“We work with the substantial, but the emptiness is what we use.” ~ Tao Te Ching

“In the Midst of the Thick Wood,” Kay Nielsen

  

“In this metallic age of barbarians, only a relentless cultivation of our ability to dream, to analyse and to captivate can prevent our personality from degenerating into nothing or else into a personality like all the rest.” ~ Fernando Pessoa
Arthur Rackham, "The Ring" illustrations (#26)

Yes, I know. Once again, I have posted items out of sequence, back-posted as it were. Indulge me, please. I have been unable to get out of bed for three days.  It’s times such as these when I long for my old laptop and folding desk. At least I would be able to write while in bed. Alas, alack . . .

I watched the light creep through the blinds this morning as the clock moved toward 6 a.m. For a minute I considered getting up to write and just forgoing sleep altogether, but then my body reminded me that I really needed sleep, so I turned over yet again and tried to find a position that would allow me to be a bit comfortable as Tillie blew warm dog breath into my face while she slept quite peacefully. I looked over, and Corey was snoring quietly; Alfie was above Corey’s head on the pillow, and Shakes was buried deep beneath the covers, scratching intermittently. Meanwhile, a two-foot square of open space seemed to be allotted for me.

Let’s just say that it was not a tableau that invited the deep sleep of Ameles potamos, or Lethe. I would love to have eight uninterrupted hours of mindlessness sleep, a sleep of pure forgetfulness, no interruptions, no distractions, just sleep, and then once rested, awake to a painless new day of possibilities. That it what I would like . . .

“The perception of small things is the secret of clarity; guarding of what is soft and tender is the secret of strength.” ~ Lao-Tzu
Arthur Rackham, "Undine: Soon She was Lost to Sight Beneath the Danube"

Corey has worked four days in a row. Can I get a hallelujah from the chorus? I must say that the duty sergeant has an unenviable job, having to shift people constantly because of the unpredictability of ship movement. At one point, Corey was scheduled to work 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. and then to go back in at 11 p.m. and work 12 hours, and while that would have been great in the hours column, it would have really sucked in the sleeping column. But he’s hanging in, which is more than I can say for myself.

I seem to be in the midst of a grand pity party, one that was not scheduled, as it were.  I know exactly what started it, what precipitated this most recent excursion into the poor, poor, pitiful me fray: I went on the Old Dominion University site to look at information for Brett’s orientation, and just for grins, I thought, I went to the English Department’s site. After perusing for a few minutes I realized that I knew a grand total of four people in the department. All of the old guard is gone. Names I’ve never heard of filled the department roster, which really set me back until I realized that it’s been a grand total of 16 years since I left ODU.

Sixteen years. The boys were toddlers. I was still plugging away at my marriage to Paul. The dogs were two black labs. The house was in most respects, the same, and I owned my favorite car, the black Oldsmobile Calais. My father was still alive. I knew people, lots of interesting, engaging people, and Mari was still a part of my life.

Might I just say that it is a bitter pill to have shoved down one’s throat—the realization that time has continued, inexorably, whilst I have not.

“But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the Night;
As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain,
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.” ~ Lawrence Binyon, Last two stanzas of “For the Fallen”
Arthur Rackham, "Midsummer Night's Dream: Fair Helena"

Which brings me to the now, the present, the time after the past, and the question. Yes. There is most definitely a question: What in the hell have I done with my life? I am having a crisis of faith of the personal kind. I wonder what it is I have accomplished in all of these years of trying. I wonder if I have really done anything at all. I mean, what am I playing at here? I write. I opine. I open my veins and bleed onto this page, or rather, this virtual page. But to what end?

In looking at all of the unknown names in the English Department, I realized that my dreams of getting my Ph.D. in English are just that—dreams only. I have been left behind, or I have stayed behind while the canon has continued to develop at an amazing pace, largely in part because of the Internet. What these people are teaching and researching goes so far beyond what I know. So I don’t know if I could catch up to them, but perhaps more importantly, I don’t know if I should.

These people have three and four books, pages and pages of publications. They have evolved as the material has evolved, as the very institution of teaching has evolved: distance education, virtual classrooms. I don’t know if I can do that.

And so I sit here and wonder if I’ve ever really been good at anything, anything that matters, that is. When I die, how will I be remembered? As the woman who didn’t leave the house for years? As a woman whose self-image was so skewed that her mantra was “I’m fat and ugly and my mother dresses me funny”? As someone with an acerbic wit? Or as just a woman who was here and then who wasn’t . . .

