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Friday, June 30, 2017

The Atheist Fallacy

I was watching a YouTube video of stand-up comedian Jim Jefferies.  BTW the guy is pretty good IMO.
Half way through his routine he announced that he has converted to atheism. Then he proceeds to do a series of God jokes.
The jokes were pretty funny but what made them even funnier, for me, was his pompous righteousness.
The guy actually believes he’s right, that he had figured it all out and he got all the right answers.

I don’t have permission to publish his jokes but for exemplification, I have made one myself. It goes like this:

If God was a real being living on a golden throne up in the sky surrounded by flying angels and cherubims, we would have people driving around airports carrying buckets of BBQ sauce eating all those fried wings coming down from the sky.

I know, it is not very funny but it gives an idea about the standup routine I am talking about.
The underlying of all that funny stuff was that God doesn’t actually exist.
But coming from a guy that pretends to be a logical, rational, scientifically mind the argument is totally bogus.

Let’s take this argument:
Bananas grow in the clouds in the sky.
Let’s make the counter argument:
People are flying all over the world and nobody has ever seen bananas growing in the clouds.
Conclusion:
Bananas do not exist.
The fallacy:
Bananas do exist, I actually have a couple in my kitchen right now.

To understand where this fallacy comes from we have to look at the background of an atheist.
They are people coming from a religious background. People that have been told all their lives that God exists and the Bible is the work and word of God and therefore the proof of God’s existence.

While some people accept that unconditionally, some people look at the Bible with a rational, logical mind and find a plethora of contradictions and inconsistencies. The result is they start to doubt God’s existence and eventually they become atheists.

Here is another possible explanation:
God has no religion. God has no church. God has no bible.
Religion, church and the Bible are all made up, and they prove nothing except the human ignorance.

Once you make that distinction, that God, church, and religion are not one and the same you have little to none ground to stand on.
That is because logically, rationally and scientifically you cannot prove God doesn’t exist.
You can only prove that things exist.


Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Understanding human nature

Understanding human behavior is as easy as understanding Yin and Yang, black and white, in and out or Burger King.
Human beings will do anything to gain pleasure and avoid pain.

Theoretically, that would make the Earth a heaven of joy and happiness where pain and suffering would not exist.
Practically, the reality is quite different. The world is a rather harsh place, where pain and misery are a daily fare.

Why is that?
If we all want only positive things in our life how come there are so many negative things happening?
Who are the assholes turning this wonderful world upside-down?
Well, to put it succinctly; we are.

How do you react in front of adversity?
How do you react when you are bullied, abused and victimized?

When under attack we have two basic way of responding; flight or fight.
We run away from our attacker or from our problems, we cower and collapse or we hit back, we respond to the violence with more violence.

The nature of our response is encrypted in our genes and the equation is very simple.
If you are attacked by a superior force you ran, if you are attacked by an inferior power, you fight.
It is this balance of power or the perception of the balance of power that dictates our response.

There are no born victims or aggressors. It all depends on the circumstances.
People that have been victimized will become aggressors, and aggressors will become victims in the right circumstances.

We all seek pleasure.
The problem is that many times that pleasure comes at the expenses of somebody else’s pain.
We all have fantasized to take revenge on somebody that has abused us: A bad unfair boss, a cheating partner, an unprofessional colleague, an annoying neighbor or a rude driver, the list goes on.

We all seek to avoid pain.
Many times we do not turn our violent fantasy into reality, mainly because there are laws and law enforcers that keep us from doing it, and because we realize there is a price to pay and the idea of the pain that comes with that will keep us from acting out.

To truly understand this power balance play we have to understand the concept of power.
Power is defined in many ways and many times is confused with force, strength, violence, might, authority and influence.

Power is the ability of act. Power doesn’t have to act with force and its actions don’t have to be necessarily violent. It also doesn’t have to be used always to exercise authority and influence.
A truly powerful person, group or nation doesn’t have to attack a less powerful one in order to show superiority or dominate.

In a person, to person aggression, the aggressor is always power hungry not power full.
By attacking a less powerful one he or she seeks to increase its dominance, its perceived power.

We have wrongly learned that the way to gain power is by aggression by domination of others.
True power can only come from inside. It cannot be gained by aggression.


Monday, June 26, 2017

Reality

On my desk, at work, I have one of those electronic picture frames that flip through thousands of pictures stored in their memory chip.
I’m looking at a picture I took on one of my many camping trips.

