Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Could I Really Be This Stupid? Don't Answer!

First I should say that last night was so ridiculously cloudy in NJ that I couldn't see a thing I wanted, not a thing.  I suspect tonight will be the same since it's pouring right now.  Darn.  Well...things could be worse, I figure.   And guess what?  They became ALOT worse a few nights ago. 

Sitting at my nice Dell computer, cleaning out old files and making more space, I ran a scan that told me I should remove my older version of AOL since it's just taking up room.  So I follow the directions, very simple ones, and at first I wouldn't let my eyes believe what I was seeing:  This amazing tool from AOL managed to delete BOTH versions, which means it took the one I've been using, 9.0 SE.  I couldn't get online, my stomach turned into mush then barbed wire, so I got on the phone and surprise surprise!  The tech support people couldn't help me.  Okay, I go through my box full of CD's I get in the mail, praying hard hard hard that there's an SE in there and YES!!!!  There was!  So I reinstalled AOL 9.0 SE thinking, "it won't matter I've lost everyting" very optomistic, eh?  But other than my settings, it seemed after I reprogrammed my access numbers and other busy work, it seems to be okay.  SO FAR.  Funny thing, I was thinking that this Journal would be one of the more important things I would never want to lose, even my documents.  That tells me something about the power of writing one's feelings down, events, the trials of the day, the happy hours, all the sharing, and most of all, the incredible people I've met here.

Somehow I know I'm going to find things won't be the same, they'll be a few bug-a-boos to fix, already it's running too slow, but heaven help me I'm grateful I still have something!  DARN I'm grateful!!  Whew ...... 

Friday, June 23, 2006

For Astronomy Buffs and Skywatchers All

This is very cool.  There will be a "Planet Parade" on Tuesday and Wednesday, June 27 and 28th in the west-northwest sky.  As if in celebration of the seasonal change, four of our system's brightest planets will align at dusk.  One, Jupiter (the brightest) will gleam so brilliantly no one could miss it.  And this is a "naked eye" event, no scopes needed.

The crescent moon will point the way to the planetary event.  Mercury, Mars, Saturn and Jupiter will align for your pleasure, although you'll need to follow the waxing moon to the left, to guide your eye toward the lighter trio and the far brighter Jovian world. 

The best nights are 6/27 and 28.  Go outside after dinner and find a spot with a clear horizon, WEST-NORTHWEST (where the sun sets this time of year).  About 45 minutes after sundown, you'll be able to spot the thin crescent moon to the left of wherever you saw the sun set.  Don't look too high up, it's no more than the width of your outstretched hand, held at arm's length. 

Mars, Saturn and Mercury form a diagonal line in the sky.  During twilight on the 27th, look to the upper-left of the moon.  You'll see the faint coloring of each planet in yellows and rust, more with binocs.  They won't stay visible long, as they're small, but Jupiter will be visible long into the night. 

On the next night, same thing except look directly below the moon, instead of to the left.  The moon is orbiting the earth at about 240,000 miles away, not far at all.  All bunched together, this planetary alignment might look like one big moon but it's just a cosmic coincidence of which we have so very many, all spectacular. 

I really enjoy these things - it begs so many questions yet puts our world in perfect order.  Hope you enjoy it!!

(Info from "Sky & Telescope" and "Night Sky Magazine") 




Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Dusting Off An Old Story Of Depression

My life is a vessel of pure joy and true peace that no words can do justice.  Each day is precious and meaningful, a true miracle and blessing.  Yet it was not always so.  One year of my life was lost forever.  A mere 25 years ago, I was held hostage by a depression so deep, so dark and unyielding, that I would daily meditate on the various ways to end my pain by ending my life.  I took to writing then editing "last letters" to each individual family member as they were all so different and affected my life in such selective ways.  

