Whale songs and unconscious ideology

Whether through Finding Nemo, National Geographic, or some scuba diving experience of which I’m undoubtedly jealous - you’ve probably heard whale songs. 

What you probably didn’t know though, is that you were much more likely to prefer the whale songs of the 1960’s than the 1970’s. A study showed that humans, when presented with whale songs from these two decades, strongly preferred the songs of the 60’s. 

Ironically, just after the turn of the decade in 1972, the UN put a moratorium on whaling. It of course took a few years after the dominant music of the whales for the government to move toward action. This is the same way things work up here on land.

Maybe the whales below were singing about peace and harmony just like Dylan and the rest of the counterculture folk up here on land were doing. Whatever their noises were focused on, we preferred what they had to say during the 60’s.

Which goes to show that we all have preferences that we never could’ve imagined having. There are things that we are naturally inclined to think or feel or prefer that we aren’t fully conscious of.  

Sometimes these things are funny like the overwhelming preference of 60’s whale songs to 70’s, but sometimes they are bias’ that get in the way of human potential.  

In my experience, a lot of my unconscious preference comes from a place of confirmation bias. And this largely comes from my ideologies.  The ideologies I hold can often force me into a narrow minded and shallow view of reality. Which forces me to ask myself questions.

What are my ideologies? What are the ways in which those ideologies are seen outside the context of being within the ideology - both positive and negative? Do I fall into the faults? Do I live into to the life they give? 

We all have preference. And that’s okay. But in my experience when I hold preference without remembering why, sometimes I end up becoming callous to different ways of thought.  

And that can create scars and wars and dead whales.  

the me versus the all

There are ponds that come from tributaries which come from rivers which come from water.

A lot of us like our ponds and don't care much for water. 

A lot of us like our ideology and don't care much for humanity. 

Ponds and tributaries and rivers run dry. They go away.

But there's always water somewhere. 

human

The name for human is derived from the word hummus which means of the earth. Which follows the same idea of creation stories spanning from Paraguay to the Middle East. The Judeo-Christian tradition calls humans adama (we say Adam) which translates to dirt person. The indigenous people of Paraguay have a language called guaraní. Their word for person is yvyipora. Yvy meaning dirt. Ipora meaning spirit.

Humanity understands that our origin is from the dirt. We are gardens. Each one of us. Who with time, patience, and care have the ability to become abundantly lush with life. Not through the constant drive of do do do. But in a way mirroring the consistent stillness of the earth. A way of being. And a way of letting time begin to reveal all that we need, spanning from the days of rain to the ones of sun.

And through this process of being, life bursts forth fuller or more wonderfully than we could've ever possibly imagined otherwise. 

It's one thing to live in this world, but it becomes a whole different experience when we choose to exist.

existence is enough

We celebrate things because they exist. The birth of a child. The serenity of a natural landscape. The joining of two stories to one at a wedding. The greatest appreciation we as humans have is largely tied to moments of the simple recognition of things that exist. And these things are what they are because of no other circumstance than the simple but profound act of being.

Waves don't choose to break on the sand, but they do.

The sun doesn't attempt to set in such a brilliant display of colors, but it does.

A forest doesn't plan on having it's trees leaves decorate our line of sight every fall, but they do.

Nearly all wonder is a process of nothing more and nothing less than living into what is most natural. Living into the natural way of existence. 

And yet every day we wake up with the driving question of what is it I have to do because the question of what is it I am able to see is seen as careless and a waste of time.

Which has done nothing but make us machines to the machines we build. Creating them for the purpose of giving us a purpose. We have largely become a cog in some massive way of the world that has blinders on to all the rest of existence. 

It's been said that we are human beings, not human doings. And that most of us fall into the trap of the latter of the two. Not living into our true names. Motivated by what is next as opposed to what is now

But what is now?

What is the wave break

or the sun set

or the autumn forest in your life in this very moment?

What is the thing that is existing and worth celebrating but has been missed by the distraction of the doing? Because it is there. And in my experience, giving whatever it may be recognition over the next temporary task brings a lot more life.

