Poetry: Sleeping Angels

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Sleeping Angels
By: Maranda Russell

Sleeping angels
are drawn in peaceful beauty –
their ephemeral wings
tucked in tight,
their eyes closed
in gentle repose,
and their chubby palms
cupped beneath rosy cheeks –

but ask yourself
as you turn away,
what happens to their charges
while they slumber on the job?

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I am an Emotional Writer

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I am an emotional writer. I write from whatever my current point of view and mood dictates. Often my writing may be entirely contradictory or may not even represent my general consensus on a given subject, but is instead a snapshot of a moment in time.

Reading through my journal entries and blog posts may appear to be a debate between various personalities – and in a sense, perhaps it is. No, I do not suffer from some sort of multiple personality disorder, but I use writing to discover and decipher my own jumbled thoughts and feelings. When I start writing, I often don’t know exactly where it is going to go, what the end result will be, or what I will learn along the way, but that is part of the magic of the creative process.

Please keep in mind when reading this blog, that what is being presented is often unfiltered, barely edited, stream-of-consciousness prose that represents only a momentary glimpse of my overall experience of life. If you dislike what I write today, stick around, because you just might love what I write tomorrow!

What I Believe, Do Not Believe, and Am Unsure About

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Like many others with Aspergers and OCD traits, I enjoy making lists and organizing my thoughts in a linear fashion on paper. While flipping through an old notebook, I found the following lists of “What I Believe”, “What I Do Not Believe”, and “What I Am Unsure Of”, and thought I would share it just for fun. Since I am not religious anymore, I made this list to try to figure out and pinpoint what I personally believe or no longer believe.

What I Believe

  • There is probably some kind of all-encompassing spirit or energy in the universe. Whether that energy is conscious and/or aware can be argued.
  • There is an inter-connectedness of all things.
  • I believe in the power and goodness of love, kindness, and forgiveness.
  • I believe in the power and strength of nature.

What I Do Not Believe

  • Any form of religious dogma. It is ALL man-made.
  • I do not believe that any human or religion has all the answers, no matter how much they think they do.
  • I do not believe in eternal punishment or “hell”.
  • I do not believe that everyone needs to or should follow the same path.

What I Am Unsure Of

  • Are there any Gods or Goddesses in any form?
  • Is there an afterlife? Are ghosts, hauntings, or reincarnation real?
  • Are there other “realms”? For example, do fairies, aliens, alternate realities, mythical monsters, etc. exist in this current reality or any other?
  • Is there such a thing as a personal soul? If so, do only humans have them, or all living beings? Can a non-organic being (like Artificial Intelligence) have or develop a “soul”?

5 Important Questions to Ask Yourself!

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Here are a few important questions to ask yourself about your purpose and meaning in life! For fun, I have provided my own answers to them as an example! If you do answer these, I would recommend taking the time to write them down, think about them carefully, and be as honest as you can!

  1. What is your life work? My Answer: Writing, sharing ideas and emotions, creating art, advocating for and comforting others with autism, mental illness, and chronic pain/illness.
  2. What is the meaning of your life? What gives you purpose? My Answer: Inspiring others (kids, fellow Aspies, those with disabilities, other outsiders). Loving family, friends, and animals (loyalty).
  3. What is your passion? My Answer: Writing, spirituality, philosophy, psychology, toys, books, animals, art, creativity.
  4. What does the world lose if I wasn’t here? My Answer: A child-like, loving heart and spirit. Loss of inspiration and creativity. The loss of a voice crying out for justice and harmony. Loss of a unique thinker.
  5. What would it take to begin fully living my dreams today? My Answer: Time, the willingness to fail or be ridiculed, the possibility of being proven wrong, unwavering belief in myself, trust in what is meant to be, hope.

Dark Thoughts Inspired by Dostoevsky’s “Notes from Undergound”

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I’m currently reading Dostoevsky’s novel “Notes from Underground”, which is a somewhat satirical, but also brutally honest look at the shadow side that exists within us all, whether we would like to admit it or not. As I have been reading, I have found many ways that I can see a glimmer of myself within the neurotic narrator.

For example, like the character telling the story in the book, I too have often considered myself more intelligent and consciously aware than much of humanity. This sounds like pure narcissism, and perhaps it is in a sense, although I have often thought that at least the “awareness” part of it is not something we are born with (like IQ), but something that can be cultivated. However, not many take the time to truly question their own beliefs, motives, philosophies, and the nature of reality itself. To be fair, I often wonder if those people who are more shallow or less intelligent aren’t actually more happy. Attempting to take an unbiased, penetrating look into yourself, the world, and others isn’t exactly always comforting.

