20 December, 2003

Greatest Moments

The first thing I thought of when I read this weeks theme was….crap. Why are the limits so strict? Last week I had to choose just one guy to spend a day with, now I have to pick just three moments. How unfair is that?
I feel pity for someone who has only three favorite moments. But the theme is not best moments…it is a superlative. What are the three BEST moments? This site doesn’t let me be vague, if I want to play.
If I could group situations into the three best types of situations, it would be easier.
The birth of a child is a wondrous thing, and I have been pleased to witness the birth of two of my children, Calvin and Katja.
But that would be unfair to the births I did not see. Kristopher was born when I was in Iraq in 1990. My ex step son Tyler was born when I was in Macedonia getting ready to enter Kosovo with the IET. I would not want to imply that their births were less special just because I happened to be getting shot at. Saying that the birth was great, because it led to the life (albeit sometimes short) of my children, would not discriminate against peacetime, but then it would be four, instead of three. Curse these limits.
The moment my wives said, “I do”. Those were great moments, but I had three. I would neither want to imply that they were the best moments, cause wife number three was the best (which is why she is current one, of course, but I loved all three, in their time), nor would I want to have to be restricted to those three. It was extremely wonderful, those moments that I realized that I had found a person that I loved, and loved me, but I would hate to think that only happens only three times, let alone just once.
To love is to honor someone, (except agape, or brotherly, love. It should be freely given, but taken away when misused) because it is a great gift as well as recognition of worth. We do not love just anyone. Whether we know it or not, there are reasons for loving the people that we do. We can either choose to decide these reasons or just go with what nature and our upbringing gave us. One of my best moments would be the day that I realized that my love was not something that could be demanded of me, that it was mine to give to whomever I chose.
Cogito, ergo sum. I think, therefore I am. Rene Descartes is credited with saying this first, but I doubt he was the first to realize it. He was probably the first with the balls to say it. Luckily it was during the Renaissance, so he had only a small chance to be burned at the stake for heresy.
I think, therefore I am. It means that I need no validation on my life, or permission to live. The fact that I am able to consider my mortality and my existence is proof enough that I am here, and reason enough for me to exist. We can think about stuff and figure it out. Now, the geek side of me just loves this part. There are no mysteries that are impossible to understand, there is nothing that must be taken on faith alone. My mother-in-law has that classic faith about her religion; meaning she never had to think about it. She just has faith. I respect her faith, because she does not misuse it. I only take offense when someone tries to use their faith as a proof that I have to change my beliefs. Well, I take offense as well as a great deal of pleasure in hurting their feelings for attempting to pass counterfeit bills in my mental store.
If I need to know it, I can understand it, I can investigate it, and I can prove it. There are no inconsistencies in life, there are no contradictions. If you find a contradiction, you have to examine your basic premises. You will find that one of them is wrong.
There is an epiphany in every Man’s life, where he or she realizes that they are the highest form of life on this planet. The ramifications are that, since I can analyze everything, I am left no excuse for doing something ‘on accident’. My actions should be well thought out, the possible results weighed carefully, and full responsibility should be taken any time action is. The devil does not make me do bad things, nor do I kill, wound or harm merely because I am told to (Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal, look it up). I am the master of my fate, and the Captain of my ship on the sea of life. (That sounds pretty lame without background music, but that is how I feel. I am straight out of a comic book in some ways.) The moment that I realized that I could think, and accepted the responsibility for my actions, is the second best moment of my life.
My mother was Catholic, but excommunicated because she had the nerve to remarry after her husband died without getting the first marriage annulled. This would have made my half brother a bastard, by definition. And though he was a bastard to me quite often as I grew up, I fully understand her reasons for telling the Catholic Church to kiss her rather large ass. So she took us all on an exploration of religions, or so I thought. We were just going to different Christian churches. But they have the same basic message: we are all worthless in the eyes of some supreme being who is jealous, petty, and prideful. The only way we can gain entrance into some mythical realm is to accept grace, because works are not enough. And, best of all, when we get there to heaven we get to spend eternity worshiping at this little tyrants feet. Yipee kay yay. I kind of understand why Lucifer bailed. So I became agnostic, practically and for all intensive purposes, atheist.
Later, when I had grown up at least to the extent I could join the Army, I found there were people in the world who were not Christian. (gasp!) So I studied Hindu, Buddhism, metaphysics, Ritual, or High Magic, Hopi, Navajo, and any other religion I could find. They all had a lot of Truth in them, none of them seemed to be all Truth.
I think religion is like a path on a mountain or a stream running to the sea. Paths and streams converge, all ending at the top of the mountain or the sea. Each taking a different route, but all making it to the destination. I realized that any Path could be suited to someone, but the purpose of life was to find the Path that suited me. I found paganism, in which I could be very eclectic, worship in tune with the Earth, respect all living things, and not have my attitudes towards sexuality (read Heinlein) and freedom (read Rand) be disparaged.
My greatest moment was when I figured out my place in the Universe to an extent that I was satisfied with the answer, even though I continue searching for Truth wherever I find it.
The Infantry manual tells us to never wait until all the information is available to make a plan, never wait until the plan is perfect to act, and never fail to adapt the plan when the situation dictates. That is how I live my life. The manual also says that any plan, no matter how lame, if executed with motivation and discipline, is better than a flawless plan never executed. That is how I live my life.
Are they related? Yeah, I think so. I think, I love, I evolve. If I could not think, I could not have recognized true love. If I was not willing to risk true love, I would never truly understood the nature of my immortality, and if the energy that is me and my Higher Self were not immortal, it avails me not that I can think.

