Life in a Canoe

I often wonder what life would be like living on the riverbank. Sometimes I see people doing chores there and taking baths. They seem so permanent, so rooted. I wonder what excitement their lives provide them. From what I can observe, not much. Yet last night a heard a young girl, I think, singing in the darkness. I wonder if everyone sings, and whether all sing alone or sometimes together.

My life here has its interesting side, too. Mostly it’s a struggle against the flow of the river and obstacles, seen and sometimes unseen. Only the foolish float without a paddle in the water, and then not for long. With the paddle I sense everything in the river, rocks and snags, turtles and larger fish even. I call the smaller fish to dinner. I sleep in calm water next to the bank, one side or the other, it doesn’t matter. Few people on the bank even notice me gliding by like a ghost. Young children do. They point and laugh and then go back to their games.

You may wonder what my goals are in life. First must always be to stay upright. It is very dangerous to capsize and always uncomfortable. If one cannot catch his canoe or right and re-board it one becomes a riverbank person until a new canoe can be built. This happened to me once. Halfway through the rebuild a young woman approached. We had no common language but signs and later love. When I finished, I asked her to come with me to be my wife, lover and the mother of my children, but she was hesitant. The call of the river cut short my efforts to convince her.

My goals in life are varied. To keep my stomach full, to occupy my mind. To learn all there is to know about the river, to find out whether it ever comes to an end and what is there. Perhaps there are even many rivers, though our philosophy teaches otherwise. I free my mind to wonder if it may be so, and what kind of people and creatures might be found there. Sometimes I think the same as here. Sometimes I imagine fantastical.

My brothers and sister float down this river too, some ahead and some behind. Occasionally we call out to one another from currents of different speeds. I saw my mother a season ago without my father aboard. I wonder what has happened. Perhaps I will find out some night at rest along the shore, though larger spaces for mooring are rare.

The birds are colorful today. I haven’t seen this kind before. I think I will stop early tonight to explore.

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Inside and Outside – revisited

Many people have felt isolated, alone and even alienated from others and the world around them from time to time. This may sometimes lead us to fervently wish the boundaries between “inside” and “outside” could be breached, if only for a little while. We could then feel merged into the whole wider world or universe, our consciousness subsumed for a little while into a greater whole. What perspectives and insights might we then experience?

Nearly all animal forms have the ability to distinguish what lies outside their own skins. This is necessary so they can avoid predators, notice potential mates, and secure food and shelter. Yet only a few animals have the ability to imagine themselves outside their own skins. This ability requires is a very high order of brain development. The test for this is very simple but ingenious. An animal is presented with a mirror. Most animals will react to their image as if the image is another of their kind, even attacking the mirror. Only a very few recognize the image is a reflection of themselves. Among these are monkeys, dolphins, elephants and some birds. So humans are among the favored few with this ability.

Seen this way, the difficulties we face in our worthwhile efforts to erase the boundaries between inside and outside can also be viewed as a positive thing, a sign that we humans have a nearly unique self-awareness. We can value our individual self-hoods, focusing our external efforts to understanding and valuing the contributions others make to our very diverse existence, while at the very same time striving to eliminate the barriers between ourselves and the world.

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Sleepwalking

For many hundreds of years we have considered the mind to be separate from the body. In other words, the mind elects an action and directs the body (muscles, tendons, etc.) to carry it out.

However, we may find it interesting to consider the case of walking. If one were to say the mind directs the action of walking, most people could easily be convinced otherwise, because obviously with the hundreds of body parts involved in the act of walking, a symphony of coordinated muscle movements, it is clear the mind is not directing each movement in a beautiful timed sequence. If it were so, adults attempting to walk would look like babies just learning.

