On Technology

I went to school back when technology was something people knew a lot about or a little, depending on what they did for a living. For example, the scientist, mathematician, artist, doctor or chef knew next to nothing about technology first-hand. Instead, they deferred to the philosopher, psychologist or economist to explain to them what tech was and where it was relevant. This may explain why doctors still know less about using technology than, say, a graphic artist. For the latter, like the architect, knowing how to use the latest technology is critical to what they do. For the physician, what is critical is what they know — what’s in their brains and how good they are at utilizing what they’ve learned/remembered from ‘practice’.

So tech has changed a great deal in 30 years. Even those of us who use all kinds of electronic tools or toys each day, and that’s everybody here, know very little about the back story to technology as we now live with it. Here is where a little animation might fit in nicely, if you’ve not seen some of the RSA animate talks on YouTube, check out the links at the bottom. Not to digress much, technology has provided a means for people to calm themselves, to feel a part of the bigger thing that’s going on and to have that sense of being in the know. But when you just check yourself out in the morning or evening or afternoon quiet, do you really believe you know what’s going on and what you are a part of? The reason why many of us don’t (if we’re honest), is that tech was never meant to provide these things to you. The objects of technology are meant to be treated objectively as a proxy for real experience–a surrogate. In that sense, a music and video player provides me with a substitute for the experience of sitting in front of a person playing a tune with people running around doing things while the music is playing. It’s stimulating to sit by a creek and simply hear the movement of the water rumbling along its path. All of my senses are stimulated by it. Not just my eyes and ears. What about my sense of touch, or smell and taste.

You know, space has a lot to do with technology. If you don’t have any space to stretch out in, you can make believe you do by just playing with a pocket device, like a portable game or music player. These provide a false feeling of  ‘ok-ness;’ but then there’s the let down after using up all of the songs, the levels, the minutes, the something that is measured and usually priced. Unlimited minutes and data are great, though, aren’t they? That should do it. Why doesn’t it? Remember, I started by writing that technology is not well understood by those whom you would think use it the most. The artist, which I am not, understands the limits of technology quite well.  She knows that tools extend her reach onto the canvas or with the raw material which she is about to fashion into an image that expresses … something. The computer and a program enables her to render more from her imagination than mere sticks and oils ever could. But she knows there is a creative cost for her excursion into the realm of  surfeit tools and processed manipulations.  Technology says what you can do. But who or what says you should do it? Did you get the memo; were your parents or mine asked whether we wanted easy access to friends and neighbors with the click of a button or the flip of a switch? There’s nothing necessarily wrong with it. It’s just that I did not order it or know it was on the menu.

Until now — or let’s say 20 years ago, we could see most things coming and decide if and when we wanted them to arrive at our doorstep. As it is today, we don’t know what is coming next; and if it arrives tomorrow in our inbox or as a tweet or a scroll on our wall, we will only be able to say OMG, right. Maybe because I’m old, I don’t see the value in having my sensibilities attacked constantly in this way. When you turn on the TV, you must have the remote handy or you are likely to be experience emotions that you aren’t prepared for. You must protect yourself, because we’ve lost control over the things that have been made. And our privacy is compromised, big time. Maybe that’s not such a bad thing. People are not as comfortable with themselves as we used to be.  So many may feel like they don’t particularly want to be alone, have waking time to themselves. The phone rings, there’s a text, a twit, a message all of the time. Makes you feel kind of special, until you look at it objectively. Look, I think it matters that you feel good about yourself. Go ahead and utilize all the tools and gadgets tech has provided us with to maintain that comfort. Just don’t forget that the thing is not the thing. Friends on face book are not friends in my living room or at my kitchen table or next to me on the beach. The latter folks never ask to be my electronic friend. They visit, call, and  touch me in the old-fashioned ways.

Be like the artist. Use these fun things to get serious work done–for your school, your town and your planet. Check out websites like Open Culture, Kevin Kelly and TED to find out about real stuff. I mean, tech is great for looking out of your window (your eyes) and seeing what is happening everywhere. Then we have to decide how we are going to make a real difference in the real world, because the surrogates won’t.

http://comment.rsablogs.org.uk/videos/    http://www.openculture.org    http://ted.org

Advertisements

Start Reading

I encourage anyone who can read to return to it while you can. It isn’t necessary to set aside a day or even a few hours. If you don’t have time just do a few minutes at the start, and when you find something you like you will read for longer and longer periods. Binge reading can take hold in the same way as binge watching, except with more reflection.