“Heedless or willfully ignorant of this
procession of changes, we dream of prosperity
all through life and, without understanding
the nature of transience, hope for longevity.” ~ Hōnen
Arthur Rackham, "The Ring" illustrations (#1)

And these thoughts paralyze me, cause me to look about me as if in an unfamiliar place, a place in which the things themselves are different, the atmosphere different, the lighting slightly shifted, and the only thing that is the same is me. I think of the days when I walked around in power suits and leather pumps, so self-important, so engrossed in my own little world, my circle of power. A person to be watched, emulated, respected. Was it all in my mind?

Days from my past pass before this windowpane of memory, and I am hard-pressed to find anything significant. Has it all been an act? Was I so good at deception that I deceived myself more than anyone?

I’m not talking about the consistency of my belly button lint. These are real, hard questions, ones that I need to find the answers to lest I go mad with the thinking. This morning, as I was rolling from side to side, watching night move into morning, I suddenly wondered if one could go mad from thinking too much. And I think that yes, one probably could go mad from too many thoughts, from being unable to stop the flow of thoughts as they engulf everything, unabated, uncensored.

“This world
a fading mountain echo
void and unreal.” ~ Ryokan
 

Kay Nielsen, “Such a Terrible Dream”

   

Yet another thing came to me during my wakefulness, the song from Jesus Christ Superstar, “I Don’t Know How to Love Him.” Don’t really know why that song at that moment, except for the very telling lines here and there: “In these past few days/When I’ve seen myself/I seem like someone else” . . . or “I never thought I’d come to this/What’s it all about?”

Is that clichéd, that I’m thinking in old songs? Probably.

See this is what happens when I don’t write for three days, but I have all of these things running through my head, non-stop, full-speed. Without the ability to exorcise the moment of disillusion, it leeches energy from everything around it and grows until it takes on corporeal form—something very real that needs to be confronted, to be battled, to be handled and then filed away in the completed drawer, a drawer that does not, in fact, exist.

It’s like those old science fiction movies in which the hero meets the dark self, and the two fight with one another in some dark alley with a rain-soaked pavement, drops of water falling from the fire escape above their heads, the sound of empty cans and cats a backdrop to the violence taking place. And the hero always wins, well, most of the time, but not without losing something of himself along the way.

Yes. That’s exactly how it is. I think.

I am reminded of James Wright’s poem, “Lying In A Hammock At William Duffy’s Farm In Pine Island, Minnesota,” which ends with this line: “I have wasted my life.”

Peace.

“illabye” by Tipper

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“Do you have the patience to wait until your mud settles, and the water is clear? Can you remain unmoving until the right action arises by itself?” ~ Lao-tzu

 
“Commonly, people believe that defeat is characterized by a general bustle and a feverish rush. Bustle and rush are the signs of victory, not of defeat. Victory is a thing of action. It is a house in the act of being built. Every participant in victory sweats and puffs, carrying the stones for the building of the house. But defeat is a thing of weariness, of incoherence, of boredom. And above all of futility.” ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupery
    

 I just could not decide what image to use for this first section. I was looking for the perfect political cartoon. Then I came across this one on Comics I Don’t Understand, and I thought to myself, “Eureka, self. That’s it.”

    

I’ve been waiting for the mud to settle, but it’s taking quite awhile. Yesterday I was more than half-way through a post when my computer locked up on me. Consequently, I lost everything. To say that I was a tad annoyed is a vast understatement. 

As a result I stopped everything that I was doing and set about performing a thorough scan and cleaning of my hard drive, and then I defragged. Things seem to be running a bit smoother today, but I’m not going to chance anything major. 

Today I came back to my blog, ready to do a smaller recap of yesterday’s post, and what did I find but a draft of the post that disappeared yesterday. Now I am certain of it: My computer is in on the conspiracy of inanimate objects (using the term loosely) to try to further deplete me of the little sanity I have remaining. 

It’s working . . . 

“Anyway, no drug, not even alcohol, causes the fundamental ills of society.  If we’re looking for the source of our troubles, we shouldn’t test people for drugs, we should test them for stupidity, ignorance, greed and love of power.”  ~ P.J. O’Rourke
"I smell dorkfish somewhere nearby."

