Sunday, May 24, 2009

Speaking to the imagination

Einstein is often misquoted and misrepresented by believers who want to claim him as one of their own. But he was quoted as saying "I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it." From a letter Einstein wrote in English, dated 24 March 1954.* While reading his biography, the author mentions his re-embracement of his jewish heritage. While this may or may not be true (Judaism is not terribly concerned with the actual belief in god...), he also notes that Einstein's most innovative and powerful discoveries came during the period in which he totally rejected religion and all it represented. Einstein was also quoted as saying about his childlike faith "Thus I a deep religiosity, which, however, reached an abrupt end at the age of 12. Through the reading of popular scientific books I soon reached a conviction that much in the stories of the Bible could not be true....Suspicion against every kind of authority grew out of this attitude which has never left me."* It was freedom from the religious structures that allowed his mind to flourish and it was this self-same freedom which found him imagining himself riding alongside a lightbeam.

"The great discoveries were not made by those agog at the wonders of the divine, but by those intrigued by the wonders of the mundane." --Michael Coulter*


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Your Spirit-Animal

In one of the iconic scenes from my favorite show (it becomes redundant to rename it each time...), Seamus sits in a lotus position (Well, he doesn’t really get to the classic lotus position. He’s really cross-legged.). Transition to a shot of the magnificent blue, teal, lapis lazuli, turquoise, cobalt waters where dolphins pas de deux in the waves. Seamus inhales deeply, taking in the breath of life from the island. One mammal delves into the deep, calling brightly into the darkness and smiling at the camera as the scene fades back to the contemplating New Jersey boy who was born to be a gearhead but who longs to be another Ernest Hemingway.

The dolphins are, as you come to find out, a symbol for who Seamus is... or as Sheriff Cody would say, "his spirit guide" Earlier in the scene, the mantraing peace officer explains the concept by telling his own experience at Joshua Tree ("very high energy there...")The memory is written on his face and you can see traces of his own animalistic adventures when he tells the Seeker how he became "...a lion, manifested."

His face molds into a feline grin as he describes his experience. "I started running, butt-nude, naked, barefoot over burning sands. I was a LION. I became my spirit animal.You hear what I'm saying Seeker? I was not following my bliss... I was bliss! I was the dream. I ran 23 miles, barefoot over burning sand. You follow me traveler?... That is the deepest moment I've ever experienced down here in dense matter. All I ever wanted for the rest of my life was to bound over boulders and chase small game. Couldn't live my life that way though... they'd put me in a zoo."

Most of us aren't torn between our spirit animal and the existence we would have as such. Most of us have no idea what living in that kind of wild abandonment would be like. We are consumed with what Cody realizes as a simple necessary ingredient to survival-- the "green energy." Unfortunately, when it becomes our focus, our goal, it loses "energy" and the best we can realize is a zoo-like existance, pacing in our cages, counting the steps between meals. But the life of the wild animal in the zoo is a truncated life and at some point it is time to ask yourself what kind of life you really want? WHAT is your spirit guide telling you?

Seamus, earlier in the episode (before he lost his lottery winnings) tells the conchs in Gumbo's End o' the World Cafe to follow their dreams. He espouses a famous quote of Joseph Campbell to "follow your bliss" to Rikki who is certain he is referring to the "Soup Guy." Later he asks Flame, one of the bar's dancers, what her dream is and encourages her to go to Paris to study ballet (in spite of her age and apparent lack of classical training).

This leads naturally to finding that inner self, the spirit animal that will guide you when you are tempted to climb back into the cave, stepping in time to the dinner all and will give you courage when the night is serenaded by predators.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

not wild, but pets...

From a little different angle, I might compare my life as a christian and daughter of christian parents to that of a dog. I was raised to serve a master- to be at his beck-and-call. Life was limited to the back yard-- watching the birds fly overhead or watching the squirrels dance in the treetops, just out of reach. Occasionally I got out for walks but I was often overwhelmed by it and became terribly afraid of the great outdoors, preferring to nap in a sunny spot inside.

Doesn't sound too bad you say?

Yet unlike the dog, my master was not real. There was no one feeding me. Like the wild animals I still had to find sustenance. I was not able to stay indoors all the time, bathed and cared for by the kind hands of a smarter being.

No, for those who serve Christ, or for that matter follow Buddha or Allah-- whatever heavenly deity they believe in order to keep their world tidy and safe-- life is lived with the same chores and burdens that the wild animals have in order to survive. They don't understand this. They delude themselves into thinking they are the free ones, but in fact they are more like Lions in the zoo or a dog in the back yard-- safe from nothing really other than the fears in their mind.

They will never experience the freedom of bounding over boulders or chasing small game.

Cody realizes that following his bliss does not come without the burden of survival but he is committed to following his bliss-- to being a lion in his heart.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Phoenix

When asked what bird a person would choose to be, one responded, "A phoenix".

Having a special affinity for the Egyptian myths and archeology, I was reading on this site to find out a bit more than the average Harry Potter book will tell you concerning the origins of the legendary flighted creature.

Mythology is an important part of culture... The stories we tell ourselves help to define who we are and what we will do in and with our lives. Recovering an understanding the power of myth helps to place them in the proper perspective (for instance, understanding the bible in a similar vein as Greek mythology would be a much healthier attitude for those christians who want the bible to be GOD'S WORD.) while recovering ancient stories of the goddess of sexuality would help us recover from the repressed sexuality that christianity has imprinted on the American conscience.

Even feminists have rejected the inherent sensuality of humanity, preferring to buy into the "sex is bad and as such, women are always victimized by sex" mentality. To my mind, this means a rejection of self and worse, allowing religion to dominate and define who women and men should be and how they relate to each other.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

what is success?

For a writer (of which community I fancy myself to be a part of on a good day-- Like Seamus in 'Key West' my response to the comment, "A writer?" would be "Yeah... somedays... sort of... no"), as it is in many other artistic fields, it is difficult to balance the desire for an audience and to be a bestselling writer with the greater goal of being true to oneself-- and offering the best one has to offer. One might compare Hemingway and Fitzgerald... but in an age when bestsellers are written by such as John Grisham or Stephanie Meyer, Hemingway looks considerably more challenging than he was considered during his heyday. The challenge is however to curb, somehow, the desire to be number one on the Barnes and Noble list and reach for something better, to create something that will challenge the mind and heart. I don't know if I can or ever will attain that which some call "great literature" but I do know that to present less than the best that I am capable of is to sell out which ultimately makes the work meaningless.

Strong words?? perhaps...

but something to keep at heart.

Monday, May 4, 2009


As you set out for Ithaka
hope the voyage is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery.
Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
angry Poseidon—don’t be afraid of them:
you’ll never find things like that on your way
as long as you keep your thoughts raised high,
as long as a rare excitement
stirs your spirit and your body.
Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
wild Poseidon—you won’t encounter them
unless you bring them along inside your soul,
unless your soul sets them up in front of you.

Hope the voyage is a long one.
May there be many a summer morning when,
with what pleasure, what joy,
you come into harbors seen for the first time;
may you stop at Phoenician trading stations
to buy fine things,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
sensual perfume of every kind—
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
and may you visit many Egyptian cities
to gather stores of knowledge from their scholars.

Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you are destined for.
But do not hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you are old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.

Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey.
Without her you would not have set out.
She has nothing left to give you now.

And if you find her poor, Ithaka won’t have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
you will have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.

~~C.P. Cavafy


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...