Wednesday, September 26, 2012


Over Dogma.

When I notice that adding to something isn't making it any better, I stop adding. When I notice that subtracting from something isn't making it any better, I stop subtracting. If I keep listening and let function be my guide rather than dogma, I end up closer to the essence of life and my art and more the servant of my creations than vice-versa.

(The above paragraph took me about 40 minutes to write and is itself the result of applying what I'm describing.) 

Sunday, September 23, 2012


Not Facts.

I find that I am not very happy or satisfied when I seek facts or truths or certainties about life. I much prefer to seek the best explanation I can find, the one that best explains the evidence at hand. Science is like that too, when it's true to its method. It seeks the best explanation it can to make sense of current data. All its "truths" are provisional...that is to say, "We hold that this is true...provided the next experiment doesn't contradict it." So, no, I don't consider Evolution to be a "fact", just the explanation that makes the most sense to me. I like having an open mind, even about stuff I'm 99.99% sure is "true". This goes for life, love, martial arts, music, religion, money, politics, you name it. When I hold that what I have are not truths or facts, but opinions and explanations that work for me, for now...I am a much happier person. I have more slack for other people, and the world is an open question instead of a closed book. 

Friday, September 14, 2012



I lived in Fairfield Iowa for a while. The capital of the Transcendental Meditation movement. The people there were always freaked about something. They had to live in special Vedic houses, eat special foods and herbs to combat every upset, consult astrologers for everything from when to get married to what to name their kids, and play special piped in music 24 hours a day. The whole world was toxic to these folks and had to be filtered through whatever The Movement said was the answer. And man were they up in arms about Y2K! I just knew nothing big was going to happen. These weenies just couldn't be right. And incidentally, the people there, not the kids but the adults, were the most energy depleted folks I've ever seen. Either fat and pasty, or cadaverously thin...nice folks, but not what I’d call the pictures of health or peace of mind. I remember when Y2K was coming and everyone was freaking out and buying wheat berries and generators, I thought, Man, if I have to grind my own wheat berries, just shoot me now. 

And all that freaking was for nothing.

Unrelated to Y2K, I heard about a guy in another town who had a bunker underground in his backyard that he was always tinkering with. He had all his doomsday supplies ready. One day he had an oxygen leak, something sparked and he was burned to a crisp in the safest place in the world. Good lesson there....

There seems to be a steady parade of these doomsday scenarios, year after year and I think there's definitely an emotional payoff to being into this stuff. And when the end of the world doesn’t come they only seem a little disappointed. What they usually do, with the help of cognitive dissonance, is incorporate this latest news into their ongoing story about all this stuff and just move on to the next thing to be afraid of.

When I lived in Iowa, I loved listening to the radio. I could hear AM radio stations at night from New York to New Orleans to Denver to Minneapolis, depending on the weather. Sometimes I would listen to the Art Bell show, which I promptly labeled "The Fear Show". Each night, they'd spend the first part of the show bringing out the boogeyman and the second half of the show selling you the silver bullet to kill him with.

Some people I know feel sorry for these perennial doomsday fearing types but I don't find myself feeling much compassion for them because they seem to be happily (or unhappily) living the life they most want to live. There's a perverse kind of pleasure in being perennially outraged and vigilant. Until someone outgrows that pleasure and wants a different kind, I don't think there's much anyone can do to change them. I mostly try to stay out of their way, as I do with most conspiracy theory people.

I'm usually careful about what I say around them. The True Believers seem to identify themselves with their beliefs, so criticizing their beliefs amounts to an attack on their very existence. If you don't just accept their latest doomsday prophesy, or conspiracy theory, or whatever their latest boogeyman is, they tend to fixate all their rage you and that's usually not a can of worms I want to open and have dumped in my lap.

The latest end of the world story has to do with the Mayan calendar and the end of time which is supposed to happen in 2012. The magnetic poles are supposed to reverse, huge “Earth Changes” are supposed to happen, we are to be punished by Nature for how we’ve been treating the planet, etc,, etc.,

I'd also have to say that based solely on who's freaking out about 2012, I would be willing to bet my life that absolutely nothing out of the ordinary statistical patterns of natural disasters will happen this year.

Not to mention that the Mayans were blood sacrificing people whose civilization collapsed on itself. They couldn't even see that coming , or the Spanish coming, and yet they were supposed to know when the “end of time” was going to happen?

And this should be obvious: The Mayan calendar had to end somewhere. They couldn’t keep carving in those stones forever. Our calendars only go so far into the future too.

These doomsday scenarios come up again and again, and the same type of people get freaked out again and again. One thing's for sure though, YOUR personal apocalypse is definitely coming. You're going to die and no bunker can save you from that.

I think this is all about guilt and death and control. If you just accept that you're gonna die, that you and your culture have done bad things (like all people and cultures do, yes, even those saintly blood sacrificing Mayans), and that you actually have very little power and control over life, well then, you're free to enjoy what you can, do a few good deeds, get on with it and party like it's 2012!!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Smiling Is Beautiful But...

Don't Fake It.

Kindness is important to me, but like smiling and laughing, it has to be real and unforced. I'm not a big fan of excessive "niceness" and other forced ways of interacting. I prefer an honest asshole to a fake nice person because the fake nice person is just an asshole in disguise anyway. It's like people who wear a lot of perfume...I wonder...Jeez what the Hell do they smell like without it!?

Think about how much fake smiling and laughing goes on. The amazing thing to me is that people who do lots of fake smiling and laughing actually think they are fooling people. Maybe they are, but I think anyone who puts any energy into it at all can look around and see for themselves who's really smiling or laughing and who's faking it. I see plenty of people who never really laugh, never give in to the fully spontaneous loss of control that real laughter requires. 

Polite, or social laughing or smiling can be helpful in certain situations but I've never liked the admonition to "Smile!", or the lyrics in Charlie Chaplin's famous song, "Smile". I find the melody very beautiful, but if a smile is fake or put-on or intentional, I think it does more harm than good and pushes a person's real sense of how they are actually feeling further and further away. I think the health benefits of smiling do not extend to fake smiling. Unless it’s vital to hide how you’re really feeling, I think smiling when you're really feeling sad or angry or scared is not a good thing.

So I say, both to you and to myself: Be kind when you feel kind, smile when a smile comes naturally, laugh when something strikes you as funny. Don’t fake it. Wait until it’s real.