writing prompt

Freedom and Suffering

stones purchased image

I would like to share with you today, a video by Christoph Eberhard sharing the ideas of Viktor Frankl on freedom and suffering. He reads from: Man’s Search for Meaning. I strongly recommend this book for anyone with an interest in meaning or for those who have existential questions. I really like the simple way that Christoph presents and shares these ideas. Here are some wonderful quotes from his video page on Vimeo:

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” Viktor E. Frankl

“Suffering is an ineradicable part of life, even as fate and death. Without suffering and death human life cannot be complete.” Viktor E. Frankl

“The way in which a man accepts his fate and all he suffering it entails, the way in which he takes up his cross, gives him ample opportunity – even under the most difficult circumstances – to add a deeper meaning to his life.” Viktor E. Frankl

“Life is not a void to be filled. It is a plenitude to be discovered.” Christoph Eberhard

Balanced stones image purchased.

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An Odd Trio – The Cat, the Soup and the Beach Towel

An Odd Trio – The Cat, the Soup and the Beach Towel

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Today, you can write about whatever you what — but your post must include, in whatever role you see fit, a cat, a bowl of soup, and a beach towel.

“Well wHoo are you?” said the spoon to the bowel.

“I am you and you are me we are ONE.”

“I see,” said the spoon, “but what about the cat?”

“Oh, she’s of no account, see her preen, see her lying there in the beam of the sun, she thinks she’s the ONE!”

“Well,” said the cat, “surely you can see, I’m a special me, sitting on this towel, tartan stripes and all, sunning in the sun. Sincerely, I AM the ONE!”

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Never mind that the pictures show no sun, can’t you see the SPECIAL ME? Oh, and that beach towel, never mind that either.

ImageS courtesy Carol Knox

Offside from a Hater of Sport Always Offside

Offside Memories from a Hater of Sport Always Offside

Team USA is playing today in the soccer World Cup in Brazil. Do you have any funny/harrowing/interesting memories from a sporting event you attended, participated in, or watched?

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In my schooling years PE or Physical Education was a nightmare for me, all agony and no ecstasy. Forced physical activity seemed to me mightily unjust and somehow low IQ. Besides, all the business in the locker rooms, changing, smelly feet smells, dampness, (images of mold crowded into my mind), showers and so forth were like a universe from an existentialist horror, like The Myth of Sisyphus, forever toiling with a heavy burden, meaningless uphill, uphill, an acute awareness of self, the silliness of the rituals, the profound discomfort of group change rooms, even if single sexed. I always somehow felt vulnerable and exposed, disjointed, an alien in a land whose symbols were readable but nauseating and absurd.

Swimming lessons were the horror of horrors, (very little teaching actually happened). The fear was almost numbing. I experienced near drowning several times and once, I was washed out to sea with my younger sister, she clung to me, flailing around and pushing me under – luckily we were rescued, or rather, she was taken from me and taken to shore, while I struggled to swim back in the best way I could fashion. I was forced to learn to swim since I had asthma and it was felt to be necessary to develop my lungs. Well, all I can remember is many experiences of going under and swallowing water, water shooting up my nose into my sinuses causing blinding headaches. Every week I was a drowning girl.

Watching sport too gives me no joy and I must be the only South African who cares not about the score or who is playing whom, nor what sport is the current national fever. This is a language I prefer not to understand. The socially sanctioned male touching and grappling is however, interesting from a social and psychological point of view. It seems that physical activity for men is a necessary and possibly good outlet for excess energy and aggression produced by testosterone. Actually, after my divorce I vowed not to watch sport again, since my ex used to watch anything and everything live, at all hours of the day or night. Sport commentators have a way of droning on that gets under my skin. What joy it is to live in this sport free world, free too of the accouterments of the social rituals that accompany sport watching, especially the drinking and “braaing”. The possible only exceptions would be tennis or extreme sports like rock climbing, or sedate horse riding.

