It’s less than a week until Costa Rica!

5 days to be exact, but who’s counting?

And (more importantly), why does she insist in doing it in my head?

Hopefully, I’ll be a doll soon, post an itinerary for the trip (and maybe some short quip on the preconditions that inspired its materialization). I have plenty of traveling/visits (friends and family in Jacksonville and Daytona Beach), events (including 4th of July celebration), and errands (travel, school, personal, and otherwise) especially designed (intentionally and sequentially) to busy my mind every day (and tire myself out to point of exhaustion every night–so I sleep good and hard), encompassing all interim hours between now and my departure for San Jose (y’know, so I’m not subsumed by the fever pitch that is my own anticipatory excitement).

See the lengths of planning involved in troubleshooting my own personal proclivities?  Taxing.

After all, there’s more to life than countdowns.

I plan to take one book (final selection pending, but strongly swayed in favor of a Thomas Merton book lent to me by a very good friend, whose wisdom I esteem to the nth degree)..and one pad for jotting notes and journal writing.

Trip updates may have to come on the actual heels of the trip,

desafortunadamente.  Que triste!

(That’s spanish for: ‘unfortunately.  How sad!)

As you may have guessed, I’m (recklessly and faithfully) relying entirely on the four years of Spanish bestowed upon me by the legendary linguist master (my amazing high school Spanish teacher), Senora Cabrera. In fact, I’m so confident of my ability to naturally and organically fall back into the tongue of my fore-mothers  that I’m bringing along a mini Webster’s Spanish-English dictionary, just to provide a complimentary proof read and fact check of their material for them. These are the kind of good karma moves that *for sure* get me noticed by the cosmic powers that be…that be..watching me make my moves? There just kind of passing the Time they made, I guess…dunno, who cares– it’s Metaphysics! We don’t have to worry about it!

In only semi-related news, I think I’m actually going to be able to fit all my essentials in my Polly-Pocket-sized travel backpack.  Sweet, sweet succulent taste of success–and its mine!

Ahem. It is a *super-small* backpack though…seams are already stressing out a little bit. My travel buddy Dan (hereafter, I’ll just refer to him as Dan…or Dan the Man, depending on my mood…and/or when he politely makes the request I quit calling him that) voiced his reservations about my small backpack move– BUT what he needs to understand….Nay! What the world needs to understand is that I bought this bad boy at a thrift store for $3.

$3!

I’ll give you a second, let that sink in.

Needless to say, in exchange for my 300 pennies, I expect this backpack to (not only) successfully facilitate my travel abroad experience to Costa Rica, but I fully intend for it to carry my books, every day, for the next 5-6 years worth of graduate study I’ve committed myself to—-up and until there’s a photograph with me holding my doctoral degree in one hand, waving a ‘told-ya-so’ pointer finger at the camera with my other hand, and adorning my faithful backpack upon my back, magnificently displayed, as it basks in the glory and triumph of the moment that will symbolize to itself, and to the world, its final curtain call.

Then...and only then  dear friends, will I be solidly and unequivocally convinced  that I have gotten my 300 pennies’ worth.

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2011.06.28

when in doubt shake your head really hard and leaf blowers counter tops irons burning through finger tips bring it back and go it was well and settling down brushing up on barrier transgressions dialogue in epilogue in anticipation of  story telling dusting off little known kernels creeping through and emergent beams of light driving out the last dark little seeds from the pours of skin and making sense not to resist or insist or detest or contest or conspire or require and just admire the fire in now allow the ways to endeavor in faith less loosely based on the sparks the fireworks consuming attention bursting belligerently hasting magnificently time and Time here again greeting and seating and paying out debts for wagers made ages ago in hand-made booklets with short and simple poems by shy little girls quietly living in their minds deferring their thoughts to a boisterous and overpowering cacophony of squatters who had settled themselves there long ago without permission but with the provision that they would leave only when all eternity had imploded outward in a glorious spectacle of lies from their new home and they had determined those shy little girls were clearly and unmistakably dead and gone

“Proverbs are always platitudes until you have personally experienced the truth of them.”

___________

“Science has explained nothing; the more we know the more fantastic the world becomes and the profounder the surrounding darkness.”

___________

“Words, words, words! They shut one off from the universe. Three quarters of the time one’s never in contact with things, only with the beastly words that stand for them.”

___________

“Writers write to influence their readers, their preachers, their auditors, but always, at bottom, to be more themselves.”


As may have been guessed by my posting of inspirational, outside resources on the health benefits of fasting, I was becoming a little lazy and lax on documenting my unfolding experiences.

_____

In many ways, I thought and felt the health benefits of fasting in a  primary way during my first fasting period. For example, I felt that the condition of my skin improved ( it seemed to assist with the alleviation and reduction of my psoriasis) and (most significantly, and as I mentioned previously) it seemed to be very helpful in improving overall mental well being (decreasing anxiety due to ego-related insecurities, increasing patience and equanimity, and facilitating a sense of continuity in personal identity through time). Not to mention, I did have the sense that my body was being detoxified (all claims that are hard to quantify or qualify and maybe can only be justified through first-person experience).

_____

This second fasting period (which I am currently on the 8th day of) has not only been much easier to start and smoother to transition to- in fact, I looked forward to starting in a way I hadn’t with the first (I had wanted to will to fast the first time around, but not out of any sense I’d feel super-awesome doing it and obviously not because I missed something about it–since I hadn’t experienced a water fast prior to then). The second time around, I wanted to fast because I missed the sense of calmness, stillness, and adventure that comes with it (I know the latter description may seem like an odd concept to place here, but I’ll qualify). Fasting is an adventure (maybe more properly referred to as an  ‘inner-adventure’) wherein you’re required to challenge yourself constantly (in physical and metaphysical planes) and in the process you begin learning about yourself: your own limitations, your relation to the construction (fabrication) of those limitations (becoming aware of the fears and insecurities that you harbor and how they constrain your day-to-day interactions and compromise your potential for freedom and spiritual growth), what it feels like to access deeper levels of subjective (spiritual) self, and (subsequently) what it feels like to open yourself up (in a very powerful sense) to new opportunities and experiences for spiritual growth and understanding through your interactions with others and the outside world. In fact, I think fasting may be one of the most adventurous and insightful experiences one can endeavor upon.

