths that even dogs comprehend. Facial expressions hold universal meaning, not only across language barriers, but across continents, across millions of years of separated development, and even across species.  Yes, primates and monkeys share the same fundamental facial expressions as we humans!

Perhaps, if we simply took time to stop talking, we could learn to understand?

However there is a very real problem with non-verbal communication. And it is this problem that makes the articulate use of words so crucial to all modern cultures.

What is the problem with non-verbal communication?

We no longer live in a face-to-face world.

We now communicate with people over vast distances.  This communication is always via words.  However, even when we speak to each other one-on-one via a telephone, poor quality sound distorts intonation and strips vast quantities of truth from our voices.

Video chatting is quite probably worse.  It shows an out of sync series of pictures of the person viewing the images. We can’t see the vital details that tell the real truths.  Why?  Because those details are too small and happen too quickly to be conveyed in any real time video stream.  In a video chat, a crinkle in the corner of the eye doesn’t reveal the lie.  If it is noticed at all it confuses more than it clarifies by being out of sync with the audio stream.  Mere hundredths of a second difference between speech and facial expression is enough to confound our ability to discern emotions and truths.

This means the only things left to ensure understanding between people, are words.

So when we find words being deliberately used to distort the truth, we should be offended.  So-called Political Correctness is a prime example of truth distortion causing ripples throughout our cultures.  Political Correctness attempts to prevent us from speaking the truth, for fear we might offend.  Anything that prevents the dissemination of truth, whether by deliberately distorting the truth, or by actively suppressing the utterance of truth in clear unambiguous language should be deemed offensive.

In my opinion the two worst culprits of word abuse are religious dogma and political correctness.  They are rampant, they are everywhere, and all of humanity is their victim.

And so, finally, to the prompt for this post…  The devil dwells in the details, and over the years I’ve learnt I am troubled by eyes which discern the devil.

A few weeks ago we went to Kroger to buy a leg of lamb, which my talented and gracious wife would be cooking as part of a traditional Easter repast.  We favor New Zealand Lamb, so I noticed the only available variety of lamb was from the USA. I also noticed the following wording, transcribed precisely as it appeared on the label:-

BRN, RAISD, HARVSTD IN USA

An immediate flush of irritation swept through me. The pursing of my lips and the narrowing of my eyes, two universal non-verbal cues of irritation, went unnoticed by my wife who was looking away.  As I’ve alluded, non-verbal cues require complete and immediate attention to be understood.

Moving along… much as my wife and I did in the store.

Next purchase. Chicken thighs.  A fairly cost effective source of protein, especially in comparison to the Lamb, which is extremely expensive.  I notice not only the chicken’s price, but the following wording, again transcribed precisely as it appeared on the label:-

Hatched, Raised and Harvested in USA

By now my irritation has crept into my voice, which escapes in yet another non-verbal cue of irritation.  Namely, a muffled snort.  {Did I mention cross-species non-verbal cues?  If I didn’t, be warned to get well away from a snorting Bull.} This time my wife notices, even though she is still looking away.

So what, precisely, is it that offended me in the labeling of those two products?  The first label violates many conventions.  It has striped most of the vowels, not bothered with capitalization, and rendered the statement virtually meaningless by doing so.  Does “BRN” mean born, or barn? I’m reasonably confident “RAISD” means raised, but only reasonably. As for “HARVSTD”, well I am really hoping it doesn’t mean the lamb has been infected with a Harvard developed Sexually Transmitted Disease, which is what the acronym “STD” means back in Africa.

So, you may think it is the butchering of language in the first label that I find so offensive.  You would be a little correct. However you’d also be a lot incorrect.

What truly offends me {I am being completely serious, I really am offended!} is the presumption that I, along with every other customer, is the uneducated idiot both labels imply.

Does The Kroger Corporation, in conjunction with its suppliers, think I am so stupid I actually believe Lamb and Chicken are the product of plants grown in a field?  Lamb and Chicken are not harvested, they are slaughtered.  A harvest correctly refers to a crop, it does not refer to living animals raised in order to be killed and eaten.

Kroger Corporation are not doing anyone any favors by facilitating the destruction of human language through politically correct twisting of the truth.  Misleading people into thinking meat is grown on trees serves no one. Humanity is already so far removed from nature that billions of people will never have the opportunity to touch a Rhinoceros, or to witness the majesty of a Giraffe as it saunters by in its natural habitat.  I am fortunate in having done both of these things, and a myriad more.

Sadly I doubt my children ever will.