Where to begin this process? If you get a book, most people would start reading at the beginning. But as we have learned from other artistic communication, what seems to be page one is not always where the story began. You can crack open a book to page 27, 93 or 168 and see if those paragraphs grab you. You could read on from there with a clear conscience. When you share that you have been reading, do you think people will ask if you started at page one or chapter one. Many authors just choose to name chapters, without saying they are chapter 1, 2 and 3. When you get to a certain point in the book and wonder whether there is more backstory about a character or an event, you go to an earlier page to find out. Sometimes I am disappointed to learn that the author did not explain (to my satisfaction) who this person really is, what they were doing with the protagonist or antagonist anyway. So many questions; and then the laundry is done, or the baby wakes up, or your boss walks into your cubicle area. Whatever it is, the reading then stops.

We were supposed to get shortcuts and efficiency from our technology; then something happened, unexpectedly: since there is no end to what can be done with the gadgets we have and love to use without end, meta-authors–people writing apps for games and communication–bombard us with endless varieties of the unimportant. And they can’t be ignored. Yet, right now I will ignore them to talk about what I really want to say.

When you start something, how can we know what the beginning really is? Your first day on the job wasn’t a real first day because everyone and just about everything was already there; then you showed up. It was nice and folks said, “welcome.” Then you were in the middle of something after that. No second or third day or week. The middle may have happened a few hours after you sat down.  In this life – not that other life – we awaken to the perception of things that have a long, long history. And as much as I might want a beginning or newness or to get in on the ground floor, I must accept the reality of the middle.

You meet someone in the middle of their life; and it’s the middle of yours too. As much as I want there to be a beginning of “us,” that really is not possible. What is possible is my respect for the journey that you’ve been on all this time. And, as I marvel at the story you tell me (if I am patient and listening), your middle becomes clearer to me. Someone tells me a problem or a story, and I say “OK.” This means that I respect what they have shared with me out of my interest in them. I want to know; so that if we become real friends or real traveling partners on this road of life, a growing reference of their experience exists within me as a resource for understanding. To learn someone’s heart, just listen with yours. It doesn’t mean, however, that you will get to the beginning; and we might not get to the end either.

Still there is one who tells us what was the beginning. He is even nice enough to remind us that He is the beginning and the end – the Alpha and the Omega. So we need not worry. I think worry comes from believing that I have a whole lot to do with what happens, and I don’t. Now ask yourself, how much do you think the state of the world and the universe depends on two of us, or two million or two billion. There is a simple reason why believers worship: we were born out of love to experience joy. When someone hugs you (or shakes your hand) out of authentic affection, do you get a rush? I hope so.

When we embrace the living God, we are in the middle of something, together. And the peace I feel should extend from hours to days to weeks on end, being thankful. Gratitude is just a mental orientation that recognizes my position in this vast unfolding drama, as a child in awe of whatever is around that next corner. He does not lose his mind wondering about the details of clothes, food, and shelter. A child can accept things from anyone. They may not necessarily want to accept. But they can do it, because they are just going along for the ride, and always looking for a way to make it enjoyable.

In reading we take on the child’s persona; we are open to what is revealed and do not need to know how it began or why. To engage the other is to let them tell their story and be their story. If they want you to become part of the story with them, just like Huck Finn, they will invite you along for the ride.

