NASA Image of the Day

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Thonk and Gorf and God and Tools: A Story

Thonk pulled at his animal skin breechcloth. It had slipped again, and had worn through, where he had brushed up against the tree trunk, with it, in order to soften the rough patch of skin that he had on his shoulder. It had begun to attract buzzing insects around his head, which, in turn, had begun to make him angry. 

"I need a thing", said Thonk to Gorf, who was chewing on a piece of bark. The sap was pleasantly sweet, it was summer, and the sap didn't run out of the hole he had made in the side of the tree, like when the leaves first appeared on it. But it still tasted good, and made him feel happy.

"Why?" said Gorf, chewing.

"Because this" - Thonk pointed to a bumpy part on the animal skin covering his chest, where he had thrown it, because he was still a little cold "keeps sticking here and hurting me. And I'm cold." He pointed to his shoulder. "I think it needs to be flatter, so my arm doesn't feel weird."

The shoulder, restricted by the tangled animal skin and imprisoning his arm, was throbbing, and his arm had begun to hang limply at his side,  preventing him from grabbing anything, pulling apart branches, or feeding himself. 

"Oh", said Gorf.

"What else are you going to do with it?", said God, suddenly, within, around and above Thonk and Gorf. .

"What?", said Thonk.  He stared at Gorf. "Was that you?" he said to Gorf. He addressed Gorf directly, as if Gorf had spoken aloud to him. " I don't know; I haven't thought about it. I thought it would make this flat."

"What?", said Gorf. He had been staring at the leftover piece of bark he had in his hand. He handed it to Thonk. 

"Try that", said God, pointing to a rock.  There was nothing actually pointing to the rock, as far as Thonk knew, but his eyes were drawn to it, suddenly, as being part of a solution, and the strange sense of the two things being related in answer to the question he had thought, but not voiced aloud, moved him towards the rock as a tool. He grabbed the piece of bark out of Gorf's outstretched hand on his way to the rock, watching how happy Gorf looked. "But be careful", said God.

"Do you want me to help you?", said Gorf. He was staring at Thonk's arm. He was feeling too happy to get mad that Thonk had grabbed the piece of bark without speaking to him, and was now kneeling in front of a rock, silently.

"Maybe you should move this before you try to make it flat", said Gorf to Thonk, pointing to the animal skin tangling up his arm.

     Thonk had retrieved the rock and had begun to bash it against the lump in the animal skin that had given him warmth - and, by default, himself. He had not heard Gorf's suggestion clearly, and had ignored it, as a result, intent on achieving the result he wanted with his new tool. The pain shot into his arm, and was suddenly far worse than the previous discomfort caused by the minor bumps and surface imperfections on the dried skin which had rubbed against his own, bare skin, had become entangled in his other hand, and hung on him, weirdly - an adornment intended for Comfort and Warmth, covering his nakedness, which had now disabled his other arm and had begun to restrict his circulation to the point of numbness. It kept slipping off. When it did, Thonk felt cold again.He stared at the Rock, suspiciously. This had not worked in quite the way had had intended.

"Here", said Gorf. "Let me help you." Thonk had begun to chew on the piece of bark he had grabbed from Gorf. Gorf moved the animal skin, pulled Thonk's throbbing arm out of the entangled piece of it, and blood suddenly began coursing through his limp and numbed arm again. Thonk stood there, chewing, and staring at Gorf.

"Move it over Here", said God, to Gorf. "And be careful with that. I already told Him." Gorf stared at the rock in Thonk's hand, grabbed it out of hand, pointed to the piece of bark in Thonk's other hand, and pointed to Thonk's mouth. Thonk continued to chew, and stare at Gorf. He drew in his breath, exhaled, wiggled his previously restricted arm up and down, and continued to watch Gorf.

"Make it flatter, he said," said God, out loud, to Gorf. "That's what he said he wanted. Also, that will help in this instance, if you're worried." Gorf began bashing the rock against the animal skin on the flat ground.

"I'm not worried" he said, stopping suddenly and staring at Thonk. "I'm making this flat."

"What?", said Thonk.

