May 25, 2002
What's Not to Regret?
Wouldn't it be great if we were given do overs for past life choices? Or better yet, that life would function more like a sketch pad? I know I would have gone through mine in pencil first before committing it to indelible ink.
Life obviously doesn't work that way, and each experience or happenstance, once in the past, is nothing more than a one-off, a permanent reference blip (no matter how plastic our memories of them become). Life continually refuses the chance for us to go back and recolor wherever we may have gone outside the lines. True that there's the odd, rare opportunity to revisit a badly drawn part; but a lack of erasers means a risk of screwing things up even more by attempting to correct previous answers. Anyone who ever tried to write a "6" over a "9" on an important test will see what I'm getting at. Don't do that with a magic marker -- sorry, but I prefer to start over with a blank sheet, rather than face the mess. Thanks anyway.
With this said, I'll note that I'm not one to regret any of the things I've done. Forever curse myself for them yes, but not regret them. I can avoid the drowning sense of disappoint because I keep in mind the idea that everything I do is going to be completely new to me. As even God (if you're concerned about Him) can forgive those who make mistakes, who am I to come down on myself? I admit it's weird living a life where I can refuse to repent any actions taken or important avenues missed, yet know I'd choose to do things differently the second time through (like I'd ever get the chance). If you're not sure about this, just trust me; it's weird.
A main motivator for my refusal to burn regretfully over my previous life decisions, other than the protective art of self-forgiveness, is the lack of foreknowledge about where we'd end up if the ability to slip back in time and follow a new course were part of the kit we're handed at birth. The path you fail to follow can end up as bad as where you actually lead yourself to. And keep in mind the deadpan truism: it could always be worse. I nor anyone can say that would always be the case, but playing the lottery should entail a slim but fair chance of winning. When the odds are stacked so high against you (and by that I mean, against everyone), it's smarter to look elsewhere for instant wealth.
In a further confusing note, I really don't see life as either a once around the block affair, nor a training ground for regret avoidance counseling. Whether you believe life to be a wondrous gift from the Creator of your choice, a not so miraculous spark of chemical and natural events (divinely-driven or not), or just a topic of discussion you're instantly bored with, try not to accept the black & white point of view. Life, the numerous gradations flowing from one color into another shown in its complexity, only hint at the fluctuating, powerful thing hiding behind our surface impressions of it. Life is a simple thing, and an elaborate one, and I can't think of a better way of putting it.
And talking about life can get a bit heavy at times, so I'll stop now before I go all serious.
May 24, 2002
Blogging Bitching and Bellyaching
I've come upon a bit of a problem in my Blurried Musings submissions over the past week: I'm not in the mood. When I began barely three months ago, the ideas came quickly, and I spent an average of a single hour composing and cleaning up each article. Now I tap my eyelids throughout the day as I wonder what's to go up next. And the time spent writing! Well, it's not a full day's work, I'll grant you that, but it's a good deal more than an hour.
It isn't that I want to end it all at this point. I'd hate to toss the site just when things are faintly beginning to pick up, and I certainly have enough time on my hands to cobble together an inanity or two for release into the wilds of blog*spot
. But I've hit an unexpected and quite elaborate funk that's drawing the once easy ability to go a-musing right out of me. That, or I've slipped into a (hopefully short-lived) seasonal quagmire of labored melancholy. Either way, it's really pissing me off.
The word "melancholy" isn't used much anymore, is it. Today it's
depressed this and
psychotic that. Let's bring this nineteenth century term of concernment back into vogue!
I get the odd, as in occasional, idea floating about which refuses to stick to my text editor, forcing a number of restarts before I come to a finished composition. There's also times when I draw an utter blank, and no amount of grumbling and clawing at the outside of my frontal lobe delivers up enough interesting tidbits or wry observations to set me off and writing. I fear I'll bust an intellectual kidney from the forced exertions of hammering ideas out my psychological sternum, because devising these brief artextual
ditties has become little more than a cruel exercise in pressured concentration, and I'm my own best torturer in this game. To chance ticking off Martha Stewart, I'll say: It's not a good thing.®
Not that it's truly dangerous or disheartening, mind you. It's just a Weblog. I've gone through worse machinations many times before in important, costly projects, and always came out free of cuts and bruises. But when the incoming cash flow on a task is nil, one has to ask, regularly, if it's worth the time spent on it. Hobbies should be fun, right? This has been fun, and can be again. I only have to remember why I started it in the first place... let me check my notes. Nearly the only thing keeping me going right now is pure bloody-mindedness, though there's a concern for the aspects of accomplishment I still get out of it, and a wish to assure the regular audience (all three of you -- Ahoy!) they'll continue to see something fresh here on a daily basis. Whether or not it'll be something they like is out of my control.
Anyway, thanks for reading. Having the opportunity to get that off my chest makes all the difference -- sorry for using this space as an antidepressant fix. The program normally scheduled for this time returns tomorrow, commercials and all.
