Poetry — NaPoWriMo: Assimilated Rebel

The day 20 poem prompt of the 2018 NaPoWriMo challenges me to write a poem that involves rebellion. For example, defy a rule, or write something either funny or serious. My poem should open a path beyond the standard, hum-drum ruts that every poet sometimes falls into.

Warning, this poem is bleak. It is written to reflect panicked frustration and to respond to the prompt. The dark side of reality interests me. I am not disturbed by it and I accept its existence. Many of you feel the same or Stephen King would be a retired teacher today.

I use the f-word a lot here, cuz I use the spoken f-word a lot, except when I know some prudish soul may be crushed. So, if those two things bother you, please give this driveling twaddle the sack.

One more thing. I am fine. Please try not to think otherwise. Yes, I recently got some bad news, but that has nothing to do with this stream-of-dark-consciousness writing (and if it does, so what?). It’s hard enough to write without folks asking if I’m suicidal.

The poem is rebellion from my POV. If you do read this, and you happen to be, or have been, a Teacher of English grammar, take a deep breath and perhaps a glass or two of wine first. It is one sentence. I know. Many great poems (one of which, this is not) are.

 

Assimilated Rebel

one must dress like this or that and think thusly and carry this torch to that goal and be always right and feel like shit when not and one must win, always win, a looser dont be, dont say that is not me because bukowski said just do it, just do it, and live and work for the glory of no god or whatever, but to survive and whatnot, and to help them survive, the ones you love and them ya dont and its a beautiful life and we will all just fucking die because thats what we do in the end middle or start, and then go to some nonexistent haven or fucking hell foe-evah cuz ya didnt cross da tee or dit-da-dot on a dam i and smile for a kodak if yer not, then dont fucking try cuz anyway they all die no matter how hard ya try and then dunna fuckin cry, just be stoic, thats a lie but i dno why, just go along to get along and be different and ah independent thinker, just be creative and spell it my way in stripes with plads or circles, and socks wit sandals, and man-buns and feet with pit hair, lay and never lie, its all so jacked up nothin’ fucking matters so fuck it, and fuck it all.

(bill reynolds, 420 day y2k+18; freddie mercury tribute concert day; and a. hitler’s b-day)

Look both ways today to see who’s got the loco weed tea.
Allow no gaps of toke.

Click link to National Poetry Writing Month

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Aspects of My Dream

Aspects of My Dream

There was a time in my life when I thought I didn’t dream. Since I recalled none, there were no dreams. Discussion over, right?

Wrong, Billy Boy! Since childhood, I have always dreamed, probably every night, and have had more than my share of nightmares. Even as an adult, I’ve physically acted out dream events in voice or movement, concerning and confusing my wife. If I have had one dream every night since birth, that’s over 26,000 dreams. Many nights there were more than one or two.

 

At the end of this post I’ll drop a link to a down-to-earth piece about dream interpretation, if you want some P-h-and-D ideas.

There are a lot of things written about dreams. I find most of it to be irrational BS and schemes for cash. But, I do think there is physiological meaning in dreams, and I find dream analysis to be a fun and healthy experience. Extensive metaphor and symbolism seem to be what dreams are made of, although I have had some dreams closely parallel real-life events, and were likely triggered by past or pending events.

My dreams are virtually always dreams about challenge, during which I’m motivated to overcome difficulty or an obstacle. I have faced danger, been stuck, or wanted to move away from a situation in which I found myself. Most of my dreams involve other people, but not always those I know. I have had a few pleasant dreams and my awakening to reality was disappointing. But mostly, I’m ready for the dreams to end.

Usually, I enter my dream by finding myself in an ongoing situation. There’s no introduction or preface. It’s like I’m teleported into a situation that “I” was already in, but have just became aware or conscious of.

Last night I arrived into my dream feeling a little cold. I found a discarded jacket and decided to wear it. But I was self-conscious that it was not “my” jacket, and that someone may claim it. As I walked past people, I felt their judging stares. They seemed to know it was not my jacket and that I ought not to be wearing it.

