Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Mo’s Gonna Retire…

April 9, 2010

          Sad Stars game last night, it appears likely that Mike Modano is going to retire, along with Lehtinen, and probably Turco will be waived in the off-season. They certainly made a big enough deal out of it in the production of the game to suggest that. Pretty awkward in the case of Turco, since there has only been rumor that he will be waived or traded, but last night they basically ceremonialized his departure. Kudos to him for grinning and bearing it so as not to take away from Mo & Lehtinen’s moment, he did not seem very comfortable with the situation.

          A slideshow of photos and video of Modano, Lehtinen and Turco ran until the game started. Mo got a standing ovation when he came out for the pre-skate, then again when he was announced in the lineup, then around midway through the third period he got another standing ovation when he was shown on the jumbotron sitting on the bench. All the players on the ice and Anaheim’s bench stopped and clapped or tapped their sticks on the ice, and Modano shed a few tears and waved to the crowd.

          Pretty touching moment, I think it’s safe to say that outside of Roger Staubach, Mike Modano is our most beloved metroplex athlete, eclipsing even Troy Aikman or Emmitt Smith. If it turns out that last night was his last homegame, it was a fitting end, I mean besides the failed run for the playoffs.

          Modano & Lehtinen assisted Jamie Benn’s goal to tie the game at 1-1, then Mo tied the game with 1:47 left in regulation on a beautiful (if questionable) deflection of Trevor Daley’s shot to tie the game at 2-2.  Overtime came and went and in the Shootout, Brad Richards, representing the young new blood of the Dallas Stars, gets stonewalled on the first shot.  Turco stones the Duck’s shooter, then Mo scores the deciding goal with a wicked top left corner snap-shot that rang off the crossbar (I highly recommend a listen to the broadcast HERE), then his friend and co-possible-retiree Jere Lehtinen scored the clincher, and his friend and co-not-gonna-be-here-next-year-guy Marty Turco stoned both Duck’s shooters for a Stars win.

          Beautiful end brought to you by 3 guys who gave a lot to this city, another reason I feel like Mo will retire, it’s hard to imagine a higher note to go out on.

          In any sport it’s an incredibly rare thing for a career spanning 20 plus years to be played entirely with one franchise. It’s difficult to quantify the loyalty that requires, Modano has been one of the most sought after players in the NHL since he stepped on the ice in 1989 and since he scored 50 goals in his first year in Dallas. He is also single handedly responsible for hockey in the South. The Stars success in Dallas lays solely at his feet, and that success is the reason for the existence of teams like Atlanta, Carolina, Florida, Tampa Bay and Phoenix.  The game of hockey and the people of Dallas owe him a debt of grattitude.

          My good friend and old teammate Danny and I got pretty good seats for the game last night, and I am grateful to have been there it was a very special event.  Lots of tears in the audience, including Danny who openly wept in a high pitched voice.  I ran through a lot of memories – my first game in 94 (Vs Vancouver when Bure was in his prime), the ref at their open practices who appeared to be 4 ft tall, the late 90’s Playoffs series’ Vs the Oilers, the 99 Playoff series Vs the Avalanche, the 99 Stanley Cup win, the Parade, the 2000 Stanley Cup loss, The Olympics, on the glass for two of his hat tricks, his 1000th point game, All-Star Games.  From 1998 to 2002 I watched almost every Stars game, I missed less than 20 I would guesstimate.  He was always the most exciting player on the ice to watch, maybe a tie with Federov as the best skater the game has ever seen, and he’s the highest scoring American player of all time.  Say it ain’t so Mo!  It makes me sick to my stomach to imagine the team without the guy.

          Not to ignore Lehtinen, who also spent his entire carreer with the Stars since he was drafted in 1995, and is a perennial Selke award winner/nominee and widely considered the best and most consistent defensive forward ever to play.  Lehtinen and Modano are the only two players left from the 99 Stanley Cup team, they will be sorely missed.

          On a more positive note, Danny tells me there is talk of Modano, Hull and Gretzky forming a group that will buy the Dallas Stars from the embattled current owner Tom Hicks. 

          I hope it’s not your last game fellas, but if it is THANK YOU for everything. Two more years!!

Quantum Physics & God

August 15, 2008

I wish I could go back to college to get another degree, and if I could I’d study quantum physics.  Or acting. 