_____

Yes, this second fasting period has certainly felt like it has been much more of an opportunity to positively experience the spiritual benefits of fasting. Maybe the overcoming and quieting of the physical discomforts (that perhaps, could only have resulted from more consistently practicing the act of fasting itself) helped allow my mind to focus more continuously and intentionally on the spiritual experiences that are facilitated by the practice.

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One thing I realized is that, until only very recently, when someone asked me why I was fasting (what was the point? what do you get out of it? You’re already healthy- so why such ‘extreme’ behavior? Or, any other variant of these concerns that had been voiced) I would be super-cautious in giving a response that cited empirical evidence of the health benefits associated with it (citing some of the clinical studies I had researched) and the personal health benefits I had experienced to that point. In other words, I was making a deliberate effort to try to keep it sounding like a normal, practical endeavor, with beneficial real-world implications (and in other other words, trying to avoid any judgments of mysticism or irrationality or warped religious fervor or obsession over physical appearance).

_____

2011.06.27

 

Never Say Never

2011.06.27

I don't know how or where or when to start.
 I don't even know if I should (or could) start.
I do take some solace (coupled with a a slight tinge of excitement)
to know that
(at the very least)
I did start
to think about it (and the possibility of it)
and thinking about how to think about it
and believing it makes sense for me to think about it
because maybe
 (maybe)
I deserve it.

2011.06.26

“People could rationally decide that prolonged relationships take up too much time and effort and that they’d much rather do other kinds of things. But most people are afraid of rejection.”

-Albert Ellis

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Albert, you ole’ S.O.B!

Just calling people out like they don’t have enough ego-concerns and insecurities to indulge themselves needlessly in (and resign themselves indefinitely to).

Thanks, by the way.

2011.06.26

“One of the very basic ideas of Post-Modernism is rejection of arbitrary power structures. Different people are sensitive to different kinds of power structures. ”

-Larry Wall

 


2nd- ‘Don’t take any negativity others do or say personally.’

3rd- ‘Don’t make assumptions about anything or anyone (avoid expectations).’

(Source: Miguel Ruiz The Four Agreements)

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I would like to have an open heart, be patient, be kind, always. I would like to greet every encounter with a spirit of generosity, open-mindedness, equanimity, patience, and understanding. I would like like to have faith that whatever I feel my needs or desires are, they are properly examined to ensure they are aligned with a pure intent, and that they will be met at the appropriate time. I would like to accept others exactly as they are, never judge them for being who they are, take nothing others may do or say personally, and make myself available to receive new thoughts and ideas that will facilitate my spiritual growth, and the spiritual growth of others.

Mary fun-fact: I have always had a super-soft spot for Dolly Parton (judge away, world!) I think she has a beautiful voice. I also think she’s smart and has a great attitude towards life.

Dolly Parton Quotes:

“Find out who you are, and do it on purpose.”

“I will shed the sins and struggles I have carried all these years. And I’ll leave my heart wide open, I will love and have no fear.”

“I have always been a freak and different, oddball even in my childhood and to my own family, so I can relate to people who are struggling and trying to find their own identity. I do not sit in the seat of judgment. I love people for who they are. We are all God’s children.”

“I’m not offended by all the dumb-blonde jokes, because I know I am not dumb…and I also know that I am not blonde.”

“Love is something sent from Heaven to worry the hell out of you.”

2011.06.26

Yesterday

2011.06.25

was such an amazing day, for so many different reasons! So amazing, in fact, that I don't think I need to document it in order to feel like I'll remember it (and that may very well be my favorite reason). Today was pretty awesome too. Hopefully, I'll muster up some energy and jot down some highlights.

2011.06.25

Free Book PDF Link

Title: The Nature of God, the Structure of Consciousness, and the Universe Within You

Author: Dr. Michael Sharp

http://www.michaelsharp.org/ebooks/thebookoflight_ebook.pdf

2011.06.25

The Health Benefits of Water Fasting

By Stephen Harrod Buhner

Written 2003
Copyright © 2003 Stephen Harrod Buhner

Fasting is an exceptionally ancient, and powerful, approach to healing many common disease conditions. It allows the body to rest, detoxify, and to heal. During fasting the body moves into the same kind of detoxification cycle that it normally enters during sleep. It uses its energy during a fast, not for digesting food, but for cleansing the body of accumulated toxins and healing any parts of it that are ill. As a fast progresses the body consumes everything that it can that is not essential to bodily functioning. This includes bacteria, viruses, fibroid tumors, waste products in the blood, any build up around the joints, and stored fat. The historical record indicates that human beings are evolutionarily designed to fast. It is an incredibly safe approach to healing and the body knows how to do it very well.