Moving along . . . In other offensive and absolutely take-my-breath-away-with-your-hypocrisy news, a Tea Bagger leader has referred to Allah as “monkey-god” and to Muslims as “the animals of Allah.” Mark Williams, the conservative talk radio host who is listed as chairman of the Tea Party Express and acts as a frequent spokesman for the group, wrote on his blog: “The longest, most heavily researched and footnoted chapter in my book is about the fruit baskets and nut wads that gravitate to Islam and why it attracts such mental cases . . . ” Williams also posted an image of the prophet Muhammad with a swastika on top of his head. 

Nice. Ecumenical. Loving. Spread those Christian arms wide in your embrace of other faiths and cultures. Or maybe not so much. 

Loony Tune Williams is well-known for opening his big mouth and letting bile spew forth. In February Williams referred to “our half white, racist president” in an email to colleagues. 

“To be ignorant of one’s ignorance is the malady of ignorance.” ~ A. Bronson Alcott
"My dorkfish is this big."

Meanwhile, another politician who talks the talk but doesn’t quite walk the walk, Republican Representative Mark Souder of Indiana is resigning. Awww. 

According to Souder, “I sinned against God, my wife and my family by having a mutual relationship with a part-time member of my staff.” Then he added the punch line: “In the poisonous environment of Washington, D.C., any personal failing is seized upon and twisted for political gain. I am resigning rather than put my family through a painful drawn out process.”  

That’s right. The “poisonous environment of Washington, D.C.” made you have an affair with the same woman who interviewed you about abstinence. 

According to an article in the Washington Post, the self-described conservative Christian  “focused on three areas since entering Congress: in his words, ‘how to keep the economy strong; how do we improve our education system; and how do we change the cultural and moral direction of this country.'” 

Souder, a staunch opponent of gay rights and AIDS prevention through condom distribution, is also a big proponent of family values. He has been quoted as saying, “I believe that Congress must fight to uphold the traditional values that undergird the strength of our nation . . . The family plays a fundamental role in our society . . . I am committed to fighting the assault on American values.” 

Let me see if I understand this correctly because I have been accused of not really understanding conservative speak. . . Souder is pro family, pro values, pro abstinence. Does that mean that going to state parks with your staffer for trysts is part of those values that you have fought so hard to impose on the American people? I mean, I’m a bit confused. I thought that there was this whole proscription against sex outside of marriage, you know? Adultery? Did I miss something, or did Souder just find the same loophole that so many of his ilk seem to find (e.g., see Family Research Council co-founder George Reker and his rent boy below). 

“I do not believe in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance.” ~ Thomas Carlyle
George Rekers Pushing Luggage Cart for his Luggage Handler aka Lucien

Oh, Dr. George (as he refers to himself), you have been a bad, bad boy. You say you just needed someone to help with your luggage? Then why were you pushing the luggage cart at Miami Airport? Why did your contract with rentboy Lucien specify personal massages? Why were you naked during those massages? 

Dr. George. Thou doth protest too much. All of that work with The National Association of Research & Therapy of Homosexuality? Hmm? That co-founding of the anti-gay lobbying group The Family Research Council? Oh? They don’t remember you? Well how about that dodgy group, the American College of Pediatricians? You know, the ones who make up their data and call it scientific proof?

My, my, my. You were so busy trying to “cure” all of those poor people of their homosexuality that you forgot to work your voodoo on you know who . . . Perhaps it was because you were perusing the pages of rentboy.com—the only place on the web (prior to this scandal breaking) where interested parties could find lad Lucien’s very personal profile.

To get a better perspective on the whole Reker rent boy debacle, I’ll just include this story from CNN, which covers the key issues pretty thoroughly. 

Vodpod videos no longer available. 
more about “Male escort and Baptist minister “, posted with vodpod

It has been a busy news week. More later. Peace.

Father Mukada (the wonderful B. D. Wong) on “OZ” singing “Leather”

“Every exit is an entry somewhere.” ~ Tom Stoppard

Perception Versus Reality

 

“If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is, infinite.” ~ William Blake
George Rickey's "Column of Four Squares Gyratory III

A quiet Sunday. Corey is working 3 to 11 again. The dogs are being lazy. Laundry is going. Outside, no sounds coming from the park, only the occasional birdsong. Comfortable temperatures and sunshine, although rain later. All in all, not a bad day.

