Does the best hell come from other people?

I can easily recall the worst and best of times of my life. And they all involved other people. Some of the obvious picks are some people that are somehow in charge of some aspect of my life that I cannot simply get back. This mainly includes my surrounding environment. Such as repair shops. Or airline lost luggage counters.

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There’s no need for red-hot pokers. HELL IS OTHER PEOPLE!  This quote comes from Satre’s play “No Exit”. Satre’s existentialist stance did not make him a people person. But he threw one hell of a party. Or rather, his parties were in hell. 

I was trapped in a hellish situation one time. Like when I was trying to enjoy Avatar at the same time that the person beside me wanted to enjoy his fast food hamburger. The assault of all the senses over a period of an hour as he slowly relished his simulated food product (Condensed Reconstituted Artificial Product or “CRAP”).

First we start with the smell. This CRAP smells good for about one minute, then the same smell takes on new dimensions. All of them hell like. Imagine being trapped beside this slowly descending smelling piece of CRAP for the next hour.

Then there was the sound. The slow uncrinkling of paper. So stealth like. Perhaps he was hoping that no one was noticing his transgression of bringing in a foreign piece of CRAP. In any event, he unwrapped his CRAP so slowly that you wanted to grab it from him and fling it across the theater.

Next came the slow sound of slowly biting off a piece and slowly machinating the CRAP for the next minute. CRAP is basically predigested, so chewing would seem to be redundant. One would think this was prime rib that deserved the extra chewing assist just to savor the aroma.

The next sensation was touch. I didn’t actually touch the burger as so much as a piece of greenery flicked off of the paper and hit me. The next touch was only imagined. My fingers around his throat. But this never happened. My lawyer would have told me to stick with that amnesia approach.

Avoiding crappy people would be an easy to gain a level of happiness. But another level of happiness can come from people that can make you happy.

Why do Sinners make the best Saints?

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The most interesting Saints cover a broad spectrum. They transition from the generally bad state to sainthood state. Everyone likes the come from behind kid.

St. Augustine may have had the most sinful past. He fathered an illegitimate child. He eventually abandoned the child and the mother in the prospects of marrying a heiress. His mother, like almost all mothers, persisted that he repent. Eventually he did and turned to the priesthood. As a nod to his party past, he remains the patron saint of brewers. He apparently prayed for chastity, but not just not yet.

Ancient Rome subcontracted out tax collection to locals. These people were generally hated by all. Tax collectors notoriously extorted additional fees on top of the taxes. Even if they didn’t, they were seen as Roman collaborators.

Likely the most famous was St Matthew. Followers harangued Jesus for including roman collaborators.  Eventually St. Matt moved out the money collection business and into Sainthood. I think it is telling that ever since tax collection in the US started, no one working there has been raised to sainthood.

St. Mary of Egypt lived in Alexandria in the fourth century. She was a ‘seductress’. Some research suggests she was a prostitute. Other studies suggest that St Mary never charged for her services. She seemingly liked the challenge.

Fortunately, she joined a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. She did this apparently to either drum up more business or join what would have been the closest thing to the mile high club. Either way she managed to seduce everyone along the way. When she finally got to the holy site, she saw a statute of the Virgin Mary and repented. What must be the greatest turnaround in ancient history, she is now the Patron Saint against sexual temptation.

St. Angela spent most of her life seeking wealth, material possessions and pleasure. As an aside, I really didn’t like where this one was heading. She had several children but was still more interested in gathering possessions.

At 40 she realized the emptiness of her life. Unfortunately, her mother, children and husband died three years later. She sold everything and joined an order and became the patron saint of widows. Part of her tagline includes adulteress. I am not sure what they did for SEOs back then.

The Blessed Bartolo Longo started off as a devout catholic. He may have been looking for more immediate gratification and became a Satanic Priest instead. He joined the Dominican tertiary and helped college students learn about the avoiding the evils of the occult. We can only be thankful that there was no cool aid back then.
All of these people focused on the long game. This means there is hope for all of us.

<a href=”http://Saintly“>saintly sinners

Is happiness just a trap?

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Henry Thoreau said that the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. You can see it in the eyes of the men and women that commute to work on a daily basis. They have been consumed by the work that that they do. Most are looking for a way out, or they wonder if there is something more to life. This makes the pursuing happiness goal seem unattainable. Well, there is an easy answer. Just change the goal. If you are doing what you are doing by choice, then you must be happy. If you weren’t happy, and wanted to be happy, wouldn’t you be doing something else? Or at least trying?

That comes across as a bit mean as opposed to being helpful. Here’s an emoji to soften the wording.  🙂

Does happiness remain in one place like a tree in the forest, or does it race around like a retriever in the field? Does one pursue a tree? One normally chases a dog. The metaphors do not assist in the understanding. But pursuing something suggests that it tries to evade you. Police pursue suspects and leads. Perhaps happiness should be pursued as a thief in the night? Or even better, as a neighbour’s retriever making off with your favorite tree sapling.