The Physiological Changes of Fasting
Many of the most dramatic changes that occur in the body during fasting take place on the first three days of the fast. These occur as the body switches from one fuel source to another. Normally, the primary form of energy the body uses for energy is glucose, a type of sugar. Most of this is extracted or converted from the food we eat. Throughout the day, the liver stores excess sugar in a special form called glycogen that it can call on as energy levels fall between meals. There is enough of this sugar source for 8-12 hours of energy and usually, it is completely exhausted within the first 24 hours of fasting. (However, once the body shifts over to ketosis or fat as fuel, this new fuel is used to also restore the body’s glycogen reserves.)
Once the liver’s stores of glycogen are gone, the body begins to shift over to what is called ketosis or ketone production – the use of fatty acids as fuel instead of glucose. This shift generally begins on the second day of fasting and completed by the third. In this interim period there is no glucose available and energy from fat conversion is insufficient but the body still needs fuel. So it accesses glucose from two sources. It first converts glycerol, available in the body’s fat stores, to glucose but this is still insufficient. So it makes the rest that it needs from catabolizing, or breaking down, the amino acids in muscle tissue, using them in the liver for gluconeogenesis, or the making of glucose. Between 60 and 84 grams of protein are used on this second day, 2-3 ounces of muscle tissue. By the third day ketone production is sufficient to provide nearly all the energy the body needs and the body’s protein begins to be strongly conserved. The body still needs a tiny amount of glucose for some functions, however, so a very small amount of protein, 18-24 grams, is still catabolized to supply it – from 1/2 to 1 ounce of muscle tissue per day. Over a 30 day water fast a person generally loses a maximum of 1-2 pounds of muscle mass. This conservation of the body’s protein is an evolutionary development that exists to protect muscle tissue and vital organs from damage during periods of insufficient food availability.
From the third day onward the rate of the breakdown of fatty acids from adipose or fat tissue continues to increase, hitting its peak on the tenth day. This seven day period, after the body has shifted completely over to ketosis, is where the maximum breakdown of fat tissue occurs. As part of protein conservation, the body also begins seeking out all non-body-protein sources of fuel: nonessential cellular masses such as fibroid tumors and degenerative tissues, bacteria, viruses, or any other compounds in the body that can be used for fuel. This is part of the reason that fasting produces the kind of health effects it does. Also, during this period of heightened ketosis the body is in a similar state as the one that occurs during sleep – a rest and detoxification cycle. It begins to focus on the removal of toxins from the body and the healing and regeneration of damaged tissues and organs.

Fasting and Healing
Fasting has been found to help a number of disease conditions, often
permanently. There have been a number of intriguing clinical trials and studies treating numerous disease conditions with fasting. Here are some of those findings.

* In one clinical trial of hypertension and fasting, 174 people with hypertension were prefasted for 2-3 days by eating only fruits and vegetables. They then participated in a 10-11 day water only fast, followed by a 6-7 day post fast in which they ate only a low-fat, low- sodium vegan diet. Initial blood pressure in the participants was either in excess of 140 millimeters of mercury (mm HG) systolic or 90 diastolic or both. Ninety percent of the participants achieved blood pressure less than 140/90 by the end of the trial. The higher their initial blood pressure the more their readings dropped. The average drop for all participants was 37/13. Those with stage 3 hypertension (over 180/110) had an average reduction of 60/17. All those taking blood pressure medication prior to fasting were able to discontinue it. Fasting has been shown in a number of trials like this one to be one of the most effective methods for lowering blood pressure and normalizing cardiovascular function. Blood pressure tends to remain low in all those using fasting for cardiovascular disease once fasting is completed.

* Fasting is exceptionally beneficial in chronic cardiovascular disease and congestive heart failure, reducing triglycerides, atheromas, total cholesterol, and increasing HDL levels.

* Fasting has been found effective in the treatment of type II diabetes, often reversing the condition permanently.

* Because of its long term effects on metabolism, fat stores in the body, leptin, and disease conditions associated with obesity, fasting has been found to be one of the most effective treatments for obesity.

* A number of studies have found that fasting is beneficial in epilepsy, reducing the length, number, and severity of seizures. Fasting is especially effective for helping alleviate or cure childhood epilepsy.

* In a 1988 trial of 88 people with acute pancreatitis, fasting was found better than any other medical intervention. Neither nasogastric suction or cimetidine were found to produce as beneficial effects as those from fasting. Symptoms were relieved irrespective of the etiology of the disease.

* A number of studies have found that fasting is effective for treating both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Fasting induces significant antiinflammatory actions in the body and researchers found decreased ESR, arthralgia, pain, stiffness, and need for medication.

* Autoimmune diseases such as lupus, rosacea, chronic urticaria, and acute glomerulonephritis have all responded well to fasting.

* Severe toxic contamination has been shown to be significantly helped with fasting. Clinical trials have found that people poisoned with PCB experienced “dramatic” relief after 7-10 day fasts.

* Poor immune function improves during fasting. Studies have found that
there is increased macrophage activity, increased cell-mediated immunity,
decreased complement factors, decreased antigen-antibody complexes, increased immunoglobulin levels, increased neutrophil bactericidal activity, depressed lymphocyte blastogenesis, heightened monocyte killing and bactericidal function, and enhanced natural killer cell activity.

* Other diseases that have responded to fasting are: psychosomatic disease, neurogenic bladder, psoriasis, eczema, thrombophlebitis, varicose ulcers, fibromyalgia, neurocirculatory disease, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, bronchial asthma, lumbago, depression, neurosis, schizophrenia, duodenal ulcers, uterine fibroids, intestinal parasites, gout, allergies, hay fever, hives, multiple sclerosis, and insomnia.

* The historically lengthy claim that fasting increases life span is beginning to garner some support in research literature. Regularly repeated 4-day fasting has been found to increase the life span in normal and immunocompromised mice.

* Although the use of fasting in the treatment of cancer is controversial, there is some emerging data SHOWING that fasting helps prevent cancer. Intermittent fasting (2 days weekly) has shown an inhibitory effect on the development of liver cancer in rats.

People Who Should Not Fast
Although most people can fast, there are a few who, because of special
conditions, should not.

