there is no there there, and i’m not talking about oakland—or, how not to be delusional

AlexeyBednij1

DELUSION: “An idiosyncratic belief or impression that is firmly maintained despite being contradicted by what is generally accepted as reality…”

Many believe the religious are delusional. That’s understandable given that the nature of religion is to traverse the sphere of the imperceptible. But most of us do experience love, beauty, truth, spirit: ‘things’ without form. We know they exist even though they can’t be dissected or factually proven.

Yet science can be delusional, too. First, by trying to dismiss the ineffable because it cannot be ‘proven,’ but also by subconsciously projecting subjective beliefs on ‘impartial’ hypotheses. If something doesn’t present like a human, then what’s objectively looked for doesn’t exist. Example: deciding that animals—and until 1987, babies!!!—don’t experience pain, mainly because animals’ faces aren’t expressive like us humans and many animals/insects don’t vocalize pain when suffering or, more likely, not on wave lengths that we hear.

My point is delusional subjectivity is found in every area of life, not confined to the realms of religion or science, the seen or the unseen. It’s not an either/or world.

Delusional Disorder is one thing, but “benign” delusion’s a social irritant that just keeps growing.

I realize that wishing for change, yet continuing doing the learned is common. There’s a name for an aspect of that: cognitive dissonance. Think of the many people who desire to jettison extra weight, quit a soul-sucking  job, get in shape, learn a language or instrument but just somehow…don’t.

Wishing is a start that used to translate into genuine want, which would transform into actual action and then and only then did the possibility of arriving at the aspiration begin. Catch that? That’s the START, not the conclusion.

It’s not enough to retrieve a wish from the ‘land of possibilities’—where one may desire many conflicting things simultaneously but never truly choose anything—and convert it into a genuine want. But to actually arrive at reality, effort must be taken.* You have to pick up the instrument, literally look for a different job, work out… Reasonable, right?

This last, often unrealized, step is the place of fantasy that I’m seeing more often. In young children, make-believe is developmentally appropriate, but adults? Uh…no. Yet many Generation X-ers—30s to mid 40s—(Doug Coupland said they have no allegiances to anyone or anything, and get no allegiances in return) carry the irrational belief that to just want something is magically sufficient enough work to obtain it. Business owner friends say that half of their employees see work as a noun, not a verb.

The land of possibilities reveals no inner core, no chosen life rudder, no morés. Having everything ‘open’ means there’s no sound footing. True freedom comes from responsibility, not lack. Responsibility—ability to respond—occurs from an integrated, discerning Self. Reaction, impulsiveness, compulsion happen when there’s no “there there,” as Gertrude Stein wrote. Stimulation is not inspiration.

Heart & logic, ethereal & empirical are simultaneously essential components to a fully realized choice, to deeper evolution. The polarization of “all or none” must alchemize into “and & both” if we want to inhabit an authentic, non-delusional life.

*See: “do you believe what you’re sayin’? yeah right now, but not that often.”

i like a woman who takes “care” of herself

beauty

I’m a woman, and I’ve been one for a long time. I’m feminine in a masculine kind of way.

Meaning, I don’t burn, wax, whiten, shave, tweeze, peel, curl, tan, receive weaves, perms, eyelash treatments, Botox injections, lip plumping, anal bleaching, slather myself with chemicals, makeup, nail polish… I don’t stuff my feet into evil Cinderella step-sister shoes, don “flossing” panties or encase my butt in Spanx.

I don’t do this because: I like to walk, bike, hike, sit and move comfortably. I enjoy deep breaths and smiles that don’t hurt my face. I love to eat (makes you fat!!), drink red wine (stains your teeth!), enjoy raw onions & garlic (bad breath!). I partake of all regularly.

Until recently most men’s grooming rituals were Shit, Shower, Shave. If older, maybe tweeze those errant nose/ear hairs. Most wear sensible shoes.

Beauty shouldn’t alter your body’s ability to be a body. Hair machinations, tattoos or (most) piercings are creative without significantly changing the body’s mastery of itself. I like to wear flowing skirts, cute boots with heels no higher than a man would wear, scarves, hats and non-binding jewelry. I’ve had designs cut and color stripes dyed into my hair for 35 years. Occasionally, I wear lip tint. I’ve been told I’m elegant and beautiful.