No one had an inkling of what I was trying to endure.  I surrendered my hours to the beast known as inaction and could scarce get from one day into the next.  With no motivation to do anything, everyday common obligations began to slip away.  It began when I quit my job, gave my car to my brother, and moved back to my parents' house into a small room used for storeage.  I think I was trying to bury myself.  Keeping my presence quiet and rare, I wanted only to be left alone to nurse my psychic wounds without having to interact with a living soul.  Everyone was busy living their lives while I was swimming in the deep end of that luxurious ocean called self-pity.  The ultimate luxury.  We hold our hurts close and guard them against all who try to loosen us from the perverse pleasure of feeling nothing.  I watched from my window as each day would open and close, without ever going out to breathe it, feel it, live it.  Everything was painful.   

Time held no meaning for me.  I would follow my insomnia with days of unnatural sleep with unremembered dreams, and nights of fully alert anguish.  I wrote prose, wrote music, wrote suicide letters, but did little else.  By the time I finally got help, a full year had passed into nothingness, completed wasted.  The Doctor called it clinical depression and prescribed a suitable Rx.  It has never returned in such full force, yet I sense that lurking darkness everytime a remembered slight causes psychic hurt that enjoins self-pity.  Thereby comes depression.    

How many easy blue mornings did I assign to an unnatural sleep?  Why ever did a day seem a chore to live out?  Would that the Almighty forgive just one day of wasted time, just one day I left untainted by action, even by thought ...

I was too busy minding the torment of my soul.  Like some novice rider trying to control a thoroughbred, I looked after my moods and sorrows with a tense, fearful eye.  If I pulled the reins too tight, the pain would beg a bloody outlet, like razor blades and shapr knives.  Should I ease up on these phantoms, my heart would lose its keen awareness of itself, and I might never know the perverse joy of discovering a new hurt.  I was a mess, and I knew it.  

Not a living soul surrounding me gave thought to my troubling meditations, for they knew only that I seemed to float through each day, there but not really there; seeing but not noticing; hearing but not understanding the language.  I spoke to my heart, and through real blood and pain I was finding a strange surcease in the music of these raptures.  I had so much more than I needed, and far too much time to misuse everything I was given.  Feeling was becoming lost to me, I could no longer grasp the concept of joy, of love.  Numb with pain.      

Can one re-love once they've enjoined hate to their passions?  For I recall how I truly hated the whole world for allowing a human being to come to such a place where they no longer wished to live.  Later, I discovered it was of course myself I was truly hating, and it took time and patience to relearn how to see myself as a worthy soul, a deserving person, someone who can be cared about.  Resentments, jealousies, confrontations, and the effrontery of knowing you've not been noticed all conspired to deepen each facet of my depression. 

Would that some sweet unlikely love come into my life then, cleaving itself to my heart, it could've held sway against the passion of such self-pity as would startle the likes of Nero, the patron of self-pity. Yes, perhaps love could've saved that year of waste, saved my soul from such exquisite pain.  But back then, I was fully intent on dying.  By sheer will if necessary.

No one could outstay my ability to render rough in my thoughts all the myriad ways to die with meaning.  I would show the world, yes show them all or so I believed, hence I despised my cowardice at not being able to find death at my own hand.  Every concept alluded me in their lack of drama.  Yet somewhere inside I felt a laughing indifference as if my spirit knew it was not to be extinguished, not yet and not by me.  

I look back on this now, having lived a very full, meaningful, God-blessed and happy caring life, and the depth of self-loathing I must've once felt shocks me into incredulity.  If I hadn't kept a diary of sorts and wrote my prose, alot of the immediacy of feeling would've been lost.  Yet I'm grateful I put all that pain to paper so that every now and again I can look into the heart of that time and realize what a unique gift each moment truly is.  I spent so much energy keeping the world at bay, for true misery tolerates no company, I believe.  

Once I was able to extinguish the dark using the light of life, I changed my profession of Paralegal, went to school for training and became a certified lab technician, helping people find answers to either the sickness of a loved one, or tracking the etymology of an unnatural death.  I was fascinated by the forensic pathology of human behaviors so in my off hours, I immersed my mind in education every way imaginable.  Sometimes just making slides all day could be boring, but it was life, and I was alive, so I had a respondibility to live it, however it most pleased me - which was to please others if I could.  

