Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Fast From Fun and 2015

Wow, 2015. Here I am, having found my way back to my ambitious blog attempt that I began in 2011, and all I can think is, "how time flies when you're... in graduate school." Not really a good excuse for finding these past four years having gone by far too fast, but then again there isn't a good excuse for it, and we all find ourselves there at one point or another. I don't know where to start again. I don't know how. In fact, I don't know if I have to start anything. Instead, I will pick up here, with what I'm thinking about now. These past four years, more like these last four to six years, I've moved on from my creative side and dived into my logical and intellectual self, going further and further in that direction day by day, it seems. However, I feel like I'm at yet another turning point, looking towards my other self and feeling a pull.

My Apostle has recently begun talking about different aspects of the mind. More accurately and precisely, that there are three governing aspects of your mind; intellect, soul, and spirit. Each have a seat at a table in the center of your mind, each with voice and influence - at least, ideally. They take in information from the natural body, the spiritual realm, other voices, Yahweh's voice, their own desires and fears, and process this information together at the table, to take care of business. In truth, there is usually a dominant voice, and for almost all of us it is either our intellect or our soul; our logic, or our emotions. The spirit has been shut up in many of us since we were very, very young. Possibly, it has even been dormant until that point where we recognize that something which is greater than ourselves, and that there is a way to interact with it. So that leaves us then to consider which aspect has the most power in governing our thoughts and subsequently, our actions. For most of my life, my soul was the loudest one at the table, certainly speaking over my spirit and pretending like rationality didn't even factor into life. That's why I needed to let it die. My soul died.

This was not a happy time. But even at that time, when I was making a series of decisions to endure that fate, to hand my soul over to the executioner, I knew there was more that I wanted - that truth was out there, and if I had any chance of ever experiencing  it, I was going to do whatever it took. And to get there, my soul needed to die. It was all wrong. So loud, so confused, and everything in my life passed through its filter of emotion and expectation, like a kaleidoscope of passion and introspection permanently fixed to my mind's eye. A dizzying experience that brought me high when the colors were pretty, but more often brought me so low, when nothing made sense and all that spinning caused me to fall to my knees, sick. Then I let it die. The process was very long - my soul was strong, and would resurrect itself before it was ready, and it felt betrayed. It culminated, I believe, four and a half years ago, with a long period of apathy concurrent with separation from things I loved, or thought I loved. I refer to this period as my fast from fun. And that was essentially what it felt like. Yet, it was my spirit getting more than a whisper at my table for the first time.

So, what has happened since then? As I mentioned, I've dived deeper into my intellect, a product largely of necessity in my current place as a graduate student in a life sciences program, which right at the onset required a lot of investment just to pass first-year classes. Day one of graduate school, directly post the fast from fun, I felt as great as I had ever felt. I felt my mind was in very close proximity to proper order - a time of lucidity. From that time though, the reality is that my intellect has become the loudest voice, taking upon it's shoulders the majority of tasks in my immediate realm - at least in the natural. In this time I've really lost connection with my soul, I think. And when I feel it bubbling up, I am disgusted, and immediately turn my attention away. I have lost almost all interest in listening to music let alone creating music, writing, reading, and largely engaging emotionally and passionately in general. I am not unhappy, and experiencing less of the highs and lows that I had in the time of the reign of the soul has been a great thing. But I do miss the passion I felt. And things change. Maybe that's what is happening now. I really don't like using the new year in terms of goal making, determined that if I am going to make a change of my own volition it can and should start whenever I have the inclination. Still, coincidentally or not, since the new year I've felt a pull towards some things I've found myself having lost all interest in. Here I am, writing in Hold Strong again.