I could target anything from the savage “beauty” list above to rant on—having barely touched on dieting, plastic surgery or foot binding—but I’m going after one porn-informed ubiquitous ritual because it disrupts women’s sexuality.

Women shaving/waxing their vagina is part of the sexualization images derived from porn, not from women. Hairless is not what women look like. No, boys, they really don’t. But it is what girls are like…or little boys.

In the last 15+ years, the sexual unhappiness of women has quadrupled, at least from the accounts wept from my client chair. Somehow, male imbibers of porn think what they see on their computer = sex with live women. Think again. [See testosterone: the most lethal substance on earth (george carlin)] Real life women—seen through this x-rated distortion of airbrushed, anorexic and “bald” models—come up lacking.

Well, ladies, you’re contributing to the problem by unconsciously internalizing a patriarchal ideal of beauty, by altering your bodies to mirror porn stars: boob jobs, labiaplasty, hoodectomy, anal bleaching. And, more minorly, by porn-tarting up your coochie and calling it grooming, by buying into the unreal perfection-waxed-projections pushed by the biggest Big Biz.

I’m weary of porn deforming the erotic lives of women. 98% (or more) of porn is not women designed or women interesting. I want sex to stop being defined by male fantasy-driven images. Porn is not making love; it’s not even sex. Just like faking orgasms to resemble the poppycock in XXX “films,” you’re ruining the visual perception for a lot of other women who just want to be…women. Au naturel.

Peeling a band-aid off really smarts though I don’t usually rip it from my vaginal lips. I hear it’s torture to get a Brazilian wax, “landing strip” or not.

And for what? Ask yourselves. Paraphrasing standup comedienne Laura Hayden: “Men used to be happy just to be invited to the playground. Now they want it cleaned up, too?!”

 

trees: the beneficent beauties among us

I’ve never understood how the noun “tree-hugger” became a pejorative, like: “dick,” “bitch” or “drama queen.” (if you still believe the latter is allowable see: calm down? f@#k off!)

How can hugging trees indicate anything other than awareness and respect for all the gifts they give the whole planet? If you’ve never considered them as actual beings, if you’ve taken them for granted, if you’ve turned them into a category, then slowly ruminate over this phenomenal bestowal:

Shade, oxygen, cooling of the planet, pollen for health and honey, fruits, flowers, oils, teas, coffee, spices, flavorings, medicines, wood for furniture, houses, boats, musical instruments, etc., decorations, fuel, rubber, maple syrup, sugars, nuts, mushrooms, gum, fertilizer, bark, fibers, paper, cardboard, glue, resins, dyes & inks, turpentine, insulation, cotton/silk (Ceiba Tree), shampoo and perfumes.

Beauty! tinting all seasons.

Bird roosts, homes and hosts for infinite beings, nesting materials. Trees mitigate humidity (add and subtract as needed), modify sound & light, give color, improve water: their roots are a natural water cleaning system, reduce soil erosion, wash the air, prevent pollution, maintain ecological balance and they add major property value.

Their presence textures our landscape vision. Trees have proven calming effects, ameliorate depression, provide fun (climbing), relaxation (think hammocks); they live hundreds of years; redwoods create whole new environments at the top of themselves and “they change the chemical nature of the soil…assum[ing] control of vital resources in the forest, particularly sunlight and water.”

Considering how humans treat them, use and abuse them without a thought or a thank you, trees exhibit infinite patience, something we could all use a little more of.

Maybe most importantly—in a world gone missing in doing and consuming—trees model wisdom in stillness.

Wisdom………in………stillness

‘weighty’ women & “little petty places”

Maggiegoesonadiet.jpg

In the U.S., childhood obesity keeps rising precipitously and many parents seem at a loss about what to do except let kids play outside, stop feeding them sugar & processed food at meals and “rewarding” them with treats, spend time with them actually cooking (not heating or microwaving) and sitting down to family meals of both corporeal and cerebral nourishment, empower them with kid-sized life choices and/or make them feel valued & essential to the planet. Barring those, what better way to handle fat than to discuss dieting to little kids. Next stop, eating disorders.

Last year, a book—written by a man—targeted to 4-8 year-olds and entitled, Maggie Goes on a Diet, tells the story of 14-year-old Maggie who bullied about her weight decides to do something about it. Well, we all know boys won’t be reading this book, not with a fat female protagonist. Cathleen Connors, author of HerBadMother.com astutely commented, “It’s so interesting that he didn’t write it about a boy, and that he uses girl-body-image stereotypes to make his point—young girl dreaming about fitting into nice jeans, etc.”

