Tag Archives: philosophy

The Power of Two Realities

20140314-132717.jpgOne particular night, I lay writhing in pain and in fear of the baby in my belly. It seemed to have “slipped” into a position that I knew was wrong, as if a stiff brick were lodged in my right side. It felt foreign, unconnected to my body, like an object wedged between thick layers of skin, and in a way it was foreign. It was my sister’s baby, not my own. You see, she couldn’t carry a baby and since I could, or thought I could, I did what any sister would do given the situation.

So there I lay, with this stiff brick-baby in the wrong part of my belly, writhing and fearful. I cried and cried. My pain wasn’t taken seriously, not by doctors, not by anyone. Maybe it wasn’t painful enough. I wondered how high the pain would escalate before someone would intervene.

On cold nights, I find refuge in my guest bedroom where I share a small bed, symbiotically, with my giant bulldog. He loves the company, I love to be warm. We begin in a sweet cuddle, his body curled and his heavy head resting sincerely in the crook of my legs. Within minutes he snores like an old drunken sailor and sprawls across the bed with his nethers far too close for comfort. Too big to move, I endure, for the sake of warmth.

On this particular night, when I lay writhing and fearful, crying and crying, I woke to the feeling of two giant bulldog legs lodged into my right side. They were kicking and running in their sleep, kicking and running into my belly.

The absurdity, the relief, the questions…

The kicking didn’t hurt, but in my dream, it produced anguish, fear, physical pain, disconnect, desperation. A physical outside force entered my body and caused it harm. I let my sister down, I failed, my physical body was incapable, I was desperately alone, yet, when in a split second those deep emotions were replaced with the sweet, sweet touch of a bulldog’s paw. He finished his run, stretched, and snored away like an old, drunken sailor. I lay there wondering how such a simple paw could do so much. I wondered if anything is really as bad, or as good, as it seems.

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Choices, Choices!

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I sit here, at a desk, typing about choices. Why do I type and why haven’t I chosen to walk to the shed, gather an axe, and work at felling the evergreen across the street? Why am I not strumming a banjo? Why aren’t I honing a furniture-making skill? Stealing money from an unsuspecting victim? Painting a woman’s fingernails? Painting a red tree with fingernails as leaves? Painting my portrait? Painting your portrait? I could paint your portrait, all you have to do is ask. Painting your portrait with spray paint on the street? Painting “I love broccoli” in Hindu on the street. Or on my house. On a man’s fingernails. On broccoli.

Sit still for this one moment and consider what you are doing. Are you sitting, standing, wearing a skirt, chewing tobacco, tapping your fingers, rolling your eyes at my words, eating jellybeans? Now, think about the trillions of other possibilities that exist, that you could choose to do, right now. You’ll blow your own mind.

Who Are You? A Little Monday Introspection

Sit back and take a few minutes for yourself:

What sort of person did you expect you would be? Have you become that person? In what ways are you different than expected?

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Does Everything Become Ordinary?

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I am consumed by the question, “Why do we tire of things?”  We tire of music, however shocking and original it was.  We tire of people who were once the brightness in our day.    Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring will never produce another riot.  A mini skirt lost the ability to offend.  We don’t notice art after being subject to a masterpiece for any length of time, even a terrifying Calder.

Alexander Calder painted a seven-legged dog with furious red teeth and eyes.  When I first positioned this animal adjacent to my couch, I had trouble sitting still.  While trying intently to read a page or nap in the sunlight, my eyes were pulled in the direction of this primary-colored dog. Always conscious of it, terribly afraid of it, I ended up abandoning the living room and took my reading and napping to the tiniest room in my apartment which, not coincidentally, was the farthest room from the Calder beast.  To avoid crossing its path, I began exiting my apartment through the back door, just in case.  Just in case of what I’m not sure, but since I’m incredibly reasonable, it is better to be safe than sorry.

