A Virtual Colloquy - What are YOU reading?!

Tag: philosophy Page 1 of 6

Where Did Our Words for “Love” Go?

“The first step to take is to become aware that love is an art, just as living is an art; if we want to learn how to love we must proceed in the same way we have to proceed if we want to learn any other art, say music, painting, carpentry, or the art of medicine or engineering.”

The Art of Loving by Erich Fromm

Let me start by saying, as I did in my monthly “What in the World is She Reading” newsletter, that I got so much out of this little book and I’m still processing it. I don’t necessarily agree with everything he says. Some of it was a bit to “far out” for me. But, wow, there was a lot of usable material here. I know…I promised only to post a few pieces per book but this one is going to be hard to narrow down. I took so many notes!

Do you consider love something you work at doing well?

Or is it something that you “fall into” and passionately experience?

Fromm believes they are two different things and I think I agree. There is that immediate attraction to another human that is based on hormones, pheromones, and instinct. And then there is the higher cerebral order that humans are capable of, that of actively loving people. I think we confuse the two, and debase or idolize one or the other, on a regular basis.

Like Fromm, I believe we should be putting more of our energy into cultivating the art of love.

What’s crazy is that we have to define what we mean by “love” since we don’t have separate words for different kinds. Why is that? Why do we lump so many different ideas into one word and then expect everyone around us to know what we’re talking about? Doesn’t that create chaos?

I say to my children, my husband, by friend, the kid that makes my sandwich just right, “I love you!” That’s crazy. What happened? Where did our words go?

The Agony of Decisions – A Short Story

I feel like my soul is split in half! “Split in half.” That’s a joke; more like splintered into a thousand pieces.

‘Hurry up!’ she says. Yeah, right. That’s just what I need. If I lift a foot to hurry my pace, I feel like I’ll become uprooted by the wind and blow across the desert like a tumbleweed. These decisions can’t be made lightly. I need time to think.

Why does everyone have to bombard me with their advice? It’s like an invasive weed in my heart. Here I am, on my hands and knees, pulling out the weeds on one side, while they sow seeds on the other and I’m watering it all with my tears.

What can I do? Speak my mind and risk being ostracized by everyone I know, or worse? Should I remain silent and watch as the situation deteriorates? It’s better to say something now and stop the snowball before it gathers more material and crushes everything, right?

But what if it would have stopped on its own? What if the sun comes out hot and melts it all away before it ever gains momentum? What if I’m wrong and should simply keep my mouth shut?

I’m torn. “Splintered” is a good word for the feeling. There aren’t two ways to go. There are thousands of choices to consider.

Back to my principles, that’s what I should consider. What are my core principles? What is my ultimate goal? What is it that drives me?

The Stoics say to live and die by a prescribed set of principles, and that’s what I feel like I’ve been doing. It was easy until now. Live well so that death is welcomed. Be honest so that people trust you. Don’t let negative emotions overwhelm your judgement and rule your life.

But here I am, stuck with a life or death decision. Is everyone waiting for my answer? Will my choice to voice my opinion influence others? What’s next? Will there be a line of people outside my virtual door waiting to hear my advice, set their own dreams aside, and follow my brilliant assessment of the situation?

I doubt that.

It could be worse. Once I take a stand, I could be ridiculed, thrown out of society, tossed out alone into the cold to fend for myself forever.

“Screw them!” That’s what I want to say, how I wish I could feel. My opinions are mine alone. They don’t have to agree with me, but they do have to respect that I have the right to make my own judgment about things that directly affect me.

But then I start to cow. Sometimes my need to belong to the group trumps my personal convictions about what is “right.” I need friends more than I need to be right. It makes me sick.

Here she comes again. “And what will you be having for dessert tonight?”

I shift in my seat, take a deep breath and make the bold statement I’ve been agonizing over for the last ten minutes, “To hell with the calories! I’ll have the chocolate cake.”

Sunday Thought

Something I’m working on.

Struggling Thru Pain

Photo by Almos Bechtold on Unsplash

You know what?

There is no lifestyle or choice you can make that will bring you a life with no pain or struggle.

Life is pain and struggle.

We all work through it our own way. Cry. Scream. Rage. Isolate yourself. Do whatever you need to do to ease it as it passes through.

And then get up and keep going.

Watch for the sparks of joy and happiness along the way. Blow them into tinder and watch them dance in the flames for a bit.