* People who are extremely emaciated or in a state of starvation
* Those who are anorexic or bulemic
* Pregnant, diabetic women
* Nursing mothers
* Those who have severe anemia
* Those with an extreme fear of fasting
* Those with porphyria. Porphyria refers to a genetic metabolic defect that affects the body’s ability to manage porphyrins. Porphyrins are a group of compounds that combine with iron to produce blood, are involved in the control of electron transport systems, and, within mitochondria, are intricately involved in the production, accumulation, and utilization of energy. Porphyria can cause malfunctions in the liver, bone marrow, and red blood cells and produces a wide range of symptoms including seizures.
* People with a rare, genetic, fatty acid deficiency which prevents THE INITIATION OF KETOSIS. This is a deficiency involving the enzyme acetyl-CoA, a mitochondrial fatty acid oxidation enzyme, that is essential to ketosis. Those with this deficiency who do fast can experience severe side effects, including hepatic steatosis, myocardial lipid accumulation, and severe hypoglycemia.

A Note on Pregnancy, Children, and Fasting
Although many fasting texts suggest that pregnant women not fast, those that have been found to suffer side effects were also diabetic. Ketosis during pregnancy can seriously harm the fetus if the mother is diabetic. Fasting during pregnancy if a woman is not diabetic has not been found harmful to either mother or fetus. However, fasts for nondiabetic pregnant women should be no longer than 2-3 weeks duration and be monitored by a health care provider. Children, even infants, can also fast without complications if the fasts are of relatively short duration. For infants 2-3 days, children 1-2 weeks depending on age. These fasts should also be monitored by a health care provider unless of short duration. The need for infants and young children to fast is rare.

Those Who Should Fast Under Health Care Supervision
While most people can fast safely there are some that should do so only under the supervision of a health professional experienced in fasting for healing.

* Those with serious disease conditions
* Pregnant women
* Infants and young children
* Type I diabetics
* Those with insufficient kidney function
* Those who are extremely afraid of fasting yet wish to do so anyway
* People with a high toxic contamination level of DDT. DDT is stored by the body in a highly concentrated form in fat tissue. Fasting can release huge levels of DDT into the bloodstream as the fat stores are released. This can be quite dangerous.

2011.06.25

2011.06.25

This is a passage contained at the very end of Elie Wiesel’s book, The Town Beyond the Wall. I regularly revisit it, and it continues to fascinate me. I think this is partly because of how aware I am I have yet to grasp its full meaning, and partly because of my intuition that it contains some gem seed of truth.

LEGEND TELLS US THAT ONE DAY MAN SPOKE TO GOD IN THIS WISE:

“Let us change about. You be man, and I will be God. For only one second.”

God smiled gently and asked him, “Aren’t you afraid?”

“No. And you?”

“Yes, I am, ” God said.

Nevertheless he granted man’s desire. He became a man, and the man took his place and immediately availed himself of his omnipotence: he refused to revert to his previous state. So neither God nor man was ever again what he seemed to be.

Years passed, centuries, perhaps eternities. And suddenly, the drama quickened. The past for one, and the present for the other, were to heavy to be borne.

As the liberation of the one was bound to the liberation of the other, they renewed the ancient dialogue whose echoes come to us in the night, charged with hatred, with remorse, and most of all, with infinite yearning.

-Quiet, calm, notably easier than the first time around. In general, sense of experiencing this fast as a ‘ in the background’ phenomena.

-Music is already starting to sound like noise, glad I soaked it up while I could.

-Desire to affirm contrasting aspects of identity (maybe this is idiosyncratic, instead of initial days posing a challenge in terms of the desire to eat food and give up fast, many of my initial battles take place in my mind and thoughts. Noticed I made a concerted effort to ‘let  go’ of particularized feelings of attachment I developed, and haven’t been successful in this sphere just yet. I haven’t been particularly indulgent either, but I’m hoping this will be an arena where an increasing strength of the will may manifest- the sooner, the better.

-Just received extremely troubling, worrisome news. In the process of accepting it. No tears, but some fear. Some anxiety, albeit waning.

-Feeling like there is an increasing number of external requests for my time-energy. In contrast, beginning to desire increasing spheres of personal space for lengthier periods of time.

________________________________________

Last fast was broken (on the 17th day) not out of hunger, but fear.  I really reflected on that a great deal. I let my mind worry my body wasn’t handling it. I started thinking I was having issues swallowing and let that fear creep in that it may be resultant of the fast. I happen to be watching the movie ‘The Fountain’ which deals thematically with death and afterlife concepts, which may have contributed to my stream of thoughts at that time. It was also a very consuming movie, the room was quiet and my attention was focused on the screen, but also on my own body functions and processes (breathing, swallowing, heart beating, anxious mannerisms, etc). I drank soy milk to calm my nerves and mind that night when I got home, officially ending that fast. The original goal had been at least 30 days. In hindsight, I feel some disappointment in myself about that.

________________________________________

Still sensitive and still really want to believe in somethings:

-‘Mary, if you just let me finish’

-‘he rather have the money than the food’

-‘stop,that’s over the top’

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Yesterday, I watched some really awesome episodes of Futurama (a cartoon) with my roommate Travis, and his girlfriend, Sara. I honestly felt like I took a lot out of watching those episodes (was thinking about all kinds of things and really letting my mind wander), which is kind of funny considering its a comedy cartoon, but who knows. Travis told me the creators of the show have PhD’s in Mathematics and Philosophy, which I thought was pretty cool too. Maybe, that’s what I’ll do with my PhD–get into showbiz. I kid. Although, my celebrity-crush, Rachel Maddow, did just that (she is a liberal talk show host on MSNBC  and she is one of two ongoing, celebrity crushes I actively maintain–the other being Joseph Gordon-Levitt, the latter crush being based almost exclusively on a magazine interview with him I read at a Barnes n Noble one day, by chance–but on the heels of  having taken to his role in the movie ‘Inception’)–anywho, Maddow got her PhD in Philosophy and went on to successfully take on T.V. and radio air time.