We humans are way too far removed from nature. If Kroger Corporation and its suppliers want to avoid offending the sensibilities of their customers, there are better uses of language which are actually correct that they could employ.  For example:-

Product of the USA

Please stop telling us meat is harvested when in actuality it is cut off the bones of creatures slain so we can eat them.  Slaughter.  Not a pretty enough word for you? And while you’re at it please stop using harvested as a correct description for catching fish.  Yes I know some dictionaries specifically include fish as a product that can be harvested but as they say, the rot has to begin somewhere.

If businesses have something they’re hiding in their labeling, then I must ask why you feel the need to hide it.  What other devilish details could Kroger be hiding in those mangled labels? A lot of things, but I’ll leave you to figure them out for yourself.

As I said, words are about communication.  Unfortunately words are also frequently used to provide misinformation, which is something I also find offensive.

Perhaps you think this entire post is nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt to promote a vegetarian lifestyle?

It isn’t.

Though I would like to be vegetarian, the simple fact is that I cannot afford to be.  And even if I could afford to pay for a healthy vegetarian diet for my family, I would not.

Why not?

Principally, because I do not impose my views on anything on anyone, not even my family {or perhaps especially not}.  Regardless of how much I would like to become vegetarian myself, I will always leave that choice to each member of my family.

Secondarily, because I believe by nature and origin humans are opportunist eaters.  This means I believe our bodies are not designed to eat only meat, or only vegetables. Thus when we impose such restrictions on ourselves by severely limiting our diet, we ultimately harm our bodies by depriving them of essential nutrients not available in one or the other variety of food.  Humans are built to eat virtually everything, and therefore we should. In moderation, of course.

Bottom line?  This post is really about precisely what it claims. It is about words that offend by being subtlety incorrect.  Details matter. Words matter.  Be detailed in your words.

{P.S. If you are one who notices how the tiniest of details are capable of changing the world, then Malmaxa might be worthy of your time.}

 

 

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at a Reader’s Request

As an author one of the smartest things one can do is listen to our readers, yet as an artist listening to our audience might well be the very worst mistake we can make.

Life is full of these little conundrums. Indeed, this entire blog and even this particular post are examples of such.

One of my readers once requested I post further pictures of our dog, Bacon.  Like pretty much everyone I know, I really enjoying doing things for other people.

But as an artist whose medium is words and whose canvas is the page, I only ever really do things for myself.  Perhaps a defining attribute of art is that it must be selfish?  Not only to its creator, the artist, but also to its appreciator. After all, if art doesn’t speak directly with us, in the most intimate of conversations, should it really be considered art?

At risk of sounding foolish let me tell you my writing does precisely that. When I read something I wrote however long ago, it is as though those words were written by a stranger I’ve never met, yet who somehow knows exactly how to press my emotional buttons. It is a terrible, wonderful, and exhilarating feeling to be dragged headlong into an emotional abyss. Yes, I created those words, but to my heart they are always fresh and new. Literally always.  I’ve edited Beltamar’s War well over twenty times now, and it invariably reduces me to tears. Yes, I’m a hard hearted old man who would never dream of crying in public, but when I think nobody can see?  That might be another story, for another time.

And thus back to Lydia’s request.  Bacon, our latest pound hound, also touches my heart every time she meets me at the door. I think this year will be her tenth birthday, yet she never fails to give me an enthusiastic greeting when I arrive home.  She is always genuinely happy to see me. Always.  She is also incredibly camera shy. Which makes getting an even halfway decent picture of her very difficult.  My daughter Julia has managed this feat a couple of times.

I seldom do, but here is one such picture.

Bacon is no Spring Chicken.In order to take this I called Bacon over to me and was chatting to her as I turned my phone on, set it into camera mode, chose a square image, then ever so slowly slid it up to allow its forward facing camera to focus on her.  As soon as she noticed my phone her ears lowered and her eyes asked, “Why are you doing this to me…?”

Look into Bacon’s eyes, where I think you’ll see her question lingers for posterity.

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immaterial

~ immaterial… ~
~
Reach out and touch me,
with other than your words,
you can’t
for I am not there.
Though my heart is real,
my spirit is not made of matter,
my spirit
is immaterial.
Material things do not matter
to me,
at least as much as they matter
to many.
I
am immaterial.
~

Time never stops, and it never changes.

Time is like a stream we flow through.

Is all we really are ripples in time’s flow?

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The Followers of Fate

Once we have experienced fate the only way to think it doesn’t exist is to close our mind to its reality.