Clinical depression is a monster, can last several years I'm told, causes other physical ailments, and most of all robs a person of their motivation to live, to be at peace, to find joy in everyday things.  Once it was over my Doctor refered to it as a temporary chemical imbalance and was convinced it would never return.  It never has in that same fierce way, yet when I listen to people who suffer from such a devastating horror I can empathize with that pain, that emptiness and loss, and I've discovered that simply by listening one is able to ease their darkness a bit.  When I became physically disabled a bit, still trying to escape the wheelchair, I was told, "Well at least you still have your legs - others do not."  This was supposed to make me feel better?  I never felt more blessed knowing others were far worse!  What an odd thing to say.    

I can only add that, the next time you feel sad about something, imagine not being able to feel anything at all.         


Who's The Puppeteer?

Remember that 3-hour tour Gilligan and friends took which lasted into years of syndication?  I had one of those myself the other day when visiting my elder but spry aunt, who thinks she's a puppet.  She does, really.  So an hour can feel like five.  In every other way she's completely lucid, logical and pleasant, she can care for herself, she drives, shops, does everything I can, but she believes she has strings attached to almost every appendage and will take to muttering, "You're pulling that string too hard!"  Okay, well she's my late father's sister and I love her, but if I tell her she has no strings pulling on her arms and legs she may decide I must be insane and never speak to me again.  Not that we haven't tried - over the last 10 years she's had this strange hallucination, we've taken her for a CT-Scan as well as a psychiatrist yet nothing seems to be wrong - except that she's a puppet and no one dares contradict her.  So I have a puppet for an aunt.  I'll adjust. 


Monday, June 12, 2006

Why Do Humans Age?

Nature certainly has it all fixed, I'd say.  No matter what we do, our genetic blueprint will dictate what happens to us and when.  Which gives me pause to think:  Insects, especially bees, ants, they all die soon after procreating.  It's their main purpose.  In fact, all animals seem to have that purpose, to reproduce for as long as possible, then quickly die.  They don't hang around in that limbo called "old age".  Not like the human animal, who can choose whether or not to have young, and can even choose how they age.  Humans are the only mammals who grow into older age for no natural reason (you have to be coldly analytical here) and contribute nothing of substance to the commune.  I know, it rings of the icy logic of nature.  But is it true?  Once we have children, and they are sufficiently weaned from us, why do we continue living?  What force of nature keeps us alive into our 70's, 80's?  It's not an inviting life, either.  Like other mammals we're prone to bone loss, heart disease, cancerous cells, a plethora of illnesses which cost us dearly, emotionally, financially, spiritually.  So why do we age, while others species never do?

The elephant, now there's a similar example of growing old for no viable reason, and yet there's a very good reason, which I'll explain.  It takes almost 3 years for the baby elephant to gestate, and if it's female, remains with its mother for the rest of her life, having babies of her own.  The male is rarely tolerated and must leave the herd when fulled weaned, going off to find his fortune, perhaps starting his own herd.  The elephant lives a long time in comparison, over 70 years, well past the time to procreate.  So why does it live on?  In studying these wondrous creatures it's found that the aged and elder of the herd are always the decision-makers, the keepers of the health of the commune by not allowing rogue elephants to mate with the females.  They preserve the viability of the genetic health of the herd.  They lead the young to water, when none can be found.  They show the young where to migrate for the best grasses.  They teach the ways of fending off predators, and in their numbers they form a true family bond, eagerly followed by the young.  So the elephant world has a use for its elder members.  Why are others different?

Look to the ape family, the closest to our own species.  When a female is past the age of bearing young, she is tolerated for a short time by the pack, but only by her relatives, then left to fend on her own.  Ignored and left out of special feedings when meat is available, she soons starves or dies of disease.  Yes, apes eat meat on occasion, usually monkeys.  But the point is, once you can no longer give anything of import to the pack, you're considered a burden, and because you're older you are susceptible to all the illnesses we humans are, including SIV, the simian form of HIV.  None of the wisdom you may've collected in your life is of any use, since nature sees with its cold icy eye that having you around is more trouble than not.  Is this starting to sound a bit familiar?

