Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Tea Time

He arrives for tea
He says,
Oh, child, don't you know
I am a million years older than you
barely a breath
I am infinitely larger and  impossibly smaller
in ways that you cannot comprehend
don't you know that I am just a spec of sand
on the path
to a gate that is locked?
If I am not even a brick on the road
what makes you think
you are one to walk?
Yet I stand beneath your feet
and wish you well.
I am no key.
(now drink your tea)

Friday, October 26, 2018

Caretaking and Taking Care

Co-dependent (CAI 2018)
There is an important distinction between caretaking and taking care.

Because we are all flawed and weak, we need to take care of each other. As we know each others' triggers, the things that push each of us over the edge, we might take care to avoid them or come at them differently. As we know each others' communication preferences and typical reactions, we might choose our words. Understanding each others' weaknesses in daily life lets us shift the burdens we share so that we carry what we're more able to carry, and hand over what we find heavy and they find lighter. That's relationship, and it's an important manifestation of love, for self and others.

Each of us is responsible to keep our flaws and weaknesses from inflicting upon other people, as much as possible. Reducing our negative impact means we are responsible to pay attention, know ourselves, understand our own flaws and weaknesses, and take steps to avoid those triggers and have mechanisms to deal with things when they push us past our limits. That's relationship. Developing that is another important manifestation of love, for self and others.

When we take care of each other, we are giving each other support as we spend our lifetimes, overlapping, trying to know how we impact and give off the most love and support we can.

When we caretake, one of us is carrying the full burden, because the other is not taking the responsibilities of self-awareness in a relationship. If we decide to avoid a trigger as a consideration of what we know bugs the other person, that is not the same thing as feeling responsible to avoid it, fearing what happens if we can't, and taking the blame if we fail and are inflicted upon. That is caretaking. It is not respectful. It does not treat the other person as capable of self-awareness nor does it support them in developing it. It's very difficult to be in a relationship with someone we don't respect. It's a heavy burden, over time, to caretake someone in relationship. It leads to much resentment, less love, less support, more fear, more anger, more hurt. Caretaking is an expression of love, but because it's also an expression of fear and disrespect, it's doesn't support a goal of putting out more love and support.

Unfortunately, the parent-child relationship involves a lot of caretaking in the early days. Parents must caretake infants and small children who certainly can't be held accountable for self-awareness, and must be taught it with love and support through the ways we take care of them over time. As children develop, they must learn to be accountable for their impact on others in relationship. Moving from caretaking to taking care marks the primary challenge of parenting other people from start to adulthood and beyond. Moving from being caretaken to being taken care of, as an equal human taking care of others in relationship, represents the primary challenge of the first twenty years on Earth.

Parents must take responsibility for decisions that children lack the context or experience to make intelligently. They use their power to do so, and relinquishing that power, allowing errors to teach, allowing difficulties to shape, feels both dangerous and irresponsible as people age through childhood under your care. Yet it is also irresponsible to impose your way of being on another human without respecting their choices or allowing them to learn through experience. Missing the mark on that distinction is a primary cause of friction between parents and the humans in their care. Caretaking and Taking Care often flip into each other without anyone noticing, but we notice the feeling of missed communication, resentment, secrecy, irritation, and other symptoms that we're not taking good care of ourselves, each other, and this place.

In a family unit with more than one person in early life, siblings can learn to caretake. No one likes friction. When one sibling knows another well and can help avoid triggers or support overcoming strong reactions or weak performance, they might do so to make their own life feel more pleasant or secure. But if they learn, or are told, that it's their responsibility to caretake their sibling, they will learn caretaking as a behaviour they take forward in life, mistaking it for a healthy expression of love. They may do this out of love for a parent they wish to caretake by sparing them the difficult behaviour of the sibling. These patterns can pass through families for generations. Discussing the differences between caretaking and taking care can provide important context in families.

When someone is trying to take responsibility, we take care of them in the ways we can, to help them with their work. When someone is not trying to take responsibility, but take our care for granted, we end up doing their work and that is caretaking. It's a funny word, because when I am caretaking someone, they are actually the ones doing the taking of care, without reciprocating with the efforts required to reduce their negative impact and increase the love they give off.

