QotD

Jul. 25th, 2017 05:24 am
dglenn: Me in kilt and poofy shirt, facing away, playing acoustic guitar behind head (Default)
[personal profile] dglenn

"[I]n late 2015, I came across a set of pictures with no identifying text. They appeared to show a gigantic apartment in what looked, from the windows, very much like New York. But I know Manhattan and its sophisticated style pretty well, and at first glance, you would think the place didn't belong to an American but to a Russian oligarch, or possibly a Saudi prince with a second home in the United States. There were overscaled rooms, and obviously incorrect-looking historical detailing and proportions. The home had lots of gilded French furniture and the strange impersonal look of a hotel lobby, with chairs and sofas placed uncomfortably far from one another. There were masses of gold; there were the usual huge chandeliers, branded relics of famous sportsmen like Muhammad Ali, and mushroom-colored marble floors. There was relatively little in the way of paintings, but otherwise, the place reeked of dictator chic. As it turned out, this familiar yet unfamiliar apartment -- a familiar style to me by then, but in an unlikely location -- belonged to Donald Trump, who by then was running for president. This was the penthouse of the potential leader of the free world." -- Peter York, "Trump's Dictator Chic," Politico [thanks to [info] b>realinterrobang for quoting this earlier]

The Secret to Interpersonal Happiness

Jul. 24th, 2017 10:20 pm
[syndicated profile] zenhabits_feed

Posted by zenhabits

By Leo Babauta

As much as we desire being connected to others — good friendships, a wonderful romantic relationship, close family members — this connection always comes at a cost.

We get frustrated by other people.

You know it’s true. You might be really good friends with someone, but then they get angry at you for some reason, or they behave without consideration, and all of a sudden, your mood is much darker. You’re not happy with them, maybe they’re not happy with you. Things can go sour very quickly.

This is such a difficult problem that you could devote entire books to ways of working out these kinds of conflicts and frustrations. But I have one technique that, if applied consistently, will lead to a lot more happiness.

The secret: always take the good-hearted view of other people.

That takes some explaining, so let’s take a look at two ways of looking at other people:

  1. The ill-intentioned view. When someone does something rude, you think, “Why do they have to be so inconsiderate?” or “Who does that?” Basically, you see their actions in the worst possible light, without putting yourself in their shoes. Most of us do this regularly without realizing it. Anytime you’re mad or frustrated with someone, this is what you’re doing.
  2. The good-hearted view. When someone does something inconsiderate — and I’m not saying their actions are justified — you can try to think of those actions in a good-hearted way. For example, maybe they’re having a bad day and are grump — that doesn’t excuse their actions, but you can understand the feeling of being grumpy. Or maybe they were hurt by something you did (which you might not realize) and they are lashing out because of that hurt. That’s not a nice way to react, of course, but we can all relate to feeling hurt and lashing out. So the good-hearted view is that this is someone you care about who is hurting. Forget the personal offense, think about their pain, and be compassionate towards that pain.

Let’s take a brief look at the ill-intentioned way of seeing things, then go into what I believe will transform most people’s interpersonal happiness — the good-hearted view.

Why the Ill-Intentioned View is a Problem

It’s easy to see the rudeness, inconsideration and plain wrongness of other people. That’s because we’re looking at it from our own point of view, and thinking they should see things the same way as you do.

For example:

  • They left dirty dishes or a big mess in the kitchen. Why didn’t they just clean up instead of being inconsiderate? You feel they’re not acting as they should.
  • They said something kind of mean to you. You have no idea why they would be mean, you’re a good person who doesn’t deserve that.
  • They are mad at you for some reason. You don’t deserve that! What’s their problem?

Of course, there are much worse things, but these are some typical interpersonal problems, and common reactions.

These are natural reactions, but looking at things this way causes you to feel bad about the other person. You are frustrated, angry, offended or hurt. You build up resentment.

You might also react badly to the other person — say something hurtful or angry, lash out, ignore them, whatever your habitual way of responding to these things might be. This obviously will make them react badly to you, and now your relationship is hurt. You’re not happy, and neither are they. This isn’t a good situation.