I’m into her. I’ve accepted that. I had a dream we went on a date, and she was totally into me too! Which was pretty awesome in and of itself since I hardly ever get that kind of positive reinforcement in the in ‘intimate interpersonal relationships’ department through dreams. so duh, I concluded this could only mean one thing, world—Rachel Maddow would fall for me too, if we (1) had the opportunity to meet and I could woo her in person (sigh) and (2) she was not already very happily married (double sigh)–but y’know, maybe this is why I don’t get those kind of dreams often, my ego is just too prone to massive inflation based on very loosely justified intuitions.

____________________________________________________

Ongoing Celeb Crushes:

Rachel Maddow being her super-smart self while giving a lecture at Harvard

Joseph Gordon-Levitt (minus the brownie points he'd usually get for the beard)

black swan

2011.06.24

I went to a bible study yesterday, which was such an awesome and amazing experience, especially because I felt like I got so much out of it (and had the opportunity to meet so many wonderful and positive people)! We we’re studying the Gospel of John 1:1-18. Our facilitator made some very thoughtful points that really enhanced my perspective and understanding of certain excerpts of the Bible. First, in this initial excerpt of the John, Jesus is not referred to as ‘Jesus’, but as the ‘Word’ or the ‘Logos’. Our facilitator explained the meaning of ‘Logos’ as ‘the word, the source of meaning’ and proffered an interpretation of the reading wherein John is alluding to the role of Jesus as the means for understanding the words and scripture of the Bible. Here is the dictionary.com definition for Logos, which I think offers even more context to where I’m about to go with this:

1. in Philosophy (how fitting!) . the rational principle that governs and develops the universe.
2. in Theology . the divine word or reason incarnate in Jesus Christ. John 1:1–14 (confirming her definition)
_________________________________________________________
As I started thinking about this, I began to really appreciate the notion of John’s foreshadowing herein that Jesus’ words and actions while incarnated would be the ‘word’ or ‘meaning’ or ‘perspective and lens of Divine truth’ with which we could revisit and try and interpret (or give meaning to) biblical scripture (particularly the Old Testament).

_________________________________________________________

I have always admired the metaphorical role Jesus embodies–unconditional love, patience, kindness, forgiveness, hope, salvation, and willingness towards sacrifice (which required the intentional acts transcendence and transmutation) to help lift others up and empower them towards goodness. Jesus was totes a hippie, and I dig that- makes me feel that much more comfortable in my own skin, in fact!

_________________________________________________________

Our facilitator then made this super awesome point that really got me thinking. She made mention of the level of foreshadowing present in the Gospel of John, especially in relation to the coming of Jesus and his role in the Divine plan. She shared excitement over the notion that, when you start to think of all the ways (throughout the Old Testament, and here in John) Jesus’ coming is foreshadowed, the scripture becomes infinitely more powerful, and every passage carries deeper meaning and significance within it. What I appreciated most was the example she cited. She cited the stories of animal sacrifice demanded by God in the Old Testament (because duh. big surprise, the Vegan in me was never a  fan of those!) and the story of Abraham being told by God to sacrifice his son (the philosopher in me is still not a fan of this), but then applied the perspective-enhancing lens of Jesus qua ‘Word’ or ‘Logos of meaning’ or ‘reasoning principle for understanding’ and highlighted  how the covenant between humans and God is affirmed through this example (between Abraham and God), because it comes full circle in God later making this awe-inspiring (analogous) sacrifice of his ‘only begotten Son’ to save us from our own fear, misgivings, wrongdoings, wrong intentions, ‘sins’, etc. out of his unconditional love for us. Very cool extension of logic and positive interpretation.

_________________________________________________________

I teased out two points from this that I felt helped broadened my religious perspective, and that I truly appreciated. (1) The notion of using Jesus as the general ‘perspective-lens’ (tool) with which to try and favorably interpret (thereby potentially gaining understanding  and helpful meaning from) some of the more challenging, often troubling or counter-intuitive, stories of Old Testament scripture (again, I think this couldn’t hurt, but only help enhance my understanding of these excerpts by possibly shedding light on additional layers of meaning within the text, available when one proactively searches for notions of foreshadowing of the coming of Jesus throughout Old Testament) available IF AND ONLY IF (2) I challenge myself to read biblical scripture ‘in anticipation of completion’—which is just to say, anticipating (expecting) portions that I may find troubling or counter-intuitive (or downright dangerously misleading or violent) have some metaphorical significance, or serve some greater analogy, within the Bible, that has yet to be experienced by my understanding, and that I could then understand as rationally positive and good.

_________________________________________________________

Since I’ve always been an advocate of reading philosophical texts in this manner (I always try and assume the author of the book or article I am reading is at least as rational and intelligent as myself, if not, much-much more so, and even if his points seem counter-intuitive or ambiguous or ill-informed–I commit myself to reading in  ‘anticipation of completion’–fancy-schmancy way of saying ‘I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt unless and until you have presented the entirety of your argument and I’m still not on unequivocally on board). A practice that help keeps my ego in check (i.e. whoever the dude–or dudette–is, invested of their own time to document their perspective–organized and disciplined enough to have written a book or article– just to share with others information they accrued through their life) a way of thinking which I think helps me get more from the reading.
So yeah, duh. The least I can do is extend equal consideration to biblical scripture as well, it’s only fair.

_________________________________________________________

Note: I still find logical tensions in the story of Abraham and God’s mandate that he sacrifice his son. It seems to suggest a principle wherein its okay to be violent towards an Other if we  really believe its for a greater good and that we should be open to the notion of faith in the unknown–which may not be a bad thing for a person in relation to how they choose to govern and sacrifice their own person, BUT to presume dominion over the life and death of an equal Other based on that faith  makes me uneasy. I think a compelling argument can be made to illustrate why, in the case of Abraham and his faith in God, this story carries a powerful message on the power of positive belief and thinking in the face of the unknown (whether it be God or the future or Fate, etc) and in the face of your own fear and doubt BUT when I consider how this metaphor could be used to generate logically consistent operating principles in other spheres of human interactions with each other, again, I just get uneasy (think it may become problematic or potentially–too easily– interpreted in manners that justify wrong actions).

