Blog # 195         THE COOLER SIDE OF THE PILLOW

Turning our night-time pillow to its cooler side, is so much a routine and largely mechanical endeavor, as to closely partake of the status of reflex; the act is effectively and mindlessly accomplished like one’s scratching an itch, or sneezing.

Indeed, much of our mundane behavior consists of routinized, thoughtless activity, ritualistically enacted, such as our mode of brushing our teeth, shaving or applying lipstick. We have all gradually evolved nuanced, predictable and unchanging styles of such behaviors, which include a distinctive mode of eating, answering the telephone, dressing and greeting others. We have our own readily available, previously programmed responses to all commonly asked questions, our regular demeanor at weddings, funerals, birthdays, anniversaries, graduation ceremonies and hospital visits; even our way of reading the evening newspaper, are matters of predictable routine.

It may be empirically observed that much of our regular physical activity is comprised of virtually identical replications of our previously performed acts in similar circumstances which have become effectively automatic, because of their previous repetitive consistency. Our breakfast and bed-time rituals, our procedure in packing the suitcase for vacation or long trips, are all performed in a programmatic fashion. Routine questions are expectedly posed in similar situations, and just as predictably and stereotypically, responded to: How are you? What do you think of the weather? What’s up? Such questions, clearly, are not expressed in any desire for information but rather as the result of an expected human interaction. Similarly, although the characteristic responses to such questions may be somewhat nuanced to the individual responder, they are invariably consistent. As observed, neither such inquiry nor the response thereto, relate to an exchange of information, rather, they are the expected steps in a societally choreographed dance of recognition and mutual amicability.

It is observable that identified people are noticeably present at certain locations at specific times, to dress in the personal style to which they have regularly been habituated, to make predictable choices from restaurant menus (usually in keeping with their prior choices) and consistently will perform their distinct night-time rituals prior to sleep. We would venture to say, that if one were to install time-lapse photographic equipment focused upon any randomly selected individual, the developed video would demonstrate his unvarying role in the universal puppet show; a distinctly unique happening in which the puppet is also the puppeteer.

It should, in fairness, be observed that there are many distinct benefits associated with this phenomenon of routinized behavior, relating to efficiency and comfort as well as an individuation derived from the nuanced performance of personal ritual. Thus, the pre-set route to work or school, the times to enjoy coffee, our personal rituals at bath or shower, the time to walk Fido, are all matters which do implement an economic reservation of our reasoning capability for more taxing and profound challenge.

By stark contrast, any form of protocol, whatsoever, which seeks to employ routine thinking, efforts to seek solutions of mankind’s classic societal and scientific problems, would have disastrous results. An inflexible, orthodox reliance upon past tradition and dogma, would serve to cripple, and inhibit progress by stultifying man’s spontaneous gift for creative growth of problem- solving.

Evolved reason and ever-developing improvement are currently perceptible and hearteningly, in progress, concerning man’s essential imperative for the universal identification and respect for the lives of others; particularly, people with different skin color, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status. The observation of the eternally appropriate and imperative to flexibly review and critically examine our beliefs and routine assumptions on a constant basis is an appropriately grateful and apt expression of appreciation to evolution for the generous gift of our advanced brain.

It was not that long ago that women were denied the right to own property or to vote, and for too many generations, black and brown skinned people were assigned the lowly status of agricultural equipment by mainstream America. As ancient historical records show scientists once uniformly believed, and the Church cruelly enforced, the theory that the Sun orbited the Earth.

In mankind’s aspiration toward world peace and enhanced growth, there is no greater nor more morally mandated duty than the free and unfettered exercise of his innate creative potential and the practice of ongoing review and reevaluation of his prevalent assumptions.

In the growth and enhancement of humanity, it is confidently suggested that greater deliberation be employed, as contrasted with the thoughtless flip of the nighttime pillow to its cooler side.

-p.

 

 

BLOG # 194 TWO OR THREE CHEERS FOR OMAR

Omar Khayyam, is probably the best known and universally venerated dignitary identified in ancient Middle East history. The 11th Century poet, philosopher, mathematician and astronomer, may not be best remembered for his development of the cubic equation in mathematics, nor his valuable reforms to the yearly calendar, but is eternally famous for his poetic verses, most particularly, the following:

“The moving finger writes, and having writ, moves on; nor all thy piety nor wit shall lure it back to cancel half a line nor thy tears wash out a single word of it.”