I did learn some martial art, JKD. This was liberating on many levels. It was profound for me to learn how to make a fist and to punch, to learn grappling and some self-defense skills. How strange it was at first, to make a fist for punching. Also, playing around with Brett’s Samurai sword was great fun, until I almost cut off my foot, while chopping at bougainvillea how easily the sword sailed through the vines, oops a bit too easily, foot in the way.

Today I am happy in the bliss of my offsideness and ignorance.

Image of Carol Knox and Brett Pelser courtesy Carol Knox.

Set for Solstice – Winter Hades and Persephone

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Set for Solstice Winter Hades and Persephone

Today’s Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year (in the Northern Hemisphere). How are you taking advantage of the extra hours of light this time of year? Do you like it, or do you already miss earlier sunsets?

Since it is winter in the Southern Hemisphere, I thought I would look at the Greek origin story to explain the seasons.

Hades, in Greek Mythology, was Lord of the Underworld. He saw Persephone, the daughter of Demeter and fell in love with her. Demeter was the goddess of the harvest and was so upset when Hades abducted Persephone, that she wandered the earth and refused to allow the earth harvests to ripen.

So Persephone became Queen of the Underworld. Origin of the above quote at Yahoo answers.

Freudian Flips Heartfulness, Synchronicity and Dreams – How a Firefly can Help you See

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Freudian Flips Heartfulness, Synchronicity and Dreams – How a Firefly can Help you See

Do you remember a recent dream you had? Or an older one that stayed vivid in your mind? Today, you’re your own Freud: Tell us the dream, then interpret it for us! Feel free to be as serious or humorous as you see fit, or to invent a dream if you can’t remember a real one.

This is based on my very first post on this blog.

My search and first contact with someone I had not seen in many, many years,  was prompted by a dream. I had a dream that I saw Roger in an exotic market, where I was browsing, possibly somewhere in Asia or North Africa, filled with earthy colours, rich fabrics and magical smells. I looked up and there was Roger in the distance, who smiled and waved at me. I was struck by how tall he was, (the viccitudes of memory), and prompted to look for him, which I had done several times before over the years, but never found him.

I started to search again the very next day. While researching, I came across a newsletter which seemed to have Roger’s signature on it, (probably on page 8 or 9 of my search). Not knowing whether in fact this was Roger, I mailed the school to ask for his email address to reconnect again. They were kind enough to forward me his mail. Lo and behold it was Roger. Perhaps 30 years later. He forwarded the picture above from the 1970’s, when we lived in Cape Town. I think this serendipity or synchronicity is amazing! To use Jung’s idea: The term synchronicity is coined to express a concept that belongs to him. It is about “acausal connection of two or more psycho-physic phenomena.” Roger was about to start a journey from the United Kingdom, to visit friends here in South Africa and then to work in North Africa.

Synchronicity, “as an explicative theory, applies to phenomena from the area of parapsychology, prevision and premonition, to I Ching, (specific method of consulting the Oracle of Changes), to astrology and many other borderline fields.”

About two weeks later, I spent time with Roger, here in South Africa.  It was remarkable to be mindful of the preciousness of this encounter and the opportunity to meet and speak again after so much time had passed. I was entranced by the unlikelihood of this experience and was overwhelmed with a sense of deep gratitude. For me, this is clarified in the words of Pablo Neruda, one cannot: “…measure the road which may have had no country…”, and again from Bird: “…I had no more alphabet than the swallows in their courses…” there is no adequate language for this kind of experience, how can words describe such moments? They have to be felt with “heartfulness” and the presence of the moments with mindfulness. Unmeasurable, right now. Sharp, clear, real.

I so connect with these words from Pablo Neruda’s Memory:

“…but do not ask me the date or the name of what I dreamed – I cannot measure the road which may have had no country, or that truth which changed, which the day perhaps subdued to become a wandering light like a firefly in the dark.”

This firefly helped me to see and connect. Up until the dream I had been wondering in the dark. Thinking of Freud, or rather Jung, (who was very interested in the interpretation of dreams at the subject level), this dream was a message from my unconscious. I would say that somehow my unconscious mind made just the right connections, at just the right time, throwing light on something I had thought was not possible, and providing the right light to help me to see and reconnect.

“Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens.” ~ C. Jung

Image courtesy Carol Knox, showing Roger and Carol in the 1970’s.

 

Instant Celebrity You are Beautiful and a Powerful Trigger for Infatuation. The Shape of my Heart

800px-You_are_beautiful_(2235180190)Instant Celebrity You are Beautiful and a powerful trigger for infatuation

If you could be a famous person for a day, who would you be? Why?

I would be Sting, (Gordon Sumner). Because, I would love to stand in his skin, to feel how it feels to be him, if only for one day. He represents to me, male beauty, not just in his appearance but because of what he does, his concern for the environment. See The Rainforest Foundation. I think his wife Trudie Styler is a very lucky woman. I have seen Sting live twice.

For the first time I knew what it meant to be a fan. I had always derided the whole idea. I was transported and realised, when I found myself singing his songs, driving with fingers swollen from clapping, talking with a hoarse voice and ringing in the ears, that there was more to it. Being a fan is really about a powerful infatuation. I did everything in a state of complete besottedness for about two weeks.

The Police

Lyrics from The Shape of My Heart:

“I know that the spades are the swords of a soldier
I know that the clubs are weapons of war
I know that diamonds mean money for this art
But that’s not the shape of my heart
That’s not the shape, the shape of my heart.”

Images from Wikimedia Commons and here.

Rare Medium Blight Be Still

Rare Medium Blight be Still

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Describe a typical day in your life — but do it in a form or in a medium you’ve rarely — if ever – used before. If you’re a photoblogger, write a poem. If you’re a poet, write an open letter. If you’re a travel blogger, write a rant. (These are all examples — choose whatever form you feel like trying out!)

Attempt at a Haiku, a first time:

Breath in stretch

Arise into the long day

Blight be still be.

Image purchased at Creative Market

Verbal Ticks Bored by, of, or with? The Curious or the Bored?

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Verbal Ticks Bored by, of or with? The Curious or the Bored?

Is there a word or a phrase you use (or overuse) all the time, and are seemingly unable to get rid of? If not, what’s the one that drives you crazy when others use it?

It drives me crazy when people say bored of. 

In Oxford Dictionaries Language Matters

Which of these expressions should you use: is one of them less acceptable than the others?

“Do you ever get bored with eating out all the time?

Delegates were bored by the lectures.

He grew bored of his day job.

The first two constructions, bored with and bored by, are the standard ones. The third, bored of, is more recent than the other two and it’s become extremely common. In fact, the Oxford English Corpus contains almost twice as many instances of bored of than bored by. ..Nevertheless, some people dislike it and it’s not fully accepted in standard English. It’s best to avoid using it in formal writing.”

I do agree with the above. For some reason using “bored of” just drives me crazy. Does anyone else feel the same way? In any event for me, anyone who can say they are bored, is not fully engaged in life. Visit Forbes to see a study, published in November, 2013, on 5 types of boredom: What kind of Bored Are You?

The photo above, shows the curious and the bored.

Image Wikimedia Commons

Antique Antics | Chinese Dresser 1900’s | I am Qing

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Antique Antics | Chinese Dresser 1900’s | I am Qing

What’s the oldest thing you own? (Toys, clothing, twinkies, Grecian urns: anything’s fair game.) Recount its history — from the object’s point of view.

I am from the Qing Dynasty. I have survived many things. This Dynasty was founded in 1644 and had seen much prosperity. I am a black lacquered Dresser, hand painted, with mother of pearl inlay. I date back to 1895 before the lost war with Japan and the defeat during the Boxer Uprising of 1900. I am not only old and beautiful, but also precious and elegant. I am from a time of diligent careful craftsmanship, which can be seen in my exquisite inlays and hand painted detail. A time before almost forgot.

I am doubly precious, since I survived the struggles and uprisings of a revolution against the Manchu government.

