Monday, July 18, 2011

Iconic

An old livejournal post I made that came up in my e-mail because a spammer hit it with a comment. Silver lining to spam ;)
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iconic

I would get up at 6:30 every morning, conditioned to wake to my watch alarm. When I had first gotten into town, I couldn't find a department store to buy an alarm clock... the store names were all unfamiliar. The basement room was damp and cool, like a strange temperature variant on the Kentucky weather I was used to. Shower, dress, eat a bowl of cereal and put the milk back in the buzzing fridge. The light in that kitchen seems like the faintest yellow glow I can imagine now.

Every morning was fog, most mornings with sun mixed in. It was cool but not cold, and the ocean smell was intense. Beside the house, on the beach, was a small permanent carnival. It's painted white spindles of metal always still in my memories, frozen in the morning fog.

The drive down the coast, without fail, every morning, was like an injection of the purest energy of life. I miss driving. I miss the music, the wind, and the views of viridian green, sienna, and burnt umber marsh grasses extending out into the shallow ocean. The smell of the sea is bonded forever in my mind to the feeling of each of those mornings. I would round the bend into Old Lyme and hit the last long stretch of straight road. Tall thin pines lined up for a quarter mile, colliding in the end with a brilliant white church in the full force of the morning sun. I see it now in my life regularly -- a symbol of raw young enthusiasm and vitality. Ironic that such a pure symbol for me would be something I have come to be so cynical about.

I would drive the remaining way to the school in a jittery state. I was always the first one there, always waiting in the hall outside the studio, looking at the drawings plastered to the wall by people with an enthusiasm for learning and creating that was so pure, so integral, that I didn't even realize it's uniqueness. I took it for granted... even though I appreciated the experience infinitely. It's so clear looking back that I want it to feed the rest of my life. I feel as if I could relive those moments now, but magnified in intensity by an infinitely greater need for that kind of clarity. It does still feed me, but not to the degree I want.

Every day of that summer was real, pure, ...rich. I am a lucky human being. I hope for more.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

My world/universe personal views

I am an atheist. Amid the barrage of Easter news and posts, I feel the need to reiterate the core principles of my concept of the universe:

1. I do not believe in any deities (a = not, theist = one who believes in a god) - there is a common misconception that atheists believe in 'satan' or malevolent deities due to a long tradition of vilification of the non-religious. I believe every human being is responsible for his/her own actions, and we as a society of conscious beings benefit by encouraging freedom of choice and responsibility for those freedoms.

2. I am highly moral, and believe that morality is an evolved behavioral code that preserves our species and can be taught without religion. Human beings are generally highly empathetic and that physically driven trait is the key to 'morality.'

3. I love life, humanity, nature, philosophy, art and science.

4. I believe that when you die, you simply cease to exist, and I am absolutely and completely fine with that.

5. I believe the unknown is a positive, not a negative thing. I realize that I possess only the smallest fraction of knowledge in the universe, but I am very happy about just continuing to learn and do not feel a need or desire to define the unknown with legend or mythology.

6. I am deeply empathetic with all conscious life. I support many humanitarian causes and am a vegan because I believe the use, abuse and killing of animals for our convenience and enjoyment is almost entirely unnecessary and detrimental to human psychology.

7. I see the critical human traits as intelligence, self-awareness, compassion/empathy and the drive to understand.

8. I see value in many religions as social constructs and teaching tools, although I generally don't see a 'need' for them. I believe the same values can be taught through knowledge, experience and the demonstrable benefits of a compassionate and empathetic life. I grew up Baptist/Christian, and I saw many wonderful core principles in the passages in the bible attributed to Jesus. Unfortunately, I think many other core elements of Christianity and other religions go against these passages by imposing judgement on others, embracing and utilizing violence in the name of the religion and justifying the 'authority' of religious leaders.

9. I see no need to impose my beliefs on anyone else, with the caveat that I believe humanity should not tolerate any religion or belief system that restricts the freedoms or life of those who do not believe it. That includes secular or religious beliefs. I feel it is important to share information to increase understanding, which is the motivation behind this post. However, I have no interest in convincing anyone else to be an atheist or adhere to the principles I hold for myself. Believe what you want as long as you do not impose your beliefs or their resulting rules on me.

10. I do not see human beings or human life as central or key to the universe. I believe we are simply animals with decently adaptive thinking, social skills and tool usage, and I believe it is important to have an objective perspective so we don't treat our world and other beings as expendable or tools for our convenience.

A lot of people posting their religious beliefs on my friend list and I think it is important to try and clarify an atheist self-concept to maybe help remove some of the negativity or ambiguity that is often associated with the term.

Monday, July 27, 2009

In the now...

