You’ll Regret It All

soren-kierkegaard

I recently came across the following quote by philosopher Soren Kierkegaard, and it really struck me as deeply true, at least for me. No matter what I choose to do or choose not to do in life, there is always a part of me that wonders if I made the right choice and won’t shut up with the “what ifs”:

“Marry, and you will regret it; don’t marry, you will also regret it; marry or don’t marry, you will regret it either way. Laugh at the world’s foolishness, you will regret it; weep over it, you will regret that too; laugh at the world’s foolishness or weep over it, you will regret both. Believe a woman, you will regret it; believe her not, you will also regret it… Hang yourself, you will regret it; do not hang yourself, and you will regret that too; hang yourself or don’t hang yourself, you’ll regret it either way; whether you hang yourself or do not hang yourself, you will regret both. This, gentlemen, is the essence of all philosophy.”

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Pagan and New Age Books I’m Reading

So full disclosure, I think I’ve become a pagan. I’m still agnostic, I don’t believe firmly in any specific deity, although I do have a belief in a kind of universal energy that exists within all things. I guess you might call it a kind of animism which is typically a pagan belief system. I don’t ascribe to Wicca specifically because it has a few too many rules for my liking, so I am definitely an eclectic pagan. I do occasionally do little nature rituals, but I do what I feel speaks to me, not just following others’ ideas. I do enjoy reading about the various Gods and Goddesses because I believe they are important archetypes of various types of energy, but I don’t necessarily see them as beings actually existing in the physical realm.

So on to the video I’m sharing for today, this is just a brief overview of a few books about pagan and new age spirituality I have been reading recently:

Things I Don’t Understand about Income Inequality

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I know income inequality has become a sensitive issue somewhat with people on both sides arguing for their point of view. I don’t mind people having different feelings about the issue and what can or should be done about it. However, there are a few key things I just don’t get when it comes to the subject. I have heard many arguments that make absolutely no sense to me and would like to share my thoughts on them…

1) First off, I want to go ahead and tackle the elephant in the room when it comes to gender income inequality. I WILL NEVER understand why more women aren’t outraged at the politicians who fight against women making the same amount of money for the same exact work. The arguments I have heard from politicians who voted against this issue were weak at best. I do not see how paying women the same pay for the same exact work affects women who want more flexible schedules or who want to work part-time. You know, some men want flexible schedules and work part-time too….but that still has NOTHING to do with people getting the same pay for the same work and the same level of education, which is the real issue in the first place!

2) I have heard the argument many, many times that “people who flip burgers” shouldn’t expect to make a real living doing it. First off, let me say this argument tends to make people sound like real elitist jerks. Now, don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with people making more money for harder work or work that takes more education. That is fine, within reason. However, I truly believe that ANYONE who works a full time job should at least make enough for the absolute necessities (food, clothing, housing, health care). Yeah, maybe people who work entry level jobs can’t expect a whole lot more than that, but everyone should at least be able to survive and take care of their family if they are out working a full time job. By the way, I’ve had many different jobs over the years and some of the fast food restaurants I worked at were HARDER WORK than the variety of other jobs I have held, including those that are considered more skilled.

3) Why are the people who say that the poor are that way because they choose to be and are uneducated, often the very same people who do everything in their power to refuse help to those who want to pursue education but can’t afford it? If you truly believe that education is the way out of poverty, why vote for people who constantly cut funding for education in all its many capacities? If you believe education is the way out of the income inequality issue, then fund it! Realize that those living in poverty may not have access to the same educational funds you have. Loans of any kind are hard to get (and pay back) when your family lives in poverty. Also, many people struggle with the ridiculous interest on student loans even if they do manage to graduate and find a job in their field. I know this first hand since my husband has a Master’s Degree in education, landed a good job and still struggles to pay back his student loans (and we live exceptionally simple lives, I don’t even own a cell phone!).

Are You a Nowhere Man? All About Biases

The Beatles "Nowhere Man"

The Beatles “Nowhere Man”

I’ve said before that I think some of the best poetry snippets can be found in song lyrics. Not every musician or group writes great or even above-average lyrics, but when they do, I like to dissect the songs and really think about them. One song I have always felt a strong kinship with is “Nowhere Man” by The Beatles. I’m not sure many people really stop to think about the song as far as philosophy goes, but I find it full of a kind of zen-like wisdom.

I think perhaps my favorite lines from the song are:

“He’s as blind as he can be
Just sees what he wants to see”

Do you know anyone like that? I know I sure do. I know people who are seemingly intelligent and caring, but are hopelessly blind to certain truths because they either don’t want to see them or because their minds are biased to a point where they can not see anything that doesn’t align with their personal beliefs. Even scientific studies have found this to be true…that our personal beliefs can affect our ability to see things clearly or even figure out simple problems.

When I used to be a foster parent, we had a class we had to take every so often that talked about how deeply bias affects us and the decisions we make, even when we are small children. A child who is biased to believe the world is cruel and unfair (from past neglect or abuse) will make their personal reality fit that view, even if their belief is not the current truth. They will see everything that they experience from that biased point of view and nothing will change their mind unless that bias changes.

I find that fascinating from a psychological point of view and have thought often of what that means when applied to human nature in general. Sometimes it rather discourages me because I understand that many people will choose to be blind or can’t help being blind to seemingly obvious truths no matter how much evidence they are given or how easily their beliefs could be disproven using logic and scientific reason. This makes me want to scream and shout in frustration sometimes. It also makes me worry about what biases I have in place that I don’t even notice. I guess the song was right when it asked, “Isn’t he a bit like you and me?”

