Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Icebergs & Intimacy

Some claim that it is only by revealing our inner most hearts to others that we are able to experience true caring relationships. The idea is that full disclosure of emotions, attitudes, opinions, thought life, etc is what leads to being fully engaged and “knowing” each other, building this bond we name "intimacy". According to this view, if I keep most of my inner life concealed, like the mass of icebergs drifting beneath the water line, the quality of my bond with others will be diminished.

There is an alternative belief that the strength of relationships is based on how we BEHAVE toward one another. I may be a very private person, but what matters most is that I treats you kindly. Regardless of what pieces of information I do or don't tell you about myself, if both of us can establish habits of being genuinely nice to one another we can build a bond we both value.

Obviously, kindness and being open are not mutually exclusive conditions. Some people seem able to do both quite well…. But which do I really believe matters more in the quality of my relationships? Which area do I personally need to work on more?

In examining what factors I believe create greater closeness, I also wrestle with acknowledging how close I truly want to be. Do I really want to expose the darkness of my heart to anyone else? Am I willing to invite that level of vulnerability? What do I expect from the other people in my life and what am I willing to give? (or give up?) What am I willing to do to make my significant relationships more meaningful? What am I willing to NO LONGER DO to improve those bonds?

Finding the balance between privacy and self exposure in the context of how I interact with strangers, family or friends is all part of the challenge. It works great when both /all parties in a relationship have complementary levels of interest in one another. But so often, the reciprocity is somewhat lopsided. Then what? If I am willing and open to share who I am with you based on my need/desire to be known, but you do not welcome that level of contact, what happens to my heart? On the other hand, if I feel the need to remain more guarded when you are seeking to open up more, what will the consequence be?

If I seek to know more about you, craving opportunities to delve below the surface social chatter to authentically attend to your human experience, will it matter whether you are open to that or not? Might I be blessed by my openness even if you close your doors?

How much can any of us really know another person, or be known in return? How much is enough? How much is too much? Navigating all that sometimes just feels like too much work. I'd rather climb a tree with a good book and be done with the rest of the human race much of the time. But sooner or later I always come back down and tentatively stick my toe out once more to experiment with matter how much I may deny it, there is a hunger deep to look into another face and connect. The degree to which I allow fear to rule my risks in reaching out to other people in the world is how I experience my own waterline on my emotional iceberg. Some days I can drop the level down a considerable ways...other times the tide rises high. How's your waterline today?

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Degrees of Grace, Continuum of Evil

Is there such a thing as BIG sin and little sin?

(which presupposes the issue that there such a thing as SIN...)

Name it what you want - good/evil; healthy/unhealthy; righteousness/sin; functional / dysfunctional... isn't it all more or less the same thing?

Things that move me TOWARD being unified & at peace with self , unified & at peace with others, I view as "good" and things that create dissonance/disconnect within myself or conflict between me and others, I name "bad".

Putting a moral spin on it is not what I'm getting at.

What I am considering is this:

What determines the nature of, or intensity of something being bad?

Is it the CONSEQUENCE? (ie: killing is worse than lying, killing ten people is worse than killing 1 person, killing ten people and lying about get the picture)

Is it the INTENTION of the person doing it? (killing in self defense is less bad than killing out of revenge or for sport, even though the victims all wind up just as dead)

Is it the CONTEXT of the situation? (killing in war is not considered morally wrong by some, but killing in grocery stores is...)

Then the flip side of that would be....are there DEGREES of good, and if so, based on what?

If I say something nasty but no one hears me say it, does it matter?
If I say something nasty and the person I say it to is able to laugh it off, then what?
How does that compare to me saying something innocuous that inadvertently hurts a friend's feelings very deeply. In this last case - my INTENTION was not negative, but the OUTCOME clearly has a negative spin. Which is worse?

is it better to do ONE big bad thing as opposed to fifty little bad things or visa versa?

If someone is MOSTLY "good" but does something "bad", at what point does the bad cancel out the good in determining character?

One of the problems I have with organized religions is all this talk I hear about the "righteous" and the "wicked", as if they were discrete, separate teams. (Sorta like the shirts / no shirts in pick-up basketball).

From what I can tell, we are ALL good and we are ALL bad, with lives glistening in irredencent shimmer as we continually glide between the two.

If I do a bad thing for a good reason, if I do a good thing for a bad all confuses the suject.

