Posts Tagged ‘philosophy’

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Philosophy Tuesday

October 1, 2019

Let’s dive deeper into the Storytelling post from Sunday, for there’s a lot of good stuff to explore that goes way beyond the stories we find on the printed page, stage, screen, or even those shared around the campfire.  We can take the concept and begin to examine the ever-present stories and narrators that surround us every day, including the most important – the ones in our head.

Simply put, many of the things around us that we take for granted open up and take on whole new meanings when we look at the framework that surround them rather than the thing itself.

This is especially potent to dovetail it with the conversation about systems and on the notion of the path(s) of least resistance.  These systems, be they writ large or the very personal, are mostly never derived in a vacuum; instead they come about, evolve, and are kept in place by notions and narrations.  So too is the same that keeps them in place, reliably producing the same outcome over and over again, even and especially when that outcome is, to one degree or another, deleterious.

This is also a great concept to fortify against false dichotomies.  “It can only be this or this” is not only missing the vast possibilities of both our capacity but also the variations of the universe, but it is also weaponizing a tightly woven narrative that forcibly limits the conditions as to make a binary outcome inevitable.

I’ve long been fond of noting, “We talk about the economy like it’s gravity.”  That is, we talk about it like it is a, or maybe the, fundamental physical force in the universe over which we have no choice but to do its bidding.  Except, when look through a telescope at the cosmos, or when we look through a microscope at the micros, we find no evidence of “the economy” shaping things.  It is the narrative that creates the container we’re in and that turns it into “This is the way it goes; this is the way it has to go.”

As ever, little is truly inherent.  Contexts, however, can make it seem like so.  By bringing mindfulness, inquisitiveness, and a little literary wonder we can read beyond the lines to see the author’s hand at work, freeing us to see things more broadly and more clearly.  Whether in determining who we know ourselves to be as an individual, or who we know ourselves to be as a society, or as a species, the constraints melt away and we’re open, ready to write our more perfect future.*

 

* Which, of course, in turn we can, at a later time, revisit and see the additional “author’s hands” that were perhaps invisible to us at the time, letting us once again go beyond to write an even more perfect future… and on, and on, and so on.

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Philosophy Tuesday

September 24, 2019

Tonight in comic form…

Absolutely wonderful.  Pair it with previous posts on Mr Rogers, including what he gave and how deep into our hearts he saw.

Comic by Twistwood, based on a post by Matthew Wisner.

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Philosophy Tuesday

September 17, 2019

There was a story I heard some years ago about Australia*, and drought.  In that there had been this stretch of years of quite severe drought.  Things were tough, many faced hardship, and it just went on, and on, and on.  Until they found an interesting way to end the drought:  they introduced legislation that said it was not a drought.

Which, admittedly, at first sounds like the ultimate in shenanigans:  It’s a drought, it’s physical, you can’t just paper law it away!  But once you let it sink in, you get that what they were saying was simply this:  “This is not a drought.  This is [the new] NORMAL.”  They weren’t tying to legislate the physical universe.  They were recreating their relationship with said universe.  They were being present and reforming their realities:  “We have been operating under a fantasy, that there is, and should be, more water available to us.  But that is not so.  This is what there is.  Let us now act accordingly.”

And boom, from then on, rather than creating systems, building things, and living life as one might in a water rich place, and then trying desperately to do with less and suffering all the way, they instead could design, create, build, and live in ways that handled, managed, and used the water that was there in reality to its fullest.  They could treat water with the respect it needed.**

We can do the same thing in our lives.  We may have feelings, upsets, barriers, insecurities, and places where we experience failure that keep showing up, causing hindrance and hardship.  And we keep thinking – hoping – that one day it or they will end.  Because that’s how it should be. ***

Yet, there it is, remaining, as persistent as that drought.  And so we can declare for ourselves The [New] Normal, giving us a baseline from which we can stop resisting.  We can let what is be, and in so doing gain freedom.  We stop being controlled by it and instead gain the space to say “Ok, here’s what’s so.  What’s possible?  What’s next?”

From that new frame and with peace of mind we begin our new path, leading us to greener pastures and worlds of abundance.

 

* To which I will be upfront and state that I cannot be sure I’m remembering it right or the interpretation I heard about it was right… and reading the Australian Department of Agriculture’s webpage on drought policy is not entirely helping me determine if it is accurate or not.  The action that took place in 2008 during the National Review of Drought Policy could be it:  “The review found that drought conditions in Australia were likely to occur more often and be more severe. It also recommended that drought assistance programs be restructured to help farmers prepare for drought rather than waiting until they are in crisis to offer assistance.”  That said, whatever the specifics are what I took from the story (as expounded above) is still entirely relevant, and powerful as an entryway to and for transformation.

** And I would say deserved.

*** And it’s not to say those areas can’t be transformed; they most certainly can be.  But sometimes the very attachment we have to it not being there is what gets in the way of us transforming it and allowing it to disappear.

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Storytelling Sunday

September 15, 2019

“…our relationships with works of art, particularly those that have a massive impact on us, changes as time goes on.  The things that inspire you at 16 probably won’t inspire you or at least in the same way at 26 or 36 or any age past that.  And even if something has soured in your mind, mocking it wholesale seems more a sign that you still need it, and less like you recognize its flaws while appreciating the role it played in your life.”