I want to pretend to be qualified for a moment and talk about the concept of God and how it applies to our physical world, and the nature of our reality and consciousness.  I’ve always felt like Science and God were conflicting ideals, until I come to infinity, at which point my brain reboots.

Right now there are scientists all across America and the rest of the world in their small labs, looking through their sophisticated machiness at particles that are popping in and out of existence, or existing in different places at the same time, existing in all places at the same time.  They can show you an object that you can see with your naked eye that looks like two small patches of light, but really are the SAME piece of matter existing in two different places at the SAME time!  How is this possible???  Where are these particles going in the instants they pop out of existence?  One of the speculations is that they are popping into other dimensions, where the 2 dimensional people on the other side are saying “where the hell did they go??” when they pop back into our dimension.  Seriously.

There is a famous experiment in the world of quantum physics called the Double Slit Experiment, that is a cornerstone of the whole science.  I’m no Bill Nye so if I explain this poorly or boringly, please be gentle.

Researchers took two metal plates, one with a single slit in it and one with two slits. They set up the plates one at a time in front of a screen, then they randomly fired Electrons, tiny particles of matter, through the plate and recorded the patterns on the screen.

Looks like this

 

 

Imagine you are at the fair playing that game that has the machine gun BB guns that fire a thousand BB’s in like 30 seconds, and they place a plate in front of you with a single slit in it for you to shoot through. Firing randomly, a lot of the BB’s will bounce back at you and shoot your eye out, but the ones that make it through will create a pattern on the wall behind the plate, in the shape of the slit. Set up the plate with 2 slits, and the pattern behind it will be in the shape of 2 slits.  Like This

Electrons, particles of matter, behave just like BB’s. 

Now, wave particles, like Photons of light, behave differently. Using water as an example, if you stand the single slit plate into water and splash a wave at it, the wave will come through the slit in a single, semi-circular wave pattern, where most of the intensity is at the tip of the wave, directly in line with the slit.

Like This

 

The image it creates on the screen is similar to the single slit outline of particles of matter, with one intense band at the center.

Like this

 

 

But place the double slit plate in the water now and splash a wave towards it, and the wave comes through the two slits as two waves. When the tip of a wave touches the bottom of another wave, they cancel each other out, creating a criss crossing pattern in the water where the waves are most intense at the points where they cross.

Like This

 

So rather than 2 distinct outlines of the slits appearing on the screen behind, like with particles of matter, you get a pattern of interference, several lines of decreasing intensity from the center that looks like this

 

 

This is the behaviour of waves

Bare with me, I know this is totally textbookish and if you are like me your ADD kicked in at hello, but I promise it has a big payoff.

In the experiment, when they fired electrons at the single slit plate, the pattern on the screen was consistent with the shape of the slit. The particles behaved the way they were supposed to. 

But when they fired electrons through the double slit plate, instead of a matter pattern of two outlines of the slits, like this

 they got an interferance wave pattern, like this

which meant the particles of matter were behaving like wave particles.  Matter was existing as itself AND a wave structure simultaneously.  How??  How can pieces of matter behave like a wave? 

Researchers thought, ok, all of those electrons must be bouncing off of each other to create this pattern, and so they reset, and this time fired one electron at a time through the slits, ruling out any possibility they could interfere with each other.  But after a couple of hours of this, the same interferance pattern emerged.

The conclusion?  The single particle leaves the electron gun, snaps out of existence, becomes a wave of potentials, travels through BOTH slits, criss-crosses itself and creates a wave pattern.  Reboot…………….  But mathematically things get even wierder, because the formulas show that the particle goes through both of the slits, neither of the slits, just one of the slits, just the other slit, and all of these possibilities are occuring simultaneously.

Baffled as the researchers were, they decided to see exactly which slit the electron could be travelling through, and so they set up a measuring device to watch one slit.

Hence the astounding discovery of the Double Slit Experiment.  When they set up the measuring device, THE ELECTRON WENT BACK TO BEHAVING LIKE MATTER.  It no longer created an interference pattern, and instead the pattern emerged in the shape of the two slits, as it should have all along.

This means that the mere act of OBSERVING the electron, meant it only went through one or the other slit. 

