Asides

We are more alike than different

A brief update from seminary…

I have long thought that all the people and religions of the world have laughably little that separates them. Of course you could rightfully say there is nothing laughable about the shitty behavior we perpetrate in the name of our religions, but early in my theological studies at seminary, I am heartened by the similarities I find in all of the major faith traditions.

In preparing for an upcoming intensive on Hinduism I am reading the Bhagavad Gita. “Song of God” is what Bhagavad Gita means. How beautiful, no?

Here is a quote from the forward that Aldous Huxley wrote in 1944 (During World War Two) for the version I’m reading. Huxley was an English writer and pre-eminent intellectual of the early 20th century.

He says:

“There will never be enduring peace unless and until human beings come to accept a philosophy of life more adequate to the cosmic and psychological facts than the insane idolatries of nationalism and the advertising man’s apocalyptic faith in Progress towards a mechanized New Jerusalem….”

“….happily there is the Highest Common Factor of all religions, the Perennial Philosophy which has always and everywhere been the metaphysical system of the prophets, saints, and sages. It is perfectly possible for people to remain good Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, or Moslems [sic] and yet to be united in full agreement on the basic doctrines of the Perennial Philosophy.”

Huxley published a book titled The Perennial Philosophy as a comparative study of the mysticism from Eastern and Western religions about this same time. I presume he found them to all be speaking of the same thing. Hmm… I think that’s where I started this post?

Guess that’s one more book for the reading list.

Later, my friend.

Be well.

What did you just call me?

I’m in seminary.

This is from the “Andy’s Hangups” file:

I had to look up the word Minister today after someone called me one.

I almost said, “well F you too!” but noticed she didn’t seem to think it was an insult.

Turns out, minister can be a verb that means “to give service or aid to someone.”

In other contexts, it can be a political representative or government functionary, i.e. “Minister of Education, or Minister of Magic.”

Disclaimer *This is my blog, and as such, is a repository for my take. My thoughts and opinions are just that - my own. I come in peace, and am doing my best to make sense of it all just like you are*

I thought it meant sweaty, hypocritical asshole.

Oy vey.

I promise I’m trying here. When will I be discovered as a fraud?

I just want to make the world a little better place and understand why we’re here.
Why I thought learning religion might help, I have no idea. That certainly wasn’t my experience with it growing up.

Until next time… Gotta go learn about how to preach.

-Andy

p.s. I don’t actually think this about all ministers. I took a little license to illustrate a point. I have serious hangups around language. I feel like some words have been taken from me – from all of us, really. I’m in the midst of a journey to try to reclaim them. Am I alone in this?

This moment: Friendship

This post is an installment in my 30 day writing project called “This moment” – where I put pen to paper and write whatever comes to mind starting with the statement This Moment… If you want to know more, this post explains a little more what I’m up to.

This moment.

This moment I am thinking of you, friend. How our friendship is like a dance. The way you dance with me. Unsure of each other, yet kind and knowing it so we continue to walk trusting that each will step when it’s time to step, stand when it is time to stand and sway when it’s time to sway. Friends are like Ansel Adams cacti on the landscape. All around with arms stretched wide so to catch me when I fall, but not without their thorns. Precious few at times, but they let me give voice to the scary bits, never judging, always knowing they’re there. The warmth of their presence reminds me that all is well with creation, with the universe. I honor the arms and I love them for their thorns that make be bleed.

And what is this universe, if not a web of friendships? Relationships at least, but who is the judge of a relationship and its name? I say, I am friend to that mosquito who just took my blood so that she may walk her path as I must mine. The tree that shades my Florida house in the relentless July sun? She is my friend. The Sun is my friend too, I need her, but have been hiding when she comes to call. Too much, I say. Overbearing. Oppressive her friendship. I’ll need her again though, so I take her call though it pains me.

The man who hurts me – is he friend too? I think yes, though I feel the thorns more than the arms. What about tougher stuff? Fire? Rapists? Can we be friends? Space that is vacuum and inhospitable to me would blow me apart. Is it my friend too? What is my relationship with all of this?

I think that I am here in this form to learn something, to accomplish something. I am in this body so that I may have arms to catch someone else falling. Who shall I lift up? Myself? “Charity starts at home,” the saying goes, but my elbows are wrong for that. These arms are made to hold another, not their owner. Is there a god? If so, would She be so cruel or so loving as to create us with arms that only bend to hug another? I can touch and pat my own back, but it isn’t the same. A dance with you, my friend, always feels right.

I’ve stepped on toes as I’ve danced, I’ve stood and sweated and smelled and made bad conversation while life’s music played. My cactus arms are thorny as any. I’ve been clumsy dance partner to many. Here I am though–Black tuxedo, navy blue socks, pilled white shirt and a smile – ready to dance with you. Will you dance with me? It may be our last chance, though I may see you again as a cactus. Will you remember me then? Ansel did.

This moment: Writing with your bones

This moment.

This moment I’m exhausted, wrung out. I’m tired like you don’t feel that often. Neck, eyes, fingers, all of it.

Outside my window is laughing at me. It’s all green and waving in the breeze while I breathe this canned air. I stare at a glowy flat thing all day and tippity tap on another flat thing with little square things all over it and call it work. Would my forefathers know this work? Cave paintings and pyramids and wars with gods. Harrumph. I think that they’d say harrumph.

Them all slaying cyclops and flying too close to the sun and pushing that rock up that hill and here I sit tippity tap typing on my little shiny one thing and staring at my little glowing other thing telling myself it’s work. Is it? I think I push that rock too. Mine just glows and beeps and blinks back at me. Moss on this rock rubs off on me like green knowing. It falls off a little at a time as I scrape back the layers. I peel and scratch and fight to dig out what’s underneath and little by little something comes into shape and view from beneath. I find a corner. I rub and fuss and scrape and dig some more and finally I pull it out. There. A tooth. A rib bone, a jaw. A letter. A sentence. A story.

