Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Philosophy’


“There are only two or three human stories, and they go on repeating themselves as fiercely as if they had never happened before.”                

Willa Cather

I wonder about the Star Wars hype this weekend, will Star Wars: The Force Awakens live up to its name? To be honest, I was enamored of the first trilogy. In fact, we took the Bride to “see” her very first movie when she was six months old, 1980s The Empire Strikes Back. She was enthralled with the lights for the first half hour, then fell promptly asleep in my arms.

We know that this is really an old fashioned morality play, a fight between good and evil. George Lucas and writer/philosopher Joseph Campbell were friends, and we know that Campbell’s book, “The Hero with a Thousand Faces,” helped Lucas flesh out his sci-fi plot. But the story is as ancient as Aristotle. A young hero arises, is given a test, finds a mentor, must go into a cave to fight the dragon, returning victorious. Of course in each telling, the journey becomes infused with different details, but the story remains the same.

Carl Jung also detailed creation myths and archetypes of universal characters from around the world long before the internet helped to flatten it. The Swiss psychologist wrote about “… constantly repeating characters who occur in the dreams of all people and the myths of all cultures (and) suggested that these archetypes are a reflection of aspects of the human mind – that our personalities divide themselves into these characters to play out the drama of our lives.”

Jung spoke to our “collective unconscious.” A place where every culture invents its own religion and set of rules in order to make sense of the vast universe, to answer some old existential question like how did we get in this mess?:

” A young hero, the wise old man or woman, the shape-shifting woman or man, and the shadowy antagonist.”     http://www.thewritersjourney.com/hero’s_journey.htm

Listening to the GOP debate this week, it all sounds too familiar. ISIS is the Evil Empire, and for some reason it will take one of these conservative hawks to defeat it. But they are not the heroes in my playbook. Because they can’t see what’s happening right here at home. The bloodshed our own home-grown terrorists have caused, our own mentally ill with guns – killing themselves, accidentally killing their children, murdering unarmed people on the street. Killing a nine year old boy for the “sins” of his father.

When the whole LA County school system has to shut down because of a threat, we may be too late to the battle. One thing Campbell’s hero would have done, he would have recognized these GOP tricksters for what they are. He OR She would have found a way to change our collective perception of Evil.

I heard a refugee from Syria on NPR say the jihadists are all young men buying candy bars and Cokes with American dollars. We need to fix our American dream, in order to sell it to them. We need to reawaken the hero in us all.

Here is my hero in the aviary. He just got a new iPhone, after years of refusing to come over to the Light Side of Apple. May the Force be With You!  IMG_3616

 

 

Read Full Post »

When the Rocker was two years old, we moved back to our home state of NJ. It was a tricky transition. I loved and still love New England. I love the kind and fiercely independent people; I love the weather, a little like the Emerald Isle; I loved Martha’s Vineyard in the Spring and Tanglewood in the Summer. And believe it or not, I loved the Winter. We would ice skate on frozen ponds and go cross country skiing out our back door, through a bird sanctuary. And the Fall foliage was like no other.

It’s true you can’t go home again, but I wanted to keep something of the Berkshires for my transplanted babies in NJ. Instead of driving to the Big Apple Circus in Lenox, we took the train to Lincoln Center. And instead of skating on a frozen pond, I signed the Rocker up for ice hockey when he could just barely carry his own equipment bag. I would sit and freeze at the Jersey Shore rink, watching him skate like he was born with blades on his feet.

That was the first time I heard of a “Hat Trick.” And for the rest of my days I thought it was a hockey term.

Until Sunday night. World Cup Soccer was the cap on a dismal Fourth of July weekend – my Fourths are almost always dismal – (Bob working the Fourth and our Year of Living Dangerously culminating on the Fourth with the Flapper’s car accident combine to make this holiday less lovely for obvious reasons).

Anyway, I was kvelling over Carli Llyod’s third blistering mid-court goal in the Women’s World Cup Soccer game, and I heard the term again. She had scored the first three goals in the first 16 minutes of the game! I missed the first one because I was feeding Ms Bean, but immediately caught the replay. Bob then returned home from the hospital to find me hopping around the living room, twirling my dish towel like a banshee!