The human animal ages if allowed to live healthy, born without disease, and lives in the proper environs.  In aging, we acquire illness and disease making it a burden for us to live, and for others to care for us.  The total wisdom collected in our lives is rarely respected, if even tolerated.  And yet, the Asian people see their elderly as honored living treasures, and treat them accordingly!  What's wrong here in the west, why do we fear aging so?  Perhaps because it's the harbinger of death, and that's a state we only hope is not some oblivion since we have no proof at all that our molecules won't dissipate into the atmosphere when our bodies decay.  We cling to our faith in a Special Being, a God, who will welcome us (who will we be when we die though?) yet it's easier to believe than not to.  We know in our hearts there's a chance our Judeo-Christian God may not be what we imagine, and the afterlife is something so alien to how we think now that it's just unimaginable, using the limited brain power we have.  This tableau frightens many into offering prayer to something they don't really believe in but would rather not chance the prospect of oblivion, so they believe in what they're told is true.  

This can have nothing to do with religion, it's about the cold, clear waters of science and nature.  Belief in God is something that comes from the spirit or soul, and we choose to believe because it comforts us.  No matter how many times I pray to God, meditate on what He is, I cannot explain Him.  But I understand nature and can explain that, still it puzzles me why nature allows the human to continue on into old age if for no other reason than we can.  People live so much longer now, is that natural?  Hasn't anyone noticed how many humans are on this planet compared to other species?  And in that regard, what about habitat?  Most animals require a certain amount of space to live a normal, healthy life.  Except humans, who demand the whole planet as their habitat, and not content with that have propelled our bodies far into space, to explore other worlds.  I know of no other creature who only truly needs a small amount of space to live but demands all of the planet and then some.  We even rob the habitats of other species to use for ourselves, and end up misusing that space by trying to farm it.  Why would such a life form be allowed to procreate at will, take up all the space they can buy or steal, and the big question, live for such a long, long time?  I feel in my bones that nature will win out in this question, and someday humans may be confronted with the hard fact that, as a species, we may not be as successful as we think, after all.        

For The Good And Generous Hearts

Look at you all out there, going about your day, giving not a thought to the sweet favor you did for me.  You all helped a friend of mine, new to J-Land as I am, get acquainted with names and Journal links and all she'll need to help her get started.  I thank you with all my heart, truly.

Remembering when I started a few months ago, I didn't know what I was writing things down for.  Was it a cathartic exercise to clear the ancient cobwebs of old emotions?  Or to show off the bright, new feelings of this stage in my life?  Perhaps it was just to make contact with others, and in seeing all the good, kindly people I now know, I can only hope you understand the extra dimension your sincere friendship has brought into my life.  For all the good and generous hearts, I humbly offer my gratitude.   

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Quotes of the Quotable Part Two

"Live like you were dying, die like you were living."  Anon.  

"BE the change you want to see in your life."  M. Gandhi

"Belief, like any other body, follows the path of least resistance."     R.W. Emerson  

"We live in an age when unnecessary things are our only necessities."   Oscar Wilde

"Love is too young to know what conscience is." Shakespeare 

"Never trust the advice of a man in trouble."  Aesop

"Old people like to give good advice, to console themselves for not being able to set a bad example." Rochafoucauld

"Man's loneliness is but his fear of life."  Eugene O'Neill

"I would die for my country but I would never let my country die for me."  Neil Kinnock

"No war is worth fighting except the last." J. Enoch Powell

"A friend is a single soul dwelling in two bodies." Aristotle

It's not how far you've come that matters.  It's how far you've come from where you wereGerman proverb

"What's wrong with being a boring guy?"  George W. Bush

"Shooting a flying bird is as bad a shooting all birds.  The last is as good as the first."    Ernest Hemingway

"An atheist is someone who probably believes in God but just doesn't like Him."   csr

"Poverty is not a shame; being ashamed of it is."   English Proverb  

"In her first passion, a woman loves her lover.  In all others, all she loves is love."   Lord Byron

"Man needs to adore and obey, but if you do not command him, if you give him nothing to worship, he will fashion his own divinities and find a chieftain in his own passions."  Benjamin Disraeli

"Love is the law; love under will."  Alistair Crowley

"Give me a place to stand and I will move the Earth."  Archimedes





















Wednesday, June 7, 2006

"The Last Of The Wine" Written 1972

(Written in 1972 while in an abbey on retreat.  I had "found" a bottle of sacraficial wine, and being young and bored, took to my little cell and reflected thus:)


I lie here dying in a hundred small ways

from voices crying out my name down endless hallways;

and the clock keeps ticking, eating up the time,

and I'm down to the last of the wine.