It is the view of a creek bank.
Water coming down, rushing through the rocks in white foamy waves.
A small waterfall is the center of my attention but the surroundings are as idyllic.

Majestic trees bend over the creek forming a surreal tunnel.
The light brakes through the canopy and in the patches of light on the grassy banks wildflower shine like bright colored jewels.

A young doe has stopped by the creek and is looking intently at the same view I am trying to capture.
I never thought of it before but now looking at this picture again, suddenly a question crosses my mind.
Is the doe just scared? As it somehow sensed my presence and her attention is an act of her instinct of preservation? Or is she just looking at the beauty of the view the same way I do?

My ego quips in: “Of course she is sensing the danger. An animal is not capable of perceiving beauty.”
“Is it?” My higher self replies

I grew up on a farm and I am an animal lover.
One thing I know for sure is that animals are not dumb and are not insensitive.
Animal are smart and capable of a large variety of emotions, some of them quite complex.
Any animal lover and pet owner already knows that.

We think we are the smartest thing in the universe because we can watch TV and we can read.
But judging by the way we vote or treat our environment we are the dumbest animals on this planet.
We are superior because we decided that on our own subjective criteria.
If the judges were monkeys and the measure of superiority was the ability to climb trees, who do you think would be the superior being?

There is a crazy scientist that played music for young plants – don’t ask me why, or how he came up with this idea considering plants have no years – but the results of the experiment were quite remarkable:
Plants show an affinity for some type of music like classical or elevator music and dislike to heavy metal or punk music. – go figure!

Do you want to hear an even crazier experiment?
There is a Japanese scientist Masaru Emoto, that played music for water. Yes for water!
He played music for the water while growing ice crystals.
Here is what he got:

What does it mean?
I don’t know, I don’t speak water but one thing is for sure:
We don’t know anything about how other beings or other things perceive reality.
We just assume we are the only ones perceiving beauty, harmony or meaning.

I’m looking at my picture frame. The doe is gone and now there is another frame of my past looking back at me.
I still wonder how the doe was looking, perceiving the reality of that scene.
I only hope that she was seeing it with an unclutter ego. Without having to think about going back to work on Monday. Without worrying about bills, health insurance and putting the kids through college.

I hope that other beings and things perceive reality in its fullest beauty.
Like I did for a moment that day when my soul was in awe and for a second my Ego was overpowered by beauty and for a brief second stopped clouding my perception.
For a moment I felt one with nature, and the feeling was magical and overwhelming.
That’s how I think beauty should be perceived, outside the human Ego.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Don't push!

Oh, the joy of spirituality!
The wakening up to the realization that life doesn’t have to be a struggle, that the world can be a wonderful place and we all can be enlightened beings.
I remember the days of my youth when my eyes started to open.

I was all excited, like a kid on the Christmas day discovering a trove of presents under the Christmas tree.
The joy was overflowing and I wanted to share my newly acquired treasure with the entire world.
I wanted everybody to know about it. I wanted everybody to practice it and benefit from it.
I wanted to make the world a better place.

Little did I know…
The world doesn’t want spirituality and enlightenment.
Everybody is saying they are looking for enlightenment and happiness but the world wants what it wants and most of the time that is heartache and misery.

I saw the suffering in people around me and I approached them with a friendly advice, with understanding and love.
They wouldn’t listen to me or pretended to but then take my advice and throw it away like a piece of spoiled food, unappetizing and undesirable.

I thought maybe their distrust me because they didn’t know me and they would be suspicious by a stranger’s intentions.
So I talked to my friends, to the people that new me and new my intentions.
But the result was pretty much the same.

Nobody is interested in bettering themselves.
People cling to their misery and their problems like a precious heirloom.
Their pain and suffering is a badge of honor and they expect the world to admire and praise their suffering.

Trying to liberate them from that suffering is like trying to take away their life meaning.
If you tell them to change they will ask you to accept the way they are instead.
If you tell them there is a solution they will tell you, you do not understand their problem.
If you push them, they will resist and push back.

So don’t push!

I know it sounds simple and logical but our instinct is to help out, to push, not to sit back and let the disaster unfold in front of our eyes without interfering.
Never the less that is the proper thing to do. Acting by nonacting,
Waiting for the people to ask for help, before offering your help.

Don’t push! – Pull!
Do you think that’s easy to do?

I have a lot of friends that are still very unhappy about the presidential election.
Do you think they are waiting for the disaster to unfold before they act, or do you think they are pushing as hard as they can to change what was already done?