Idealism and a puppy

On Friday I bought a puppy. It was a early birthday gift to my wife. I had person after person warn me about the life shift that would come from being a dog owner. The moving from personal freedom to having something to be responsible for.  

And I shrugged it all off. It’s a puppy, I thought, how hard could it actually be?

But it’s hard. It’s exhausting. And my ability to just act on an idea and run with it has been stifled by ankle biting, pissing, and wire chewing.  

What is the truth we shy away from with idealism? Because whenever something is seen through the lens of the ideal, it isn’t seen through the lens of reality. And therefore, it can never actually be the ideal. Because ideals are best possible realities. Which is a state nothing can live in all of the time. 

Shedding the blinders of the ideal can often be the place where reality can speak. And learning the tenor of difficulty and frustration paved the way for hearing the tenor of the good and the beautiful.  

 

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You are a cast iron skillet

My wife and I received a cast iron skillet for Christmas from her sister.

We love it.

The sizzle and crackle of vegetables on it is a sure sign that you’re  cooking  . Just last night we threw on some peppers, onions, brussel sprouts, and green beans. Then topped it off with some 21 seasoning salute from Trader Joe’s and we were LOVING LIFE. 

But what’s especially interesting about a cast iron skillet is that the taste you get from it isn’t just the taste you’re currently consuming. It’s that taste, but also all the tastes from meals past. Cast iron skillet hold onto what they’ve held and let the remnants of meals past influence meals of the present. 

So you, me, and all of us - we’re really just a bunch of cast iron skillets.  

We hold onto those things that happened to us however many years ago. The hard things, the beautiful things, the things inbetween. We carry them. And they impact the reality we experience every day, whether we know it or not. What we are cooking is enhanced by the flavors of times past. Each moment rolls itself into the next.  

This is freeing or frightening. But the beauty of it all is that we get to pick which of those trajectories to follow. And at the end of the day, I think all of us have the end goal of pursuing what tastes good.  

You Are 60% Banana

When was the last time you ate a banana? You and that banana you consumed share 60% of the same DNA.  

Think on that for a second.  

Only 40% of your essence is unique from that yellow fruit you pair with peanut butter on your toast.  

Think of someone that you hit it off with 60% of the time. They probably aren’t your best friend but you don’t dred being around them. 60% is a fairly sufficient number for bonding and common ground. There’s quite a tangible amount of crossover when there’s 60% commonality.

And yet, even with how much more similiar we are to our neighbors than we are bananas, we’re still assholes to people.

Is not you essence significantly more than 60% similar to someone you find frustrating or irritating or unlike you? The answer is yes. Because, as I’ll repeat over and over because it’s mind mindending, 60% is the commonality between you and a banana  

We as humans are, in the large scheme of things, ridicously alike. And yet we are very acquainted with polarization.  

Why? 

What is the motivation we all tap into that encourages discovering differences over commonalities? 

we have tides

I have a friend who is a singer / songwriter and he has a song with the lyrics, 

"You pull like the moon on my tide."

I always found this to be a beautiful expression of how someone can interact with the love strings of ones heart. But the other day I read something that expanded the idea of us and tides and how intimately the two things are tied.

The circulatory system, the veins and arteries and basic rivers in which our blood flows through, are the pathways to a mirroring of an incredibly mystic nature. They are the pathways to our tides. Our blood goes in and out of our heart. Rhythmic. Pulsating. It happens like clockwork. Until, of course, it doesn't. 

Humans have long been mesmerized by the ocean. We stand on its shores in complete awe of vastness and the unknown. But the ocean is also a mirror to the reality going on within us. Just as a wave breaks at our feet, our blood pumps to all of our extremities. And just as it returns out to sea, our blood returns back to our heart.

You have a tide. We are the tide. We are an ebb and flow of give and take give and take ...

Give and take. 

This isn't just true in a blood and ocean sense, this is also what you do when you breathe, you empty and receive. You give and you take. 

So for someone or something to pull like a moon on our tide means they pull on us like the orchestrator of all we do and all we are. They intersect with our most innate nature. And we aren' the same.

As true as this might be romantically, it is also true in an experiential sense. What are those moments, those divine or transcendent or mystical moments, in which something pulled upon your tide like the moon? It shifted your paradigm? It awoke in you a new rhythm?