I was walking with a crowd. Along with many others, I walked into a building that looked much like the inside of church. We sat on long benches like pews. The walls were bare, there were no church-like activities such as singing, praying, or preaching. A man sitting near me was constantly watching me. I saw him and spoke to him, but he never talked. He just stared at me. And he looked pissed off – grumpy for sure. In real life, he’d be a weirdo stalker for which I’d summon the law. But in this dream, I simply moved on.

Deciding to leave the building, I stood and walked to the exit doors. A group of people surrounded the doors and were making half-hearted efforts to leave the building. None seemed to be leaving. I noticed a door with nobody near it. I grabbed the handle and opened the big heavy wooden door. That is when I discovered my exit blocked by a wall. I could see over the shoulder-high obstruction. So, I grasped the top with both hands, pulled myself up, and swung one leg over. I noticed others doing the same, then jumping and walking away. As I swung the other leg over, I jumped from the wall and joined others walking.

I was out of the building, away from the weird guy, and happy about it. I felt relieved. Then, I stopped and turned to look back. I could see the others standing behind the wall looking at me. They didn’t speak, but I was sure they wanted out – to be free. I told them how easy it was to climb over the wall. I offered to help, and I told them that fear was holding them back. With that, some climbed the wall and jumped out. Others just stood there. They didn’t try. It was not the wall that kept them trapped, it was that they didn’t try to leave. I walked away a second time.

I began to feel guilty about the people who were not motivated enough to try. Again, I went back. I considered jumping the wall back into the building, but I suspected I would not be able to leave if I tried to help others. They were afraid to come out. I was afraid to go back in. For the third time I walked away. As I looked around I noticed a pretty lady also walking away. She nodded knowingly and smiled.

Awake, I looked at the clock: 5:30 AM. I decided to sleep more, pondering where I would go, where anyone would go after leaving that building. As I was dozing back into dreamland, I analyzed my dream. I wanted to know where I was going. What would come next?

Are dreams stories with built-in conflicts? Was my dream just one more? Was it simply a story I dreamed up in my sleep? Or did it have deeper psychological meaning? Is there something in my real life that precipitated the dream?

Does everything in a dream represent something real in my world or in my mind?
Why am I always younger in my dreams?

To read one of several interesting articles about dream analysis in Psychology Today, click here.

One of my favorite dream poems:

Also this: click here to read a Mary Oliver poem about dreams.

When you dream,
look both ways for what the dream tells you about the past,
and what you may be thinking about for the future.
Dreams are not logical, so mind the gaps.

Truthful End

In the end, my truth will bind me,
at that end, is when I’ll see
my unmasked face torn to tatters,
ain’t my truth what really matters?

For now, the lie is here with me,
he dwells within, filled with glee.
In symbiosis, we have confirmed,
I love the lie, he’s unconcerned.

Then he waits. The lie is clever.
He tells me that I’ll live forever,
a power he grants me over Truth.
Can’t you see? The lie is smooth.

For now, I provide the lie a home.
I hide the lie in every poem.
I wonder why. Is this the Truth?
I ponder lies, my poor excuse?

Then, one day I must cross over,
that is when I will discover
the lie has been a deceitful lover,
posing as my different drummer.

Death is light on another shore,
Truth has always loved me more.
The lie be gone, but he’s no ghost,
he’ll always find another host.

In the end, and since my youth
I’ve lived the lie but known the Truth –
at this parting there’s no dispute,
the lie has been, my personal truth.

My mask removed,
my face exposed,
my inner Truth has been disclosed:
both truth and lie were parts of me, but only one could set me free.