Do you think the pushing is working, that they are conquering and changing anybody’s mind?
Or do you think they are just creating more resentment and animosity?
I’m not suggesting an advice because I know nobody will listen. I’m just curious.

But don’t push.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Zen Dialectics

Dialectic or dialectics (Greek: διαλεκτική, dialektikḗ), also known as the dialectical method, is a discourse between two or more people holding different points of view about a subject but wishing to establish the truth through reasoned arguments. The term dialectic is not synonymous with the term debate.
-          Wikipedia

Zen philosophy is so darn weird and wonderful that has fascinated people since the Western civilization has come in contact with it.
Wherever you are a Buddhist, or a neophyte you have probably read or heard a koan or two.
Like the famous “Does a tree falling in the forest make any noise?” or “What is the sound of one hand clapping?”

They are intriguing little quips of whimsical wisdom that entice us to think but at the same time seem impossible riddles to understand or solve.
That is the mistake all Zen students make. Koans are not meant to be understood.
It is that it is. There is nothing to understand.

Enlightenment cannot be taught.
Enlightenment can be only achieved and experienced.
Enlightenment is not something that you know; enlightenment is a state of mind, like being in love.

Reality is the ultimate truth. The truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
So how do you tech reality?
How does a Zen master teaches what cannot be taught?
He can’t.

The only thing a Zen master can do is destroy your rational mind, to show you the inadequacy of logical thinking and thus to force you to accept the ultimate truth.
It is that it is.
Reality

So every time the student asks a question or comes up with an answer the teacher knows that those are just shadows of the reality.
So he devises a counter argument “a reality check” response to the student.

The counterargument is not meant to clarify the problem but to make it even more absurd.
In the end the student has no choice but to give up, to look beyond the words, to see the reality as it is, not as perception and fall in love with it.
This is the principle of Zen dialectic and has been used for centuries to create enlightenment in the Zen student,

The problem with that is when trying to encapsulate that wisdom in words, to put it in books, you lose the dynamic interaction, the dialectic that is the motor of the enlightenment process.
You end up with a bunch of anecdotes, of stories about stories that are supposed to teach you NOTHING.


And NOTHING is a damn hard thing to understand. 

Monday, June 19, 2017

The Tao of Hollywood - Groundhog Day

“Phil: I'm a god.
Rita: You're God?
Phil: I'm a god. I'm not *the* God... I don't think.”

“Phil: Well maybe the *real* God uses tricks, you know? Maybe he's not omnipotent. He's just been around so long he knows everything.”

Groundhog Day (1993 starring Bill Murray) is a movie classic, one of the must see movies on your must see movie list.
It is almost universally wrongly summarized as the story of Phil, a weatherman reporter, stuck in a time loop living the same day over and over again.

“Phil: Well, what if there is no tomorrow? There wasn't one today.”

Actually, to be exact Phil is not reliving the same day over and over again; he is relieving the same date, the same time span, February 2nd the Groundhog Day.
But every time he reliving it, the day is a little bit different.

“Phil: Do you ever have déjà vu, Mrs. Lancaster?
Mrs. Lancaster: I don't think so, but I could check with the kitchen.”

This movie poses a very serious metaphysical question; if you could go back in time and relieve your life, would your life be the same?

“Phil: Do you know what today is?
Rita: No, what?
Phil: Today is tomorrow. It happened.”

The answer is “MOO” For the non-Zen speakers it means; a bit more complex than an “YES” or a “NO”
Our life, our days are the result of who and what we basically are. And since we are the same every day of our life are basically the same.

“Phil: What would you do if you were stuck in one place and every day was exactly the same, and nothing that you did mattered?
Ralph: That about sums it up for me.”

Nothing will change in our life unless we change.

“Phil: I was in the Virgin Islands once. I met a girl. We ate lobster, drank piña coladas. At sunset, we made love like sea otters.
[Ralph and Gus snort]
Phil: *That* was a pretty good day. Why couldn't I get *that* day over, and over, and over...”

It is the universal law of cause and effect at work.
To change the outcome of any action you have to change what causes it.

“Rita: This day was perfect. You couldn't have planned a day like this.
Phil: Well, you can. It just takes an awful lot of work.”

We all want a better life, a better career, belter relationships, better health in other words better outside circumstances. But we seldom ask or work for a better self. And that is the key, that is the answer, the solution to all our problems.

