A Little Weekend Levity

Epiphany Levity

2021.01.16

A little levity but a very true story for your weekend:

Hubby asked me to get him some lubricating papers …. get your mind out of the gutter…. for the shredder. They make paper coated with oil that you put through the shredder. The oil on the paper then lubricates the teeth that shred the paper. So …….

I am at Walmart and I look through all their paper and shredders which apparently are very easy to shoplift so they are kept in the back employee area. ????

Anyway, masked and wearing gloves and staying six feet away from everyone, I finally got the attention of an employee in a quiet area (necessary since we are six feet apart and if you think talking with a mask is hard, try doing it when you stutter!) And ask if they had any lubricating papers, fully prepared to explain what they were.

Now of course Terry usually gets them at Staples but, knowing my love of planners and it being the first of the year, I avoid going there to keep from walking out having bought eight or ten… or more!

Thus the conversation went like this:
Me: Pardon me but do you have lubricating papers?

Clerk: Yes, m’am.

Me: So you know what I’m talking about?

Clerk: yes, m’am. They are in aisle #####.

Me: Oh, up at the front of the store?

Clerk: (looking at me a bit oddly) Yes, m’am.

Me: Okay. Thank you.

So I proceed to the aisle as directed. I walked up and down the aisle three times before it dawned on me exactly where I was.

You might be shocked to know they do not, in fact, have lubricating papers on the condom aisle!

That husband of mine so owes me! And he is getting his own papers! 🤣. He will go tomorrow. He is too busy laughing today!

Have a good weekend, y’all!

Wisdom and You

Wisdom and You

2021.01.15

There are several quotes, hundreds in fact, about wisdom but two sprang to mind as I began this post.  One was about wisdom without action being of little value.  The other was about a computer’s wisdom.  I admit that at times I am amazed and intimidated by the wisdom my computer seems to possess.  Of course, it really has no wisdom.  A computer is metal, circuits, and connections – all of which connect me to … well, just about everything and everywhere.  The computer itself has no wisdom but the software within it – it has wisdom from the ages and quite possibly of the future.  The computer is, to quote the popular movie “Short Circuit”: “doesn’t get happy; it doesn’t get sad; it doesn’t laugh at your jokes.  It just runs programs.”  With all its potential, a computer is useless until someone uses the wisdom within, applying that wisdom and recognizing the use, manifesting the potential.

Epiphany is a season that begins, for those who observe it, with the manifestation of a baby being recognized.  In recent times, the word manifestation and its cousin, the word manifesto, have taken on sinister meanings.  In transportation, a manifest is a list.  It can be a list of people or places or destinations.  To most of us, manifest denotes a showing, either of something very obvious or of a belief system.  In all its uses, manifest implies an external display which is logical since it is a word derived from the Latin “manifestus” which translates as flagrant or obvious.

This year Epiphany was heralded by a riot.  And so, I thought I would go a different direction and discuss humanitarians.  Our conversation will not just be concerned with their lives, though.  We will discuss how we can manifest such humanitarian behaviors in our own everyday living.  Each day will have a word and an international humanitarian.  More importantly, each day will focus on how we can make the world a better place in our own way with our own talents, time, and very little financial outlay.

A child begins his or her path of wisdom by becoming educated.  Most of us go to school without giving very much thought about doing so.  In 2009, the Yousafzai family ran a chain of schools in the Swat Valley in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of northwestern Pakistan.  A daughter in the family, Malala, recognized how lucky she was since the Taliban often denied girls the right to an education and they occupied neighboring lands.  The then eleven-year-old wrote for a BBC blog using a pseudonym and described both her life and her support for girls being educated.  African Bishop Desmond Tutu nominated the young girl for an International Children’s peace Prize and a documentary was made by the New York Times based upon her writings.

Three years later, in October of 2012, masked gunman boarded a school bus and asked for Malala by name.  A pistol was aimed at her head and shots were fired.  Despite her extreme injuries, Malala Yousafzai survived, although it took months of surgeries and rehabilitation in England.  She has survived to continue her support for education for all.  Speaking before the United Nations on her sixteenth birthday, Malala said:  “The terrorists thought they would change my aims and stop my ambitions, but nothing changed in my life except this: weakness, fear and hopelessness died. Strength, power and courage was born … I am not against anyone, neither am I here to speak in terms of personal revenge against the Taliban or any other terrorist group. I’m here to speak up for the right of education for every child. I want education for the sons and daughters of the Taliban and all terrorists and extremists.”