I’ll say that again.  THE ONLY CHANGE WAS THE ADDITION OF A CONSCIOUS OBSERVER.  Consciousness caused an observable, materialized change in the experiment.  In other words, the observer created matter out of thin air.

It’s not that the particle determined intelligently that it was being observed, but rather the observer brought it into existence in it’s current state, it did not have a 3 dimensional existence before it was observed. The wave patterns are caused by probabilities, and the particle is existing in all possible states at all possible positions at all times, until it is observed by a consciousness, at which point it snaps into our dimension, it’s wave structure collapses and it goes from a probability to an actuality.  Your perception causes this and it is measurable.  “All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force which brings the particle of an atom to vibration and holds this most minute solar system of the atom together. We must assume behind this force, the existence of a conscious and intelligent mind. This mind is the matrix of all matter.”  ~ Max Planck

If that does not make your heart flutter then maybe you are not fully understanding.  It proves that your consciousness has a physical effect on your environment & reality.  It means that if a tree falls in the woods and there is noone around to hear it, no consciousness not even a squirrel, it does not make a sound.

So what is Consciousness?  I don’t mean your thoughts and feelings and memories and loves and favorites, etc., but your core awareness, your “be”-ing.  We have lost much of our connection with this level of our being because it’s clouded by the conditioned thought processes we develop as a survival instinct, the Ego.  But make no mistake about it, your consciousness collapses energy into form, it holds reality together, and we are all plugged into the same one, filtering it through our own nervous system and senses.  Hence individual experience. 

You are a reality receptor, causing form wherever you look, smell, taste or hear.  You touch your skin and feel like it’s solid but it is not.  You are composed of tiny vibrating strings of energy and matter, infintitely small particles.  On Plank’s Scale you’re talking about one millionth of a billionth of a billionth of a billionth of a centimeter.  But we are made up of atoms so powerful that they cannot penetrate each other, the same atoms that exist on the surface of the Sun and of Jupiter and the North Star.  And, since an atom is almost entirely a vaccuum, your body is literally a vaccuum. If you could see yourself from the 4th dimension, you might see giant bright beams of creation projecting from your body, from your eyes and ears, your toungue and your skin.  These particles that are floating freely through every dimension, are snapping into your dimension using your senses as a vehicle.  Carl Sagan said: “We are a way for the Universe to know itself.

If consciousness is the creator, is consciousness God?

Not any of the anthropomorphic, caring or vengeful Gods of tradition, but a completely different concept of God, more like “a metaphor for that which trancends all levels of intellectual thought” as Joseph Campbell once put it.  Basically the essence of everything, the next realm, the ultimate unintelligent intelligence that we are all plugged into like computers on a network.  Whatever you want to call it, we all feel the connection intuitively but can’t describe it, though everybody tries.  But that feeling of connection has a very real, and mostly provable reason.    

Quantum physics suggests extraordinarily precisely that everything, EVERYTHING, all matter, electricity, waves, life, empty space, planets, galaxies, nebulae, quarks, peptides, Scott Bakula, it’s all connected by a Unified Field, the core of everything.  Physicists also call this Super String Theory.

Consider Quantum Entanglement.  Two electrons that are created together are “entangled”.  Say you hang on to one of them, and put the other on the opposite side of the universe, a vast, infinite and incomprehensible distance.  Now, if you make a change to one of those particles, the same happens to the other one INSTANTANEOUSLY.  What this means is that either information is travelling infinitely fast across space & time, OR… they are still connected.  And since, theoretically, everything was created together, or entangled, in the instant of the Big Bang – EVERYTHING IS STILL CONNECTED.

You are connected at the core of your being with the smallest star in the smallest corner of our universe.  Space is only a construct, the matrix of our 3rd dimension that gives the illusion of seperation, and our experience is limited to this dimension.  I don’t mean “outer space”, I mean SPACE, like the percieved distance between you and me, or between your face and your computer screen. There is a very real, physical connection between your face and your computer screen right now, and between you and me for that matter.  Or as Bob Schneider would sing, “Seperation exists not in your love filled heart, but only in your mind…”

I feel like I should probably temper this blog with a little healthy skepticism.  I am of course not a quantum physicist, so I am relating to you information that I have learned second hand and without an ideal foundation for understanding it.  Unified Field Theory is still just a theory at this point (it is minutely possible it could be tested after they turn on the Super Hedron Collider this Fall), and Quantum Mathematics can describe only probabilities, not real events, though it can describe things and make these predictions extraordinarily accurately.  I have generally heard it called the most accurate science for describing the nature of the universe that we have ever developed.  I have also heard it called the Science of God.

