eXTReMe Tracker WARNING: The opinions expressed and linked to in this blog are not necessarily mine (anymore).

My ideas are constantly changing as I learn. Sometimes they even change midway through writing a post.

Wednesday, May 23

Near misses

Yesterday, I was driving home on the highway when I heard a loud bang and the squealing of tires and looked over to see a white truck swerving to the left and banging into the guard rail and the left rear tire exploding all over the road. I and the other drivers around me all managed to stop. I then watched as the truck bounced back out across the highway, doing an almost 360 before hitting the other rail - the one in front of me - with it's tail and then coming to a stop. Luckily, all three lanes were clear, the truck looked to be minimally damaged, and the two guys in it got out, looked at the tire and laughed (probably with relief). I can still see it. It was so weird having stopped and watching to see what would happen, knowing that it could still hit me but not being able to do anything.

Today, I was coming up to a light and stopped behind the cars in front of me as the light turned green. Then I heard a squealing of tires and a bang - unmistakeable sound of one car hitting another and looked in my rearview mirror. The vehicle behind me had just been rear-ended. I'm not sure, but I think it may have been a 3 car thing.

If I were superstitious, I'd wonder if it was all a warning - or maybe it meant I was being "protected" or maybe it was something about whether I should keep my old car - or whether I should finally break down and get a new used one.

Since I'm not superstitious, I am thinking that I need to make a decision soon because my tires are wearing thin. If I replace them, I will NOT get my money back, but I suppose my safety is worth it.

Tuesday, May 22

Innocent Children Imprisoned in the US!

I attended a Public Forum with Speaker Barbara Hines, Clinical Professor of Law at the University of Texas School of Law's Immigration Clinic Sunday. Although I'm accustomed to seeing and hearing some very disturbing things at the Forum, her stories hit closer to home...

In my own country, in my own state, not even 3 hours away, innocent children are being kept in prison-like conditions.

"At the time of the ACLU's initial court filings, child detainees had to wear prison garb. They received one hour of recreation per day and opportunities to spend this hour outdoors were very rare. Children were detained in small cells for about 11 or 12 hours each day, and were prohibited from keeping food and toys in these cells, which lack any privacy. Although some of these conditions have improved slightly, they are still far from adequate."

http://www.aclu.org/immigrants/detention/28865prs20070306.html
http://www.aclu.org/immigrants/detention/hutto.html

Monday, May 21

Maker Faire Coming to Austin

"A two-day, family-friendly event that celebrates arts, crafts, engineering, science projects and the Do-It-Yourself (DIY) mindset. It's for creative, resourceful folks who like to tinker and love to make things. We call them Makers."

http://makerfaire.com/

Thursday, May 17

Perseverance

Unknown Author

"When things go wrong as they sometimes will;
When the road you're trudging seems all uphill;
When the funds are low, and the debts are high
And you want to smile, but have to sigh;
When care is pressing you down a bit-
Rest if you must, but do not quit.
Success is failure turned inside out;
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt;
And you can never tell how close you are
It may be near when it seems so far;
So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit-
It's when things go wrong that you must not quit."
~ Unknown

Friday, May 11

Humanism: Is there a use for a soul?

I've been attempting to take an email course on Humanism. I've been busy, so I haven't been so good about keeping up with the reading, but I'm saving the emails for pleasure reading when I have a free moment.

I was craving something interesting to think about today, so I decided to dig in a little and read the latest email. It was on the topic of souls. The article pretty well reflects my thoughts about souls.

What this means is that who we are is a function of our memories and our personalities, neither of which have any independent existence apart from our brains.
If either is altered sufficiently (whether through physical damage, hormonal imbalances, or some theoretical medical intervention), then the identity of the person in question will also be altered. It will, in effect, not be the same person anymore.


I don't believe in a soul in the religious sense nor in anything "supernatural", but I have taken to using the words "soul" and spirituality to mean something a bit different, and useful. I'm not entirely sure how I'd define them, but I'll attempt to describe them.

By soul, I mean something like the sum of ideas and emotions - my personality. However, soul gives a connotation, that I think fits something I sometimes want to express, which the word "personality" doesn't. "Soul" feels a bit more like saying "me" where personality feels like I'm describing something about me. My personality can change, it is an aspect of me, but not the sum total. Maybe what I mean is the soul is what makes "me" as distinct from someone else. My personality might change so much that I am in fact a different person. However, I'm still "me" (as opposed to any other human). Maybe it doesn't have a use that isn't already covered perfectly by "me" or "you". Still, soul has a sort of poetic/romantic feel that "me" or "you" doesn't have. It also might be that soul could apply to the personality + memories.