_________________________________________________________

I do think and pray and hope that if there is more to this story of Abraham (a greater fabric of context with which to understand this metaphor) that my potential for understanding will be enhanced and facilitated.

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We also discussed the metaphor of darkness versus light that gets used in John 1: 1-18. We agreed there was something timeless and moving to the human spirit in drawing on the notion of this juxtaposition (an intuition I could agree with). What I loved most, was how one attendee made reference to the notion of the exponential power of light in the face of darkness, citing the example of finding and lighting a candle in a dark room. Despite the room seemingly being overcome in darkness, if you kept searching for the candle, found it, and lit it, the small light would emanate throughout the entirety of the darkness in the room, and the room would be present in light. I loved, love, thinking and applying that metaphor in other spheres of life, especially in non-profit work and advocacy (or any time you are looking to facilitate or help improve the circumstances of an Other). It’s easy, I think, to become jaded and negative and a slave to your ego and insecurities when you are disproportionately burdened by a society premised on unequal distribution of resources, power, freedom, and potential. Many of the clients I have had the opportunity to serve have been filled with such darkness and bleakness and hopelessness (and were only able to see the world through the most negative of lenses) BUT I found that if you bear with them, past their insults and judgments (which are always the product of their own insecurities and hardly ever have anything to do with you– which is a wonderful thing to remind yourself, less you take things personally and let it hinder your ability to truly serve them) and you find any one thing that is incredibly good in them, anything that inspired you about them, and you let them know (consistently affirm it to and with them)–then it is just like you found that candle in them (which seems to require, more than anything else, faith and patience that the candle does exist) and you light that positivity within them. You show them how and why you think they are truly amazing, inspiring, awesome, interesting, and super-special, and then observe  how that candle you have lit will brighten every sphere of their life and  affect the decisions and actions they will take—diminishing all the darkness, the singular moment of light being exponentially more powerful than all the darkness that has sedimented from years of suffering and negative experience.

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I get that analogy. I believe it because I definitely felt the truth of it working in non-profit, specifically with socio-economically disadvantaged youth, women, and families.

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In social psychology, we learn that people grow up and form their sense of a social self and identity and personality through their interactions with others (George Herbert Mead writes really well and does a great job of explaining the social construction of self in childhood development). Always sounded intuitive enough to me; if everyone around you sees you as a failure or not-intelligent, or unattractive and undesirable and worthless, that is most likely how you learn to see yourself, and how you will act, and the personality and identity you will be socialized to embody. Likewise, if those around you interact with you like you have worth, are super special, super smart , have lights of positivity and unique talents shining throughout and beyond you, emanating outwards from within you, that is most likely how you will learn to see yourself, and how you will act, and the personality and identity you will be socialized to embody.

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What’s so super cool is knowing you really don’t have to have a degree in social work (which, like other professional/academic degrees, is largely the product of a mundane, sometimes unjust, always imperfect, and somewhat arbitrary intelligence credentialing system of power distribution), or a career in non-profit, to light candles in the lives of every conscious presence (person, animal, alien life form, career criminal, social deviant, who cares–the more personally challenging, the greater the reward!) you have the opportunity of crossing paths with in this life. I think that’s pretty awesome. If I say one thoughtful, sincerely motivated compliment to a few ‘random strangers’ I cross paths with during the course of my day, I feel like my day was so-super productive (personal productivity being something I semi-obsess over), and that feels genuine and awesome and reassuring and exhilarating and empowering (and addicting!).

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Post script: Upon re-reading this, and reflecting a little, I think there may be some parallels between the metaphors of light and darkness and the story of Abraham. I’m not going to go there now, because if I indulge in every connection my mind thinks it finds, and subsequently wants to explore more (especially on the heels of this understand-the-world-through-metaphors mind-binge I’ve been on).. I’ll go bat-shit crazy, but maybe something for later, noted now, so I don’t forget.

“An adventure is only an  inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered.”

– G.K. Chesterton

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“The traveler was active; he went strenuously in search of people, of adventure, of experience. The tourist is passive; he expects interesting things to happen to him. He goes ‘sight-seeing’.” -Daniel J. Boorstin

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Ineffective people live day after day with unused potential. They experience synergy only in small, peripheral ways in their lives. But creative experiences can be produced regularly, consistently, almost daily in people’s lives. It requires enormous personal security and openness and a spirit of adventure.” -Stephen R. Covey

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“I learned that the richness of life is found in adventure. It develops self-reliance and independence. Life then teems with excitement. There is stagnation only in security.” -William Orville Douglas

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“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature.” -Helen Keller

2011.06.22

Last night, I had the opportunity to join an (inspiring) group of students for a session of evening prayers (based on Anglican tradition). It reminded me how much I love and feel (reverberating inside myself) the power of positive group affirmation and how great it feels to greet my surroundings with an open heart and willingness to proffer all the benefit of the doubt. The prayers themselves were especially emotional for me- although praying has always been that way for me, especially in group settings–I *almost always* tear up, not sure what that’s about, super lame, but y’know, am who I am.

I have been listening to a lot of music as of late, mostly whatever my Pandora station feeds me, but still. I’m trying to enjoy it now, while it still sounds like music. Last fast period, after about 5 days (ish), I noticed music started sounding more like noise, particularly music with lyrics. I didn’t mind pure instrumentals, but definitely couldn’t play the radio or even fall asleep to my Pandora station, which may be noteworthy. Actually, when assessing how much I like a song, the lyrics usually play a central role, which I attribute to my general appreciation of words and their meaning incorporated into art (even when painting, I enjoy tearing out random words from newspapers and incorporating them onto my canvas-mix-media style). So again, noteworthy-maybe.