The pain will come back again, but so will the joy.

You’re Making It So Hard

I’m struggling today. I’m not sure if it’s the crushing feeling of (virtual) bullshit all around me or that I’m simply not feeling well. My head hurts and I feel a little dizzy. I just want to eat something tasty.

I’ve decided to rest today and not go through my regular housework routine. Maybe I’ll read more, take a nap, and write something. At the moment all I can think to write is that I disagree. With what? Just about everyone it seems.

Wandering through the house, from the livingroom where my son is studying, to the bedroom office where my husband is working, I stopped in front of my TBR shelf. Maybe I’ll start a new book. I pick one up and thumb through the pages only to have my eyes stop on and read:

“Suppose we find that despite our attempts to prevent anger, the behavior of other people succeeds in angering us. It will help us to overcome our anger, says Seneca, if we remind ourselves that our behavior also angers other people: ‘We are bad men living among bad men, and only one thing can calm us – we must agree to go easy on one another.’”

Some would say God left that message, the universe intervened, or the spirits moved to direct my hands. But me? Coincidence. I buy books I know will help my thinking. I reached for the Stoics because I needed peace. I wanted grounding and looked to my thinkers for help.

I’m trying to be patient. I’m trying to understand and have compassion. But everyone is making it so hard.

Speak. Because You Have Something to Add.

You guys!

It’s so important to live out loud and honestly.

Speak.

Tell your stories. Show your pictures.

Share your ideas, your thinking, and your passions.

You may never get positive feedback. You may never gain followers or an income. It may feel like no one is ever listening or learning from you.

But they are.

Someone is out there and they need to hear you, whether they know it or not.

Complete Out of the Box – No Accessories Needed to Play

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Photo by Robbin Wong on Unsplash

You know how some toys are kind of boring if you just buy one part and so you have to keep buying accessories? The car, the clothes, the house, the spouse, the kids, the career. It just goes on and on.

There are video games like that too. Sure, you can download it and play for free, but you only get two levels and then you have to pay to upgrade. You play more but now you see that you have to buy a couple extras, charms that help you rack up the points and levels faster.

Humans aren’t like that at all. We’re a whole, functioning human being right from birth. We do need a bit of extra care at first, but we learn and grow quickly with good support and before you know it, we’re out in the world on our own, doing our thing whatever that is.

But lately, I’ve been seeing a lot of people that look like they are searching for their missing piece. They wander from job to job, adventure to adventure, and relationship to relationship, never really getting anything from the experience and lamenting that the whole thing even happened while they transition to the next. They proclaim loudly that they won’t give up, they’ll find that career, place, or person that will complete them and make their lives better. That job wasn’t right for me. This place doesn’t have what I need. This person didn’t give me their all and left, so they suck.

I don’t think you need any of that to be complete. You do have the power inside you to live on your own terms, for your own ends.

Every time we start a new job, try out a new location, or enter into a new relationship, we could be learning more about ourselves and the world around us. We could be using that information to make our lives more interesting and more comfortable for ourselves and for those around us. It doesn’t matter what the job is or how long the relationship lasts. It doesn’t matter what kind of a relationship you have: long or short term, purely sexual or platonic. It doesn’t matter if you buy a house and live there for ten years or rent out a basement and live there for three months. It doesn’t matter if you go to college right out of high school, wait until you’re 45, or ever go at all.

What does matter?

It matters that we learn something about ourselves and that we connect with other humans in as many ways as possible, that we live every day no matter what’s going on.

The Stoics have a decent idea, “Memento Mori.” Remember, we die. We don’t live forever and (as far as we know) we only have one life. We need to stop wasting time.

Nothing is a waste of time if you learn something from the experience. That one night stand you had with that hot babe you met? Not a waste of time if you enjoyed it and look back on the moment fondly. That two years you spent at an expensive university, only to drop out and work at an amusement park? Not a waste of time or money. You gained experience, you met people, and you had fun in ways you never knew existed. And money? You can always make more. Money was created to spend. And what about that “failed” marriage? Did it “fail?” Or did it just serve its purpose and now you’re both moving on to something else? That job you spent five years at and then switched careers gave you fresh insight about your abilities and a set of skills that you can use anywhere.

What exactly do we think we’re working toward? What are we stockpiling for the future? What will we do with all of this shit we’ve accumulated? We’ll die. That’s it. And all your stuff will be redistributed.