The problem with the ill-intentioned view is that it doesn’t help anybody, and hurt the relationship. Worse yet, it’s self-centered (you’re seeing things from your own point of view) rather than thinking about the other person (whom you care about), both of you, or your relationship together.

The Solution: The Good-Hearted View

OK, so the self-centered view of seeing the ill-intentions of the other person isn’t ideal (not that any of us are ideal!). So what about the good-hearted view?

Well, this approach tries to use empathy, to see the good heart of the other person, to assume that they are good people with decent intentions who make mistakes and are having trouble of some kind.

For example, some reasons someone might act badly:

  • They genuinely didn’t realize how you would take their actions — from their perspective, there was nothing wrong with what they did. Your interpretation might be that they are wrong, but that’s only one way of seeing it.
  • They were caught up in their world, and weren’t thinking of how their words or actions might affect other people. This, of course, is self-centered, but we all do this, probably every day.
  • They are having a bad day, are in a bad mood, or are in the middle of a tough problem in their life. This causes them to react badly to you. This is not an excuse for bad behavior, but you can understand this, as we all go through it.
  • They have a bad habit of reacting to people in certain harmful ways. This doesn’t mean they have a bad heart, but instead, they developed bad patterns when they were young. At one point, these patterns were meant to protect them from harm, but now they just harm others.
  • They were abused by someone, or hurt in the past, and now they are worried that you are going to harm them. So they protect themselves. Not an excuse, but more of a way to understand people’s behavior.
  • You did something that they took offense to, and so they’re reacting badly to something you did. Maybe you didn’t realize you did this, but that’s the world they’re in.
  • They genuinely were trying to do something to help you, but you took it the wrong way.

None of the above excuses bad behavior. It’s wrong to be rude, to yell, to be violent. But to act badly is human, and to judge everyone for their bad behavior means we won’t be friends with anyone. Ourselves included, because if we’re honest, we have to admit that we act badly sometimes too.

We’re not looking for excuses, but instead to see the good heart in the other person. Yes, they acted badly, but it’s with a good heart. If we can see this, perhaps we can see the other person in a more kind light, and react to them in a more helpful way.

Some ways we can react, now that we see them in a good-hearted light:

  1. We can try to understand them, maybe even talk to them about what’s going on. People often like to be heard and understood. Make them feel like what they’re doing is understandable.
  2. From this place, we might also share how their actions affected us, without blaming, accusing or guilt-tripping. Instead, it’s from a place of wanting to resolve the conflict.
  3. We might give them compassion for the difficulty they’re going through. Maybe a hug, or the appropriate equivalent — just a “hug attitude,” where we’re trying to commiserate with them and make them feel better somehow.
  4. Or we might just feel the compassion inside, and not let ourselves get caught up in resentful or frustrated emotions, and instead, just leave the other person alone until they feel better, if that’s more appropriate.
  5. If the other person is genuinely harmful, you might need to get away from them (for your own protection), but with compassion you might not be so angry at them.

These are just a few options, but you can see that these actions are much more helpful for the relationship, for the other person, and for our own happiness.

You might say, “Well, isn’t this just rewarding or excusing their bad behavior?” That’s one way to see it, but I believe it’s more about not getting caught up in our own self-centered view, and not engaging in unhelpful and harmful patterns of thought. With the good-hearted view, we are more understanding, more compassionate, more likely to be happy and have good relationships.

The next time you feel difficulty with someone, try the good-hearted view. You just might find some happiness in a difficult situation.

