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At the Confessional

I would say that blogs are the new confessionals: anonymous tale-tellers offloading their thoughts to an anonymous listener. I would say that suggestions offered in blog Comments are the new Penance for Sins committed.

I would say these things if I still believed in the concept of Sin, but I do not.

I do believe in the idea of misguided choices; in the concepts of kindnesses withheld, dysfunctional adaptations, poor coping skills, cognitive biases, and overwhelming frustration. But sin, no, not any more.

Life is complex, and relativity reigns. If an overarching and judgmental construct such as sin even existed in any tangible way, what constituted a sin would be enormously subjective! Perspective on this could probably vary by generation, religion, gender, and culture, and in reviewing history it seems those in power at the given moment get to choose who is sinning, and how.

Even a simple directive such as the Christian commandment to Honor your Father and Mother becomes a messy gray area if your father or mother is ordering you to break a different commandment, yes?

What content creator was naive enough to believe there could be 10 such rules that would never intersect? For instance, could a fib never help you better honor a parent? Is it not possible that stealing, a la Jean Valjean, could keep a child in your care from starving to death and thus you would then not be in any way responsible for the child’s “murder”?

I think we all yearn sometimes to live in a world that is certain, one as black and white as we believed it was when we were children. But that is not the world we occupy, and tightly gripping that ideal past its point of usefulness will help no-one.

I’ve been playing with the audio freeware Audacity lately.  This makes me very happy – having a reason to sing and harmonize. And also the challenge of figuring out the functionality of the software.  Two of my favorite things together – how nice is that.  Also my daughter has been having fun reading kids’ books aloud for her cousins.

Here’s my take on the George Jones classic, “She Thinks I Still Care,” which I only recently learned has been covered by 9 snillion artists including Cher and Elvis!

My mixing skills leave much to be desired – there is some popping, some distortion and points at which I think the peaks are too extreme.  Also it would be super nice if I could figure out a way to have a background instrument somehow (I play piano but our piano is horribly out of tune).  But despite all that – I like how it sounds!  I’m happy with a fine first effort.

The Loudly Desperate

I’m rather jealous of Thoreau’s men of quiet desperation.  I generally experience my desperation loudly, obviously, flagrantly.

Yes.  I lead a life of loud, flagrant desperation.  Some days I wonder if others will smell it on me the way dogs supposedly smell fear. Perhaps I believe that keeping it quiet will be unhelpful; that sharing is purging.

I have not gotten many wrinkles in middle age, except for two deep creases between my eyebrows.  I don’t think that’s a coincidence.  It’s like my face is trying to announce, “There are things to be concerned about, and I’ve been trying to address them by thinking really deeply about them.  And being loudly desperate.”

A Poem, of Sorts

a poem, of sorts, that was in my head this morning:

I try to be clever
but I exhale crumpled moth wings

A brain can ache
like a stomach can ache –
it’s when you can’t escape your own self

The other night I went to fold the laundry
and I didn’t want to do it
and I didn’t want to not do it –
how can this be?

my biggest fear is not death,
but being sent into outer space
alone
to a place where I discover bodies do not die.

You Better Not Pout

While driving in to work this morning I was realizing I’ve experienced several different phases of close surveillance.

As a youngster, it was Santa: he sees you when you’re sleeping, he knows when you’re awake, yadda yadda.  Earn valuable prizes yearly for obedience and self-control.

After that was busted open, I believed it was a Judeo-Christian God spying on me: watching me half-ass practicing piano; shaking his head as I talked back; possibly snorting at my lame church confessions (I couldn’t really keep track so I guessed based on what I figured most kids my age were doing wrong).  But then I grew into an agnostic who has a sense that it’s unlikely anyone is keeping such a close tally and if they are, I find I don’t much care what their opinion is.

But now….now,  it’s the scariest viewer of all.  My kid.  She doesn’t see everything, of course.  But she sees plenty and she’s watching closely.  For hypocrisy and discrepancy.  For lessons.  The biggest difference, and the scary bit, is that I didnt have to be held responsible for influencing Santa’s and God’s paths.  They would not potentially base poor decisions or family negotiations on my actions.

My Books, My Sirens

When I was younger, I tried to close the gap between desire and reality by planning to work hard, work harder, make lots of money.  I figured the only other option was to want things less and that didn’t seem feasible.  It turns out, I found the first method difficult and generally unsustainable, given the age discrimination most of us will face at some point – meaning, our earnings and earning potential could not incline upward for our entire working lives.

The decrease in wanting things was less tricky than I’d expected.  After a while, when you’re no longer in the habit of shopping for entertainment or expecting new stuff to tirelessly parade into your home, you have trouble remembering why you felt these twinges and pulls at all. Of many things, anyway. I’m no minimalist, for sure, but I suspect even minimalists are susceptible to the Siren song of some particular thing.  I can assess so many things with a practical eye and not buy.  Sometimes all I need is to walk around a store with the item and this cures me – turns out I just needed to spend a little time with that thermos or scarf, not to carry it home, and I put it back.

Books are my Sirens.  My practical side knows that the library has a treasure trove of books I can read for free and won’t get thru in three lifetimes.  Yet I still want stacks and stacks of my own at home. Partly b/c I won’t risk taking a library book into the tub with me.  Or on a trip, after leaving one at Logan airport (though, to my astonishment, a kind soul had found it and mailed it to the library, saved me from the cost of a replacement hardback.)  And don’t get me started on the yuckiness of what I find crusted on the pages of more popular YA novels.  But those lame excuses could suffice if I had just a few used books at home.  Instead, I have what may in some states constitute a small library branch.  Our local library just had its book sale.  Divine.  Each year I stack books for the coming winter like others stack cords of wood.

I so love it when someone’s visiting and asks if perhaps I have any good books I could lend them; I must stifle a laugh as we climb the stairs to my unwieldy stacks.

Agenda item: bee training

I dreamt I was at a meeting about a software implementation project.  It had many phases, which grew increasingly more complex.

Notably, the phase being discussed would require team members to jump on a trampoline while wearing a large beard of bees.  I had some concerns about this, but chose to embrace it for the time being. Even in dreams there can be pressure to be a team player, you know?

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