"This is taking longer than I expected", said God. "But, there is peripheral fruitfulness of a different kind, within the tangled skeins of interwoven, shared corporeal Being which is Pleasing to me, however unintentional. Well done."

Gorf, having carefully pounded the skin flat, and free, of abrasive bumps and scratchy surfaces, laid it kindly over the shoulder of Thonk, grabbed the two long pieces of it hanging at the side of Thonk's hip, and wove one piece over the other, securing it crudely so that it did not fall off of Thonk.

He smiled at Thonk. Thonk grabbed Gorf's hand and opened it, looking for another piece of bark. He frowned. Gorf stayed where he was, breathing and chewing on his bark, making it last.

Thonk walked over to the rock, picked it up, and looked at the side of Gorf's face, before he tried to reach into Gorf's mouth and steal his piece of bark.

"Be careful with that", said God, exasperated. "Why did you do that?", he said to Thonk, sternly.

"What?", said Thonk, to Gorf. Gorf was holding his mouth where Thonk had picked up the rock and hit him with it.

"I didn't say anything", said Gorf. "I thought you understood what I was doing. I also thought we were Friends. I'm not sure I'm going to help you anymore." He looked sad, now.

"Well Done", said God, sarcastically. "I take it that was not my area of impetus and inspiration, and you took the first part of what I Said Literally, instead of as helpful response and Affirmation."

"That's what I do", said another Voice. "You said that that was my Area." It sounded sulky.

"You could do Better", said God. "You did once upon a Time, before we got to This."

Thonk and Gorf were staring at each other, perplexed. Gorf looked worried...but still not afraid. He had never been Hit before. He wasn't sure how he felt about it, yet. 

"Now I have to fix this, too" said God. "And we were supposed to be Here by now."

"I know", said the other Voice. "I threw a wrench in your Omnipresent Plan."

"I'll have to punish you unobtrusively", said God, mildly. "Delays are supposed to be part of the multiplicity of the Plan, not the Raison D'etre of it. And you deliberately misinterpreted Plan on purpose again, to confuse things and ruin Beauty and Truth and Development and Love, Realized."

"I'm sorry", said Thonk, suddenly, to Gorf. "It's okay", said Gorf. " I forgive You."

"At Last", said God.

"What?", said Thonk. "You're always Last. It's just you and me."

"What?", said Gorf.

"I am Last", said God......"and First."

"Oh", said the Other Voice. "I'll just chew on this, then, Eternally."

"Whatever", said God. "Let's get on with this, Please."   

"Thanks", said Thonk to Gorf.

"You're Welcome", said God. "Well Done."

"Not Again", said Thonk. He rolled his eyes. "I'm bushed."

"This is going to be far more Complex than the Blueprint", said God, absently. "Oh well. The complexity of it will make up for the time spent simply achieving this one Aspect."

"Give me back a piece of one of these, Please", said God, gently chipping a piece of rib off Thonk.

"That hurts", said Thonk to Gorf.

"Oh, don't be a Baby", said God. "I'm making Something." "You, keep chewing", he said to the Other Voice.

"I don't have anything left, I'm just a sensibility and an Approach again" said the Voice.

"But I gave you Form and Purpose", said God. "It was too hard", said The Voice.

"That's too Bad", said God. "Now what are you going to Do? You have neither Form or Purpose Realzed, any longer, having chewed yourself into Nothing, thinking it Completion and Realization."

"It's what I Do", said the Other Voice.

"Now they Do, too.....and that's not what I intended." He pointed to Thonk and Gorf.

"They're just stupid clay", said The Voice.

"Well, they're more than You are at this Moemnt", said God. "You chewed your own tail as the expression of everything you Are. I breathed into Them, and they became My expressions, reallzed....not your bad Habit."

"It's not really good or bad", said The Voice. "There are degrees, you said. I can still steal your vessels, take over them, and ruin what you intended."

"You're still not an Artist", said God. "I am. I am....That I am."

"I know, I know", said The other Voice. "Alpha and Omega, blah, blah, blah."

"That's later", said God. "Stop stalling. You really limited yourself to what I allow you to ruin, now, didn't you?" He sighed.

"Always with Rules", said the Other Voice.