Malala has advocated for education since the writing of her first blog post and in 2014, two years after her attack and after winning the World Children’s Prize, she donated fifty thousand dollars through UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency) to help rebuild sixty-five schools in Gaza.  On October 10, 2014, Malala was a co-recipient of the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize. 

Most of us will never win such prestigious awards or have a chance to speak to such noted dignitaries.  We can, however, make a difference in our own corner of the world.  Most public schools have a mentoring program and many businesses and government agencies will allow for time off to participate.  Often, the mentor simply spends an hour with a student and lets the student practicing reading to them.  The Big Brothers/Big Sisters organization is always happy to have volunteers.  Other groups like local churches and international organizations such as the Salvation Army also have mentoring programs that encourage and increase a child’s educational opportunities and capabilities.

Anyone can help increase wisdom by donating one hour a week of their time.  Libraries often partake in various reading programs and welcome volunteers.  We all can find an hour to give if we really try.  Maybe you are home bound or really do not have that hour.  Then consider donating a book or two to your local library.  There is always a need for new books and trust me, every librarian has a wish list.  IN many towns, free library exchanges can be found on street corners or next to mailboxes.  A child can take a book and then return it and, if possible, leave a book for another to enjoy.

Even in these Covid times, one can volunteer.  Perhaps your local school system could use volunteers to FaceTime with students and read or be read to by a student.  There should be background checks to ensure everyone’s safety but all it takes is Wi-Fi and perhaps thirty or sixty minutes of your time.  Maybe you could read a bedtime story to someone in your church via the Internet.  Tutors are always needed and quite a bit can be done via Zoom or FaceTime calls.

Several tears  ago, Malala Yousafzai opened a school in the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon near the border of Syria for Syrian refugees. The school will offer education for girls ages fourteen to eighteen years of age.  At the ceremony, Malala Yousafzai implored the leaders of the world to invest in “books, not bullets”. 

I ask you to invest in the future by helping children gain wisdom.  With a very little sacrifice of only an hour, you can either become a mentor or encourage a child to read a book.  If you have a specialty in a particular academic field, you can also volunteer to tutor a child.    

Whatever and whoever you have and are, the world needs you.  Just as my computer needs me to initiate its wisdom, our children, the children of the world and the future of us all, need you.  We all have something to contribute.  We all should help manifest kindness in developing wisdom for our future.  It’s the smart thing to do.

Epiphany 2021

Epiphany 1

Manifestation of Living

Someone once asked if I had made my New year’s Resolutions.  Truth is I seldom make New Year’s Resolutions.  I could say that I am a realist and, given the statistical probability of keeping them, I find the making of such a waste of time.  I could laughingly claim to not need any, emphasis on laughingly because, trust me, I am far from perfect.  The truth is I seldom even think about making New Year’s Resolutions because of what I expect out of life and how such resolutions are generally approached.

There is an expectation involved with making New Year’s Resolutions.  There are, in fact, several expectations.  First, that one needs to make them.  Secondly, that by recognizing what one needs to change, based upon the expectation of needing to change, the problem is solved.  Clearly that expectation is untrue since most resolutions are broken by the end of January.  Mainly, though, I do not make resolutions because they emphasize a change in behavior based upon negativity.

I do not wake up each morning expecting trouble.  I am one of those disgusting folks who wake up fully awake.  I give thanks for the awakening and expect good things.  I live a typical life so good things do not always follow me around like a pet.  I encounter the same number of problems and irritating people and make probably more mistakes than the average person.  Yet, at the end of each “Oops!” and “Whoops!” and “Hey; watch it!”, I am happy I am alive to have had the irritation.  I move forward expecting something better.

On January 1st of each year, I do not think of everything I did not do correctly the preceding year.  Instead, I think of my hopes and I expect to give life my all, my best.  I understand the concept of resolutions; I just hope I make them each new hour, after each aggravating minute, after each encounter with someone else being just as human as I am.  Maybe I am just too imperfect to only make them once a year.

New Year’s Resolutions tend not to be our expectations of what we plan to do, in spite of how the name might imply that.  They end up being a litany of things we perceive we did wrong in the past.  Examples:   Because I did not exercise and walk every day, I will resolve to do so in the coming year.  Because I do not weigh whatever it is that society seems to think I should, I will resolve to lose weight, regardless of whether or not I am healthy.  See what I mean?  I try not to anticipate the negative.

I don’t believe in negative expectations.  The etymology of the word is probably the reason I don’t.  Rather than implying a future anticipated action, the history of the word “expect” actually denotes deferred action.  So instead of a new resolution based upon expectations, it should create a waiting game of sorts.  The word comes from the Latin “exspectare” which literally meant “to look out for”.  However, as an English word of the sixteenth century, “expect” came to mean deferred action or to wait.  It seems really silly to me to wait for something bad to happen.  I mean, really who wants that?