Consider for yourself what voice has the lead at the meeting within your own mind. For me, I would like it to be my spirit, but as was most certainly intended, I would like them all to have a voice.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Ode on a Grecian Urn

In 1819 the Romantic poet John Keats produced a series of poems (Odes) including, Ode on a Grecian Urn. This poem for me captures the ever present core of what I suppose I could call 'romantic' humanity, which is concentrated in the first two lines of the second stanza: "Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard are sweeter." How often can you relate to this sentiment in your own life? When has the expectation of a realization filled you so much more than that realization actualized? In the very heart of our natural existence, we seek those sweet melodies intangible, yet grasping everything they could be. The grecian urn is a practical image of these melodies, arrested in eternity serving the ultimate aspiration, "not to the sensual ear, but, more endear'd." The poem makes examples of this glorified suspended expectation in the image of a tree "that cannot shed [its] leaves, nor ever bid the Spring adieu;" of youth never abating; a musician eternally about to continue his melody in frozen time. This is as much as anything the human condition, a sad, half-reality. A quarter-reality. An infinitesimal reality, devoid of everything but one thing that life should be- that life is. In fact, this is rather horrifying if you think about it. Expectations then replace the outcomes in a life so precious, and a journey so intimate, that existence should be about. But then again, is it really about either? Outcomes or expectations? I think instead, it should be about the conversation. A dynamic intercourse of give and take, grow and cut, invent and evolve: a love that cannot be bested by its anticipation but only ever is the sustaining quality of truth sought and gained. Keats finishes his poem with this statement:

When old age shall this generation waste,
Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe
Than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou say'st,
'Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.'

Dear God, I hope not. Beauty is not truth inherent, but truth is beautiful. I will give you that. Truth to me is an incredibly beautiful thing, and it is a thing I search out always. It is not, however, a realization lightened by the gravity of my search, or an achievement enervated by my presumption. It is exactly what it is and a glory I can share with my Creator, like all things He sets before me. To be stilled in the act of pursuit of a single note in an eternal symphony is not a beautiful truth extricated from a misunderstanding of existence, and it is certainly not a gift. It is a damnation of the purpose Yahweh has set for you; that compositional masterpiece more passionate and incredible than anything comprehendible. Expectation lies, and expectation takes. Expecting things is natural, and in many cases is an intelligent and completely useful tool of the human intellect. It has its place. Don't let it take the place of anything else. This has been a lesson learned over and over again for myself, and I continue to battle my expectations and their attempt to usurp the places of ascension and achievement and promise and circumstances of my life.
     John Keats passed away four years after these publications at the age of 25 from tuberculosis. In a way, I can almost see this as grace. I can see a truth in the Psalm that says "hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life." When my heart is aligned, Yahweh has a galaxy of forests intended for me, each tree a tree of life.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Hone Hone Clock

Something I found perusing the internets, and I thought it was interesting enough to share. The Hone Hone Clock. The link below it links to a larger version.

Hone Hone Clock

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Tolstoy's Theory of Llamas

     On Thursday, April 30th of 2009, I sat down at my laptop to write the answer to an essay question for my final exam in Global History. The task at hand was to examine Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy's theory of History, to be extracted through the reading of the prolific pages of his renowned realistic fiction, War and Peace. I immediately began typing and anticipated genius to be translated from each keystroke. This is what I found myself reading, as if having lapsed into some transient unconsciousness and awaking to the first paragraph of my essay.

     In the beginning there were two llamas, Dandy, and Sandy-doo. Together one sweet, sweet autumn they birthed forth a child llama whom they affectionately named Miranda. Miranda was a cute girl llama with an under bite and occasionally bleeding nostrils that looked as if they were pressed deep in to her misshapen and lumpy skull sac machine. This loving and caring and daring and sometimes staring family oft looked down the steep mountainside that they called home. It was peculiar the sights they saw; a dark flame absently twisting in the fog; shapes moving about with strange and alluring motion. It was these shapes that one day Miranda decided to scuffle from home, on her two short front legs and one long hind leg and back stump, in search of.