I have had the experience of knowing people who had changed so much in personality - or in memories - that they seemed like a different person. In one case, it was my grandfather, who'd suffered a stroke. For a while, it was very disconcerting seeing him and having the feeling that "he" wasn't there any more. I was very sad, thinking that in a sense, he was gone and I might never "see" him - the one I had known - ever again. Over time, I got to know him again, some of his old ways returned and it felt like "him" again. I think he was there all along, but I couldn't tell at first with the huge changes in him.

It means something to ME to say something like "feed my soul". I'd consider feeding it to provide it with good ideas, hugs from friends, etc. I don't know of another word that works quite so well. I wouldn't mind using a different word if it worked for what I want. Maybe "psyche"?

For myself, I don't mind borrowing religious terms and giving them a meaning that works for me - that help me relate to my religious friends and vice versa. I probably would be more careful about using such a term with someone who might misunderstand it, but my friends and I seem to understand each other just fine.

Thursday, May 3

Day #396

Of what, I don't know. The number just popped into my head and I went with it. Originally, I was thinking about the episode of Star Trek TNG where Wesley meets an attractive, intelligent young woman who keeps a list of rules going and makes up some new ones while she gets to know Wesley. They also manage to resist the urge to start playing the new game that's got everyone on the ship addicted, figure out some sort of evil plot, and manage to overthrow it. I miss that girl - and Wesley - and the whole crew. I think I cried when the series ended - or I wanted to anyway.

Really, though, I wanted to put the day of the year, but I'm too lazy to figure it out.
End log.

I can already feel the sand

under my feet. That's right, we're headed to the beach!! Woohoo!!

I used to have dreams of going to the beach that were so real, I could "feel" the sand squishing between my toes. I can still "feel" it if I imagine well enough.

How to stop hating

I accidentally hit upon a solution to this puzzle. I've been trying to get over this feeling for quite some time but was really stuck with it. It seemed like an unhealthy fixation, and I don't think it is limited to a particular person. It's occasionally come up with other people.

It seemed to me that at the root of the problem is that at a certain level, I admire(d) the particular person I "hate" and yet they have done something to hurt me or attack me. I think my feelings are different when someone attacks me and I have no regard for them or think their words had no significance or truth. If I actually have some regard for a person, it cuts much deeper.

What's had me stuck was the feeling that the (verbal) assault from this person wasn't entirely without basis - that I somewhat deserved it - and that even if it wasn't the most productive way to handle things with me, it was "understandable."

In fact, it was quite understandable given the situation. I was in the wrong. And yet, I was literally stuck that way - not really having the energy or know-how to do any better. Worse, I had the feeling that I might NEVER be able to do any better.

The "good" part about being yelled at was feeling that the person not only thought I could do what I wanted to accomplish... the person thought it was something I had readily in my grasp. In a strange way, it WAS motivating and encouraging. However, it didn't really solve the problem - and the problem was more than a lack of motivation - it was a lack of knowledge and resources and confidence AND a general lack of motivation. In fact, I'm not sure I know even now. I've found ways to work around the problem. I've found ways to improve things, but I still don't know how to solve it entirely.

Being attacked seemed like it might motivate me to make a change. I certainly tried to see it that way. Still, it seemed that there might have been some better, more helpful way to go about this.

I've thought through all this before and stopped. I stopped because I thought it was useless to figure out what "should" have been done because, well, it's too late for that. And here's where the breakthrough came in:

It occurred to me that maybe there WAS something the person could do that would change things for me. But what if they weren't willing? Well, then, I realized, I could do it for myself.

I've done thought experiments like this before. There's an interesting website out there somewhere that even goes into great detail about how people usually have more than one "subself" and can actually carry on "conversations" between different subselves. I don't know whether I'd agree with the theory, but I think it's a useful and interesting exercise to attempt anyhow. Another experiment I've done, at the suggestion of a friend, was to think about a painful/difficult memory from when I was a child and imagine I could talk to that child ... as an adult with the knowledge and compassion I have now. It was an amazingly comforting and helpful thing.