Einstein hated Quantum theory, and spent a lot of time trying to debunk it.  Most people have heard his famous quote that “God does not play dice with the Universe”, he was referring to Quantum Mechanics.  It conflicts with his Theory of Relativity to a degree that they cannot both be true.   Yet, mathematically, both theories work and can make accurate predictions.

In the First or Second century, the Astronomer Ptolemy had an “Aha!” moment, and declared that the universe was governed by circles and that the Sun, planets & stars revolved around the Earth in uninterruptable circles.  Then star-gazers said “wait a minute, what about the retrograde motion of some planets, where they appear to go backwards in their orbits??” and Ptolemy said “uhhhmmm that’s because there are circles within the circles!” and then star gazers said “Wait a minute, what about the stationary position of the North star and this, that and the other thing” at which point Ptolemy shouted “I am above the law!!”

The thing is, under Ptolemy’s system of circles, the mathematics worked.  You could make accurate predictions about the motions of celestial objects using Ptolemy’s geocentric circular model of the universe.  And of course, his model was utterly wrong.

What does this mean about science?  I’m not really sure.  I am fairly certain that quantum physics is a much more sophisticated theory, and has been tested by much more sophisticated equipment than Ptolemy had access to (sticks, flatbreads, witches, etc.).  Sciences are created to describe the world around us, it must be a challenge to resist the tendency to square your results with your own narrow view.  But, regardless of the efforts of the likes of Einstein, Max Planck, Niels Bohr, Erwin Schrodinger and others to discredit quantum theory (Planck, who was actually the father of quantum theory!), it has only been further cemented by experimentation & research.  And you can just feel it in your bones… not that that proves anything.

Can’t you?  Maybe not.  Maybe not yet!  Any Quantum Physicists or amatuers out there who could chime in?

I Love You

June 9, 2008

Love & Ego

            I don’t really believe in love, not in the romantic sense.  I used to be a big sloppy romantic, fully believed love was a magical force, thought I had a soul mate, that our souls would be intertwined in the clouds, loved all people, thought I was way awesomer than the cynics who just hadn’t experienced real love like I had.  Especially in high school, holy moly.  I read back over the whiny, dramatic 20 page love letters I wrote to my girlfriend when she lived in France and I’m like, merde. 

            Love has always been a pretty abstract notion and kind of evolved as I grew up and different hormones took hold, and different needs asserted themselves.  I think the way we experience love is through the humble fulfillment by others of our most basic needs, which are well defined by Maslow’s Heirarchy – food, warmth, safety, etc. and later sex (or procreation).  But the older we get, the more we become a product of our environment, and these needs become disguised by conditioned thought processes, which our ego creates as a way of dealing with society’s constant demand for us to justify ourselves.  For example, when I go in to buy a new suit and the salesman says “special occasion?” my response would not typically be “nope, I’m trying to have sex and not die,” and that probably wouldn’t even occur to me although it would be the ultimate truth.  I need the suit to look nice for work, so I can pay my bills and provide for my family, so I can eat food and drink water, and be worthy of having sex with. 

            So far in my own head, I haven’t found a single thought, feeling or need that I couldn’t reduce to those two primal motivations – survival and procreation…. ego & sex.  Even love.  It took me a long time to begin to concede this to myself, because I feel like it makes real unselfish love unachievable.  It is impossible to give pure love because I’ll always feel or understand some selfish motivation. 

            I had a discussion several weeks ago with friends where I claimed that while John McCain was laying on a urine soaked cot with a broken back for 6 years at the Hanoi Hilton, he probably had some time to think in between beatings.  And it had to have occurred to him that if he made it out alive he would have one hell of a story to tell.  In fact, it had to have occurred to him that he could build a political career on his military record and sacrifice.  In a way I was testing a theory, because I was already pretty sure what their reaction would be, and indeed it did strike a little indignation in my friends.  It may have struck the same note in me were I not the one making the argument, because the first impression is that I am accusing the great John McCain of orchestrating his military record with a political future as the goal, and then pimping his POW story for sympathy votes.  But the flaw is, you have to assume that to understand that you might benefit in some way, negates the selflessness of the act.  But those thoughts are a part of the natural psychological structure of all people of relative mental health, aren’t they?  To set a frame for this discussion, I am referring only to people of normal mental health.