I am a great planner, though.  Are my plans a type of New Year’s Resolution?  They most likely are but in a different format.  My plans for the upcoming year are more universal and less about my own personal being.  Rather than list things that will help only me, I prefer to plan how I can be of greater use to my community and world.

So while I may not have listed a specific group of “New Year’s Resolutions”, I maintain that I have given you some things to ponder doing in the New Year.  In a past Twelve days of Christmas Series I titled “12 Days of Kindness”,  I gave an acrostic in the titles of each day.  If resolutions are to be those things that will improve us, then these twelve words explain how I hope to live in the year 2021.

Generosity-Respect-Acknowledge-Clemency-Envision…..GRACE

Accept-Need-Dare……..AND

Laughter-Open-Verity-Expect……LOVE

After the year 2020, we all had such high hopes for 2021.  Thus far, it has not lived up to them.  Why?  Because we are expecting grace and love to fall from the sky/  We do not really want to have to work for it.  Most of the world is still in some form of lockdown and yet, we spend more time wishing for the outside world instead of appreciating what we have inside. 

I hope we will all be generous, respectful in acknowledging and forgiving as we imagine a better world.  I pray we will be accepting of others and ourselves, admitting our need for each other and being daring enough to follow through on that need.  I hope we share laughter with each step, are open to potential, brave enough to change when necessary and approach each minute with positive expectations, waiting for the goodness that life has to offer us.  I hope this year you receive grace and love.  To me that is the true definition of living kindness.  I also hope you share grace and love.  That is the message of this Epiphany series 2021. The manifestation of what life is truly all about.  This series for Epiphany will be about the manifesto of mankind and those who live it.  I hope you join me on this journey and conversation. 

It Takes a Village

It is my habit two weeks before an election to go dark and then resume when the losing candidate concedes. Sigh …. I give up waiting for the incumbent to accept reality. He lost. Losing us not pleasant but much can be learned from our non-successes if we will learn.

Meanwhile, COVID-19 continues to hold us accountable while death numbers in the USA rise. We are not living as a village and so mini villages are being established to handle the results – field hospitals and even off-site morgues.

The villages of the past were established to protect and we need that concept today more than ever. Villagers needed to live for the betterment of all. It was the only way humankind survived.

#wearthemask is not a political statement. It is the key. Being physically distant does not have to mean isolation. It just means no one can pick your pocket. Staying clean and washing I e’s hands frequently cuts down in the transmission of multiple germs.

Why are people so resistant to life and living s others might live? It takes a village and if we live like we are the village of humankind, we can make this present a thing of the past.

St Teresa of Avila

10.15.2020

St Teresa of Avila’s quote, apropos on this her feast day:
“Christ has no body on earth but ours,
No hands but ours, no feet but ours.
Ours are the eyes through which the compassion of Christ looks out upon the world,
ours are the feet with which he goes about doing good,
ours are the hands with which he blesses his people.”

Meredith Gould, PhD, has an updated version:
“Christ has no online presence but yours,
No blog, no Facebook page but yours,
Yours are the tweets through which love touches this world,
Yours are the posts through which the Gospel is shared,
Yours are the updates through which hope is revealed.
Christ has no online presence but yours,
No blog, no FaceBook page but yours.

After the Rains

A Through Cleansing

10.10.2020

Yesterday Hurricane Delta made landfall, the tenth hurricane to do so this year.  There is a plethora of flood myths in most of the cultures of the world but today I would like to discuss another type of cleansing.  As much as we like to think mankind has advanced in these centuries since Primitive Man, the sad truth is that we still have much in common with our ancestors… and not all of it is something about which to boast.

In his book “The Egyptians Book of the Dead, The Book of Going Forth by Day, Raymond Faulkner describes the Egyptian flood myth as a situation in which the deity Atum has become fed up with mankind.  Atum sees mankind as rebellious and ungrateful and vows to return the earth to the Primordial Waters of its beginning.  Atum remains in the form of a snake with Osiris.  Atum, whose name translates as “finisher” is considered to be the first being.  Some consider him to be the first man while others consider him to be a self-made god.

It is interesting to me that Atum, who was first and yet whose name means to finish, is connected to the concept of a great flood.  One could say that flood waters create new things because they certainly have made new waterways and created new alliances between government agencies on conducting disaster relief.  What starts as rain with children splashing about in puddles quickly can become a great flood, finishing to a chorus of despair and destruction.