I was thinking last night, or rather, early this morning, about the differences between what we perceive and what is real, that is, is what we see necessarily what is real? Is our reality the only reality?

 I think that what set me on this tangent was a dream from which I awakened in which my father was going to drive a big white Cadillac to a physical therapy appointment; my mother was rearranging papers, and different people kept coming in and out. My father, who was a small man, never felt comfortable in big cars. In his later years, I think that he would have been hard-pressed to see over the steering wheel of a big Cadillac.

But I awoke from this dream thinking about how the mind works, how in dreams reality is always altered at least slightly if not completely. I mean, the appearance of my father so often in my dreams is obviously not in keeping with the reality of my life because my father died almost nine years ago. Yet there he is. I know that I’m simplifying considerably, but for approximately one-quarter  to one-third of our lives, we exist in a state of unreality—those hours in which we sleep and dream; although the dreaming part is usually only about 25 percent of that sleeping time, taking place during REM sleep.

But the perceptions in dreams are not what I am really talking about. I think.

“But I look up:
the stars write.
Unknowing I understand:
I too am written,
and at this very moment
someone spells me out.” ~ Octavio Paz
Liu Bolin, "The Invisible Man," Urban Camouflage

As far as I can discern, the concepts of perception and reality are both fluid, totally dependent upon the individual. My sense of what is right and just is based on how I was raised, the laws of the country of my birth, the beliefs instilled in me by family. For example, I do not believe that it is right to force a woman to cover her body because the sight of a female ankle might drive a man into unbidden lust. However, I was raised in a society in which the roles of men and women have continually evolved. My reality is not that my bare legs are sinful; does that mean that in another city in another country the idea of the exposed female body as unholy is wrong? No. Not wrong. Just different.

But let’s move closer to home. I believe that there is exquisite beauty in a yard that is filled with different kinds of flowers and trees. Five houses down the street there is a house that does not have one tree, one shrub, one flower. My perception is that it is barren. The owner’s perception may be that such a yard is maintenance free, clean lines, uncluttered.

When the trees lose their leaves in the fall, I do not feel a great compulsion to rake the leaves and dispose of them. In fact, I love the look of fallen leaves. My nosy neighbor cannot abide a stray leaf. She probably sees my leaf-strewn yard as the end result of laziness, slovenliness. I see her perfect yard as a reflection of how uptight she is.

Granted, these are relatively small things. But you get the point: What I perceive as beauty is not necessarily seen as beautiful by someone whose reality does not allow for things to be out of place.

“What the caterpillar calls the end, the rest of the world calls a butterfly.” ~ Lao-tzu
Trompe l'oiel by Richard Haas, Facade of Brotherhood Building, Cincinnati, OH

My perception of the reality of my life at the moment is shaped in great part by the reality of my past. Three years ago, money was not so much an issue. I did not awaken each morning and measure the possibilities of my day by how much pain I was experiencing. Today, I see my life as being very limited, hemmed in by circumstances that are very much out of my control. These are my perceptions.

Across the world, in a small village somewhere, the days are measured in more concrete terms: how much water is available? Will there be enough rain to sustain the crops? Will another child die from dysentery?

Across the country in a city somewhere, a woman with perfect nails and a chic haircut is measuring her day by how many pairs of shoes she will buy, whether or not to lunch in this trendy bistro or that one.

Is one reality better than the others? Is one reality less of an existence than the others? We make these judgments according to what we know, most of the time without ever considering what is going on across the world, across the country, or even across the street.

“We don’t see things as they are, we see things as we are.” ~ Anaïs Nin
3D Sidewalk Illusion by Julian Beever

I don’t know if I’m being very effective here in making my point. What I had planned to say, or thought that I might say, does not seem to be translating well onto this page.

I think that too often we take our own realities and try to impose them on others. Take the Catholic church (or not).  I am not catholic, but many people assume that I am because I am Filipino.  But my feelings about the Catholic church are mostly hostile, and I realize that my hostility comes from my firm belief that there should be equality between the sexes; the Catholic church is inherently misogynistic. Men have all of the power. Therefore, I cannot reconcile myself to be of a faith that in its basic tenets places women below men. For me, that’s just a bunch of hooey.

But I was watching some documentary a while back that discussed how Catholicism, because of its staunch stance against the use of condoms is causing more deaths in third world countries. Consider: according to the pope, condoms are a sin because of that whole sex and procreation thing. Men with AIDS are forbidden by the church to use condoms when having sex with their wives even though the unprotected sex will most likely result in the wife contracting AIDS.