            If I run into a burning building to rescue babies, there is a part of me that already knows I’ll be called a hero.  If I write this essay, I maybe feel like it could be a contribution, but there is also the part of me that wants people to read this and think I am smart.  Not that these things would be my prime motivation, but that side of me always has input.  It’s my ego and it’s impossible for me to escape from.  It’s the human manifestation of survival instinct. 

            There is a sports radio DJ in Dallas named Gordon Keith who is greatness, and he always talks about how people, especially childhood through college people, live life in their heads like they are the star of their own movie.  That has always rung true to me, and it’s a helpful analogy for understanding my own psyche.  From the time we are old enough to understand language, our reality is conditioned by traditional storytelling.  For the 20th Century human, this phenomenon has been amplified by the invention of movies.  I’ve been a moviegoer since I was an infant, I can relate events in my life to movie scenes, I create my own storyline, rock a soundtrack to it sometimes, I’ve even presented movie lines as my own thoughts.  Think about just the way that you see things, and how a camera’s lens is designed to mimic that.  Look at something and wobble your head side to side for a shaky cam effect.  Now put some music to it.  I cannot count how many times I have, for example, sat on a train watching a girl or the scenery with my ipod on, and feeling like Ethan Hawke in Before Sunrise or some other story I’ve romantically connected my reality to. 

            This is why that guy in the 70’s said “the Beatles wrote the soundtrack to our lives.”  This is why we can’t all just get along.  Every one is busy writing their tragedies (thanks Imogen) and victories, so we have to have an antagonist and if there is none, we create one.  This is the reason we have war.  The evolution of this behavior probably came about from a combination of survival instincts and sheer boredom, and out of this behavior, probably evolved religion.  That’s just my opinion.

           Pre-movie humans of course lived their lives as if they were a character in a book, or the stories they were told, and so on.  It’s part of human nature to dramatize our experiences.  Think of a drama queen that you know, and think of a time that their behavior looked completely foolish to you.  I was at a great party in Houston once with Candice, when a person she knows who is a noted drama queen walked up looking panicked and said, “Is there a hospital in Lewisville?!??” then hustled off before we could say “uhhhh.”  She obviously didn’t need an answer, she just wanted to be sure we knew that she had something important enough going on to warrant a hospital’s involvement. 

            You know someone like this.  Now confess that you have behaved in exactly the same way in your life, likely not to the same degree or with the same frequency, but you sir/madam, have been a drama queen. 

            The movie is my ego, trying to keep me alive by giving my character dramatic purpose.  My goal is to be the director instead of an audience member. 

            I can’t scrap my ego altogether, it is here to stay.  I can, however, learn to recognize its face, and then I can start to recognize the same behaviors in the people around me, that I have already identified in myself as ego. Then, with practice, I can do this more and more until its control over my consciousness dissolves.  If I am oblivious to my ego, it has control over me and my motivations, but if I can be aware of it, like a witness sitting at the back of my head watching what is going on at the front, it dissolves, it ceases to be me because I have identified it and its purpose, almost like a body part, like how my liver is there for metabolization, and I can think of it in that context. 

            In this state of mind, I am a much more capable giver.

            In Alice in Wonderland, Alice is offered a metaphorical choice: Eat this cookie and you’ll continue down the same path, knowing the same things, but eat THIS cookie and the world will be revealed as you did not know it existed.  Ok there’s a little drug symbolism there, but it is also meant as a symbol of the choice people make to acknowledge reality and reason in their thoughts, no matter how painful or confusing.  The same metaphor and philosophy is in The Matrix.  Take the blue pill and you will carry on with life as before, take the red pill, and you will be unplugged from the machine that has been feeding you false sensory information your entire life (the ego, and it’s willingness to trick the mind).  You’ll see how deep the rabbit hole goes.  I mention these examples only to say that this philosophy in it’s different forms is ubiquitous in human culture.