My eyes are amazed at the movement my hand makes

while reaching out to the disappearing handshakes,

and the room keeps spinning, slowly in my mind,

and I'm down to the last of the wine.

I sleep on my back, all through the night

and dream of dying, lost in the sunlight

floating on cloudy mists, feather-fine,

I'm still drunk on the last of the wine.

As familiar shadows of the morning start to harden,

I rise up singing to the angel in the garden.

Some sweet and silent angel of another place and time

who sees that I've had enough wine.




Sunday, June 4, 2006

"Never Again To Know"

Gazing upon you, I cannot help but wonder

     at this thing I do,

     dwelling on that precious touch

And how far away is that pleasure.

I am told by those who live to teach

     that if it is not without your grasp,

     do not attempt to reach.

Could I listen to them? They say wisdom is a treasure.

Still, there you are, and here I be,

     fearing not the slightest reason

     has gotten through to me;

For where you are concerned, I lose count

     of the seasons.

And even in my fairest of senses, cannot choose

     to find what condenses this pain

     of what I know all too well to be

Never to gaze upon your face, again. 

"Self-Pity Needs To Vent"

I'd like to have a day of joy

without the debt to pay for it -

A motivation to go on,

without having to pray for it.

Still, I've had my laughing days,

and all of them realistic -

a favorite joy : at stars I'd gaze

each single glow magestic.

I've loved a many, loved them well,

they tried to lift my heart -

Like angels they would round me dwell

And still I'd feel apart,

The joy in life, I tried to find,

but only put on airs,

My father brought me peace of mind -

my mother taught me prayers.

Though some are born to melancholy,

quite at home with grief,

I always felt I'd fall away

just like a loosened leaf.

It's not a story sad to tell

for I made many glad,

whether music, art, or poetry

I gave the gifts I had.

But this is just a pity-poem,

it needs its venting, too -

and though my state of mind will change, 

I share it now with you !                                                                                    



"No Casket For Me, Please"

Lay me down in a bed of grass     

when my body dies, that it may pass

deep into the essence of

this glorious earth I do so love.

       But until that time:                       

My heart gives rise to the high places, 

how transcendent is God in these spaces!   

Where trickster breezes weave through my hair, 

and the miracles of Life are everywhere. 

         Then soon:                                                          

As a falling leaf my cheek doth kiss,  

This life, I know I'll sorely miss;

so when you note that long, last nod,

just place me in the soft, green sod.     




Saturday, June 3, 2006

"Small Knowledge"

Here is a bit of wit from me:

Life is as a battering ram

with the strength of a feather.

Which is to say, it is whatever

can be loosened or dammed;

It is what you set it up to be.


Thursday, June 1, 2006

Family is Fortune

I didn't always care for them, and certainly they barely understood me, but between the eight of us and the misfortunes of Fate, gradually we were forced to lean upon each other, my siblings and I, when we recently became orphans in the storm.  None of us have another to answer to but ourselves. It's the most hoped-for yet disturbing set of circumstances. Who are these people who have my features, some my timbre of voice, others my eyes, still others my love of music and all things baroque?  

By this time I know each personality well, and honestly find I have favorites, others seem to just appear at family functions.  Now that no parent exists to feed into our guilt, we're finding our places in the line of family, our purpose without a parent, who we are alone and unaided.  It's a pleasing, most surprising realization to be able to say that all eight of us have come to a wondrous place of truth, where we now see each other through new eyes of love and need.  This was unexpected ...

So I lean upon you, my siblings, and invite you to place your burdens upon me, while together we attempt to traverse this part of our lives, orphans though we be.  Yet we're all the stronger for the newly discovered love we have for each other, now when it's needed most as in all things true.  I now see clearly my own reflection in your lives, and hope my own life does you honor, as we live it to the full.