Please don’t think this post will contain wisdom. That is highly unlikely. However, I have begun to appreciate more and more the difference between wisdom and intelligence.
I’ve always been smart, but could never claim to have much wisdom. I throw myself into things, forget the lessons I learn from them, and throw myself right back in again. Yay! It is more the Piggie approach to life (for the Mo Willems fans).
However, I do have a little more wisdom than I used to. Buddhism taught me to reflect a little more, which certainly helps, but essentially wisdom does only come with age, experience and the detachment from our past mistakes which finally allows us to learn from them. I was always taught to think about the effects my actions have on others, but only age and experience has given me a true insight into the real impact of your actions and the ability to really empathise, rather than just think ‘Oh, yeah, it would be bad if I did that ‘cos then they’d be upset’.
I appreciate my parents and grandparent more as I grow older and go through more of what they will have gone through in their own lives. I have learned to listen to them and to see them as people, as well as to see them as parents who have raised someone from a baby to adulthood, and worry fiercely every day about their children. I can see the true pain of love, the fear of loss, more than I thought I knew it when I fell in love and married Rob. The love for a child is intense, ferocious and protective, and the fear that goes along with that is pretty mighty stuff sometimes. So only now can I really say I appreciate them and all they have done for me and my brother.
Intelligence can be quick and light, but I see wisdom as something deep-rooted, with those roots tunnelling down through your entire life to gain a bit of nourishment in the form of insight and experience. It is necessarily slow and thought-through, something you mull over and grow into a piece of knowledge you can keep to draw on again in the future. It’s a perfect reason to look forward to growing older and to spend as much time as you can with those you respect and love while you do.
It’s here, and right on time. Fall. Schoolbooks packed into bags, lunches made and forgotten on tables, arms and legs saying their goodbyes to summer sun. When the air begins to lighten, and our breath begins to show, our thoughts turn to sweaters, family dinners and cool, dark nights.
Hello again. Ready for another wall of text, stream of conscious, comics-related blarg post? Because, well, if you’re not, then Google something or check out some porn or something. As you can probably tell from my wonderfully inventive blarg post title, this is chapter 2 in my Dead Ends memoir….
That reminds me, can’t wait for Gears Of War 3.
I had a little rabbit,
I liked to watch it hop.
But then it dissed my mother
So I shot it.
Lately I have found myself craving peace more than ever. I don’t mean as in a quiet, soundproofed room or an empty shopping mall. I mean no unwelcome or unasked for noise being aimed at my ears, or expecting a response from me. This state of craving quiet and calm is most commonly known as parenthood.
Other people’s noise actively makes me angry, now. If Rob is yelling at the football on the telly (as he is now), I have to remind myself that this is his house too, and he is in fact entitled to both speak and even breathe in my presence. It’s a ridiculous overreaction, but it has made me think about how to recognise this and turn off that route in my neural pathways that sends me to anger when other people dare to live so very loudly in front of me.
It’s most obvious cause is a lot of demands on me and a lot of tension. A lot of things outside my control - but this is life. I can’t battle against life -the most obvious solution, to me, is meditation.
I have successfully meditated in the traditional, deep, still style once since I popped a sprog out of my nethers and took him home with me (well, he was cute). Once. That is POOR. However, I have noticed I am starting to slip much more easily into working meditation.
Working meditation is perfect. I hang the clothes out on the airer, I do the washing up, I clean the floor, and I make sure I do these things in quiet and solitude. My mind clears and I am existing in the present, aware of what I am doing without thinking about what I am doing. It’s like giving your brain a bit of a sponge bath. Only less goopy. And intrusive. And fatal. Alright, not much like giving your brain a sponge bath.
This evening, while Alex was being given his evening bath by Rob, I found probing planets in Mass Effect 2 was sending me into a beautiful calm state. This is weird. Probing Planet Meditation. It will not sell well with the purists. But, to me, it was great. Like watching the washing machine go round and round when I was little.
If you haven’t meditated before, I’d recommend starting out with a little working meditation. No pressure, no silence to fill, no imposing emptiness. Just do the dishes, clean the floor, sort your sock drawer and do it without thinking outside of the task. Feel your breaths, listen to your heartbeat, and sort your socks. What a mantra.