     Indeed, I was worried for my own sanity. Why did I do this. What compeled me to write this? In all honesty, it felt really good to do, and it was not exactly like going unconscious like I said... it was more of a satisfying release, akin to a long and extended stretch first thing in the morning after having slept in, followed by swift relaxation and expenditure of breath held in your lungs along with a shudder from sheer content. I realized that day back in 2009, that I actually do this often, especially before beginning an essay or report. It is almost like I just need to get the gears moving, clear off the dust and the crazy, and release. As an aside, I really want to know what happens to Miranda. Am I alone here? Perhaps this is the subsequent chapter to the story I initiated in that previous post... which nobody has responded to, but I know there are those who are fervently working on it!
     I found the above excerpt while looking through old documents on my laptop, and reading that, I wanted to see the final product. I must admit, this pseudo-intro did not have any apparent overt influence on the content, but who knows what neural pathways and doors it opened and therefore indirectly contributed. Here is the final form that my first paragraph assumed in my essay:

     “History is the life of nations and of humanity.” Tolstoy’s theory of history is encompassed within this quote, though it is in his definitions of humanity and ‘the life of nations’ that it is really defined. Humanity is the reaction of all mankind to key ideals and it is under that influence that the collaboration of individuals drives forth and molds the future of a nation. When Tolstoy remarks on the battle of Austerlitz in his novel War and Peace, he captures this sentiment perfectly: “Just as in the clock the result of the complex action of innumerable wheels and pulleys is merely the slow and regular movement of the hand marking the time, so the result of all the complex human activities of these 160,000 Russian and French ... was only the loss of the battle of Austerlitz ... that is to say, a slow movement of the hand on the dial of human history.” In contrast to this view, history seems to be defined by individuals and therefore does not accurately portray the reality of human nature but rather the image given to it as icons. “In historical events great men — so-called — are but labels serving to give a name to the event, and like labels they have the least possible connection with the event itself. Every action of theirs, that seems to them an act of their own free will, is in an historical sense not free at all, but in bondage to the whole course of previous history, and predestined from all eternity.”

     Now, reading through that I first think to myself that I liked the other intro better. This one seems too cooked up and considered, where as Miranda's tale came forth from a frothy nebulous vomiting of extemporaneousness, and it was fun. It is not something I can disagree with since it has no orientation or implicit lesson, and I cannot argue with it as it transcends argument. I could attribute meaning to Dandy and Sandy-doo's legacy with which I could argue, but in its nascent construct it is without need for discretion. In the final form, this paragraph is based entirely on arguable material. It is the sense to my nonsense; the matter to my antimatter; the "encompassed within this quote" to my "misshapen and lumpy skull sac machine." I did say that I was thinking to myself that I liked the original intro better, but now I'm not so sure. I really do enjoy delving into the complex of an idea just as much as I enjoy having a menagerie of thoughts erupt from my brain like so many wild animals fleeing a small pen after being tazed. Is this truth a realization of universal balance being expressed in the microcosm of my intellect and creativity? Maybe it is. Maybe this is the reflection across my own personal taijitu, where at the limit of yin of my own "supreme ultimate" becomes the yang; my random becomes my deliberate; my llamas flow into my theories. Or maybe, this is completely wrong... and by posing that side of the argument I have successfully acheived balance! Or have I? I have. Not. !...? What is the opposite of an elipsis? Zhou Dunyi would be proud.