I don’t know if you have ever lived in a flood-prone area or survived a great storm like a cyclone, tornado, or hurricane, but the snakes often come out after each.  The Egyptian myth has Atum remaining as a snake on earth which amuses me since floods and snakes are associative in the deep southern states of the USA.. 

Osiris was the Egyptian god of the death and the underworld.  It might seem logical then that he was involved in their flood myth telling of the destruction of all.  However, The Egyptians believed that the underworld under the Nile is what provided new life, new vegetation.  Osiris was also considered the god of love.  I see their flood myth as one of hope because the first man and the finisher, also called the one who completed all, remained with the deity responsible for new life and regeneration, also known as the god of love.

Recently a neighbor’s house caught fire.  It was not a complete loss but much of the interior will need to be redone.  I was reminded at the time of the houses of friends thirty-five years ago when a great flood ravaged neighborhoods in the city where I lived.  Most were not known for being handy with tools but they quickly learned how to tear out and rebuild.    A year later, one friend remarked that they had the most updated neighborhood in town and was able to actually laugh at finally being able to get new furniture.

I don’t know about you but I am reasonably secure in thinking that no matter how long I live, I will always have a closet to clean.  I am not really a hoarder not even a pack rat.  I just collect things and, unfortunately, usually use those things, a situation which justifies my hanging on to them.  I have committed within the next twelve months to doing two types of cleansing.  One will be a material cleansing – donating what I can to charity and disposing of what is no longer of any use.  I began this last year but have slacked off so I hope to renew my efforts and be successful in this. 

The other type of cleansing will be more difficult.  Like many, from time to time, I am “flooded” with emotions, some of which are understandable and some which are simply garbage.  We all have that kind of baggage that we carry around in our minds.  Things done and things left undone; words said and words left unsaid.  It is a condition common to being human. 

We need to cleanse ourselves so that when these thoughts began to flood us, we can create our own umbrella to shield us.  Today a friend mentioned feeling melancholy and lonely.  Then she saw a bird and it started to sing.  She decided to go out into the day singing her own song.  Isn’t that a glorious response to an unwanted flood?

 I wish for you sunshine today… if not in the sky, then in your heart.  Remember the Egyptian flood myth – after the devastation the deity of rebirth remained.  We have lived through the past seven months being advised to wash our hands frequently and most thoroughly.   Perhaps as we rinse our hands we could rinse away the negative and despair and look forward to a brighter new beginning.  Regardless of what with which we have been flooded in the past, tomorrow is always a new beginning.

Attention to Duty, Life, and Love in 2020

Attention to Duty, Love and Life in 2020

10.08.2020

Charlotte Hilton Andersen has written about love at first sight and how it is not the key to a lasting and satisfying romance.  Andersen based her conclusions on findings based on a study from the University of Texas that interviewed over one hundred and sixty couples with relationships lasting from three months to fifty-three years.  The research showed that knowing someone for a period of time led to lasting love, not love at first sight. 

Dido and Aeneas, two popular characters of Greek mythology and central to Virgil’s “Aeneid”, would have disagreed with the Texas study.  The founder of the Roman city of North African coastal city of Carthage, the former prophetess who was originally from Tyre greeted a group of veterans of the Trojan War.  The stately queen naturally was introduced to the leader of the soldiers, a brave warrior named Aeneas.  It was, according to legend, love at first sight and seemed like the perfect match.

Aeneas is considered one of the ancestral founders of Rome and after living together with Dido as man and wife, the gods sent a messenger to remind him of his supposed destiny.  Aeneas was to found a new city, not stay in Carthage and rule as king to Dido’s monarchy.  Anxious to fulfill his duty, Aeneas makes his apologies to Dido and leaves.  As his ships leave the port of Carthage, Dido takes her own life, vowing that Carthage and Rome would always be enemies.

Carthage had been settled by Phoenicians from Tyre and grew to become a very successful and wealthy city.  Although it had its differences with the Greeks and in spite of Dido’s proclamation, Carthage and Rome enjoyed a beneficial partnership and ally status for quite a few years.  However, unlike relationships that seem to thrive with more time, Carthage and Rome grew to become enemies in what history called the Punic Wars, Punic being the Latin name for Phoenicians.

In 264 BCE, Rome decided to become a part of a dispute on the island of Sicily which was a Carthaginian province and involved soldiers from two cities – Syracuse, supposed by Carthage and Messina, supported by Rome.  What began as soldiers from two minor cities grew into all-out war between Carthage and Rome for control of Sicily.  Carthage was clearly the more dominant naval power and yet, within twenty years, Rome had scored a huge victory and gained its first province – Sicily.

