Tag: Friday Philosophy

Friday Philosophy: Traveling Light

I have traveled light through this world.  I intend to depart it lightly as well.

I have few things.

What stuff would that be?  And who of my family do people imagine are going to fight over what I have?  Other than my books, my clothes and my record collection…which fits in an orange crate…all my “stuff” fits in the shelves and drawers of one desk (or, as has been done before, the back seat of the car I used to have, including the records).

And most of the stuff I have has no intrinsic value.  Bits of blown glass, a few shells, a couple of rocks, some carved wood, a couple of kaleidoscopes…

I’ve gone through my life with few things.  What more do I need than what I need to get me through the day?  This day.  Maybe tomorrow.  Next month seems a world away.  

Friday Philosophy: Freedom of Choice

A question was asked this morning.  “What am I reading?”  Because of my poor eyesight, the current answer is all too often, “Not much.”

But I’ve had a burr under my saddle for about 10 days and I decided to remedy that.

It all started with NLinStPaul‘s essay, Right Brain Consciousness about Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor.   Well, I’m as much a brain geek as the next layperson, so I was interested.  I made the following comment last week:

What of someone who habitually combines what are traditionally thought of left-brain and right-brain activity?  And what of the place of cross-fertilization?

From wikipedia:

The corpus callosum is a structure of the mammalian brain in the longitudinal fissure that connects the left and right cerebral hemispheres. It is the largest white matter structure in the brain, consisting of 200-250 million contralateral axonal projections. It is a wide, flat bundle of axons beneath the cortex. Much of the inter-hemispheric communication in the brain is conducted across the corpus callosum.

Of much more substantial popular impact was a 1982 Science article claiming to be the first report of a reliable sex difference in human brain morphology, and arguing for relevance to cognitive gender differences.

Oh, really?  My interest is piqued.

Friday Philosophy: Thought Salad

I’m not in my happy place today.  At least so far.  I’m letting myself be drawn into discussions I’m better off avoiding, if only for my own sanity.  Lately I’ve been seeing signs of the same sort of thing that drove me from the other place…and I don’t see signs of anyone creating another place to escape to in the near future.

I don’t like putting up walls, really.  But when it becomes obvious that there is a central issue that I and someone else are never, ever going to agree on, I find I am much better off to not discuss anything like that issue with that person.  And sometimes it gets to the point that I am better off leaving.  I have a history of leaving, some might call it running away, just like I have a history of being told to get lost.

The former is always painful, but I have found that I can eventually get over it.  The latter is a thousand times more painful and one doesn’t get over it.  Ever.  At least this one doesn’t know how to do so.

But sometimes the former is necessary to do because one foresees the possibility of the latter.

Friday Philosophy: A grand fiction

A lifetime ago…

I had dreams from time to time about writing fiction.  If I could only capture my dreams, which I was sure were filled with interesting substance of grand consequence, I was sure there would be stories people would want to read.  As I grew older, though, the only part of the dreams I could remember was the part where my dreamself was searching for a functioning toilet…meaning it was imperative that I wake up soon.

I never mastered the fiction thing.  When I start with a premise based in untruth, even the smallest change in the Herenow, my mind tends to follow too many paths arrived at because that untruth sparked too many consequences.  So mostly I read my books and thought about how those stories would have gone if I had been the author…a state which was surely never going to exist.

When I did start writing something besides mathematics, I stuck with my experiences, thoughts and feelings.  The only things approaching fiction were descriptions of the way I thought events should have…or could have…transpired.

Friday Philosophy: Horton Hears a Boomer

I’m not sure when I became aware of the idea.  It’s certainly not original.  And it is so simple.

Life is not about becoming what one is destined to be.  It’s not even really about becoming who one is destined to be.  It’s about becoming who one wishes to be.

Or rather about becoming who one wishes to be while one is becoming someone even better, because there is surely never going to be a time when one reaches attains this particular vision.  At least I can’t see how that could ever be the case.

I remember growing up and being asked or (more probably) encouraged to be something.  Be an athlete.  Be a scientist.  Be a good boy.  Be a man.

It troubled me that so often I didn’t know how to do those things…and wasn’t really interested in learning how to be any of those.

Friday Philosophy: On Aging

This Spring Break has pretty much sucked.  My car bit the big one and we are donating it to get rid of it because it’s not worth putting any more money in it.  The insurance runs out this month, so it only made sense.

But getting in and out of Debbie’s Saturn and trying to drive it has done a number on my back.  There are more times than you might imagine when being tall sucks.  Over the course of a lifetime, one is asked numerous times to invoke one’s tallness to grasp something stored up high…something that should not be lifted in that body conformation.  Damage results…mostly minute.  But they accumulate over the years.

Playing sports didn’t help. I’m sure.  Back in the days before we had “sports medicine.”  Back in the days when treatment included the words, “suck it up.”