Also, this: Llamas with Hats

Sunday, November 6, 2011


     On Tuesday November 8, 2011, voters of Mississippi will decide on a state constitutional amendment that would redefine the definition of a person, extending it to a fertilized egg. This would provide all the rights of a person to an egg from the moment of conception, making abortion and some contraceptives such as the 'morning-after pill' an act of homicide. Basically, this was initiated a couple of years ago by a man named Les Riley who resides in Mississippi with a wife and 10 children. His purpose comes from his religious beliefs, explaining that, "Because Christ loved me when I didn't deserve it, I love my neighbors, born, unborn, mothers, even our enemies," quotes CBS News. He needed some 89,000 signatures to get it onto the ballot, and accrued over 106,000 certified signatures.
     Clearly, proponents of this cause argue that at its core, this is a matter of moral. Life in all of its beauty and complexity, should not and can not be left in the hands of men (gender neutral) to decide upon. Here is a link I found to an article written by an obvious Christian who sums up many of the biblically based arguments Pro-Life advocates habitually use. Largely, they refer to quotes in the bible such as this one where Yahweh proclaims to Jeremiah, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations." (Jeremiah 1:5), or when Yahshua states, "Listen to Me, O islands, And pay attention, you peoples from afar. Yahweh called Me from the womb; From the body of My mother He named Me." (Isaiah 49:1). The author of the article I linked above writes this, "Many Christians believe that the Bible is silent in regard to God's view on life before birth. Although the Bible does not specifically define when life begins, it does give us enough information to formulate a solid biblical position." I will leave this alone for now, but I have a serious problem with this. Lastly I will mention, that should this law be passed, the children conceived of rape would also be considered persons and pregnancies would not be allowed to be terminated. This of course, is a large point that the opposition bases its own arguments.
      Opposition to initiative 26 fear that this legal definition of personhood would complicate many already complicated situations such as rape, incest, and ectopic or dangerous pregnancies. In the CBS article I linked to above, a testimony is given by a woman who was raped 20 years prior at her university campus. She did not become pregnant, but is troubled by the thought of an alternative where this initiative was passed and she had to carry her rapists child. Often Pro-Life advocates will say punish the rapist, not the child like Les Riley's statement "We don't have the death penalty in Mississippi for rape. Why would we punish the rapist's child?" I fail to see however, the justification of abortion based on the lack or presence of capital punishment. Further opposition to initiative 26 comes from a medical perspective, though there are practicing medical professionals on each side of this. Many believe that the judgement of wether or not a pregnancy should be terminated should be based solely on the opinion of medical care professional and the parents, based on knowledge of the risk involved, not judges and legal officials. Interestingly, both gubernatorial candidates for the next Mississippi election are in favor of the proposition.
     I first heard of this situation while listening to NPR about a week ago, and as I listened I found my self considering the conflicting opinions at the heart of this argument, and really tried to conduct my examination unbiasedly. Be brave now as I go through this, be open, and visit this not in your intellect, but in your deepest place. That is what I tried to do, and what I want to do with everything- allowing my intellect, my heart, my emotion, to be an expression of a fundamental truth and not a mask of it. So what is that fundamental truth here? Well, to be honest, at first I looked at this situation through my emotion and intellect. Religion instantly irritates me, and to hear another Christian using the bible to argue a point against something so immense yet so personal truly made me angry. So I delved into my shelves of knowledge, pulling up files that agreed with the scientific reasoning proposed by opponents of 26. Then I felt a strong regret, almost ashamed. Did I just entertain the idea of advocating abortion? Was I considering that man had the right to determine the future of an unborn child? Then my emotion took me further, and all I could feel was that regret, and my brain began to get fuzzy and I remember all of those videos I'd seen at various religious gatherings I had been to. "The bible says..." and then I paused. I could not say why until today, but I did pause, and I asked Yahweh in the car, almost tearful, "when does a human have life?" What he said to me was, "There is life when I give life." Nobody dictates His creation but Him. No doctor, judge, or religious zealot has that authority,  and if His people would listen to Him then they would not need to fear the loss of life unnecessarily. If a woman must deal something  with such an incredible gravity as to consider the fate of possible life conceived within her, what would be more desired than the voice of the Creator to say whether life was there or not? I know that my God and his power is bigger than the joining of two haploid gamete cells in a woman, and that His sovereignty certainly extends beyond words within some 66 books of a 'closed' cannon. And in the same way, He is not commanded by the product of His own creation. I know it is a difficult truth to consider, but I will not simply condemn something because the bible has been translated to prescribe that condemnation. I based my opinion on that of the Father who rejoices in the life He gives as much as He has entire control over the life He gives.
     This vote will go on, and there is a strong chance that it will pass. If it does, there is going to have to be a lot of follow up legislation to protect the mothers involved, and to filter the blanket statement that abortion is murder to make it amenable to the unavoidable uniqueness of each pregnancy. In the end, there should be only one filter. That filter is Yahweh.

