My morning started like most others. I woke up, qued up my yoga dvd and quickly sat down to follow the instructor before I got distracted. I finished the session, and by the time I made my food for the day, I was pressed for time, and scuttling about for my socks. After a few minutes, I grew frustrated and stopped looking for the lost blue mate to the one in my hand. I was irritated. I might even say I was suffering. Bourgeoisie suffering.
When I wear pants that sit just right, with a fitted shirt that looks, well, fitted, instead of looking like I’m swimming in it like a small child, I feel good. I’m sure you feel the same when you get something stylish, sexy, and professional. It doesn’t seem right if we don’t look right, and there’s a gigantic market of stores with lines of clothes that are going to make our day. I will feel better in those pants. You will feel better in that dress. And that’s the curious part.
Why do we like dressing well? It would seem it’s for others, to look good. But really, it’s not. We dress a certain way, because it makes us feel good. Not because anyone else is going to give us a high five, or an appreciative nod, or even a compliment (at least from my experiences this is an uncommon event). And if we are dressing fashionably to get some sort of of external recognition, well, it’s still being done so that we will feel good.
You might be saying, “So what, Captain Obvious. Of course we do everything to make ourselves feel good, we don’t do things to make ourselves feel bad.” And you’re right. (Although that argument can be critiqued, given how many people end up in situations of suffering, with all their starting good intentions to be happy.)
My point here is, if we’re dressing a certain way, if we can’t leave the house without matching socks, what else are we prioritizing, more specifically, what else are we de-prioritizing? Time or money spent shopping or picking out clothes or searching for a matching sock is time/money that’s not used doing something for ourselves. I mean, our self, that soul inside, under the layers of the mind that want these clothes, this house, this car, and that perfect dinette set from the Pottery Barn catalog, picked up after perusing so many dinette sets, and asking, “Which one of these defines me as a person?” (Hat tip, Fight Club).
What does your self need? Maybe nothing, and if so, kudos to you, my friend, because you are truly enlightened. You’ve accept the world and all its randomness, and your faulty self, your big ass, big nose, or small boobs. You have gratitude for what you have and a curiosity for what you don’t know. You have friendships that support you and which you give back to, you have creative endeavors that promote you, and a job that stimulates you..and if you don’t, you’re well on your way to those things. Why?
Because you’ve put your self-development over form development. You may very well be looking good, too, fit and dressed to a T, (and truly, I hope you do, because I definitely prefer seeing stylish fit people rather than a swath of blue jeans and obesity when I step outside.) Regardless, you have your priorities in place. You know your personality will trump even the best looking outfit. You know that being confident, making something useful, and showing interest and care to others are much more important than what silly fashion you’ve covered your meatbag with. You know that the finite form is nothing more than a facade, and any happiness it may bring is as fleeting as our short time on this earth…a short time spent worrying about making more money or finding matching socks.
So I picked up that black sock and put it on, staring at my blue one on the left, and the black one on the right. I wiggled my toes and evaluated them, and then I smiled. Maybe I could flip my priorities more towards building my self over my form, and this would be a step in that direction. One comic, vulnerable step toward the organized chaos of happiness.
Let’s EVOLVE…beyond us and them, beyond teams, beyond party.. beyond religion, dogma and nationalism. Adopt abundance not scarcity mindsets. OPEN up…open lines of communication, don’t close them. Don’t assume. Ask, test, share priorities. The risk of murder, starvation, having your village raped and pillaged is practically gone. It’s time to leave the fear behind.
I saw a bumper sticker that said, “Too poor to vote Republican.” After laughing at the joke, I thought that it was kind of insulting to the Republicans who are poor. But then I grew serious, because this divisiveness is exactly what the Democratic party apparatus would like us to follow. Where do they get their millions of dollars to run for office? Do they cobble it together from the poor? I would guess not. Does it matter? Do they still fight for the poor? Yes, they do. But in recent years, they’ve tried to help the poor while they’ve promoted the wealthy to concentrate their wealth using a growing, unregulated banking industry…an industry that helped bring down the whole economy because of their dishonesty and greed. Of course, all of our 401k’s are with these banks, and we benefit from their dishonesty, but the question is, if we know they are dishonest, what does that make us…?
“My mother married 4 times, so I had 4 fathers,” she said.
I told her it must have been tough having her mother get married multiple times.
“What was it like?” I asked.
Then my other friend interjected. “That’s personal.” His tone was incredulous. “You don’t ask about that.”
I hesitated and didn’t ask further, but I’ve thought about it, and I realize that asking about our friend’s problems is not rude. In fact, I think as a friend, it is a requirement.
I believe that if someone isn’t comfortable talking about something, then this is an indication that it’s quite appropriate to ask about it. Friendship is about helping other people, not just with money, or lending a hand, but with your actual interest, asking questions, communicating your thoughts through your words, and encouraging them towards a better place.
Communicating gets thoughts out where you can shine a light on them and ask yourself what you think. Do I want to keep doing this thing that makes me feel this way? And that’s what friends are for. To get you that perspective on a situation that is truly impossible for you to get from the inside. To help you talk about things that you want to change or need to face. The things you don’t want to talk about are precisely the things that need talked about.