May 23, 2002
May 22, 2002
Fragments From the Memory Log, Entry Eight
God. I've had some trouble with him... her... over the years. As a kid, I wouldn't say our relationship was especially strained, but we had our moments. I was brought up to be an adequately obedient Catholic, primarily by my mother, since Dad would have none of it. That I'm now a rather shabby Zen Buddhist tells how successful my upbringing went in this area, and how proud Mom is. Want to know where it all went down? Here's a hint: what's left of Cole Porter can be found there, though he doesn't get around much anymore.
Sprouting up in the Mid-west of the USA, stuck as we were on the buckle of the Bible Belt, my family was surrounded by anti-Papists: Baptists, Brethren, Lutheran, Methodist, Pentecostal, Presbyterian -- the Church of God and the Church of Christ and the Church of Latter Day Saints. Collection plates were found for nearly every persuasion. Not that this was necessarily a bad thing for me. We were a religiously liberal family, or at least liberal enough that my brothers and I would often attend services for one of the competing franchises. Though there was a Catholic parish in town, two in fact, they sat huddled close to each other (for protection no doubt) in the center of town, while we were a very long mile off. It was not a difficult walk to and from, but you could call it a troublesome one with three rambunctious boys in tow, all who'd rather be headed somewhere other than church on an early Sunday afternoon.
Having full access to the Lord's house for these other faiths was occasionally enlightening, if not a little guilt-inspiring, and left me to make shallow but objective comparisons. Baptist services: showy and easily kept my attention. Methodist's: flat but bearable. Mass with my own Catholics: boring, and then somehow even more boring. I recall a (for me) strange basement party at a Baptist church where you received prizes for cards (representing -- something religious -- and which you won -- somehow -- during that day's service). I was desparate for the slingshot they had on display, so I could be like David as he slew the giant Goliath, or perhaps just fling bottle caps at bats; but I hadn't collected enough cards that day, and ended up with a piggy bank. Guess I didn't believe enough in that sling.
This is not to say my brothers and I had no Catholic teaching infused in us. Just as I hit my teens, most
of my family moved to the East coast (my mother came from the Northeast, and we were heading back to her roots and family), to a city where if you threw one hundred rocks in the air, you couldn't avoid hitting ninety-nine Catholics. The last would probably smack a Greek Orthodox. We began sojourning to the parish my mother had spent much of her life in, and I found myself in an indoctrination camp otherwise known as catechism class or CCD (Confraternity of Catholic Doctrine). The teaching process was one of read and repeat, and hopefully what was found on the page made it past any natural barriers. Mine are apparently insurmountable, but I got through Rome's version of a graduation by "confirming" my faith. I did it for Mom, who's really the religious one in our little clan. Whatever I learned during those classes is gone in near totality, and I doubt I ever took much of it to heart. Don't blame anyone specifically for that. I'm just not built on a spiritual foundation of Judeo-Christian concrete.
I do remember that each week after CCD class I'd rush home to watch Carl Sagan's Cosmos on PBS. So I can say with some certainty I was learning a few things about the heavens during that time.
May 21, 2002
Confused Zen Thinking
I had a strange thought yesterday.
But before I go on with it, I've come to realize that the act of thinking is a very peculiar kind of event. You're taught -- well maybe not you but I've had such lessons -- that to live life "correctly", that is to the fullest, you must live it in the moment. Not just carpe diem
but seize the ever present interval of time you reside within. Yet the procedures of thought forever fail to give in to that standard. When you bother to think about something while it's occurring, you're thinking of a past or future component. Thinking about the now in the now is really just paying attention to an instance of time just past, or is about to. And if you think on thinking itself, you can't really think of it in the absolute present -- that is a moment is impossible to ponder as it's going on, and the act of reflection cannot reflect upon itself as it happens. So to live in the moment, you have to give up on the idea of thinking about it. Kind of confusing, I know. I can't put it across any clearer without pulling a muscle.
Here's a deranged sort of math: thinking is both action and inaction. To do something is to do it -- I guess that's pretty obvious. On the opposite side, to think about it puts yourself in the position of not doing it. It's true that thinking itself is a sort of doing, in that the brain is grinding away, if not in a visibly physical way (ignoring the drama of brow furling and index finger gnashing against temple), certainly a chemically demanding one. This has little to do with what you may be thinking on, however. You've certainly been in a situation where you're working away on a project, or driving down the road, or talking with your friends, and suddenly you're surprised that during the last few minutes or hours you were lost in thought on a subject having no
relationship to what you were involved in throughout that time. To be able to do this must mean our brains, or at least those higher brain functions in charge of thinking, can be detached from anything that's considered important in assuring our actions are handled soundly. Perhaps they're not wired together at all. Something else is going on, and it's leaving the process of thinking to it's own devices.