So, let us accept that the body walks, vaults, spins and hurdles by itself without the mind’s involvement. Ah, you might say, I will accept that but obviously the mind is involved to tell the body where to go. In refutation, I offer the example of a sleepwalker, arising in the night and walking to the refrigerator. You might say, okay, but the walking was in response to the brain recognizing hunger. I would ask where the hunger originates. Does it represent a theoretical decision by the mind that it has been so and so hours since the last repast, which comprised 734 calories and refueling is therefore necessary. How ridiculous, especially for a mind that is otherwise involved in the dreamstate pursuit of a desirable partner.

No, the hunger arises clearly in the body and non-thinking parts of the brain as the stomach rumbles and muscles demand an infusion of energy.

Thus, we have an action, sleepwalking, that is entirely directed by the body and non-thinking brain parts, rather than by the mind. I submit the only function the conscious mind performs is remembering the past and planning future activity, while other portions of the brain carry out the tasks demanded by the body at large. It is clear that the model of the body as servant of a higher-order mind is flat-out wrong and attempts by philosophy to separate mind from body/brain and soul are fruitless and counter-productive to human happiness as they interfere with our natural existence and experiential pursuit of happiness.

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It’s Not About Me

We are, all of us humanity, one. What matters who with whom when all of us connect, on all levels, in all parts, a single mind and heart.

If matters not when we fly apart, to be separated by a million miles. For there is no time in time and never distance between that is real. What I feel is felt, regardless and despite. What another loves or hates in me is inside my own mind, said or unsaid.

We are one, though perceptions be faint. We are one, regardless.

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Je Suis Charlie

If you are angry enough to hurt another, then hit with a fist. Don’t be a coward and shoot a gun. Otherwise, how is anyone to know just how angry you are, or if you are even angry at all? You could be just lazy. Or posing for ego. Or utterly foolish.

You defend nothing with guns; you only pretend to.

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What is ‘Odd’

Words do our thinking for us, as we juggle them to express awareness. Yet this, our physical manifestation, perceiving beauty, pain, pleasure and all else as the real and final tally of life, is not all. Rather, our individual parts are folded into a greater perceptual reality, in some dimension beyond, that we all enter into and finally comprise. Our parts fold in continuously but we don’t see the pattern until we enter that state ourselves at the end of our lives, and become part of the ‘greater existence’ which comprehends all creation.

This is the basin filled with drops from a tap, the dune, sand flowing into it with the wind. This is where we rest and play when ‘here’ is done. This basin/dune is a force for good and reconciliation at least as I have experienced it, helpful patterns emerging at extreme moments in my life.

These are my feelings of what is and what is not.

If one takes one’s view of reality from ancient texts, one is called sane. If one invents one’s own philosophy, based on very limited experience and perception, one generally is viewed as odd. Is the one explanation of reality more likely than the other? And if I ask others to confirm that my views might make some sense, am I any more sane or less odd based on their answers? Yet the unpleasant fate we offer the odd is isolation and pity.

We all want company and confirmation, after all. And so I will be brave and ask you, as a companion of existence, what is your truth? If ours are different, perhaps we can believe in each other’s, and validate one another.

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Friendship at Distance

And tonight? A simple question touches me, disquiets.

Does friendship stand a chance in this new world of e-existence? Or is it foolish hope and laughably naive? Has anyone before me ever tried this? Is it possible? How is such friendship built, what trust is needed when no voice, no verbal cues nor body language are there to convey conviction or intent, when conversation happens a sentence or paragraph at a time, hours or days between sharings.

Perhaps it happens naturally but in extreme slow motion, requiring loads of patience and determination, intent measured not just in words but in the gaps in between.  Or, perhaps it isn’t possible to establish and maintain at all, a pipedream, foolish hope, promise without possibility. I wonder. Do you know?

Here is my answer. A long distance friendship is a fragile flower, watered with patience and commitment. Its seed is a sincere desire of two people to share of themselves, not wholly and only a little at a time, as growth allows. Even as a plant that grows too fast becomes thin and weak, such a friendship must be guarded with restraint. Should inclement weather threaten the flower, it must be held close to the twig upon which it rests. And when the flower is full blooming it spreads its fragrance and beauty to the world. And the two who partake in it are blessed.

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