Category Archives: family

Cosmic Radio

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So what was on the cosmic radio this afternoon? As I walked to and from Safeway I was bombarded by an ongoing philosophical discourse inside my head. This first post concerns the most esoteric part of this broadcast. Another post on russellpop.wordpress.com will take up the cultural and misleadingly superficial aspects of that broadcast. I get so bored with my own soap opera at times that I have to disconnect from my fragile ego and listen in on something far more interesting and engaging than my own tedious neuroses. Today was such a time. I posed the question to myself, ‘what is actually going on?’ as opposed to what I think is going on. Our perception of reality is determined by our internal dialogue. But we miss out on a lot, some of which is trivial and some of which could change our lives. It is up to us which channels we attend to. There is the practical channel which prevents our running into lampposts and reminds us of why we are out here on the sidewalk walking. We do in fact have a destination, and unlike the gentleman to my left who is talking out loud, I actually know where I am going and why. But this utilitarian shopping channel doesn’t take up much space in my hard drive and I am free to tune into more interesting material without fear I will have an accident of some kind. So once again, ‘what, in fact is going on?’ I reiterate. Well, if we look to science, to the most precise measures of actual nuts and bolts physical stuff, we get an interesting conclusion. Nothing actually exists, and conversely nothing can be said to not exist either. Both are wrong. Our tools are insufficient to describe what is actually going on. Our language necessitates a subject and object, a duality which does not actually exist but works wonderfully as a descriptive device enabling us to investigate in our limited fashion this something/nothing within which we lead our daily lives. But whatever we manage to come up with, that ain’t it. Scientists aren’t bothered by this. They are routinely satisfied with approximations of reality. It is the best we can do given our limitations.

But for us regular folks it is frustrating, aggravating, take your pick. The truth will set you free but at first it will piss you off. Truth? Reality? What’s the difference? Is there a difference? My older brother has been hammering away at this philosophical conundrum for some time now. I agree with his conclusions as I understand them, knowing that whatever I write about it, it isn’t precisely what he is saying. I’ll do my best to do justice to his masterwork. Reality is what we perceive, which is colored by what we feel, think, what we have learned, been told, and whether we are coming down with a cold, in short, reality is our shared experience. The more something is shared the more real it becomes. Reality appears obvious to us, it differs from belief in that reality is what we know to be true. When someone says ‘Duh!’ in regard to something we have said, they are referring to reality. It is what everybody knows, and therefore, for most of us it is indistinguishable from the truth. But is it? What we know to be true is subject to a high level of distortion. It is conditioned by our own perception, our life experience, and the propaganda barrage we are subjected to daily. So what is true? Good question. The truth lies beyond our ability to communicate at this time in our evolution. All we can really do is say, ‘nope. that ain’t it. that isn’t it either. Close, but no cigar.’ The truth is elusive. So close, yet so far from paradise. We can approach it, but even to say that is misleading because how can you know that you are approaching the truth when you don’t know the truth? Duh! The answer I like, is that we are the truth. There are only two accurate statements, ‘all of it is true’ and ‘none of it is true’. Back to the existence/nonexistence conundrum. It is in the nature of language that nothing makes sense taken out of context. So we cannot talk intelligently about a context which contains all other contexts. It becomes unintelligible. You have to define what you are talking about, or in other words, put it in context, before it can make sense. But this necessarily distorts the information, causing it to become false. All reality is contextual, and therefore false to a degree. This is the principle behind the concept of maya. Maya is the phenomenal universe, or reality. (although even the nonphenomenal or noumenal universe is also reality, albeit much more subtle). If you can talk about it, strictly speaking, it isn’t it. You are inevitably off the mark, if only by a tiny tiny bit. Scientists are comfortable with this, and although they wouldn’t like to call it this, they take it on faith basically. Faith is what you have when you can’t verify your data, but nevertheless are convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that what you suspect is true, is in fact true. Once again I am attracted to the notion that the truth is where all of this is headed and it is where all of this came from. This idea of time, of something happening in a linear fashion is nothing more than a philosophical and also a scientific convenience. It is so hard to talk about any of this without that convenience. Time is a measurement of change in the data. That’s all. It doesn’t exist, in the same way that numbers don’t actually exist but are philosophical tools to enable us to communicate about something we don’t fully understand. Allow me to indulge in a brief analogy to help unclog all this stuff I just wrote. A bit of philosophical Drano if you will. Languages of all sorts, mathematical and linguistic serve as the software, a translation of the machine code which God only knows who can read that stuff (literally!!). You could say that the machine code is like the quantum foam at the very heart of physicality. Binary. On/Off Exist/Not Exist This duality allows a pattern to emerge, and this pattern is reality, if you will (or even if you won’t, the foam doesn’t ask for our opinion, or then again, does it?) Who are we? Who am I? Do I reside within the quantum foam, or am I somewhere else? I think most would agree that our bodies are definitely a product, ultimately, of this quantum funkiness, but are we something other than our bodies? Sorry, no dependable data on this question. I prefer to think that we are intangible. We lie outside the either/or universe of quantum indeterminism. We both exist and do not exist, or neither, or I don’t know, feets don’t fail me now! We are not the data, we are collecting the data. We lie outside the experiment. Or do we?

