Tuesday, January 20

"Those who are easily shocked, should be shocked more often." Mae West

As a socially clumsy person with Asperger's, I have discovered there is no defense from thin skinned, politically correct, humorless Eugenians. I worked with a local theatre in one capacity or another for 15 years until recently, when, as volunteer usher a patron was offended by my innocent attempt at humor. No matter how hard I try to be courteous and polite, sometimes I say things that sound tactless without knowing it. Instead of gently addressing me to correct the problem, said person insisted someone else deal with their injured ego because doing so themselves would also make them uncomfortable. 
This turn of events got me thinking about a current, larger problem. We live in an era where people can not tell the difference between unintentional and deliberate offense. Any and every offense --real or imagined-- has the same unpardonable weight, where the offending person must be removed from their position or they must grovel and apologize immediately for hurting someone's feelings. The Korean airline executive who had a fit over the way her snack was served is a classic over reaction based on a sense of entitlement.

When someone hurls angry, abusive language meant to demean you, that's intentional. If you can't tell the difference than you need to grow up. 

Here's an idea, when encountering a slight, make the cosmic leap and assume it was unintentional and not a deliberate attack on your precious ego. No one is special and nobody cares if you are offended. No one cares if you think you can speak for others who may be offended too.This includes children. When someone offers an apology, accept it and move on.Just shake your head and assume they were tired, having a bad day or raised without manners. Whatever. 
I am offended every day when I read the newspaper, go to the library or shop at Bi-Mart for God sake, but I don't write vitriolic letters to the editor, or run to management and demand retribution because-gasp-my sensibilities were hurt. I wouldn't have time for anything else if I did. Life is too  precious to spend it being inconvenienced by imperfection.
I understand that some feel powerless before an overwhelming world and picking on small things is the only fight one has, but it is misdirected. Take all the petty slights you encounter and aim them at the ones doing real damage in our world. But demanding that every politician, celebrity and advertiser watch their every word or they are pounced on by those eager to be offended, doesn't help and only makes everyone small minded and meaner.
Meanwhile, I'm sick of walking through a mine field every time I interact with people for fear of upsetting someone even more insecure than me. I prefer to strive for kindness toward myself and others. " Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us" and the world will be a nicer place.

Friday, December 26

Writing is Not for Sissies.

Writing is hard work. When you pick up a book or read an article you are seeing the finished product. Before it was printed, there was the shitty, messy first draft. Then the cutting and slashing of the re write. There was editing for grammer, puncutation, syntax. This must be done by someone else as proofing your own work is impossible. The word choices alone are agonzing. You must accept the changes and your shortcomings with the language.Writing is rewriting.
And-- this takes time. Some people think writing is a waste of time or a leisurely hobby. Oh yeah?  Here's a blank piece of paper and a pen, you create something beautiful and orginal and see how hard it is.

Tuesday, December 16

The Bizarre World of Gitmo.

When I read this article I thought it was from the satrical magazine The Onion but no, apprently it's um, for real-though I use the term loosely. Both sides in this surreal passion play are certifiable paranoid nut cases.

There has been much discussion since the Senate report on the CIA and their use of torture. There's been a lot of semantic dickering whether it's torture  or "enhanced interragationn techniques" but let's be honest-it's torture.

Interrgtion done correctly yields results, the experts know this. Under torture people will say anything, we all know this. But since this isn't about gaining intel why argue the point?
According to a recent poll Americans approve of it 2 to 1. Now let this sink in... a predominantly Christian Democrary approves of torturing people for what ever reasons, whether they are innocent or not. Why? Because those people killed some of our people so it's ok.We' re fucking furious and will make someone pay for it. Except that's exactly what those people think about us. Call it for what it is: revenge.

I'm going to go out on a moral limb here and suggest that torturing people for any reason is bad. I don't care how much you hate someone the karma on this one is major. In all the religious, philosophical and metaphysical writing I've read a cardinal rule shines through: Do unto others as you would have done to you. Coerceing your will on others is a big fat no-no. Humanity will never progress until we get this through our thick, fearful heads.

Don't give me that, "you're a softy on terrorism" bullshit. Retribution can come in many forms but this kind of sadistic evil yields nothing but more of it. If its ok for us to do it, why should it not be ok for them to do it? If it's depraved for the other guy to do it, why should we sink to their level? But remember what goes around comes around and we're next.

Sunday, December 14

The Art of Mindfulness

I just watched an story about Mindfulness on 60 Minutes. The reporter Anderson Cooper affected a kind of 'gee whiz, can this really work' attitude that reminded me that to Americans, the idea of quietly being in the moment is far out. There is nothing new age or nebulas about this concept. It is an ancient practice simply forgotten in the clutter of modern life and technology.

The story pushed the idea that mindfulness can transform our society and it can, but only if it is embraced as a way to get in touch with the present and not some health gimmick to increase your productivity.

Mindfulness can reduce stress, hospitals and doctors now regularly prescribe meditation for high blood pressure and heart patients. It can help those with mental illness, anger issues and addictions. It can benefit everyone.  

In the modern world we think we have to fill up every available moment using communication devices to constantly take in more information. For what reason? We end up communicating less with people around us as we busily check e-mail and cruise the internet.

What is mindfulness and how is it practiced? It is done thru meditation, by doing nothing. Doing nothing is an active practice where one focuses on being in the present moment, not zoning out and wasting time.

Give mindfulness a try. It costs nothing and takes little time. Put away your phone, etc. and go to a quiet place where you won't be disturbed. Start by sitting up comfortably with your back straight but not tensed. Sit cross legged, seiza (sitting on your legs Japanese style) or in a straight back chair with your feet flat on the floor. Place your hands in your lap and close your eyes. Focus on your breathing or feeling your body at rest. Relax and breath in through your nose and out of your mouth. When thoughts start to distract you (and they will) just gently let them go by like a passing cloud and refocus on your breathe. Don't worry if you get distracted, it will lessen as you continue. Don't be judgmental about your success or failure, just keep at it. 

 Practice this before you go to sleep or when you wake up  and see what happens to your awareness.

Sunday, November 2

Tough Enough to Grow Old?

I'm in my mid fifties and feeling the effects of aging more than ever. I see the little fatigues creep in as my body disintegrates at a glacial--pre climate change--pace. I feel the toll of sitting in a chair too long while writing, with stiff joints and lack of muscle tone. I can no longer do aikido like I used to and it makes me wistful.

At least I'm exercising my mind you might say, but that's going too. My memory is like waiting at an airport  luggage carousel as I search to remember the name of an actor or who the hell I was talking to last week on some subject.

Gone  as well  is eating whatever I wanted in wild abandon. Now I read food labels and decide which forbidden ingredient I can gamble on without too much damage to the digestive track.

The worst part is gaining the courage to age gracefully and give up the youthful myth of invincibility. Now I know why so many old folks are bitchy, they're not surrendering easily and neither am I.