Another commonality I share with the storyteller is that I can relate to his feelings of underachievement and difficulty rising to the standards he believes he should. When all your life you have been praised for your IQ, your talents, or your “potential”, it can feel like you are letting yourself and the world down when you settle for a seemingly “mediocre” or “average” life. Perhaps that results from the naive child in us who is told that they can achieve “anything”, and therefore, dreams of fame, wealth, and adoration…and then is horribly disappointed to see none of it come to fruition.

I can also relate to the narrator’s sheer spite in wanting to annoy or derail other people (especially certain people who are annoying themselves) and in taking a strange sort of pleasure in suffering. At times, do I moan and groan for my own satisfaction?  Is there not a perverse side of me that likes to “play” with the nerves of another, much like a cat plays with a mouse? Is it not fun sometimes to watch another explode in childish frustration and throw an adult tantrum? Are we not all ornery instigators at times?

Lastly, like the narrator, I have to ask myself, deep down, do I genuinely care for and about others? Sure, I don’t wish anyone harm or suffering, nor do I go out of my way to taunt others normally, but do I truly want to sacrifice for others? Am I willing to disrupt my own comfort to improve another’s lot, or would I more truthfully rather keep others at a distance to avoid the inconvenience humans always bring?

Many humans seem to be rather shallow in thought and reflection, but they are no different in basic selfishness. Perhaps to my own detriment, I do dig for the selfish roots within myself and expose them to scrutiny, which may be unusual behavior, but I am convinced that others have the same roots, just hiding far down in the shade and often not brought to light. From that, perhaps, stems my reluctance to sacrifice too much of myself for others who have seemingly cultivated no better character than I.

*I hope you enjoyed this foray into the dark side of the human psyche 🙂 I truly believe that before any of us can understand the darkness in the world, we first need to understand the darkness within ourselves!

A Female Aspie’s Thoughts On Jordan Peterson

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Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of interviews and lectures with controversial thinker and psychologist Dr. Jordan Peterson. This Canadian bloke is a rather interesting mix if you really listen to his thoughts and beliefs. Many on the left, especially those on the social justice warrior side seem to hate his guts and believe he is sexist, racist, abusive, and a number of other unpleasant adjectives. I don’t believe he is actually as far right wing as many seem to think, but he does definitely have some classical views on innate gender differences and he certainly has a hatred for what he sees as newfangled pronoun madness.

As far as the whole pronoun thing goes, I do agree with him in many ways. I have seen the charts of all the new pronouns that supposedly exist now and I just don’t see how using all of those in common vernacular will ever really catch on. How many people will bother to memorize such a chart as the lengthy ones I have seen online? I see no issue with people wanting to be referred to with particular existing pronouns (he, she, they, etc.) as long as they don’t expect people to be able to read their minds and know which pronoun they prefer. I believe if you ask people to call you a particular thing, most will agree and try to do so, as long as it isn’t too hard to remember or seemingly insulting.

Aside from that whole controversy, what I really find interesting about Peterson is his obsession with Nietzsche (one of my personal favorites), Jung, and his love of archetypes. He sees a story arc in everything apparently, and usually a metaphor-laden one at that. I do find it interesting how he likes to deconstruct pop culture favorites, be they movies, tv shows, books, or other works of art, using Jungian thought. I have heard complaints that he entirely misconstrues Nietzsche’s work, but I’m not sure I’ve seen too much of that personally. Sure, his personal views bleed into his interpretation, just as everyone’s does, but I’m not sure it is to any greater extent than most philosophical analysts.

I do think his latest book “12 Rules for Life” sounds fairly simplistic and seems to lack much deeper introspection, instead almost falling into the common self-help book market. “Clean your room”? “Stand up straight”? Thank you, Grandma. I hear his earlier book, “Maps of Meaning”, is far more thought-provoking and deep, so maybe I will give it a try at some point.

Lastly, I just want to comment a bit on Peterson’s personality and the impression I get from him. Dude does seem awfully angry and easily provoked over nothing at times. Maybe this is frustration at feeling constantly misunderstood and misrepresented, but it still makes him look a bit snowflakish himself, which I’m sure isn’t the impression he wants to give. I also often wonder if he ever appears happy or genuinely smiles? He almost seems very depressed to me…and I would know as I struggle with the same beast. He talks a good game about finding meaning in life, but there is a big part of me that thinks deep down he struggles constantly with the seeming meaninglessness and absurdity of life and is resentful of it. But perhaps I am projecting a bit there.

I have also heard him accused of using “word salad” or droning on and on without making much of a point. I’ve seen a bit of this myself, but I think part of the issue is how many tangents he seems to wander off on while making a point. I feel his lectures could definitely benefit from some streamlining and sticking more closely to each point until its conclusion.