Discover those things. Share them. They are what keep hope alive.

slower

Some days we need the quiet undertones of nothingness to slither their way to the surface. And once there, let them take over.

As we fall backwards onto the cushion in rest.  

what are our tools?

Maslow said something to the effect of,

”If your only tool is a key, you’ll go around thinking all doors are locked.” 

In a similar vein - if your only tool is a prayer that gets people to some other place after this life, you’ll go around attempting to make everyone believe this life isn’t all that great.  

or

If your only tool is the stats and evidence to reduce this worlds reality to chance and facts and figures, you’ll go around making everyone believe the world can really just be reduced to happenstance.

Maybe the only tool with a use in every situation is Love. A tool based on the absence of ego and the prideful self, and the presence of unity and oneness.

That’s a key that fits into every keyhole.  

We all have beliefs. But at what point do our beliefs become our tools that we go around trying to use in every situation we encounter?  

the air we breathe

Every day you breathe in 438 cubic feet of air. Which, to give a visual because air is so intangible for our mind, is about the size of 3200 gallons of liquid. 

So in that sense, you breathe about 3200 milk cartons of air per day.  

Thats a lot of air. But just as we take it in, we also give it out. We consume more air than probably anything else we consume during our lives, but we also give back just as much as we take.  

Our relationship with air is one of equilibrium.  

Whereas our relationship with nearly everything else is out of balance. We have too much ______ and not enough ______. 

Life often seems to be a whirlwind of imbalance, injustice, inequality. Except with the thing sustaining your life every waking second you spend here.

The air in your lungs.

Everyone on earth, regardless of race, orientation, class, is given a fair share of air to breathe  

It’s no wonder then that the Hebrew people had the word for air and wind be the same word they attributed to the spirit of the Divine. This word is ruach. They saw spirit in the same intangible and mystical way as one encounters air.

It is everywhere, being consumed in every moment, and is equally accessible for everyone. And it’s all those things regardless of religion, political affiliation, or any other thing we use to set parameters. 

Air and Divine encounter is a breath. A give and a take. In us just as we are in it. It’s all around us. And accessible and a part of all.  

marching

Marching is a visual showing of a collective conciousness. A physical manifestation of a shared belief.

MLK day is a day of marching. A day where the collective consciousness of equity, justice, and freedom become manifested in mass groups. 

You get a good idea of what you are marching to by the make up of the people you walk beside.  

three miles per hour

We tend to walk at 3mph. It’s the ideal speed. Slow enough to recognize subtleties, fast enough to continue to make progress.

It’s equilibrium.

Not disatteched Walden pond.

Not disattached climbing of the corporate ladder.

It’s just 3mph.  

At what pace have you been walking lately?  

the saints of godlessness

I was listening to a podcast the other day with poet Christian Liman. Liman had a southern baptist upbringing. In his late teens / early twenties he left the faith altogether for a form of agnosticism. In his late thirties, he returned back to it. Not back to a doctrine / rule based faith.

But something new. Something fresh. Something open. 

He had a quote in the show that went something a bit like this, 

“I’m convinced that the same God who calls me to sing of God in one moment calls me to sing of godlessness in another. I’m of the belief that God calls some people to unbelief so faith can take new forms.”

Last year I was able to get to know the singer / songwriter Bryan John Appleby. I brought him to Whitworth in the Fall for a show and then he came back to play a backyard house show in the Spring. Both times he crashed at my place and him, a few buddies, and I stayed up late drinking beers and chatting about all the big questions metaphysical questions of the world. 

Bryan’s music, especially his early stuff, wrestled a lot with unbelief. He grew up a Christian but felt like he needed to leave that framework behind. His art was what allowed him to put into words why and also gave him a release point. 

One of the nights we were kicking it in the backyard, I asked Bryan about a song called The Silent Shepherd. He grinned. He told me that that song was the place him and I had both been in our lives. The place where we were frustrated and agitated about our lack of faith or buy-in to the “Sunday school” esque God. The place of feeling like you’ve grown beyond the dominant consciousness of your faith and don’t know if there’s room for you in it anymore. 