I won’t do that. However I also won’t try and come up with some nonsensical set of almost believable half-truths in order to comfort myself by attempting to explain something that is quite literally outside human understanding. I know fate is real because I have experienced it multiple times. That I don’t recognize it during my mundane day-to-day existence does not mean I have suddenly become the master of my own destiny and able to manipulate the threads of time and fate during those times.

Am I saying we don’t have free will? If I believe fate exists, how can I also believe free-will exists?

That is the quandary, isn’t it? That is the reason people spend enormous effort coming up with ludicrously complicated scenarios whose ultimate purpose is to grant us peace of mind by illustrating how we obviously have free will.

What do I think? I think the semblance of free will is not free will at all.

Yesterday I tweeted this:-


“The essential problem is that if there is fate,
there is no free will.
We can’t choose when it is fate,
and when it is not.”

Someone later asked me, “Why not? Does fate have such a strong hold over us?” I’ll answer that in a straightforward fashion. Which, if you’ve read much of my work, you’ll realize is most uncharacteristic. Yes, I think the grip of fate is so tight not even the gods can escape it.

Comfort. We humans have a desperate need to believe we can change our fate. But ultimately we cannot. As I said in an earlier blog post… “Perhaps the root thing about the fate, or its lack, is this… Even if the Fates are not, then what will happen, still will.”

Is this a fatalistic outlook? To answer that question, consider the word used to describe the outlook. Fatalistic. What does “fatal” mean? It means to die. What is the inescapable fate of every living thing? It is to die. That fate is inescapable. That is fate, and therefore fate is inescapable.

Should we simply throw up our hands and say, “If nothing I do matters, I should do nothing.” If that is your fate, you will, and there is nothing I or anyone else can do that can change it.

However doing nothing is not the fate of humanity, or indeed of any life. You see everything we do matters. Life matters, and life demands not only to be sustained but also propagated. Our most inconsequential seeming action has effects that ripple across our entire world. Simply because we don’t perceive those effects does not render them void.

Fate exists, but fate is far more complex than just us. In order to begin grasping what this mysterious thing we know and call “fate” might be, we have to stop limiting our thoughts to ourself.

Fate is infinitely more complex than merely affecting me.

How much is “infinitely”? Well, take the fates of a butterfly and a human who live on opposite sides of the world. Surely the two are so remote as to render the impact of the fate of either on the other negligible? Perhaps to our limited human minds that seems valid. But we are not the Universe, are we? We are merely its creatures. The truth is that everything matters, regardless of whether we think it matters or not.

Simply because we are unaware does not render any action inconsequential.

The result of every action impacts every other action. The conductor of the symphony we call life, is Fate.

If a tree falls in a forest and there is no one there to hear it, does it make a noise?

That question explains Fate as succinctly as any other thought I’ve had. We think we matter, but in the grand scheme of things we don’t. The tree’s fall is fated, as is the impact of its fall on the entire earth. That humanity remains unaware does not negate fate.

~
Ripples and flows,
from whence they come,
we don’t know,
and to whence they wend?
Why, to their ultimate end…
~

Fate. We can’t fight it, even if we think we can.

I have more to say on Fate. Much more.  If your fate is modified by mine you may want to subscribe to this blog.  Is that a choice? If it is, I suspect the Fates have already determined its answer.

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On Pre-Destiny

change
it does a soul good…

Bless is a word I am extremely reluctant to use.

If we look on good fortune as blessings, we must also look on ill fortune as curses. Either of those is an implicit acceptance of pre-destiny. Either of those is also an implicit acceptance of benign and malign superior entities which are capable of manipulating our fate.

There are no words I know which are capable of encapsulating my thoughts on this topic.  But even knowing I will surely fail, I’ll try anyway.

Good fortune indicates luck.  What is luck, save favorable fate?  What is fate but an acceptance of strictures beyond our control?  If we can neither control nor influence our own destiny, what then?

Is all that remains to quietly accept the vagaries of fate?

How can we timidly accept that something outside our understanding has predetermined our every thought and deed?

If there is predetermination then it must be absolute.  It cannot be partial, for if predetermination is only partial then predetermination does not exist at all.

If we accept absolute predetermination, then since all actions are predetermined we must also accept that absolutely nothing we do matters.

If we accept nothing we do matters, then we must ultimately accept that we are nothing.

Nothing… means we must accept that we are not even stardust.

Formed from the dust of dead stars, we are.

I can’t accept that.

I am merely human, and therefore incapable of understanding that which is outside human understanding.