Some days I am more conscious of the many ways I miss the mark - some would call that being "aware of my sin"....... other days I make JUST as many mistakes, but give myself more slack; Is that justifying/rationalizing or is that appropriately living in grace of the moment?


A quote from the book Arctic Dreams by Barry Lopez:

"How is one to live a moral and compassionate existence when one is fully aware of the blood, the horror inherent in life, when one finds darkness not only in one's culture but within oneself? If there is a stage at which an individual life becomes truly adult, it must be when one grasps the irony in its unfolding and accepts responsibility for a life lived in the midst of such paradox. One must live in the middle of contradiction, because if all contradiction were eliminated at once life would collapse. There are simply no answers to some of the great pressing questions. You continue to live them out, making your life a worthy expression of leaning into the light."

I've heard it said that each person's capacity to experience joy is in direct relation to the amount of suffering they have endured. I'm not sure that is true. If it were, would we all go hit ourselves in the head with a hammer just so we could feel so blissful when the pain stopped?

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Dead Bodies

There's a job opening I've recently seen advertised in the Sunday classifieds for working in a funeral home. I looked it over and considering applying....however...I think this is a profession sort of like proctologists and deep pit mining. I can see the need for it and admire those who do it well, but I'm pretty clear it's not for me.

I don't know which would bother me more:
a) coming home smelling of formaldehyde
b) feeling like I was exploiting vulnerable people when I sold overpriced caskets
c) working around dead bodies.

I have no issues with the idea of BEING dead. I'm just not sure I want to look at, much less handle, dead bodies as a routine part of my job. I've gazed upon my share of corpses. Doesn't freak me out. But still....

Saturday, May 20, 2006


I had a conversation recently with a friend about "addiction".

What images does that word conjure up in your head?

In my mind, addiction is a state of physical / psychological dependency on something which creates a state of pain/discomfort/ dis-ease with that something is removed.

Is it possible to develop a positive addiction?

If indeed I can make any activity, relationship or substance a REQUIREMENT for my comfort and peace of mind, is that not addiction?

What if I were to become addicted to learning, to seeking peace, to creating passion in the world...

When a CHOICE becomes patterned by repetition to the point that it becomes automatic we consider it a HABIT. When that HABIT becomes so much a part of our nature we feel great discomfort without the pattern it moves into the realm of ADDICTION - then what? Does adding the element of mandate demolish the positive force previously achieved by the same behavior when it was merely by choice?

Is MINDFULNESS inherently superior when assessing our actions...or can a rational justification be made for deliberately creating first habits and then positive addictions rather than staying in a position of choice with every act?

HMMMMM...... Things I wonder about.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Pet Peeves

I was out wandering the blog world and came across a site that dealt with a coffee maker's angst. Some guy calling himself "Larry the Barista" ( )
ranted and raved over customers who adulterate the fine beverages he concocts with so much milk/sugar that all subtlety and character of the java is lost. While to a certain extent I could relate to his annoyance, the extent of his harsh judgment seemed entirely disproportionate to the situation. My initial response was to scorn him as inappreciative of the customers who are keeping his shop in business. I was baffled that he should be so mean spirited toward his clientele. So what if they are not all connoisseurs? If they come in and buy the coffee and have a good experience in the shop, isn't that all that really matters?? Not willing to submit myself to his scathing condemnation, I vowed I would never patronize his Walla Walla establishment, even though I've heard great things about it from others who have been there.

But then, I began doing a little inventory over my own pet peeves. In truth, the things that make me cranky are no more credible.

I abhor seeing men wear socks with sandals. It is SOOOOO uncool.

Then there is that whole hair comb-over thing for guys in hair-loss denial. Do they really think they are fooling anybody??

I grind my teeth when I see someone frantically jocky for the very best parking spot at the YMCA, because afterall, you wouldn't expect them to have to walk too far to go exercise, right?

I am annoyed to distraction by women with long acrylic nails, and even more so when they have quirky designs or faux gems attached.

I am appalled by people who insist I keep my dog on a leash, but allow their stupid cats to wander free to crap in my azaleas.

So, yeah, I have plenty of the judgmental bone going on in my own world. I guess I should lighten up on pointing fingers when others spout off, eh? What's it to me if this coffee guy thinks my preferences are worthy of ridicule? He probably wouldn't approve of how I take my pizza either....big deal. I suppose it takes all kinds.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Testing the Waters

Ya know how when you get on a website that's not done yet there are ususally pages that say "UNDER CONSTRUCTION". I need a sign like that for my life...cause I most definitely am not done with me yet.

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