Come Along Child

Come along, Come along child

and sit here with me

you’ll hear a few stories

of your history

The things you won’t learn

at school during the day

that make your life mean

much more than they say

the black man has planted and sown seeds galore

but reaped only pieces of what he worked for

on the face of the man whom we hold in disdain

is a legacy of service and a lifetime of pain

He tried to be good in the schools where he went

but  teachers said his worth was less than two cents

He played several sports, but not being the best

he gave up on the effort, and was ignored like the rest

He then went to parties, all dressed in his vines

brand shoes, suit and top hat complete to the nines

when some asked the question, what the party was for

he just shrugged his shoulders and did party some more

and since he was able to smoke and drink hard

he did it to his death with no other regard

Now the manchild had women and children for sure

There were those that he knew of and then there were more

He thought for a moment, how to cope with all these

and chose to be shiftless, in a life full of ease

So come along little child, this is told just for you

to make of your life something noble and true

the purpose of school is to climb that great fence

that kept others down due to fear and expense

the guards are on break now, you can quietly review

the foundations of knowledge and tools you can use

work hard, don’t you skip on the work of today

we need your help badly to make a new way

the child is our hope for a change in this land

and we love you so much, that’s why we command

that you study and strive for the most you can get

don’t worry that old heads have been losing their bets

Every life has a meaning and purpose to share

Dislike what you see?  Then you just don’t go there

There’s people I know who would say to you now

Be a good boy or girl, and we will show you how

When I see my mistakes, I just want to cry

If they hurt little children, it seems I could die

So look at us elders as a book you can read

and make better choices, so that you can lead

come along little child, come along and learn well

The future is waiting for your time to tell

Opening Prayer

In my heart there are many who have always have been near and very dear,  as I watched them, listened, felt their joy and sorrow, their touch and experience of love as we know it can be.

Without ignoring these and many others whose offerings have allowed me safety, comfort and satisfaction, I look to the One unseen, who, without beginning or end, must be present among us. Love has a source from above and here below, we have given Him names: Lord, God, Hananim, Yahweh, Allah, Jehovah. As quaint as these titles may be, our intent has been to revere our Original One, showing piety and respect to the furthest reaches of our minds.

We shed tears and sweat, allowing even our lifeblood to flow out from us as a witness to the Glory, Honor and Majesty that belongs alone to the Creator. So without malice or offense toward my brothers and sister, father and mother or child, I yield my heart to the Lord God Hananim Yahweh, Allah, Jehovah in this prayer. The Lord knows all of me, for the source of what is best in me is only a drop of grace from above this plane.

And in prayer, no sentiment toward earthly relations prevails, while in communion with the Most High. Seeking guidance and instruction, clarity in the highest or definitions, the beam can shine brightly, resting on calm waves of water. “These are notes to myself,” would say some who wrestle unaware of the light, bearing sorrows of a disappointing season on earth alone. But some are not all. We who do know the Original One with many many shades of intimacy can at least walk in grace and extend our faith to our neighbor.

Do I pray as a child? Well, what child would it be? One with physical needs that must be met by someone here (on earth) with me. Perhaps the child that needs insight and direction for decisions affecting the next chapter of my life. Or should it be the mature child who has learned extensively about this world – how to navigate it, and is ready to be an instrument of change called upon from above (the earth) by the One.

What then is my appeal? Does it pertain to the loftiest aspiration – and what would that be? or do I ask the Lord, “what is Your request?” Emotions may manifest is a variety of ways, but there is indeed a source. Do we know it? An outpouring of feelings that overwhelm the senses come from a place we may know not of yet; let’s find out. With respect, but not fear, seek to know and understand.

There is an end to this stage, where the lights shine and I am known by others here. Yet we have known for so very long that the stage is limited, this curtain lowers and these lights dim. Still there is that invisible within us, as mysterious as can be, that lives on eternally. Be curious, learn more. Some are seeking this in churches, synagogues, mosques and temples. Others are going a la carte with the best slogans they can remember. Like breathing, we take in and give out in unique ways.

A friend told me long ago to reflect whether the way I go is working for me. In learning I follow; and with wisdom, I lead. Our bond as siblings and offspring of the One True Parent should strengthen daily. Your joys cover my sorrow and mine yours. We are guardians one to another, and we appeal as we ought to the One who guards us all.

Thus my prayer emerges from what eyes have seen, ears have heard, hands have touched and even what the heart has felt. I report back to the Lord and seek more wisdom, energy and charity to drive this life rather than being driven. In the garden,  intent is all I can offer, from an acute angle; so it must be the One, the Lord of 360 degrees who develops all of the lawn, flowers and fruit. That goodness for which I pray.

Side to side

Things sway when touched by a force

an energy irresistible

that causes a thing to move

to one side, then back again

It can be easy to see what caused

the change to occur, often a source

bigger, stronger, more dense than the object

that moves.