PS A truly brilliant way to relax is to stare at clouds. Actually, not stare, more gaze, absorb, wonder at. Staring sounds like you’re examining the clouds for signs of rebellion, challenging them to get out of your nice clean sky. Anyway - if you get a chance, look up, get lost in the weird hills and mountains up there. Especially at sunset.
BUT. Don’t go thinking you’re meditating by looking at those clouds. They should provoke emotion in you: wonder, awe, happiness. Or ‘Oh crap, I need to get out from under this tree holding this giant metal pole’. Meditation clears the mind of emotion and reaction. Clouds are there to fill it.
I’m a Buddhist. I’m a bloody rubbish Buddhist, as I eat meat, but I do aspire to the eightfold path.
Buddhism is more a philosophy than a religion. I don’t believe in any gods, just the Universe and all the wonderful, cool and amazing things in it.
However, this does not mean I think people who do believe in god or gods are stupid, or misguided, or below me or even wrong. It is all entirely personal and should never be something you try to convince other people of. It’s about your entire way of life, not choosing a brand of crisps or a new hairstyle.
I think Jesus in particular seems to have been an AWESOME dude, with much to teach. I just don’t believe he was the son of god, as I personally don’t believe in god. What I’ve heard about Islam is pretty cool too, in terms of the core beliefs.
The only time I object to religion is when it is used to be violent, hateful or ignorant towards others. The extremes of religion do this, just as the extremes of scepticism belittle those who have faith in something they can’t prove but do feel that they know to be true. Just listen to a sceptic berate a homeopath or astrologer as a fraud and an idiot - it’s not pleasant!
As a feminist, I obviously don’t agree with the way SOME religion can be used and abused to denigrate women. Tell them how to dress, where to sit, how to be subservient. That doesn’t make sense - no-one is better than anyone else because of their gender.
Now the crux of the matter - something I discovered recently about my attitude to religion that took me by surprise. It is this - I have a serious issue with people who say that famines, disasters or riots are in anyway to do with god visiting wrath upon the earth, or a sign of the end of days.
I unfollowed someone on Twitter as they indicated they felt the recent riots here in England were a sign of the coming Rapture. That makes me angry, but as I absolutely can’t say I am justified in feeling that anger, I have to turn away from it and just avoid the subject. Because while I feel very strongly that everyone should feel free to express their religious beliefs, there are some beliefs that do push my buttons in a way that, as a Buddhist, I have to turn from rather than confront.
There is no rationality in my anger in response to someone who decides to place humanity’s troubles in the hands of god, and who strongly believes in god’s judgment being impending upon us. This is their belief. It is not cruel, or badly-intentioned, or even inflammatory. But I have an issue with it that I don’t feel able to deal with or express, so I have to recognise it as an irrational emotional reaction and hope one day I can move past it. (In this case, I was going to re-follow the person once I had taken a breather and re-focussed, so I didn’t say something stupid. However, he then told everyone I was intolerant and blocked me, so that finished REALLY WELL).
Having thought about it for a while, I think it actually stems from a school assembly when I was 8 or 9. The local vicar had come in to talk to us, and it was during a time of a massive famine in Africa. Someone asked about why god wasn’t helping the African people, and he said that they must have done something to have this famine visited upon them. Even at 8, I knew that wasn’t right. Some of the starving people were just children - what could they have done?
And then I watched my Mum stride out of the school hall at that point, doing just what I now do when confronted with this kind of statement.
So I’m stuck with that reaction for a while, until I can come to realise that the fact of the disasters and how to help the people are more important than anyone’s interpretation of the events. I doubt anyone suffering in that famine would have been upset to hear that vicar’s words - they had more pressing matters. And he was there to help us think about how the African people were starving and needed our help - so he was hardly intending to be malicious.
SO. Religion. It’s fine. It’s great. But, just like scepticism, don’t use it to belittle, abuse or denigrate the rest of the world. 98% of religious people don’t, and I’m hopeful they’ll eventually shame the other 2% through their example.
And until I can overcome my knee-jerk reaction to mentions of the rapture, acts of god, or judgement - bear with me if I go a bit quiet if it’s brought up.
Universal love, people. Universal LOVE.
That means we all have to smooch. Hee hee.