            Aristotle called this “the examined life” and Oprah’s guru Eckhart Tolle calls it being “present,” the stillness behind your thoughts.  The inner dialogue, not your feelings.  If you are asking yourself “what inner dialogue?”  It’s that one.  And once you really identify and separate the inner dialogue, then you have to train yourself to be honest with it. 

            Part of that honesty is also admitting you are as big an idiot as anyone or bigger, which is both liberating and terrifying.  This began in me as tremendous feelings of inadequacy and lack of self confidence.  My mom was brilliant, beautiful and a minor local radio celebrity when I was growing up, and my sister was beautiful and a straight A student, while I was getting my ass kicked on the playground, scaring girls and failing Art.  The cool things that other people accomplished seemed only available to me as ideas of myself that were pretty much unattainable because I am so hapless in my daily life, and no one cared enough to stick a microphone in front of me or present me with an award.  I have since learned that this is a form of persecution mania that much of the world experiences, especially today because of the huge role of media in the hourly life of the modern human, and the counter-realistic fantasy world it creates. 

            I still feel just as hapless, the difference is that now I know that you are hapless too.  Once you really understand that everyone is going through basically the same experience, just in different phases at different times from each other – that it is the HUMAN condition – everything changes and the reality you had been living in vanishes.  You might first feel a little depressed as you begin to identify with the bums and the dregs, and then you realize that the corollary is true, that the top tiers of society are the same, and were just as likely to be the bums.  Everyone you ever had on a pedestal is a whimpering, pants pooping, wallet losing dork, just like you.  We are the all singing, all dancing crap of the world.  Bob Dylan would say, “Even the President of the United States sometimes must have to stand naked”.

            Tolle’s book A New Earth is part of Oprah’s book club, which makes my ego whisper in my ear that I’m gay.  It’s been written off as a cult & new age philosophy but it isn’t, and in fact it’s not even new age.  It’s similar to Gnosticism.  Bertrand Russell wrote about it in the 30’s in The Conquest of Happiness, the idea that we must let go of the dogma and influences of our environment and peers that have comforted and controlled us since birth, to discover what truly makes us happy, rather than what our loved ones, concerned with our well-being, have surmised should make us happy.  Freud created psychoanalysis.  Shakespeare, Socrates, Epictetus, just to name only a fraction of the thinkers and writers on this idea.  The Socratic Method is modeled after your inner dialogue. These days it is becoming something like a new religion, rooted in psychology rather than superstition, and using reason to attempt to define the connection we all feel.  We are to break the shackles of our conditioned thought processes, the “blueprint for dysfunction that every human being carries within: the ego” – to live in reality and by laws of intellectual honesty, to the betterment of all (Tolle, New Earth Pg. 13).  This is the true meaning of the expression “Know Thyself,” because the selfish impulse is ever-present and always trying to take over the wheel.

            And so I’m pretty convinced that most people have already had, or are on the road to having this experience at some point in their lives.  I have heard it called an awakening, but that seems a little patronizing to me.  Really it’s more of a change in consciousness, and I think it is part of the natural progression of the human experience, just not everyone is there at the same time, and some never make it.  When I read people’s accounts of their transformations, they always appear similar, and the shift is usually traceable to a singular event in their lives.  In Greek Classical literature it was called Anagnorisis and Peripeteia; Anagnorisis being the moment when the hero gains a sudden awareness of the way things really are, and Peripeteia being his resulting radical transformation of perspective. 

           People live life as the sum total of their conditioned thought processes – I feel scared, therefore danger is everywhere; I want sex all the time, I must be a pervert;  people don’t treat me with the same importance I see others treated, I must be worth less than they are.  Until one day something gives them a peek behind the curtain – an insightful article, a personal realization, a song, a conversation.  They begin to hear through the static to the primal scream that is audible just behind our thoughts and, armed with this knowledge, they begin to see through not just their own behavior, but the behaviors of everyone else as well, and from then on they walk around like Roddy Piper in They Live after he finds the sunglasses. 

            A side effect of this realization is the ability to forgive everyone for everything, because no one feels comfortable disliking themselves.           