In my mind, a force unseen

unknown even to the wind

approaches without warning

acting on this mind

and his heart

to go further

faster

longer than before

It was a day ago, I felt this way

but tomorrow, there’s more

a new song, a set of words to share

poetry, maybe

something viral making me resist

to sway back the other way

but I’ll be glad to feel what comes

because it is hopeful

to want to change

even grow

the old must be removed

no, I won’t do it

the sudden will

makes me respond

seeking to find

what eyes can see

and ears can hear

when at last, I yield

openly

without fear.

 

Writing Practice

There is but one chance for any person to succeed in an endeavor; and a key element is recognition. He and she should know that what lies before them in the present moment. We hold energy beyond quantification; and, if directed, can exert an irresistible force on our environment and its people.

The smallest blade of grass carries the majesty of its entire field because it is made of the same stuff. While the specific particles and their properties may exist or behave in ways that can measurably be differentiated, the general audience of that blade can not tell one from the other. Likewise, we classify many things according to what the limits of our cognition tell us. A tree is a tree. From a sufficient distance, they may all appear the same; but upon closer inspection, enough unique traits reveal themselves to persuade me that I have met the most unique and wonderful tree, with which I want to bond in friendship. Plants and trees are adoptable as much as are cats and dogs. The idea of having a pet starts with aligning your characteristics with that of the object and then coming to some decision about what that particular object means to you.

So then I look for ways to describe my relationship with it. I love it; and I want it to be mine, till the end. This to me is the idea behind having or owning a pet. Now, how does this relate to succeeding in an endeavor? Look at what brought you to the pet decision. You inspected, studied and evaluated, incorporating emotional energy and made a determination about the relationship. To do these tasks you employed your senses, thoughts and current feelings, along with the projection of future feelings that would be associated with this object. People do not do this only with nature and animals. They also engage in similar fashion with inanimate objects and with other people. While this may seem to be a bit upsetting at first, a dispassionate review of the relationship building process supports the natural tendency to simplify ways to connect to “things” around us. The popular phrase, too much information, means that we prefer to be unencumbered by complexities unlikely to deliver the comforting emotional satisfaction we seek.

We live in a system. Where it came from, who set it up and when, how they did it and why are questions few of us explore or care to. With the universe at our fingertips (literally), we are satisfied with significantly less than our birthright. I defend the wood and stone under which roof I dwell, but will make light of many acres of forest and miles of mountains that seem to have no connection with me. But they do. We notice others only to the extent we notice ourselves. Self-awareness is more than just self-interest. It positions me to better understand the other person – you know, the one with whom I have 99.5% (DNA) in common – but feel somehow ready to flee or fight on impulse. Ignorance of who I am naturally leads to ignorance of the other; and perhaps the opposite is just as true. I want to find out.

So back to line one: success; and line two: living in a system. By pursuing more of a grasp of this self-awareness mentioned earlier, I aim to become successful in the system that exists here and now. Will you help me? If you do, there will be a win in it for you as well. What I want you to do is ask yourself a series of questions. As your desire for and pursuit of answers to these questions intensifies, write down what you discover about yourself. There will be things that you knew, but forgot and things that you have never known, but now cherish.

Question 1: Why was I born? Not how, or by whom, or when. What purpose does my existence on earth serve? Before you begin to think this a futile question, let me suggest a few things: Consider your family – siblings, parents, cousins, nieces and nephews, grands, even adoptees. Then consider friends, new and old, people whom you might think don’t give that much about you, but that’s because you provide something so vital that they dare not let on, lest they scare you away. I’m talking about people who love you probably more that you (currently) love yourself. They can’t imagine their living without you. This is not to say that you were born for them; but something about you provides others with a store of value they can’t otherwise access. You are a key for them.

After these considerations, return to question 1. You did not get an answer yet;  you have just surveyed the landscape of your existence and the colorful people and objects that populate it, as a way to gain perspective. It seems best–for this exercise–to detach those familiars from your sphere. As brightness is growing, you might notice that the course of your life has unfolded in a discernible manner. You recognize events and people and spoken words that influenced decisions you made (early on) and made an imprint that follows you like a shadow–for better or worse. You need not study with a major in psychology or a minor in history. These disciplines, along with math and science are already at your disposal.