Also, after the 3rd day, I wouldn’t expect any hunger pangs. I drink mostly flavored, sparkling water and waters with electrolytes. I think I read somewhere that the sparkling (soda) water helps suppress the appetite, which sounds right (but it could be a placebo effect, if I did in fact read that somewhere). An other interesting side effect to fasting, I could swear to you I can’t discern the smells of food as well, or sometimes at all. I recall, during the first 17 day fast, accompanying my parents to lunch at an outdoor, seafood restaurant where they ordered steaks and shrimp lunches with fries and sides and the whole nine yards. They had insisted I come along, which I usually would be totally down for spending time, but I felt so early during the fast it would be a little trying to sit beside them while they ate such decadent meals. Low and behold, I didn’t smell the food to the extent I’m pretty confident I usually would have. It didn’t even cross my mind until my mom made a comment about how good my dad’s steak smelled, then he commented on how good the whole outside area was smelling, referring to the different food scents being carried around by the open breeze.

I didn’t say anything. I didn’t smell it. Maybe my senses were busy with taking in the beautiful outdoor breeze and scenery, but I honestly tried discerning some of the odors for a good minute or so, and really reflected on whether or not I was actually making out the different scents, and I just wasn’t sure- I know it seems like a black and white issue, but I can say it didn’t feel like it right then. I noticed numerous times thereafter the same phenomena. I wondered if that’s why people who fast allege they don’t feel hunger pangs after a certain period of days- I mean, often for me (at least while growing up), it was the smell of some delicious food that triggered the salivating and subsequent hunger pang.

I can only commit to 15 days, as I have to be well nourished and energized for my trip to Costa Rica–which I’m so super pumped about! I have never done the whole ‘student back-packing through a foreign region’ gig, and I just *know* its going to be amazing! No worries about the lack of travel experience, I’ll have in my company a seasoned world traveler–who just happens to be one of the coolest people I think I have ever had the *super serendipitous* chance of meeting. I grin when I think about it. Everything I run into will be new to me (and, in a real sense, so will every one soul I cross paths with). Everything. The scenery will be gorgeous (and I dig stunning scenery, who doesn’t? that gets me emotional too- that I would get to be alive for a moment wherein I’m surrounded by nothing but beautiful creation) and there will be no shortage of opportunities for misadventures (in every sense of the concept).

Yep, the Costa Rica trip, especially couched b/w fasting periods , seems like the ideal way to transition b/w life frames.

In only semi-related news, I (inadvertently) walked 3 miles (5 laps) yesterday around Lake Ella. Again, in mid-afternoon, three-digit heat. The more I walked, the more I wanted to walk (not usually the case). I think it’s the sociologist in me that really loves visiting that park alone. There’s always such a healthy medley of social phenomena ongoing, concurrently. I see and feel the ‘family feel’ energy of the park in some sections, then the ‘homeless feel’ energy of the park in others, then there is the just super-positive individual energies doing their thing (walking their pets, getting in their daily exercise), and there is the negative, alienating energies (sometimes sitting in their vehicles, just staring–sometimes greeting you with an objectifying, pedo-vibe  ‘hey there, sexy’ or ‘you got a minute to talk to me’ or yesterday’s ‘I like your shades, sexy mama’).

My ‘shades’ are $3 and plastic and hot yellow with blue stripes–duh, you like my shades. That’s totes why you are hiss-calling me over. I mean c’mon. What else could it be? Certainly nothing subjective–like my mind, thoughts, soul. None of that is present in the meat suit and shades he was assessing.

“Thanks, I like your dreads.” That was my response. Kept walking. Okay, then I start contrasting the (maybe homeless) man sleeping on one of the benches by his bike and some food stuffs with the beautiful homes (private property) surrounding Lake Ella. Then, I contrast the pedo-vans with the families mingling as their children befriend one another through creative play. Then, I check out the ducks (not turkeys, as I was so matter-of-factly informed) and some of them have baby chicks following them (super adorable) and the big-ass turtles with their dinosaur heads and extremities. There is just a lot of great social dimensions to juxtapose and experience at Lake Ella, it can be semi-overwhelming for the senses. But very cool. I’m into it.

I’m also rambling. This (my blog roll) is the one context I don’t feel compelled to apologize, however. I also (kind of like when text messaging) don’t feel the need to honor the constraints of modern grammatical rules and structure. Again, all very cool. I’m into it.

2011.06.21

2011.06.21

2011.06.21

2011.06.21

2011.06.21

“The unreal unity proclaimed by the spectacle masks the class division on which the real unity of the capitalist mode of production rests. What obliges the producers to participate in the construction of the world is also what separates them from it. What brings together men liberated from their local and national boundaries is also what pulls them apart. What requires a more profound rationality is also what nourishes the irrationality of hierarchic exploitation and repression. What creates the abstract power of society creates its concrete unfreedom.

