Category: deeply moving, silent, still

philosophy, ideology, existential posits, the nature of reality –personal perspectives


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.


Update on Dawn’s World

So you all know Mom died mid-October and, yes, I’ve been way under the radar when it comes to both the real world and the Internet. Why doesn’t have as much to do with grief, though there’s that, as much as it does shock and anger. Mom was not expected to die. Nobody, even the surgeon who fixed her torsion, expected it. Yes, she was that healthy inside, despite atrial fib. That she died came as a complete surprise. That she chose to do it during the two hours I was gone from her post-surgery room in ICU, having left her to go home to check and feed animals with her numbers excellent and stable, that she chose to check out in a matter of minutes to the ICU nurses’ disbelief, her heart rate steadily declining from normal to zero in ten minutes during my absence, felt like opportunism. She took advantage of the fact that I went home to check herself out of life, and all because of the indignity of a stomach tube threaded down through her esophagus into her stomach to drain off her backed up digestive effluent.

I’m not kidding, here. This is no joke. Her aunt and a great aunt — both of them — did the same thing — willed themselves dead, the 101 year old, having just finished doing a batch of pickles, sitting down on a couch and going in 24 hours upon deciding to die and the 103 year old who, likewise decided, but instead took three days to do it. And, according to family lore, it was the nature of these Eurasian women who, having survived child birth to enter old age, then extreme old age, all of them healthy, to simply and suddenly decide that they now wanted to die …and then they’d do it.

It’s always been eerie for me to hear the tales. What’s knocked me into retreat is the fact that she just had to demonstrate the quasi-validity of her stories, much as the pragmatic side of me sits here and vehemently shakes my head ‘no, not plausible’.  What brings the shock and anger, though, is something else: She had everything to live for — friends who called, friends who visited at least once a week, opportunities to gad about and socialize, go to dinner and to parties….  She embroidered, still beautifully. She voraciously read books. She lived in my home, then back to her own home with me there to provide for her every whim and need …excepting those things which I couldn’t provide — being the daughter she yearned for — something feminine and pretty, something vain and vacuous, something willing to chat about triteness for hours on end, none of which is me. I’ve never been able to be ‘one of her dollies’, though how she persistently tried to coerce me to be.


I wrote a short story a few years ago. Though it’s slightly fictionalized to preserve some semblance of dignity, I think I’ll share it… because this, for me, is what it was like having Mom live with us …us living with Mom. It’s called A Moment of Morning, written under my pen name, E. J. Ruek and originally posted to that site: https://www.ejruek.com/a-moment-of-morning/

A MOMENT OF MORNING

In the dark of the morning, I sit in the cold, listening to the faraway, echoing horn of a train. It’s 3:30 AM, my rising time—by habit and need.

My mother sleeps in my living room, slowly dying of self-neglect and petulance, and there’s nothing I can do. There’s nothing that her many doctors, visiting nurses, CNAs, and physical therapists can do. She makes her choices, refusing advice, urgings, instructions. She sticks to those choices. Rigorously. I’m just the maid. My voice doesn’t count, even if I am her only daughter…her only child. (She lost all eight others as fetuses, maybe by choice. I knew by the time I was four that she sure didn’t want me.)

Sipping coffee, waiting for the love of my life to phone home, I cast my mind inward, wondering at a woman who, my whole life, insisted that I “move.” And move I do, more than most, more than any of my contemporaries, except maybe Kathy. Three years ago, Mom moved, too. She was agile and fit. Then, due to her own choices of personal neglect, her ability to do so with ease and vigor vanished. At sixty-eight—did I tell you that I was a very late baby?—she became a maimed slave to a syncopated heartbeat—atrial fib. Now she lays on a bed, ordered to keep her legs up, and delivers me anger seasoned with pouts and, worse, self-pity.

My mother is, in her way, a prima donna—very vain. Yet, she is…or was…generous and caring, too. To and of others. (Never me; never my dad.) She cares for ‘her’ others a lot, especially her anthropomorphized dollies—thousands of dollies.

I keep thinking to myself—what will I do with all of those thousands of dollies, some worth ten thousand, each?

I know nothing of dollies, care nothing for dollies. I find them rather horrifying—porcelain, cloth, plaster, and plastic reincarnations of someone’s symbolically human ideal. (Are humans ideal? Even symbolically? …I wonder in doubt.) “You can tell the artist,” Mother will say, her delicate, model’s hands fondling a dress, a hand, a curl. She’ll line them up and point to the nuances of a particular artist on dolls that cost more, each one, than Dad made in a month. (After she bought them on time, he couldn’t afford the price of his heart pills.)

A friend suggests that I catalog them, then sell them on E-Bay. The very idea exhausts me. The research to price them would, alone, require a year of my time—time I don’t have with running a business and maintaining two households—never mind my writing, recording, and session work.