In a much lighter kind of news, I had a very interesting fortune cookie today:

I have been claiming success every day, and I believe at least for the time being and for this season I am supposed to, and maybe forever. It's so true, that even fortune cookies know. I don't like to take meaning out of every single little thing I see, but then again, Yahweh can speak through anything and everything- and I believe this was, if not with a sense of humor, a reminder of a promise.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

What the Morning Brought Me

Last night I made heavenly red velvet cupcakes, with some help. The importance of my contributions may not have been obvious, but without the cupcakes I had custody over, by comparison the others would not have looked nearly so delectable. Today I ate them, and life was good. Indeed I ate a tremendous amount of other foods as well, such as unprecedented amounts of tortilla chips supporting bold, toothsome buffalo chicken dip; pumpkin beer bread half plunged into warm, thick spinach and artichoke spread; hot chicken wings that peeled as easily from the bone as they crunched zestfully between my jaws; sticky maple frosted cider doughnuts hung by a string from an archway; hot beef, sausage, and been chili slow cooked in crockpot to provide a thick saucy medium for the exquisit blend of peppers and spices that accompanied; skull shaped gushers and gummy constructed 'Krabby Patties'; the act of my consuming which I am sure was a truly wondrous and grizzly sight. To get to the point, making those cupcakes kept me up late, and therefore this morning I slept in- walked down stairs- walked up stairs- and slept in some more. It was delightful, though I find that when I do this, it is when I go back to sleep that I have the most vivid dreams. This morning brought me quite the interesting one, along with a flavorful idea. Here is what the morning brought me.

Notice: The following story contains graphic detail.

     Just a point of darkness on a grey horizon. A seamless thickness of cloud did its best to keep secret the sun as it presumably made its daily resurrection out of darkness. Still, the darkness of night had abated and light dimly pervaded, as if coming out of the world itself to satisfy the day in the absence of the sun. The air was heavy with salt that mixed with the sweat covering his chest and neck, but at least the flies had not yet found him. The tall man sat stiffly in his tree, sentry for the ghosts of the island and his mind. Holding up in a tree at the edge of beach had been his only option to perserve him from those awful beasts. What bad beasts, never sleeping, never gone for long... what do they want from me? He glanced around with sharp movements, sweat flinging from soaked hair to nearby branches as he jerked his head this way and that. Back to the horizon. They ask me to watch for them almost every night now. What are they looking for? Why won't they just let me be? He just wanted to be left alone with the lights... his lights. He knew they were his, that the beasts were not aware of them, and all he wanted to do was care for them, watch them. His lights. They came every now and then, and if he concentrated hard enough, some of them turned into images; faces of others like him, the sounds of the words he knew in his head, voices.
     "My lights." he grunted almost intelligibly, smiling at the unfamiliar but satisfying use of his own voice. Words had been so useless without anyone to share them with, and the beasts that asked him to do things in his mind were not likely to be happy if they heard him speak. They were unforgiving. Making him crush his own fingers beneath stones when they were disappointed with him, or carve the skin from his legs and abdomen, or pull out his own teeth. When they were happy, the simply left him alone. Alone to eat the grass or grubs or crabs that composed his diet, never truly feeling full or satisfied despite his overly distended stomach. Alone, not like now. Now they watched, silently in the shadows in his head. Terror gripped him as he suddenly remembered their presence, feeling the pressure of their observation and expectation of him to watch. Quickly his eyes found the horizon and locked in. The dark point in the morning haze was still there, though he could not be sure. It was so small.
     As he stared as fixedly as possible towards the far edge of the water, his vision morphed and flowed with the sea, hypnotic. Hardly a few moments passed before his sleep deprived mind began to cause him to digress from his mission. Then he found the lights. They were so comfortable, coating his thoughts with a shimmering warmth, washing his fears and stress in a stream of bubbling golden luminescence. The tension in his neck started to leave, his shoulders slumped and the hand holding the trunk to his left slid slowly along the bark to rest a few inches lower. The lights were nice. So much nicer than the beasts. So much more like him. Faces. Voices. Hello friends. His eyelids already halfway closed now, seemed to grow unimaginably heavier, being pulled down as if by some other hands. My lights. So light... so many lights.... My li-. The spine at the base of his skull departed his neck in an instant, the bolt encouraging it easily along through thick tendons and sinew before slamming solidly in a neighboring tree. The force of the blow destabilized the body, flinging it backwards from its perch even before the muscles in the limbs had gone limp. Cascading down towards the inevitable floor and nearly getting hung up a lower branch, the body was followed by a slower sticky mist of red, coloring laves and sticks in the pale morning haze. A portion of the spine remained in the canopy, pressed against a tree by the bolt jutting from its center. A mass of flesh laid hopelessly motionless the base of tree, while transient circuitry stopped forever making beasts and lights.
     The shot had been exemplary, precise, just as calculated. The captain moved the half mask back over the right side of his face before turning from the prow to face the crew. He untied the leather binding that laced the length of his arm from wrist to shoulder with his left hand, and smoothly pulled the device off. What a marvelous machine.