“Mike, that was the point I left the faith I had been raised with and the point you discovered some more open / mystic version of that same faith. We both reacted the same, but ended up in different camps.” 

It was beautiful to think about.

But after listening to Wiman’s interview, I don’t think Bryan and I are in different camps at all. I think Bryan was called to sing of godlessness. And because of that, he’s helped me - and many others I’m sure - keep soldiering ahead. He has caused rethinking. The acceptance of doubt. And the recognition that the old way of thinking about God has to keep expanding.

seeking and finding

An ideological system that tells you over and over again how deprived and insufficient you are does a good job at making you think you are depraved and insufficient. 

An ideological system that tells you over and over again how loved you are does a good job at allowing you to feel loved and, in turn, share love. 

What you seek, you will find.  

all you have is new and now

If you think about it, every moment is new. The only thing you encounter is new-ness. You can’t live in any moment but the moment of the now. The here. The this place.

Outside of the new / now is the past and the future. And your body, your neurons, you heart beat - they don’t exist there.  

They exist here.  

In this place of newness.  

In the place of now.  

So you are never stuck in what you’ve been or who they say you are to be. You, in every moment you’ll have from now until the very millisecond you die, have the ability to start something different than what you have happened to be living in.

Every moment is a new place to start.  

Gain / Is

Sometimes we become so anxious to gain - wealth, status, etc. - that we forget to acknowledge what actually is. 

 

What exists in this moment that reflects a part of the lack that you believe you have? 

A Bit like a horcrux

I never caught onto the Harry Potter craze. Which is a shame. Because they are amazing. I’m just realizing all this now.  

My wife loved the books and the movies. She was the first to read and watch each as they became available. So over the past few weeks when we have a free evening, we’ll sit down and watch a movie from the series. We’ve been going in order and just finished The Half Blood Prince last night.  

In The Half Blood Prince I learned about horcruxes. For well versed Harry Potter fans, this will seem a bit meager a definition, but as I understand it, horcruxes are items that contain a part of someone’s soul. Things like a diary or ring contain a part of the whole of a wizard and the only way you can achieve putting a part of you into one is through murdering someone. And the reason for creating such things is because you can never actually die until any horcrux containing a part of you is also destroyed.

Which got me thinking - although not done via murder, we all place our identity in things that carry on past our own lives.

It’s our work.

Our legacy.

What we chose to align with larger than ourselves.

And the idea of having that be a ring or a diary like it is in Harry Potter seems a rather weak option. Because there are themes we can give our souls to that will never die.

Like love or evil. Hope or despair.

Each one of these opposites are doors we chose to enter through via conscious choice. And who we are, when given to one of these overarching themes of the universe, will never die.

We will become like a drop of water in a river. Entering into the flow of something far beyond our simple existence. And in turn, we’ll step into the eternal. Which eternal life is your life in-line with?

Transfusing Ideologies

 

I heard a story about a doctor who gave weekly blood transfusions to a Rabbi who had an illness. Week by week the Rabbi had her blood replaced by multiple donors. After several months, she was healed. Upon completion, the doctor, an atheist, told her that as often as he could, he replaced her blood with the blood of people of other religions. Hindus, Buddhist, Christians, etc. And, along with people of other faith practices, he said he had put in her the blood of atheists “like himself.” The doctor held the belief that spiritual truth is a battle of ideology. He was curious to see how the Rabbi would take the knowledge that her new life was a byproduct found through the life force of world views different than hers. Much to his surprise, she found the act comical and a bit beautiful. She replied in a way that spoke to both the literal and metaphorical natures of his act,

“I like what I have received”

So many of the walls we chose to build up between what is okay to receive as truth and what is not actually can stifle us from life itself. And often times, the life that we let reside within can be killing us unless it becomes opened up to outside sources. The world, with all its billions of perspectives, is not a place to build walls. But a place to explore and become in awe at by the overwhelming abundance of life pulsating from all things. 

Story by Aimee Bender and can be read here - 

http://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-arts-and-culture/111828/the-doctor-and-the-rabbi?all=1