Neither did breaking my heel in basic training…and my leg in Tulsa at Christmas in 1995.  And the doctors I’ve seen don’t know why I have an unnaturally large gap in my spine.  Treatment was supposed to be to strengthen muscles that have never been strong in my existence, including some that were rearranged during my surgery.  Nor do they know why one of my hip ligaments is unnaturally short and tends to slide off where it is supposed to be.  Treatment for that is painfully trying to stretch the ligament.  I’m not fond of pain.  Sucks to be me, sometimes.

So sometimes my hips don’t feel like supporting my upper body and the best thing I can do for it is rest.  Sometimes it helps.  Being a teacher, often resting is not an option.  That causes more damage…and we have your classic Vicious Circle™.

Friday Philosophy: Perspective

On Monday I read Learning to Count Past Two…with a few updates as asides…to a Women’s Studies class called Changing Women’s Lives.  My partner Debbie is coordinator of the Women’s Studies Resource and Empowerment Center (WSREC)  and teaches that class.  It would be great if it were a faculty line, and hence a full time position, but that is not the case.  She’s rather considered more of a hybrid staff/adjunct faculty person (i.e. she gets no benefits, except as my spouse).

Let’s not even talk about adjunct compensation.  It’s one of the things our society should be ashamed of.

I’ve presented that piece live a time or two before.  It was, in fact, written to be presented to a Psychology of Women class at the University of Central Arkansas.  The professor who invited me to lecture her classes several times didn’t get tenure.  That’s an observation, not a conclusion.

But it is true that many, many people think that teaching about people like me to college or high school students is beyond the pale.  And I leave open the definition of “people like me.”

Friday Philosophy: Where ragged people go…

Sixteen years ago, when I was 44, I started transitioning.  Oddly, fourty-four years ago, I was 16.  It was also a transitional year, in many ways.  I have spent the week trying to remember it, perhaps with hindsight that is quite more myopic than 20-20.

It was a time…

It’s hard growing up knowing that there is something so terribly wrong that it must be hidden from everyone.  It would have been best at the time if I could have hid it from myself as well but, as I’ve said before, ideas cannot be unthought.  I was, in my mind, a pervert.  Nothing was going to change that.  The best I could do was to try to hide it.

On Wednesday I posted my poem about my obsessive-compulsive disorder.  I spent an equally absurd amount of time trying to disguise that.

Friday Philosophy: The Task at Hand

I got over being angry many years ago…around the time that I stopped being depressed, I would suppose, but if there is anything I have learned in this life it is that depression is really not totally evident until after it ends.  I’ve relied on the analyses of my therapists.

Ralph and Kurt, two gay men I will love forever, did not agree with the depression diagnosis, except as how it might be true that the act of transition creates an induced state of depression.  And my MMPI evaluation pronounced me entirely sane.  I have papers.

My own belief is that the difficulty lies in the fact that in order to acknowledge who I was required a different world view, one which was totally at odds with the world I encountered in my off-line life.

That off-line existence became quite ugly when I came out in Conway, AR on September 30, 1992.  If a 15-year old boy can be murdered by a 14-year old boy in California in 2008 because he dressed effeminately, imagine what it was like to be a 44-year old being a known transsexual woman in Arkansas in 1992.  I decided at the time that I had a duty to do my best to ensure that nobody else should be treated like I was…ever.

That’s why I write.  What else can I do?  One uses the skills and talents which one has.

Friday Philosophy: Like the water

[Excerpts are from translations of the Tao te Ching by Lin Yutang, Stephen Mitchell, and Ursula Le Guin.]

The words flow like water.

But sometimes it is a drip.  A splash here and there.  Sometimes a stagnating pool.  Sometime a great river.

A life can flow or not, like the water.

Chapter 8

The best of us is like water;

Water benefits all things

And does not compete with them.

It dwells in the lowly places that all disdain –

Wherein it comes near to the Tao.

Muddy water becomes clear by lying still.  Disturbed water cannot be smoothed by a hand.  Lessons learned at great price.

Friday Philosophy: Delirium

The fever burns.  Whether the fever of the head or the heart, it burns.  

Temperature rising,

it isn’t surprising

she certainly can can-can

–Irving Berlin

Twenty-four hours being bathed in fire, spiked with the occasional five minutes of shaking from being chilled to the bone and frequent bouts of coughing which rendered breathing problematic have passed.  Memories linger and are recorded.  Ideas joust with each other for primacy.  Words erupt.

Memories of the bad times…of decades of burning pieces of my heart to keep the world out…and me in, all in the pursuit of safety, or so I thought.  When in doubt run away, either emotionally, psychologically or physically.  What else could be considered sane when one lives in an insane world?  And the inhabitants of this world became more fearful with each passing day.

Friday Philosophy: Jump Shift?

Phase in.  Phase out.  Out of Phaze.

Phase shift.  

Some people shift paradigms.  I shift points of view.  Sometimes I have felt forced to do so.  Sometimes I choose to do so intentionally.  Sometimes I have taken a chance at shifting willingly.

I’ve come to the fork in the road, so to speak.  (Insert Slauson Cutoff joke here)  Do I step on the transporter or not?  Do I scatter my atoms across the universe?

Mitosis?  Cytokinesis?  Meiosis?  

Will these metaphors never cease?

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