The pursuit that people conduct may appear to be somewhat aimless. They shift from new hobbies, sports, religions, partners in order to find what may be missing from their lives and ask what the meaning of life is. But you should consider reversing the question and ask instead how to add meaning to your life. This does not mean adding hot sauce to your nachos as you continue to watch contrived reality TV. The term ‘fake’ has been ruined for me. Sorry.

The US Declaration recognizes certain unalienable Rights, which among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. So, no one guarantees happiness, but the government certainly allows you to pursue it. Up to a point. Public nudity always springs to mind. But back to the point, the government recognizes the journey as opposed to the destination. They held these truths be self-evident, basically meaning that it should be obvious. A little description may have helped future generations a fair bit of angst.

Back in 1776, happiness may have referred more to the Greek concept of Eudaimonia, the good life or flourishing. There has been a transition from the happiness of virtue to the virtue of happiness. Very convenient in a consumer based society if more stuff makes you feel happy.

“Greek class is tough!” If Mattel used that line, perhaps it may have saved itself a fair bit of grief and ridicule. The Greek approach to happiness through virtue can be tough.

In psychology, happiness refers to an emotional state of well-being ranging from contentment to intense joy.  The emotional state appears to be the more common usage today, so let’s go with emotion and virtue for now using another approach grooved into the population’s psyche.

The Happiness Pursuit shall be a topic for the next few weeks as we look at ways to travel down this path.

I TETHERED MY MIND ONE DAY, BUT BY THE TIME I GOT BACK, IT HAD WANDERED OFF

Unthethered Thinking

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This is not the same as losing one’s mind since I roughly know where it is when it managed to untether itself. I get texts every now and then. Credit card statements keep appearing. If I arranged a personal line of credit for it, then who knows where it might end up.

I have noticed that you can meet an old friend or acquaintance and predict fairly well how they will react? They can easily start with a good smile, handshake or hug, make good eye contact and start socializing? I have always admired that quality. I always make a mental list of things to do. Enter, smile, eye contact, ask some personal, but not too personal question, and then finally get on with what my purpose may have been otherwise. Of that short list of five things, I often get the order wrong. Perhaps someday.

I refer to this ability to react within a certain range of emotions or activities as being tethered. Someone you can depend upon to react or think in a certain way. It can be comforting. I seem to have to recall how I reacted or thought previously so as not to throw others too far off their stride.

When writing, always write about what you know. Or so I have read. So, obviously, I should know my own mind best. Or so I would hope. But, then how would anyone else know since I am writing this down.

When does a journey start? I suppose it does start with a single step. But when do you know when you are starting a journey as opposed to stepping out for a carton of milk? Both could be called journeys, but you would be reluctant to mark down the milk journey as being significant. Unless the milk journey turned into a real journey.

So the real journey probably began when I turned 35. Not a significant birthday, but I remember starting to read about a whole series of ideas looking for answers. I didn’t even know the right questions.

Sort of a C. W. Lewis approach. If you don’t know the question, then any answer will do.

I remember distinctly when the right question finally appeared. Joseph Campbell discussed the question in this Power of Myth series with Bill Moyer. The way Campbell phrased the question left a tattoo like print in my memory. Campbell said that we should not be asking about the meaning of life, but rather what does it mean to be truly alive.

Having a nice answer to that question right up front, would be somewhat anti-climactic. So, at the end of this story, as long as I remember to include it since it will several months before I work my way to the end, there will be a map. Follow the map to a man. This man will give you a key. Not a real key since who knows how many people will come along, so really it will just be more information. The information shall be key in sourcing some facts, leading to knowledge, and eventually wisdom.

This really means that no one has a hot clue on what the answers might be. So no, there is no map at the end of this story. Sorry if you flipped to the end to see. Good to see you back however.

So I wrote this to give some insights to things that surround us. Some of these things you may not care about at all, like free trade. But trust me, these things care about you. And they watch.

Many things impact how we think and ultimately what we do. I include essays on issues that occupy my mind and ultimately some of my behavior.

I enjoy writing of all types. I adhere to the concept that you must guide the reader as much as possible. If they stop and think, WTF, then you have made their work harder. But be prepared. Sometimes the logic process appears to drop out the bottom. Sometimes we may have to leap across small bottomless crevices. Sometimes I may tell you to run as fast as you can and don’t look back. During those times I am just kidding. This is just a story. What could possibly happen?

The unstoppable resolutions meet the unmovable realities

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Those mighty resolutions start to diminish ever so slowly.

Starting January 1st:

  1. No alcohol this January
  2. No processed foods
  3. Exercise daily
  4. Lose 20 pounds

The next week:

  1. Alcohol only on weekends
  2. Processed foods only when in a hurry
  3. Exercise every other day
  4. Lose 15 pounds

The following week:

  1. Alcohol every other day
  2. Processed foods only when too tired to cook.
  3. Exercise on the weekends
  4. Lose 10 pounds

By the end of the month:

  1. Only one drink at at time
  2. Processed foods cannot be avoided, succumb.
  3. Turn on TV and switch channels manually.
  4. Buy looser fitting clothing
  5. Be content with who and what I am