In my reality, this makes no sense, no sense whatsoever. But there are a whole bunch of people out there for whom this reality makes perfect sense. Do I have a right to be indignant? Well obviously I can be as indignant as I want to be, but whether or not that indignation should be heaped on any Catholic with whom I might come into contact is questionable.

But I’m right. Right? Transmitting AIDS is wrong. Right? Well, duh. But to people of faith, for whom the word of the pope is infallible, it’s not a duh. On the contrary. It’s not even a quandary.

Hence the whole personal reality and perception versus that of another person, society, country, etc. The concept of fluidity is more fact than concept. My reality of today is so different from my reality of 20 years ago.

“I want so to live that I work with my hands and my feeling and my brain. I want a garden, a small house, grass, animals, books, pictures, music. And out of this, the expression of this, I want to be writing (Though I may write about cabmen. That’s no matter.) But warm, eager, living life — to be rooted in life — to learn, to desire, to feel, to think, to act. This is what I want. And nothing less. That is what I must try for.” ~ Katherine Mansfield
Trompe l'oiel Mural: Before and After

When I was younger, my reality went something like this: career first, family incidental. Before I had children I could not conceive of a time in which my career was not the most important thing in my life. My personal success was directly tied to the size and location of my office, the amount of my salary, the scope of my bonuses. In my 20’s, I was a political animal in the corporate world. I had the kind of personality that would have actually done very well in politics.

After I had Alexis, my reality shifted, slightly at first, then dramatically as the days passed into months. I hit a point in my life in which I could not conceive of ever placing anything above her needs, her comfort, her security.  And so on.

My reality now? Not sure. I perceive of myself as being so different from what I used to be, but I don’t know if that is true. It could well be that time has passed, but I have remained the same. Or maybe time has passed, and I have allowed my reality to evolve. I just know that Mansfield’s quote comes about as close to my ideal reality as I can sum up in words: home, animals, books, pictures, music, writing. To continue to learn, expand my mind. Not to stop thinking and delving and discovering.

I feel fortunate that my reality does not include the possibility of starvation, or imminent rape, or death from something easily preventable. That my reality does not include Manolo Blahniks and pricey eateries really doesn’t bother me. In fact, I think that if I were to put on a pair of shoes that cost $800, I would probably hate myself because I would not be able to rid my mind of the thought of how that money might be put to better use.

Evolving realities. Shifting perceptions. Movement. Growth. Life is not the destination; it’s how we get there and what we do along the way.

More later. Peace.

Music by Sugarland, “Make Me Believe”

“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” ~ St. Augustine

 

“A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving.” ~ Lao Tzu

It’s 7:50 a.m., and I haven’t been to sleep yet.

Corey and I stayed up very late watching King Arthur with Clive Owen. I felt the need for a Clive fix, and I still wasn’t the least bit sleepy at 3, so I decided to watch another movie. Corey came into the bedroom right as I was starting the movie, and he decided to watch with me. As a result, we turned off the television at 6 a.m.

Corey went to sleep immediately. I, however, did not and have yet to close my eyes. During the movie I noticed that I was scratching my arms and neck but didn’t really think anything of it. Once the movie was over, I was in full-blown itch mode, and have yet to get it under control. I took a Benadryl around 6:15, hoping that it would stop the itching and put me to sleep. An hour and a half later, I’m still scratching and not asleep.  I just took another Benadryl, so I thought that I would write a bit until something kicks in—either a rash all over my body or sleep. Personally, I would prefer sleep.

Last night I was getting ready to insert my images into my post when the Internet went out. How annoying. I finally wrote a post (of sorts), and then couldn’t publish it. I was this close: formatted, quotes, song, but then bam. No Internet.

Today I had planned to write about traveling, as in if I could go anywhere in the world, where would I go and why? I’ve selected five places, all for very different reasons.

“Travelers, there is no path, paths are made by walking” ~ Antonio Machado

Irish Cliffs of Moher
Irish Cliffs of Moher, County Clare

Ireland: I have wanted to go to Ireland since I was a teenager. Ireland is the land of poets and writers. It’s the land of civilizations long gone and ancient ruins. I want to see the River Shannon and visit Limerick. Take pictures of the 8000-year-old Castle of St. John, and then to County Clare’s west coast to see the Cliffs of Moher. Then on to Derry and visit some pubs.

