10/15/2019

What’s true?

I just received this horoscope from Rob Breszny:

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): Inventor Buckminster Fuller (1895–1983) was a visionary genius in numerous fields, including architecture, design, engineering, and futurism. In the course of earning 40 honorary doctorates, he traveled widely. It was his custom to wear three watches, each set to a different time: one to the zone where he currently was, another to where he had recently departed, and a third to where he would journey next. I know that I am not a category,” he wrote. I am not a thing—a noun. I seem to be a verb.” I recommend his approach to you in the coming weeks, Scorpio. Be a verb! Allow your identity to be fluid, your plans adjustable, your ideas subject to constant revision.

I know that many would roll their eyes at the notion of horoscopes. And for good reason! They are silly. At least, they are silly on one level. Yet, when considered like just about everything else, they can be seen as a reflection — a mirror that reflects to us something true. That’s how I like to hold them. But I don’t share it because I want to convince anyone of the merits of the horoscope. No, I share it because it is relevant to the thing that was on my mind to write about today. How do you like that1?

The last bit that Brezsny shares is a quote from Buckminster Fuller (see the link I inserted above). To reprise:

I know that I am not a category,” he wrote. I am not a thing—a noun. I seem to be a verb.”

Here is the thing that has been on my mind this morning: fixed truths don’t exist. There are no defined answers that can satisfy every situation. The world is in flux. It is in motion. And the more we can learn to live from that place, the more our lives will something that is true.

Yeah, yeah. I feel the arrogance in the statement as I type it. I’m aware. And at the same time, I can’t help but feel the resonance of it. There is a lot being written today about what is being found in science (notably in physics) about how at the base level of the structure of the universe, this is true. And this is in many ways the core teaching of about a million different mystical traditions. It’s not new. Yet, we don’t seem to get it.

Goodness, I wish I could remember where it was that I heard someone say, We’ve had these mystical traditions for thousands of years. They’ve been telling us: life is not fixed, we are not separate, life is a beautiful mystery. And we’re not getting it. It’s simply not sticking.” Or something like that.

Another message that landed in my inbox this morning came from Nick Cave in his latest edition of The Red Hand Files. It included this bit (emphasis mine):

Antifa and the Far Right, for example, with their routine street fights, role-playing and dress-ups are participants in a weirdly erotic, violent and mutually self-sustaining marriage, propped up entirely by the blind, inflexible convictions of each other’s belief systems. It is good for nothing, except inflaming their own self-righteousness. The New Atheists and their devout opponents are engaged in the same dynamic. Wokeness, for all its virtues, is an ideology immune to the slightest suggestion that in a generation’s time their implacable beliefs will appear as outmoded and fallacious as those of their own former generation. This may well be the engine of progress, but history has a habit of embarrassing our treasured beliefs. Some of us, for example, are of the generation that believed that free speech was a clear-cut and uncontested virtue, yet within a generation this concept is seen by many as a dog-whistle to the Far Right, and is rapidly being consigned to the Left’s ever-expanding ideological junk pile.

For today, let’s set the content of Cave’s criticism aside and look at his overall point: our perspectives will evolve as our experience evolves. We will see things differently in a matter of years. By we I both mean the we that is us — those reading and writing these words, as well as the larger we” of humanity. How we are measured in 5, 10, 50, 100 years (and on and on ad infinitum) is going to depend on a lot of things, many of which we can’t predict.

This isn’t because of a shortcoming. It’s not a bug. It’s a feature.

We will learn over time what is truer than what we know today. But we will miss a lot of it — if not all of it — if we aren’t open to the reality that things will flex and flow.

In other words, you don’t have to be a Scorpio to follow Brezsny’s advice:

Be a verb! Allow your identity to be fluid, your plans adjustable, your ideas subject to constant revision.