QotD

Jul. 24th, 2017 05:24 am
dglenn: Me in kilt and poofy shirt, facing away, playing acoustic guitar behind head (Default)
[personal profile] dglenn

"'Third World' is an obsolete term, (since the Second World no longer exists) but if you're going to use it in the sense of referring to the Global South, it's not horribly inaccurate to say the US is a First World nation geographically coextant with a Third World one, where the citizenship is determined by class (economic and social.)" -- [info] kadath, 2008-03-04

QotD

Jul. 23rd, 2017 05:24 am
dglenn: Me in kilt and poofy shirt, facing away, playing acoustic guitar behind head (Default)
[personal profile] dglenn

"For it's not enough to walk the moon, send robots off to Mars
 Nor send a lucky handful out to catch a glimpse of stars
 We're gonna live and work and space. We're gonna go to stay
 And the ones who'll make it happen,
  the ones who make it happen,
   yes the ones who'll make it happen
 are the ones who make it pay"

  -- Jordin Kare (b. 1956-10-24, d. 2017-07-19), "Bloody Bastards"

QotD

Jul. 22nd, 2017 05:24 am
dglenn: Me in kilt and poofy shirt, facing away, playing acoustic guitar behind head (Default)
[personal profile] dglenn

From "Oh this has not gone well" (part 14) by Redditor "ThisHasNotGoneWell":

"Well," I started, how do I explain statistics, and not sound like the boringest boring person in the world, "In the world I come from people have enough free time on their hands, and they take games seriously enough, that people will study a game like a Mage might study magic. I had plenty of time when I was waiting for the pass south to clear, so I spent some time pulling the rules apart, figuring out the probability of any given hand. The other players might have a gut feeling as to how probable a given hand is, but I know the figures exactly. I'll also try to keep track of what cards I've seen played already. Between that, and having worked out the probabilities of each, I usually have at least an idea of how good my hand is compared to the others."

"Wait," she said, trying to wrap her head around what I'd just said, "So, you know what cards they have in their hand?"

"Not quite, I know what cards they probably have. And even if I don't know specifics, I'll at least have an idea of whether their hand is better or worse than mine, and that's really all I need."

"Don't humans have anything better to do?"

I thought of the many hundreds of hours spent playing videogames and watching Netflix.

"Nope."

Quick crosspost: fringe

Jul. 22nd, 2017 04:50 am
vvalkyri: (Default)
[personal profile] vvalkyri
I wrote the below over on FB:
I just saw the Changeling Child and it was, bar none, my favorite show this Fringe. A sequel to Midsummer Night's Dream, a generation along, and really sweet. One last performance tomorrow (Saturday) at 145p at Atlas. I'll be seeing something nearby so might even be able to meet up first to loan a button. Srsly, try to see it :). Fringe goes thru Sunday plus a few shows extended but sadly not this one.
There was a bit of screaming and gnashing of teeth involved: I dictated something like it into safari facebook on my phone a few minutes after wandering off from chatting with Tommx and Erica, and then it offered tagging someone and I hit 'back' and it took me back to my notifications. Then I went through typing it in again, since at the fringe bar it was too loud for dictation, and just before I was to hit post, the phone turned itself off, out of power. I finally posted from [personal profile] exsmof's phone.

Anyway, it was delightful. I wasn't laughing as much as I did in One in Four, but it's also a whole play, and sweet, and extremely well done.

Less than 10 hours before I'm ticketed to Exit pursued by bear. 2pm, Atlas.

I somehow doubt I'll get to Trey Parker's Cannibal The Musical at 11:15.


Might try to get to something more tomorrow or Sunday. Been thinking to get to Heroes' Tale.

Debating Exit Carolyn. If I go to the 7p I can't go to an acro thing in Rockville, though it does put me pretty close to a party...

Oh! Yeah, Clara Bow: Becoming It was worthwhile, and is at 3:45.

and ugh. I really have to go to sleep. Oh hell, I think I may have said I'd meet [personal profile] badmagic ahead of Exit for lunch. eep.

(no subject)

Jul. 21st, 2017 10:46 am
vvalkyri: (Default)
[personal profile] vvalkyri
Gah. I decided not to go to Rockville to another evening of shiva last night because I really really needed to do something about my apartment and look at flights and such, for my own sanity. Going to the free fringe production of Shakespeare in the Pub then back home with K seemed like it would be a good compromise - how to turn down 11 women who've been drinking, a couple of whom I knew, doing a read through of Titus Andronicus with enough fake blood there were warnings re what clothes to wear? But the info had said 1.5 hrs. I hadn't expected 6:45 to end at 9:05, and I even more regret staying for Abortion Road Trip*.