Then there’s Mom’s piles—decades’ worth of magazines and old newspaper articles, boxes of clothes bought at thrift stores and sales, yards of material waiting to be run up on one of her five pricey sewing machines. There are hundreds of books that she’s never read, toys still in boxes, foot lockers filled with embroideries. There’s hoards of too many dishes and vases and lamps; upstairs is that old wicker couch overflowing with teddy bears….

It’s a five bedroom house, filled to brimming with all of Mom’s treasures—old cradles and buggies, doll houses and miniature tea sets—and all of it’s covered in decades of dust. (She never cleaned house after Dad’s heart began failing—no reason, I guess.)

That’s just the inside. Outdoors, there’s the piles of old garbage, the broken down fences, the rotting car, truck, and trailer, this last a haphazard minefield inside containing a vast store of treacherous gardening tools. (I’d keep the gardening tools and fix up the fences.)

Another train’s passing, its horn dulled by the distance. My coffee is cold and so are my feet. It’s time to close the laptop and get myself started on chores, but I linger out here on the patio, outside in the cold and the snow.

My cell phone rings. I touch the headpiece I wear to hear hubs in my ear, his grumbling voice a relieving welcome.

He’s headed for Canada, a load full of giant, cumbersome coils. He asks after me, then requests some safe truck routes through cities in lower BC.

I oblige, ‘Googling’ the easiest routes. Then, to his question, assure him that, yes, the roof man will be here today to clear barn roofs of snow load.

Did I snowblow the driveway?

No, but I will.

Best do it before the temperature plunges to zero.

I know.

Did the dog’s blood work come back?

Not yet. It’s expected today.

I love you.

I love you, too.

Gotta go.

Bye.

_

In the dark of the morning, I sit in the cold, listening to emptiness. It’s 4:00 AM and time to get started on morning.

~ ~ ~


So Mom Died 10-13-2017

…which is why I completely disappeared off the Internet. Here’s what happened:

Took Mom to Emergency Monday, October 9, about 7:30PM or so. She was complaining of pain in the lower right GI, exactly where her appendix was taken out when she was nine. After 4 shots of morphine that didn’t touch the pain, the CT results came back, and they got her a pain killer that worked. Wednesday, she went to surgery, again about 7:30PM. Came out with flying colors. Surgeon was ecstatic. She was sooo healthy inside once he removed the piece of small intestine that had twisted because of scarring from her appendicitis operation so many years ago, something, I was told, that is common with those who have had appendectomies. (Wonderful news, that!) Anyway, Thursday she was doing great. By Thursday afternoon, though, things changed, and, Friday morning, at around 4:40AM, her heart rate began to steadily slow, till, about ten minutes later, it ground to a halt.

So there you have it. That’s what happened, for those who want to know, mainly, of course, her relatives.

Be in Joy, Mom.

Dawn


I’m at that Point

Today, I’m at that point of destroying my every ongoing project, burning my manuscripts and hard files, killing my back-ups, boxing up my instruments and hauling them to the Goodwill, destroying my websites–all of them–deleting my online presence, wiping my drives, and just not being any longer. Something happened about an hour and a half ago, and, well, I’m not getting over it like I usually do. Not yet, anyway. I’ll wait to do anything drastic, but, right now, I feel like I’d just rather not be, anymore. I really had no idea….


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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Inspired Because of a Conversation

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I had an interesting experience today. A lonely friend arrived to perch in my dining room for several hours. Luckily, I had pretty much finished what I had on my ‘must-do’ list for the day, and two computers were engaged in rendering their assigned duties, so, while I wasn’t thrilled to be held captive by his needs, it didn’t hurt the day’s productivity. And, in fact, I guess it spurred me to break out Apophysis and set up some parameters, then render them out on my new machine. The results were satisfying, and I may use it as a cover for one of my books.

What I found interesting was realizing just how prone to cognitive dissonance are we as a species, how pervasive that condition, and how much we deny it in ourselves while criticizing others for exhibiting its symptoms. And, all the while, reality, at its absolute expression, simply is.

So, here, as the result of, both, that conversation, and the lack of time to apply myself to the one ‘wanted-to-do’ project planned for the day, is this image, which I call Reality 5/23/2016. 

The book for which I may utilize this has to do with my lifeway, zentao. There are seven non-fiction ones in the works. There may well be a couple of related novels, though writing zentao into a novel is…er…proving to be a novel experience in its difficulty. zentao likes truth, honestly, unvarnished perspectives. Anyway, so, here’s the result of all that.

Reality_5-23-2016DLKeur_zentao.com_web


Resolve to be Kind

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I have an aversion to cruelty. I especially have an aversion to cruelty perpetuated by humans. I think it, not just unnecessary, but the true evil, the only real evil–sentient-made and sentient-perpetuated.