  1. Confirmation bias? Maybe.

10/14/2019

Trade offs

We’re buying an electric car. Or, as they call them, an EV1. We have our eye on the Nissan Leaf, as they are among the top rated EVs on the market. We drove one on Sunday, and it was actually quite fun. It has some zip to it and felt quite smooth. We didn’t test the stereo (though we should probably do that when we pick the one we want to get). Everyone we mention this to talks about how great it is to give up fossil fuels. And it is.

But we need to be clear about something: some of the electricity that powers our new car may very well be generated by fossil fuels. Coal would be the most likely culprit. I cna’t say for sure if that’s the case here in Washington, but it certainly is in some other parts of the world. If it’s not coal, then it would likely be generated at a dam, which bring their own environmental issues.

What I’m trying to get at here is that there are costs. Trade offs. Unless you have solar power at your house and draw all of your car’s electricity off of that, you are having an environmental impact. Buying an EV to get off of fossil fuels is a bit of smoke and mirrors. It’s okay. It’s likely far superior to having a gas powered car. But it’s not going 100% off of these fuels.

So what’s the point? Believe it or not, it’s not to be that guy.” You know the one. He’s what Merlin Mann would call a turns out” guy. I’m not here to turns out.” What I want to point to is that it is good for us to have as much information as possible in front of us. We shouldn’t avoid information. We should embrace it, and them use it to inform our decisions. All while recognizing the trade offs.

Trade offs are a part of the deal. But we’ll never be able to fully understand our impacts in the world if we don’t acknowledge the truths that are, well, a tad uncomfortable.


  1. Electric Vehicle

10/10/2019

Moving forward

I have to be honest. The world feels a bit like it’s falling apart today. What is happening in Turkey is horrible. what is happening in DC is unfathomable (though, at this point, it probably shouldn’t be), what is happeing in California is simply nuts. Indeed, when I read about the blackouts in California — and, more importantly — some of the reactions to them, I felt like we are witnessing the unfolding of events that leads to the world Octavia Butler wrote about in the Parable of the Sower. It’s all so much.

It’s tempting to try to find some kind of positive spin on it all. The death throes of a dying world view. What doesn’t kill us makes us strong (not very useful to those it does kill). So on. This is, in many ways, the American way of holding these things. White-knuckle. Put on a smile. It’ll work out. It always does.

What I will say is that if we are going move past this craziness1, we have to learn to see it, to acknowledge it, and to own it. In other words, we have to face our darkness. The only way out is through, they say. We are in the middle of it. We can’t make it through if we don’t pick up our heads, open our eyes, and see what is right in front of us. I think we can do it. But it’s gotta be together.


  1. And let’s be clear, this is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

10/7/2019

Paying attention

Sometimes I look at the world — especially if I’m anywhere near a strip mall — and think, 14.5 billion years of evolution and this is the best we can do?” And then I’m reminded, somewhere in this small individual mind, that inherent in this sentiment is a judgement that implies I can somehow have a greater sense of order than order itself does. It’s a thought built on an arrogance that is, I think, a defense against a great, primal fear: the fear of the overwhelming amazingness of all of this.

They say that we only register a percentage of the information that our eyes receive. That our ears receive. That our beings receive. If we were to take it all in, we would be overwhelmed; blown over. Unable to function. Perhaps this is why we filter the world through our judgements. If we were to perceive the vast awesomeness of each moment, how could we live?

I’m not sure if this is the why (or merely a why). All I know is that paying attention to the ways in which I am arrogant, and am disconnected from the moment-to-moment miracles of our times seems like one aspect of our collective liberation.

Paying attention opens us to the possibility that every moment contains what we need to be liberated. Imagine.

10/4/2019

Life

We met with a potential client today. The main takeaway was this: being human is messy. It’s hard. It’s super tricky. People are doing their best. And we’re all making it up as we go along.

And sometimes, that’s enough.

10/3/2019

Another close call

I almost let
the day pass
without so
much as a
thought, let
alone inscribed
words. No
matter — for I
was reminded
by Rachel
Carson to
do that one
last thing:
make these
breaths have
meaning.