The U.S. was the superior team through and through. Not content with four, it scored yet another goal — an easy finish by Tobin Heath in the 54th minute. It had had seven shots on goal to Japan’s four.

Much of the credit goes to the U.S. goalie, Hope Solo.

http://edition.cnn.com/2015/07/06/football/womens-world-cup-final/

Before ice hockey, I was the Rocker’s pee wee soccer coach. I cut up the oranges before games and tried not to act like ALL the other male soccer coaches. Sometimes cruel, often not fair, and loud as only NJ coaches can be, I was the Yin to their Yang. Since I had to look up this complimentary Chinese philosophy, to make sure I was using the phrase correctly, I was amused to find the feminine form “Yin” is the negative force?! Huh? “Yin is negative, dark, and feminine, Yang positive, bright, and masculine. Their interaction is thought to maintain the harmony of the universe and to influence everything within it.”

Believe it or not, the term Hat Trick originated in 1858 by Brits playing Cricket, whenever someone got three wickets, whatever that means, they scored a Hat Trick. Fans would collect money to buy the champion Hat Tricker a new hat back in the day. http://mentalfloss.com/article/65863/where-does-soccer-term-hat-trick-come

Well ladies, my hat is off to you! To the Scarlet Knight from Rutgers, Carli – to the Huskie from U of Washington, Hope, – to the Gator from U of Florida, Abby. To the two UVA Cavs on the team, my heart has been officially won! And anyone with a little girl in love with soccer, here are the top colleges for future World Champions, and UVA is number 2! http://college.usatoday.com/2015/02/20/these-are-the-10-best-d1-womens-soccer-schools-in-the-u-s/

Read Full Post »

On our very first outing with my new baby grandson, the Bride and I were perusing Lululemon in the Hill Center. It was a warm day, the door was open and a slight breeze blew colored leaves at our feet. The Bride was looking forward to practicing yoga in a few weeks and getting her post-natal groove on. While she tried on yoga togs, I had a nice time chatting with another grandmother from Kansas who was taking care of a two year old who just happened to be in preschool at the time. Then while checking out, the fit, handsome young man tallying up our purchases, looked up and had the nerve to ask us,

“What do you have planned for the afternoon?”

“Well, we’ll have lunch, then I’ll feed him (pointing to the stroller), then we’ll pick up the two year old from preschool,” the Bride said with a smile. ps, never ask a nursing mother anything about feeding her child, for the obvious reasons. And pps, never ask a woman, ever, what she’s planning on doing with her day, or for that matter what she did all day, because,
A) it’s none of your business, and
2) you don’t know her and you don’t really care anyway.

Maybe my Jersey came out, but I don’t like the implication. It’s a semi-paternalistic, passive-aggressive question that suggests we had nothing better to do on a weekday than shop and dine. After all, I couldn’t reciprocate, I knew what he’d be doing with the rest of his afternoon; he’d be right there behind that cash register asking inane questions.

Which leads me to this wonderful article my niece posted on Facebook about the Dis-EASE of being busy all the time. http://www.onbeing.org/blog/the-disease-of-being-busy/7023?page=1
I was guilty when my kids were little. The Bride had to write me a note about not having time for ballet, what with piano and horseback riding, etc. And the Rocker asked me not to schedule him for any more sports teams, before asking him first! I love the sentiment from the Persian culture, in their language they don’t ask how busy you are, which is what we mean when we say, “How are you?” They ask how your heart is doing

It is the transient state of one’s heart. In reality, we ask, “How is your heart doing at this very moment, at this breath?” When I ask, “How are you?” that is really what I want to know. I am not asking how many items are on your to-do list, nor asking how many items are in your inbox. I want to know how your heart is doing, at this very moment. Tell me. Tell me your heart is joyous, tell me your heart is aching, tell me your heart is sad, tell me your heart craves a human touch. Examine your own heart, explore your soul, and then tell me something about your heart and your soul.

