Engaging in a relationship with death and suffering

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I’ve been publishing and running this blog since March 2014. I think I’m beginning to understand why. Partly it’s because I have this compulsion, ever so often, to write and be read – doesn’t really matter by how many. And like many others, I want a platform that is singularly in my control, where people can bear witness to as much of me as I care to reveal. Barring my partner, our daughter, and our two cats, I don’t really reveal much of myself to anyone, mostly because I prefer building community with others at arms length distance.

(I’m a family man and misanthropic humanist rolled into one. This blog is sounding board, friend, and counsel.)

I realize I also want to leave a written legacy for my daughter for her to skim through in her own time.

This makes me fear death a lot less because there’s an authentic part of me, with these random streams of consciousness, that will always be left behind in this universe. If all goes well, I will die while Sus and Daya are both alive and well, but not before having helped establish a nurturing, secure foundation of love and community for them to continue thriving in. That is all I dream off and desire from this life. (Beyond, you know, the whole nirvana ideal of freedom from attachment and desire etc…for now, I’m just taking it step by step.)

It’s funny. I used to care a lot less about death in my teens and twenties.

But ever since the blooming of our amazing family, reflections on death (as well as more morbid, fearful thoughts around suffering, grief, trauma, and more…) have been an ever-present hum in my brain.

Try as I might I am unable to get rid of them.

On the surface it’s easy to see why. I lost my younger brother nearly fourteen years ago – three weeks before his 18th birthday – to a swimming accident. Our relationship has continued to grow and thrive in other realms, but I sure do miss him in this one. Issues with loss, and fear of the same, are likely to be lifelong companions. I have also seen a lot of suffering and trauma as a result of past work and activism. I know shit can get really, really bad, really, really fast, pretty much anywhere on earth.

Furthermore, I have never experienced as deep and spiritual a love as I have for Sus and Daya. Being a nurturer and parent is unlike anything I have ever experienced. Never have I feared losing two human beings more than these two. It is a fear so deep, so raw, that I can barely put it into words.

But I think another reason for those ever-present mental segues into death and suffering is because the universe is telling me to engage with those thoughts.

Instead of avoiding them, or rationalizing them, or getting tied down by them, I need to have a judgment-free, fearless relationship with them.

I don’t know what that might look like. Like any relationship, I suppose it will go through its ebbs and flows.

But I do know it’s a relationship that can get healthier only when I let go of my need to control it. I can’t really control when or how any of us is going to die. Nor am I, try as I might, going to be able to protect my loved ones from all the ills of the world. I know they are stronger than me and certainly strong enough to handle whatever life throws at them.

The only thing I do, in fact, know with certainty is that we are all going to die and we are all likely going to encounter some suffering in our lives.

Why not have a healthier relationship with that which is the only true certainty in this life of ours?

(You know, until we figure out the whole non-linearity of time thingy…a whole other mindfuck I can’t comprehend.)

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Why are conservative white Americans voting for sexual predators?

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I’m sorry, I just feel the need to rant about this a bit.

The demographic voting breakdown for rapist politicians like Trump and Moore makes for very sad reading. Yeah, I know the Democrat, Jones, won in Alabama – hurrah and everything – but damn near 49% of the electorate still voted for Moore, so it’s not exactly changing the societal dynamics of the state any time soon.

Going by different polls, anywhere from 70-75% of white men and 55-65% of white women voted for these monsters.

Now, this is true for Republican candidates in general, including the non-monstrous ones. They get the majority of white votes, regardless of the political hue of the state. It is the only goddamn reason they are extending their extinction date as a political force in the US.

But does this need to hold true even for candidates who are confirmed sexual predators?

What gives, my conservative white friends? You give a really, really bad name to your socially constructed race.

Seriously, is white privilege really that important to y’all?

Does some arbitrary notion of bullshit ethno-nationalism tickle your heart so much that even sexual predators get a pass as long as they are spangled in American stars and oozing Judeo-Christian, nationalist rhetoric?

I ask mostly out of an extremely concerned love.

You see, due to various life processes and messy happenstance, the majority of friends and loved ones in my life are white. For the sake of my very inter-racial, transnational family, I’m hoping they would never vote for such scumbags.

But even beyond personal cricles, my life is rooted in North America and it does concern me that such a sizable majority of white people actively court ignorance and fear. The shit white people do, across the political spectrum, affects all of us in this current post-1492 moment of humanity’s history. Other communities fuck up and for the most part it only affects their communities. White people fuck up and it affects a lot more than just white people.