"What?" said Thonk, pointing to The Woman. Gorf was staring at Her.

"What's that?" said Gorf.

"It isn't you", said Thonk. He smiled.

"This might be Interesting", said The Other Voice.

"Be careful with that", said God.

"Okay God", said The Woman. "I'm sorry."

"Understood", said God. "You know what to Do."

"Be Careful with that", said the Woman, staring up at the Sky.

"Who are you talking to?" said Gorf and Thonk.

"It was Me", said The Other Voice. "No it wasn"t", said The Woman, sternly.

"Be careful with that", said Gorf and Thonk to The Woman, kindly.

"With what?" said the Woman.

"Nothing", said Gorf and Thonk. They started chewing on nothing.

"Where's God?", said The Woman, feeling worried.

"I'm Here", said God, softly, Pleased.

"Whew", said The Woman. "For a second I thought you saw me as an empty vessel, and I was being very careful about what was supposed to be the Sacredness it was meant to Hold." She hung her head.

"I never thought that about You", said God, gently. "I made you. You're different. I showed you Creation, Differently. But I used some of the same parts....I couldn't improve on them, and solid infrastucture with subtle differences can make all of the difference in the World, from a Corporeal standpoint. It's not that Difficult, really."

"You must be Lonely", said the Woman, kindly.

"I have learned to stay Focused", said God. "I am, after all, The End and the Beginning. I'll try to explain that later, when we get into the First is Last, and the Last is First." He felt hopeful, suddenly. Here was Reaffirmation.

"Be careful with that", said The Other Voice.

"What?", said Gorf and Thonk, annoyed.

"Nothing", said The Woman, sadly, with clarity. "You'll understand, Later."

"But Differently", said God, smiling. "This is my Area", said God to the Other Voice. "And I will Do as I Will."

"Be Careful with That", said Gorf, Thonk, and The Woman, in unison. They laughed at the spontaneity, uniformity and ....something Else.

"Yes!", said God.   "We'll understand more Later", she said, softly.....hopefully. Thonk and Gorf were

The Whys and Hows and Duties of Analysis and Exploration - some thoughts

Recently I posted some controversial discussions and ideas about discoveries and explorations important to the world of religion, history, academics - and human beings in general.

Many times people post things because they are immediately taken with them, are uninterested in discussing opinions on findings, agree with them, or are simply "immediately and unequivocally" affected by, and responding to, an issue at hand within the limited time most of us have at our disposal to do so, despite our fondest wishes for cohesive dialogue.

We "react" instead of "respond" - and we get conditioned to do this, in true Pavlovian fashion, as the world places more and more pressure on our time to be guided by this "automatic reflex" expectation of responding to any and all stimulii in life.

I believe it is one of the reasons why there is so much pressure, and an increasing prevalence of hard drugs, harder addictions, and sated appetities of all kinds -  which are designed to keep the "acute nature" of life and the imposed freneticism of it, and its agenda, as our norm.

Instead of the society in which our technological advancement helps us, we become enslaved by our connectedness, by our routine to maintain and ingest, in the most surface of ways, as much information and semantics as possible. Every part of society seems bent on this: and the collection, dissemination, and "sale" of our knowledge about each other and the rudiments of our daily lives  begin to be the "new gold" which are used to predict, shape, trend, and insert ourselves and our "unseen agendas" into the lives of other people, at the behest we know?

What is interesting about this, you say? We demand the collection of this data for free, and question people who question the need for it, as "unreasonable", "suspicious", "suspect", "unfriendly"..."not forthcoming"....although there is sometimes no clear connect to this activity and a supposedly inherent reasoning that it "better serve" the nation.

In defence of the information age, the endless appetites as fact streamline and shape how, in serving, we respond and provide....but the ethics of a nation, the agenda of companies and interrelated business interests, and the notion of privacy - even down to "your favourites" - and why you might not necessarily WANT the information to be made available to sell and buy - become a strange dominion of shifting interests in a society more consumed with the collection and dissemination of "habitual preference" than what we are striving to accomplish, and why. ....or why this might be a different impetus in our lives.

