Remembrance Great and Small

Next time you start feeling uppity, remember the Ring Nebula. It’s an exploding star that is millions of miles away. Since it is blowing up, it’s expanding. Astronomers can measure these things and say that the Ring Nebula expands at a rate of 43,000 miles an hour. That’s a million miles a day. Can you imagine such a thing? Can you imagine that our universe is so indescribably huge and wonderful (I’m mean, really, how can you describe this with our meager language and understanding?)  It’s amazing and helps me keep my little troubles in perspective.

That’s not to say that our lives and worlds are without meaning. As wonderful as an exploding star is, it’s not nearly as important to me as a sick child or a cup of coffee with my wife. But, sometimes, it’s good to remember that the universe rolls on in mysterious and enormous ways.

 

There is no such thing as stress…

There’s no such thing as stress…

If there were, it would be bleeding out of my eyes right now.

But I remember something that my old nemesis Wayne Dyer used to say:

There is no such thing as stress. There is only you responding to the things going on around you.

I thought about this today listening to someone talk about how our cells vibrate to an unhealthy energy when we are stressed. Good gawd. Look. I’ve been stressed. I’m stressed right now. For all I know, I will be unemployed in a week. Certain issues at work will very soon be worked out and I haven’t a clue yet as to what that will look like. Will the supervisor take the fall for the group’s issues? It wouldn’t be the first time.

But stress has nothing to do with energy or vibrations or past-lives or your mother hitting you with a ruler. It has something to do with life and luck. It has mostly to do with your decisions and your behaviors.  You know how to resolve these situations? Decide now to make the right decision. Get help seeing clearly if you need to. Move. Move in any direction and then reassess. Then move again. Write down what good looks like for you then write out all the steps you need to get there.

So, quit vibrating. You can’t see clearly with all that shaking, anyway. Think about what’s solid and secure and true. And then stick to that script. Make a decision. Do something.

See Beware – Little Things Become Big Things here.
See a post about Priming and Focus  here.

Cheers!

 

Change Your Mind, Change Your Life?

Change Your Mind?

I’ve wondered lately (here and here) about why people live with broken things. What do you have laying around? Broken appliances? A toaster with only one working slot? Clothes that don’t fit? A cabinet drawer that doesn’t slide? Why don’t we take the time to fix these things? What would it take for us to change our mind and quit living with broken stuff? This led me to wonder about broken relationships: is there a correlation between your overflowing junk drawer and the health of your marriage? If you put up with a broken heater in your car are you more prone to put up with something less in your relationships? I’m don’t know. But it’s worth the thought.

The other side of that coin is that we can change our minds about these things. But can we?

I’ve been having a conversation with a so-called intelligent design adherent and author. We’re talking about new research regarding bacteria that grow new flagella over a weekend after having the protein that regulates flagellum construction knocked out.

Facts Don’t Seem To Matter

The research is interesting – I argue that it’s a prime example of a mutation adding something positive to a genome – but I’m fascinated at how both of us present the same information and ‘arrive’ at different conclusions. I emphasize ‘arrive’ because I wonder if either of us is truly looking hard at the evidence? Maybe we are just regurgitating our biases. He would have to argue against his own book to agree with me. I would have to shuffle off my standard evo-devo arguments to agree with him. I don’t like thinking that I do this but how many times have you ever really listened to someone and weighed what they were saying and then changed your minds to agree with them? I’m in that same boat.

In this case, I’ve tried to stop and observe my reasoning. I’ve written down each step in the research finding and asked if this is reasonable. I think it is. In the end, I state that this shows how mutations can add information to the genome and increase fitness. My chatting partner looks at the same list and concludes that this can only be accomplished by a designer. Someone or something had to make this work this way. There is no way that this could happen without an intelligence behind it. When this kind of teleological glove is thrown down there is just no more room for discussion.

I’m not talking about decision making. This is easy. I’m talking about beliefs. I’m talking about the set of rules that you’ve glommed onto or slapped together that dictate your world view and how you live. We tell ourselves that we have examined the evidence and have come to a thoughtful position but that’s very rarely true. Instead, we get our ideas about right and wrong and truth from our genes, from our parents, our school, our culture, from the books we read, and from friends.

What About Beliefs?

The hardest thing I’ve changed my mind about was my Christianity. I was once an engaged Christian but now label myself as deeply agnostic.