“Phil: Something is... different.
Rita: Good or bad?
Phil: Anything different is good.”

So if you have some spare time and a Netflix account here is a good idea on how to spend some relaxing time:
Watch “Groundhog Day” t is one of the rare movies that only gets better with time.
And a last quote from the movie:

“Phil: I killed myself so many times I don't even exist anymore.”


Friday, June 16, 2017

The Pareto principle and personal time management

Vilfredo Pareto, was an Italian economist, engineer, philosopher, and sociologist at the beginning of the 19th century.
He observed that about 20% of the peapods in his garden contained 80% of the peas and letter own that approximately 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population.

This 80/20 connection was later empirically observed repeatedly in nature, economy, business etc. and so the Pareto Principle a.k.a  the 80/20 principle was born.
The principle states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the results come from 20% of the effort.
One of the most common uses of this principle is improving the efficiency of a given system.
For example in sales, 80% of your sales come from 20% of your clients, and 20% of the sales people bill 80% of the orders.

Knowing that it is really easy to redirect your resources on the 20% of most effective customers or sales force. 
Basically, by eliminating the 80% inefficiently used resources or by redirecting your resources away from the inefficient markets you can obtain better results without any additional investments.

That sounds like a very smart thing to do if you have your own business or you are in charge of a corporation, but how do you apply this principle to your personal life?

One of the problems I’m facing almost daily is the lack of time.
It seems to me that I never have enough time to do the things I want to do and I need a better way to manage my time.
So I started keeping a little journal with everything I was doing daily.

It turns out, roughly, that 80% of what I accomplish was done in 20% of the time I spent.
That is very interesting but it doesn’t help much.
I cannot fire the 80% of me that is inefficient.
See the problem?
This may work for a big corporation but not if you are self-employed.

So let’s look at the problem the other way:
The 80% of the time I spend solving 20% of my tasks.
Why is that? Why it takes so much damn time to do so little?
Why do I spend more time doing the small and easy tasks than the big and important ones?

It turns out that is the way I do things.
Let’s say it is the start of a new day. I have a list of things to do.
I look at the list and pick the easiest most rewarding task. Like checking my email or may blog.
By the time I’m done with all the “little” stuff I realize I don’t have enough time to do the big stuff I was planning to do.
So I go back and do more little stuff or just killing time, like playing video games.

This is what I never have any time to do the things I want to do.
It is like eating the cake before eating your vegetables.
Not a very conducive to a healthy way of eating.

So I devised a system of time management where tasks are done in order of size and time availability.
Basically, you have to make three separate lists of long, medium and short tasks.
(Posted notes work very well for this)
Then do the biggest task you can do first, then when that is done repeat the process, chose the biggest task you have time left to do and so one and so forth.

Naturally, the available time will shrink to the point that you’ll have to do the small stuff last until there is no more time left.
This method will force you to use your time in the most efficient way, although not the most pleasant.
Like I said it is the choice between cake and vegetables, goofing off or efficiency.
Your choice!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Fat Chance!

I grew up on a farm where everything was self-sustaining.
We grew our own food, we build our houses and made our clothing.
Everything was treasured and nothing was wasted.

The world still fights to feed its people.
Having enough to eat is still a main problem in many countries.
It seems ironic then that some people’s problem is having too much to eat.

When I came to the US in 1983 one of the many cultural shocks I experienced was the American food culture.
I have never heard of “dieting” before and obesity use to be a disease caused by a wacky metabolism. I knew only one obese child growing up and yes we call him “Fatso”
But he was the exception, a medical anomaly not the rule.

America is obsessed with its overweight problem.
You cannot turn on the TV or open a magazine without being bombarded by another miracle diet plan, diet food, diet drink, diet supplements or God knows what other diet snake oil they will come up with next.

Diet is a big business and dieting has become an industry and national obsession in America.
Let me tell you a little dieting secret you’ll never hear on Oprah:
Healthy, slim, normal people don’t diet!

To listen to all the so called “experts” that have lost 300 pounds tell you how to lose weight is like taking advice from a crack addict on how to stop smoking!
Overweight is not a problem. Overweight is a symptom, for God’s sake.
We do not suffer from overweighting, we suffer from over eating.

The problem is our dysfunctional relationship you have with our food.
To go on a diet is to replace our dysfunctional relationship with our food with an even more dysfunctional one!
That’s why diets do not work. Dieting is not a normal way of living.
Once again: Look at your normal friends. They do not diet!
Why are they then not fat? Because they have a normal relationship with their food.