When we discover ourselves caretaking, it's not something we can just stop doing, wham, slam them to the floor. If we've let the people in our lives rely on us they haven't developed the muscles to rely on themselves. Not to mention, that is how they've learned to receive our love. It's perfectly natural that this happens in relationship, but when we want to reduce the friction and increase the happy, new pathways must be built before the old ones are severed. So we start having regular and honest communication about each of us moving our own part of the responsibility forward, and how we're able and willing to support each others in that. Because we care about each other, so we take care of what they legitimately need on the path to more love and support forward from all directions.

In relationship, we take care of each other and try to reduce our negative impact while maximizing love and support. Worthy goals for all of humanity and our relationship with our planet and societies.

Friday, October 19, 2018

On Being a Giant in a Small World (part 1)

Giant (2018)
Ways people leave when you’re a giant
(and helpful mantras for processing feelings about it)

People leave. Maybe you can relate. You may find these mantras helpful, or inspirational to create your own for other situations of being left.

The thing about being a giant is that I take up a lot of room. Most people, I walk into a room, and they feel smaller. It’s not my fault, I’m just a giant. I want to be in the room with people, and I want to talk and laugh and work with them, but when I walk in, I take up a lot of space just being me. Some people don’t feel like there’s enough elbow-room for them, no matter how big the room actually is, no matter how small I try to appear. They leave. My mantra for this is

“people come, people go.”

Some people don’t leave right away. Some people are interested. They look around and realize that the room is big enough for both of us, for all of us, to be giants. They look at me a little more closely than before and they realize that we’re actually the same size, or, at least, they don’t feel diminished by my size - they feel inspired to grow. It’s not that I got smaller. They realized they were bigger. They don’t need a lot of time with me - in fact, they might find me better experienced in doses - but they respect and care for me. These people often hang on, on the periphery, with occasional glimpses and happy chance encounters. My mantra for this is

“hello, giant, hope to see you again!”

Some other people don’t leave right away, but I leave them. They see my giant plight through loving eyes, and though they feel diminished or crowded, they gamely try to stick with me and be my friend anyway. They see me struggle with the smallness around me, and to them, my giant steps look like I’m lumbering around. They want to help or support me, but only in the ways they want to, which often doesn’t help at all. While these people are lovely souls, if they aren’t in my family, I don’t choose to stay where they are.

I’m proud to be a giant! I long to be my giant self without constant reminders that I’m different and people would like me better if I were smaller. Around these helping people, the “giant-friendly” people, I’m always crouching and stooping, smiling and reassuring, stepping back and holding back, so they don’t get scared. They often get scared anyway. It’s just as well. My mantra for this is

“thank you, goodbye.”

A few people stick like glue, until I unstick them. These are people who see my giant abilities with awe and a sense they could never be so amazing. From a place of worship, I can only fall when they realize I am not as giant as they think, and they are not as small. From a place of awe we cannot relate, and I just feel uncomfortable and pressured. A quick glimpse of my temper, even a loud laugh, is often enough to scare them away. My mantra for this is

“I don’t owe my gifts, I give them as I choose.”

Other people don’t leave right away, but I avoid them. These people don’t see me as a giant at all. All my stooping and smiling fools them. They see me as smaller than them, their giant self looming over me. That’s not how I see it as I watch them, knee-high, puffing themselves up taller. But even so, when they are with me, I start to feel myself shrink. I try to stay out of rooms they fill - usually those rooms are too small for me anyway.  My mantra for this is

“I’m too big for them to see me, and I don’t need them to.”

Some people try to stay, but I scare them off good and proper. These are the folks who see how giant I am, and though they feel small, they admire of some of my giant abilities, like lifting heavy things and making the floor rumble when I dance, or telling them that they are giants, too. These people often listen with wonder to my strange words like they are finally hearing what they’ve always suspected but never thought about. We have animated conversations scheming schemes only possible by combining our strengths. It feels like friendship and the potential adventures are intriguing. But these people, I scare off.

At some point I don’t hold back enough, and they see just a glimpse of my actual strength and my weakness. It’s not on purpose - I don’t plan it that way! But the moment always comes, when trust depends on knowing if they’re big enough, and strong enough, to take care of themselves; to not get seriously injured by playing with a giant for real. When pressed, not many feel they are.

These people are the hardest because I always feel so hopeful, for too long, that they really know they are giants and we might have giant adventures together. When it turns out that the whole time, when I thought I was looking them in the eye, they thought I was looking down, the disappointment tastes more bitter each time. The energy of breaking and loss gets into my bones and joints, it brings me down. I need days before I can stand up tall.

So I avoid people who seem like they might not pass when the test inevitably arrives, but some make it all the way to this point and then leave . My mantra for this is

“better now than later.”