Many have suggested that Peterson seems to have a bit of a “savior complex”, which I do see signs of now and then. My antenna especially went up when he talked about how if he went to prison for refusing to use someone’s pronouns and pay the fine, he would go on a hunger strike. Calm down a little! Is it really worth all that? Why not just set yourself on fire on Main Street? I think someone so famous going to prison over something so stupid would be enough in itself to garner attention.

*For an interesting look at the difference between a therapist and a psychologist, check out this article by BetterHelp!

I’m Not An Atheist

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Many people jump to the conclusion that I am an atheist because I am not religious anymore and can be very critical of organized religion. However, I am not an atheist. I do often listen to atheist podcasts and read atheist books, but I also sometimes listen to and read material from spiritual or religious sources (even the crazy ones, although I listen to them more for amusement). I find myself overall agreeing more with secular thought, but I do feel that differing points of view are essential for having a realistic, down-to-earth view of life.

If I had to choose a label for myself spiritually, it would be agnostic. I’m not really sure what the hell is going on. I’m not a deist, because I’m not positive that there is a greater being or consciousness, although I hope there is to an extent. I don’t believe in the specific gods of any earthly religions, but I wouldn’t mind if there were some wiser (and hopefully caring) beings, or at least some sort of a meaning to all that is.

Because of the state of the world and the suffering, abuse, and slaughter of the innocent, I find it hard to believe in an “all good” being in power, unless that being gave us a choice about being here and what we would face. If earth were some kind of “school” where we choose the lessons we want to learn or the experiences we want to have, then I could see how the powers that be could still be moral and have values. Otherwise, their absence and inaction in the face of so much injustice and pain speaks volumes.

I do not believe in “original sin”. I do not believe in a God who must spill innocent blood in order to be able to forgive someone else for doing something wrong (seriously, how is that even ok???) I do not believe in a being that has such a huge ego all they want is to be worshiped for all eternity (too Donald Trumpish for my taste). I do not believe that there is necessarily an afterlife or heaven/hell, but if there is I would not be shocked or upset unless there was some kind of tyrant running things. If there is some sort of being in charge of it all, I simply hope that they are just and kind, but not cruel or punitive.

Unpopular Opinion: Assisted Suicide Should Be Allowed for Any Competent Adult

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This post may contain the most unpopular opinion I will likely ever share on my blog. Let me say first off, as a survivor of my sister’s suicide, I know exactly how much it hurts to lose someone close that way and wouldn’t wish it on anyone. However, maybe it is just the libertarian streak in me, but I do think euthanasia should be legal for adults.

When people normally talk about euthanasia, it is regarding those with terminal illnesses. I definitely support the right to peacefully end your life in your own time with those cases. But I also support the right of any fully grown, mature human being to make the decision to not exist anymore if that is what they truly want. There are places in the world that allow euthanasia for severe mental illness, but I would take it even further than that. I don’t think anyone has the right to force another sentient human being to remain alive if they honestly, genuinely don’t want to be here.

Even with my sister, I would not force her to come back to life if I could. She was absolutely miserable. She was in constant mental, physical, and emotional pain. Her life was a wreck due to the aftereffects of severe abuse and treatment resistant mental illness. She tried multiple times to kill herself, and had she survived the last attempt, I have no doubt she would have kept trying, even though I tried my best to encourage her to find reasons to live.

I don’t think that human beings should have to resort to dangerous, violent and potentially severely disabling attempts to end their lives when there are simple, effective ways to end their suffering permanently if they wish to do so. I have been a witness to seeing two of my cats put down peacefully. I can only hope I die so easily and painlessly.

I also don’t think that assisted suicide would be abused as much as people think it would be. When you realize it is the absolute end, with no chance of survival, many balk if they really do not wish to die. Even in documentaries I have watched about euthanasia for mental illness, many people end up backing out during the waiting process because they obviously are not actually ready to die.  I do think there should be some limits set in place, such as age limits, lengthy screening processes (this is certainly something that shouldn’t be rushed into), and mental competency tests to make sure the person is completely aware of the permanent consequences of what they are asking for. It also shouldn’t be something people can decide for other people. You shouldn’t have the right to euthanize your granny or anyone else against their will.

I share this today because it is my personal belief, not because I am suicidal. I actually am not. I have never attempted suicide and do not believe I would do so unless circumstances became such that living was unbearable. It is not something I would take lightly and if I ever did commit suicide, I would likely plan it out precisely and would take into account any suffering it would cause others and would try to minimize that as much as possible. I certainly hope my life never comes to that point, but if it did, I feel like only I have the right to decide if I want to continue to exist or not.