And I’m not talking about the ‘I’m not religious, just spiritual’ canard. I live mostly as an atheist but argue hard that neither the theist nor the atheist can truly hammer down their argument to a firm conclusion. Religion seems increasingly untenable to me and, at least for me, the observation that no god exists seems most basic, natural, and fundamental.

There are other things that I almost forbid myself to think about. Abortion is one. My practical and reasonable mind tells me that abortion should be supported, and oftentimes, encouraged. But my doubts about any afterlife creates a loathing in me at the thought of taking life from anyone. I am strongly against capital punishment and feel queasy about abortion as taking away something too precious. I don’t want to be the arbiter of what life we value over another. I recognize my own inconsistency here. I eat meat and have dispatched plenty of research animals. If I’m wrong, and god is a rat, then I am in some serious trouble. I don’t hunt but have no real argument with it other than just killing for fun. So there are areas where I know I’m not consistent.

How about you? What have you changed your mind about?

Cheers!


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Annie Dillard Poking Fun

On the heels of yesterday’s post about Annie Dillard’s new book, I want to invite you to click over to her official website for a treat of the purple-coat variety.  When half of the internet adverts I see are for social media managers and SEO, it is absolutely refreshing to read someone who says No Thank You. And means it. And please respect her wishes that you avoid Wikipedia. “Unreliable,” she says.

For more fun, read this essay titled Church. It is classic Dillard but I point it out for this fantastic line:

It all seems a pity at first, for I have overcome a fiercely anti-Catholic upbringing in order to attend Mass simply and solely to escape Protestant guitars.

Cheers!


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Is It True About How We Spend Our Days?

 

Annie Dillard on Living Life

Yesterday I posted one of my favorite quips of good advice:

Whatever you do today is what you do.”

I can’t remember the source but a reader sent me a similar quote from Annie Dillard: “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend out lives.”

Following the Annie Dillard rabbit hole – it’s a Saturday and I’ve got a few minutes to wander leisurely – I found this wonderful essay written by William Deresiewicz titled Where Have You Gone, Annie Dillard? The essay is putatively a review of Dillard’s new book of essays The Abundance: Narrative Essays Old and New, but it is just as much a review of Dillard’s work over the last forty years. The essay captures Dillard’s genius and makes me want to go back and read every word she has written. I immediately dashed off a tweet to Deresiewicz and thanked him for the best ten minutes I’ve had in a very long time.

Not everyone enjoys Dillard – drat all fashion! She is sublime when writing about nature. Materialists will bristle, though, as under every gorgeously described husk of a dead dragonfly, she is searching for hints of god. Theists of a traditional sort will feel the same irritation. The god she seeks is not found in medieval scripts.  Whatever your view, I cannot for a moment imagine someone reading Ms. Dillard and not coming away enriched.

The Annie Dillard page on Amazon
Annie Dillard homepage where she tells the truth


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Can you stand on one foot? With eyes closed?

Can you stand on one foot? Easy, right?

Now try it with your eyes closed. You’ll probably tip over. Why?

Because you have no way to focus. When we need to balance, we instinctively focus in on something. A tree or a coffee table. It’s the same thing that dancers and ice skaters do in a spin. Focus on one spot, spin around, and come back to center.

Having a focal point gives an immediate response when we teeter.

Interesting thought for exercise and for life.

What do you stand for?

What Do You Stand For

Last night, after the kids were down and the dishes were put away, I plopped down onto the couch with my wife and watched fifteen minutes of the Bachelor opening. For those lucky souls who don’t know what this is, it’s another reality show where lots of high-drama people are tossed into a pot and stirred until said drama ensues. It’s predictable, silly, and mindless but millions of people tune in weekly and lots of commercial space is sold.

During the season opener, most of the lovelorn wannabes are given a couple of minutes to tell their story as they stroll through the streets of their town. One woman was from small-town Arkansas (what else is there in Arkansas?) and talked about her boutique and about how dreamy the bachelor is and then said something interesting: she capped her introduction by saying that life, for her based on her small town Arkansanian roots, revolves around ‘the three F’s of faith, family, and football.’

It sounds like a cliché but I wonder how many of us could funnel what’s important to us down so succinctly. And just how powerful it is to be able to lay it down with a slap on the table: this is what I stand for!

What do you stand for?


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Cheers!