Bill Reynolds, 8/20/2017

Look both ways, to the lies and to the truth.
Mind the gaps, but there are many of both.

prisoner

I have not sinned
against a god nor man
nor woman
harmed no beast
—cared for Mother

why do I suffer
these sins of others
the revenge of Man
sins against me
—why am I prisoner here

admit they say and
confess – to what
I did no wrong
I harmed no one
—and yet I’m here

yet I am punished
forced – I sit alone, told to
feel some shame and
remorse and
—guilt for my breath

my dignity
my humanity
they took all from me and
I suffer – I do – I am alone in
—my pain without sympathy

why am I punished
made less than
human – no son of god
son of man
—fuck it all – fuck them all

try harder they say
love this god they pray
why must I see their way
It’s their way I’ll suffer
—the goodness of Death

prisoner by bill reynolds. 5/31/17

Look around. Mind what you see.

Morality Series: Envy

envy-3

“Do not overrate what you have received, nor envy others. He who envies others does not achieve peace.” ~ Buddha

Let’s say that you and your close friend try out or compete for the same thing. It could be making the team, getting either a promotion or an award, or winning the lottery. You learn that your friend makes the team, got the promotion, or won the prize. You did not. How do you feel?

First, if you are an adult, you’re happy for your friend. If you’re a teenager (or you need to read The Untethered Soul), you may get out the voodoo doll and some pins, or begin some plot against your former friend.

envy-4We may begin to feel something else. It’s an emotion that we don’t want to feel, but it’s there. It’s a twinge we feel on the inside that is directly related to our disappointment and that other person. We feel envy. We do! It’s normal, and it’s okay as long as we don’t act-out on that negative emotion. I’ve never received recognition or a promotion (that others also wanted) without someone letting me know of their displeasure.

One time, I asked this guy, “Did you want me to turn it down so you can have it? I know you think you deserved or wanted it more than I did. Don’t you feel just a little petty right now?” I have been on the losing end enough times to recognize his emotion. Myself and I have had talks about that. I don’t like feeling envious. It makes me feel worse. Envy is not unusual. I often admit to the feeling.

So, if this is normal, why is it considered another breach of all that is good and holy within us? The reason is simple: this is not a good thing about our human nature. We know that envy is normal, and that it will pass, but it’s also dangerous. Loving friendships have ended. Businesses have suffered. Shame and embarrassment have been coopted by envy because the accompanying behavior make us feel worse. Envy is part of us, a dark corner of who and what we are. We must acknowledge that part of our dark side.

There is a shallow envy that is part of daily life. When I see men of my age with huge locks of thick, beautiful hair (usually gray), I feel mild envy. I admit it. I want what they have. That guy did nothing to deserve to have more than his share of hair follicles so late in life. I did nothing to promote my loss of the same. I’m almost proud of my envy. It’s true. I own up to it. I get it: envy is the desire for others’ traits, status, abilities, or situation.

In Summa Theologiae, Thomas Aquinas said, “Envy, according to the aspect of its object is contrary to charity, whence the soul derives its spiritual life… Charity rejoices in our neighbor’s good, while envy grieves over it.” Why do we do this? Because other people are so much luckier, smarter, more attractive, and better than we are. Lucky bastards.

envy-2But there’s good news. If you go to Hell, your punishment awaits: you’ll be put in freezing water. I looked it up. Think about that. Hell, fire and all that; and you and I are hanging out at the ice bar. Now, it’s their turn to be envious, right?

I don’t know why, but envy is associated with the dog and the color green. Oh, right, the green-eyed monster. Not so fast. I use envy and jealousy as two different words that apply to different kinds of situations.

Envy and jealousy are not the same emotions. Envy, as unpleasant as it can be, usually doesn’t contain a sense of betrayal and outrage. Jealousy needn’t contain a sense of inferiority. The difference is in the numbers.

Envy is a two-person situation, jealousy is a three-person situation. Envy is a reaction to lacking something. Jealousy is a reaction to the threat of losing something or someone. Of course, when we feel jealous, we often feel envious as well.

envy-1

The opposite of envy is supposed to be charity. I think the more accurate word is love. Some experts say kindness. I say love, not because love will prevent envy, but because our love will help us overcome that part of our dark, selfish selves and we’ll find peace and happiness sooner. Love is the primary emotion. Envy and jealousy are both subordinate to fear, which is also primary. Both fall under the heading of wasted time and emotions since neither accomplish anything.