We can discern two distinct understandings of this erudite admonition and are inclined (hopefully, without presumption) to award the full measure of three cheers to one and to the other, but two.

If the ancient poet’s observation is intended to mean that our acts and statements, including those which are the product of thoughtlessness, or impulsive behavior, are intractably and irredeemably final and determinative, we are inclined to award the good doctor only two of the precious three cheers. Such an assertion we see as unnecessarily harsh to the extent that its decree means that the impact of all human behavior is fixed and unredeemable.

In our immediately preceding writing, “The Nuclear Syllable” # 193, we saluted the human capability to preliminarily consider an intended act or statement, and as well, as his equally commendable aptitude for forgiveness, and empathic toleration of errors or perceived insult; both of practical importance to man’s development of society. It is inarguable that such qualities are among the many capabilities of an advanced brain, the generous gift to homo sapiens by evolution. The recognition of the potential for human error and its allowance is just, empathic and competent evidence of mature social wisdom.

In previous writings, we have, for purposes of illustration, proposed a scenario as follows: Let us suppose that on some impulse, I choose to steal an object from another unwitting person. After such wrongful and immoral act, because of understandable remorse, I quickly return the item to that person, who elects to accept my tearful apology and completely forgive me; in fact, he states that, as far as he is concerned, the incident is to be permanently forgotten. However, the incident cannot be forgotten by me; in truth, I am not absolved at all. I still will have to come to grips with the difficult question, relative to my own private self- image, as to what sort of a person I essentially am, to have chosen to steal in the first place. There is, predictably, in addition to remorse, lasting damage to that private, cherished, self-image and lifelong perception of my personal identity.

If the of the quoted verses are intended to observe that our significant acts and statements remain in our memory and have an enduring impact upon our perceived identity and perception of self, we would happily and justifiably award Omar the full measure of three cheers. There would seem to be little reasonable doubt that significant acts and statements (good or lamentable) create a lasting and defining impact upon our privately nurtured persona. [ As we have maintained in previous writings, the preservation of our desired self- image is the valid motivating source and rational basis of our morality; not, as fancied by too many, anticipated rewards and punishments, worldly or supernatural.]

Salaam.

-p.

 

Blog # 193        THE NUCLEAR SYLLABLE

Much credit can be given to contemporary atomic science for the universal understanding that the element of size is unrelated to ultimate functional significance. The infinitesimally tiny object called the atom, which can be discerned only with the employment of a specialized microscope, or by the performance of a demonstrative experiment is in fact, the basic essential building block of all known matter.

Such empirical observation concerning the irrelevance of size applies in an analogous fashion to the subject of man’s elective action and his choice of spoken words. It is our proposition that the miniscule combination of two letters, forming the single syllable, “re” is a vitally important instrument, and an instructive caution against irrational behavior [Please temporarily reserve your understandable reaction to this exotic proposition.]

With the sole exception of purely reflexive responses, all human action necessarily follows some precedential motivational thought, rational or irrational, fleeting or carefully considered. Clearly, thought, on whatever level, is the forerunner to one’s choice of action or language; the dynamics of thought, which inarguably is expressed in the medium of privately articulated words, naturally precedes all voluntary action and choice of words.

In common with everything else, words are constructed of smaller units, universally termed syllables. As a necessary corollary to the known premise that thought, in some fashion, precedes action and speech, we have observed that one especially singular syllable. “re” is not only linguistically useful, but is also mandatorily necessary for acceptable human interaction; this nuclear syllable has always been an indispensable tool for civilized behavior, and by empirical extension, the existence of society.

We have singled out for special recognition, the invaluable syllable, “re,”; though modest in size, it has afforded to man the choice of behaviors; it is an ever-present reminder that we have evolved to practice the rational deliberative behavior required to live in society. Promoting civility, identification with others, empathy, appropriateness, consideration, accuracy, relevance, clarity, as well as the many other criteria for effective and societally necessary behavior. The ability to audit, edit or amend our intention, prior to what may be a rash act or foolish choice of speech, is a unique talent attributable to our advanced intelligence, the generous and valuable gift of evolution.