Having a new baby at home cuts through that disease – we no longer need to appear busy, because in fact we are very busy. Nursing, cuddling, changing diapers all the while toilet training and teaching and feeding and loving a toddler, not to mention laundry and husbands and grandparents and friends who come to visit and cooking and…

There is a new yoga studio opening up in Nashville, specifically for young moms and children called Blooma.http://bloomanashville.com I’ve often said it was yoga that got the Bride through medical school. I’m pretty sure this new studio is just what the doctor ordered. Take that hipster Lululemon clerk.
IMG_1634

Read Full Post »

The Bride in the Berkshires

The Bride in the Berkshires

The Love Bug broke her arm over the weekend. She was jumping on the couch, apparently practicing her basketball skills after seeing her first live, basketball game. The doctors did what they always do, they discussed it among themselves and then I got to hear about it, in the best possible light. It’s only a little “buckle” fracture, she’ll probably only need a splint, what’s for dinner?

The Groom is a man after my own heart. Instead of letting his Bride take their tumbling toddler into the ER and splint her – why is it all emergencies happen on the weekend? – he insisted they take her to “another doctor who is not the parent” for treatment. When mine were little, I’d let Bob look into their ears on occasion, but they saw our pediatrician for most things. What is that saying; “Physician heal thyself, or don’t even try and heal your family members or whatever?”

The Bride broke her arm the night before the first day of First Grade. I remember coming home to my little family trying to get out the door with her arm wrapped in magazines, a temporary Boy Scout-like splint. It’s one thing for your children to catch cold, but it’s an entire other thing when we parents realize that we sometimes have absolutely no control over our child at all times. For me it was finding out that the Bride needed to wear glasses at the age of 2!

How could that happen? I didn’t wear glasses and neither did Bob, we had 20/20 vision. But I’d been noticing my little girl’s eyes were asymmetrical. I thought she had an ocular muscle problem and brought her to see an Ophthalmologist. It turns out she was squinting in one eye because she had a severe astigmatism, in other words the world looked like a Dali painting on one side of her brain and normal on the other. If we hadn’t caught it as such a young age, she would have been that pirate Kindergartener wearing a patch with glasses to encourage her eye to see normally.

As it was, she wore a tiny pair of glasses with a band around the back of her curly blonde head for a year, until her cornea grew to correct the astigmatism. And like it or not, I felt like I had failed as a mother, if only my uterus held her in the upright position, maybe I shouldn’t have played racquetball? It felt like some part of my gene pool had failed me. Now I realize we are none of us perfect. That thinking we have a tabula rosa on our hands with a brand spanking new baby is idiotic, because that baby has all the genetic material of her parents, and her parents’ parents, and back through the ages.

Temperament is ingrained. They will or will not develop allergies; they might confuse letters. They will or will not jump into the water, they will or will not climb that tree and fall out. Some children hesitate, and some take on the world like a mini Evil Knievel. Some, like the Rocker, will run straight into the ocean or take the ski lift to the top of a mountain, and leave his family in his wake. And I must admit, the Love Bug seems to have a bit of her Uncle’s daredevil streak; what others may call stubborn, I see as determination and persistence. When they are stopped in Nashville city traffic now, the Bug will yell, “GO! GO! GO!” from her tiny car seat! Remember we called her mother, “The Girl Who Stands With Hands on Hips.”

It’s all in the perspective.                           photo

Read Full Post »

Bob was driving yesterday when we happened to catch the last half of Ann Patchett’s interview on NPR with Terri Gross. She was talking about how her life changed when she moved back home to Nashville, because it was her husband’s home too. Most of us do dream of leaving home and making our way in the bigger world, and she certainly did that. I thought about how our lives can pivot at times, we think we’re going one way and suddenly we find ourselves in a different place entirely. And we wake up, look around, and decide to embrace this new place…

You just roll up your sleeves and you do the job that’s in front of you and that’s what people do. And you know what? It’s easy for me to say this now that I’m years on the other side of it, but it’s a privilege to see someone through that time in their life. And the trick of it is to love them for who they are that day…”http://www.npr.org/2014/01/23/265228054/patchett-in-bad-relationships-there-comes-a-day-when-you-gotta-go