But, as long we are normal humans, we must deal with our feelings and emotions. It’s all about how we feel. The actions we choose to follow our emotions are up to us. Can we at least balance some light with our dark side?

Envy is real and normal. So is jealousy.
We generally see them as bad, weakness of the spirit, and damaging to life and our relationships. Consider both to be among life’s gaps.
Mind those gaps and look both ways. We need to see our own human darkness and weaknesses and deal with them.

Series on Morality: Introduction

“…people have inside them something that could bring them to ruin…This basic truth of life has been denied by both believers and unbelievers in every age. Yet anyone who has tried to help others with their problems knows that we all share a common struggle against self-destructive tendencies. Hidden in the human heart are marvelous capacities for good and dreadful possibilities of evil.” ~ Stumbling Blocks or Stepping Stones, Benedict J. Groeschel

7-sins-intro-3Steven stirred the pot when he responded to my previous post on the basic nature of humans with, “One word: Greed.” Reader comments followed with discussions about greed in terms of human nature. Sue V. weighed-in by suggesting that I compose a series of posts on the seven deadly sins alongside their antitheses, the seven virtues. I like that idea. I plan to write a series within the human nature theme reflecting on the human condition, using Sue’s suggestion as a method to breakout specific topics into manageable sized chunks.

I want my posts to be thought-provoking (we think about it), simple (easy to read and understand), and brief (1,000 words or less). If we can read it in five-to-ten minutes, comprehend it, and have an opinion; I’ve achieved those goals. I’m pleased when readers enjoy my dribble. I’m not trying to persuade or educate anyone, but only to explain my take on the topics.

7-sins-intro-4After reading them, maybe you’ll ponder your opinion vis–à–vis either mine or someone’s comment, and share your views. I also want my posts to have a free-thinker flavor; secular, but with an inclusive bent, if that’s possible. I’m not opposed to religious comments. I think secular.

Morality (or immorality) is the series theme. It’s a better word than sin, vice, virtue, or others that I see as rooted in religious belief. Sin is a theist concept; morality seems more secular, at least to the degree that it’s subjective. I’ll borrow from the topics commonly known as sins. Words like vice and virtue are okay, but they add value judgment before discussion.

7-sins-introMoral and immoral may do the same thing, but I see them as opinions that are formed after discussion. Topics are natural, but often seen as immoral under certain conditions. For example, lust seems normal and humans could be extinct without it, but it’s on the list of sins. I’m not sure how or why chastity applies to anything other than medieval devices of questionable utility. How we see our basic nature and religion both affect how we’ll see the seven sins or vices.

I’ll follow Sue’s suggestion to include both sides of the moral coin. Like Pride and Humility (the yin and yang). I’ll begin with Greed on Friday. We can ride that pony until one of us falters. Then, I’ll choose another pair. I plan two posts per week.

I’m open to your suggestions for topics. After I get all boned up on each topic, I’ll post my remarks. Then, I’ll hang them out for your target practice.

The seven sins I found (with their opposites) are: pride (humility), greed (liberality), lust (chastity), envy (kindness), gluttony (abstinence), wrath (patience), and sloth (diligence). The Catholic Catechism lists virtues as prudence, justice, temperance, courage, faith, hope, and charity. The Bushido Code has seven or eight virtues of a Samurai warrior, four of which are generosity, forgiveness, compassion, and altruism.

7-sins-intro-2

While we’re not all the same, we each have our bright and dark sides.
They are difficult to explain in our personal nature,
but they’re there. Mind those gaps and look both ways.

What Don’t We Know?

Twin fairies: Fenix and Furie

Twin fairies: Fenix and Furie

Since the early 1970s, I’ve held to the opinion that basic human nature is good. I’m not sure why I think so. My conclusion is partly evidence-based for the good, but since so much in human history is to the contrary, many people disagree with me. We seem quite set on damaging ourselves and the world around us in ways that are evil.