The intrigue of it all is: what you discover helps me, and what I discover helps you. How? Energy is everything. As you clarify your identity, how you relate to others takes a natural change. So your relational landscape or some of the tapestry may change. As you decide that your life matters, then so will the lives of all those with whom we have a 99.5% DNA match. Onward.

Question 2: Who is my neighbor? For those who lived in past centuries, the word referenced a proximate person who, for purely geographical (hence-coincidental) reasons we saw, heard and interacted with regularly. Of course today, anyone anywhere at all can be my neighbor. Yet, as you check several definitions and descriptions, you get the sense that we should have an affection toward one so described. No doubt, there were countless times in human history where neighbors were truly instrumental in helping one another weather storms, wars, disasters, disease and many other maladies small and large. Proximity was the sole criteria, (along with that DNA match thing); for, in periods of catastrophe, we remarkably notice how much we have in common. But the question of recognizing the other in less dire social crises is one that takes the spirit to another level. And this is an especially important time to do it, while we are calm, fed, and not facing imminent ruin (as of 8/23/2017). The thing about this question or round of questioning is that the stakes are higher — so the point values are doubled.

To answer the question, who is my neighbor, you have to go out and meet people, individuals and sometimes families. You have to find out how to like them. Why? Because of the big picture: we are everyone and everyone is us. Aren’t you amazed that an infant child understands this implicitly, until it is ‘nurtured’ out of them over many years of brutal education, family and social chaos. I know this does not describe everyone’s upbringing. But for those who had a very peaceful and positive childhood, is question 2 easier for you to answer? Think about it. How are the points doubled? You come to realizations about life and the universe that will benefit you forever, or for longer that you can imagine, if that’s easier to accept. As spiritual beings, our existence does not end at death, it goes on. The atmosphere of spirit is meant to be one of love and beauty. To enjoy that environment, we must have the capacity to give and receive love. So we should practice quite a bit while we have the chance.

Question 3: What is our destiny? What do you think the world would be like and what would eternity feel like if we were self-aware and had the ability to give and get love. God is our source and our destiny, so there is the answer. But knowing this does not guarantee the grand prize. Just as you discover yourself and learn to love your neighbor, we then have to work together to prepare this planet –the one we’re living on– for God to live here with us. If we have a parent, who has loved and nurtured us to become the the dignified, honorable and loving people we are, we want to show them the fruit of their labors. If the original true parent is God, the creator of heaven and earth, to whom all glory, honor and appreciation is due, we are tasked with preparing a place for Him to settle with us and reign as Lord forever.

Although it appears more like a statement than a question, we are more energized by questions than answers. So I encourage you to form your own inquiries within these and beyond them. Let’s see how far we can go.

Onward

 

Morning

On a mission at dawn

to mark the world

with a singular purpose

for group persuasion

Over here, over here

listen to me

Uh, this is today’s message

we share blue sky

and clouds across many miles

you see what I see

although the chaotic but visible things

surround me closely, calling

and I must obey them

Faith shaken to its core

uncertainty gives us coupons free daily

Still today’s message is blue sky

the green of nature

the softness of soil

signifying gentle touches from tips to toes

a natural exchange of joy, beauty and love

where love’s order reigns

that truly signals a good morning

 

 

Hate is not a noun!

If I may ask, who did you think was here with you? I protest, but I’m not a protester, I preach, but not as a preacher, I sing, but…well you know. Likewise I dance, write, walk, talk, jump, shoot, stare and love; I do the verbs, but I am not the nouns. So what noun am I? To me the noun comes at the very very end of it all. And it’s not over yet. As one who believes, I will and need to keep on believing. As one who hopes, I should continue to do so – actively. As one who loves, I can assure you that I am striving to act on the impulse. But let someone else ascribe a noun or two to me at the end of my sentence. “Was” immediately follows “is;” and they attach to nouns, with perhaps an adjective alongside as a condiment. May I suggest that when we emphasize verbs more than nouns, we have a better chance of getting out of this trap we’re in (together) and can bring about change. Verbs and actions got us into this mess, and only they can get us out. Being saddled with nouns adds to his burden and mine. If he thinks he is stuck with that label, how can he change it. It may seem a deep well with very little light at the top. But if we tell them, “hey, you are digging a hole there partner, can I lend a hand to pull you out?” Just make sure you mean to lend a hand, not as a victim, because that noun will trap you and you will need help before becoming a helper. Be ready to love in the face of hating – not hate; how did that word ever become a noun? The ship is sailing; it’s moving. Waters swirl around it and push up against each of its sides. By the time it reaches the other shore, we have some decisions to make. Please do not see yourself as powerless against what faces you or someone you love. Instead, know that there is energy at work – not randomly, but purposely at work to heal and help you. All life is energy. By believing that there is purpose to it, we can always be verbs for good works and let the nouns be.

