Sunday, January 12, 2014

Eye of the Beholder

My facebook feed is filled with the most profound wisdom captured in snippets, usually accompanied by a relevant photo.  Each meme a piece in a giant puzzle, filling in details and fleshing out the "ideal" perspective.  One thing I realized recently, that has been missing from the stream, is the idea that wealth is always a matter of perception.  This realization came to me when I went to visit someone who perceived themselves to be VERY wealthy.

They lived in a middle class ranch in a small town with a fabulous view.  It still had the original pink stove, pink sink and pink glitter formica counter tops.  The house was furnished with a mix of furniture that appeared to have been picked out by John Wayne and Liberace with some Chinese museum replicas thrown in to boot.  There were pieces of ladies costume jewelry laid out on dresser tops as if ready to wear at any moment in a home where no women (or cross dresser) lived. Crystal bowls filled with glass beads and shiny stones, plastic rococo furniture and bad art.  It reminded me of a birds nest lined with tinsel.

Ironically, there was a stack of Architectural Digest magazines sitting on a table.  I wasn't sure if they were a gift or purchased by the homeowner.  As I glanced through the pages admiring the complementary colors and styles, the fine proportions and balance, I realized something; what I thought was beauty, and indeed many others did also, is not exclusive.  I know that beauty can be measured to the extent that there is a mathematical pattern that is consistent, the fibonacci sequence which defines the pattern and balance of beauty.  Is there a fibonacci sequence of color?  I wonder if these parameters are simply a justification for the bigotry of ugly.  If ugly is relative, is anything ugly?

I often state that I don't have all of the answers and what I know is always changing.  I know what I think is beautiful.  I believe I am right. Even in those things I don't feel are beautiful I recognize the balance, symmetry and the complimentary pattern, textures and colors.  I see that it fits the defined pattern of beauty.  Does that make something outside of this "pattern" any less beautiful to one who sees beauty there?  Do plastic and paint gilded faux ormolu antiques have any less value than an original if they are perceived with equal appreciation?  So my mind stumbled through this quandary.  What is beauty if not the appreciation we have when experiencing something?

The full meaning of "beauty is in the eye of the beholder" became poignantly clear to me.  My feelings of pity and condescension that come up when I trip over those who find the most hideous items beautiful or valuable will I hope transform into appreciation for the ability to find joy where I perceive there to be none.  Finding joy in the less obvious is the real treasure.  That is a gift.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Who Am I?