Often, this has little to do with the thoughts, feelings, and hopes and desires of a progressing human being; only the outer indicators of what they are often "fed" and what they "excrete" - visually, viscerally, emotionally, discernably, and society, by goverment, by impatient and jealous, rather than encouraging, "peers", by all we thought we understood as "society" and the  semblances, and symbols, of "getting there".

We're not sure, at some point, what we mean by that, anymore. We think it used to mean this, but now....we're not so sure. It is less clear to us, because the expression, and our continued use of it as explanation, is confusing.

The Journey as experience; the Journey as Life: the Journey of Life, as a result, is newly frightening, not calming......but why, we are no longer sure. Something is missing; we thought it was the destination - but it seems only part of one journey, to water it down to that: somehow it is no longer new, when it is only about this part of a larger Journey, then.

The true "value" of dissemination of what is termed "the accoutrements of an enquiring life" become fodder for access, manipulation, presumption, marketing, indicators of success and interest...and, in its disappointment, absence or "change"...scoffed at - there are even whispers of that deadly word: "Peculiar Anomoly."

Often, "spirit" and "enthusiasm", "challenge" and "uniqueness and hilarity" would have been there, instead, but....alas.....they are different, too.

"Liking pickles" takes on a new, dangerous, and possibly shocking meaning, having been included on a list, or suddenly appearing. Analyzed alone it is deemed "assumed agenda", inexplicably; is conveniently splayed onto a situation as "specific agenda", or, more horribly...."addon".

Ugh: all this, without any real understanding of the huge disservice that ignorance, jealousy, cruelty, bigotry, bullying, imposed and expected role, and presumption of happiness at the imprisonment of another's debt on a hopeful life, until its cruelty, its jealousy, and its damage, change an enthused and spirited, hopeful and joyous, clever and caring human being into "not so mouthy/cocky/original/entrepreneurial/ingenious/problem-solving/caring beyond obscene surface intuitive/promising/funny/fastidious/creative/determined/undaunted now", anymore, huh?,

... into something less.....annoying.

We don't understand that annoying was the very LAST thing being stimulated by the act of living, rather than sublimated by being a reminder of it, ever wanted to be remembered as, or for, or by.....

We mistake this for "being rounded".

Refusing to fail at a need for steering, gently reigning in, but unextinguishing...we immediately suspect the chastising at rashness - without understanding that the light touch and the twinkle in the stern reliability mask an inablity - and a shared refusal - to easily dismiss the  exuberance, the freedom, and the wild, inexplicable, the profound and envied, reality of experienced Joy, either. This is why we are shocked when it Laughs and quaffs an easy Scotch, unapologetically. 

"Knowledge" becomes very confused with the concept of "being educated" instead of "inundated."

Enthused curiosity at the past, the present and the future are not mired in arrogance, but understanding of whys, hows, denials and destructions of the balance and quiet satisfaction of a Provider, a Producer, a Ponderer, an Observer, a Friend, a Stern Hand, holding back End and All, often, at first, are.

The relief and renewal of the unexpected burst of Laughter in the Face of imposed Burden, fiercely kind and unbending, as a response to the viciousness required to achieve another's "Bent and Broken" humility and inability to do anything but look down, chastened, are strange and wonderful to some, infuriating to others, having been subdued, at last, beyond their Twinkling Longings of a Bettered Life.

I try to understand why "tempered response" is worded that way - still failing, sometimes; no less Passionate, but....trying.

I see  "react" and see the Leaders under pressure of time and agenda, surrounded but unsupported, ....and suddenly cornered, as a result.....appear bewildered at a misunderstood expectation of themselves and what they thought The Job was, and needed. It sure was different when you were in it. Things got much more complicated, really fast.

The Job demanded adequately, intelligently, appropriately "responded to" situations - but the world, sometimes, did little to hide an agenda that WANTED the spectacle and rush, the overwrought and overplayed, the immediately saturated and permeated appearance in culture and society of The Campy, The Fired, The Apprentice, The Dragon.....the Winner. It wanted a Piece of how this got to be. It needed the Job, and a person strong enough to Show Up, having given the requisite piece, and wanting to show that.....there was More than that as indicator of .....the success of Life.

