… on… lessons in rust….

Hello again everyone.   As many of you know I have a preoccupation with the subject of rust in my photos.   More than a few of my photos feature rust in some form.  Today is no different.   I’ve been thinking about why I find rust to be such a dynamic subject.   Part of it is (as I’ve written on my previous blog) the Wabi-Sabi aesthetic;  Finding beauty in the imperfect, the flawed and discarded.   But it also goes beyond that.   I think rust has many lessons to teach us.  No only about the inevitable end of all things but also how we can come to terms with the inevitable end.   Rust is strong.   It’s strength does not lie in speed, or the forceful blow to its subject.  Rust is gentle.  It does not seek to hide – it is visible in its destruction.  Rust takes it’s time; the object of its affection is coaxed into its corrosive embrace.

The Way Out Is Through

You and me like all things must end.   It is the nature of things.  We are mortal.  That means we will not live forever no matter how hard we try to extend the time we have.   I don’t care how fit you are, how free of disease you have been, your physical fitness, or your emotional health.   You will die.  In fact, you might say you are already dying.  And that’s okay.   There is beauty in the process.   What?  Yes, there is beauty in the process of dying = it’s all in how you look at it.   You can approach it with grace and appreciation for the time you have and the inevitable end or you can fight it every single step of the way.   I once heard a woman say, “I do not plan to grow old gracefully, I plan to fight it every step of the way”.   I’ve always found that viewpoint rather tragic.  But that is the prevailing viewpoint in western society.  In fact the exception in western culture is that you must fight it and with medical and technological advances you can fight aging, disease etc.  But that is all a delusion.  In the west we have become masters of delusion and self-deception.

Why do we find Autumn to be one of the most beautiful times of the year?  Autumn is the season of dying.   The leaves on trees are the most colorful just before they die and fall to the ground.   And this change seems to happen rather fast but the change actually started  at the point the leaf first came out and reached maturity on its branch back in the Spring.  Our lives are the same way.    It’s not just the newborn and young that are beautiful.   Beauty is enhanced through experiences that are both good and bad.   Rust is like that; it is one of those experiences that may seem to hasten the demise of something but it does not know that.   It just is.   It is a part of nature.  A part of life experience just like disease, physical and emotional discomfort.   Those things exist to add to our beauty.

Catacombs In Rust

You find me
Slowly you Change my life
I love you

**************

I feel your presence
your corrosion adds beauty
glory of Autumn

**************

Your rough embrace
Enhances my life through change
I welcome you

**************

The color of love
Textures the smooth beauty of life
Open arms tremble

**************

Sing a song of rust
A slow ballad of decay
Autumns dying love

***************

Sound of slow scraping
Crippled dry dusty fingers
Wabi-Sabi world

****************

Illusions of age
You teach strength through weakness
Beauty in Frailty

Face The Colour Of Your Fears

Your music moment provided by a band I recently discovered and had to buy all their albums – Do Make Say Think – A TENDER HISTORY IN RUST from their album You, You’re A History In Rust.

Album version


Alternate version

****Hey!  if you have short form poem or haiku about rust and the ideas I’ve written about, please feel free to post in your comment.  😉

… on… suffering….

Halloween.   What a perfect time to talk about suffering.  The two images today are part of a series titled “All Our Efforts Are Futile”.  In the long view, everything we make seems to fall apart.  No matter how much effort and how good it seems when it was first created our work, over time, will deteriorate.  It’s just a fact of life.   It’s a constant reminder of our own impermanence.

All Our Efforts Are Futile

The foundation of all mental illness
is the unwillingness to experience legitimate suffering.
~ Carl Jung

It seems to me that we spend most of our life trying to avoid suffering. But just like our own impermanence and the inevitable decay of all we build, suffering is a part of our life experience. But what is “legitimate suffering?”
Is it the suffering that comes as a result of the actions of others? Is it the suffering that comes from our own actions?

