Friday, February 13, 2015

Linda's Merry-Go-Round

Some people have obsessions with lining things up neatly, matching things, creating symmetry and order. My obsession is dissecting unanswerable, seemingly unprovable questions. Why is there air? Should I be concerned about black holes in the Galaxy? Is there a totally different dimension that exists and is teaming with activity all around us and we just don't see it because we have no concept that it actually exists?
I can sit by a stream for hours and let my mind wonder in a hundred different directions. Where has the water been? Where will it go? What's swimming beneath the surface? Who's watching the water upstream and down?
I don't mind that I don't know the answers. Imagining all the possibilities is the pleasure of it. If I think I've arrived at an answer, I'll let it leap to the next question. Then I take answers and tear them apart seeking both the complexity and the simplicity. No single authority on the subject can stop my curiosity.
My single favorite topic to ponder is what motivates each of us to do and believe the things we do and believe? Most people seem to want to arrive at the answer and be done with the question. For me it is an endless quest. The possibilities are endless. I love the journey. There is so much more to know and understand. No single authority on the subject can stop my curiosity.
The more someone insists that something is a certain way and I must simply accept it, the greater my curiosity about how much is not known and why the need to insist on this one answer. I know, deep down, there is more. I'll sail my ship far into the ocean beyond the horizon and discover the world is not flat. I will not drop off the edge.
I see something else. It's always been that way. I've tried to conform. I've tried to accept a flat world but deep in my soul, I can't believe it. There is more. I'm happy to keep searching. The questions are as important as the answers. If I keep searching, the answers today are just stepping stones. Across this creek lies a path to a beautiful meadow full of treasures that spark more questions and greater awe in discovery.
For me it's ok that everything is not wrapped up neatly and orderly. It's ok to have more questions than answers. Looking around there seems to be as much chaos as there is order. And yet, over time, even chaos has some form of symmetry. Round and Round I go - Linda's Merry-Go-Round - full of music and dancing horses. But in my Merry-Go-Round the horses and I trot off in whatever direction seems to offer greater understanding.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Over 6800 Languages in the World

There are more than 6800 languages in the world. Imagine that! And each of those languages represent distinct cultures. In one culture there are words that cannot be accurately interpreted in another language because there simply are no equivalent words. For example, the Inuit language has 50 different words for snow. We may add a descriptive word to describe the snow but not likely 50 of them. They understand snow quite differently from most of the rest of us.
Are we wrong not to have so many words for snow? Or are they wrong for having so many?
Even within the English language there are distinct variations based on culture. Compare British, American, Canadian and Australian English. What's a lift in one country is something else in the next. Compare the words fag, bonnet, barbie, molly.... one English country to the next. Who's wrong? Who's right?
Many Americans insist that being in this country requires speaking English. And Northwestern PA people should know not to ask for "pop" outside of this region.
Compare how we order our sentences to other languages. It reflects the importance we place on certain things. How we structure our conversations is also very telling. We don't place a great deal of emphasis on larger context and connection. Cultures that place a great deal of emphasis on larger context choose their words and structure their communication much differently - always putting the context first.
Our use of language, our selection of words, our structure of communication not only reflects our culture but also provides a framework for our thought processes. We are prone to focus on "the point". The problem is one point looses a lot of context. There is always a larger context.
We need to understand that our words, the way we frame them, the way we link them together is a reflection of who we are and the very small context of our individual experience.
The single word "snow" is not enough for an Inuit person. They see snow through very different eyes and with a very different experience. If there are so many different words for snow and 6800 different languages in the world, is it so hard to accept that there are many ways to express spiritual understanding? How can there even be words to perfectly express such things? These are things you cannot touch, see, taste, smell. Spiritual understanding is something within. The meaning it has within your life is yours and yours alone. The truth of it shows in what you do with it.
Whatever words you put to it won't change the truth of it. There are no words for it. Insisting that someone else match your expression of it is rather odd. If we are at peace with our spiritual understanding, we can simply live it. It doesn't require affirmation from anyone else. If it is truth and we live it well, there is no need to bend another to our will. If we are connected deeply to that spirit that is fully open and within us, it flows into all those around us as well. No words make that happen. We live it and we pass it on. Not with words but with spirit. Let's stop letting words trip us up so much.

Friday, February 6, 2015

We need to talk....

We need to talk to each other. We need to talk about things with people we may not agree. It can be very positive. Take a deep breath and listen.
Three times this week I felt very encouraged in talking with people who don't share my perspective on some issues. The three issues were hot topics - Islam and Christianity, Healthcare, and Global Warming. Each conversation began with a statement of conclusion that I don't share. I followed with "Well..." and my perception of a baseline of fact. What was wonderful is that each then offered another statement of fact that persuaded them. We didn't dismiss each other. We listened. On both sides we acknowledged, at least, an understanding of the others point of view. As we talked we found common ground.
It was civil and respectful conversation. We didn't come to total agreement. But I walked away feeling good and feeling like I learned something. I won't be afraid to talk with any of them again about any topic we may not agree about. After the one conversation I actually felt we had come up with the most logical solution and our national leaders should be doing just what we talked about.
I really like talking with people with differing perspectives when discussions are mindful and meaningful. It's impossible to get that level of discussion on line. We need to hear the tone of voice. We need the fluidity of real time conversation. We need to be able to look into the other person's eyes.
It has me thinking that I need to be cautious in my reaction to on line comments. I'm often tempted to jump on a facebook post that is a statement of conclusion that I don't share. Perhaps I need to ask that person to lunch and try to understand how they came to that conclusion. I might be pleased to discover the quality of character and thought I encountered this week. We might not agree at the end of the conversation but I might learn something.
I write a lot of things and make a lot of statements that may cause a person to want to react to me in the way I have felt like reacting at times or have reacted at times. If you read this and say "Yes, you have done that, " invite me to lunch. You might not change my opinion but I'm open to learning something.