Tag Archives: Philosophy

Stay Flexible!

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This week was almost a week from hell, but not really. It was more like a week from one of the upper regions of Tartarus that the Book of Enoch describes. It was neither bad, nor good, just hectic. I hesitate to call it a bad week because I find that when we sift our experiences through the filters of bad or good, we end up with a black and white, archaic, and just plain cartoony view of reality. This week, every academic deadline came of age and threw a bat mitzvah party; I had my midterm exams, presentations, concert reports and all the other assignments which make you want to question your life philosophy.

My philosophy in life is actually pretty simple: when life hands you limes – demand vodka and make a margarita. If life wont give you vodka, slip gunpowder into your limes and throw them back at life.

Having mentioned that, aside from being put in the academic pressure cooker, I was also run through the ringer washer of relationship possibilities. Opportunities have arisen for me to break my flawless track record of blissful singlehood. I hesitate to call him a cute boy when a significant gap in age is staring at me in the face. He’s an opera singer – with a face that makes you want to believe in a few more Greek deities. You would reach out to touch him, except for the fear of being electrocuted. So instead, you stand there and play it cool. Or try. Keep trying as you sit in a little cafe swapping stories from your travels in Europe. Keep trying as he asks for your number – and you plan out the next few days of time to be spent together. Keep trying as the days pass and he tells you things about himself that confuse you.

It’s like being moments away from launching a shuttle to the moon. You can feel the fire. You can feel the exhilaration pushing you forward against the forces which have held you in the same place for so long. But you have this feeling that somewhere, in some minute place, there will be a washer missing, and that will make all the difference to the success of the expedition. I don’t believe in overriding hesitations when something just doesn’t feel quite right.

In the midst of this uncertainty, I was given one of the best compliments I’ve ever gotten. Two of my best friends told me I should write novels. They were sitting there in the sunshine reading a few pages of my journal, two pretty girls giggling shamelessly, saying, “I can’t believe how well you describe an apple core, sitting between two people on a bench, then being thrown into a nearby bush by the person who didn’t eat it – this is such a page turner!”

My whole life is a page turner. I don’t know what’s going to happen. I can make plans – but I haven’t been spoiled by the luxury of having my plans work out too well. As I’m mining for gold in the day to day rubble, I am in no danger of believing that life is pre-determined. Yes, things happen for a reason – yes, but fate happens to you so that you have the opportunity to push the limits of your influence over it. Dear life, you can keep shitting on me, but I will continue to reinvent the feeble umbrella of Wile E. Coyote until I find ways to protect myself from the damage. My life is a real page turner. And while the pen is in my hand, I will write my way as close to a happy ending as is possible, but there’s nothing I can do to prevent the obstacles the protagonist must face if this is going to be a good literature. As for me, in the here and now, I’m choosing to stay flexible.

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Heaven Is

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Sometimes amazing things happen to us which we can’t explain, but in my typical indomitability,  I’ll try to explain what’s happened. After all, how hard could that be? I realize I’m risking making no sense whatsoever, but it’s just an occupational hazard.

First, –philosophy before prose– I’ve come to believe that our ideas about heaven are merely our ideals of a perfect life we wish we could experience now. Eternity might be completely different than the scope of our mortal speculation allows us to comprehend. Heaven is a difficult concept to tackle with a priori alone, so having exhausted that approach, I’ll continue with a posteriori. I’m able to embrace the complete uncertainty about the afterlife, because my peace of mind comes from my convictions, not my reason.

Heaven is real. I know it because it’s happened to me. You can’t fool me now. I’m resorting to experiential intelligence as a means of understanding, having found reason to be dull and dry, yielding limited returns. You could say I’ve crapped out on philosophically handling questions about heaven. I’ve crapped out of methods which don’t serve me as well.

Heaven is the joy leaking through your fingers because you were the fool who thought they could hold it. It’s the moment you realize you’d waited for about five years, and it’s finally coming true. It’s the clarity in the air as you listen to the words which cut years of burdens off your young mind. It’s when the years of pain melt away into tears which are being shed on your shoulder, and down your back. It’s when you realize that your estimates of about ten years of drudgery on a path to reconciliation are inaccurate. It feels so good to be wrong. Heaven is when years of turmoil melt into a peace which comes from regret, retrospection.

Heaven is forgiveness. It’s real.

Heaven is lightheartedness slowly returning to a cynical, calloused, cadaverous creature of complicated concerns who’s been carrying crap.

Heaven is when burdens are being cut off, and you’re realizing that you’re ten times lighter.

Heaven is when the stupid humans get the hell over their petty drama, and drop grudges. It’s when people stop lugging all their crap around and spewing hate in the air about others. It’s when mortal arrogance ceases long enough to let heaven shed light on a situation.

Heaven is when NO ONE UNDERSTANDS WHAT JUST HAPPENED. Why destructive habits stopped. Why one person just gained the clarity and cool-headedness in the midst of confusion that you KNOW something changed. Someone let them in on the cosmic secret: HEAVEN IS REAL.