In all there were three wars between Carthage and Rome.  The three Punic Wars as they are known took place over almost one hundred years and eventually led to the destruction of Carthage in 146 BCE and Rome acquiring yet another province – Africa.  Rome also moved troops into Macedonia during the same year as the fall of Carthage and within a year, Rome had a mighty empire that stretched fromt eh Atlantic coastline of Spain to the border between Greece and Asia Minor, the present-day country of Turkey.

Interestingly enough, the poet Virgil who penned the love-struck tale of Dido and Aeneas might also have written some of the best advice for finding true love and how to live with loyalty, adhering best to one’s duty and destiny.  “Time passes irrevocably.”  I like that – time, the countless seconds of life, continue forward conclusively.  I have found great comfort in that one essential truth.

Virgil’s other quotes also concur with the Texas study on how to have a lasting relationship.  “Come what may, all bad fortune is to be conquered with endurance.”  “Endure the present and watch for better things.”  Anyone who has ever argued with a spouse knows that being right does not make you a winner.  Sometimes staying the course and giving up the distinction of right and/or wrong is the winning prize. 

We have been during the year 2020 engaged in a relationship not of our own choosing, a relationship with something unseen by most but felt by many – a relationship with a virus known as Covid-19.  Financial and medical struggles have been astronomical but perhaps the most telling battle of all has been that with ourselves.  It has required a great many changes and most of us are reticent and hesitant to make those changes.  We are told and know in our hearts that it is part of our duty as citizens on earth and yet we resist.

What about those who follow duty?  To those engaged in conflict or a seemingly impossible struggle, Virgil offers this: “They succeed, because they think they can.”  “They can conquer who believe they can.”  Sometimes we do our best on the job because we want a raise or promotion or, like Aeneas, feel it is what we are supposed to be doing.  It all comes down to not only love of another but also love of ourselves.  Virgil had a hint at how to achieve success at living, whether it was living one’s work or finding romance:  “Love conquers all.”

From Myth to Mouth – Covid Still Winning

From Myth to Mouth – Covid still Winning

10.07.2020

A writer uses adjectives to describe his/her thoughts.  They also sometimes make up words to portray facets of the story that exist only in the tunnels of the mind, down that long circuitous hallway we call imagination.

Most recently the female British author known as J K Rowling has become famous for her innovative use of Latin and the new words contrived to tell the story of her main character Harry Potter.  Rowling utilizes language not only to illustrate the mythological voice of her novels but also to emphasize the not-in-our-reality setting.  She does this by using both word combinations such as “animagus” but also phonetics as in “mudblood”.    Animagus is a blending of the words animal and magus which was an ancient Persian priest or magician.  Mudblood takes two fairly familiar words in the English language, mud and blood, and then uses their harsh consonant endings to illustrate the meaning of the word which is a very deep insult to one’s lineage.

The story goes nowhere without words.  A dance can illustrate a story but the oral tradition is what makes it last.  After all, one could not do a review or advertisement for the ballet “The Nutcracker” is one could only use hand gestures.  Most of us are completely unable to imitate the exquisite movements of the dancers and so, we are left with words to convey the beauty and the story of the ballet.

The volumes of literature that has passed down through the generations of mankind have not all been classified as mythology and yet, for many, their stories are as powerful and meaningful.    It is a debate of long-standing just how many great classics have their foundation in the myths of the cultures of the world.  From these stories language has been born.

Earlier today I bumped into a table, never realizing that my actions would be described by a term first invented by William Shakespeare in his play “Romeo and Juliet”.  Another classical writer famous for inventing words was Lewis Carroll.  His “Alice in Wonderland” added such words to the dictionary as chortle, galumph, and burble.

The great romance classicist Jane Austen is generally thought to have been the first to use the term “dinner party”, although there is no actual proof of this since most English dinners were attended by large numbers of people.  J. R. Tolkien   first coined the term “tween” which refers to someone at an in-between age before reaching their majority, an age of indeterminate nature since it varies from culture to culture. 

Even science has taken terms from literature and mythology.  Scientist Murray Gell-Mann explains:  “In 1963, when I assigned the name “quark” to the fundamental constituents of the nucleon, I had the sound first, without the spelling, which could have been “˜kwork’. It is also found in “Finnegans Wake”, by James Joyce, as he uses the word “quark” in the phrase “Three quarks for Muster Mark”.  Since “˜quark’ (meaning, for one thing, the cry of the gull) was clearly intended to rhyme with “˜Mark’, as well as “˜bark’ and other such words, I had to find an excuse to pronounce it as “˜kwork’. But the book represents the dream of a publican named Humphrey Chimpden Earwicker.