So, clearly this radio could continue it’s program for as long as I, or you, or anyone would care to tune in. But you can see that the lines of communication are corroded. I was getting a bad translation. There was a lot of static on the line. It can’t be helped. Inevitably, as I grappled with this philosophical problem of what is actually going on, it become more and more unintelligible. I found myself seeking refuge in analogies and elegant solutions which may or may not have anything to do with the price of eggs in China. What is actually going on? Nothing. A program is running, and so something appears to be happening. At various moments, the device breaks down, or the program attempts to execute a bad block of code, and we discover that what we thought was happening was just an enticing puppet show of sorts, and we glimpse something else. Something that isn’t properly anything at all, just this indefinable suchness which can only be pointed at, but not intelligently discussed. Perhaps we can approach such things with poetry. Perhaps we know, but cannot tell, struck mute by our linguistic and mathematical limitations. That is how it feels to me, at any rate. So, there it is, the rough approximation of this afternoon’s broadcast of the cosmic radio. As always it leaves me unsatisfied. What was that all about? Nothing. and yet and yet, I can’t help feeling that I am on the verge of a great discovery, which would change everything forever, and for the better.

Can’t you see?

It isn’t like that at all!

It is so much better!

If only I had the words to tell you,

you would be so happy.

But I don’t.

It is just a cosmic radio,

for whatever it is worth.

Operation Successful (slow recovery mode)

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9:23 pm Thursday April 19 I don't need glasses, but everything is blurry because my eye was dilated earlier.

So the operation was a success. It didn’t hurt at all. I was awake and alert the whole time, and it was quite a colorful light show. I started hurting later as I lay on my bed listening to music. My vision is really blurry right now, so I will undoubtedly need to edit this tomorrow. I probably have a few typos. My eye was dilated earlier today and the retina looks fine. My vision has been restored. Of course, right now it isn’t restored, but before the dilation, I could see in the distance pretty darn well. It was like when you make the transition from regular tv to HD tv. I was overwhelmed by the detail. I will be more excited when I get through the recovery period unscathed. I still need to take it easy, because my eye has not fully healed. It still feels weird, as though it has rocks in it at times.It really felt that way yesterday. Like I had been in a sandstorm. I need to make sure not to overdo it, and take things slow these next few days. I should return to work Tuesday. This is just a short post to let everyone know that I am ok, and the cataract  surgery went well. I will write a lot more tomorrow when I can actually see.

Love and Trust

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I just got through having a long conversation with my brother, David. He called because he saw that I tried to reach him a couple of times recently, and he knew I had cataract surgery coming up tomorrow. We talked about many many things as usual, covering a very wide gamut of subjects. But two things stand out in my mind. Love and Trust. Of course, trust naturally flows from love, so that is a bit redundant. Love is the only thing that matters. Love without definition. Just love. We all know what it is, and only get confused when we try to think about it. It is a simple thing. When David told me he had come to the realization that to love is the whole point, I felt no need to elaborate or clarify. Of course, the whole idea of love drives a lot of people crazy because love has all manner of implications and caveats and whatnot. I’m not talking about that kind of love. That kind of love isn’t love. It is addiction, a soft fuzzy burden which smothers all it touches. Or it is hatred disguised as love. Love with an agenda isn’t love. Love just is. You can’t get it or lose it. Love does not lie outside of yourself, it is yourself and every other living being as well. God is Love.