My friend Kathleen has an Irish heritage, and she was finally able to make the trip a few years ago. She says that Ireland is one of the most beautiful places that she has ever seen. I used to work with a photographer of some repute who actually lived in Ireland with his family and flew to the states for shoots. We talked about the advantages of living in Ireland and how it is a country that embraces its artists.

Australia Whitsundays Islands
Whitsundays Islands, Australia

Australia: Even though my dear friend Maureen lives in Australia, she is not my main reason for choosing this country. In fact, my ex and used to talk about moving to Australia. In particular, I would like to visit Queensland, see the Great Barrier Reef, and of course, visit the Whitsundays Islands.

I don’t know if I am generalizing, but it seems that Australia has so many more opportunities to get away from the hectic pace of life. And then there would be the opportunity to sit across the table from Maureen, sip tea, enjoy some of her baking, and talk for hours.

Greece: Ever since I first saw pictures of the white church domes against the blue sea, I have wanted to visit Greece—the cradle of Western civilization. This ancient country has so much to offer: The Acropolis with the Parthenon and the Temple of Athena Nike; the Castellian Spring in Delphi. Even though it’s supposed to be a tourist trap, I would like to go to the island of Santorini.

Fira Santorini Greece
Fira Santorini, Greece

The landscape is beautiful, with the cliffs, the white houses with blue doors, and the black sand. I know that my idea of Greece is probably idealized, but that first image has stayed with me for years, and I know that some day I am going to see those blue and white domes overlooking the sea. I just don’t know when that will be.

“We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.” ~ Jawaharial Nehru

France: The Louvre. I could stop there, but there is so much more. France is steeped in culture and fine cuisine. We visited briefly when I was a child and my father was in the Navy. But even that short stay still sticks in my mind. I want to see Paris when it isn’t overrun with tourists, and I want to visit the valleys that are lush with vineyards. I want to see the countryside of Aquitaine and the Bordeaux vineyards. Tour La Champagne and see the medieval castles and the Forest of Ardenne.

When I think of France, I think of expansive fields of lavender in Provence, fine art, and rich creamy sauces. I imagine myself sitting outside at a café, sipping coffee and listening to the bustle of people about me. Or walking the beaches of the Riviera, enjoying the sunshine and azure waters. It is an appealing image.

And finally, Italy: Rome. At one time, the Roman Empire stretched across Eurasia. So many aspects of contemporary life can be attributed to the Romans: our system of government, the architecture that reflects Roman influences, even the idea of arenas. Of course, I want to see the Colosseum in Rome, but just as enticing is Tuscany: the rolling hills, the museums in Florence (the Uffizi and the Accademia).

Venice Opera House
Venice Opera House

I would also like meander through Venice, see the mosaics in the Basilica di San Marco, visit the rebuilt Opera House, travel in the canals, and wander through the perilously narrow streets. Actually, there is far too much in Italy that I want to see. I would probably need months and months to satisfy my appetite.

Perhaps I should probably do a Mediterranean cruise. Then I would be able to see the hot spots without having to find hotels, which can be quite pricey. Come to think of it, I could do an an Australian cruise. And once I have completed all of my cruising, I could decide on where to relocate!

“All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.” ~ Martin Buber

I know. I’m daydreaming, and I’m daydreaming quite extravagantly. Just imagine how much money would be involved . . . but the exercise was not to fret over cost but to consider where I would want to go, not how I would pay to go. That’s why it’s called daydreaming and not reality.

Oh well. I’ll just have to keep my passport valid and hope that one day I win the lottery.  No wait. You have to play in order to win, don’t you? Well I suppose that rules out that particularly unrealistic massive windfall.

How will I get to these places? I’ll think about that tomorrow . . . right now, I’m going to try to close my eyes and sleep. I’ll let you know how that whole peaceful dreams thing goes. I would love to know where you dream of going, which places you would like to see given the opportunity.

Piano music of George Winston . . .

 

More later. Peace.

Separate But Equal

Proposition 8

This is the actual wording of Proposition 8:

ELIMINATES RIGHT OF SAME–SEX COUPLES TO MARRY. INITIATIVE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT.

  • Changes the California Constitution to eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry in California.
  • Provides that only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.