To those who are bent on backstabbing: fuck off. I have a life to live. I’m bloody well going to live it free, without the need for self-righteousness to assert some sort of order or justice. I don’t have the answers to any of your problems. If you wish that I’d solve the world’s problems, by attempting to hold people accountable to some code of conduct, take a reality check. Forget it. It’s my life. No type of religious claptrap  could convince me to play God and carry around a resentment for why people don’t act as they should.

2011 brought its fair share of good and bad. In retrospect, I think it was completely unfair. I was robbed of a gift I thought I’d have for 60 more years or so. but, I was given a gift –a big shiny one– that I didn’t think I’d get for years: reconciliation. Psalm 65:11 “You crown the year with Your goodness.” I’m really thankful for the ways God helps me get over the jerk side of my humanity, and works good things into my life, e.g., giving me peace which I didn’t think I’d have for about ten more years. I like how He pulls me back from danger by getting dirt under His fingernails with me, and showing me what to avoid, why to avoid it. I’m also really lucky to know His unconditional acceptance, no matter what trumpery I dabble in.

Thanks for tuning in.

BLOOPERS:

Heaven is more than 24 cookies eaten in less than 24 hours. [true story]

Heaven is when your mom is under your bed trying to find your owl. [true story]

Heaven is when people figure out the value of what they have to say, and then proceed to take the liberty of cushioning it with the most fitting expletives.

“Roses were red,
Back then at your visit,
The violets were blue,
Now they are wilted.
So long 2011,
You completely SUCKED.
If I didn’t have heaven,
I’d be royally (let’s see, what rhymes, out of luck?)”

If only I could bottle some, and give it to my family to cure them. I’d also give some of this magic medicine to a friend of mine. Here -this is what makes life life.

Willie

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Meet Willie. I love Willie. He was manufactured as part of a collection of trombones, but Willie’s a little different. He’s an outlier. He claims to be a trumpet. I willie love Willie. Saying that he gives me the willies would be superfluous at this point.

Willie has become a source of my philosophical angst. Is he a trumpet or a trombone? What is the essence of a trombone? What is the substance of a trombone? How does that differ from a trumpet? If we were to define a trombone too hastily, would Willie still be a trombone? Can we be certain that Willie is a trombone? There’s been a lot of speculation rooted in fallacy. Here’s the word on the streets:

“All trombones have a slide, Willie has a slide. Therefore Willie is a trombone.” (Affirming the consequent)

“If you’re a trumpet, you must make terrible sounding noises. Willie’s being quiet. He’s obviously not a trumpet then.” (Denying the antecedent)

“Calling Willie a trumpet is just as bad as changing the nomenclature on your compass! Woe to those who exchange north for south!” (Questionable Analogy; this whole entry is a questionable analogy)

“Honestly why are we having this debate? It’s absurd to think he’s a strumpet! Oh, trumpet, sorry.” (Reductio Ad Absurdum)

“Aw, poor little trombone. In my day, they just used to call them confused.” (Ad Misericordium; appeal to pity)

“Look, Willie has the slide of a trombone, so he’s clearly a trombone.” (Suppressed Evidence; The fact that Willie also has the valves of a trumpet remains unmentioned.)

“Willie the trombone is not allowed to sing, because even trumpets sound awfully bad.” (Equivocation; changing a word from one part of the argument to the next, using different words interchangeably)

“Telling Willie he ought to be a trombone is reasonable, we can fix him, unless of course he plays the jazz standards.” (Red Herring; decoy, unrelated information is made to sound relevant)

“You really can’t trust the storeowner’s opinion on Willie’s identity, he’s a guitarist.” (Ad Hominem; argument is wrong because of the person arguing it)

“Willie is a trombone! If you argue otherwise, I’ll pull out my bagpipes!” (Ad Baculum; appeal to force)

“After all, Willie is either a trumpet or a trombone…” (False Dichotomy; Whatever happened to Tubas? Trumpones? Trombets?)

“Why, almost everyone would agree that Willie is a trombone!” (Ad Populum; appeal to the majority’s belief)

“Well, Miles Davis says Willie’s not a trumpet, so I would agree.” (Ad Verecundiam; Appeal to authority)

“If we accept Willie as a trumpet, soon our trombones will all turn into bagpipes! The world will end!” (Slippery Slope)

Having played trumpet my whole life, I was disarmed one night when on a stage, I saw a trombone, and wanted to play it so badly. Oh Willie, Why must thou give me the willies? I don’t play trombone. I play trumpet. Willie needs a more versatile instrumentalist than me I think. This is a trumpet I’ll listen to, but I will not play. It’s a matter of will.

Personally, I just want to hear Willie sing. We’ll really never know what type of music Willie can make if all we do is sit around speculating about what type of instrument he is. Willie’s more that what you see. Let’s let him sing. Let’s free him to make the music which he truly wants to make. If we’re the ones calling it a choice, let’s let him decide. I just want to hear Willie sing.