Because really pathetically I don't trust myself to get anything done alone.

*everybody else seemed to enjoy it a lot more than I did. There were some strong performances, but I really hated the acting of one of the characters, and I was annoyed by the character with the most lines, and I was distracted by finding fault with the initial premise. Also? Neither K nor the guy on the other side of me had any memory of the character,"Mom."

QotD

Jul. 21st, 2017 05:24 am
dglenn: Me in kilt and poofy shirt, facing away, playing acoustic guitar behind head (Default)
[personal profile] dglenn

"Kids need superheroes so they can dream big. Adults need superheroes to remind them what being good is." -- Scott Weinberg, 2017-08-08

on books

Jul. 20th, 2017 11:59 am
vvalkyri: (Default)
[personal profile] vvalkyri
crossposted:
when i got home last night there were a bunch of boxes of books by the recycling. They were in good condition and looked like anything from interesting to rare (there were some large Russian English dictionaries on top of one, and some Shostakovitch records on another) so I moved them to my parking space where nothing is supposed to live but I can probably get away with it a couple days, and pinged someone who is already handling getting other stuff to a charity he favors, and grabbed out Katherine Graham's autobiography for immediate reading.

My building has a building library; I'm not sure whether I should've given it first crack, but that would have required getting the boxes up a flight of stairs and through a couple doors at 3am, rather than just 50 feet to my space.

I'm not sure what sorting I should do before they go to support Fairfax Auxilliary. Probably start with grabbing out anything in Russian... .

I'm sad, because I'm pretty sure this is the collection of someone who died. And it also has me thinking of all the books Mom has, some of which are Old and Important, and many of which are outdated and random. And many of which Dad once wanted back.
That last paragraph may be a bit open for my usual friendsfriends security level over there on FB.

It seriously was sad, seeing things like that. I rescue stuff. It's so important to me that it has a home and not a landfill. And yet I do know that getting stuff to goodwill is yet another measure of cope, and even there one needs to be realistic about what they will and will not put out to sell. That's part of why I have so much grandma stuff that needs to be dumped on a "we sell it all on ebay and you get a cut." Because that Eastern Airlines tiny carryon that needs a zipper repair will be thrown out by goodwill, and treasured by the right person. When Allyson was over helping me through a large amount of momclothes she was overjoyed to take the Woodies and Garfinkles boxes from the closet. Cardboard boxes, but she wraps stuff in boxes from defunct stores and she especially loves local defunct stores.

A sweet little old man who lived a few doors down died a few years ago. As part of cleaning out the place, the family had put a box of mugs and glasses in the trash room. I'd looked through it, and seen a small mug, smaller than I usually use, emblazoned with [specific dc high school 50th reunion]. Kept it around to honor the guy, vaguely intending to contact said high school. A year or so later, Shira was over, and I showed it to her, and she took it with her! I don't think it was the high school she'd attended; I'd have to ask. But to her it was a sufficiently meaningful bit of DC history she wanted it.

This is all part of why it's so hard to sort. What is a life? This is part of why it's so hard to get rid of even things I don't really want. I guess I imbue things with a soul. Not just "does it give me joy" but "can I get it to someoen for whom it will?"

I have to stop typing; I decided to keep plans for today and need to leave soon.

QotD

Jul. 20th, 2017 05:24 am
dglenn: Me in kilt and poofy shirt, facing away, playing acoustic guitar behind head (Default)
[personal profile] dglenn

"Everybody knows, a humungous thing happened on Sunday, July 20th, 1969 at exactly 4:17E.D.T. The 'Eagle' has landed. Bingo. Just like that. Man became an alien." -- Janet Turpin Myers, Nightswimming

vvalkyri: (Default)
[personal profile] vvalkyri
There's so very much to write. I didn't write about Baitcon. I didn't write much about MomYartzeit. I didn't write about New Story Leadership project (final event today at 630 at Archives). Or the various thought provoking plays I've seen at Fringe.