Relationships are what make us feel valued. The only way to feel valued by another is when you do something valuable for them, and what’s more valuable than helping them change into a better person? And letting them help you do the same?
Get personal. It’s what friends are for.
July 4th reminds me of rich white men who worked hard for their property and money and decided they would risk death for the right to keep what they earn, and have their interests represented by leaders who they could elect. It reminds me of men who wrote, “All men are created equal,” and left out the women, and in their hypocritical support of slavery, did not even consider males of other races to be men. These men did great things, in a culture that had abhorrent aspects.
The question to ask today, many years after July 4th, 1776, is do we have the courage of our convictions, as our Founding Fathers did, to risk our lives for something more than ourselves? To put into motion a form of government that would evolve to correct our own hypocrisies? To outlaw slavery, to force the private sector to if not correct, but mitigate, its racism? A system that would give women the right to vote? A system that came to outlaw the exploitation of child labor?
I think July 4th is the time to realize that we cannot be perfect, so it’s time to stop judging America and its politicians, and start judging ourselves. Why do we buy most of our products from China, where the people don’t have the the freedom to vote? How can we give our money to large monopolies, “too big to fail” banks who are subsidized by the government and no longer driven to protect their customers? How can we expect programs to help our neighbors, instead of helping them ourselves?
I believe it’s time to ask ourselves how we can improve our own lives and the lives of others. How can we change our current society for the better? We must take the imperfections of our Founding Fathers and our government, and use them to drive us to be better citizens.
July 4th may be a time for pride in the United States, but even more so, I believe it is a time for inspiration. The best change, the truest change, it comes from inside, not from far away places, not from a document, but from our values and our beliefs. It comes from us.
DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) has been deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. This federal prohibition against gay couples getting married has been repealed. They are no longer discriminated against. But what about the discrimination against those who are unmarried? Who is protecting their benefits?
And how are the legal benefits afforded by the government to married couples (which encourage marriage) helping to protect marriage? Are they doing anything to decrease the dissolution of marriages?
I don’t think the government has much to do with “defending” any marriages. Does the government even make an impact either way?
One thing is for sure…The government has made the social institution of marriage into a legal institution.
Yes, revoking DOMA is not very romantic, but it is necessary if we want to keep our country free from discrimination.
I sat down to meditate this morning. Soon, Gado came over. (That’s him in the pic.) He sniffed one of my hands, then the other, and then laid out in front of me and slowly shuttered his eyes. He was going to help me meditate. I smiled. Then thought, I think he might be asleep.
But knowing he was there did help me even though he wasn’t doing anything. He wasn’t guiding my meditation. He wasn’t even fetching me a towel. But he was still there for me. He made me feel better, and that isn’t something I should dismiss. That foundation of good feeling is what allows me to focus and do what I need to do. He may have no idea what’s going on, but he is helping. And you know what? I’m helping him too. But it’s with something so subtle and simple that I forget. But sometimes we don’t need explanations. We just need to stretch out on the ground by a friend and clear our head.
I walked into the gym the other day and looked for a cage. The cage is mainly for squats and deadlifts. Those are the exercises that form the foundation of my workouts. But from what I’ve seen in the gym over the years, the most popular exercise for guys is the bicep curl, which it was for me many years ago. Polishing the guns, in every way possible. Standing or seated, barbell or dumbbells.
Sometimes when I see bicep curls being done, I’m reminded of a conversation between an old girlfriend and me. She said that she sees guys doing those exercises in the gym while staring at themselves in the mirror. She said, “I think they’re in there doing it just for themselves.”
I disagreed: “They do it to be more attractive to females.”
But now I think she was right.
This focus on the thing, the form, and not the person, is clearly seen in marketing (big surprise). Sofia Vergara prefers soda pop to men in her diet Pepsi commercials. And the guys in beer commercials pass up the girl for beer. This should be funny because it runs against what we do in real life. But does it actually? Do we chase stuff, like the job, money, beer, or bigger biceps, over relationships? Do we spend more time getting a paycheck and attractive physiques or more time learning to have a conversation, more time trying to connect and build relationships?
Building up a bank account or body is in many ways easier than building a solid relationship, but it won’t get us the kind of people we need in our lives. These kinds of commercials and my days in the gym remind of this almost every day. The challenge is getting into the habit to focus on what others want and what they do. This genuine curiosity can’t come from a place of insecurity, and security doesn’t come from external wealth. It comes from you knowing who you are, and accepting who you are, so all the attention that would otherwise be tied up in stabilizing yourself can be turned outward. I think when that happens, people realize you care about them. And that’s what it’s about in the end…being valued.
And putting diet Pepsi and big biceps in their proper place.
I’m amazed how many in the US could staunchly defend a political leader, or a party, given how the government and corporate institution are so intertwined and how disconnected from the community these institutions naturally have become as they have grown to their present size.
Maybe because the issues have been simplified into a reactive dualism, such as if the right takes a stance, you step just to its left and play the relativist instead of thinking about the issue, or vice-versa.
Shades of gray that require contextual and independent thinking have become the black and white of following.