There you have it, the gift of my morning. Now for a promised flavorful idea. I get the beginning of this story that, when I wake up, I am really excited about. I cannot tell you why, but this small scene really was fascinating to me. Before I ever got out of bed my mind went in a thousand directions with it, and it just kept becoming more elaborate and involved, and I thought... I should blog this. Not only write it down, but see what other people thought of it. And even more excitingly, I was hoping that some may even continue it! I had the idea that anyone who read this could offer their 'next scene' to the story, and then we could look at all of the different directions and creative writings. You can post what you write in the comments or email them to me at bigfootisking@gmail.com and I'll get them on here. If nobody responds to this, despite the scores of followers attending this blog, I will likely just continue it myself. But seriously do consider it all of you. I love reading, and sharing, and this takes those two things and brings them together. Also, enjoy the extra hour of sleep tonight friends!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


This Monday, after waking up an hour away from school and 20 minutes into class, I conceded defeat on making it there. As I rushed to get my things together, with several items not making it onto my foggy mental checklist and remaining at my parents for the next few days, I began to will myself to appeal to Yahweh for what my opinion should be, and to question the day as to its direction. My will finally overcame came the cerebral sea smoke draining from my eyes and made the connection I was after once I was a few miles down the road. "Success," is what I heard. Well, success I can do! So Monday I was successful. I searched for success, acted as if all things that occurred were a result of success, and succeeded at succeeding. I went to bed that night knowing full well that operation success was a success. I woke up Tuesday morning to the haunting-yet-gentle-to-wake-to sound of the X-files theme song per usual, and before I had even managed to convince my phone to stop playing the magnificent series' leitmotif, I heard, "success." "This cannot be," I admonished myself. "Success was yesterday, so today is likely failure... possibly it's winning or some other close synonym, but surely not success. I think dino-nugs."

     *SPOILER: Tuesday was not about dino-nugs.

It was, in fact, success. Following my self-chastisement for an idea that was not even my own and in fact was a truth I insulted, it became clear to me that the same thing can be true for two days, several days, all days, or a second. As I pondered my ill-informed pontification that had only just occurred, I came to a startling revelation. Well, two revelations: First, I needed to get out of bed as time had proven yet again to have neither the patience nor courtesy to wait for me, despite my proximity to the meaning of life. Second, coming to this understanding of what could be what when and how and where was, to use a familiar noun, a success! So went my day, and I realized that what Yahweh has intended for me this week is to succeed. Not only that, but to see success where everyone else sees failure; to be successful where nobody else can; and most importantly, to succeed at changing my opinion to fit that of His. Tuesday night. Lost my wallet. Success. This morning, cannot go to the gym from lack of wallet. Success. Receiving my exam and learning that my grade was, we'll say, unique. Success. And I assure you, I struggled at many points, but also always came out truly feeling successful! What a better feeling than failure. I have my wallet now, it was on the porch where I ate unimaginably delectable beer brat's that my brother made for us. Poor quality image below, but trust my description, not my phone's camera resolution.

Such exquisite tastiness. Finally, I went on a tour of a Merck branch right near where I work yesterday. During the tour, questions about job opportunities, advice for getting a job as a PhD, etc. were often brought up. What really stuck with me was the awkwardness surrounding the job market for PhD's. It was danced around as if the amount of jobs for PhD's was embarrassing or uncomfortable... and what also really stuck with me was the obvious fact (which I already knew) that having a PhD makes you overqualified for many, many jobs that might otherwise be available to a Masters or B.S. degree. Then when I was eating 'first lunch' today, I saw this in on my floor's message board:

Where others might fail, I will succeed. Feel free to join me if you like, but that's where I'm going. I feel this post has been a success.