But I woke up this morning with I helped bury someone yesterday in my head.

I've known Sonya Schultz since her son Ben and I dated back in high school. Sophomore and Jr years. It was at their house I first was part of Havdalah. It was with them I first went to Simchas Torah - Ben and I went in all our Sadie Hawkins finery before going on to the dance. In the years that followed, she included me in her huge seders when I wasn't in Cleveland. In recent years other friends have offered invites first, or I've been in Cleveland. It's been a while since I've been to the house. My last sure memory of talking in person was shortly after Ben's now three year old was born. It was some years before that, in that apartment, when she said to me, "Marry one of my sons; I don't care which!" At the house last night, I was reminded by more than one of the family that she would have adopted me in, regardless.

I spent much of the day yesterday with Cathie and later Lauren. They would each occasionally run into Sonya and sometimes also David at Strathmore, or at Costco. I am envious.

It's kinda weird. In a certain way she and I were more regularly in touch the last couple years because she would respond in my facebook here and there. But I had no idea she was ill, because it had been so long since she and I had spoken in person. And tbh, I might not have known anyway -- people commented last night they'd just seen her at shul a week ago.

The funeral was long and full. Cathie and I were some of the few who ended up parking on the street because the parking lot was full. There were some beautiful stories and some heartbreak, and as is always the case for me, I learned more and was sad not to know it earlier. Bits about just how fiercely there she was for her kids, bits about her involvement with the shul, or defying being told "no woman can pass this econ test," or that they'd been on their most recent cruise only in May. Or that they'd planned to remodel the kitchen. I could so visualize that kitchen, the house. It wasn't the house they had when Ben and I dated; I don't remember that one, now.

At the gravesite, there was a traditional handwash station. One washes on leaving a graveyard. She and Ben had been at my grandmother's funeral at Arlington. Memories came flooding back of her coming up to me to give me wet wipes in the absence of the two handled cup. "al natitlat yadayim."

I've only been to a couple gravesites that weren't Jewish funerals*. Even so, there were things that were new to me. More traditional. That we all process together with the coffin but stop 7 times in reluctance. That one should add at least three shovelfulls of earth because 3 makes it not an accident or coincidence. That the first shovelful should be the back of the shovel, because we don't really want to be efficient in saying goodbye. That we shouldn't hand the shovel along to the next but instead put it back into the pile.

I've never before been to a funeral with real shovels adding the earth that had just been dug out, rather than symbolic trowelsful. After a while there was one person who went back and was shoveling more, for real, and Ben's younger brother for a while, and if there had been more than two shovels and I had been more clear whether it was okay or I was too far from the family I wanted to as well, despite the dress and shoes. It was hot, very hot. We said kaddish and we all went to the cars. Last night I learned that J had finished shoveling all the dirt for his grandparents, and would really have preferred to have done so here. And that the small bucket I'd wondered about that his girlfriend troweled from may have been Jerusalem dirt, but the part that was important to her was it also contained a vegan truffle she'd made for Sonya, but which Sonya had suggested bringing on Saturday but then not felt up to eating. This sounds so odd, written, but brought tears to my eyes in person.

I'd planned on going to a couple fringe plays last night, and I'm glad I hadn't preticketed. I spent the afternoon with Lauren, and then was in the right part of town to go over to shiva last night rather than trying to force getting there on Thursday. And the reason why shiva is traditionally in the deceased's house was so very apparent. So many memories in these rooms. A memory of a shiva, even. Sonya's mother.

I need to get moving. There's more to write and there isn't. There's contrasts with my mom's death, and after. Maybe later.