Such cautionary and advisory syllable (re) thus, is an effective emergency brake on impulsive, rash behavior and on ill-considered speech. It serves as a cogent reminder of the preferable option of thoughtful consideration, offers the opportunity to make a correction in the event of failure and the possibility of the amendment of erroneous supposition; It is the guide to enlightenment and the motivation for growth, a promoter of harmony and an antidote to enmity; it is a “look before you leap.”

Support for our expansive proposition is found by thoughtful reference to the following illustrative sample of words. prefaced by this nuclear syllable: revisit, rethink, reconsider, reconfigure, recalibrate, recreate, renegotiate, reedit, restate, reimagine, reexplore. Such words, containing the nuclear syllable are potent behavioral guides for all who strive for positive outcomes, for truth and societal advancement and for peace. The nuclear syllable is a reflection of mature judgment borne of empirical experience and experienced maturity.

-p.

 

 

 

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Blog # 192       PORTRAIT OF AN “IDEAL” COMMUNITY

The consensus of selected historical references appears to record the community of “Dismal Vista” as having been founded in 1888 by a Ms. Elvira Swine. The good Ms. Swine (later recognized, by the denizens of that community, as a Saint) was sleepily perusing her King James, near the banks of the Chesapeake River, when she clearly heard a solemn, heavenly voice from on high, instruct her to close her book, rise and go 132,,5 miles west, to form a righteous community.

That community, named “Dismal Vista,” situated in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania was for years accessible only by means of an unpaved mule road. However, under the modern infrastructure initiative of President Donald Trump, was” bigly” improved and now is  a paved, two-way highway, popularly known as the Oblivion “Turnpike.”

The community, presently (according to the last census) is populated by some 1903 souls, each dedicated to living a “sanctified life,” by ts prohibition of alcoholic beverages, dancing to modern music, homosexuality, vaccination of the young and improper speech.

The Mayor, Lucinda G. Swine, purportedly, a distant descendant of the Sainted founder, does yeoman community service by simultaneously functioning as the Sunday School Teacher (thus relieving the traditionally overworked, Rev. Sleaerom the task), as the Official School Nurse and as well, the Vice- Chairperson of the Church Geranium Committee.

In the spirit of fairness, it should be said that the community does approve, and sponsor, certain social events, at which square dancing and the Texas two-step are permitted. At these approved events, non-alcoholic beverages and, freshly baked apple-rhubarb pies are sold (the money earmarked for the upkeep of the Church’s inventory of Bibles). It also does sponsor elder  supervised picnics and daily church field trips to nearby lakes and farmlands,

There appear to be no professional offices located in Dismal Vista. In the recent past, an idealistic young physician, seeking to serve the perceived need of a medical facility in a rural setting, quickly departed, after observing that vaccinations, sex education and the discussion of women’s health issues are forbidden based on community accepted religious precept.

A modest schoolhouse,located, meaningfully, opposite the Dismal Vista All- Faiths Church, consists of three rooms ( one of which serves as the school office) at which the young of the Dismal community is instructed in such subjects as penmanship, spelling, reading, arithmetic, and geography, but decidedly not on the subject of evolution, which is contrary to the Bible.

Holidays include all of the popular religious observance plus, President’s Day ( called “Trump Day” by the admiring community) and, as well, the date on which the community is traditionally believed to have been founded; which, by reason of its perceived significance, is recognized and celebrated as  New Year’s day.

Outsiders desiring to settle in the community are carefully scrutinized and painstakingly vetted by the community elders, and if found acceptable, will be considered for acceptance following the execution of a formal, binding Agreement, expressing their undertaking to abide by the rules and regulations, as well as the nuanced folkways of the community.It is to be noted that certain mandatory rules provide that no person from New York or California, nor any person born in a foreign country, may apply,

There are discernable media in the community with the exception of the free oral exchange of information every Monday and Friday evening 8: PM to 10:30PM at the General Store at which free coffee and unlimited pie are religiously available.

A few years ago, an enterprising member of the community attempted to enter into the local business of residential real estate but found, to his utter amazement, that there were no prospective people whatsoever, who appeared to be desirous of moving to Dismal Vista. He is now, however happily and successfully engaged in growing rhubarb, which, as everyone knows,  is always a welcome addition to apple pie.

-p.         

 

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Blog # 191                  THE BIG RECYCLE

The most ambitious and dramatically exciting analogy we can possibly hazard is that existing between the predictable rotation of our planet and the orbit of mankind’s eternal experience.