We humans don’t need to perpetuate cruelty/evil. We don’t need to embrace and accept it, much less applaud it.  Yet, we do. And, while I very much understand the underlying factors which contribute to the behavior, I refuse to give credence to any permissive-minded excusing of it.

No.

As sentient beings, we humans have choice–a choice to refuse to act out our fear-based hatreds and craving-based greeds. We have a choice to be kind or cruel in any circumstance. And we have an obligation to be kind, not cruel. To ourselves and to all other entities, sentient and insentient. To do otherwise, to choose cruelty over kindness, condemns us in our own self, by our own memories–etched in our brains, our cells, even our DNA, to self-condemnation.

You can scoff. You can cry out that your personal savior, be that Jesus or some other, will wash away your every sin and you are forgiven. But the fact of your deeds is indelibly scribed, and while your personal savior might forgive you, you remember and, by your every cruelty, will self-condemn.

Now, psychologists will argue that self-condemnation requires conscience, and conscience is determined by cultural conditioning and neurology. They will point out that cultural norms define what is and what is not identified as cruel, as bad or good. They will point out that the sociopath has no conscience.

Right and wrong, according to psychology, is relative, yet science identifies a moral generator that develops in primates and in human children, the latter beginning at the age of four, despite culture and upbringing–a sense of fairness, scientists call it. It’s genetically ingrained, probably rooted in evolution of the species. Regardless, it exists and can be measured. It’s very much past time that we employ it for our own peace of mind and for the betterment of ours and every other living thing’s existence. To do less, even if conscience must be learned, as in the case of the sociopath, is to condemn yourself and the human species as truly, remorselessly evil.

Earth-2-23-2016B2


Brain Silence Over

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As I mentioned in my February 29th post, my brain has been silent. Very silent. So, I went silent. It’s been months. Literally. It’s now May, so the silence lasted all March and April of 2016, a very long time in my brain’s measure of productive exploits. Never one for idleness, I set about some much neglected projects–all physical–and practiced my martial arts and my flute repertoire. …And I pretty much stayed off the Net. No point to participating when there’s nothing to contribute. And the brain remained…silent.

Not surprisingly, my book sales took a dive. But, then, all on their own, sales started to take off, again. I watched. Occasionally. Maybe once or twice a month. Did nothing.

Two months after the silence began, my brain finally came out of its self-imposed retreat. I’m not sure why. I just know when it happened. I was able to write, again. I was able to create art. I called Anita Lewis, a friend of mine, and warned her. Because I’m writing on the zentao books–DLKeur writing as DLKeur. And it ain’t fiction. And she’s my beta reader.

Here’s the kicker, though. My brain, which I cherish, has never gone silent for this long. Never. Now that it’s…now that I am done processing whatever it was that was being processed (and I still don’t know what that was or is), there’s a certain resolve there that I’ve not felt quite so completely and uniquely ever before.

It’s interesting, this feeling of resolve, this feeling of utter confidence in me, in my focus, in my ‘way’ of being-doing. It’s interesting because I live my life on the seamless seam, on The Edge, and that Edge now has a firmament that I’ve never experienced quite like this.

There’s this uncanny fearlessness–a surety–that boggles me. While nothing in the future is set, I know I’m set. For life. For all that Life may present.

It’s wonderful.

It’s eerie.

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AlphaGo and Lee Sedol, My Thoughts

The world just changed.

I watched all five games of the DeepMind challenge match between AlphaGo and Go Grandmaster Lee Sedol. I started out neutral in Game 1, was pleased with AlphaGo’s performance–that it stood up to the task.

Game 2 had me firmly in AlphaGo’s camp. I wanted AlphaGo to win.

Then came Game 3 and I was again neutral. But, when AlphaGo won, something hit me: the world had just changed, and not just the world of Go. There was a sadness, but, then, a day later, there was joy. too, at what mankind had built. But the implications were and are huge. Still, I was pleased in Game 4 when Lee Sedol rallied and defeated AlphaGo.

But Game 5 had to go to AlphaGo. It had to.

Why?

Because, if AlphaGo hadn’t won, then the question would remain open–had the DeepMind team really succeeded, or was AlphaGo just another failed attempt.

That Lee Sedol failed to defeat AlphaGo in a heroic attempt to do so (that included using the flaw he discovered in its programming during Game 4) demonstrated that, yes, DeepMind had accomplished the breakthrough in AI that has been long sought. Bravo. And, while I feel for Lee Sedol, I think what will be the reality is that AI will, at Go, only be able to defeat top Go players 50% of the time, at least in the foreseeable future.

So, the game of Go will get even more interesting, the skills and understanding increasing because of AlphaGo, and mankind will benefit from technology’s advance, technology mankind developed to enhance and expand our own capabilities. How awesome is that?! Of course, meanwhile, we have political, economic, and environmental disasters teetering on the brink of damning all but those most well-insulated, if them.

What an interesting time we live in.


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