Arriving home was a different story.  I’d carelessly bounce up the flight of stairs, let the door fly open, flick on the light, remove my coat and shoes, walk thoughtlessly halfway into the living room preoccupied by this or that, and stop dead in my tracks.  There it was.  The sneak attack.  That damn primary-colored snarling animal floating on my wall.  This happened for weeks, until I outsmarted it.  I learned to leave a nightlight on, to peek around the corner before disarming myself of my coat and shoes, just in case.  Just in case of what, I still wasn’t sure.

Gradually, its pounce began losing its punch.  I began exiting through the front door without fear, arriving home without a nightlight.  I napped deeply on the couch after particularly tiresome days, waking without fear.

I’ve since moved, and the Calder dog followed me.  There it hangs in my living room where I nap without hesitation.  I go days without noticing it.  Somehow, its teeth are not so sharp anymore, its eyes with earthly depth, its primal nature quelled.  I miss the terror I once felt of this now tamed creature.  I miss the mystery of such few colors and crude shapes.  I miss the ridiculousness of avoiding the beast.  It was exciting and new and unpredictable then, and because of this, I ask, does everything inevitably become ordinary?

Gratitude, Self-Doubt, and a Dog

A question was posed by blogger “Clarabelle” this morning about gratitude. What does gratitude feel like to me? While you toss that around in your own head for a few minutes, or visit her blog right here: Clarabelle, I will explain how I arrived at my answer.

My mission was to write an incredibly fabulous, poetic, and unique piece that would fetch large audiences who would all be in agreement about my brilliance. It would make people wonder how, or if, a mere human could create such perfection. They would argue that the author must be a team, as even the greatest wordsmith could never encompass such complexity in plain language. It would read as if it had always been written, always existed, and was just waiting for the right moment to be unveiled.

I sat there, at my desk, in a Mexican poncho, one slipper, drinking the sludgy, chalky bottom of very strong coffee.

While I waited for Brilliance to begin, Self-Doubt stopped by with breaking news. Self-Doubt couldn’t wait another moment to tell me that trying to fill a box for twenty years is just stupid, writing about it in a blog is even stupider, that I am my only audience, and that an illiterate child is more skillful at written language than I.

Whomp, whomp.

I closed my laptop. I replaced my slipper with two walking shoes, the Mexican blanket with a jacket, and filled my cup with coffee and cream. I set out for a walk, just me and my dog. I thought about Clarabelle’s question of gratitude. I thought about the beautiful red autumn leaves, the salty smell of ocean air, how it makes my hair feel, how Amy Hempel’s writing is so perfect and precise. I thought how truly happy my dog was to sniff the fallen leaves as he looked up at me with admiration and a wagging tail. I stood still, waves crashed, clouds slung low, a stranger smiled at my happy dog. I was so incredibly thankful for that moment.

Although I am not a seasoned professional writer, and many a novice is far more masterful than me, no one before me has ever created this combination of words. No one before me has experienced the beauty of the moment which inspired them. It is beautiful in and of itself.

Clarabelle, I thank you.

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Empty Space and the Problem with Permanence

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The problem with permanence is that if I were to secure the most precious thing inside the box and wrap it tightly forever, could it stay precious and will it still matter? Twenty years ago, in that heart-pounding moment, the acquisition of the box was all that mattered. Today, its contents are what matter. That fleeting moment of the heist exists simply as a unique combination of a few million synapses firing in my brain. The fleeting nature of everything exists in exactly the same way.

If I didn’t own this box, the tiny space it envelopes wouldn’t matter. Tiny spaces exist everywhere, without a need to fill them, so why is this space so important to permanently fill? Perhaps because the container’s sides, top, and bottom give the empty space a specific beginning and end, a border that defines where it is and where it is not. That in itself makes it special. Perhaps it shouldn’t be filled at all.

Empty space is incredibly important: empty space between spoken words can be an uncomfortable silence, a gentle poetic pause to emphasize meaning, or a moment to silently create the perfect combination of words. The unadorned empty space above a sofa can be boring and drab, or a space to rest your eyes from spaces filled with clutter.

Empty space: a silent bump that forces you to slow down and think of what isn’t, what could be, and what is; what’s missing, its potential, and appreciation.