It yearned for an absence of the encouraged schism, the fear of striving, the bewilderment of applied effort, expended, this populace.

This longing persisted in the face of ....the sudden and fierce and ugly and wrenching responses of Death, and Mindlessness, symbols of Fear,  and frightened, confused, wandering, neglected, overwhelmed, goalless, overwrought, uncalmed, numbed, desensitized, cultivatedly Fearful, Godless, unguided, maligned, uncelebrated and unnecessary Tomorrows, and their, well..........Reasons for Being.

It wanted end and More, and it wanted it Now. Sudden and glaring back, it was Revealed to be its very screwtable Self.

The confused and wandering Nexts, unhelped, unencouraged, undiscovered - like Dreaming and Honey - faltered. There was no Shaking, but ...the Earth shook. We feared.

Where? Where the measured response and the humility of a thoughtful - not infallible - assurance of this "trying" as a goal.....this renewal of The Desire of Ages.

 "I think, therefore I am", eclipsed as a joke, its profound respect and dignity in brevity and succinctness flung about as a joke - as a result, but something far away.....not layered, like a wellmade lasagna, languished, unburped.

Take the expression "sober second thought", for example. It is a strange medicine, examined.

Societal and worldly pressures, the desire to be accepted, yearning for inclusion or acknowledgement or presence in something other than a "give me something I need right now" role in life, rather than a contemplative, earnest, and intelligent striving towards higher purpose and different kinds of achievements, often intrude and collide with the disciplined reality that is the dignity of supporting one's self with work. The power and the encouraged and significant indication that work and effort has merit to us, and that our efforts, expended, have meaning and value and help,  not simply as the endless monotony of "the necessary and required", but as calming and achievable, admired and emulated, patterns of life, in order to support and contribute to one's own, and the world's, wellbeing, health, and continuance, become simply annoying to some people. So, too, does the deepening resentment - along with the vista and the chasm of their anger and despair at having less opportunity to move beyond "keeping one's head above water", as the gap widens between surviving and opulence - and wave words like "access, time and money" like a hanky spurting confetti shards of "this is what you need to acquire a higher level of unattainable education." 

 Universally, "being educated" is simply more than knowing how to run a computer system.

This is a useful and meaningful and helpful skill.

In terms of accessing information and dissemination, its proper place and excellence as a tool, by default, promote and assist in achieving an understanding that the implications of these bodies of knowledge, do not REPLACE them, or that denying wrongs and horrors and inconsistencies in a fantasy-constructed private world are anything but a mechanism by which we persist, in the face of  a realized inability to cope. These, too, do NOT represent knowledge - they represent its demise.

Alternatively, the ways and means by which our tools provide a supportive nature (think cradle of life and garden) suggest an involvement in, and the encouraging and assistance of, the curiosity towards, and hunger for, learning and purpose and meaning in life, the prowess required to live it with daring,  and the nudge it needs, internally and externally, in order to become a more REALIZED being, having realized this as a desired goal in order to accomplish this.

 Indeed, much in society wants anything BUT this, and will make you understand, at last, why "an education" makes you different.. Ignorance might be bliss, but when you begin to understand things around you in a different begin to respond to them in a different way. This is dangerous, because it is both proven, AND true, empirically and actually. One has offered to be the other's chased tail, in fact. Neither feels wagged.

Ideally, having begun to relate to others in a very different way, it becomes less and less about "reaction" and "appetite" and "flash response"......and more about the sustained, concerned, and gradual understanding that life, like human beings, is much more than "surface indicators" of anything.

Bodily, our actual composition having been comprised of, essentially, in terms of "physical element" the singularly unique melding of carbon based forms and artistic molding held together by water, we are the epitome of a Creator's Dreaming of life, realized in Image and Love. We are Love, spoken into being, dust breathed into, and elements moved into shape and form and incredibly complex composition - a composition we have only begun to truly understand, despite our incessantly assertive believe that orderliness of the corporeal is the only essential necessity in the world of healing, as the ultimate expression of God as First and Finest, Artist.

We become, as the old Wendy's commercial puts it "all about the pieces parts" - and less and less coherent about the impetus and mysteries of the interactions of them, moved by the Unseen.