A 18th Century French complaint, uttered in the midst of several bloody revolutions, “plus ca change, plus la meme chose” (the more things change, the more they remain the same) had particular reference to the political history of the time, but is universally applicable, and is the specific theme of this note.

A knowledgeable observer of history would easily observe that identical issues and situational occurrences are repeated in each age, and with little variation. Unlike the comedic (but meaningful) film, “Groundhog Day,” the context and setting vary with the age, but the identical themes keep on recycling.

The classic works of literature are universally recognized, not only for their aesthetic rendition, but, as well, for their expression of the recurring themes of mankind’s experience, such as ambition, conflict, unrequited love, xenophobia, injustice, and idealistic aspiration. The brilliance of such writers as Shakespeare, Dickens, Austin, Thackeray, Twain, Faulkner, and Roth is that they present so artfully, the orbit of man’s life and common experience; Romeo and Juliet to West Side Story, Pygmalion to My Fair Lady and Anna Karenina to Vanity Fair are but a few of the plethora of illustrative examples.

Children’s stories and books also recount the experienced themes of humanity, Cinderella (the discovery of an exceptional individual in a crowd of ordinary people), Jack and the Bean Stalk (the danger inherent in the search for reward, as in Raiders of the Lost Ark) and many others which, while expressed in children’s language and illustration, depict man’s common aspirations as well as his vulnerability.

There are few wiser statements than, “If we forget history, we are doomed to repeat our mistakes.” Those who are conversant in the subject of ancient history, are best able to understand current events; the same conflicts occur, whether fought in Greek togas or U.S. Army fatigues, the diseases of lust for power and wealth, religious conflict, and xenophobia, are perpetual and are efficiently recycled.

A classic lesson is taught by an examination of the primitive worship of the Sun God by early man. The perceived dying of the Earth in winter (except for the evergreens) was reversed by ceremonial observances in celebration of those magically green trees so that the Earth was brought back to life, as evidenced by the consequent thaw, greenery, appearance of rabbits and the like. These antecedents of the popular holidays of Christmas and Easter are illustrative examples of universal recycling.

The next time someone may greet you with the common expression, “What’s new” and you respond, in the usual social jargon, “Same old, same old,” you are entitled, if desired, to entertain the notion that you speak for the entirety of the human experience.

Someday, homo sapiens may develop sufficient wisdom to better confront these universal issues, but for the present, they continue to persist in their recycled occurrence within the orbit of timeless human experience.

 

-p.

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BLOG # 190 ABOUT TIME

In this note, we are interested in experienced (empirical) time; not at all in the esoteric, Einsteinian concept, viz., time as a theoretical separate dimension. We are speaking of the time referred to in such expressions as, “It’s about time,” “we are short of time,” “time flies” (tempos fugit), “just passing time,” and “time out”; the time of our human experience.

Observing grains of sand gradually and steadily, descend from the upper hemisphere of an hourglass to the lower, we note that time is a faithful observant of the planet’s natural law of gravity. When the bottom half is full, denoting the passage of one hour, the dynamic is all but forgotten, except for its resultant evidence appearing in the lower sphere. What does that observed experience signify? What has actually changed, simultaneously, with the slow and steady voyage of the silica dioxide?

Many notable authors have written of time as a dream, or as a mental construct, signifying its unseen passage. In common with our observation of the lower half of the hourglass, we wonder at time’s essential function, in terms of the new situational experience, now that the hour has been spent. Does a successor hour begin immediately upon the fall of the final grain of sand? Did it begin just prior to the arrival of that final particle? The nature of time seems indeed seems to be as mysterious and intangible a concept as it is, ultimately, of harshly determinative significance.

As we age, the expression, “The days are long, but the years are short,” takes on ever–increasing personal significance. We have a clear awareness of the present, as compared with a dim (perhaps, erroneous) recollection of the past; consequently, the illusion of the latter as “short.” One surely cannot measure time by man’s longevity which varies from person to person. The popular expression, “just killing time” is simply thoughtless; we do not kill time, time kills us. Like measured sand in an hourglass, it is finite and final. The great many and variety of changes that occur in our lifetime, some gradual, some that  seem exponential, act as an effective diversion from monitoring our personal allotment of sand as it performs its law-abiding compliance with the planet’s jurisdictional rule governing gravity.

