Category: a lifeway

Home Alone on Thanksgiving.

It’s Thanksgiving across America. In countless homes, somebody (or even several somebodies) is up early prepping food to go in the oven. Me? No. I’ll probably grab a hunk of cheddar cheese for my daily sustenance, same thing, same amount I had yesterday.

Food isn’t important to me. Never has been.

Oh, sure. I do love (real) mashed potatoes and gravy. I love a good casserole. Turkey stuffing is the best …when done the old-fashioned way. I eat none of it since my body decided to pack on an additional, unwanted thirty pounds that stubbornly won’t come off, despite years of an 800 – 1200 calorie per day diet that includes no carbs.

Sure, a wonderfully grilled steak is a treat. A good piece of fish or chicken….

Such used to be life. No longer. (Mostly I exist on coffee.)

Thanksgiving is mostly about people, though. And, honestly, people don’t figure prominently in my life. Animals, yes. Not people.

I have a few good friends — cherished friends; I have my best friend — my husband, F. W. Lineberry; I have acquaintances — I’m talking real world people, here. Most of the people I care about now, though, most I name as ‘friend’, are Netizens. I’ve never met them in real life, and we certainly don’t share a meal on Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving used to mean spending several days prior and the morning of prepping a huge turkey, baking squash, homemade bread and special sweet cakes, making stuffing, peeling potatoes, pulling frozen garden veggies from the freezer. There was polishing gold- and silverware, washing up heirloom china, sharpening carving knives, digging out the special table linens, cleaning house from top to bottom. No more. Not for the last few years. I think the last time Forrest and I prepped a Thanksgiving dinner was in 2011, when we lived in town, two years prior to moving back to Dad’s house. It was a smashing success, the guests people who were lonely and alone, folks who had no caring family or loved ones. And, since then, yes, I’ve put on dinner parties, but not a Thanksgiving. (Turkeys sigh with relief.)

In my life, there’s no real reason to make a big fuss on Turkey Day. Dad’s been dead for years. Mom just died. To them, Thanksgiving mattered. So, it mattered to me. No longer. Were my husband home (but he’s not; he’s still fighting nasty roads in BC, Canada), we’d have a meal together, delighting in each other’s company…just like we do any and every day that he’s at home — not often.

I’m a zentaoist. Every day is Thanksgiving. Every day is precious. More, every moment. And, honestly, putting on a feast, unless it’s for those who are lonely and have no family or loved ones who care, unless its for those who need it, makes no sense …to me.

For the lonely? The bereft? Sure. But I do that any day, sipping coffee, water, or tea, maybe even orange juice, sharing a meal of whatever best comes to hand from the pantry and the frig, sitting down around the dining room table with someone who arrived spontaneously and just needs a spirit lift.

I listen to them and, if they get too morose, will liven the conversation with subtly pertinent anecdotes from life. It can last as long as four or five hours. Then, needs fulfilled, they venture back into the world, me returning to my solitude, grateful that I know I’m loved.


A Contemplative Space

I adore living in the forest, out in the country, away from the hurly-burly, hurry-up world. I like owning the option to choose when and whether to participate in something, and I usually choose to abstain. I’ve got better things to do than clutter up my life with extraneous, mind-numbing activities perpetuated by those seeking to make a buck off of another’s gullibility and boredom.

Boredom? How, I wonder, with so much to do and experience, can anyone be bored? The gullibility? Well, I suppose I could blame the public schools for that, but I won’t.

As I live in the real world, so do I prefer my Internet experience to reflect my life preferences — intelligent, interesting, pursuing beauty, knowledge, and flights of thought born of curiosity, dreams explored, and, yes, intelligent discourse, but lacking brazen busyness and clutter. Give me elbow room and choice, unsullied by mindless noise, purposefully invasive interruptions, blatant duns, auto-streaming, and requirements to attend what someone else deems I must with the aim of either lining their pockets or plumping their ego. I won’t and don’t build websites like that, and I won’t and don’t utilize websites or social media platforms that employ those tactics. Use them and you lose my any support and participation forever. And, no, I neither desire to know nor hold any interest in whether or not you ate a bagel for breakfast.

I think people who live immersed in hurly-burly hurry-up get inured to it, and, when it vanishes, they suddenly feel frightened by its cessation. I think people used to noise can’t enjoy its absence; used to bright, invasive, strobing light, are stunned and, maybe even terrified, by its lack; used to crowds shoving and pushing, feel suddenly abandoned once alone; used to being herded, lack ability to guide themselves. They fear the silence and the quiet. They cannot hear without cacophony. They cannot see without dazzle. They cannot feel without pummeling. They cannot find direction without coercion.