Yes relationship. – Don’t give me that BS excuse: they have good genes.
I used to be a therapist and I dealt a lot with overweight people. The problem is always the same. People use food as a crutch.

Some people use it as a love substitute, lover substitute, sex substitute, self-esteem substitute, success substitute and so on and so forth.
Whatever we lack in our lives we substitute it with food.
Instead of getting what we really need in our life, we eat and that creates a false pleasure in our mind, a false sense of wellbeing.

Yes, it all starts in your mind.
So change your eating habits you have to change the way you think and feel about food.
Without that you’ll never lose weight.

You have to stop dieting and instead develop a healthy relationship with your food.
But trust me if your relationship with food doesn’t change, same forces that have made you gain weight in the first place will put your weight back and then some.

Building a relationship with your food has to start with the basics; like knowing your food.
Go to the farmers market and buy your own produce instead of going to a restaurant.
Cook your own food, control what goes in your body don’t let yourself become addicted to the fat, sugar and salt that oversaturates the processed foods.

Healthy people do not eat in restaurants, at least not in the restaurants you and I eat.
If you have enough money and price is not an objection you can buy anything, even healthy food but for the rest of us, the 99% as they say, money is not a luxury.

What makes the difference between the healthy normal weight people and the overeating crowd is the relationships we have with our food.
 Healthy people do not diet.
A diet works less than 1 in a 1000 and it is by pure accident, by chance – like gaining back your self-confidence once you see yourself slim in the mirror.
So if you thinking of starting yet another diet, think again at your chance to succeed.
Fat chance!

Monday, June 12, 2017

The Bad Boy Syndrome

We are animal lovers, me, my wife and kids.
We have two dogs, one cat; thou technically the cat adopted us and a rabbit.
We used to have a fish too but after several premature deaths, we decided we are definitively not fish people.

We adopted the first dog, Daisy, from an animal shelter. We believe adopting from a shelter is much better than buying from a pet store.
The cat, Oreo, was a stray cat and we happened to be on his hunting grounds. We start leaving cat food outside and now he’s sleeping in our house, but most of the day he just hangs out around the house. The rabbit is my older daughter pet and the second dog Ollie is a rescue.

We found Ollie running in the streets. No collar, no tag, no chip. He had a rope around his neck and it looked he chewed it up to escape. He was badly abused; we believe they kicked him because he has a fear of feet and legs and still attacks and bites people’s ankles.

He was less than one year old, still a puppy, and didn’t have any kind of education.
He pooped and peed everywhere in the house. He destroyed our living room rug. He destroyed several pairs of shoes until he learned to play with his toys.
He destroyed the mail and would do the same to the mailman if he could get to him. And of course, he bit everybody.

After several months of training, we decided to put him up for adoption.
He was almost perfect, young, cute, potty trained but with a little leftover issue.
On the day of the adoption, he bit the lady that came to adopt him.
So that little habit of biting everybody he didn’t know, made him practically unadoptable.
So time went by and after a year we realized he’s ours and nobody else will have it.

My wife comes home from the morning walk and she’s furious.
Ollie found some fresh manure on a neighbor lawn and decided to roll in it against my wife yelling to stop.
I’m not even paying attention to her angry rhetoric; I heard it a thousand times before.
She takes Ollie in the bathtub and gives him the required shampooing.
After the bath, Ollie promptly gets out through the doggie door, goes to the back yard and rolls in the dirt.

My wife loses it. She screams at the top of her lungs and threatens to take him to the shelter.
I get worried. She is really mad, but then I detect in her voice a different nuance.
Is that tone of voice you use when your kids do something bad, like making a comment on the plastic surgery your mother-in-law got.
You have to admonish them but at the same time, you think the kid is right and damn funny too.

I recognized the “bad boy syndrome” behavior.
Women love bad boys. They love the drama they cause. It is in their blood in their genetic makeup.
It is like us guys loving sports. It is in our blood. It is the thrill of the hunt embedded in our genes.
Men love to watch sports women love soap operas.

So is Ollie in any danger?
Nope, not at all. All that bad boy behavior will just make my wife loving him even more.
It is the bad boy syndrome. Women love bad boys and they could get away with murder if there wasn’t for a little clause:
You can do anything you want as long as you don’t fool around.
And Ollie doesn’t have that problem. He is loyal as a dog.