Now that, I can accept.

{P.S.  Two blog posts in a single day!!!???  This happens extremely rarely, so don’t let it dissuade you from subscribing to my blog. The subscribe button it in the top right column…}

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Pauper to Prince

So many stories follow the path of someone’s transition from rags to riches, or from pauper magically transformed into a prince.

To me the truth is that every girl is already a princess and should be treated like one, and every boy has the potential to behave with the decorum princes should, yet seldom do.

And then there is my other side, in which I realize how terribly flawed the very concept of royalty is.  The concept of royalty has entrenched expectations and acceptance of privilege so deeply into societal fabric that we are easily misled into the belief that it is universal human nature.  It is not.

Why are tales in which the heroes and heroines transit from poverty into material riches so popular?  Why are there so few tales in which the spiritually impoverished, yet materially wealthy transition into the spiritually enriched? Perhaps because an absolute requirement of spiritual enlightenment is to relinquish all material wealth?

For every Absolute, there is an Exception.

Perhaps, because sales hold more material value than souls?

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On the rights of the Rich

Do the rights of the rich outweigh the rights of the poor?  I see variances on this theme often and they are invariably couched in terms that make them sound so logical they almost seem acceptable.  Almost.  However I ultimately find them unacceptable, regardless of how cleverly they’re phrased.

The rights of the rich should never outweigh the rights of the poor. Period.

I acknowledge we live in a world in which society has been stratified into various degrees of have and have not.  However I find this morally unacceptable, regardless of the form the social stratification takes.  To me it doesn’t matter if we’re talking about rich and poor, clergy and lay, royalty and peasant, chieftains and villagers, colonists and indigenous, conquerors and conquered, victors and vanquished, or even about highly sophisticated caste systems of ancient origin.

But there is something in all those cases which does matter to me.  Namely how certain people assume authority over others.

Assumptions of authority…

This is the 21st century.  How many more centuries is it going to take before people rise up and say “No!” to social inequity?  How far must the disparity in wealth become before the man in the street says, “Enough!” to the outrageous privilege assumed by the wealthy?

Have you ever considered the expression, “Outrageous Privilege“?  I have. It is the state in which a miniscule minority are treated with such outrageous privilege that it literally becomes an outrage.  What is a miniscule minority? It isn’t the 20% of the so widely touted and so often repeated 80/20 rule. I am a reasonable person, if I lived in a society where twenty out of every hundred people were wealthier than the other eighty I’d be willing to accept that, regardless of which category I fell into. However in regard to the disparity of wealth a miniscule minority means a tiny percent of a single percentage point.   A very very very tiny percent.

No matter how clever or eloquent the justifications for social inequity are, they remain nothing but justifications for something that is inherently wrong.

What kind of language am I referring to, and what prompted this post?

Statements like, “The poor will always be with us.”  Why?  Why is there a need for anyone to be poor?  Because they’re lazy and thus don’t deserve to be wealthy?  Before you subscribe to such virulent nonsense try living in a poor man’s shoes.  Not only are they a bad fit, they are extremely uncomfortable, and you will have to work harder that you have ever worked in order to barely survive.  The poor are not lazy. Nothing could be further from the truth. The poor are desperate.  The poor often work multiple minimum wage jobs in order to make ends meet.

Statements like, “Minimum wage is just a starting point.”  Hogwash.  Minimum wage is an ending point.  Once an adult starts working in a minimum wage position it becomes increasingly difficult to escape working for minimum wage. The receipt of every paycheck sees your situation worse.  Minimum wage paychecks are not a blessing, they are a curse.  An adult earning minimum wage cannot save enough for a buffer to tide them over for the time taken to find a better paying job. If they lose the minimum wage job they hold today, they had better get another by tomorrow or their circumstances will get even worse than they are.  Assuming there actually is something worse than living hand to mouth, day in and day out.  Sadly, there is…

Statements like, “The homeless are homeless by choice.” Where do you go when you have nowhere to go?  Where do you stay when you have nowhere to stay?  What do you eat when you have nothing to eat?  What mental hospital will treat the chronically mentally ill when all the mental hospitals that did so closed years ago?  Are any of those choices, by choice?

Statements like, “We should not strive to make the rich poor, but to make the poor rich.”  Did you entirely miss that mysterious subject known as “Mathematics” while attending school?  Statistically speaking it is impossible for everyone to be in the top one percent.  Statistically speaking if there are one hundred people, everyone cannot be materially richer than the other ninety-nine.  Simple math folks.  But apparently beyond the ability of many to grasp.