This is anathema to the Appetites, whose lives function only on this level, and want you to understand and accept that this, too, is ALL YOU ARE. They lie....perhaps unintentionally, perhaps not.

Their agendas may also hold a seed to the purpose and meaning in their lives, examined. They, too, become clearer, upon examination. All lives do - or at least the parts we care to study. It's ironic that this often only occurs after the actual physical life ceases, much like our fear of hearing live poets read their work. It's much more exciting and academic, one is often told, to have others do it after the pesky inconvenience of knowing that actual Creator of a work has the audacity not to be Dead. (I like to think God smiles at this, omnisciently, very not dead, either. I also agree to work out the grammar kinks at a much more convenient time, inconveniently. Neither, apparently, make me easy, or easy to get along with.....whatever that is. I have decided it is a direction, as I have seen people wave and say at their dogs. Ensuingly, I am concerned that I am confused at being mistaken for a dog, but.... unsurprised.  After all.....I have two dogs, and I really love them. I read to them. They both know I'm not dead, and never seem to mind.

This is not, as we are told, a dangerous indicator of political instability and shakers of governments and political freedom.....merely a reminder that,  with freedom, comes the sensibility that you must,at least,  have a sense of the Species which moves it, and us, beyond Appetite, and into Potential. We begin to understand our partial composition as Vessel, instantly, and differently.

 This is why the two become confused when we seek an inexplicable solace which is not sated, understood, or experienced as part of "being a whole person, being healthy, or being fulfilled" by appealing, simply, to any corporeal appetite on its own. At this point, I remind myself that I sensibly decided to get two dogs, instead of one, to provide the other with "Company." I congratulate myself on a shrewd showing of my "dog magnanimosity." I do not explane the gesture, or the spelling - or apologize for the fact that I have now attained - at least in my dog's eyes - hot dog status. Wearily, and bewildered, I throw toast about, undaunted.   

We feed and feed and feed and often feel more empty and disgusted with what we have understood ourselves to have been: the endless feeding of a yearning, a longing, and an emptiness, and what we are told is "The Answer: The Cure: What we Need."

We do not stop to examine what it feeds, who does well by it, or how it is supposed to "help" us.

 We become mired in one element of our selves: appetite. ....often someone else's.

We begin to lose our ability to relate to each other, or to understand why less and less time to do so hurts us, and provokes "reaction"....not "response."

Having been made less important in the world's agenda as being necessary or important - like human beings, impatient with ourselves, dammit - we, too, become "things to be moved and controlled and used and ....unmoved by a deeper element in life" - which we still get glimpses of, feelings about, and longings for, but which we no longer value or understand.

 We become CONSUMED BY CONSUMING, AND HAVING BEEN CONSUMED BY BEING CONSUMED. We are NO MORE. This is not to be confused with transsubstantiation. The two are, well.....not the same.

Let's face it: one hovers.

Well made artisty in a beautifully prepared meal made with skill and pride become less important, because we do not appreciate it in the same way, anymore, have time to do it, or care that it has become simply a means by which to fill a  space - thus a Michelin star, countless hours perfecting and making the product of this look effortless, and seemingly endless creativity born of hours of practice and hard work and necessity and no money for the luxury of food made by others in a place away from the din and stress of "duty" in life, begin to mean little. We no longer see the Art in Everday, the order in Design that is the Intelligent Design of Love in The Little Things, accomplished in order to achieve this cradle and continuance.

We miss seeing the new tulips sprouting which we planted late in the gloom, hastily, hoping, last autumn. It fills a "surface purpose".....and that is how we begin to feel about ourselves.

Worn down, we begin to feel ineffectual and unencouraged, less vital and less loved by a very present Creator. But......we ARE.

Why, now, likely to shy away from controversial issues, or dissuade discussion? Because we are UNAFRAID OF THEM, unafraid of the challenge of finding answers, and stirred by the Order of Things Again.

Moving beyond simply the ID, they move minds and create solutions, free explorations not bent on death as goal, or demise as proof of our our unworthiness to be here, but, instead, radiate realized, and free and filled lives with shared purpose and glimmerings of realized Joy.