Happy Birthday, Katja!!!  I love you more than I will be able to show in one lifetime

12 December, 2003

Spend a day in the past

I figure there are three reasons to go back. One is enjoyment, as in meeting a hero or movie star. Another would be to change history, as in killing Hitler before Krystalnacht (or just rallying the people against it), or telling Patton he was right not to trust the Communists, so beat them to Berlin, et al, ad infinitum. The last would be education, because the victors write the history books, and how can we know what really happened if we weren’t there? I group things like going back to meet Jesus, Buddha, Mohamed, or even Heinlein or Rand under education.
Entertainment seems kind of a waste of opportunity. There is enough entertainment here. Now if I could take a vacation in the continuum, then, yeah, I would love to meet Mozart, or Einstein, or Da Vinci. But if it is just one day, I think I would pick another reason.
Changing history seems like a good reason to go back. Take a day and change history by convincing someone not to take a certain action. Or just take a day and assassinate someone before they can do something. I could stop Oswald and see if JFK dies anyway. That would be educational. But what else changes? The world may have gone the same way it did, regardless of who I changed or killed or saved. And I might make it worse. I would want to do some research on quantum theory and talk to my gods before I ever took any drastic measures. I wouldn’t want to screw up Deity(ie)’s cosmic plan just because I didn’t understand it. That would be bad karma, I am betting.
I think I would go back for education. That one seemed like it would be a piece of cake until I actually though about it. How to narrow it down to just one person. I would like to pick 24 people and spend an hour with each of them, to maximnize the time; but that wasn’t the theme, so no cheating…
The two historical figures that have had the most impact in my life have been Robert A. Heinlein and Ayn Rand, both philosopher/novelists. I would go ask them to fill in the gaps in their world views that they could not put in their books. I would tell them how the world is today, and ask them if they had any insights, or suggestions to improve it. Rand probably would not, given the theme of Atlas Shrugged. But Heinlein had the added benefit of being a near prophetic science fiction author of the latter part of the 20th century, and so he may have seen farther than Rand, who grew up in Communist Russia.
So I would pick Heinlein.
Heinlein also had such a spiritual side to his writings. The first Heinlein I read was Stranger in a Strange Land, in ninth grade. It was a good read for an agnostic that was leaning towards atheist. It put it in my head that my concept of Deity was not restricted by the dogma of the major religions (and all I really knew about then was Christian, Hindu, and Muslim. I had not yet been exposed to Paganism).
This stuck in the back of my head, and so I was open to Paganism when I was exposed. [What is funny is that the argument that Harry Potter is leading kids to witchcraft is accurate, it just isn’t bad like they make it sound. It won’t lead everyone to it, but it tears down the stereotype of the wicked witch of the west crap.] That is what Heinlein did for me. Heinlein didn’t make me a witch, or a pagan. He made me THINK. ANything that makes someone use the ol noggin can’t be bad, unless you are trying to hide something from them.
Heinlein’s heroines are the best part about his work. Some critics say that Heinlein was sexist; I say those critics are just scared of the strong feminine archetype, because Heinlein did not make his Ladies sexless. On the contrary, they were as lustfull as a Highland lass at Beltain. It seems society (a lot of men) can’t handle a strong woman; cause how will they get her to sleep with them if she is not helpless.
I wasn’t shocked when the Kinsey’s reported that some women actually LIKED sex (big gasp from the collective). I was shocked that so many people were shocked about it. But Heinleinian females were not impressed with the crap that impresses the ‘helpless’ female. And I wanted a Heinlein woman. I wanted a Heinlein WORLD, but a woman was within my reach.
Heinlein helped me shape my thoughts in almost every way imaginable, from my definition of patriotism to my concepts of economics, from my opinions about sexuality to my definition of honor, my relationship with Deity, and my relationship with my Family and Friends. If I could go back and spend time with a Fictional Character, it would be Woodrow Wilson Smith, aka Lazarus Long, the great ancestor of Michael Valentine Smith, the protagonist of Stranger in a Strange Land.
I thought about the concept of going back in time to spend a day with my younger self, what that could lead to.
Would I want to do all the talking, or all the listening? Would I let the me then know that I was the me now, or keep it a secret?
I know that I wouldn’t want to tell myself not to make some of the mistakes I would make. Everything that we do in the past brings us to where we are in the present. I have made my share of mistakes. But unless I could be sure that I could have reached where I am now without the pain, I wouldn’t change any mistake, or skipped any hardship.
Life isn’t about sailing on calm waters, it is about learning to steer through the rough ones and stay on your charted course. Of course, sometimes I have been happy just to stay afloat, and there is nothing wrong with that as a lifes mission; but I always wanted more than to merely survive. Any living thing wants to survive. I have always searched for what makes us different from the animals. (even though I revel in the things we have in common with the animals, just as much).
It is the abstract things that set us apart. A dog can be loyal, and a cat can show love (or at least tolerance, lol), but values are something which set us apart; a spiritual nature does, as well. Come to think of it, the choice NOT to have a spiritual nature sets us apart, maybe more. I think animals have a spiritual nature, but they can not choose NOT to, it is not a choice.
I would tell myself to take a few more chances. I would also try to help with lessons that go with the opposition I would face and the mistakes I would make, but not too much. Something crytpic, that I wouldn’t understand until years in the future, when I was experiencing the lesson.
But I would only do any of this if I could be assured that I would still have my wife and my kids when I came back to today.
I have a wife that loves me, laughs with me, is willing to cry with me, and can be strong when I cannot. She shares my beliefs, and my passions. I have children that delight my mind as well as my eye. I have an extended family that, though geographically seperated from me and happily living their own lives, would take me in with open arms at the drop of a hat if I ever needed it, and they know the offer stands just as well at my Hearth. I have an ancestry that is proud and distinguished, and I like to think that my Tree will continue growing ever wiser and stronger.
So, if I did go back, it would mostly be to say thank you. But I can do that from here.