I once saw a mental health advertisement on a city bus:  it was a quote from a Newsweek magazine article from 2014 that had the headline “One In Five Adults Suffers From Mental Illness Each Year”.  Those are not very good odds by any standard.  If you look around you every 5th person you see may be suffering from some mental illness.   Now mental illness takes many forms and that descriptor is not exclusive  to the more elaborate/newsworthy like a sociopath.   But can be something as common as depression or melancholia.  I wonder if it is wise to describe these conditions as mental illness because everyone experiences them at some point in their life it is part of life experience and any number of things can spark that fire.   But mental illness is just one type of suffering.   There is also the suffering from physical illness.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve noticed a couple of things.  One is that life is filled with suffering; but that suffering changes and metamorphoses over time.  In my younger years the suffering was more emotional but as I’ve gotten older the suffering has changed and become more physical just due to the natural aging of the body.  A constant reminder of impermanence.   I’ve also noticed something in my youth I did almost anything to avoid suffering.  I ignored it, I joked about it, I lied about it, I would participate in activities that would temporarily subdue it.   But as I’ve gotten older I’ve come to accept suffering much as one would accept a constant companion.  I don’t enjoy it but I do accept it and try to give it the space it needs.   I have found that this more nurturing approach actually eases the suffering and helps me understand it – including how my actions may have brought it on.

All Our Efforts Are Futile 2

“Fear is the path to the dark side.
Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering”  
~ Yoda (from Star Wars)

“Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;
do not fret — it leads only to evil.” ~ Psalm 37:8 (NIV)

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,  because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.
Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete,
not lacking anything. ”  ~ James 1: 2-4 (NIV)

I have found this last quote to be especially true. We should consider it a joy to undergo suffering when it produces so many good things such as perseverance, maturity and a sense of completeness. We should not take the “consider it a joy” phrase as a directive to seek out suffering nor should we use it to justify causing suffering in others. Suffering will come automatically – usually when we least expect it, when it is unplanned and inconvenient. So when it comes welcome it. It’s okay and if you see someone suffering sometimes the best thing to do is not trying to ease their suffering (although many will argue that is what we should do) but to just be there with them in their suffering. Suffering is made more bearable when we are not alone. But be careful of being too empathetic so that you suffer along with them. Being with them does not require you to suffer because they suffer. Remember you are the supporter in that scenario.

I found tons of videos on YouTube that deal with escaping suffering including many well meaning gurus, religious leaders, teachers, philosophers and songs. It is so darn hard to find one deals with enduring suffering. In a world of escapism, quick fixes, and good vibrations have we forgotten the role of suffering in our lives and therefore put our own mental health at risk?

 

… on… hate….

messages-from-the-future-22-evn-smlr
Being a citizen of the United States Of America the past 8 months have been excruciatingly difficult to endure.  We have a President (along with other White House leadership) with no self-control, no discretion, no discipline, no compassion and no love who continues to emotionally/psychologically abuse, harass and harm the very people he is supposed to lead.  Never has so much damage been done in and to the office of President of the United States than has occurred under Donald Trump.  It will only go to deepen the cynicism and distrust that people have for politicians.  I think the notion of a politician being a force for good is not even possible with the current leadership.  It has been depressing to daily and sometimes hourly see breaking news stories of how the President has, yet again, done something so outrageous and shocking that it is virtually unbelievable.  We are being forced to watch a reality media show that is seemingly never-ending.  And the media is focusing on the sensational.  Now I have no great love for the media and that is about the only thing Donald Trump and I have in common.  Our reasons for disliking the media are completely different.  I would like to see more investigative journalism and less sensational journalism.  Trump just decries anything he doesn’t like as “fake news”.  But it’s NOT fake news it is the reality we live in.

This past weekend we saw many developments in the United States.  The rise of racism, talks of secession, hatred for all things non-white.  And in the past few months we’ve been seeing the increased likelihood of nuclear war with North Korea, Venezuela, and a trade war with China.  Sure with all this “madness” it would be easy to throw in the towel and say it is WAY bigger than anything I can have any power over or change.  But I’m not ready to do that.  Now more than ever we need to be strong.