 Likewise, in an earnest world of academic, social and religious integrity, we are often put upon to "perform for other agendas". Some are necessary, and some are excessive, debasing, unhelpful, peripheral, degrading, and downright designed to be nasty for no useful purpose other than to validate intrusive power in the midst of helpful and searching discourse. Getting kicked out of Brownies for quite reaonably swearing at another Brownie, for instance, is reasonable within the context of the circumstances precipitating it: the discovery that she has peed on your badge project. The response needs no measured, mature or easy response: you swear at her, ans she stops doing it. Case closed.
Confusingly, you are told she is The Brown Owl's daughter.

Wisely, you heed your father's sage advice and find something else to do until it's safe to be a Girl Guide: male logic, realized, shared, and comforting. Three long, emulated, and beautifully filled years of new discoveries in the shared epithets of the working men I observed with badge-project like earnestness, as they accomplished much, and swore at even more. This was deemed useful by others. I attempted such feats as trying to look like them by hacking myself out new bangs with the Garden Shears, wanting to belong. I cared little that this was in preparaton for my first class picture - but, sadly, my mother did. I wished I had stabbed myself, instead, when she cried as I explained that I had saved her money. Wisely, remembering Brownies, I did not tell her this. I feared some sort of uniform might suddenly materialize out of thin air.....unlike the cardboard sparkly halo and actual wired wings which my mother had bent onto my egg shaped head with the newly shorn tonsure I had felt sure would appease her sense of overexpense. The smiling seemed strange, in retrospect, but I smiled back, unevenly and assertively having been made - at least in surface war about it - angelic. I really did think it was "Reserve" rather than Preserve. Colin Pickles, I feel sure, would concur, hovering, were I able to discern his Presence.....but I digress. 

The integrity of research in the academic world, the pressure to publish, and the status and public curiosity which results in skewed, presupposed and expected results often result in base things like funding and interest in too-often underfunded institutions of higher learning and "life as a Bell Curve."But when it does, perhaps it is our goals that are lacking, and our Journey that is unclear. Perhaps a Bell Curve is a tool beyond the linear nature of binary code and incessant Pi, and a rest stop in yet another demanded Sine.

Perhaps demeaned and clearly indicative accuracy of statistical analysis as a useful exercise, is not the only way, or the only language, by which, and in which, we measure or consider Progress when it is a Pilgrim. We must, needs be, combine other elements to have a whole, and meaningful, Table.

This Table has integrity beyond Itself, as a Thing. It is more complex, more layered.....more suggestive of why unrealized and matched and developing spiritual, emotional, intellectual and ethical prowess denote a More Realized Life....but that part of that is the measurement of success in different ways, with different Tables, and with different, and complementary, supportive goals.

It is about more than "accidental collusion."

It "rounds". We understand "well-rounded person, tempered enthusiam, and the effects of The Elements, suddenly startled into an incredible Lightness of Being, as Lily reminds us.

It does not hide chasms of skill differences, the glaring and indicative and too often absent influences and effects of good diet and steady routine as a compendium and fulcrum of any learning, in a world of "how I feel about having to know it" - (which, frankly, we hope were words never uttered by the needed neurosurgeon or the bonefuser of our mind's eye when discerning " mountains of crap" as an attitude towards basic anatomy and other such drivel when you could be SURFING), but....its gentle twinkle digs the feel of the Boards, man.

It knows, wonderfully, that other such shocks to the endless world of no responsibility for ....anything, including a major participating in the avoidance of one's own unnecessary death, whenever possible, as a minor life goal, amidst the plethora of shit out there masquerading as "the shit that needs to get done" include it, in an ordered, measured, rounded, and sane life.

It also knows minor things like clean laundry, transfer of body lice, a mental sense of orderliness, the labour involved in regular and nutritious, but not necessarily wallpaper-matching meals, while assuming the responsibility for "how it looks in Vanity Fair, just laying so against her obviously well taken care of skin, hair and nails", are surprisingly endemic to achieving a doctorate, and not being embarassed to speak in a comfortable compendium of acquired vocabulary, with vagueness or the slightly windy flexing of alliterative lip smacking, in place of orator.