Patchett was talking about taking care of her grandmother as she was dying. It was supposed to be her sister who stayed at home, in Nashville, and would be the family’s caretaker. But instead, tables turned and her sister moved away just as Patchett agreed, after an eleven year courtship, to marry her boyfriend Karl. She was still smarting after a brief early marriage. That essay too is included in her new book, This is the Story of a Happy Marriage. I’ve yet to read her new book of essays, but after listening to her interview, I’ll have to wait until I return to the Love Bug so I can purchase her book in her bookstore, Parnassus. And no, she wasn’t pushing her bookstore with Terri Gross, but she was extolling about her love of independent bookstores. And I found myself agreeing with her.

I thought about meeting my husband again, after many years apart. I too had been burned by a bad first marriage at nineteen. The kind you know never should have happened, the kind you are second guessing while you’re saying “I Do,” and thinking “What If.” Young feminists at the time called these “starter marriages.” I sometimes think in discovering our own strength, the strength to leave, we started a revolution. I knew it was over when he told my sister Kay he could never be vulnerable. And I think we raised boys who were not afraid of vulnerability. https://medium.com/religion-spirituality-and-philosophy/838b400fe2a5

I had returned home and was keeping watch at my foster father’s dying bedside when my MIL Ada found me and pulled me into Bob’s hospital room. He was recovering from some minor surgery and thought he was hallucinating. His vulnerability matched mine. We met at fourteen, and married at thirty. And so our story resumed, the he.went.to.woodstock  (meets) she.went.to.westchester story.

I’m glad Ada kept most of my newspaper articles, faded yellow paper over the years. There was no Cloud to store and collate all my writing, but my MIL who will be 90 this year, became my biggest fan and super star archivist over the years. I may have to scan all those essays for posterity. They are like all the pictures stored away in boxes, waiting to be digitized on some rainy day. But first I’ll catch up on all things Nashville on Parnassus’ new blog  http://parnassusmusing.net it’s for anyone who loves to read – period!

“Let go of who you think you should be, and become who you are.”

another reason to call Nashville

another reason to call Nashville

Read Full Post »

Does morality matter? Is it an objective or a subjective experience? These are questions for philosophers, but last week I found myself tackling them while riding a stationary bike at a hotel gym. I like to read The New Yorker while exercising; expanding my mind a little as well as strengthening my knees. The article, by Larissa MacFarquhar, was titled “How to be Good.” Intriguing. It was all about one of today’s most brilliant philosophers, an Oxford recluse named Derek Parfit.

http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2011/09/05/110905fa_fact_macfarquhar

Parfit, after distilling the best ideas from Greek philosophers and more modern principles of morality like Kant, thinks there are universally true answers to moral questions, almost in the same way mathematics has concrete answers. These truths, obtained through intuition and critical reasoning, remain the same whether we humans are able to perceive them (hence the term “universal”), or not.  Buddhist monks have been known to teach from his first book, “Reasons and Persons,” much to his surprise. And now he has published an epic tome, “On What Matters.”

“Is the truth depressing? Some may find it so, but I find it liberating, and consoling.” Parfit

Why even try to explain his philosophy in 400 words or less? Because this morning I learned that the state of Georgia just put a man, Troy Davis, to death, and because I had always believed in the death penalty, and because, thanks in no small part to my children, I no longer do. Will there always be grey areas for me? Yes, but… Parfit’s main idea is that rules of morality, those which might be accepted by all, would also have the best possible consequences – this is called “…rule-consequentialism.” In the case of a state-sponsored execution, we have to ask what is the best consequence to a country, a state or the doctor pushing that syringe?

I wonder why our country is still imposing the death penalty. According to Amnesty International, we rank as the fifth highest country still performing legal executions; right behind Yemen, North Korea, Iran and no.1 – China. “The death penalty has been abolished for all crimes by every country in Western Europe. In Eastern Europe the Russian Federation has held a moratorium on executions and death sentences for more than 10 years.” What would Parfit have to say about this? If in fact he believes that  life, as do I, cannot be arbitrary, then neither can death.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: