No Hell (Warrior Poet Mental Yoga 218)

Mama said the stars are the universe’s eyes.
I can feel them watching over me most of the time.
We grew up believing we could learn how to fly.
We came from the earth, but we belong to the sky.
I saw your soul without the skin attached,
and you’ve got the guts of a coyote pack.
We’ve been kissed, we’ve been cut, but we do what needs the doing.
We’re just rainbows dreaming we are human.
Please excuse the lights shooting out of my head.
I keep them in a cage, but they come out when they see a friend (you must be a friend).
You’re never really gonna have control of it all,
so you best get cool with where your chips gonna fall.
We are the sun and mother’s milk and cuss words and poetry.

There’s no use in running, unless you run like heck.
The best things we’ve learned, we learned from the wreck.
Jesus coming back as a woman this time,
handing out hugs in the clinic line.
Someone tell the devil we don’t need no hell.
We’re all pretty good at beating up ourselves.

As kids we believed that the angels talked.
Everything is magic, til you think it’s not.
It’s easy to be thankful for the things you’ve got.
It takes guts to give thanks for the things you’ve lost
We grew up believing good wins over bad,
So you gave away your heart but the wolves attacked.
(But then a bigger heart grew back)
Please excuse the words coming out of my mouth,
I’m a happy man, but there are some things I need to get out…

There’s no use in running, unless you run like heck.
The best things we’ve learned, we learned from the wreck.
Jesus coming back as a woman this time,
handing out hugs in the clinic line.
Someone tell the devil we don’t need no hell.
We’re all pretty good at beating up ourselves.

Cloud Cult – Lyrics*

*You should check out the song if you are not familiar with it.

The Difference Between Bandaged and Unbandaged Reality (Warrior Poet Mental Yoga 214)

Pretext: I am a veterinarian and this piece relates to the practice of veterinary medicine, but its greater purpose and message is in its complete metaphorical potential.

I recently performed a skin graft on one of my patients because I did not have enough surrounding tissue remaining to close the incision after removing a tumor off of the dog’s lower leg. This surgery is almost always done at specialty hospitals and associated with a much higher cost that what I charged the client. My opportunity to perform this procedure in this manner and have the fortunate results so far experienced is also highly attributable to the clients/owners for being exceptionally attentive and observant in the post-op aftercare of their dog and in complying with all of my instructions and requests.

Today is post-op day 14 and the graft has done exceptionally well. It appears that 80-90% of it will take. That’s a pretty high ratio of expectation especially given the conservative manner in which the wound has been managed.

I was very excited about the results when I performed the recheck exam today and I almost took a picture so that I might share the level of skill and success my team/hospital has been able to achieve for the patient. But then, as I was talking with my staff, we collectively realized that anyone in the general public that viewed a picture of the wound in its current state would not be able to appreciate or understand what they were looking at. Most likely, they would think that a butcher had performed the surgery and was displaying a sick picture of his gore.

That is such a hard concept for me. To know, to profoundly know, and objectively see the exceptional product or change that you can bring about doing things the right way and yet, be unable to share it with others so that they might see, appreciate, and accept the truth of the matter. So, explicit truth must be tamed down or covered up with a bandage until it might become subtle enough in appearance for someone to not even appreciate its presence or the significant difference in effort and skill that it brought about.

Taming things down seems to make everything look the same. It collectively homogenizes outliers and noteworthy differences. In part, I think that’s why such a tolerance has been allowed to foster, or maybe I should say fester.

Maybe we should be looking at the raw unfiltered and unbandaged truth more; looking at the flesh, the ooze, the scabbing, the inflammation, the blood supply, and the compromised tissue, which are all involved and relevant towards the final outcome. That might tell the true tale; the difference between what works and what does not; the difference between what we are capable of and what we settle for; the difference between the illusion of proclaimed reality via lip service and the reality experienced through witnessing the healing of a very challenging and complicated wound.

Jeff Cribb DVM          2017

Moving Beyond the Stalemate of Being Enemy Combatants (Warrior Poet Mental Yoga 211)

 

My study of moral psychology has made me somewhat more humble. It has made me realize that my mind will jump to conclusions and that many of those conclusions will be wrong. I can’t often perceive that reality at first. What I have found is that the best way to make an effective apology, which also happens to be a good way to initiate any kind of interaction and/or consideration for change with anyone, is to start by saying what you’re wrong about. So, in any sort of politically charged encounter, don’t start off by making your case about what you’re right about. Start off by saying what you know your side has been wrong about historically, and that you know the other side was right on those issues. Being humble, acknowledging fault, or praising something on the other side, has been proven to win hearts and minds, to create an atmosphere that supports consideration and empathy. Start off in that way, and then by the power of reciprocity, the other side is more inclined to match your effort. What you want to avoid at all costs is the normal human interaction of assuming that everyone who is not a blind unquestioning ally is an enemy combatant. Avoid throwing arguments at the other side for pure consumption and to create emotional outrage, not even by the other entity, but by the onlookers and bystanders of the matter. Avoid that dynamic at all costs. The power of apologies and acknowledgements, the expression of empathy and respect, is what is required to lay the groundwork for genuine conversation. That is what I want to leave with you.

Jonathan Haidt

(transcript from an On Being interview with significant editing/paraphrasing from me 2017)

Work Life Imbalance, Balance and Bullshit (Warrior Poet Mental Yoga 208)

It started off as a good idea where people would say “you must have work life balance.” Work life balance is certainly better than work life imbalance, but I think that the concept is basically mindless, and the reason for that is that we have these categories; work. . , life. . , and we have brains, and brawn, and so on, all of the different distinctions that we (feel we must) make. . .we make them mindfully and then start to use them mindlessly, forgetting that when we are at work, we are people, we have the same needs we had when we were on vacation, that when we’re talking to people, the people we’re talking to also have the same needs and so on. The idea, I think needs to be, to replace work life balance which treats these categories as independent, with work life integration. And you should get to the point where you’re treating yourself, whether you’re at at work or at play, in basically the same way.

Ellen Jane Langer          2014

Ellen Jane Langer is a professor of psychology at Harvard University, having in 1981 become the first woman ever to be tenured in psychology at Harvard. Langer studies the illusion of control, decision-making, aging, and mindfulness theory.

A Good Story, Overconfidence, and Mattering (Warrior Poet Mental Yoga 204)

Pretext Note: These are highly relevant and insightful quotes about behavior and awareness from a psychologist who won the Nobel Prize in economics for helping to create the field of behavioral economics.

What people want is not the well being of their experiencing self. What people want is more closely associated with a remembering self. They want to have good memories. They want good opinions of themselves. They want to have a good story about their life.

When you look globally at people’s actions, overconfidence is endemic. I mean we have too much confidence in our beliefs and our overconfidence is really associated with a failure of imagination. We cannot imagine an alternative to our beliefs. We are convinced that only our beliefs can be true. That is overconfidence. And overconfidence is almost always involved with failures of every sort, including those catastrophic and of great impact upon all of humanity. On the other hand, overconfidence and overconfident optimism is the engine of capitalism. I mean all entrepreneurs are overconfident. They all think they are going to be successful. People who open restaurants in New York, think they will succeed, otherwise they wouldn’t do it, but at least two thirds of them will have to give up within a few years. In our society, we reward overconfidence. We almost demand that our leaders exercise and proclaim overconfidence.

What I don’t know matters enormously. What I don’t see matters enormously.

Daniel Kahneman

 

To Be or Not To Be, That is Not the Question (Warrior Poet Mental Yoga 201)

I would say that the major religious problem today is the systematic liquidation of man’s sensitivity to the challenge of God. Let me try to explain that. We cannot understand man in his own terms. Man is not to be understood in the image of nature, in the image of an animal, or in the image of a machine. He has to be understood in terms of a transcendence, and that transcendence is not a passive thing; it is a challenging transcendence. Man is always being challenged; a question is always being asked of him. The moment man disavows the living transcendence, he is contracted; he is reduced to a level on which his distinction as a human being gradually disappears. What makes a man human is his openness to transcendence, which lifts him to a higher level than himself. Overwhelmed by the power he has achieved, man now has the illusion of sovereignty; he has become blind to his own situation, and deaf to the question being asked of him.

To destroy the illusion that man is his own center cannot be done easily. In order to understand, and to cultivate an openness to transcendence, many prerequisites are necessary, prerequisites of the mind and of the heart. However, our society, our education, all continue to corrode mens’ sensibilities. I am not optimistic; we are getting poorer by the day. To give you an example: Man does not feel a sense of outrage anymore, even in the face of crime. We are getting used to it. We are getting accustomed to evil. We are surrendering to that which we call inevitable. That is fatalism; it is pagan. The message of the Bible is that man is capable of making a choice. Choose life — but instead we choose death, blindness, callousness, helpnessness, despair.

Religion, if taught as religion, has no life. In order to understand what the Bible says, one has to understand life as seen by the Bible, all of life. My understanding of the meaning of God depends on my way of looking at this very table, at this very desk, at everything, at creation. The tragedy of religion is partly due to its isolation from life, as if God could be segregated. God has become an alibi for our conscience, for real faith. He has become a sort of after-life insurance policy.

Just as we are commanded to love man, we are also called upon to be sensitive to the grandeur of God’s creation. We are infatuated with our great technological achievements; we have forgotten the mystery of being, of being alive. We have lost our sense of wonder, our sense of radical amazement at sheer being. We have forgotten the meaning of being human and the deep responsibility involved in just being alive. Shakespeare’s Hamlet said: “To be or not to be, that is the question.” But that is no problem. We all want to be. The real problem, biblically speaking, is how to be and how not to be; that is our challenge, and it is what makes the difference between the human and the animal. The animal also wants to be. For us, it is the problem of how to be and how not to be, on the levels of existence. Now, what is the meaning of God? The meaning of God is precisely the challenge of “how to be.”

Abraham Joshua Heschel          1966

The Poison and Wine of Laughter – Part 2 (Warrior Poet Mental Yoga 200)

A much different energy, whether isolated or commingling in its flow, accompanies the willful humor which may be implemented to tickle our awarenesses.

I believe that this delicious and relaxing wine of laughter can only be properly served and shared in the gobleted prisms of sparkling and chiming clarity. Its consumption  ebbs and flows only amongst those who prefer the good hearted spirit of celebrated comradery, understanding and reflection for all; toasts and counter toasts of sloshing wine, teasing and playful contemplative joy, to dull the razor’s edge for another, as much or even more so, than for yourself. It is the polished reflection of an acknowledged and shared higher awareness that may only arise out of the union of genuine engagement in which we mutually decide to smile and dance and frolic despite whatever else may be.

This vino of laughter is a magical elixir of lightness which brings counterbalance to the heaviest awareness of the dark realms of existence by protecting the totality of focus via its gulping defiance of complete surrender to the piecemeal density of the gloom. Jovial levity is not denial of or withdrawal from that infinite gloom or its unrelenting presence which is woven into all things; it is only a refusal to sink into the fathomless darkness, a refusal to allow oneself to hopelessly suffocate in the pure nullifying oblivion which lurks in depths below. The jesters of chosen levity have learned to whimsically walk upon that malignant swell and  even dance upon its blackwater when they find a kindred spirit who dares to stride along with them in the same defiant movements. It is a defiant communion that may properly align and balance all of the lightness and darkness gracefully and cursedly beknown to those who possess a highly enlightened awareness.

It is a saving grace of higher transcendence for those who might easily go mad or succumb to suicide without its tickling touch of perpetual light, love, and perspective.

As amusement most readily aligns with psychopathy/sociopathy and apathy, willfully aware humor most readily aligns with empathy. Where psychopathy and apathy typically find themselves engaged in laughter that flows from the ridicule or harassment of another (over-dominance) or the passive aggressive patronizing of others (over-nurturing) for some ulterior motive, empathy typically engages in the stable and balanced satirical laughter of perception, comprehension, and the hope to bring about a better existence for all parties involved. The poison of amusement employed in psychopathy and apathy creates only a marketed pseudo-union of exchange which perpetuates the delinquency of  delusional perception and thus, potentiates isolated destabilization for all. On the other hand, or perhaps I should say instead, in the other glass, the wine of humor employed by empaths is a swirling interaction of genuine union and thus, its magical liquor bathes all in the warm glow of bonding synergistic stability.

When the laughter of willfully aware humor is faked, bastardized, exploited, and/or  weaponized it becomes a numbed and zombified sensation of the pseudo-reality of the living dead. It becomes amusement.

When we let go of our egos and acknowledge the imperfect and bemusing flaws, glitches, and defects of our existence and coexistence, we move beyond ourselves and connect our energy much more readily with all of the other creatures and forces within the realm of existence; we connect to the rest of existence not only through pattern recognition, alignment, consistency, and  the refined establishment of perfected order and precision of purpose, but also via the vast pervasive and permeating “dark energy” of confusing, puzzling, and often entertaining chaos; we exist and connect not piecemeal and fragmented, but in isolated union with our own multidimensionality and even more importantly, in the greater communal multidimensional union of higher transcendence.

If we are to truly live, we must love, and if we are to truly love, we must. . .we must,  laugh. May the wine of love and laughter flow through your veins forevermore.

Cribb          2017