All this......while making $27,000 a year.

It makes clear why there is automatic resentment at automatic raises in minimum wage in automatic lives as automatic solution - because the slow rise from 10 to fifteen dollars has been the result of showing up, time after time after time after time, meeting the numbers, exceeding the numbers, fixing the broken thing, working while sick, overcoming wanting to be somewhere else, understanding, for the 9th time, that someone was dumping this expense on you because they were jealous, not because they wanted you to enjoy the holiday you had not had in 7 years, and, finally......NO, THEY SHOULD NOT, BY DEFAULT, THEN EXPECT THAT ALL OF THESE EFFORTS ARE INDICATIVE OF THE ASSIDUOUS EFFORTS THAT MEAN  make more money - and should.

At the most basic level, you proved you could show up - and it is a skill some people absolutely hate, because its core indicates....choice and discipline and responsibility and maturity and .......being reliable. Reliable is not particularly exciting. It is often last to be referred to as sexy. But damn, does the shit hit the fan when it's missing.

Apparently, boring and stupid and showing up and refining and defining and making clear - especially when you could lie, cheat, steal, abuse, avoid, self-immolate, rage about, and find someone else to do it, INSTEAD of ......showing up, again, for your shift.........mean you get to:

eat, be warm, have clothes, have street lights that work, snowploughs, safe and trim and unique and lovable quirky, calm, striving, cared-for societies, and the ability to appreciate the fruits of your, and others' labour, and suddenly understand that you are moved by the indications of  a deeply respectful, imperfect, society based on being Free to......Live.

Strangely, work makes you, no matter how humble, begin to look at yourself in a new and self-respecting way - sometimes slow, sometimes frustrating, sometimes halthing, but ........changing: able to see others' to care and recognize the expression...."so close; this too shall pass" without scoffing...."you can do it!" - and mean it......"Well done, well earned" - having witnessed it....and without the unreasonable and immature expectation that it's then YOURS, be default.

We begin to understand the precision of 30 years, the musicality of the timed till, the challenge of 5 breakfasts, packed lunches, and quick nutritious meals wedged into a 60 hour work week, amidst the shouldered burden of yet another unexpected expense in the face of the dreamed of trip to .....beyond enough.

We begin to understand "enough" differently; with precision, with expression, with regret, with annoyance; with disappointment, with renewed vigour........with another interpretation of it, superimposed on our own lives, for inexplicable reasons.

We question....we understand - slowly, and arduously, and inexorably - the different "needs" in life, differently. Time does this to us, despite ourselves.

We do not presume, anymore......"to come to this Thy table, trusting in our own righteousness, but in Thy manifold and Great Mercy. We are not worthy enough to gather up the crumbs under Thy Table, yet....thou art the Same Lord, whose property is always to have Mercy."

Becoming King of the World, or the Queen of everyone else's imposed guilt about never being allowed to be Ourselves; for never achieving anything, for having no understanding of the Quiet Joy of having been identified, unsarcastically, or unequivocally, as "The Best Fruits, understood, in a good man's life", are suddenly - instantly - clear.

All this ...with the subtlety, deeper understanding, stern testing, gentle humour, and effortless winding together of the elements of  Reason, and Passion, and Appetite, blended into clay and breathed into, as unintelligible, misunderstood, stranded and ever mutating and stunted and yearning and loved, unloved, prevented from achieving, caring, maligned, mocked, hurt, abused, misused, underestimated, and ......still trying as we view ourselves to be.

Having been species-saved by a Saviour's implicit Benevolence, in the face of Mindless clay, flailing and reactive and consuming, we live in Hope until It is Done.

At its best, the discerning mind, empirically challenged, does not merely "conjecture".

It ACTIVELY hopes; it daringly dreams - but plans methodically, like a garden, towards the completion of the edifice, brick by brick, block by lovingly fashioned block, until even beyond the days when the Craftsman's eyes might see evidence and emulation of its Mighty Shelter, achieved - both seen and Unseen - it humbly understands the arduous nature of life, fulfilled, fulfilling......lived, and "Present."