Ok so all that sounds good but so what. I am about to go into a frightening situation in which I could conceivably lose my sight. How very nice to know that I am loved, but it doesn’t change anything, my skeptical mind complains. That part of myself really hates it when all the ‘love’ talk begins. Sure, I agree, I say to that part of me. I could lose my sight, I could get in a car accident on the way to the hospital, or I could trip on something at home and bust open my skull. Who knows? There are all kinds of gruesome possibilities. But I ain’t worried, because I have trust. I trust the surgeon is going to do his best. The nurses are going to do their best. I am going to bend the quantum mechanical curve, my friends! My positive attitude which does not allow for mishaps or the odd chance of disaster, but embraces the high probability of success, can actually have an effect upon events. Sure it does! my skeptical mind retorts. Retort all you wish, I reply, but I refuse to be rational at a time like this. It doesn’t satisfy my need for magic. I need for this surgery to work magnificently. Of course I am nervous and I worry, but I trust that it will be fine, even better than fine.

Love and Trust are the foundations of a happy, successful life. Magnificent things can come out of simple trust. Someone who is trusted can perform miracles. Love can transform any circumstance into an opportunity for growth. Whatever happens to me in my life I will use it to learn and help others learn. I feel that this is what we are here for. To learn how to live, how to love and to trust. Part of me rebels at all this stuff I am writing. It distrusts my own belief. Beliefs are for wimps. What I am peddling is much stronger stuff, which the skeptical, rebellious part of me cannot fathom. That part of me does not have the language to speak of such things. A belief is but a pale shadow of the thing itself. I am not satisfied with mere belief. I want to be swept off my feet by the truth, and struck speechless by the magnificence of my own certainty. And yet my mind chatters on…..So be it. It is in it’s nature to chatter. I need to go to bed now, feeling a bit of trepidation mixed with the bright light of foolish confidence, and the cool pragmatic logic which provides it’s own form of comfort. Thanks to everyone for their loving concern for my welfare. It is appreciated. Whatever happens I am loved.

You always hurt the ones you love

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Why is that? Why do we always hurt the ones we love? Because we invest so much in them. They define us. We look to them for validation. We want their approval, their love and respect. When we fail to get what we expect, or what we yearn for, we are filled with hurt. We lash out at them so they might feel our pain, and be sorry for what they did. The old hurt me hurt you blues. The song that never ends. It’s crazy.

Here”s a tip. Treat your friends and loved ones with the same common courtesy and respect you would a stranger. Very simple. You don’t carry all that stupid baggage with you when you interact with a stranger. You listen to them and speak to them with a freshness that is sorely lacking in your more intimate associations. Treat each moment as if you had just met this person, even if you have known them for fifty years. Rediscover the qualities that attracted you back then, instead of replaying old hurts. It will transform your relationships.

We seem to be afraid of two things. That the other significant other (be it friend, lover, relative, whatever), doesn’t really love you and will probably leave you. Or that they love too much and are smothering you to death and you have to get rid of them. It becomes a dance of each trying to get something from the other, and not succeeding. That is where the resentments begin. Give them a break. Don’t expect anything. End the dance. Just let them be. If the relationship fades, don’t feel the need to fight it. If it blossoms, don’t do anything to try to make it stay that way or it will wilt right away. Relationships cannot be forced. It doesn’t work to try to manipulate people. Just let people be.

Good advice. I’m full of it. But I rarely practice it. But I will tell you this. I am so sick of hurting the ones I love. There is no pay off. Friends and lovers, relatives or children are not wastebaskets. Stop tossing your garbage there. Each person should be treated as an opportunity for something unique and special to occur. Turn off the old recordings you carry around in your head and be empty, and life becomes fresh once again.

Our neuroses cause us to destroy what we most value. That energy can be redirected to create our relationships anew each moment.

My Father and I

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A little time travel was required. That's me on the right, Dad on the left.

What would he have thought

I wonder.

At my face and his face

And the inevitable passage of time?

Would he warn me

Console me

Or just be happy to see me?

Happy to see that it all worked out

I’m just fine.

It all happens too quickly my father said

Not long after this meal we shared

You take a breath, thirty years have passed

And everything moves full circle

As the child becomes the father to the man

As my Father and I

Have breakfast together again

Coming to Terms With Racism

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Why don't I have any African-American characters in my stories?

I was touched by the beauty of this photograph and put it in my collection of interesting or captivating photos in iPhoto. But mainly I put it in there because I realized I had no photos of attractive black women. Not celebrities. I had photos of Vanessa Williams, Beyonce, Rihanna, and many other beautiful black celebrities, but no non-celebrities. I have noticed a couple of African-American women who follow my blogs, and I think about how I could make my work more relevant to them. Of course they don’t expect some old white guy to speak to the black experience. But it got me to thinking. Why don’t I have any African-American characters in my stories? I have Hispanics and Asians, but no Blacks. That is because I was raised a racist. In my childhood I was taught a lot of garbage which lies in my subconscious. I am afraid that some of that prejudice might show up in my writing unwittingly. Or I might convey a stereotype, instead of creating a real human being. I was afraid I might have done that with my Asian characters, but one was based on an actual friend. Still, I suspect there was more than a bit of stereotypical behavior in my stories. Therefore I have shied away from portrayal of blacks, especially men. I have to immerse myself in black culture and understand it before creating a believable black male character. I used to despise hip-hop and rap, I mean I would actually get angry over it. Now I have about twenty hip-hop or rap albums or more on iTunes. I love it now. Some of it is funny, some of it is angry, some of it is sad. But I have learned how to relate to it, Given that I have always been very poor, I understand the perspective and because I tend to be brutally honest and down to earth, I can relate to the humor and the ‘word’. I can think of at least two black women in my past, who were attracted to me. I know this because unlike white women, these women were not very subtle in expressing their attraction. A black woman isn’t afraid to look you in the eye, or touch you. As a result of those experiences I am attracted to black women. So why haven’t I written about them? Good damn question. I feel considerable guilt over things I did when I was six years old. My parents were totally racist, and I’m sure I got my ideas from them. When I was on the bus one morning, I asked the little black girl next to me why she smelled bad. I noticed an odor that was different from anything I’d smelt before, but then I must have recalled something my father said about blacks smelling bad. Even though that probably happened in 1959 or 1960, and I was only six, I still remember the way that girl looked at me. It was awful. She hated me, and I’m sure she felt horrible. Here she was on the bus dressed in her nice pink dress, and some kid asks why she smells bad. That stayed with me. Even though I was a kid, I knew I had done something terrible. I remember I apologized, and she wouldn’t look at me, but said “that’s ok” or something. I’m not sure she responded, and my memory may have added the apology to make myself feel better, but I think I did apologize because I remember how awful I felt. That early experience has shaped my feelings towards black people ever since. I feel ashamed of myself, and think that there is no way to make amends. I have no difficulty understanding why black people hate white people. I don’t like to think about race, but it is a fact of life. It enters into every relationship between races. I think my Vietnamese friend has a charming accent, but she is very self-conscious about it and thinks I am being racist when I imitate it. I worked with a Filipino and once I got upset with him. He thought I was angry with him because he was Filipino. I clarified by saying “I don’t dislike Filipinos, I dislike you!”. Later we became friends, but there was always an undercurrent of suspected prejudice that I had to stay aware of. I have often felt that I was treated differently because I was white. Conversely, I have had many friends that I think of as individuals first and their race second. Their ethnicity isn’t a huge part of our relationship. But it bothers me that I haven’t welcomed blacks into my imaginary universe, so I will think about what sort of black character or characters I want to introduce. It is my feeling that all of us are not that far apart. We can appreciate each others’ perspective. I love to immerse myself in cultures other than my own. As a matter of fact, to be honest, white culture is my least favorite, because I grew up in it, and saw it’s ugliest side.

Politics and Religion

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I get so mad sometimes

I can’t think straight

Politics and Religion make a bad mix.

I feel so hurt and want to lash out

At people I have never met

And may never understand

Politics and Religion make me sick.

We all seem to be getting along swell

Until Politics and Religion come struttin’ in

Talkin’ about how important they is

And how they don’t get any respect

Then we spit and yell and swell up real big

Our self importance knows no bounds

Once Politics and Religion enters in

But my opinions poison me still

Seems there is no escape

This is a war I’d rather not wage

But I fight it nevetheless

Politics and Religion is to blame

For the whole damn mess!

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