            This essay is not to say that all is vanity, and that personal gain is the only underlying motivation.  But if I am to do anything out of real love, then I have to first identify my own stake in it, my own urge to gain from it, and attempt to transcend that at least by acknowledging it.  Otherwise it’s just a card trick my brain is playing on me, and I am training myself to be intellectually dishonest.   I can sit here telling myself, “I love my wife so much!” and that feels real to me, and I feel good about myself and I know that I want happiness for her and how I would be tortured if something happened to her, etc. etc., and to me that feels like I am giving love.  But what does Candice feel when I feel that?  Does my abstract thought translate to love that she can feel?  Of course not.  Therefore, what I am feeling is not love.  It is a thought, it’s only perceptible to me and it only matters to me. If I tell myself that I love my fellow man, and then blow off dividing my recycling, or throw my wrapper on the ground for someone else to deal with, well then I don’t really do I?  Really what I’m feeling could just be called affection.

            Tom Wilkinson has this great line in Last Kiss, he says: “Stop talking about love. Every a-hole in the world says he loves somebody. It means nothing. It still doesn’t mean anything. What you feel only matters to you. It’s what you do to the people you say you love, that’s what matters. It’s the only thing that counts.”  I always see this quote in Facebook profiles, it probably sums up love for a lot of people.  Love = Labor. 

            My ego tries to tell me I am showing love by merely feeling it.  It is a trick that is mostly transparent to others, but not to me.  I feel like a good person, I feel love for everyone I meet, I want good things for people, I have good will towards men, women, children and animals.  That’s all great for me, but what about you?  If I can’t make a conscious effort to physically put goodness into the world around me, then I’ve proven only that I love myself.  In fact, that attitude in me makes things worse for you, because if you aren’t in my monkeysphere, you don’t really exist.  I have missed the trashcan with my wadded paper, walked on by and thought to myself, “Someone else will pick that up for me, I can’t be bothered to bend over.”  This is only a minor infraction to be sure, but I’m certain if I had kept a list I’d have hundreds of the same type instances on it, each time no doubt someone having to pick up my slack.  Not proud to admit it, maybe I don’t realize it when I do it.  I think that is the point of making an effort to be “present.”  Were I present, my inner dialogue might have gone like this:

Casey: “Someone else will pick that up for me, and I can’t be bothered to bend over.”

Me: “Really dude?”

Casey: “Well what?  I bought a candle from that charity at work, I’m still a good person?”

Me: “What difference does that make?” 

Casey: “Maybe.”

Me: “Do you love your fellow man?”

Casey: “Of course!”

Me: “But you can’t be bothered to bend over?”

Casey: “Good point, I’ll pick it up”

            People tend to give themselves a pass for various reasons.  Like a get out of jail free card.  Beyond myself, I notice a good example of this in some people who consider themselves religious.  Their mere attendance at church exempts them from good behavior in their daily lives, because they have already assigned themselves a virtuousness that they haven’t really earned yet.  It isn’t necessarily a conscious decision.  At Church they feel great about who they are and when they get home they are gossiping, cheating, lying, placing themselves at the center of the solar system, sabotaging people to get what they want, but not realizing they are doing it.  Even feeling righteous.  It isn’t that people are evil, I’m not sure I even believe in evil in that simplified sense.  It’s that we know not what we do.  And even if we do know on some level, our ego is busy disguising or justifying it to us.   

            I’ve heard it said that you have to train and exercise your love like it’s a muscle, by making good habits.  You’ve got to build your love muscle (that’s what she said).  Let people in front of you in traffic.  Pick up trash.  Compliment your friends to other people while they aren’t around.  Compliment random people every single day.  Resist laughing at racist jokes.  Make decisions that will benefit others.  The next time anyone asks you for a bite of your breakfast taco, give them half of it.  If someone is cold, give them your shirt, even if it means you’ll now be cold.  But act like you are toasty.  And get out of there before they can thank you.  Not all the time, just try to remember.  Goodness multiplies, people get the idea and there is a better chance that they’ll pay it forward I think.  Some day it comes back to you or the ones you love.  Then in just a few short weeks, utopia.  

            I need a lot of work at love.  I am trying to be a better person and be more self-aware.  Anyone else out there had/having the same experiences?  These things square with my sense of reason, so I feel like it’s the truth, but I don’t want to give the impression that I think I know anything.  What do you think about it?

John McCain loves you

I would never die for my beliefs, because I might be wrong.”

~ Bertrand Russell