-guy debord, Society of the Spectacle: 72

Quiet and not particularly challenging this time around. Customarily, the first two to three days are regarded as the most challenging, since your system will still be experiencing spikes in insulin, hunger pangs, and the like (allegedly, the worse your eating habits, the harder this initial transition period may be on your psyche). I attribute the lack of difficulty in my case to the fact that I only have to transition from a (largely) whole foods (unprocessed), vegan diet to the water fast (as opposed to any more traditional American diet with processed sugars–i.e. high fructose corn syrup, processed-refined-empty carbohydrates, trans fats, and the like). So something good, I suppose. I did a couple of miles worth of walking in mid-afternoon heat over at Lake Ella, just to get some exercise in and maybe (even if just symbolically) sweat off some of the toxins I’m pretty sure I incurred through consumption during family vacation time (alcohol mostly, but also an excess of unhealthy snack foods). Who knows. Felt good though. I also love soaking up the full sun, which I recall from the last fast will be something I can’t do as often, as it felt pretty physically taxing (and too rapidly dehydrating) for a body operating entirely on water. I’ll probably conclude this first day with about thirty minutes of prayer, focusing on (1) assistance with successful transition (and adaptation) through (and to) change in environment (goal I pray will be facilitated not just on a personal level in my own life, but for others as well on the individual, mezzo, and macro levels of societies). This does seem like a time of tension and potential revolution in different spheres of society and self, so this focus seems practical and appropriate. The other focus is (2) to greet any and all challenges that may present themselves with thoughtfulness, equanimity, peace, patience, positivity, a spirit of generosity, and perseverance (again, goal I pray will be facilitated not just on a personal level in my own life, but extended for others as well at all levels of our social world). The third focus of prayer is (3) that I can be consistently kind–that is,  thoughtful and aware of the intent and ramifications of my thoughts, words, and actions throughout and beyond my fasting.

(Totes)Taking Notes

2011.06.20

I did a seventeen day water fast and didn’t take notes (beyond the first two days) which, in hindsight, I regret. Overall, I felt like it was an overwhelmingly positive experience for my mind, body, and spirit. At first, I figured I could just do some bullet points (after the fact) on the pros and cons of the experience, but I’m pretty sure I won’t be satisfied with just that. However, I’m not too distressed about the whole thing since I came to the realization water fasting is a practice I would like to incorporate more frequently and systematically in my life from here on out anyways (so there ought to be plenty of opportunities to document henceforth). After a week’s worth of all-you-can-eat buffets (a staple feature of any Marcous family vacation), I figure I should be able to handle a fifteen day water fast in between now and my travel departure date for Costa Rica. So, I’ll shoot for that and try to jot the more interesting aspects of the experience down- with an aim towards some degree of clarity and consistency. Eh, but no promises.

OK I should do a blurb on the positive and negative experiences I had while fasting, and then something to capture the family vacation to Harrah’s Casino Resort in Tunica, Mississippi. I’m being super-duper remiss. I will address these tasks in the not distant future; pinky promise (yep, I went there-this I do for you, reader). I’m relieved to be home. Why relieved? Who knows. When did my new little room in this little, old house become home? Not entirely sure, but the feeling is certainly present: that I’m here now.

Ahem. Wait, here it comes. Let’s do the vacation now, but let’s just do some memorable moments and quotes. That should serve the purpose (long term memory aid):

Quotes:

Michael:

“PEARL, YER DRUNK, PEARL!!!” (directed at me, sometime-several times- after ‘Ladies’ Night at the Fitz’)

“Once again, all our wins  for a night are dwarfed only by dad’s losses.” (on the car ride home from casino)

“One more thing, An-Dyer-Sun- What about Kee-Ah-Lay, An-Dyer-Sun?” (during Anderson Cooper’s interview of Nancy Grace on her coverage of the Casey Anthony trial, and her warped, ego-maniac accented manner of speak)

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Mike: “Next meal is my treat!” (after every meal that dad pays tab for)

Atef: Oh yeah? You suck! (directed at Michael, after every meal that anyone but Michael picked up tab for)

Atef:

“Mariana’s right, Michael. Gambling is bad! That’s why I haven’t gambled in over two years!”

::Mom chokes up, laughing and spitting out her freshly brewed morning coffee::

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Regarding the debut of Michael’s recent, super-tight-showcase pant purchases

Mariana: Mike, you know I don’t like to see that all bulging up.

Mike: I know that’s the truth!

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Regarding our IHOP server’s tab note that we have a ‘blessed day’, said in hopes dad would leave mom’s tip for her, without tampering.

Me: Look dad, she’s just like Jamie.

Mike: Who’s Jamie, dad? (super sarcastically) Dad doesn’t know who Jamie is..

Atef: (shocked) Jamie! From ‘Walk to Remember’!

::Mom chokes up, laughing and spitting out her freshly brewed afternoon coffee::

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Moments:

-The entire drive up-Mike and dad fighting over who’s not going to drive

-The entire trip-Mike and dad fighting over who’s not going to pay for next meal

-‘Fitz Ladies’ Night’ with Mariana!

-Mom ditching ‘family time’ (comedy night and movie night)  to work her (painfully slow and largely uneventful) magic on the slots.

-Comedy Zone. Opening comedian was a class act! Old soul with awesome sense of humor. Fell in love a little (always do).

-Seeing ‘Bridesmaids’ with Mike and Mariana.

-Conversation while tanning (and eventually burning) by the pool with Mariana

-The one roulette dealer with the misogynistic brand of humor. The super-nice gentleman roulette player who took the time to explain some of the roulette table procedures and etiquette. Winning $15 at the roulette table by placing outside bets.

-Working out kinks to a fool-proof, 7-iteration based, betting system to maximize odds of winning $$$ at roulette table with Michael. The catch? It requires b/w 5,000-$7,000 initial capital to buffer for initial losses. Patent pending.

-Telling everyone I met that I hoped they won a million dollars.

-Winning my mug and glass souvenirs.

-The deers -doing their deer-things, living out their deer-lives- by the Fitz Casino Hotel

-Watching the Wimbledon finals with Mike and Mariana.

-TONS of good conversation and great laughs with some of my favorite people on this planet!

-singing Disney song duets with Mike in the car

-Dad getting us an additional free room, some free internet passes, free food, free alcohol, etc. etc. etc. and just seamlessly and recklessly being the opportunist of the century at any and every possible moment that presented itself.


2011.06.10

Free and Full Length Sanskrit to English Translation:
http://lirs.ru/do/lanka_eng/lanka-nondiacritical.htm

2011.06.10

not  knowing-
my not favorite past time
and am becoming a pro
at running into  it

2011.06.04

 

http://www.gaianstudies.org/articles4.htm