We do need to look at both sides of a story but we also need to address and stand up to those values and positions that would harm others or enslave them for ones own enrichment.  For example: The American Constitution has a provision for free speech and lawful assembly.  These laws apply to ALL people – even people who believe differently from me. So for neo-nazis, white supremacists etc; we must acknowledge they have the right to protected free speech (we just don’t have to like it).  Just like people who oppose them have the right to protected free speech.  Now I know a lot of people are going to be uncomfortable with that notion. But as a follower of Jesus Christ I am a FIRM believer in what he taught about loving ones enemies (I’ll explain more on that later). It’s just that in these troubled times it is difficult to STOP, take a moment, consider, weigh ones reactions before making those reactions public.  But that is exactly what we must do.  I do not love Donald Trump’s policies I specifically hate his approach to what should be collaborative, positive working relationships.  I hate his non-stop “twittering”.  But I do NOT wish him dead.  I hate now Trump and many in the white house continues to hold his business interests (even if they are in his children’s names – who are his official presidential advisors and aides) creating conflicts of interest. I cannot hate a man who is misguided, foolish, delusional and emotionally unstable.  I can honestly say I’ve had to think about this long and hard.  The past 8 months have shown me that we all have the capacity for hatred but we do not all act on that.  I understand why people may think that the only way to solve this crisis we face in America is to kill or assassinate Donald Trump.  I understand because I felt myself slipping into the same hate for hate thinking and had to stop myself.  I pray to God that Donald Trump is not assassinated.  Here’s why.  I don’t have any confidence in the Vice President that would take his place.  And killing Donald Trump would only give the alt-right extremists the martyr they’d love to have – which they would use to justify further violence.  On top of that as a Christian I am against the death penalty for anyone because I believe that just as God gives life he also takes it away it is not up to man take life away.  And anyone who behaves abominably should have the opportunity to change or, to use an archaic term, repent.  If they are killed we are depriving them of that opportunity.  So death is NOT the answer.  But Donald Trump should be impeached and that needs to happen ASAP (in my opinion).  I seriously doubt that Trump will survive to the end of his first term.

Sadly America can only blame itself for creating AND electing Donald Trump the tyrant. No one should be surprised by what he is doing.  He used the same tactics in his reality TV shows.  People who have participated in his shows “THE APPRENTICE” and “CELEBRITY APPRENTICE” have noted how Trump would pit people against each other, he would harass and harangue people to create and build drama in the show.  He is a victim of his own celebrity – believing in a false value of self.  Unfortunately, we can see that what works on television isn’t what works as a world leader.  He has also gotten support from an “Evangelical Right” that uses scripture to justify and encourage Donald Trump giving him a false moral justification for all he does.  This same type of Evangelical movement that uses the Christian Bible to justify white supremacy also supported Hitler and The Third Reich (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_Evangelical_Church).   I also think it may be time to do away with the electoral college.  There was a time when the electoral college had value.  But in the internet age the electoral college is an archaic institution that can only do more harm than good.  It is time to elect leaders only by popular vote.

Now about love.  It may seem odd and unlikely to read about love in this type of post.  I think it is necessary to bring the needed balance and provide level-headed options to the discussion.   Please consider this; how do we love a tyrant, a despot, an oligarch, a hate-filled man? We CANNOT react in the ways he reacts.  We can find ways to slow down the discussion allowing time for all parties to think about their positions.  We can act respectful to them without agreeing with them.  We can seek to remove them from their position for their own good.  Donald Trump is clearly over his head and he is being battered on all sides continually and that would be enough to make anyone crack.  The kindest thing we can do for America is also the kindest thing we can do for Donald Trump.  Impeach him.  Remove him from the position that is causing him so much distress.  And wish him well as he leaves.  Now I’ll be the first to admit this is easier to type than actually practice.  Love is not some easy fluffy romantic notion – it is something we have to work at.

One of the benefits of writing this is that it also reaffirms what I believe and helps give me the strength I need to practice what I “preach”.  I cannot hate Donald Trump I can only hate the carnage he has created while in office.  I do not believe there are evil people only evil actions.  And I choose to not act evil or out of malice toward my fellow Americans, or any living beings.  And if I do act evil (because I am human and have occasional weakness) it is a weakness that I quickly seek to remedy.

Matthew 4:43-45 (NIV) “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

Feel free to agree or disagree on any and all points.  That’s why it’s called free speech.  We can disagree and still be respectful.

***If you think more people should see this post – feel free to re-post.