*One was Steve Devoney's dad, a couple months ago, after which everybody retired to the house and there were stories and video. One was a close friend, 8 years ago. The funeral itself had been a mass in latin at which there happened to be a coffin; the gravesite was in English and I think maybe mentioned her name. After everybody left her aunt started wedging flowers in any part of the coffin handles and hinges she could, and a couple of us joined in this until the coffin was covered in flowers, and then after the people came and lowered the coffin we dropped more flowers on top. And they put the concrete or whatever cover on and uncovered the dirt and I commented that in Jewish funerals we add the dirt. To make it final, real. And the four of us still there we each did add a handful. And that's when the aunt cried.

QotD

Jul. 19th, 2017 05:24 am
dglenn: Me in kilt and poofy shirt, facing away, playing acoustic guitar behind head (Default)
[personal profile] dglenn

"I'm not generally in favor of killing anyone to 'improve the species.' But if it *must* happen, I'll make a strong argument for starting with those people who want to practice eugenics." -- [info] interactiveleaf, 2008-02-14

The 4 Keys to Learning Anything

Jul. 18th, 2017 07:03 pm
[syndicated profile] zenhabits_feed

Posted by zenhabits

By Leo Babauta

I’ve been studying how to learn, as I try to teach myself new skills … and absolutely love learning new things. But I keep running up against a few key problems:

  1. Becoming overwhelmed. The more you learn, the more you see there is to learn. The beginner doesn’t know how much there is to study, but as you start to explore, you find new caverns, and they are immense. Then as you explore those caverns, you find even bigger ones. It can become overwhelming, and lots of people eventually give up because of this feeling.
  2. Failure feels bad. If you want to learn to play chess, you’ll lose a lot at first. Then you get better, and lose a lot. In fact, no matter how good you get, you’ll probably lose a bunch of times. This happens not just with games, but with learning languages, physical skills, academic subjects — you’ll fail a lot. There are ways to set it up so that you rarely fail, but then you’re not really learning much.
  3. It can feel like you’re just treading water. In a fantasy world, you’d learn at a breakneck pace, downloading new skills and knowledge into your brain like they do in the Matrix. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that. You read and read, or practice and practice, and a lot of the time you barely get better. Other people seem to be learning at twice your speed! Sometimes it seems like you’re not learning anything. This can be really discouraging.
  4. There’s always a strong feeling of uncertainty. Humans don’t like the feeling of uncertainty, for the most part. We avoid it, become afraid of it, get angry or frustrated. But when you try to learn a new skill, it’s almost all uncertainty. You constantly forget things, you don’t understand anything, or when you think you do understand, you try it and it turns out you didn’t understand at all. This feeling of uncertainty causes a lot of people to give up.

OK, so we all want to learn skills — new languages, programming skills, physical skills, history, math, writing, games, so much more. But these four problems stand in our way.

Let’s take them on. We’re going to discover four keys to overcoming these four problems, so that we can tackle anything we want to learn.

First Key: Small Focuses

Yes, it’s true: there’s a vast amount of things to learn, and it can be overwhelming. But that’s true of life itself — there’s so much to see and do, and no one can ever do it all. All we can do is one step at a time.

So we have to not focus on all the innumerable huge caverns that have yet to be explored … but the ground right in front of us.

What small area can we study right now?

What small focus can we conquer? What little area can we explore?

Ignore all the vast uncharted territories for now, shut the rest of the world out, and just be in this one place. Just study this one thing. One small step at a time, a few small steps each day, and we can explore a lot over time.

Second Key: Flip Failure on Its Head

Did you all see the video of Deepmind’s AI after it taught itself to walk? The amazing thing about this is that it did all of that through trial and error. Every single mistake was a lesson.

In fact, that’s similar to how we learn. We don’t know that our knowledge is wrong until we test it out and see whether it works. We can’t truly learn something new until we try and fail a bunch of times.

We all learned to walk that way … wobbly, falling down, until we got the hang of it. That’s also how we learned to talk, to feed ourselves with a spoon, etc. Sure, we had the benefit of being able to see examples of doing it right, but we had to try and fail a whole lot of times before we got it.