PS: That reminds me that I have to do something bad to spice up my romantic life.
Maybe I’ll tell my wife’s best friend that if she keeps gaining more weight she will get her own zip code or something equally bad like that.

I know is bad but women like the bad boys. Don’t ask me why.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Faith and Control

"To have faith is to trust yourself to the water. When you swim you don't grab hold of the water because if you do you will sink and drown. Instead, you relax and float."
            - Alan Watts

The continuous dialog between Ego and I, the continuous debate between control and faith rages on like a wildfire searing both flesh and soul with its blaze.
The battle continues. The fortune of victory is constantly changing sides.
One day faith, optimism, and hope reign for a moment, the next day fear, and despair open the doors to the reign of control.
(It is pretty much like the political arena of our days.)

The ego needs to be in control because it perceives itself alone against the universe.
Alone in a hostile environment, the Ego has to survive and to survive it needs to control events and people. The reason it is his main weapon, and what a mighty weapon it is.

We can reason any action no matter how absurd or immoral it may be.
Ego has devised the MAD doctrine.  Mutual Assured Destruction. Which basically states if you attack me I will kill everyone so no one can win.

Hell is paved with good intentions.
Ego has started wars and genocides all with very good reasons, or what it has perceived a good reason at the time. In the end reason leads always to failure.

Control is a myth. You cannot control anything, you cannot even control yourself.
Control seems reasonable because it employs ignorance as its basis.
We think of control on a localized scale. I can control a person or I can control a certain situation and it may even work, for a short period of time.
The problem is that all people and events are intertwined.

As you attempt to control anything you will find our pretty soon that you sphere of control has to expand. It is because everybody and everything is connected.
So if you want to control a person or event you have to control also the other people and events that are competing to control and manipulate the situation on their own benefit.
So the situation escalates until you run out of stamina and resources and the situation gets out of control

Control is a myth because in order to control anything you have to control the whole universe.
The only alternative left when you run out of control is faith.

Faith is the natural state of our higher self, of I.
I is the manifestation and materialization of the infinite intelligence that is the one source of all.
I is never disconnected, never lacking, never ignorant, never fearful.

When we perceive our live as a raft caught in the current of a raging river, the Ego tries to take control.
The Ego rationalizes that the only way out is by fighting the river, by going against the flow.

The I, recognizes there is no river.
There is only one. One is the river and I and the flow is mine.
The I flows with the river and the river flows back to the ocean.

Is the faith above all reason.
We all return to the source.
Our rivers, no matter the course, will always return to the ocean.


Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Fear no Fear

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?' Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
― Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of "A Course in Miracles"

Whenever I feel tempted by fear (like these last couple of days) I do my decomposing (or composting, if you prefer thinking in positive terms) meditation.

I go to my Zen temple – Here in Hollyweird for some reason, they call it “Public Park”
I lay down under this ginormous tree (it is essential to feel the grass and the earth pressing against your body)
I look up at the sky and the leaves, and I drift away into this reverie.

I close my eyes and see myself like on one of those national geographic videos where the time takes off at hyper speed.
I grow older and older, white beard, long hair, season after season changing, then I pass away.

My hair falls off, leaves and ground cover up my corpse, bugs eat my flesh, and bones crumble into pieces turning into the compost that's feeding this amazing tree.
And I become branches and leaves and flowers of the tree.

And I open my eyes and I scream at the top of my lungs: Fuck the fear!
And the winos lift their brown bags and cheer “-All right, Buddha!”

And we all laugh, and I go to pick up my kids from school.
 

Monday, June 5, 2017

Advice on Advice

I am a handyman. I love doing things with my hands.
I can fix a computer, do small repairs around the house or work on my car.
It gives me a certain satisfaction to see things done, to accomplish something with my own hands.

Many of my friends are not so handy when it comes to manual labor, although they are accomplished professionals in their fields.
They all wonder “How do you do that?”
I explain to them that the only difference between them and a handyman is the knowledge and the tools a handyman has and in the age of Google, Amazon and eBay, knowledge and tools are readily available to anyone.

Do you want to know how to work on your car? No Problem.
First, you need the technical manual for your car.
You go on Amazon put in the year and make of your car, and voila, you have all the knowledge you need at your fingertips. The manual will also tell you exactly what tools you need.
Of course, there is also the matter of experience and willingness, but that is a whole different story.