(Until climate change shits on us all with absolute impunity and color-blindness that is.)

For now, I’m not very keen on living through an America getting high on brute nationalism and roid-rage patriarchy.

And I know deep down – regardless of who’s reading this piece – you’re not either.

Because you likely have people you care about and/or need who are going to get fucked over in the process.

Including the imbeciles who vote for such filth.

Is a nurturing nihilism possible?

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I must confess that while I have occasionally thought about the concept, I have never really been drawn to nihilism either as a philosophical construct to explore or adopt in an intimate manner. I often end up approaching and thinking about nihilism in roundabout ways.

Vicarious trauma.

Anger at injustice.

Fear.

When pondering about the multiverse and the non-linearity of time (and the infinite nature of the same).

That last one especially has me come face to face with the possibility that life is indeed devoid of any intrinsic meaning or value. Once you go infinity, that shit just fucks you up, because it means all the good, the evil, our biggest fears, our wildest dreams, everything, has happened, is happening, will happen.

This provides me both peace of mind and depression, occasionally leading to the masochistic comfort of a little nihilism here and there.

While I’ve always felt that nihilism tends to be a convenient escape from dealing with different forms of oppression in and around us, it also has the capacity to provide a bit of a temporary balm to help deal with trauma and suffering. And I believe it will always be temporary because, if past readings and experiences serve me right, distinctly contra-nihilist spiritualities and faiths – of different hues and levels of authoritarianism – eventually tend to take root among folks who’ve encountered high levels of trauma.

A touch of nihilism can nonetheless help in making sense of the senselessness of oppression, even if it is incomplete in and of itself to find peace and happiness unless matched up with other life philosophies in a hearty soul stew.

(Yes, I realize the bucketloads of contradictions in that above sentence – that’s the idea.)

Is a nurturing nihilism then possible?

Adding even greater detail for myself and my own understanding of a world that privileges whiteness, maleness, ableness, heteronormativity, and a host of other socio-cultural constructs…

Is a loving, caring, truly anti-oppressive nihilism possible?

Is it the growth and development of meaning inside us, despite or even because of our possibly meaningless lives?

Meh, UFC is on, I’ll think about this later…

What does my fierce and wise little warrior girl teach me?

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To love first and ask questions later.

To develop a lot more patience and keep working on it, cos boy do I need to.

To always respect her agency and not be an authoritarian asshole.

To realize that this is a nurturing partnership and that I have to be the responsible, caring adult in it (not the other way round).

To keep learning while being rooted in the present.

To accept, even be grateful for, the fact that life isn’t ever going to be perfect.

To seek out health and well-being as a family, rather than wealth and acclaim.

To ditch the masculine, patriarchal bullshit as much as possible, and to never rest easy with that particular endeavor.

To be cool with doing boring-ass shit that’s interesting to a toddler, over and over (and over) again.

Above all…to be beyond grateful for her and her mother.

Of course, occasionally I get these messages from some of the strangest actions and expressions on any given day that I can only paraphrase thus:

“You will respect my inalienable right to kick and scream during the poopiest of diaper changing sessions.”

“I own you and you will bend to my cute, darling will.”

“It’s your job to make sure I get the nutrition I need and it’s my job to eat, smear, spit, and/or fling as I so desire.”

“What’s your problem anyway? I eat well and my other, infinitely superior, parent keeps me well nourished with breast milk, so stop your whining.”

“If I want to play with the most uninteresting object in the household, then so be it.”

(“Honestly dude, even then it’s only because I possess the kind of brilliant imagination and wonder that said bye bye to your piss and vinegary ass a while back.”)

“Food is meant to be eaten, yes, but you, with your limited and backward adult brain, simply cannot comprehend all the other uses for it. I on the other hand can…and I don’t understand why it bothers you so much when I explore these other uses.”

(“I’m sure there’s a billionaire art collector in Europe who’d pay top dollar for my Swirling Yogurt Smear On Cheap Ass Dining Table – Daya S.V. 2017)”

“You need to really get it through your thick skull that I am of infinite wisdom and eternal truth. You are not the authority of anything. You are in fact full of shit and I see right through you.”

“I am awesome. You are extremely lucky, like once in a gazillion lifetimes lucky, to have me and my mother in your life.”

“Yes, I do want to swing on each and every swing in the park, and no, I’m not ready to go home. For a glorified butler, you sure do ask a lot of annoying questions.”

“Pick me up. Now. Put on music. Now. Dance. Now. Do not stop until I say so or fall asleep. NOW.”