The Peace at Home Project

This is a project for men

A project for women

A project for boys

A project for girls

It includes interviews

It includes stories

It includes songs

It includes life

It requires conversation

It requires sharing

It requires feeling

It requires unity.

The peace at home project is meant to have people in their communities look at themselves with more patience and love than ever before.

The idea is to get a grip on what your experience in life is and how these are affected by everything that happens around you.

There are numerous events, occurrences and circumstances that have control over who we are and what our potential will be.

We should know about these things and begin to plan for ourselves, think for ourselves, prepare for what we want and set goals.

We are constantly told what to do, think or say.

My original mind has not expressed itself yet.

My original mind has a unique view of everything that is around me; but no one knows what I am thinking.

That may seem fine for a while; but after long lapses of listening to others only, I forget my own original thoughts.  So I am restless.

Peace at Home means that you and I look at our life carefully.

Count our Blessings.

Name each one.

Write them.

Take time to reflect on this day today.

Name the date out loud.

Today you are here upon the earth.

You are not here alone.

Many things of nature are here with you.

Many people are here with you.

Nature is made to care for you.

To love you.

Family too.

Find family to love you.

Love is family.

Create Love.

Make family.

Do work. Give service.

To make something yours means to serve it.

First quietly,

then with offering,

then with response,

then with suggestion,

then with responsibility,

then with ownership.

and only then will it serve you.

Use your eyes for peace. To look for beauty, to look for virtue

To look for pride, To look for help, To look far.

And wide.

Use your hearing for peace.

To learn

To gather real news

To let sounds flow deep into your heart

To get the message of today

meant for you, for your family.

Keep your hearing sacred

to protect the deepest part of you.

Touch for peace

Hold and hug for peace

For peace you can turn

Tap and dance, among family and friends

Carry things with care.

The right smell will light you up and make you look around

change your mood, bring a smile

smell right.

And taste the food of life

Water, Grapes, Greens, and other plants of the earth

Taste them in peace and love for family

Prepared with a smile or a song

Remember as you eat

Send a signal of peace

in what you do

or reflect it by being still

Quiet.

There are many signs

that we can see

and hear

and feel

and smell

even taste,

if we search

The secret to peace is not hidden

But we are very busy

Racing along

Too fast

Crash

In suffering and silence

it becomes clear

what matters

after all

Given another chance

we can learn

to make family

create love

and have peace

at home.

 

Notes to Teresa

Notes  8/9/2017

Without knowing how to express

or to emote, still I’m happy;

and not only did we see and share

one another’s joys, there was more

Too much to say at once, but I did take in

the  that  that is you, again only you

and I keep it here, for now and then

a reference, perhaps a journal of what

I hope will be the best.

as running to, like running from

is still a run;

at rest I like me

and see you aviye

someone to give care from within

because of your acceptance

a moment is lasting and all in a moment

at peace with aviye

embraced by sound

in tune with hearts beating

to be home as aviye

and share the scale

of greater gifts

in praise

out of hope

for aviye

Real Shade

Write like the wind
as it blows through the trees
may your spirit awaken
feel the flow of the breeze
Make what you want to
of life and its meaning
by giving your all
from the end to beginning
See what you want
and retrace every stage
with steps you’ll be taking
and folks you’ll engage
Speak what you’re saying
or do what you will
But both is much better
than just sitting still
Taste the great fortune
brought in from the tides
then praise the high God
for such grace that abides
Tell all your story
to ears who will hear
a witness to courage
and conquer of fear
Touch endless sky
from your standing position
and shoulder your smile
despite the condition
Write what you plan
and again when you’re done
The shade in the middle
are the battles you’ve won