Thank you “Fifty Shades of Grey” for making my life look great

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So today I decided to go see the Fifty Shades of Grey movie. Tuesdays are bargain day at our local theater so I figured it would be the best time to go if I bothered to see it. I didn’t want to drag my husband to the movie because he hated the Twilight series for having no plot…and the Fifty Shades series makes Twilight look downright complex. I skimmed through the first two books of the Fifty Shades series and made it about halfway through the last book, so I did have an idea of what I would be in for with the movie.

First off, let me say that some of the others who showed up for the movie kind of surprised me. As I expected, there were groups of women, a few couples and quite a few single women like me there (this is the first time I’ve gone to a theater all by myself and that was actually kind of liberating in a way). What surprised me were the few single men (because this is billed as such a “chick flick”) and the 70 & 80 year-old women who came, one of whom (an adorable little old lady) sat right beside me. For a moment I felt like I was seeing the movie with my grandmother and that kind of threw me off balance a bit!

Anyhow, as I watched the movie, it was pretty much what I expected, a somewhat tamed down version of the book. Although I do understand why many women don’t like this series and think it encourages stalking, unrealistic expectations and domestic abuse, I don’t feel quite that strongly about it because there is consent. Anastasia may seem stupid in many ways and definitely makes some questionable decisions, but she is a consenting adult. She has quite a few chances to walk away and doesn’t do so. I know she seems innocent (maybe too much so for living in today’s world) but she does know what she is getting into, especially once she is given that contract to study.

As for Mr. Grey, I can see some of why the character is appealing to some women. He is rich, good-looking, can be sweet at times and represents a sexual fantasy fairly common to both sexes (that of being dominated or dominating someone else). Those aren’t the things that bother me. He is undoubtedly somewhat stalkery and controlling…but again, Anastasia’s character chooses to allow that to have him in her life. What truly bothers me about Mr. Grey’s character is how he is so messed up from his own abusive history that he wants to actually hurt women. He wants to cause pain. To me, there is nothing sexy about that. I know that there are those who like the BDSM lifestyle and enjoy a certain amount of pain…but I doubt that most true BDSM practitioners would want to cause pain to someone who clearly does not enjoy it or go beyond their partner’s pain threshold. I can see why the BDSM community hates this portrayal of their sexual fetishes.

As the movie neared its end I was surprised to see women in the audience around me crying. I sat there and wondered why they were crying. Were they frustrated and annoyed like me because Anastasia wouldn’t just say the safe word or yell stop? Were some of them victims of abuse in the past and this triggered that as they saw Anastasia cry miserably in pain? Were they simply feeling sad that Grey’s character was so messed up emotionally? Did they feel for Anastasia’s character, who clearly felt humiliated and heartbroken because the man she loved carried so much pain that he had to make others feel that pain? After the credits started, I heard cries of “is that it?” and “what the heck?” from others in the theater. Guess they hadn’t read the books.

As I got in my car and drove home, the main feeling I had was that I am so THANKFUL to have a husband who is not emotionally or mentally messed up like that. I’m glad that my husband has never once wanted to hurt or humiliate me. In fact, if anything, he would do anything in his power to prevent me pain or to take it away when I am suffering. So thank you Mr. Grey. You made my husband look even more wonderful and made me deeply thankful for what I have. You made me realize how strong I am because I never would have put up with your crap in the first place (had I been Anastasia that would have been one short book!). In the end, I guess fantasies are ok and maybe fun to indulge in to an extent, but nothing beats a good reality!

A few thoughts on creativity

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I am obsessed with the idea of creativity. Visual arts, dance, poetry, music, drama…I love it all. Creativity is magic to me. It is the divine spark of life, the one thing that makes us most like God. It can be scary because there are no absolutes in creation – no right or wrong – just expression and opinion. Although frightening, the lack of concrete rules brings freedom. I feel most like myself when I am creating, but it is hard to get to that spot because I have to wade through all my self-doubts and perfectionistic worries to get there.

Sometimes I wish I could just shut my brain down long enough to jump straight into that magical, mystical creative flow. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. I have to fight my way through the mental blocks that I have created. I have to tear the walls down if I want to reach that sweet spot on the other side. I don’t always succeed, but when I do, I finally find that peace with myself that I always seem to be searching for. It makes me think that maybe the bliss of finding and entering my creative center is actually a reward for having the guts and determination to press on through my own internal resistance. Or maybe I am just a head case. Either way, I will keep trying to find my way back to that paradise where anything is possible.

Are printed books really endangered?

With the advent and increasing popularity of ebooks, many doomsday prophets are now proclaiming that printed books will quickly meet their demise. I have heard experts claim that within the next 50 years, traditional books are destined to go the way of vinyl records. They might be used for decoration or sought out by collectors, but other than that, books as we have always known them will be obsolete.

Is this true? I hate to think so. Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not one of those purists who believe that ereaders are evil or anything, in fact I own a Kindle myself, but I still prefer the feel of a real book in my hands. Maybe I am old-fashioned or sentimental, but nothing will ever feel the same to me as flipping the pages of a new book.

I don’t really want to live in a world where the only place I can buy books is Amazon either. I like the convenience and wide diversity of internet bookstores, but I would much rather browse a brick and mortar store. I could literally spend hours in a cozy bookstore reading area. I prefer to sit down and try a book out before I buy it. Plus, in the bookstore I get to snoop around to see what other people are reading and get in some people watching, which happen to be two of my favorite pastimes.

As an author, I can also attest to the fact that there is nothing like holding your own book in your hands. I have had both ebooks and traditional books published, and the ebooks don’t elicit near the excitement from myself or others as the handheld ones do. This fact gives me hope for the future of traditional literature. What about you? Do you think that printed books are on their last leg? If so, will you consider it a great loss?