I also like to work on my self-development but that has been a much harder and less rewarding task than working on my car.
The problem is there is no technical manual for working on myself and also I don’t have access to any specialized tools or medication.

Of course there are a lot of self-help books out there but none written specifically for me.
And although I read hundreds of them I rarely found any useful advice in them.
They all are written by experts and full of miraculous examples of people that have overcome anything from obesity to anxiety and depression.  But to me, that’s just self-hype designed to sell the book.

I was in my doctor’s office waiting for my appointment and I picked up a couple of magazines that were lying around. In one of them, I found an article on how to spice up your romantic life,
I read it and it was a doozy.  I had so much fun and tried very hard not to burst out laughing.

All the self-help books make a lot of assumptions and generalizations.
All authors of self-help books believe everybody is the same, that everybody enjoys the same things and behave the same way. If they wouldn’t believe that they will not give the advice in the first place.
So the advice is basically what they would do or what works for them and that may or may not work for you.

A nice dinner, candle light and soft music may work for some but spanking, whips and chains also works for some. So which advice is right for you? That is an answer only you can answer.
My advice when it comes to self-help books is that you should never take the advice they give without thoroughly understanding the “how” and “why” it works.

I have a special ax to grind with the “wishful” thinking philosophy.
You know the one that states that if you believe in it, it will happen to you.
I don’t believe in it because I believe in the laws of cause and effect and to me to have something happening just because you visualize it happening is just a bunch of nonsense.


So listen to everyone but in the end take your own advice.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Don't kill the joy!

This story happened a long time ago when I was a young lad looking for romance.
I was at an industry gathering where lots of young people were invited.
I was mixing with the crowd trying to act confident and important.
I found a small group with a very attractive girl discussing, what else the movies.

I listen for a while then I commented something like this:
-          It looks like today's movies are written by mentally retarded people.Anybody with a half brain could write a better script.
-          How many scripts have you written so far?
Asked the young lady.
-          Well, none but I got lots of ideas.
Was the best answer I could come up with.
-          You and a million losers that think they can write a script.
She said sarcastically and walked away.

I was insulted and furious.
 I went to my friend Danny and tell him the story, hoping for some moral support but to my frustration, he told me she was right. I couldn’t take it anymore. I said
-           I will put down on paper one of my brilliant ideas and prove you all wrong.

Times goes by and of course, I found all kinds of excuses not to write my brilliant screenplay.
But there was a little inconvenience;  my friend Danny. Every time when we met he would ask:
-          So how is your script coming?
Of course, he will laugh and make all kinds of jokes at my expense.
I couldn’t take it no more or I ran out of excuses, whatever the reason one day I sat down at my computer and start writing.

It was a long and painful process. Obviously, I didn’t know what I was doing and had to go to the library get some books on the subject. Rewrite everything again and again but finally, I got a script.
It was a disaster!

One good thing came out of my story. I started enjoying the writing process.
I joined a writing group. I bought the proper writing software. I kept on reading and learning about the art of screenwriting. And so the years went by.

It was my 5th full-length script when I decided I was good enough.
 I decided to take my best work to the market. I entered several screenwriting contests. I submitted my query to several production companies and waited impatiently for the feedback.

The feedback came and it was a blood bath. I can usually handle rejection fairly well but this was more than rejection, it was nasty.
The result; I stopped writing.

A long time after the events I remembered the joy I had writing, the satisfaction of filling the pages with words. I decided to go back to writing but the joy was gone.  Now I dreaded writing.
What happened? Who killed my joy?

Well, it was me. By setting up expectations to my writing outcome I killed the joy of writing.
You see, when you do some for fun without expecting anything but just to have fun, you enjoy the experience 100%. The moment you attach expectations, a certain outcome your task becomes a chore, you start killing the joy.

Theoretically, everything we do should be enjoyable. Take for example “learning”
Learning is such a joy when you are a baby. To learn, to explore to find out, to do.
But then we go to school. Learning becomes a chore. The joy of learning is slowly killed and we start dreading school and learning.

We do that all our lives. We kill the joy of doing things to the point we have nothing enjoyable to do. We just sit in front of the computer orTV expecting joy from what other people do. We are just killing time.
We have become spectators not actors to life.

So here is my advice: If you have something you enjoy doing, don’t kill the joy. Do it for fun and if anything comes out of it, fine. But do not kill the joy by setting up any expectations.

Also, you can rekindle old joy you have lost. Like me writing for this blog, making writing fun again and hopefully one day going back to my screenwriting.