I’m also unclear about why it should matter. No one knows the answer to our basic nature. It’s too complicated. But when I consider my personal basic nature, the one I was born with; is it good or evil? Or should I ask, was it? When did it start to change – before or after birth? What do you think your nature is? How do we see the basic nature of others? Good or bad? Are there bad seeds among us?

what-we-dont-know-3It is what it is. However, I wonder if our opinion on this matters more than the real answer. It’s like believing in a god – it either exists or it doesn’t. Our believing or doubting anything changes nothing about reality (placeboes or magic notwithstanding). Our opinion on this affects how we see the world, other people – and most importantly, how we see ourselves. Me, is the one thing in the universe that I have some control over—maybe.

To the point, I just finished reading Straw Dogs by John Gray. It’s unrelated to the 1971 Sam Peckinpah movie of the same name, or to the 2011 remake; both of which are, ironically, based on a novel with a different name (The Siege of Trencher’s Farm).

Note to self: book titles and author’s names matter.

what-we-dont-know-4The premise of Straw Dogs is that humans are animals like any other animal. Both Christianity and Humanism see humans as capable of controlling things much more than Gray and others seem to think we do. This is a philosophical book that challenges many basic assumptions about what it means to be human. While I don’t agree with some of what Gray presents, I admit that he makes astonishing points that lead me to question which of us is correct. Regarding several of his positions, I think he’s nuts. But I find many of his other arguments compelling. Reading John Gray made me think, wonder, and contemplate – not the meaning of life, but its nature.

Are we animals? For an excellent article on this, click here.

Is our nature much different than it has been for centuries? Have we changed significantly in the thousands of years since our first existence as homo sapiens? Are we any different from other animals in terms of what happens to us?

Humans have been in existence much as we are now for about 200,000 years. For about the last 6,000 years, we have been the social creatures we know ourselves to be. How do we fit into our environment? Do we belong here? How long will we survive as a species? Are we masters of our own destiny any more than any other animal? Are we doomed to destruction by our own actions?

I’ve seldom thought about it, but Professor Gray makes this point right off. His position seems to be that the last time we had it right, we were hunter-gatherers. I tend to agree. Gray begins with this basic assumption regarding evolution and religious culture.

“If Darwin’s discovery had been made in a Taoist or Shinto, Hindu or animist, culture it would very likely have become just one more strand in its intertwining mythologies. In these faiths humans and other animals are kin. By contrast, arising among Christians who set humans beyond all other living things, it triggered a bitter controversy that rages on to this day.” ~ John Gray, Straw Dogs

Accordingly, Gray says that Humanist’s believe that through progress, humans can be free of the limits that burden other animals. That by using our knowledge, we can control our environment and flourish as we never have before. Gray also has an interesting take on history; he seems to say it has little or no meaning.

what-we-dont-know-5

I like this book because it deals with some aspects of the dark side of human nature. Interestingly, most of us know about the Holocaust, the WWII effort by Nazis to commit genocide and eradicate Jews. How many other genocides (or politicides) in human history can you name? Gray proposes, with evidence, that genocide is “as human as art or prayer.” Apparently, we are not very nice to each other, to other living creatures, or to nature in general. Along with others of similar philosophies, John Gray is talking about humans in a general sense.

The question for me is: how does all this square with my position that our basic nature is good? Maybe the answer doesn’t matter because he undermines so many of my humanist leanings, thus shattering my position that humans are special. I’ll retreat to my favorite elusion from Hamlet: “there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”

There is much we don’t know. But this Zen Proverb meme says it for me.

what-we-dont-know-2

Whatever our nature is, we share that truth with each other.
Let’s live our lives in awe of nature by embracing both sun and rain,
all flora and fauna,
and our fairies — Fenix and Furie.

Life is good and so are we, but mind the gaps and look both ways.