I thought about what I would want the person to do to "make up" for what they did. I thought about "I'm sorry" and it did nothing for me, so I tried thinking about what I'd want to have happened instead...

I realized that I'd want them to give me a big hug and say "you can do it", "don't give up", and "keep trying, you'll find a way". I think I'd have done just about anything for some real human contact right then. There were some other very negative interactions with this person around the same time and thinking through what I needed, what I wanted from 'someone' has been very moving... and healing. I never thought I'd turn out to be one of those wimpy whiny people who talks about healing, but it doesn't feel so wimpy...

As silly, or obvious, or trite as all this may sound, it has made a big difference to me.

I think really part of the problem is I'd like to have a good relationship with this person and sense that we "could" have a really great friendship. I know it's in there somewhere, but instead I feel rejected - unaccepted. That doesn't mean I don't feel worthy. I know I am and I don't think making mistakes - even attacks - necessarily means someone isn't worthy. It just means they don't quite know how yet.

One last thing, I have one reader who tends to think that when I write something negative, it's about her, but it's not. I don't hate her and never have. She just seems like she needs lots of hugs and some real friends.

It's not likely that the people this is about will ever read it.

Wednesday, May 2

Married, Divorced, and Dating

I don't know how much I've mentioned about this here before, but I went through a divorce a few years ago. I was married two days before my 19th birthday and my ex filed for the divorce 13 years later - almost to the day.

We met 2 days before my 16th birthday and declared ourselves a "couple" a week or so later, so, in all, we were "together" for over 15 years - half our lives (he's a year younger than I). I don't want to get into the details of that here. I'm more interested in what's happened since.

I dated one other person before I met my ex but had no committed relationships before that (unless you count the boyfriend I had for a few months when I was 7 years old - before he moved away). I never did much "dating" until after the divorce and I still haven't done much.

In some ways, I'm still a teenager in this respect. I have very little experience with looking for potential partners or distinguishing between people who might be good friends vs. something more. I'm not just inexperienced with dating, I've been fairly limited in regard to making close friends as well. I have lots of friendly acquaintences - people that I like and who are encouraging and nice but very very few of people I'd call "close friends" - people I could count on if I needed help. Neither, to be fair, am I a particularly good friend to many people.

Anyway, on the subject of dating (and maybe on friendships):

The hardest thing for me at first was worrying about what I'd do if I am interested in someone but then find that I've changed my mind - and they haven't. I hated the thought of breaking it off with a "nice" person.

Recently, though, I realized that people get over stuff - especially if it's sooner rather than later. Most healthy people aren't going to even be bothered about it for more than a day or two (assuming, like I said, it's early in the relationship). If they aren't healthy, well, dating them isn't likely to help with that either - although friendship might.

It may seem like obvious to some people, but, like I said, I'm not very experienced with this sort of thing.

Of course, there's the flip side. What if I get really interested in someone and the feeling isn't mutual? I don't think I'd be heartbroken if I find out early on. Even later, I've made it through the breakup of a 15 year relationship, surely I'll manage.

So now, the latest thing I wonder about is "What if they're really not interested in an intimate relationship but still want to be friends?" I think I'd find that difficult because I'd feel that the relationship was limited right from the start. I've been friends with people I was interested in before, and eventually my enthusiasm just wears thin. Then again, maybe that's just because the relationship didn't have enough substance to really continue anyway (and the person, wisely, sensed it). Besides, short term relationships can be wonderful, growthful, healthy experiences.

I have a lot more questions/puzzles when it comes to friendships, but I'll save them for another time.

Tuesday, May 1

The Joy of Hate

I recently did some personal writing where I was examining my feeling of "hating" another person. It's not common for me to feel that way about someone. I'd rather not feel it for anyone, and yet, I had to admit to myself that there was something enjoyable about it. Mind you, it's not that I'd want to see the person harmed. It's more of a feeling that I'd have been better off NOT knowing them although I'm not sure I really think that's true. I learn a lot from meeting people who challenge my ideas - even I never come to agree with them. Even if I "hate" them. Maybe what I mean by hate is a bit different than the usual meaning. It doesn't mean I want to see bad things happen to them - it's just that I want to see them be a better person, AND they seem capable of it.

I've thought this about anger before. I think anger comes when you think something could potentially by different, that someone is capable of doing better and is not. It is a feeling that something can change. It can also be a refusal to accept reality as it is...