The word, “recollection” is both interesting and illustrative. It refers to thinking again about a past event or experience. Its etymology describes a Medieval Latin word, “recollectio,” meaning collect again. It clearly appears to be the case that much of our past is not collectible again by contemporary consciousness.

Whether or not, time is a separate dimension, as theorized by many physicists, we are all afloat in it for a relatively limited time, similar to the compliant sand in the hourglass.  We are duty- bound to give essential meaning to our valuable life experience during our gradual journey toward finite human maturity. We do so by not concentrating on time’s passage, but, rather, on the effective development of our personal growth, self- enhancement and pursuit of wisdom. True success, within the limited space of one’s lifetime, is not measured by the extent of one’s recollection of his life experiences, but instead, by the extent of temporal effort, devoted by him to exploiting, to his fullest capability, the singular potential for understanding and awareness, which was gifted to homo sapiens by evolution.                          –p.

 Blog # 189 VITAL SIGNS

Getting regular medical examinations is considered to be a salutary regimen, conducive to the maintenance of good health. Such examinations (“check-ups”) uniformly consist in the performance of a routine monitoring of what is famously known as our “vital signs” (heartbeat, blood pressure, temperature, and breathing). The results of such tests are objectively compared with their respective (empirically derived) standards and a medical determination is scientifically made.

Respecting those fortunate people whose results are adjudged normal, the event is quickly forgotten. For those respecting whom a problem is discerned, most are able to maturely adjust their lifestyle, as necessary and proceed with their life. Some others, unfortunately, seem to become so preoccupied with their health that they may, unnecessarily, delimit their life’s potential for personal growth and self-enhancement. This writing is solely applicable and relevant to the greater percentage of people who have not become pre-occupied with things such as personal health or some other preoccupying issue and are not hampered from freely engaging in spontaneous thought, rational or fanciful.

In the past, we have made particular reference to the rarely discussed subject of our intimate and completely private (lifelong), conversation with ourselves, in which we, in the privacy of our individual ruminative thoughts, dream of good prospects, grapple with real or imagined danger, perseverate over dilemmas, and as well in selective, seemingly meaningful fantasy.

In the context of this dark and private labyrinth of our inner thoughts, we may, at times, be inclined to erroneously construe factual or causal relationships between events which objectively are completely unrelated and thereafter groundlessly proceed to predict consequent outcomes and expectations.  In addition to being rooted in fantasy, such irrational expectations may cause us to take, or refrain from taking the necessary action resulting in some detriment to ourselves or a third party. While we are obliged to acknowledge the existence of this strange phenomenon, we do not in any way, approve of it. With great and abject apology, we have shamelessly pirated the title “vital signs,” from its proper application, {as used in the stated scientific procedure of making medical judgments by comparison of findings with fixed criteria} for this exotic dynamic. Albeit irrational, the perceived association of certain discreet stimuli can similarly,  but erroneously, function as the basis for consequent assumptions about reality.

Illustrative examples of such irrational predictors of future prospects (vital signs) are as follows [please take note that we have elected to include only positive signs]:

  • Randomly flipping a coin which fortuitously falls into a cup located far across the room,
  • Waking up from a night’s sleep, feeling very hungry,
  • Seeing an expansive rainbow following a drenching rain,
  • Unexpectedly finding an item which has long been missing,
  • Finding money in a new location,
  • Observing that today’s  breakfast coffee is stronger and more aromatic than usual,
  • Experiencing success in catching a train or bus at the very moment of its departure,
  • Preparing and serving fried eggs without breaking the yolks,
  • Receiving an invitation to dinner from an admired, but unknown neighbor,
  • Impulsively, but successfully, leaping over a large rain puddle,
  • Inhaling a scent reminiscent of a pleasant past experience, perhaps seashore or woodland.

It may be speculated that these perceptions of pleasant occurrences,  subjectively construed as vital signs of some future pleasant happening or successful enterprise, are, in essence, a product of one’s creative imagination, or that they represent a fragmentary recollection of one’s previous experience.  A similar dynamic and speculation would, of course, apply to signs which are perceived as negative.  Regarding the totality of these perceptions, however, it would be useful and preferable to summarily discount them, and rely as much as possible, on rational thought and empirical experience.

-p.