— Andrew Saladino

I really like what Andrew creates in his video essay on outgrowing movies (and outgrowing art in general).  The whole trope/idea/action of “growing up = trashing what you liked before” is unfortunate.  Perhaps it is a misunderstanding of the phrase “you must leave things behind”?  Either way, outgrow is a much healthier word:  “I used to like that and it used to hold meaning for me.  Now, it doesn’t in quite the same way.  While it may not be perfect as I remembered it, it still shaped who I am, and I can revel in my excitement for it back then.  I can let it lie in the middle ground and go forth boldly.”

And for those times we revisit something and it is everything that we remember it to be — and sometimes revealing itself to be even more meaningful now?  Then its time to dance on the rooftops in unbridled excitement!

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Philosophy Tuesday

September 10, 2019

“Fortune favors the prepared, dahhling.”

So says the inimitable Edna Mode.  And, on the whole, it’s a statement I very much subscribe to.  It is not enough to want something, or hope for something – we, quite likely, need to work for it.  Learning, creating, rehearsing, adapting, overcoming our barriers and then building the path step by step.  And when something goes awry, as things invariably seem to do, being prepared gives us the wherewithal to right the ship and get things back on course to what we want.

But in that quote, and similar ones like “Fortune favors the bold,” there’s something we often miss.  And it’s that second word: “Favors.”  It’s not guarantees, it’s not promises, it’s not even “agrees to help you.”    It’s favors.  Chance (and/or luck) always remains a factor.  A big factor.  And while being prepared can increase our chances, it’s still remains a roll of the dice.*

When we acknowledge and own that, we gain freedom.  We can be kinder and gentler to ourselves.  We can put aside our assessments of where we are versus where we wanted (or “should”) be, especially in comparison to others.  We can avoid sentencing ourselves to being a failure, and carry forth under that shame.**

More importantly, we can also judge others with greater grace and generosity.  We can set aside our dismissals and opinions on their lives and all the reasons why things aren’t going well for them, and we can forego all the ways we might treat them harshly because of it, be it shunning, punishing, ridiculing, or anything of the like. **

Even the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry, and even a mouse sized setback or unexpected hindrance can spiral into another, and another, and another.  To be fortunate requires fortune to favor us, and that is never a certain thing.   Living into that context brings with it peace of mind, connection, and opens possibility, freeing us to pursue and to support each other in pursuing those things that call to us deeply.

 

*  Which is something many a tabletop gamer can relate to.  It doesn’t matter if you have +12 to hit… you may still miss.  And then there was the time where the DM, at the end of the campaign, after so many sessions, with the ultimate and final roll about to be made, and after long and theatrical preamble, told the player, “Look, basically just don’t roll a 1.”  By the very fact I’m using this as an example for how fortune can fail us, you and I both know I don’t need to describe what happened next…

** At the same time there is the flip side.  For ourselves, there is humility – acknowledging our fortune and that sometimes privilege gave us a boost – and not becoming conceited and hubristic.  When looking at others, we can remember that those who have accomplished much (or acquired a lot of wealth) are not necessarily or inherently better people, worthy of worship and imitation.

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Philosophy Tuesday

September 3, 2019

What we really want is often hindered by “I can’t get/have it.”

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So we focus on other things that are “not right.”

We fixate on all the wrongs,

As a way of surviving a world where “what I want is not possible.”

We blame, we martyr, we loathe.

And we take all those other things,

And make them part of our identity.

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If we can’t get what we want,

Then we react to it,

Often in an angry or forceful or violent way.

We try to gain agency any way we can.

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Assholism generally comes from feeling thwarted.

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Philosophy Tuesday

August 27, 2019

“Here’s the thing: neither one of those facets of Campbell cancel the other one out. Just as it’s not true that any amount of good deeds done for some people can repair the harms he visited on others; it’s also true that none of those harms cancel out the kindnesses he did for the people he was kind to.

Life is not a ledger. Your sins can’t be paid off through good deeds. Your good deeds are not cancelled by your sins. Your sins and your good deeds live alongside one another. They coexist in superposition.

You (and I) can (and should) atone for our misdeeds. We can (and should) apologize for them to the people we’ve wronged. We should do those things, not because they will erase our misdeeds, but because the only thing worse than being really wrong is not learning to be better.”

Cory Doctorow  (emphasis theirs)

 

(Lots of good stuff in that quote.  The layer that’s really caught my attention is how we often all to easily get caught into paying attention to an equation game and trying to maintain and/or balance this supposed ledger rather than the important part: apologizing and learning.  Apologies are immensely powerful, for everyone involved, including the one apologizing.  Apology is what creates the clearing for both learning and for reconciliation and reconnection.  It is what “erases” things.

It is exhausting, both mentally and soul-ly, to have to constantly maintain track of everyone’s score (based on our judgements), and even more so, of our own scores.  “Did I do a thing to erase that thing I think I did bad with the other week?  But then they did this other thing that I think is bad, which therefore reduces the thing I did, and then I also gave them that, and really that should cancel this other thing out, so I think I’m at a +1 right now, which gives me the right to expect this….”

Foregoing the binary mindset of good/bad, and the relative levels thereof, are what allows for mindfulness, apology, transformation, love, and peace of mind.)