I had a little bit of a revelation this morning.

Today is not nearly strong enough to bear the weight of the past and the future. You just have to let it be today.

I have been aware of this truth for most of my life, but there is a clear difference between being aware of an idea and experiencing an idea. The revelation was that today I experienced the idea... and remembered how incredibly easy it is to do. There was nothing unique or special about point of awareness. In fact, it was actually just a daily routine. I just kind of woke up and realized that I could just be present, content and interested in what was happening.

I remember that someone commented to me at one point in my life that they loved how I was always very present and living in the moment. I think it is easy to lose that, and I think I did for a long time. The trick is that it is as subtle as a brainwave shift; like muscle memory, but with the mind. On the plus side, I think it is easy to maintain once you get into the proper mindset.

So here's to living, right now.


Saturday, July 11, 2009

Why I'm not a 'militant' vegan

I've been asked, a lot, why I'm not a more 'militant' vegan... if it is so important to me and all.

Partially, it is the result of not wanting to tell other people what they should believe. Mostly, however, it is that I really just don't think it will do any good with at least 95% of people. You will only be vegan if you actually empathize not only with animals, but with animals that have no direct interaction with you. Most people don't empathize with animals as much as me, and most people don't empathize nearly as much with people (let alone animals) who don't have direct interaction with them as they do with people/animals they know or have some relationship with.

So I see the problem as a core level compulsion issue and virtually irreversible in almost everyone. I am not vegan because I expect to change the world, I'm vegan because it is what I think is right and I am responsible for my own actions. I would like others to change, but militance does not accomplish that in my opinion. Until I can figure out a way to get people to truly, and intensely empathize with all animals (and people for that matter), I do not believe I have a course to improve the status quo. I'll keep trying to think of effective ways to do that I guess :)

Conflicted

I'm a bit of a Nihilist. I point it out because I find it notably odd that I simultaneously empathize highly and am emotionally compelled to the point of personal sacrifice, while also feeling that none of it really matters. Go figure.

I just came to a realization a long time ago that the human condition is what I live in, despite being aware that it is in no way unique or special in the universe (i.e. just a complex system that has meaning within itself and to itself). So I participate because it's the only thing I'm designed to do, and not participating is essentially fighting one's own nature, which may seem valiant, but just leads to an unpleasant life in my opinion. I'm talking high-level participation here... I'm down with fighting the established social norms and standard mentalities, but I'm still participating in the act of being human. So my sense of caring, empathizing, acting and communicating about my 'ethical' concerns is always somewhat precariously perched on the unstable base of the presupposition of irrelevance. How awesome is that.

Meaning in the Arts

There was a short lunch discussion the other day which got me thinking about the underlying purpose of art (in all of its forms). I know from personal experience that art and music can be core motivators of life. I certainly can't guarantee that everyone feels compelled by them in any way, but obviously many do.

I personally see all art as expression. I see humans as primarily social beings. It makes sense that expression would touch a string in most of us. However, it also seems that some people gain an amazing amount just from the act of creating. I don't get that extensively with visual art, although there is some, but I definitely have that experience with music. I often don't care if anyone ever hears it.

I'm curious if part of it is essentially communicating with our own more primitive or subconscious thoughts. Music, for me, definitely communicates on a very core level. I don't even always understand why something is musically compelling (sometimes I intellectually identify interesting components), but part of me clearly reacts.

Where do words fit into the equation? Imagery? I think maybe I'm not talking about the arts in general, but specifically instrumental music and possibly abstract art. I have a deep love for language and detailed imagery, but that's not really what I'm thinking of with these comments.

I think maybe one of the reasons I react so clearly to music without lyrics, and playing music without lyrics, is that it is a very raw and intuitive form of communication that I cannot apply clear filters to. I have never had notably strong reactions to abstract art though, which is slightly confusing in that regard... seems like it would have a similar effect.

I am definitely analytical to an extreme when it comes to language and conscious thought in general... obviously. I can't experience anything without analyzing it seven ways from sunday (for instance, I really don't understand what that phrase means, but I just ran through a possible etymology in my head ;) ). Perhaps instrumental music (and wordless or other language vocals) allow me to communicate in a way that is more native, essential and relaxed.

See, this is why I like talking to myself... I figure things out. It's like what I do in my head all of the time, except documented for future reference :)

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Liberty

I wish the price and payment for liberty could be more evenly distributed among those who desire or enjoy it. If all of those who have and want freedom would stand up and take action, all at once, the few who impose their will on the many would cower and fade into irrelevance. Oppression of a people is an insidious evil that preys on the misconception that someone else will step in and save our freedoms. It is up to us, and the more of us who confront it together, the less each of us will have to sacrifice.