On November 4th, this nation took a giant leap of faith and voted to elect the first black president into office. On the same day, California, Florida, and Arizona banned gay marriages in their states, with the passing of California’s Proposition 8 largely seen as the biggest loss of gay rights in the country. Arkansas also passed a measure preventing gay men and lesbians from adopting children.

California has long been viewed as a barometer of the nation’s acceptance of gay marriage. The state will still allow civil unions or domestic partnerships, which have many of the same rights of marriage; however, for many gays and lesbians, a civil union is hardly the same thing as a marriage. It is akin to that old “separate but equal” standard that many minorities used to face before desegregation: You can have this kind of union, and it’s just as good as a marriage. Sure, but not quite.

But even Arizona and Florida will not offer civil unions. To date, thirty states have passed bans on gay marriage. Only Massachusetts and Connecticut remain as states where same-sex marriages are legal.  More than 40 states now have Constitutional bans or laws against same-sex marriages.

The irony of the loss of civil rights for one group of people coupled with the tremendous gains of civil rights by another group of people cannot and should not be ignored. Gays and lesbians are taking the defeat hard, as well they should, just as their black brothers and sisters are rejoicing at finally winning a place at the head of the table.

As Julius Turman, a chairman of the Alice B. Toklas L.G.B.T. Democratic Club, a gay political group, said when he called his mother in tears when Mr. Obama won the presidency: “It is the definition of bittersweet.”  “As an African-American, I rejoiced in the symbolism of yesterday,” Mr. Turman said.  “As a gay man, I thought, ‘How can this be happening?’ only to be crying over the same-sex marriage vote in a different way not much later.” (NYT)

Why does it have to be this way? Why does there always have to be a great divide?

Funding From LDS

Religious organizations that supported Proposition 8 included the Roman Catholic Church, the Knights of Columbus, and especially, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), who publicly supported the proposition and encouraged its membership to donate time and money to helping the initiative pass. The LDS provided about 45 percent of out-of-state contributions (Utah Daily Herald). An estimated $35.8 million was spent to help Proposition 8 pass.

When asked, students of BYU in Utah stated that they believed that their work on helping to pass Proposition 8 was “needed” and “important.” According to one student, “I think it was needed for people like me. I’m not really into politics and I don’t know that much, but to be informed by the leaders of our church I think was needed by us.” (http://ldsfocuschrist.blogspot.com/2008/10/2008-byu-idaho-students-reaction-to.html) 

Reaction From the Community

Following passage of Proposition 8, mass protests took place across the state in Los Angeles, Sacramento, and San Francisco. Opponents of Proposition 8 included House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, along with twenty other members of the 53 member California congressional delegation and both of California’s U.S. senators, Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer. Ten of the states largest newspapers editorialized against the proposition, including The San Diego Tribune and The Los Angeles Times.

The Human Heart

All of the facts and statistics above notwithstanding, the really egregious aspect of Proposition 8 is the fact that it exists at all. Why does it matter? Why should you care what other people want to do with their lives? How many of you out there don’t even know that you have gay or lesbian children because your children are too afraid to tell you? What business is it of ours who someone loves? Love is such a scarcity in this world—real love that is. When a person finds love with another person, we should rejoice, not condemn.

What two people share in moments of quiet togetherness, it is theirs and theirs alone. Who are we to intrude and impose upon them our beliefs? Who are we to say what is right and just? Who are we to say who and when they should love? Why is love between a man and a woman, which usually ends in divorce one out of every two times, better? 

When you look upon the face of true love, is it not incredible to behold? Are you not better for having seen it? Do you not find yourself feeling more alive, more vibrant, if only for a moment? Consider yourself lucky to have been included in its circle, no matter who the participants are. Because those who love, always enrich those around them in some way.

At least, that is what I have found to be true, especially of my gay friends who have been denied the basic rights that straight couples have enjoyed for years—the right to own property together, the right to share family insurance policies, the right to be named next of kin, the right to visit in an intensive care room—seemingly mundane rights that we take for granted. That is what Proposition 8 denies. The right to fight over holiday dinners, the right to argue over whose mother is more of a pain, the right to have in-laws: Everyone should have to have those rights if straight people have to suffer them, then so should gay people.

But seriously, those of you who would be so small minded that you cannot look past a person’s sexual orientation are no better than those who could not look past the color of a person’s skin. You have just traded one bigotry for another.

Special Comment by Keith Olbermann

 

Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength while loving someone deeply gives you courage.

– Lao Tzu

 

More Later. Peace.