Mann contniued:  “Words in the text are typically drawn from several sources at once, like the “portmanteau” words in “˜Through the Looking-Glass’. From time to time, phrases occur in the book that are partially determined by calls for drinks at the bar. I argued, therefore, that perhaps one of the multiple sources of the cry “˜Three quarks for Muster Mark’ might be ‘Three quarts for Mister Mark’, in which case the pronunciation “˜kwork’ would not be totally unjustified. In any case, the number three fitted perfectly the way quarks occur in nature.”   Thus the science world has the term quark, thanks to Murray Mann.

To some the term “nerd” is an insult but to many it is a compliment.  It was first published in print in the story “If I Ran the Zoo”, written by Theodore Seuss Geisel or as he is better known, Dr. Seuss.  Some of the more common everyday terms invented by Shakespeare include alligator, leapfrog, and eyeballs.

Some words have changed in their definition since they were first used.  In Jonathan Swift’s “Gulliver Travels”, a Yahoo was a make-believe species.  Today it can mean a barbarian, an exclamation that it often found in print but seldom verbally uttered, and, of course, as the name of one of the first and foremost search engines and now, email servers.

Two writers invented words to portray, as Rowling did, mythical worlds.  Horace Walpole wrote a letter to friend in 1754 and explained his use of “serendipity” to describe pleasant happenings of the heroes of his Persian fairy tales, the location of which was the imaginary land of Serendip.  Sir Thomas More called his 1516 book “Utopia” and people still argue over its intended meaning.  Was Sir Thomas More describing a perfect society or an ideal society? The word can be defined as meaning “no place” or “good place”.   Whichever was his intention, Sir More ended up being beheaded for treason

What seems to be just a good tale told around a camp fire or used to illustrate a home truth becomes an integral part of our culture and our language.  The myths of yesteryear may seem distant and ancient and yet, we still use their terminologies today.  The centaur is just one example.

In 1993 Toni Morrison was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.  Her acceptance speech explains the power of our stories, the power of our myths, the power of the word with which the tales of mankind are told.  ““Is there no context for our lives? No song, no literature, no poem full of vitamins, no history connected to experience that you can pass along to help us start strong? You are an adult. The old one, the wise one.  Stop thinking about saving your face. Think of our lives and tell us your particularized world. Make up a story. Narrative is radical, creating us at the very moment it is being created. We will not blame you if your reach exceeds your grasp; if love so ignites your words they go down in flames and nothing is left but their scald. Or if, with the reticence of a surgeon’s hands, your words suture only the places where blood might flow. We know you can never do it properly – once and for all. Passion is never enough; neither is skill. But try. For our sake and yours forget your name in the street; tell us what the world has been to you in the dark places and in the light. Don’t tell us what to believe, what to fear. Show us belief s wide skirt and the stitch that unravels fear’s caul. You, old woman, blessed with blindness, can speak the language that tells us what only language can: how to see without pictures. Language alone protects us from the scariness of things with no names. Language alone is meditation.”

The power of the word can be life-changing.  “We speak not only to tell other people what we think, but to tell ourselves what we think. Speech is a part of thought,” says Oliver Sacks.  It is how most of us communicate.  The physical gestures that accompany our words are but accessories.  What we say matters as an audible witness of what we believe and hold dear.

It is most important, though, to denote the time for truth and the time for myth.  To say that the world has the Covid-19/Sars-CoV 2 virus under controls is a myth.  To say that wearing a mask does not serve a life-saving purpose is a myth.  These are not political statements.  They are statements backed up by science and, most importantly, the deaths of over one million people, over 200,000 from the USA. 

What we say matters as an audible witness of what we believe and hold dear.  When one man can only think of himself and view life from his narrow perspective,  that is tragic.  When it inflicts illness upon others,  that should be criminal.  We are accountable for what we say.  After all, the power of the word is indeed life changing.

Pyramid or Junk News

Pyramid or Junk News?

10.04-06.2020

It is seven city blocks long and wide.  Known as the Great Pyramid of Giza (and yes, there are other “great pyramids” worldwide), it was constructed in 4500 BCE.  The name is something of a misnomer, however, since there are actually three pyramids.  They were constructed to honor the grandfather Khufu, the son Kaffre, and the grandson Menkaure.  The pyramid built to house the body of Khufu was coated with white limestone and had a gold capstone.  Like most pyramids’ purpose, we assume it was built to house the body of the pharaoh.  But could it have had a different purpose?  Was there another reason for the construction and why are the three pyramids placed in the positions they were built?