Yes. Even as a life-long thin woman, I can feel the pressure. Telling girls that in order to succeed, be considered healthy or beautiful and—pathetically—even smart, losing that extra weight is the remedy constitutes a dangerous poison that lasts a lifetime.

  • Four out of five U.S. women are dissatisfied with their appearance.
  • 81% of ten year old girls are afraid of being fat.

First, there’s more than one reason people put on weight and no enchanted pill, trendy diet or exercise program is going to melt all those reasons (or the fat) away—be you female or male, BTW.

Second, imagine what women could gift the world if they didn’t waste their life force “managing” their weight. Don’t hold your horses waiting for this to change. An abundance of this pressure is internalized, passes from mom to daughter, woman to woman and is constantly reinforced by a male-driven media that traffics in women’s bodies not because they care to create an ideal as much they want to exploit fantasy and fear to make big money.

On the male side: porn, driven by daydream bodies that most guys could never touch even if women really existed like that. ($$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$) For females: an unrealistic weight-loss-fantasy-physique that’s about 25% under the BMI. ($33,000,000,000,000+)

Many men I know like “woman-sized” figures—not skinny boy-bodies, not obese bodies. They like to squeeze a woman with actual breasts and hips and thighs. Countless women have real-life dreams that lie dead or dormant before the altar of “thin.”

To celebrate women of all ages and shapes, here’s Lucille Clifton’s 1987 poem:

Homage to my Hips

these hips are big hips.
they need space to
move around in.
they don’t fit into little
petty places. these hips
are free hips.
they don’t like to be held back.
these hips have never been enslaved,
they go where they want to go
they do what they want to do.
these hips are mighty hips.
these hips are magic hips.
i have known them
to put a spell on a man and
spin him like a top

wanting for want or how to find your lost self

IMG_0389

Sometimes I think of all the things I could’ve been, could’ve chosen but didn’t. Not with regretful longing but with a curiosity of what might have been if I hadn’t heard my own voice louder than society’s blitz.

Such as the night I was studying with a college mate while she bar-tended and I inadvertently met the father of my children. Or the time I nervously wrote an email to someone I’d met just once but intuitively felt compelled to know better; he’s now one of my best friends. What if I’d been too timid to email or been overly insular with that college mate?

Many adults don’t actually choose thingsat least not from the heart—because they can’t hear their Selves. They live by default, going with what’s nearest or easiest instead of from existing eagerness and, regrettably, they teach their kids the same strategy.

With my clients, the most common dilemma—besides loneliness/emptiness, which is directly tied to what I’m discussing—is that they don’t know what they really want.

It is difficult to differentiate since most aren’t raised to come from the inside out but from the outside in, becoming prey to recurrent worlds of advertising, movies, TV, etc. bombarding them with ‘wants.’ The real truth is that inauthentic wants—even if they’re great for others—will never fill that hole.

I also repeatedly encounter a cellular fear-memory of eschewing wants for dread of rejection, ridicule or even abuse; they’d learned it was safer to settle. Unfortunately, settling is like breathing through one congested nostril: you get enough air to survive but it’s not sufficient to live.

Many people ‘deep-six’ who they intrinsically are before the age of two. Later they squander large amounts of money and time traversing the world in search of the perfect place to live, the ideal mate, the extreme experience, the ‘right’ career, ad nauseum, or they suffocate their spirit with diverse addictions.

Until they can’t. That’s when they show up in my chair and devote lots of energy and years peeling off life’s opaque paint trying to uncloak their original Selves.

For this reason I routinely ask these clients to go back to childhood enthusiasms as that’s where genuine wants were abandoned for approval and/or survival. Those desires have usually changed form but the sincere yearning is ‘vibrating’ nearby.

For instance, my first encounter with art, beauty and philosophical Truth was in the catholic church and I was awed. From that, I wanted to know everything. So—at age three—I decided I wanted to be god. (I dream big) My older brothers scoffed and dismissed that idea outright and, sadly, I accepted their elder “wisdom” as impossible.

Well, they were wrong. I muffled that want for two decades, but when it resurrected—guess what? I found ‘god’ within, and she’s one voice-y little hellcat who surrounds herself with animals, flowers, art, books and music and takes big, deep non-catholic breaths.