Unfortunately, at some point we start to fear failure, but that fear is just holding us back. Failure is really the learning process. Every loss at chess, every falling down when we’re learning a backflip … those are lessons.

So instead of looking at failure as “bad,” we have to flip it on its head. Failure is a lesson, an opportunity to get better, a wise old teacher telling us where we need to focus our learning efforts.

When you fail, smile and say thank you for the lesson.

Third Key: Find Enjoyment in the Process

It’s a tough thing when we feel we’re not making progress, that things are moving too slowly. We want to get to expert level (or at least “advanced beginner”) as quickly as we can, and when it takes five times as long, we can get frustrated.

The answer is to forget about the pace of our progress, but just focus on enjoying the process of learning.

It’s like when you go on a hike, and you’re fixed on getting to your beautiful destination … but it’s a long journey, and you get frustrated by how long it’s taking. Instead, focusing on the journey itself is a better way of traveling. Enjoy the scenery, the exertion, the beauty of each step.

When we’re learning, instead of focusing on where we want to be, we can enjoy the particular focus we’re studying right now. We can be grateful for where we are, for having the opportunity to learn at all. We can enjoy the falling down, and any progress we’ve made so far.

Whenever we find ourselves wishing things were moving faster, that’s a good sign to change focus to where we are.

Fourth Key: Learn to Relish Uncertainty

I think the uncertainty of learning something new, of being in such a foreign place, is probably the most difficult thing. We don’t like that uncertainty, and we usually shy away from it.

With conscious practice, we can change our feeling about uncertainty. We can start to find the joy in this place of not knowing, of not being in complete control, of not having solid ground under our feet. That might sound weird, but it’s possible.

Let’s take a few examples:

  • You’re learning to play Go, and you are playing your first few games. You keep losing, you don’t have any idea where you should play, you worry that every stone you place is a big mistake. This is a place of uncertainty. Can you enjoy this process of trying something and not knowing how it will turn out? Be curious about what might happen when you play your moves? See it as an exciting opportunity to experiment, to explore, to play and have fun!
  • When you’re learning a language, you might be deeply afraid of speaking, because you don’t know what you’re doing (uncertainty). But if you don’t speak, you’ll never learn. So instead of fearing this uncertainty, you dive in and make a complete fool of yourself. Better to be a fool who’s learning than the chicken who doesn’t learn anything new. It’s like dancing wildly with random moves in the middle of a crowd … just have fun being silly! You can do the same thing with speaking a new language — try it, look foolish, enjoy this place of wild abandon.
  • When you’re learning to play music, you can get stuck on the certainty of learning songs from sheet music, because it’s easy to just follow pre-written instructions. But you don’t really learn until you put the sheet music away and try to play the song on your own. And you really learn when you try to play without following someone else’s pre-written music — just playing your own song, riffing and making it up as you play. Of course it’s much more uncertain, and will probably suck. But so what? Just have fun and make stuff up. Relish this place of creation and uncertainty.

So uncertainty can be enjoyed if we think of it as play. If we think of it as creation, learning, exploration, curiosity, finding out, experimenting, openness and newness. It’s courage.

Be courageous today, and put yourself in a place of uncertainty. And then let your heart fill up with the freedom of not knowing and flying without a plan.

QotD

Jul. 18th, 2017 05:24 am
dglenn: Me in kilt and poofy shirt, facing away, playing acoustic guitar behind head (Default)
[personal profile] dglenn

"But there's a story behind everything. How a picture got on a wall. How a scar got on your face. Sometimes the stories are simple, and sometimes they are hard and heartbreaking. But behind all your stories is always your mother's story, because hers is where yours begin." -- Mitch Albom, For One More Day [via Goodreads]

QotD

Jul. 17th, 2017 05:24 am
dglenn: Me in kilt and poofy shirt, facing away, playing acoustic guitar behind head (Default)
[personal profile] dglenn

"The audience usually has to be with you, I'm afraid. I always regarded myself as not even preaching to the converted, I was titillating the converted.