Storytellers in Egypt did not just tell stories.  They had archaeological show-and-tell artifacts to accompany their legends.  The legends of this region are plentiful and, although many visit things such as the Great Pyramid(s) and the various Sphinxes, not much is really known about most African and Egyptian mythology.  First of all, these stories were and still are mainly found in the form of oral tradition, passed from generation to generation by mouth.  Additionally, the belief systems were not that organized and it is difficult to identify the thousands of deities in these myths.  Froom Benin and the Fon religion to Mali with its Dogon mythology, every facet of living became symbolic, based upon some myth. 

Egyptian writing refers to a limitless creator, the “Hidden One whose eternal form is unknown.”  In Egyptian mythology, a deity exists first as potential energy.  That energy or potential would then take shape, usually an animal form or combine with another deity.  It is really interesting to me that they treated their deities like scientists treat elements.  Think about the Periodic Table of Elements.  Each exists on its own and yet, most can and are combined to form something else.  Hydrogen and oxygen exist in their natural state but when combined, with twice as much hydrogen as oxygen, then they become what we known as water – H2O. 

The Egyptian goddess Ra joined with the god Horus and became Ra-Horakhty; Isis, the Egyptian goddess who is the patron saint of mothers and children and not the radical terrorist modern group who goes around killing mothers and children, formed an alliance with Renenutet, a goddess of fertility and the harvest who was often portrayed in the form of a cobra, to become Isermithis. 

It is important to note that while the Egyptians did not worship animals, they did hold in high esteem the animal forms they believed their deities took.  Animals were mummified so that they might be reincarnated.  Animals were also embalmed and received proper burials for much the same purpose.  It was believed that showing such reverence to these animal forms would give a person special blessings and consideration by the deities.  The reincarnated animals would act as liaisons between the gods and goddesses and mankind.

The power of a story is very evident in sub-Saharan Africa and it holds the attention today just as it did when the first stories were told.  One of the more famous myths is from the Ashanti of Ghana and it addresses how these mythologies came to be.  These Anansi stories, so named because the myth gives credit to Anansi, a crafty spider, for convincing the sky deity Onyankopon to release the stories in exchange for Anansi trapping various gods in his web.  The myth proclaims that Anansi, with the help of his wife, even captures Mmoatia, the spirit, considered a most impossible task.

The sky was very important to ancient Egyptians.  Writings known as Pyramid Texts refer to the stars as “imperishable ones”.  The Egyptians believed that, upon his death, the Pharaoh would be transformed into a celestial being.  Did they construct their pyramids, and especially the Great Pyramid of Giza to be more than just a large burial crypt?  The sides of all three pyramids face north, south, east, and west.  The entrance of the largest of the three pyramids faces due north to within one-tenth of a degree.  This is an amazing fact given the tools they had at the time of the pyramid’s construction.  Additionally the descending passage into the burial chamber itself also faced north.

The internal design of this pyramid is fascinating.  It is believed that the Egyptians determined due north using the Pole Star method.  The Pole Star would have been a fixed point and once due north was identified and the passageway built, then construction continued on the rest of the pyramid.  The King’s Chamber is at the heart of the sarcophagus and is directly on the center axis.  It would have contained the mummified body of the pharaoh.

The north and south walls have two shafts and we can only speculate at their purpose.  Was it to provide ventilation or perhaps illumination?  The Egyptians believed the soul was immortal and could not die.  They embalmed and mummified so that the “ka” or body could be unified at some point in the future with the “ba” or soul which, upon death, would be sent or beamed up to the stars.

Beaming a soul up to the stars may sound more like modern-day science fiction than ancient Egyptian mythology but the Egyptians thought of such long before Star Trek had Scotty beaming up Captain Kirk.  Remember, the Egyptians thought one’s soul went to the stars upon death.  The north and south shafts in the Great Pyramid of Giza bend at some point so they could not have simply been observation points.  They do, however, align with the brightest stars of the constellation Orion or rather, they would have aligned at the time of the construction.  We’ve discussed previously the North Star and how the North Star of today has not always nor will forever be the North Star due to something called precession.   The north shaft connected directly to Thuban or Alpha Draconis, a former North Star while the shaft on the southern side aligned with Osiris, the Orion’s constellation god of afterlife.  Osiris also represented the complete cycle of life to the Egyptians – birth, death, and resurrection.

We will discuss this Great Pyramid again but for now, ask yourself:  What captures your spirit today?  What gives your soul release?  What is it that allows you to feel free, really free in your mind?  The purpose of all of these myths was not simply to entertain but to explain.  We often forget to stop and ask ourselves some very important questions, questions like “What would really make my spirit soar?  I have a feeling the questions at the beginning of this paragraph, when you first read them, invoked answers in your mind that went something like this.  What captures my spirit?  Work and responsibilities; they capture and enslave me.  What gives me release?  Going home or, perhaps, going to the movies or out on the town.  What allows me to feel free?  A nice cold beer or piece of chocolate or maybe even a long hot soak in a hot tub or bubble bath.