I dig deep in that bone yard that smells all musty and scary and who knows what I’ll find. I don’t know until I find it either, but I’m always surprised what comes up from the earth. The things the world has kept alone to itself forever. Until now. Until I came along. Is that what I’m here for? Am I a maker or a doer or just a teller? Am I the narrator of some story that you wrote? That the worker bees go build and leave to the scribe to record and pass on? I’m the grave digger. The archaeologist digging up the bones you made- the ones you fought and died for and here I sit, pulling them up and pretending I know what they mean and putting them together like building blocks that you never intended. That’s the hazard of what I do. Better to get it right or just get it at all? Make you think, make me work. Tippity tap. Tippity tap.

You go hunt buffalo. I’ll sit here and paint on the cave wall about it with your bones as my quill.

Hunting

What I’m up to: Writing, business coaching, and much much more…

What I’m up to of late

My desk & my life right now

One of the things I do is write. I’ve decided to get more serious about developing this facet of myself and to actually finish one of several books I’ve gotten underway.

This latest round of interest was sparked at a retreat I attended recently. Janet Conner was one of the session presenters and I learned about her story and her passion around writing. Her book, Writing Down Your Soul is a compelling read for anyone who’s been through trying times. It isn’t journaling. It isn’t prayer. It isn’t meditation. Yet it is part each of those.

Janet’s work and message connected with me so much that I am plunking down the money to take her once-yearly writing course (which starts in a week or so).

To prepare for the course, I’ve been working through several other books she recommended (Ray Bradbury’s Zen and the Art of Writing, and Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones).

One exercise that caught my attention was to write every day. That’s a sometimes daunting thing to do, especially when your mind is everywhere but on the page in front of you.

I’ll be doing a project called “This Moment” to build my writing muscles where for 30 days, I write something starting with the statement, “This moment,” – and then just roll with what comes.

Yesterday’s post, “The salad knows.” was the first of these. I may share more on this website.

Additionally, I’m working hard on Prolificate, my business coaching practice. I continue to feel in my bones that there are ideas trapped in minds around the world that I can help bring into being by using my business chops (chops? or are they merely business cutlets? Oooh, how about “business bacon”! You heard it here first.)

At any rate, I continue to meet business owners (current and future) who are good at their craft, but feel too intimidated by the obstacle of turning their dreaming into doing (a business, non-profit, NGO, or club, etc.). It’s slow going, as there is much competition for people’s attention, but I know I can help. I just need to figure out how to have my voice be heard and trusted. (open to your ideas here).

Look for more from me on multiple fronts including travel photos, personal and business writing, and other inanity soon.

-AC

30 Hours to Kuala Lumpur

I completely lost track of time and space on the way here. Cincinnati to LA, LA to Shanghai, Shanghai to Kuala Lumpur.

On the airline website it looked simple enough. A couple of transfers, some airplane food, a bus ride to central KL, and we’d be there.

In reality, 4 dusty, tired, and disoriented travelers stumbled up to meet the owner of the apartment we found on Airbnb.

By American standards, the apartment is very basic. It’s clean, and has wifi, hot water, AC, and cable television. Sounds just fine – and it is – but I think most Americans would turn around when they saw it. Located on a hodgepodge street full of luxury hotels and businesses, I’d bet the building this apartment is in has been here longer than nearly all its neighbors. It’s the kind of concrete block apartment building you see in Jackie Chan movies… jammed with lots of little (~500 square feet for the biggest) apartments. This one has a main area, 2 bedrooms, and a bathroom. It’s basic, but functional. You can hear lots of very detailed sounds coming from the neighbors all around you – but you aren’t really able to directionally locate them. Very much “big city” sounds. Rarely have I been in this close proximity to this many people.

Our choice to relocate from the suburbs of Cincinnati Ohio to downtown Cincinnati seems a good one in retrospect. Though Cincinnati isn’t nearly as dense as KL, the family is accustomed to the sights and sounds of urban life. Here it is just turned up in intensity.

We arrived at ~7am local time after 30 hours of travel. It was daylight when we left Ohio, and it was still daylight when we landed in Shanghai…. only getting dark when we landed in KL (roughly 2am local time). We basically flew west with the sun, so it never set.

Once we got to the apartment, the 2 hour nap we had planned to rejuvenate ourselves turned into 9 hours of dead-to-the-world. We roused ourselves around 4pm to get ready to go find food & a travel adapter only to catch the rain as it started. It’s now 8pm and the rain hasn’t stopped yet. Subsisting on a big bag of homemade trail mix Meredith made (good call, by the way), we’ve given up on today.

I’m good. I’m clean, freshly shaved, and scrounged a cup of coffee. I’m just starting a journey I’ve dreamed about for years, and I’m on it with people I love.  Oh, and the delicious smell of garlic cooking is coming from somewhere nearby now.

Hopefully the morning brings some sun.

Tomorrow we try again.

p.s. pictures soon – when I can find an internet connection fast enough.

Looking forward…

I just checked the weather. Monday (3 days hence), the high temp here in Cincinnati is forecast to be -1F/-18C. In Kuala Lumpur, where we’ll be headed soon, the same day is forecast at a high temp of 85F/ 29C.
I love Cincinnati, but I don’t love cold.

Howdy

Hey there.

Glad to see you here at my new digs. I plan to use this site for photography, general travel blogging, and my usual inanity. Stay tuned.

Oh, and turn off your computer. Go do something that makes you or someone else smile…