I have come all the way from a small town in China, to live in a place far from my beginnings. I traveled over rough seas, after being discovered in a dusty village barn. Here I languished for what seemed an eternity. Nothing but dust dancing in sun beams and dark cold nights marked the passing of time. But now, I sit in storage, bubble wrapped for my future glory. I wait patiently to be unwrapped to a new world, how I will shine. There will be no antics, I am of course sedate, dignified and beautiful.

The Normal | The Fallacy of Normalcy | No Wish to be Normal

Hole in the Heavens

365 days of writing prompts: June 9 The normal. Is being “normal” — whatever that means to you — a good thing, or a bad thing? Neither?

The term fallacy is ambiguous. From a philosophical point of view, it can mean: a kind of error in an argument; a kind of error in reasoning (including arguments, definitions, explanations, and so forth); a false belief; or the cause of any of the previous errors, including what are normally referred to as “rhetorical techniques.” Researchers disagree about how to define the very term “fallacy.” Focusing just on fallacies in the sense of fallacies of argumentation, some researchers define a fallacy as an argument that is deductively invalid or that has very little inductive strength. If one thinks of normal as something fallacious, then normal could mean the race to the bottom, or a mediocrity, or something that does not exist at all, because it is based on a fallacious argument. Erich Fromm refers to the pathology of normalcy. In The Sane Society Fromm says:

“It is naively assumed that the fact that the majority of people share certain ideas or feelings proves the validity of these ideas and feelings. Nothing is further from the truth. Consensual validation as such has no bearing whatsoever on reason or mental health. Just as there is a folie à deux (delusional ideas between two persons). there is a folie à millionsThe fact that millions of people share the same vices does not make these vices virtues, the fact that they share so many errors does not make the errors to be truths, and the fact that millions of people share the same mental pathology does not make these people sane.” (p. 14).

One of my favourite writers, Ronald David Laing, says the following from an existential point of view:

We are all murderers and prostitutes — no matter to what culture, society, class, nation, we belong, no matter how normal, moral, or mature we take ourselves to be. Humanity is estranged from its authentic possibilities. This basic vision prevents us from taking any unequivocal view of the sanity of common sense, or of the madness of the so-called madman. … Our alientation goes to the roots. The realisation of this is the essential springboard for any serious reflection on any aspect of present inter-human life.” (p. 2 of the Introduction to The Politics of Experience, 1967).

These kinds of statements can seem shocking. So, if we are estranged as a society from our authentic possibilities, at the root alienated, then it is true for me to say that I have no wish to be normal. If our normalcy cannot be considered sane, or authentic, then I have no wish to be a participant in the creation of a hole in the heavens, or other such pursits. In my view, normalcy is a fallacy, it is a false belief, an error in argument. Normal has a kind of stasis about it, when in fact things are in flux, constantly changing. What do you think? What does “normal” mean for you. Is it a pathology? Is so called “normalcy” absurd?

Breathing Room | Mindfulness Full Stop

Breathing Room | Mindfulness Full Stop

An extra room has magically been added to your home overnight. The catch: if you add more than three items to it, it disappears. How do you use it?zafu_meditation_cushion

This is my mindfulness space. The full stop of mindfulness over distraction. Peopled only by  a cushion to sit on, with a mat below and small plant. This is where I will take my mindful meditation moments. This is literally my breathing room. What could be more important than this?

The Daily Post | Unsafe Containers | Anger

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Unsafe Containers | Anger

Which emotion(s) — joy, envy, rage, pity, or something else — do you find to be the hardest to contain?

When looking at anger as a negative emotion, we need to think whether it is beneficial. Even if it may be natural, it is important to examine it and see it’s qualities. It involves exaggerating negative qualities, or projecting such negative qualities onto a person or object, that may not be there. It also creates negative karma for us, which will bring more suffering. Further, it obscures the mind, preventing clear realisations. For these reasons amongst others, it is important to be mindful and realise when anger arises, and to try not to react out of anger. This requires discipline and needs to be done each time anger arises. As one does this, one becomes less likely to react in anger. One establishes a habit of not reacting in an angry way. In this way we become much more skillful in our interactions with others. One could say that patience is a good antidote to anger.  So when feeling anger arising, we can teach ourselves to stop and wait.