I was born in 1965, the eldest of two girls, in a small town in south central Colorado.  It is one of the spots on the planet where you are surrounded by magnificent, awe inspiring and impossible not to acknowledge beauty.  I would say in that locale we were middle class.  Differing levels of wealth were not really acknowledged as far as I can remember.  In retrospect, I see that most of the time I spent there we lived just above subsistence levels.  These circumstances allow me to appreciate what money can buy and also appreciate at what cost to the environment and nature it comes.
The social climate of the time focused a great deal on the conflict in Vietnam, racial equality and the women’s liberation movement.  In the year I was born Malcolm X was assassinated, Martin Luther King, Jr. marched from Selma to Montgomery in Alabama and the nation was awash with anti-draft and pro-peace rallies.  These events effected huge social changes across the country and while I was not aware of them specifically at the time, their repercussions were noticeable in my life.
Both of my parents had attended the local college and received degrees; my mother a bachelor’s in social work and my father two bachelor’s degrees, one of education and the other of physical education with minors in psychology and biology and a master’s of education.  They were both the first in their families and the only in their generation to attend and finish college.  Education and the pursuit of knowledge was highly prized and rewarded by my mother and my father.  I was taught to use logic at an early age, to defend my position and to question everything.   
My mother was the middle child of three and the eldest girl. Her mother was half American Indian, although that was a fact that was hidden to the best of their ability. Both her father and her grandfather were severe alcoholics and my grandmother divorced my grandfather while my mother was still quite young.  My mother was raised LDS, but rejected the church when she married and left home.  She embraced the social changes of the time, rejecting the traditional roles held by women.  She was a pot-smoking feminist hippie intellectual, and one of many that I grew up around.  I was taught to accept and respect all races, those with differing sexual orientations and those from other cultures. She was beautiful, but always so much more than that.  She was an over achiever, responsible, reliable, powerful at home and at work, and an excellent provider without being a servant to her family as my grandmothers on both sides had been.  There was a noticeable shift from patriarchal to matriarchal in the family dynamic between my mother’s generation and my grandparent’s generation.   My mother was everything I wanted to be and I have endeavored to emulate her in most aspects of myself.
My father was the town hero; he was all state in every sport he practiced, which was highly revered.  He was a teacher and football coach, which took a great deal of his time and focus away from home. He also spent a significant amount of time drinking and playing pool when he wasn’t busy with his teaching and coaching obligations.  There was constant fighting between my parents while they were still married and for a long time after.  He was smart, loving, selfish, unreliable, neglectful and inadvertently cruel.  My father took because he was a man, because he could; not because he earned what he received in terms of family.  He was a liar and a thief and I loved him.  I admired him and still do.  His frequent betrayals hurt me deeply.  I learned that we all have failings, I learned to forgive and take what is valuable in relationships and leave the rest.
I moved to Amarillo, Texas at the age of seven and then Dallas at the age of eleven.  Both of these provided some culture shock.  Then at age thirteen I moved to a small suburb of Dallas, which was much more like the small town I was born in.  I was a good student, an athlete and a cheerleader.  It was at the age of fourteen that my mother, my sister and I found a church that we embraced.  I attended this church and it was a big part of my life all through high school.  God and spirit were always a part of our family discussions, but it was there that I really started to explore my personal spirituality and what it meant to be a spiritual being.  My view of the scope of reality expanded exponentially.  My church was Christian, but also included many eastern religious teachings and teachers.  I embraced the concepts of karma and reincarnation; they seemed to make sense of the suffering in the world and in my own life.  I was given many labels during this time but none of them really defined me, some I rejected outright.  I never fit neatly into any box; there was always a part of me that stuck out incongruently.
I graduated high school and started college at the age of seventeen.  I left campus a little after a year later but continued attending community college and working until I was twenty-seven when I had my second child.  Even though I am a mother it does not define my life.  I was afforded the opportunity to stay home with my children.  I never aspired to the traditional female role of “homemaker”.
I have lived in many different cities and states, each with their own social norms.  I lived in Europe and travelled there which caused me to seriously reexamine my beliefs about what “normal” is. 
As I have grown older and my experience of the world broadened beyond my immediate family social circles, I learned through observation that hypocrisy is rampant; there are lies and liars everywhere.   The media is a propaganda machine predominantly influenced by corporations and government.  I learned to constantly look for the truth beyond the picture presented because almost nothing can be taken at face value.  The alternative media sources now available on the internet have made this much easier.  I have learned to trust my own evaluations of what is “real”.  This evaluation is ever changing and I am filled with a curiosity about life, how it works and how everything fits together.
I have been strongly influenced by science, particularly the science of quantum physics.  While I have no particular expertise in the matter I am able to grasp the basic concepts, which appear to contradict many previously accepted explanations of the parameters of our physical reality drastically.  It seems that the physical and the esoteric meet on the quantum level.
There have been times in my life I wished to be complacent enough to embrace those ideas that were accepted by the majority of people around me, but made no sense in my mind. It seemed that life would be easier if I fit in with my peers in that way.  I think it has been a blessing and a curse to be able and willing to see, that which is beyond what is presented as truth.  I have often thought of the Bible passage, “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you." Matthew 7:6.  I consider my truths my pearls and they are of great value to me.  Unfortunately I have had the lesson in this passage illustrated to me on more than one occasion in my life.   As a result, I am guarded about sharing my opinion in many cases and very discriminating when it comes to allowing people into my intimate social circle.
I see that I am very much a product of my concentric social circles.  I feel grateful for all of the lessons I have learned and unlearned in respect to my socialization.  While socialization allows us all to live more harmoniously together, it is those who buck the system that create necessary change.  The most important lesson I take with me is the understanding that I don’t know everything and what I do know will always be changing.  I trust myself to make those evaluations and no other.  At my current age of 48, I no longer have much inclination to please others, except to the extent it serves my objectives; whatever they may be.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Think different

A Theif in the Night...

“But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness,” 2 Peter 3:10-11 KJV

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Morning Meditation

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Loved this post by Ticker Forum member Photoguy...

