Saturday Posts . . .

Last night after my wife went to bed, I began to watch the movie “Gladiator” again. I’ve seen it many times before, but in light of the book I’ve been recently reading, I was impressed by one very simple moment early in the story in a whole new way.

In that scene, the lead character “General Maximus” notices a small bird perched on a branch not far from him just before his final battle as a general of the Roman Army. The bird notices him, also, and they look at each other for several seconds without any comment or action before the bird flies away.

As I watched that scene, several ideas presented themselves to me.

  1. Wild animals do not care about nations, religions, or political ideologies. They go where they will, do what they will, and have survived for aeons despite our best efforts to ruin the planet. No bird has to apply for a visa to enter a new country. No wolf has to explain to a government why it won’t remarry after it’s 1st spouse is killed. No bear ever had to apply for a license to catch fish for it’s cubs.
  2. Modern society almost never thinks about the welfare of any part of nature, and even when it does it either over reacts or discounts it entirely. We should learn to view ourselves as participants in nature, not the masters of it. We cannot survive by destroying the natural resources that provide the elements of survival we require – earth, air, fire, water – and FOOD.
  3. I’m well aware that many liberals would denounce the consumption of meat on numerous different principles – but there are things they have never addressed which are more compelling than all other arguments (imho). The prevailing theories of evolution state that we would have never developed the brain capacity to solve problems at the level we have if we had not begun to eat meat long ago. Will we continue to have such mental capacity if we stop eating meats? Also, our dental development is uniquely suited to both eating meat and vegetables, and finally, NO animal with both a small and large intestine is a vegetarian.

Opens the door . . .

I recently posted about a book that my dear friend and spiritual sister Anita suggested I read. Last night my wife asked me to help write the review the seller asked us to write from the website where we bought the book. The last line of the book review was, “Opens the door to the greatest challenge of your life.”

Well, that may not be true for everyone, but it is certainly true for me. I completely believe that the Toltec wisdom was on to something profound, but for me it presents a major challenge.

Until I was about 11 years old, I do not remember having any internal voice in my head. The book I’m reading (now for the 2nd time) calls that voice by a few different names, including “The Voice of Knowledge” and “The Prince of Lies”. Both are accurate – but as I was saying, I never heard that voice until I was about 11 years old. That was about the time I learned that I could use memory to replay music in my head without hearing it on a stereo or radio.

That was, for me, 48 years ago. Since then, that voice has progressed from being a jukebox to being an ever present companion. It is so constant that I never feel I’ve slept anymore. That voice presents dreams, illusions, fantasies, and evaluations of current events in my head during the hours I am trying to sleep. It never stops, and I never arise from trying to sleep feeling well rested. Plus, now that I’ve read this book, I have to ask myself one question – “How do I know the difference between truth and lies?”

Some things, with the help of the book, are almost easy. If a decision is based on fear or hate, it is based in a lie. However, there are other things that I consider that are harder to quantify. For example, I’ve seen X-ray and other evidence to support that my body’s bone tumor caused permanent damage. Is that true only because I believed the “medical professionals” who said it did that? What about the arthritis? The migraine headaches? Lies in our “Voice of Knowledge” can be inherited from others – so where do I draw the line? How do I go about proving what is real from what isn’t?

I’m starting to regret telling my wife to end the book review with the line, “Opens the door to the greatest challenge of your life.” It’s beginning to feel like a vast understatement.

My wonderful wife . . .

is a librarian. She spends all day, every work day, helping the university she works for to provide the best training she can, from her area of specialty. And she is VERY good at her job.

One of the factors of her job is a well-known situation called “publish or perish” – where if you are working for a non-private university and are faculty, you are required to publish to help the university improve it’s standing among all the universities. She has worked within that environment for the last 15 years, and has steadily improved her standing to reach the highest faculty standing she could hold without ever having to re-apply for it. Several times she has achieved an annual review rating of her performance as “Excellent” – which brought her the highest pay raise available to any faculty member that was available in that year.

This morning she told me that she’d had an idea for a presentation on the local campus for assisting new and experienced faculty to improve their applications for tenure or promotion, based on a new approach to gathering statistics to support the application. Not only was the presentation well received, but a former co-worker suggested she submit the concept to a national conference. The challenge, from her point of view, is that presentations to that conference have an INTERNATIONAL audience. She was, mildly, freaking out – because she’d just found out that her proposal to that conference had been accepted.

So, I walked up to her, put my arms around her, and while hugging her I reminded her of one of the teachings I learned from L. Ron Hubbard’s teachings. “The right person to assign the job of fixing a problem is the first one to realize that there is a problem.” She identified the problem, worked out the solution, and had already successfully presented it on the local level. She owns this. And if it happens to lead to international recognition, so be it. She earned it.

Last Saturday . . .

The most recent last Saturday, while I was sleeping, my wife was (as is her usual routine) running around town doing her grocery shopping.  When she got home, she started bringing in the groceries, only to find a potentially dangerous spider perched on the inner door handle of the back porch.  After some online research, she thought she’d identified it as a Brown Recluse.

So, she brought the groceries in through the front door.  I was still asleep, and never heard the scream she said she delivered when she saw the spider.  However, I’ve never had any reason to doubt her, so if she says she screamed, I believe she did.

Somewhere around 6 hours later, I woke up, and heard her tale about meeting the spider.  Since an exhaustive search didn’t locate it, I continued about my normal routine.  At around midnight, I noticed a need to take out the trash, and in the process of doing that, I had a very short but adrenaline fueled adventure!

You see, my wife saw the spider on the outside door handle of the inner door of our back porch.  When I was taking out the trash, I went (as is my normal habit) through the back door.  It’s the most direct route to the trash dumpster.  Only after I’d already opened the back door, and walked through it and closed it, did I remember her story to me about the spider.

Spiders are one of the very few life forms on this planet that I have anything approaching a phobia about.  To suddenly find myself halfway between safety and a potentially deadly spider, without having realized I was putting myself in the cross hairs before I got there, caused about 3 seconds of INTENSE panic.

The end result was, I finished taking the trash to the outside dumpster, and returned to the interior of our home, without having any problems of an arachnid nature..  However, it took six hours and several glasses of vodka before I could relax enough to try to sleep.