"The audiences like to think that satire is doing something. But, in fact, it is mostly to leave themselves satisfied. Satisfied rather than angry, which is what they should be."

-- Tom Lehrer, in a 2003 interview in the Sydney Morning Herald (interviewer: Tony Davis)

[And then there are those satirists who manage to leave room for both reactions simultaneously...]

QotD

Jul. 16th, 2017 05:24 am
dglenn: Me in kilt and poofy shirt, facing away, playing acoustic guitar behind head (Default)
[personal profile] dglenn

"Rabbi Hillel also asks, 'If I am only for myself, what am I?' If you don't identify as being negatively affected by misogyny, this is where you come in. We are all part of the interdependent web of existence. What affects one affects us all. Sometimes connecting the dots from one form of harm to another is too abstract to notice immediately. Sometimes we benefit in obvious ways from oppression, even as our bodies and souls are destroyed in other ways. Cisgender men benefit in some ways from patriarchy. They get higher salaries on average, reduced risk of violence, and a greater likelihood that they will be heard when they speak, among other things.

"Patriarchy also gives men an increased risk of being bullied if they veer too closely to feminine patterns of behavior. It leads society to punish men for maintaining a connection with their emotional and inner life. It gets in the way of true and trusting relationships. Misogyny negatively affects men. Being for ourselves and being for others can mean the same thing when it comes to dismantling oppression."

-- Rev. Lyn Cox, 2017-03-05

Enlightenment apostasy

Jul. 15th, 2017 12:09 pm
dpolicar: (Default)
[personal profile] dpolicar
(A friend recently posted about feeling depressed at the extent to which people seem perfectly content to embrace beliefs about the world that fly in the face of our observations of it. This started out as a comment and got out of hand.)

Yeah, I hear that.

That said: I find it really helps me, when I'm disoriented in the way you describe, to remember that the Enlightenment is fairly recent, historically speaking.

The idea that we can arrive at accurate beliefs about the world by observing it, studying it, experimenting with it, taking careful records, making predictions and checking to see whether our predictions are accurate... that idea is just a few centuries old.

The idea that we can converge on beliefs about the world through that process...
That the same experiment can be expected to get the same result whether performed by Christians or Jews or Pagans or atheists, by conservatives or liberals, by materialists or spiritualists...
That the observable world itself can be the source of a set of shared self-reinforcing beliefs...
That reliance on that process can form the cornerstone of a community just as reliance on a set of stories about God that we inherited from our ancestors does...

...these are really new ideas, historically speaking. Our culture has not fully assimilated them, not even close. Most of us weren't raised in the community of believers in the process of observing our surroundings and reasoning about them rigorously and communicating about them reliably. We don't really have social practices that reinforce that process.

So, sure, we often reject it. We often stray from that path and return to the older practice of performing culturally endorsed beliefs about reality in order to reinforce group boundaries and affirm group loyalty without reference to a shared observational practice.

That's unsurprising. Humans have been doing that before we have records; probably since before we were recognizably human.

And the alternative is genuinely hard! And honestly, as community-centering practices go, it lacks a lot: it de-centers individuals, it doesn't directly address moral issues, it doesn't distinguish between emotionally satisfying and emotionally alienating claims, it doesn't speak to our fears about nonexistence and loneliness, etc.

The one thing it has going for it is a promise to converge on shared truths if followed assiduously.

And for a lot of us that just isn't enough, or isn't always enough. We may embrace the tangible benefits of the practice, the tools and medicines and crop yields and cherry-picked theories that reinforce our culturally endorsed beliefs, but we tend to reject the practice itself. Heck, even the thing we call "science" is riddled with those practices, like any other human institution. Those habits run deep.

So, sure, of course we continue to practice the old ways, choosing the practice of performing cultural beliefs despite contradictory observations over the practice of centering and converging on observable patterns in reality.

We will continue to do that for a long, long time. It's a natural consequence of being the sort of systems we are.

So anyway, as I say, remembering that helps me approach Enlightenment apostasy with compassion during periods where I start to fear it as the end of the world. And I find that helps.