Rats in a maze; life as a herd-beast.

Not for me.

I have a friend who lives deep within one of the busiest cities in the nation. Yet, when you visit, his home is a quiet, contemplative space. You’d never realize that, outside his door, millions of people shove and push, shout and scream, rush and hurry. You’d never realize that strobing lights and a deluge of horns and sirens saturate the atmosphere. Inside, there is tranquility. He rarely ventures out. I don’t blame him, not at all.

 


Pragmatic Material Realists vs. Saturated, Infatuated Believers

In my daily life, especially with regard to both martial arts and the zentao lifeway, I often find myself besieged by one of two extremes — the pragmatic, material realist or saturated, infatuated believer. These two extremes are dynamically at odds with one another, yet love to seek me out, the former to argue and debate, the latter to try to gain reinforcement for their phantasmagorical euphoric belief systems.

Pragmatic material realists are the ‘safer’ of the two. People don’t get themselves into dire jeopardy, falling off the crumbling brink of their own sanity, when adhering to pragmatic material realism like do saturated, infatuated believers. Pragmatic material realists are ever steeped in skepticism, and skepticism for any method is very, very healthy. The mind of a skeptic questions, looks for holes in logic and reasoning, examines precepts and purported truths with an intent honed to detecting rot and misguided thinking. I applaud that. I invite it, even sanction and condone it. In fact, I do it myself quite readily and fervently, even in and to myself. It is the zentao way to do so. What I don’t condone, though, is that pragmatic material realists never bother to critically examine their own reductionist beliefs and question their close-minded, tunnel-vision. Worse, they outright dismiss anything and, worst, everything except pragmatically material explanations, no matter how contrived those explanations must become to fit the evidence. These folks ‘make decisions’ about absolutely everything, even when there are no grounds upon which to make such a decision.

Still, though, I much prefer the pragmatic material realist to the saturated, infatuated believer. While I won’t debate them (knowing very much the futility of trying to open a steel-reinforced granite vault whose 150 ton door’s locking mechanism has long-since rusted shut), I’m much more at home with their grounded perspective. Exposing the zentao thoughtway to the pragmatic material realist, though, is purely, for me, an exercise in patience and in accepting futility. Epiphany is beyond their any scope, yet they are apt students of martial ways, even Tai Chi, though it must be taught using principles of Newtonian physics. While the pragmatic material realist might never gain the ease and flow of Tai Chi, at least they gain a comprehension of the body mechanics involved in defending themselves.  Tai Chi is, after all, a very effective self-defense system when practiced as its founder intended.

Saturated, infatuated believers, on the other hand, are utterly and completely immune to any form of grounded, rational thinking. Their ecstasy at any possible supramundane suggestion they can, will, and do conceive, even the most ludicrous, propels them into ever-heightened euphoria. There can be no reaching the insidiously infatuated to bring their hot-air balloon brains back to earth.  Even suggest unlimited thinking to them, and their minds leap to the most fantastical, utterly and completely spurning any practical rationale whatsoever. Try to teach them a martial art, especially Tai Chi, and they embrace, not the self-defense system, but rather some dreamy, completely ungrounded oozing — people fronds waving in the sea of park — that they claim will magically protect them by sheer virtue of belief. To introduce them to the zentao thoughtway would be completely unethical …like handing a lit match to a toddler squatting in a pool of gasoline.


Live Now.

An  art friend of mine has recently begun posting some secular humanist perspectives over on G+. He turns off comments, perhaps to avoid discussion…or, maybe, to fend off trolls.  Of course, it could be that he considers anyone who might choose to discuss the topic to be a troll.  He’s rather odd that way–easily offended, easily riled, easily disquieted.

Anyway, his posts got me to thinking about the mindset of atheist secular humanists, especially those who perceive life and reality as reducible to clear, concise mechanical processes that include chemical reactions and Newtonian physics. He’s a retired engineer, so this mindset comes quite logically and naturally to him and his. Dwelling in the strictly empirically measurable pragmatic, any idea of something more than life as a chemical reaction and consciousness as a neurological function is quite alien. Having myself dwelled in mechanism, pragmatism, atheism, and stoicism for a solid decade or more of my own existence, I can understand the very solid, stolid stability provided by it. What bothers me is that what he’s doing is no different than the proselytizing of the fervently religious. In truth, it’s no different.

Here’s the thing, though: Does it really matter what he believes versus what someone else believes? No. His beliefs give him solace, just as those who believe that their loved ones have gone to join Jesus or entered Nirvana or…do them. The fact is there is no proof or disproof of continuance of the self/soul/spirit upon the body’s demise, and, truly, it really doesn’t matter. Live now.


zentao, a lifeway book cover in its final stages

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