Remember, all suffering stems from wishing reality different than it is. Everything is the way it is. It can only be the way it is, or we wouldn’t exist. So when you’re a giant, it makes sense to accept that people will leave for many reasons that have very little to do with your value as a person. It’s a good idea to be ready to stay whole and healthy with a solid grip on yourself when it happens. My mantra for this is,

“people come, people go. still, I’m glad I’m a giant.”

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Reaching out is bullshit

Heal Thyself
People say that when you feel hopeless, you should "reach out." I've always considered it bullshit advice. Reaching out puts other people in the position of having to help or having to say no, neither of which is particularly kind. People have their own shit to deal with. To step in, to step up, to offer you support, they have to put themselves out. To say no, they have to feel bad. And the squirming terribleness of reaching out only to have no one reach back, to receive their rejections again, is a million times worse than the imagined aloneness that hasn't been proven by trying and failing to find even one other human who actually wants to be there with you in your need. Every time, it just makes it worse. Reaching out just makes me more raw. Reaching IN is the only direction I can count on.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Fighting an avalanche with a shovel

Fighting automation is like trying to stop an avalanche with a shovel. Most of the jobs it threatens first are not well-paid, secure, "good" jobs, anyway. What we should hope for is that automation wipes out jobs so fast that government has no choice but to consider alternate approaches to feeding and housing the population instead of relying on jobs that disappear as the population migrates further and further from a life of well-being; as more and more people fall into the shame and deprivation of poverty. Maybe it will make us fight for what we need to survive automation, rather than fight against it. It's possible we can drive socio-economic priorities towards a Basic Income to cushion the inevitable pain of humans suddenly not being the best and cheapest machines for things we never imagined could be automated.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Racism and Misogyny

(Primal, CAI 2011)
I think that there is a primal fear at the heart of racism and misogyny. The fear is that they, themselves, will be treated in the way that female-bodied and darker-hued people are treated.

They realize, somewhere in themselves, that their own sense of dignity, ego, id, self, the "god in a body" that they are, would not tolerate such treatment. They feel in their guts that, if they were treated that way, they would retaliate, they would become violent, they would look for any opportunity to undermine and damage the oppressors. They would be hatefully angry.

They know that they would not be stoic and okay with it. That's why they demand subservience, domination, control. They can't believe that female-bodied and darker-hued people are actually better people than them. Stronger. More dignified. More resilient. More capable of standing up in the face of intolerable behaviour and NOT striking back, not getting violent, not damaging, but instead, seeking peace. If they were us, they would be angry, so if we are not angry we must be sub-human, and if we are angry, we are dangerous.

They are afraid because they know they couldn't handle for a minute what we handle every single minute. They believe that, if they stop controlling us through fear and power, we could turn it on them, because that is what they would do. So instead, they assume that our general attitude of getting on with life despite oppression means that our feelings are less acute, that we simply don't feel dignity and pride the way they do. They assume that because we are accustomed to humiliation, shaming, degrading, overpowering, demeaning treatment, we must be lesser than them to tolerate it.

That's why even a glimpse of our anger feels so threatening despite their enormous power. It belies their assumption that we are less, and hints at the fact that we are, in fact, more. They are terrified of their own weakness in the face of our actual strength, which we have learned, through oppression, to cultivate with control they never had to practice. They have never learned how. That's why they can't muster a response that doesn't shoot spittle out their outraged mouths.

They are weaklings. They can't handle even 1/100th of what they dish out, and they don't understand how to respect us when we do handle it, when we handle it well, when we handle it with grace and dignity, and even manage to give them respect in the absence of reciprocation. They couldn't do it, so we mustn't be doing it, we must simply be less, feel less, have lesser consciousness, have lesser humanity. It's easy to believe that. Because if we were fully human, like them, we would rise up and kill them, the way they know in their hearts they would do if anyone treated them the way they treat us. I'd like to believe we wouldn't. I think we're stronger than that.

I think most of us actually want to help them learn to live in peace with us, rather than pitting our power against their weapons. We don't want to hurt them, we want them to stop hurting us. We want them to acknowledge that our humanity is at least equal to theirs. We want them to know that we do feel, acutely, just as consciously as them. That our gods in our bodies are not lesser than theirs. Bodies are bodies, whether they come female-gendered or male, whether they come in peach or beige or any hue at all. We are all humans, all equally entitled to the abundance of the planet, and we want them to stop acting like that's not true, and expecting us all to play along or they will control, harm, and even kill us. We want them to acknowledge that we are all human beings of equal worth. That's not unreasonable. But they can't handle even entertaining this line of thinking, because the implications are too enormous to their fragile egos and straw-man power structures.