Statements like, “Be humble, work hard, and accept your lot in life.”  Why?  Why should the poor accept being poor?  Why do the rich deserve to be rich?  Why should people work hard if they can never aspire to improving their circumstances?  Why?

Statements like, “It has always been this way.”  So what!!??  If something is unjust, then I don’t give a single solitary damn how long it has, “always been this way“, I will fight to have it fixed.  Slavery existed for thousands of years.  Does the longevity of abhorrent behavior somehow render it tolerable?  Absolutely not.

And hundreds of other acceptably false statements we are constantly trained to ignore in the interests of the status-quo.  Those little lies so slight they aren’t worth the bother of refuting.  Those deliberate misdirections that take our attention elsewhere from the things that really matter.  Here is a heads-up.  The status-quo does not serve the interests of the poor, it serves the interests of the rich.

And now, finally, to the matter that prompted this post.  Examine the screenshot below and read through the dialog captured within it.  But before you do, please note this is not an attack on the person who tweeted the quote.  It isn’t even an attack on the quote itself, which holds a lot of truth.  After all, if we are not willing to contribute something, then what right do we have to expect anyone else to contribute?  None.  I think that was the frame of mind in which the tweet originated.  However, if I am anything I am contrary.  The nuance of words is exceptionally important to me.  That is what this post is really about.

Nuance.

It reflects on how thinking about words in a different way opens entirely different ways to understand what is being said.  There are other truths beneath all words, we only need to seek them to see.

the rights of the richSeem clear?  Now let me explain what I meant in my reply.  It seemed obvious to me, however what is obvious to the author is often obscure to another.

In order to be able to give, we must first have.” Literally the only thing I can afford to give are my words.  Although words are something I treasure, I have them in abundance and can thus afford to give them freely. I strive to do that, both here on my blog, and on Twitter.  But cash?  That filthy thing known as lucre? That thing most people think of when thinking of “giving”?  According to my income I am neatly positioned in the middle class.  However the truth is that I can barely afford to service my debt.  On paper, I own my own home.  If only paper were reality., for in reality I don’t.  The bank owns the home within which we live, and the bank will get the home if I am unable to pay the mortgage.  Who, precisely, is “the bank”?  I don’t know, but I do know that they are the ones who got and get to keep the homes when the real estate market crashes. What did the people who could not pay their mortgages get to keep?  A devastating dip in their credit-worthiness?  So, although I am allegedly middle class, the only material things I own are my debts and I’m pretty sure nobody, not even the poorest of the poor, wants me to give them those.

I walk past my own reflection every day.”  And what I see, when I can bear to look, is an apparently wealthy man who in reality is so poor he does not even own the dirt upon which his home is built.  Every day I pass myself and I know how poor I am.  What choice do I have, but to walk on past?  I wonder what you see when you pass your reflection?  Sadly, I think it is likely to be the very same thing I see.  A slave, who thinks they are free.

The best slaves, are those who think they’re free. #thought

And the last line of my reply read…

It never asks me to give.”  Perhaps my experience in life differs substantially from yours. Indeed there is no doubt in my mind it does, for we are each unique individuals ultimately created by the specific circumstances that have built up to and preceded this precise moment in time. No two lives are the same! Yet in all my life I have never met a single poor person who has asked me to give them anything.  Never.  Those in more dire circumstances than myself have asked me where they might find work they could do in exchange for shelter or food, but they’ve never asked me to “give”.  Indeed many poorer than me have offered to share their food and lodging, and sometimes I have accepted their generosity.  Are beggars poor?  I have met many of those and they invariably ask me to give, but I don’t think they are poor. I think they are just beggars.  Perhaps that is what the expression truly means, that beggars will always be with us.  I don’t doubt they will, for there are always lazy people, and lazy people are undeserving of sympathy.  However the poor do not seek your sympathy, they do not seek your wealth, they seek your understanding, they seek fair and equal opportunity.  Do you think they get any of those things?

Do you freely grant those minimal desires, or do you walk past your reflection and withhold them?

{P.S. Throughout my blog you will find proof of how much words matter to me.  Here and on @Twitter, I give them away for free.  Should you choose to purchase other words of mine you may do so by buying Malmaxa, a link for which appears in the top right column.

Recently I have been seriously considering adding a “Donate” button to my blog.  I wonder if that would make me a beggar, or perhaps a trader who offers words you probably don’t want to hear in exchange for cash you probably can’t afford to give. I wonder.}

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