It is important to know not only where we have been and where we are going, but also to know what drives us and what can give us rest.  Thuban is no longer the North Star but it remains an important nautical marker which continues to guide sailing vessels.  Naval historians know that the USS Thuban, an attack cargo ship served valiantly and was of great importance to the United States Navy during World War II, the Korean Conflict, and the Cuban Missile Crisis.  The naming of this ship is yet another instance of how ancient mythologies never fade away or die.  They are as immortal of the deities whose stories they tell.

Our living also leaves its footprint on the world.  We may never have a ship named after us or have a great pyramid built in our honor but we do leave our mark.  The trick is to make certain that we are leaving something positive.  The world does not exist only for the individual “I” but for the collective “we”.   We all have a legacy.  Unlike these myths and the spirits about which we are discussing, we can write our own story, create our own legacy.  What will you write today?  Will it be a narcissistic story of just one individual or will it be something to benefit many?  The Legacy we leave writes our story and stands as a pyramid for future generations.  Will yours represent kindness or will it be just a stone façade of greed?

The Power of Speech

The Power of Speech

10.03.2020

Recently a great deal of the rhetoric prominent in social media has been about “I”.  One person claims to have all the answers while another says they acted or voted to protect themselves.  The ego or “I” is the conscious self so it is not unnatural that we would consider it in most things.  The problem is that the “I” is not the only living entity on the planet.  There is also a “You” and “We”. 

The word affect is a verb, grammatically speaking, in the English language.  Basically it means to have an impact on something or someone.  In writing this blog I am hoping to affect your thinking and encourage you to do something positive to benefit all of us, the family of mankind.  Since a verb is an action word, to affect something or someone is to bring about change.

Effect is most commonly used as a noun, the result of an action or, as we just discussed, a thought process.  While the purpose of this blog is to encourage you think and then affect someone by positive action, the intent is the end result –  that your actions will create a productive effect or result.  “Affect” refers to the doing; “Effect” denotes the end result of that doing or action. 

Effect also can be defined in another way.  It can also mean someone’s personal belongings.  This might seem confusing and yes, it can be.   Personally, I like that effect is both the result and the possession.  It encourages us to be accountable for our actions.  No one is going to score a perfect rating on our actions.  We all make mistakes.  This is where thinking positive can keep us from letting past actions become a future death sentence.  Thinking positive people also have lower blood pressure and sleep better.

Earlier this week someone exercised what they felt was their right to free speech by, without any cause or pertinence to the speaker’s daily living, speaking and interrupting someone else, effectively insulting that other person.  While language can be a bit confusing, an insult is generally always understand to be just that – a rude, offensive slur about someone.  What was supposed to be an orderly, informative debate became a tragic display of rude behavior.  Such behavior is, quite simply, verbal abuse.

Today the first step you should take is to think positively.  Negative thinking narrows one’s field of vision.  Imagine yourself swimming in the shallow waters of a beautiful ocean resort.  Suddenly someone cries “Shark!”  You no longer are focused on the rest of the people on the beach but only on getting yourself out of the water.  This is a healthy instinct of self-preservation but your focus has also become extremely self-centered. 

Positive emotions help us to broaden our field of vision and imagine what is possible instead of seeing only the negative and dire outcomes.  Maybe yesterday really was the worst day of life.  Today really can be the first day of the rest of your life.  Take care of yourself and start the day off thinking of possibilities.  Share a smile with another and together you will create something extraordinary out of an ordinary facial movement.   Maybe you really don’t have time for going to the movies but take the time hurrying on your commute to notice the flowers along your path.  A healthy person can accomplish much more than one who is thinking or feeling negative.  We all have time for a smile and the first smile of the day should be a smile to you.

Living positively benefits the “I” and also the “We”.  To make the most of living and do what is best for “You” involves helping another.  The time for talk is over.  It is now time for action.   As Walt Whitman once said, “If you keep your face towards the sunshine, the shadows will fall behind you.”  Having the loudest voice is not leadership.  Speaking and encouraging others to speak so that all have a voice is effective leadership that will result in affecting us for the betterment of the human race.

With one ordinary affect, you will create an extraordinary effect and make the world a much better place for all of us.  There is much to be gained when we think of someone else as well as our individual self.  There is even more to gain when we recognize the power of speech and positive words instead of insults and over-speaking another.