Thursday, June 06, 2013

Two Sentences That Say It All

From The Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos, by Brian Green:
"The skyscraper is but a physical realization of the information contained in the architect's design.
"From this perspective, the universe can be thought of as an information processor." 
Of course. 

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Purposeful Leisure

This is the brief description of the life I want to have
I want to live in an environment of leisure, but I want to use my leisure time purposefully
I want to give back to the world
I want to practice – with my mind, my hands, my back – the art of charity, the art of assistance, the art of giving.
I want to feel that I have made a positive difference in people’s lives


I have and have had an amazing life.
I live in a beautiful part of the world, in a comfortable house.
I have a job that allows me to pay my bills and to own and do everything I want to do.
I have a wonderful, loving wife who supports me whether or not I give her reason to
I have a beautiful, wonderful daughter who will grow into a happy and productive adult
I have an extended family and friends who love me for the person they see in front of them, not the person I have stressed over not being
I have so much
I am grateful for all that I have

Thrift and Abundance

It is important to understand that these are not contradictory concepts. The one leads to the other; the one supports the other.
We can achieve abundance if we practice thrift.
This may mean that we do things that contradict our preconceptions: Wear a shirt that belonged to someone else, buy and repair a broken appliance rather than a brand new one; serve dinner on a mismatched variety of plates and eat it using an abundance of mismatched cutlery.
We can create abundance if we practice thrift.

Sunday, April 01, 2007


What occurred in our family that led us to this program?
The way I generally describe it is that our daughter had "too much sex, drugs and rock-and-roll at an early age."
She became an addict -- I use the term in a generalized way because the addictions ranged from cutting to bulemia to alcohol to drugs. She was having sex and smoking cigarettes as well, but I don't know if she was "addicted" to either of those -- understanding addiction to mean a dependency that is destructive to other aspects of life.
Where did this come from? While parents don't deserve and can't take all of the blame for a child's choices, I do believe that my decision to take up smoking again, after an eight-year lapse, had some effect on the way my daughter looked at substance abuse. I remember how upset she was the night she caught me smoking a cigarette in the back garden of our house. She had always known that I was a non-smoker. This event disrupted a major belief for her, I think. Was it the "cause" of her later addictions? Surely not. I cannot cause another to become an addict any more than I can cause another to become an athlete or a scholar. But by bringing on a traumatic event in her belief system, I think I had something to do with setting the scene for her to "try" dangerous behaviors and substances.
Nicotine has been the most serious addiction in my life. I've tried lots of other drugs and even enjoyed a few of them, but nicotine is the one that has followed me around and that I have, in turn, followed around. Thirty years and running. It is behavior that I once nearly changed (that eight-year break, brought on by my daughter's birth) but that once I slid back into an old pattern, I have not been able to fully break from. I can spend months away from cigarettes, and I don't seem to have much trouble giving them up initially, but I always seem to head back to them.
Believing as I do that a part of conquering additions is will power, I know that I need to practice my belief. I know I do not want this nicotine addiction (I say nicotine, but I'm actually not sure if it isn't just the behavior pattern of smoking rather than the drug nicotine that I am attracted to) in my life when my daughter returns home from her residential program.
I guess I am in the initial stage of looking at my addiction. I'm not resistant, I am open, and I want to have a different family life and am willing to look internally to get there.
Music: One question in this week's assignment asked us parents to look at our music and what might act as triggers for our teens. My daughter and I do share some musical tastes. Beck, Pink, Maroon 5, Nelly, Eminem. Eminem is the only one of these that gives me pause, because I do suspect that his lyrics led her to try some negative behaviors. Not that I think Eminem's music is the culprit -- I mean, listen to his songs and you hear a major theme of parental irresponsibility and easy blame on the culture -- but I'm not sure the kids get that theme, and I suspect that at least one type of substance abuse in my daughter's case, Vicodin, came from Eminem's lyrics about it.
I want to go through my daughter's music collection and mine with her to understand what her trigger music was. She has (had) a lot of musical tastes I do not share -- Linkin Park, Rom Zombie, My Chemical Romance, etc. -- that may have been her strongest triggers.
I also want to understand how she got so much music -- was she shoplifting, as I suspect? Or was she making money on the side, dealing drugs or sex? All part of the continuing journey toward understanding.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Some Artists I Admire

A list of personal favorites, for no good reason other than that I would like to write about them:
  • Ezra Pound
  • Louis Sullivan
  • Claude Bragdon
  • Francesco Borromini
  • John Coltrane
  • Billie Holiday
  • Pola Negri
  • Joni Mitchell
  • Charles Ives
  • Tennessee Williams
  • Eugene O'Neill
  • Jorge Luis Borges
  • Caravaggio
  • Eugene Delacroix
  • Charles Dickens
  • Thomas Hardy
  • Victor Hugo

What links these artists, besides my taste for their work? Perhaps it is that all are -- to some extent -- difficult and challenging artists, whose work has been controversial, whose aims have outreached their grasps, who in different ways have been misunderstood, neglected, undervalued.

In my eyes, at least.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

A Note On Identity

From Sepharad by Antonio Munoz Molina:
The most burdensome aspect of our identity is based on what others know or
think about us. They look at us and we know that they know, and in silence they
force us to be what they expect us to be, to act according to certain habits our
previous behavior has established, or according to suspicions that we aren't
aware we have awakened. To the person you meet on a train in a foreign country,
you are a stranger who exists only in the present.

Brilliant, I think. We set the traps with our own behavior. Others police those traps and force us to remain inside them.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Don't Take Anything Personally

From The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz:
"Whatever you think, whatever you feel, I know is your problem and not my
problem. It is the way you see the world. It is nothing personal, because you
are dealing with yourself, not with me. Others are going to have their own
opinion according to their belief system, so nothing they think about me is
really about me, but it is about them.
"You may even tell me, 'Miguel, what you are saying is hurting me.' But it
is not what I am saying that is hurting you; it is that you have wounds that I
touch by what I have said."

Never thought of it that way.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Can We Stick to the Subject?

This week's assignment was to pay attention to how people listen to me. Also, to understand the devices I use to get people to pay attention.
Much harder than to pay attention to how I listen. I gave it a good try.
Here's what I found. Since I am a person who does best when conversations are kept on topic, short and to the point, I find that I tend to do that with others. In meetings, I resist attempts to "open up" the discussion to topics not on the agenda. As soon as I get an opportunity, I try to summarize what I have heard others say and then move the conversation back to the topic we started out to discuss.
I find I do this in personal conversations as well as business conversations. I am not good with "changing the subject." I want things in focused, manageable portions.
Does this work?
In business, it does, generally, as long as the meeting started out with an agenda or topic. They understand the statement that we need to get back to the topic we planned to discuss. I have found little resistance, although sometimes people struggle to get in a final word about the "side" topic before they agree to move back to the main topic.
In personal conversations, it's more difficult to do. People want to be heard, and many people tend to ramble. Since I find I have little patience for this, I am sure that I offend people by displaying that in various ways (losing focus, looking or sounding bored, looking for opportunities to end the conversation).
Empathetic listening was not one of my strong points, so I guess it makes sense that I don't particularly look to strike empathy when I am speaking to others. I want others to pay attention to me on the topic I started out to discuss.
Do I need to work on my ability to tolerate "chit-chat"?