Wednesday, December 31, 2008

On the Literary Front #2

Looking over the past year, I've come to realize that my self-discipline is horribly lacking, and I'm a fiend for distractions. I'm not trying to punish myself, nor is this a set-up for a New Year's resolution. I resolved once upon a time to not make such resolutions. The word resolve has a few different definitions, doesn't it? To make a resolution stick, one needs plenty of resolve. Over the past year, although I have dedicated quite a bit of time to my projects, it is just not enough. In the past, it was just an extreme craving to read just about anything that struck my fancy. Right now, I'm starting on a book of Matthew Arnold's works. A little dry but I'm a fiend for Matthew Arnold, so it's okay.
The problem is that I've become something of a gamer, and this new interest eats up time I don't dedicate to reading. Computer games are all I can afford (financially), but it's enough to swallow up time I should be dedicating to typing and fleshing out plot and characters. When I started working again, I knew I had to cut down on a few pastimes, but during my Xmas break, I've done a little bit of work on one of my projects, and I've come to understand that I really haven't done as much as I could and should. There must be give-and-take, so for me to give more time to working on my projects, there must be some take from the other things I do (not including ingestion and rest).
The gaming would have to be the first thing to go, I should say. All I need now is the self-discipline to get going. Maybe blogging should also fall by the wayside, but considering I just started doing this several months ago, I think that decision can wait. Hard to say. Also, I really need to get a couple of chapters out to that writer-in-residence I mentioned earlier this year. Somehow, all that resolve and drive got lost on the way. Ouch!! Time to change and get working. If I were to make a resolution, I would be thinking along those lines. Time to get back to Matthew Arnold. BYE.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Oh God! Oh Karma!

Merry Christmas! I've had a couple of experiences that drove me to thought and action recently. I take full responsibility for my thoughts and actions, and let the karmic chips fall where they may. First, at a Xmas get-together with the extended family yesterday, one of my cousins asked me what adds up to a loaded question in my book. He asked me which god I thought was the best. Evidently he's been studying a little religion (and psychology, I later found out), and wanted to ask my opinion. I'm at a point in my own spiritual path where all I can say is God is the best. God in all His names and identities, so to speak. God has more avatars than World of Warcraft, and they all equal the same thing, so any question about whether Allah is better than Vishnu or Krishna is better than Yahweh meet with the same answer. Be it from within or without, believe in something! Call it Yahweh, Allah, Gitchie Manito, Buddha, or Krishna if you need to ID it, but just go forth and believe in something!
I doubt I got through to my cousin. However, a Xmas get-together is not really the best place to have a lengthy sit-down and talk about gods and belief systems. Perhaps one day, when all schedules are in alignment and my cousin really does want to know my thoughts on this topic, we'll sit and talk about it, but I don't see that day coming up any time soon. Now for the second topic I wanted to write about.... I finished reading 'Way of karma' by Judy Hall and I felt unsettled. I've bashed other writers for books they've written, and I was ready (at first) to bash her out of the ballpark. However, 'Way of karma' does supply several useful facts and attempts to introduce the concept of karma to the West. Her intentions are good, I'll give her that.
For the most part, it's the way she packaged her message. Her sources scream WEST much louder than EAST, and this bothers me for some reason. Then the red flags waved wildly in front of my semi-Buddhist eyes. It was when she started laying natural disasters at karma's doorstep that I started tuning her out. I also found myself at odds with her suggestion that things happen to teach the soul. I have come to understand that the soul knows everything already, but that Ignorance has blinded the soul and has hidden everything. It's not a question of learning, but of remembering. She also goes out of her way to insist that the soul needs to gather as much good karma as possible for future positive rebirths. This flies in the face of what I understand, which says that good and bad karma must cancel each other out. Good and bad karma are the same, really. It's just the skewed perception getting in the way.
Okay, this post is long enough, and I have Xmas chocolate still to get through. BYE!

Friday, December 19, 2008

You are getting sleepy...

My alarm is set to go off at 6 in the morning so I can get out the door around 7 and be at work for 8. To guarantee that I get enough sleep, I've been going to bed around 10 at night. Seems like a reasonable course of action, right? And for the first three months or so, things were going very well. Then in the month of December, things changed. I started waking up at 3 or 4 in the morning and was unable to fall asleep again. I figured that by going to bed around 10, I was getting enough sleep as it was and my body was just ready to get going. It takes me a while to fall asleep at night, so if I wake up at 4:30 or 5, I don't see any reason to even try falling asleep again. Besides, if there's one lesson I've learned from various sleepless nights and insomnia attacks, it is not to try and fall asleep, or it will never happen. My journals are full of such reminders, and the night before was no exception.
I usually write in my journal or read when I can't sleep. Complaining is useless as I go nowhere fast. The night before last, I was awake at 2:30 or so, and I tossed and turned about the bed, just trying my darndest to fall asleep. I should know better by now, right? This most recent event reminded me of the theory I have been working on. Perhaps my body doesn't need so much sleep, and that perhaps going to bed for 10:30 or even 11 wouldn't hurt my situation. I yawned my way to 10:30 last night and woke up around 5:30 this morning. Already, it looks like my theory might be correct. Of course, it's better not to take things on faith like this. I'll start going to be at 10:30 every night starting in January and see where this plan takes me. Maybe I just don't need that extra half hour. Maybe I was just so exhausted yesterday that I slept like a log and my theory is worth little. I will keep at it and see what happens. If it's significant, I'll keep you posted.
My present book of choice is 'The last word' by my beloved Matthew Arnold. Not only was he a good poet, but he also had a steady job inspecting school systems in England and in Europe. Working in a school system myself, I'm enjoying the comparaisons he's making between schools in Germany with schools in Austria, with schools in France, and of course, with schools in the United Kingdom. He also discusses Ireland and the 'Home Rule' plan, which he was very much against. Unfortunately, I don't know a whole lot about the 'Home Rule' concept. I just know that Winston Churchill had to deal with this concept during his time in Parliament. His father had to deal with it as well, I understand. Maybe looking closely at 'Home Rule' is all moot, considering the Ireland of today, but if we do not examine the past, we may have to repeat it, so any information I can get about Ireland of those years would be welcome.
Okay, that's what's on my mind right now. There's also Xmas, but that can wait for a few more days. BYE.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Greasy roads and 40s music