"I am a "doomer" I make no apology for it. I am a man of reason and a very far sighted clear, out of the box, unencumbered thinker. I have spent my half century on this earth seeking my moral, spiritual, financial and philosophical "singularity" and while I always remain open to further enlightenment, I believe that I am on very solid ground with my pronouncement that indeed, it is Photoguy bad.

I went into a local coin shop today to sell the remains of my fathers jewelry collection. [snip] Oh...on the way out I asked him about gold prices and if he did a lot of bullion business...he told me that his last sale was for $1,000,000 of bullion to a local lady.

I'm trying to convey to you something that I have known for some time now. There is no fix for what ails us. It is a terminal disease that is entering its final stage. I know this because I am not clouded by a myopic view of the world, finance, economics, social behavior, politics etc. Too many of you are fixated on the trees to the exclusion of the forest. You prattle about politics or the market or bonds or the Fed as if they were all mutually exclusive entities...they are not. They are trees of the forest. A bug ridden, over harvested, tinder dry forest of many trees. An entire ecosystem where the study of one tree to the exclusion of the entire ecology yields you nothing of real insight.

We live under a totally flawed model of existence. Our financial system is an exploitative one where profit is the singular motive and indeed a morally justified and outright revered one. We exploit the planet, we exploit the weaknesses of others via planned and perceived obsolescence, we prey upon peoples compulsions, egos, insecurities, we have whole university programs on how to become good marketers so that sales can remain on an ever compounding growth path. All to the exclusion of the greater good or the health of the forest. We wage resource wars, religious wars, ethnic wars, wars on poverty, wars on drugs. We game the system and manipulate the data and kick the can endlessly down the road. We don't rage against the Orwellian phrases bandied about like "credit is the lifeblood of the economy" or "austerity is prosperity" instead we seek individual ways to steal our bone from the carcass. We are degenerate as a society with the highest obesity rate on the planet, the most personal debt, the highest rate of suicide and depression anywhere. The number one selling drug in the world is a Lipitor a fat reducing medication. What does that tell you?

We live under a completely unsustainable model by nearly every single measure. We depend on exponential "growth" as measured by gdp. We live under a credit based system of money (how can you even think that can work?) The largest industry on the planet now produces nothing!! Financial services just moves all this credit and money from one place to another manipulating it all along the way. We are a consumption based economy. WTF? Fill your pantry with a week of food and never add to it by production and see where that gets you. We alter the climate of the planet and I don't care if there are natural cycles or not...we add gigatons to the situation every year with heavy metals raining from the sky over the Pacific Northwest all the way from that far east miracle economy, China.

Worse...we live under an ever growing number of delusions. Fundamentalist religion, "hope and change", the salvation of technology, the inherent resilience of mankind, QE2. There are going to be 9 billion people on this planet shortly and 8,999,999,000 rose colored glasses that think just because we dealt with crisis in the past that we will deal with now. We will not. The arc of the pendulum swings wider and wider. Every crisis demands ever more delusion, money printing, credit expansion, consumption. You cannot mine and burn all the coal on earth. You cannot build millions of houses per year no matter how happy that makes "investors" There is a blank page in that coin shop book on "Non existent currencies" and our name is going to be written in it.

See the forest ticker people not the tree. There are limits to everything, not everything has a solution, even the Titanic stayed afloat for a time though every cabin from the ones by the boiler room in 3rd class to the marble finished ones for the elite all went to the bottom with enough water in the bilge."


I LOVED it, gloriously doomy, I felt vindicated and like someone else "gets" it. And still, I wanted to help him see the bright side, so my response....

This is life, ever changing. One thing our history shows us is that every now and then, TWAWKI ends, and something new begins. I think what you see is true but you miss the potential beauty of what might be made after. So many will suffer, starve, miss their playstations... so what? Life goes on, those of our species that survive will be stronger, that is a good thing. I am generally not very tolerant of stupid people, I can't stand them and they are everywhere. If it comes to what you think will happen it will wipe the planet of those who are not clever enough to survive. C'est la vie.


Holy smokes man, if this is the bright side, I need to start makin' some fun fast! No really, I love the beauty of it but the experience of it might just blow...