I’ve been thinking about the satirical Monty Python tune ‘Always look on the Bright Side of Life’. The song comes to mind because I’m finding myself in quite the opposite situation lately: entertaining a dark humor. Being aware of the need to lighten up before I descend too far into the abyss, Eric Idle and the gang, always quick with dark humor of their own temper my daily diet of the news, the knowledge of world events that are consistently quite the opposite of enlightening.
Putting things into perspective, not wanting to totally abandon reality, the boys continue; ‘always look on the bright side of death’, informing us ‘we come from nothing, return to nothing, what’s lost’. And if humor doesn’t lighten one up whistling might help.
The science section of the Sunday paper often has an unsettling item or two, usually involving reports by researchers who have determined the dangers of various common behaviors that will likely shorten one’s life. The article that caught my attention most recently warned that alcohol consumption will shrink the brain. Researchers apparently measured brain sizes of some several hundred people and determined that as little as one drink a day will cause one’s brain not only to stop growing but to actually reduce in size.
As I think about this and being aware, as I am, of my forgetfulness as well as the consistency of my inability to come up with the word I want in a conversation, I’m led to believe the researchers may be on to something. The fact that I’ve been consuming alcohol for probably fifty years has me wondering whether dementia may be just around the corner. After all this time it probably wouldn’t make any difference if I quit my daily glass of wine or not; how much smaller could my brain get?
I guess I’ll just have to add alcohol consumption to my other life-shortening behaviors: too much coffee will give me cancer and I can expect diabetes from the sweetened sodas I drink. Such thoughts dim the brightness of the generally healthy lifestyle I see myself living. I guess the realization of life’s fragility will keep me reading such reports even though I won’t be thinking about them too long: shrinking brain, you know.
So, as I understand it the market depends on the consumer whose purchasing power depends on the sale of goods produced by the consumer whose wages ensure the consumers’ purchasing power which ensures the product will be purchased.
Everything proceeds along okay as long as there aren’t any linkage problems in the chain, like interruptions in acquiring the necessary pieces required to produce the product which might result in job layoffs which then reduce the consumers’ purchasing power, and which eventually, considerably increases the cost of the unavailable pieces the products’ manufacture require making the product more expensive and perhaps out of reach of the consumers’ now limited resources. The product is no longer affordable, manufacture shuts down: no wages, no consumers, no product.
Thought about in such terms, life seems pretty tenuous dependent as it is on the cooperation of a population of independent souls often at odds with each other. It may be time to thank my neighbor for his part in keeping the chain in tact.
I just read this article on line which listed nine things that indicate emotional intelligence. It makes me think I may not be too emotionally bright.
One of the things an emotionally intelligent person should have according to the list is a large emotional vocabulary. I find it annoying that anyone would equate emotion with intelligence; the arrogance of the author in such an assumption I find quite irritating. When I think of it, I become almost livid with outrage at such a presumption. What’s this idiocy with the ubiquity of making lists, anyway?
But, clearly the writer of the article only meant to be helpful. When I think about it I feel a bit ashamed and regretful at my unexpressed outburst. I am humbled and moved toward a sense of penitence even though I didn’t actually express my anger. Guilt over my potential outburst makes me quite anxious that I’ll be thought of as hot-headed. I suspect there are those in the playroom that see me as a perturbed individual as it is. I find the whole issue discouraging. It makes me melancholy to the point of tears.
Luckily, I have friends who find me delightful and raise my self-esteem. They make my life, on the whole, quite a happy one, blissful really.
But, as I say, I’m really not an emotional doll, to any significant extent, so I’m inclined to ignore the whole idea of emotional intelligence. I am, though, a bit suspicious of list makers.
I’ve been thinking that lately, an awful lot of what occupies my mind is reactionary. I hear or read something I disagree with and then spend a lot of time formulating arguments which refute these disagreeable ideas or actions. I find this to be ultimately, pretty frustrating because those who hold these disagreeable notions won’t really buy into my arguments no matter how logical or reasonable they may be. I guess such is the nature of religious or political disagreements, which is, or course, where most of the divisiveness occurs.
So, in order to counter the prolonged debilitating mindset not to mention wasted energy this thinking causes I’ve decided to quit reading the morning papers and to also avoid the abrasive exchanges with oppositional thinkers (or non-thinkers if you’ll excuse the bias). I’m going to communicate only with those who share my truths, isolate myself as it were, and invite over only those folks who reinforce my certainties. I’ll carefully select the events I attend and follow the media outlets that share my enlightenment. This way, I should be able to keep my thoughts positive and maintain a serene nature.
Following this procedure I’m sure I will have soon forgotten about all contrary opinions; they’ll no longer exist in my reality and I’ll be able to engage fully in the things that really matter.
After spending so much time lately contemplating spiritual paths I’ve gotten to thinking about what it might mean to live a profane life.
I guess, essentially, it would mean following one’s animal nature first and foremost; side-stepping the cultural and societal mores that have been imposed since childhood and reverting to primal inclinations. Be instinctual. If it feels good do it, I suppose.
Such a philosophic view would free one from karmic considerations as well as guilt of any sort; fears of retribution from a disapproving god or eternal damnation wouldn’t be a problem either. But, I imagine there would be downsides to such a point of view. One’s actions would most certainly be viewed as vulgar, irreverent, even blasphemous by most; alienation would probably be in the cards; one would become a pariah as it were. All of which one could live with, I expect, if you were ok with isolation from the rest of mankind; living entirely by yourself; peeking out occasionally to obtain basic needs.
Well, I’m afraid I’m a bit too compliant to assume such a contrary stance, being pretty vulnerable to the opinions of others. I think I’ll leave the profane life to the self-made men of popular culture in the realization that the concept is pretty much just a romantic fantasy anyway.
Today I really feel like I need a spiritual lift but I’m not sure which direction to take. The disciplined approach appeals somewhat; maybe a Yogic immersion. I could get a CD but maybe it would be better to join a group. Others around me of like mind might provide inspiration.
The ancient mystics figured it out for themselves through Gnostic readings and maybe a bit of self-imposed deprivation. I’ve got a copy of the Zohar around somewhere and I really don’t eat much anyway.
Or, perhaps I should seek the right path through the gift of Grace. Someone wrote, Kierkegaard I think, that all I would need to do is take the leap into faith and embrace the great paradox. I guess he meant believing in a logical absurdity.
It may be that the best path is through one of the great traditions. The Catholics have some wonderful liturgies; the Hindu pantheon is incredibly compelling in all its literary and visual manifestations and one can’t ignore the Buddha’s relentless pursuit of Nirvana.
I feel myself falling into a rut lately. The routine has become insufferable. The days are passing painfully predictably: out of the box at 10, stand by the window, pose for a while, get leered at by that awful monkey and the other boring inanimates I am loathe to inhabit the studio with and, then, back in the box until morning when it starts all over again. I won’t even go into the days I don’t get taken out of the box at all. I’m feeling my life isn’t my own, that I’m simply a small cog in a big impersonal mechanism.
I guess Woody Allen’s right: all you need to do to succeed in life is show up….and play the game. If only the bills needn’t be paid I would fly (figuratively speaking that is).
But certainly there’s relief to be had. The Stoics recommend, when meaning in life is elusive, contemplating what it would be like if one lost what one had. How much worse would it be without those small things we take for granted, like a nice cozy box……………..well, a cozy box is better than nothing. I will try to be happy with what I have, the way things are…………….and I’ll sign up for flying lessons.