What happens next?

Monday, October 1, 2018

Opinions and Debates

You may be entitled to your opinion, but you're not entitled to mine. There's no point in debating unless it's to seek common ground.

And while entitlement to an opinion may be comforting, is it satisfying?

Once we accept that we are too stupid to understand even if everything made sense, which it doesn't, we realize that WE ALL HAVE A POINT. And we are all also missing things.

If you use your point to eliminate, negate or destroy my point, you miss mine. And my point is worth hearing with an open mind and heart, because it is hard won and has grown and matured from simpler thinking that sounds a lot like most of the "debating" I see go by my feeds. You are at least as bright as me, so I have confidence that you can unclench your grip on what you already know and accept, and try to see things as I see for a time, just for the fun of it, just to see what's worth incorporating. It's a wonder, what I see. It's curious and dangerous, frustrating and fantastic, and it's just as real as what you've accepted.

If I hear your point but you don't hear mine, and I identify the common ground, you will feel like you've won, when really, I have taken in some information but you have lost out altogether. That's not a good use of either of our time and energy in the world.

My goal, instead, is that we learn to allow each others' version of reality to exist in respect for the person that each of us is. We allow the other reality to exist, just as real, inhabiting the same 3 dimensional space. We learn to allow this, without insisting that one is correct and one is incorrect, that only one version represents the True Reality. We allow the possibility that I may be wrong, you may be wrong, and in all likelihood we are both a little bit right and colossally wrong, because humans are stupid even at our smartest. And this place is really complicated.

So we can ask, do I LOVE the reality that I accept as real? Do I choose the view I hold, is it what I want for myself and the world? If you could wish the impossible, would you want the world to be this way?

Then, it becomes a choice. What reality am I working towards? How can I make minute corrections in my thinking, living, being, relationships, moments, choices, viewpoints, information seeking, experiencing, etc. that start to line up my actual reality with the reality of my wishes?

And then, we have a common seeking. Where is the reality I'm creating overlapping with the reality that you want to be real?

Together, we can wish the impossible. Where two or three are gathered, there lies a reality with some strength.

The existing physical and social conditions of Earth represent a fairly common experience, where many humans all agree about what reality is like.

The rest of our experience, outside the common experience, is our own special blend of reality. Trying to make other people see it, agree with it, and change their reality to ours, is the height of arrogance and narcissism. Instead we should seek what we love from what they see, and incorporate it into our reality. In this way, we add strength to that shared wish, we give it reality, by wishing for it, by acting towards it. We bring it forth. Slowly, like building a mountain with teaspoons, maybe. But maybe not. The length of time doesn't matter, if we care about the future 7 generations. We can pass our reality along, and let it evolve into something even better as it strengthens over time.

We can wish our reality into a future that is more beautiful, hopeful, fair, loving, and happy. We have the technical ability and the resources. We've tied ourselves into these systems that choke the true abundance of what we've built in the most shameful ways possible.

Believing in the reality you want, as possible, is an act of bravery. It is playing traitor to the systems that hold you up, that give you a sense of control and security in the world. It is letting go of the ropes of being right and understanding what the fuck is going on. Trust me, we have no idea.

It makes living a different kind of experience. It's easier to believe in the reality we're presented by the people we trust, who hold us up. Together, we give that reality more strength and we feel more insulated. Maybe we are. And, if that reality isn't the one I'd choose, it hurts my soul, regardless of whether we have a soul.

I know this in my bones, in my veins, in the painful joints and inflamed points, in my pressurized head, in my ears (Happy), in my skin and fingers and pouring through. My reality is that we can give reality to our wishes, in spoonfuls and grains, just by believing they are possible, just by acting as though they are likely, and I can help make them happen in my little small acts. If that's not true, if that's not real, to someone else's reality, I have both the humility and pride to say, I'm probably wrong somehow, but you are no more right than me, you're just looking at the elephant from a different perspective and seeing something different. I am looking her in the eyes.

So trust me or don't, these choices are our own to make.

But don't ask me to debate you. I've already won. I hope you do, too.

(musical accompaniment from Happy Rhodes https://youtu.be/ZkqZsWLAiRA)