Same old, same old? No way!

hi im eric

cat and bird again

I have a friend who is smart, kind, creative, hardworking, and funny as hell. He said a while ago he thought he was incompatible with other people. Well, yeah, incompatible with a lot of people who settle for whatever the day hands them. But when it comes to people who look for and are grateful for something beyond just feh . . . what a blessing he is.

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Dharma on the bridge

This afternoon after work, I headed over the Main Street bridge to get some walk time in.  I’ve been walking since a “challenge”  started with the wellness program at work the beginning of May.  I saw someone hand a sandwich to a man sitting on the bridge with a cardboard sign that said Feed Hunger. 

It was especially sad to me because the man appeared to be Asian, either Nepali or Karen.  Or some other culture.  And the sadness is because these are cultures built around family, taking care of family, because if your family doesn’t take care of you, who will?

The result is that, if someone is without family, they are in deep trouble.

Tribal origins, caste and/or class are big barriers to people caring for each other in many, many cultures, so the tradition of family caring for family is really important.

It struck me that, with shifting demographics in the U.S., the United States could end up absorbing a lot more of the origins/caste/class attitude than it already has.

Now is the time for people who think of themselves as part of American culture to do these kinds of things:

1) Live and act as if nothing labeled “yours” belongs to you.  Material possessions are not evil by themselves; they become evil when used with a selfish attitude.  I see so much in the news about rich people and celebrities giving tons of money to charity, but (though I cannot read hearts) it seems often that their hearts are not in such acts, only their accountants.

2) Remember how it felt that day when you had absolutely no money/food/gass/toilet paper/shampoo/stockings without runs/whatever.  How it felt when you realized your house key was locked in your house or your car key was locked in your car.  I think that almost everyone I know has had at least one experience like that.  Multiply that feeling by ten or twenty years and by tens of thousands of people.  That’s the feeling and the memory that many, many people in Rochester and surrounding areas carry with them like a big, black rock they can’t set down.

3) Don’t begrudge a scammer a sandwich or a drink.  If someone might be trying to game the system, well, whatever.  He or she will have to own up to it some day.  Meanwhile, your heart doesn’t need to be grinchy.  Never give money; that is a no-no.  Period.  But give all the sandwiches you can.

4) Learn to rock out on pennies a day.  Years ago, when I was in school, or just out, I had zero money on hand one day.  I had a craving for potato chips.  Walking down the sidewalk, I found fifty cents.  Wow, I got really excited.  I got a bag of potato chips.  I felt richer than the Queen of England.

5) Support organizations that support the helpless and the homeless, and do it with your vulnerable, beating, heart.  For church folks there are gobs of church-type organizations; for non-church folks there are gobs of non-church organizations.

6) Try memorizing Exodus 23: 6-9

“You shall not pervert the justice due to your needy brother in his dispute.7“Keep far from a false charge, and do not kill the innocent or the righteous, for I will not acquit the guilty.

“You shall not take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the clear-sighted and subverts the cause of the just.

“You shall not oppress a stranger, since you yourselves know the feelings of a stranger, for you also were strangers in the land of Egypt.”

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Right now, I want peace, quiet, order, manners, thoughtfulness, concern for others . . . even if it is totally hypocritical.

I don’t want etiquette police.  I just want individual people to take responsibility for their behavior.  I don’t care if people do it because they believe God wants them to or because they want to suck up to someone who can give them a good job.  I just want the experience of a day here, a day there, a week, a month where there is no sound of the English language being daily used as a weapon of selfishness and stupidity.

And, of course, that would include no sounds out of my mouth.  Sometimes I am so very really tired of my own selfish, whiny mouth.

Back in college days, I heard someone say that there isn’t and has never been a sort of ideal America that people are always striving for.  There isn’t and has never been a point of equilibrium in social, political, moral, legal and/or any other issues.

Essentially, this person said, culture swings back and forth between the poles of being legalistic and repressive and being wink-wink-I-don’t-give-an-eff.  Somewhere in the middle, there are periods where things feel stable and ideal and golden, but those don’t last long.

So, as far as achieving a grand vision of American life is concerned, there is, and there never will be.

Right now, that view of things makes perfect sense to me.  It explains a lot and makes the old sixties idea of “dropping out” seem quite desirable.

However, I personally would love it if American culture started swinging back just a little from where it is now toward the middle in terms of etiquette and public behavior.  Where it might end up once it passed through the mid-point and headed for the other extreme is not a particularly happy thing to contemplate, but where culture is now is horrible.

I really, really am tired of living a culture where the standard of public, daily, average-citizen discourse is, for instance, “You people are f—ing crazy,” something I heard on the phone recently.  I am also tired of the view of public life and discourse apparently espoused by a man who was standing in the bus shelter, smoking marijuana one morning as I approached to wait for my bus to work.

When I (impulsively, I admit) confronted him and said (thinking of small children viewing him), “Can’t you do that at home?” he said, “I have freedom of speech, and I don’t give a s–t what you think.”

As someone who went through the strange adventure of English literature in grad school, I know that “four-letter” words are just words, and a couple of them were really just words earlier in the history of the English language.  But it’s how they are used.

I mean, I have nothing against butter knives, but if someone starts using them constantly to try and stab people, I am going to start working for the elimination of butter knives from public life until it’s clear that people are being taught that butter knives are for butter only.

Self-absorbed, uncontrolled blurting may be the ideal of free speech toward which we all should aspire.  And perhaps we should all be working toward a utopia of cacophony and violence.  Maybe anarchy and nihilism truly and completely let loose would once and for all shake everyone free of selfishness, knee-jerk anger, greed, prejudice, but the history of the world indicates that probably would never happen.

So right now, I am really desirous of living in a culture that finds a way to stop worshiping the f-bomb as the ultimate expression of maturity, intelligence, and self-determination.

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Edith and the Tree

Today (Tuesday, July 17, 2012) it was hot in Rochester, NY.  A guy on the bus said it got up to ninety-seven.  A friend on the phone said it got up to 92.  Whatever.  It was hot.  Also, there was a strong, dry wind blowing all day.  It seemed a little as if the world had shifted somehow so western New York was experiencing a wind straight out of the Sahara.  But no Bedouins or Tuaregs brought their camels to a stop at the stop light down the street from my office.

I did have a close encounter with the effects of the wind when I got home from work.  Despite the heat, I decided to pick up some bits of trash in the front yard.  Then I went around to the east side of the house, the side next to the apartment house whose residents are less than careful about where they put debris, even though they have trash cans.

I discovered that a section of the maple growing by my front porch was lying across the neighbors’ driveway.  I assume the wind brought it down.  Thank God the neighbors weren’t parked when it fell over.  They still had just enough room to pull into the driveway and park.

I went back inside, drank a lot of hydrating fluids, got out my lopping shears and a small saw, and went back outside.  It took me half an hour to chop everything up so that I could move it off the driveway.  (I’ll chop more on Saturday.)  I sweated me some sweat, but the wind dried it right up.

I got the job done, went inside, drank some more cold liquids, and called it done.  It was a providential experience.  No problems with my tools, with my grip, with my heat tolerance.  Don’ t exactly know why.  I felt so like I wanted to build a log cabin after that (just kidding).

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Cloud conversation

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Why diets don’t work

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Why do cats look wise, act wacky?

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