You know the sensation you have right after
you break a bone? Not the exact moment you break it, when there's a fragmentary sliver of a second as lightening bolts of pain shoot from you. If you could translate that pain into energy it might light up the five boroughs of New York City for one one-hundredth of a second. That moment lasts so utterly briefly you end up forgetting what the pain felt like. No, I mean that moment, or the sensation of that moment, following it, when your body curls up instinctively into a protective fetus, and every possible useful thought is ripped right out of your head. That point when nothing but a ghostly apparition of pain is well masked by the immediate influx of endorphins coursing through your veins, and you end up relieved of all human traits. That's a moment when someone could come up and kick you in the back, and you would have to be forgiven for failing to react. That is quite a sensation, isn't it? But is it a thought, or is it an experience one can only reflect upon later, after the fact? I wish I had a good answer for that one. Honestly, I was I had any
Now, about that strange thought I had yesterday... If only I could remember what it was. Seemed important there for a moment.
May 20, 2002
The Blurried Musings Pop Quiz
Take your time when answering the following questions, because you have all the time in the world. Grading will be based on a hyperelliptic, four dimensional curve.
- Count the number of times you've heard the tongue twister "How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?" and subtract from it each instance you thought "Who gives a shit?"
- In the movie Monkeybone, star Brendan Fraser has to spend time "reincarnated" in the body of Chris Kattan. Give some reasons why anyone would willingly do this.
- Emetophobia is the fear of vomiting. Provide an anecdotal example when this fear would be hilariously funny to everyone, including a person with emetophobia.
- It's said that no two snowflakes are alike. In the unlikely event you were to come across two snowflakes that were identical, who would you contact to have this truism corrected?
- Train A takes 3 hours and 15 minutes to reach its destination. Train B leaves 15 minutes earlier, but travels the same route in 3 hours and 30 minutes. Train C is ready to leave 45 minutes earlier, but sits at the station for 3 hours, then takes 1 hour for the trip. Which train do you really want to ride on?
- Apples, or oranges?
- Adrenalin is the substance produced by the human body when frightened or under some other form of stress. What is the substance it produces when a person is full of piss and vinegar?
- Which of the Horse Latitudes is the most horse-like? Are either cow-like, and if so, to what degree?
- The character Hamlet says in the Shakespeare play of the same name: "To be, or not to be - that is the question..." What is the answer?
- What's the Point?
May 19, 2002
I'm Kafkaesquí, And So Are You
Surfing the Net sometimes takes on the air of a pantsing. Whether to myself or to some other poor duffer it's hard to tell at times, but there's often a distinct air of that spur of the moment prankish event, like some broadband trickster god is on the prowl for any chance to pounce in with a bad-natured scrape of asininity. This feeling comes upon me from a variety of circumstances, but it digs itself deep when the occurrence of what I can only call mock identity theft
raises it's stumpy little head.
Through a brash newsgroup post, vauntering e-mail, or meretricious Web page, someone somewhere makes it perfectly clear
they are the only rightful owners of a self-devised name, the (once ASCII
, then ANSI
, now Unicode
) appellation representing one of their online personas. They come to a wrongheaded conclusion that those twenty-eight seconds spent inventing a linguistically strained user handle or gaming moniker reserves them the opportunity to demand patent and trademark rights over it. This pretense, this delusional conceit over ones connected sobriquet is hardly any relation to the true rakish criminal gesture of impersonation and use of your personal data for the intent of comping cell phone service and a meal at the Olive Garden. The only real crime here is fictive, and self-inflicted.
Strange how this attitude occurs in an environment where ownership is nine-tenths of the joke. We freely take whatever isn't nailed down, code and application and composition, then reuse and distribute with no concern to its fabricator, sometimes enjoying full credit for our plagiarist ways. In return we demand a community reaming for anyone feckless enough to come along and perform a simple misdeed of nicking ones nick. No matter that they may have arrived at it through their own ingenuity, just as we make claim to. And hair-splitting reaches frizzled heights with a resemblance to ones chosen praenomen
. If you were brilliant enough to come up with Zhazzbot
, having Schazzbot
cross into your borders can be seen as a call to arms. A shame so many fail to realize there's only so much originality to go around.
I'll hazard a guess that this is due at least in part to a protectionist nature which hugs tight to our anthropoidal makeup. We're quite custodial when it comes to anything we've given birth to, however brief and painless the gestation period was. The duty you see is to safeguard the children -- but only if their ours. Of course, vanity resides in all personal affectations. Not just in how we groom or dress, but in all the manners by which we present ourselves. I'm sure you've seen (or perhaps had) the reaction of a woman at a party when she first sees another wearing the exact same outfit. There's a bit of surprise and embarrassment, but mainly it's a response of ownership. "How dare she wear my dress!"
This is not a female thing; it's a human one.
So to the Kafkaesque's, Kafka411's, Kafkanaut's, and other Franz K. derivatives who may be reading this anti-panegyric, I have the following to say: there's no baggy-pantsing
going on here, and no pantsing as well. The sensation of accidental nudity when your trousers drop about your ankles and leave the untanned bits to be cuffed gently by the breeze is not real. The only de-trousering being done is to your ego.