Anyway, my sister says my driving's getting better, and it's a good thing, considering Winter is firmly upon us now and I'm plugging my car in. Windchills of -30 or so = plugging the car in at home and running out during lunch to start it so it doesn't get hesitant and snarly at me when I need to get going in the morning and at 4 in the afternoon. I'd rather not have to call Mid-town and wait the who knows how long it would take before someone came to boost my car. Winter driving is stressful and rough enough; why make it worse by not taking precautions? I've done some winter driving since the snow-that-stays started falling in late November, and I have a few thoughts.
It seems that people's commonsense diminishes when they get behind the wheel and get'er started in the winter. The roads are apt to be greasy and slippery (especially during a snowfall), but some people keep going at or beyond the speed limit. My parent's voices ring clearly in my head; give yourself time to make the trip or face the consequences! Traffic lags almost every afternoon when I get off work and start the half-hour trek for home. It has taken me an hour and a half a couple of times to get home. Imagine the time it would take if I rode the bus? At least two bus rides between my place and either of my two workplaces. Still, when you're stuck behind the wheel and things are moving slow enough to make a turtle the next champion sprinter, patience wears thin.
What gets me are the cars that go from lane to lane, trying to find a faster lane and a shorter drving time. I liken it to a weird sort of ballet - the cars are doing a meaningless dance and going nowhere fast. People who cut ahead without signalling their intention are a universal bane that won't go away anytime soon. Luckily, I have the comfort of satellite radio and over a hundred stations to play with while waiting out my time. First I listen to the 80s station (child of the 80s I am) and then I go over to BBC radio 1 and listen to what's quickly becoming my favourite quiz show. After that's done, I usually go back to the 80s station. However, coming home one evening, I discovered a station that plays 40s music. Now that's become a new interest for me. Most of the music sounds the same, all groups of male singers for the most part, with the occasional big band thrown in for flavour.
I was listening to the 50s station yesterday, which was somewhat fascinating, although I went back to my favourite 80s station soon after that and howled as Frank Zappa sang about 'Valley girls' and his daughter bitched about teenage life. They really talked like that, eh? Stay tuned, for my next post might have me complaining about mall parking lots and a near-death experience. BYE.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Cult Cops

I was hoping to do some huge post on Existentialism, but that's going to have to wait until I've finished reading 'In pursuit of Satan: the police and the occult'. I've been reading this book of late, and my skeptic's eye glares at law enforcement's ridiculous and unjust treatment of some 'non-traditional' belief systems. I believe that there are many ways to reach the summit. Law enforcement (American is the only one examined in this book) doesn't seem to see it this way, and some of its number rush forth to brand anything that isn't Christian as a cult to be feared and, in some cases, persecuted. Here we are, in the 21st Century, and there are folks out there who would gladly throw the switch on the time machine and take us back to the age of ignorance.
It saddens and worries me that some groups would lump ancient belief systems (Aboriginal and Wiccan, for instance) together with Satanism. I'm not as well acquainted with Satanism as I could be, although I have been curious about this system that eagerly makes a mockery of Christianity and praises the id in lieu of the superego. Based on my limited exploration, I see that Satanism is very hedonist - 'If it feels good, do it.' - but I have my doubts that today's Satanism subscribes to sacrifice. It might've in the past, just as the pre-Christians did in the days of the Old Testament, but if Satanism wants to remain viable, it must evolve, just as Christianity has done (not nearly fast enough, but that's for another post).
Anyway, lumping tribal religions and Wicca, which are older than Christianity for the most part, with Satanism and declaring them all as wrong and suspect, goes against the American Constitution. I shake my head at the 'cult cops' Hicks speaks of in his book - law enforcement is in place to enforce the LAW, not ignorant, regional biases and suspicions. The days of the 'witch hunt' should be long behind us; not just lying dormant, awaiting new crimes that look hinky enough to explode into tell of Satan-spawned vandals, murderers, and rapists. I do believe that Evil exists (but that's for another time), and that every last breathing sentient creature on Earth has the capacity for Good and for Evil. If 'God' spoke and commanded people to kill each other, would we lay this command at Satan's feet or would we go in blind obedience? The answer to that will be different depending on who you ask, I guess.
One more note before I end this post. Before a Roman Emperor embraced Christianity, it too was a cult, and was violently persecuted. Think on it. BYE.