So why not stop working toward anything and just enjoy what you have? If you don’t like the job you are in, find another one. If you don’t like the area you live in, move. If you don’t like the relationship you’re in, move on. Stop collecting things and start experiencing things. If you have no friends or family to experience it with, do it alone! Maybe you’d find it more fun or fulfilling if you had someone to share it with? Then blog about it and post pictures on Instagram! Or start dating…anyone, right off OKCupid! Or join a club online or in person!

You are a complete package all by yourself. You don’t need anything to start living and experiencing the world around you. Just live, damn it! Why not?

Bloom Where You’re…Tossed?

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This plant was unceremoniously dug up and tossed in a pile this past winter. I’m planning on replanting the porch area with several different kinds of agaves. After the old plants were torn up and tossed aside, I gathered them up and took them out to the back garden dump hole I have going. That was back in early February.

Today, while continuing the ongoing saga of backyard weed control, I found those dumped aloe plants… blooming! Some plants just don’t know when to give up.

Some plants are hardier than others. Most, if uprooted in the dead of winter, would just die right away, but these have evolved to store up lots of energy for use when things get bad.

Some humans are hardier than others too. Unlike plants, we aren’t necessarily at the mercy of our genes. We can learn coping mechanisms and strategies to buck up and be stronger, to grow anyway despite our current circumstances.

Yes, We’re ALL Going to Die…Eventually, And Some Sooner Than Others

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“Memento Mori – Remember death,” the Stoics say, “for tomorrow is promised to no one.”

Death is always lurking nearby, no matter your health or situation. It matters not where or when you live. We all die.

Death does not discriminate. It comes but once for all of us and it’s distinct for each individual, like the proverbial fingerprint or snowflake. Each of us perceives the experience in our own way, and all of us face it alone.

Your feelings about death, your own and of others, are no more valid than anyone else’s, regardless of risk.

It sounds so gloomy, but is it?

“Remember Death” means to remember life.

Go and live today. Love as much as possible. Fully experience this life and share that experience with others; the ups and the downs, the boring and the exciting. Let others experience your version of this world.

For tomorrow we die and all that will be left is the memory of our existence.

Make it a good one.

What if I told you there is no “right” way?

what if I told you

What if I told you…? I love those memes. It’s just so versatile. Searching for one, I found this one MOST profound.

But seriously. What if I told you there was no right way to do life?

It’s starting to become clear to me that there was no real plan all along. Anytime I made a specific long term plan, any time I said this is what I want my life to look like, it all fell apart or caused me so much pain and stress that I was forced to change direction. When I went for short term happiness, when I chose peace and quiet, the calm path of least resistance, I ended up right where I needed to be.

What if instead of creating expectations about how things should work out in the long run, we made the choice to be satisfied with most things just as they are? The old me, and part of me right now, would say that sounded lazy. If we lived like this nothing would ever get done. The me that I am today, the one that attempts to look back on things as clearly as possible, says I haven’t found that to be the case.

I’d like to say that I went to college after high school because I had a dream of being a Broadway stage designer and was working towards that goal. In reality, I was only doing what everyone else was doing and what the school counselors all said I should be doing. I chose the university because I just happened to tour it with my theater class, it had beautiful trees and old buildings. I applied and they accepted me. It was an expensive choice, one my husband and I both paid for the next 15 years, but it wasn’t a waste. I took away a lot of experience from those three semesters, even though I never finished the program.

I’d like to say I had a grand goal of a career at Knott’s and Disney. The reality is that I just found jobs and kept doing them. They were fun and exciting and, my mom was right, I didn’t want to keep doing them after I had kids and started getting older.

I’d like to say that I chose to be a stay at home mom and a homeschooler because I wanted to raise my kids right. The reality there? I was too tired and stressed to work at night and take care of kids during the day and my husband would rather have a peaceful home than a higher household income. I homeschooled because the public school in our area was terrible and we couldn’t afford private schools. I was already home so I chose the easier, cheaper route available at the time.

Everything I have ever done and had a successful outcome with was because I chose the less stressful, less tiring option. I accepted the reality of the situation I was in and made it work for me. And it has worked, right down to the basic tenets of our marriage.

So far, life has taught me that there is no preferred outcome other than letting it go and enjoy the ride. Do what you want to do. Let others do the same. There is no right way to live your life. There’s just your way.

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