“Remember, mama #1, appa #2, always…and don’t be thinking you can rest easy with that silver medal, slip up and your ass is off the podium.”

“Yes, that feeling of gratitude you have for me and my mother is what you should be feeling…more where that came from.”

XOXOXO

*sigh*

🙂

Quelling the virus…

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bell hooks got it spot on with her brilliant and exquisite savaging of “white supremacist capitalist patriarchy.”

Us denizens of America and the West, New and Old of the so-called First World, do indeed live in societies that more or less conform to this horror.

I believe that a good majority of these people don’t actually want to live in such societies, and would rather live in egalitarian, diverse, open-bordered matriarchies.

Unfortunately a good majority of people living in these societies also reap some kind of benefit or the other from the abomination that is WSCP.

Especially dudes.

And white folk.

And citizens.

And people with means and access (and let’s face it, the western world consumes so goddamn much that even those of us in the laboring classes, materially speaking, have more than the vast majority of the rest of humanity.)

This will change of course. Them borders, militaries, and inequitable consumption rates can only hold out for so long before balance sets in. When balance starts setting in, it can get violent, or it can be a caring, nurturing, even fun-filled chaos.

The latter requires coming past WSCP.

Which means actually living against the grain of WSCP, whether out of choice or compulsion.

It means quelling the virus.

The virus of toxic masculinity above all.

For it does seem quite evident that it’s what lies at the heart of WSCP. We wouldn’t have an endless supply of rapists and misogynists occupying positions of power and authority otherwise.

If us dudes continue to fail in this all-important battle for our souls; if we shirk our duties as nurturers and community members; if we continue to stay away from the kitchen, the laundry, and the household; if we fail to scorch this cancer stemming from patriarchal manhood, then this cesspool of power and violence the world over will never disappear.

It is in us to quell this virus. I refuse to believe that all men across the globe are of a cruel and selfish spirit. I refuse to submit to the notion that men have no choice but to be clueless, abusive assholes. I refuse to accept this nonsense that manhood needs to be in any way violent, sexist, or power-ridden.

I truly do believe that the vast majority of my brothers want happiness and peace of mind – the kind that can only come from taking on the never-ending struggle to quell the virus.

And when faltering or failing (indeed as a general fucking rule) I adhere to a very simple credo:

Heed the wisdom of goddesses.

I’m happier for it.

 

On freeing myself mentally and spiritually (aka the myth of the blue pill)

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The Gratitude Project – Musing 15

I’m grateful for the ongoing process of freeing myself mentally and spiritually.

I have a long way to go of course.

For instance…

Freeing myself, say, from capitalist cultural values both complements and competes with my ongoing struggles to free myself from internalized sexism and patriarchy;

Which further complement and compete with my ongoing struggles to free myself from internalized racism and trauma;

Not to mention that gosh darn little decolonization of the mind thingy I have going on that just keeps kicking me in the balls.

Why oh why didn’t I just take the blue pill?

Oh, that’s why…

Because the blue pill is a fucking myth.

It was never an option for me.

Which is why I’m grateful for a mind and soul that yearns for love, liberation and all that hippie dippie shit;

(The rabbit hole might stink on occasion, but it’s still my home.)

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Today I feel like I can connect with a past life – TGP Musing 14.75

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The Gratitude Project – Musing 14.75

For the longest time, ever since I was a wee little one (you know, growing up in a post-colonial, commonwealth-English-speaking country where I imbibed paraphrases like “wee little one”) – I’ve always felt like I was meant to thrive in a different era; An era when capitalism, religion, and patriarchy didn’t exist.

I was meant to romp around with my loved ones, human and non-animal alike, in the somewhat scary freedom of the natural world.

I say somewhat scary because the feeling is real in these visions of mine. And these “natural worlds” that they take place in span the spectrum of environmental bounty and wretchedness. Real freedom and liberation is indeed something to feel a little afraid of, I’ve come to realize. And the natural world is not some romantic paradise-like land, but a very real, occasionally dangerous place that needs to be lived in with care and caution.

It is the reason I’m never alone in these visions.

I’m always with people and animals. Because that relatively scary freedom is turned into a nurturing liberation with love and community. And the natural world we live in is respected, even feared a little, for what it is and can be to us all.

It’s why I realize that these aren’t visions of a life I was meant to live.

These are memories, past and future, of a life I’ve already lived.

And it’s the reason why I’m so fucking grateful for flashes of consciousness that smash the unidirectional linearity of time.

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