Posts Tagged ‘friendship’

Help

22 January 2021

I searched in vain among my own photographs for an image conveying the action of helping. I had to resort to the work of other photographers to find any.

Is the simple action of helping really that rare in my recorded experience? Dare I say … yes?

30 years ago

It was about thirty years ago that my mother died. I remember getting the call from my dad, who was in the hospital, as he had been hurt in the accident, too.

I was 36. I was working in a half-basement office on a special project for my church. We were busy all day long. But my supervisor let me go out and take a walk after I got the call, and I said goodbye to Mom as best I could.

It didn’t hit me right away. And it never really hit that hard. But finally I realized that Mom had been standing in as my closest female friend for all those years. And now she wouldn’t be able to do that any more. I needed to find a new close friend.

But, that’s not the point of this post. The simple fact is that, for one reason or another, I began to get more emotional after Mom passed. And it got to the point where I pissed off people every once in a while. And when that happened, I would really wish I had someone to talk to. But no one really ever showed up.

A promise

So I made a promise to myself, that if the tables ever turned and I could see that someone I knew was upset and could use some company, I’d do my best to take a break and be there for them.

Well, I did occasionally run into someone waiting for a bus or sitting on a train who appreciated an attentive ear. But the only extreme situations I ran into in later years were after the fires and hurricanes that have been part of life, and that I helped with relief efforts on in 2018. And though there was some emotional suffering involved, my task was to help clean up the physical destruction so that the person or family or church could start over.

I started co-auditing in 2019. It was a real challenge for me, but the emotions were not usually that extreme.

Then came the lockdowns.

The tables turn back

My new young friend got hit very hard last summer by some difficult events. But she has been determined (!!!) to sort through it herself. I have extended my hand in every way I could think of. But it was only OK, or so it seemed to me, if it was her helping me, and then only when she could spare some time. She told me she was suffering, but she never asked for my help. I told her I was suffering and I did ask for her help, but not too emphatically, because I knew she was suffering more.

Yep. It was me, again, who needed help. And it was me, again, who was having a hard time finding any. Well, it was my promise, wasn’t it? It wasn’t anyone else’s promise to me.

I’ve been reading that the isolation has been hitting people pretty hard. The ones who failed for some reason to have a sufficient support network in place before this all went down. And that’s the way it is, isn’t it? In this society anyway. We’re all expected to take care of ourselves. It’s not exactly the case that anyone (like parents) stands around and makes sure this happens. But that is what’s expected. And it’s best that way, isn’t it? Stiff upper lip and all that. We worship the rugged individual, don’t we? Especially in the U.S.

Well, I don’t feel much like being a rugged individual any more, if I ever did. I cry every night and plead to my friend’s ex-Teddy Bear to help me get some real human company back into my life.

It seems to me that it wouldn’t be that difficult, if you knew that a friend – even an acquaintance – was alone and suffering, to arrange to come over and visit, or take regular walks with them. Or something!

More images of help – all animals

Since when are animals better at helping each other than human beings? How did it get that way?

Plus this girl, who was working at a clinic for injured raptors…

Help!

Touch

19 January 2021

In my experience, the currency (exchangeable commodity) of any intimate relationship – maybe any relationship – is touch, not sex. Touch can also be referred to as “solid communication.”

Gradients of touch

Though I hesitate to elevate any of this discussion to the level of a technology, one can certainly imagine a “scale of touching.”

  1. This might start with simple physical proximity. This is sometimes referred to as “getting in each other’s space.” This is often accompanied by conversation or some other less physical form of exchange, such as play, dance or other movement.
  2. Hand touching. In most places, touching of hands is acceptable in public, and often expected. This includes the hand shake, which may open and close any sort of business contact, as well as holding hands, often practiced by children, between smaller children and their parents, and between intimate couples, or groups involved in some spiritual connection, such as group prayer.
  3. Hugging. Today public hugging is more socially acceptable than it was when I was young. Psychologists helped push this forward by promoting hugging as a way to stimulate the release of oxytocin, a calming hormone. Today you can find numerous articles and videos promoting the health benefits of hugging and other forms of touch. With or without the hormone data, everyone knows how good it feels to be hugged.
  4. Kissing. In many cultures, kissing on the cheek, or sometimes even on the mouth, is considered an acceptable or even expected form of public greeting. Kissing of the hand in public is also widely practiced. I looked up this subject while writing this, and found that public kissing is very widely practiced and is not a new thing at all. Of course, it is also considered the first step in romantic love.
  5. Couple dancing. One of the most intimate forms of touching that is considered publicly acceptable in most places is dancing. This is normally done clothed, but may include very full body contact. From experience I know that it can be a very sensual form of touch. But within dance, there are many gradients of touch. I explore this topic further here, and here.
  6. Cuddling. This has become a popular form of intimate contact that falls short of sex yet involves many similar elements. It is usually not considered acceptable in public, but may be done publicly, as it is commonly done with clothes on. As with hugging, there are numerous popular articles on the health benefits of cuddling, along with all the different ways to do it and the various slang terms associated with them. Cuddling could be considered, in some ways, a breakthrough for young and/or unmarried couples as a way to avoid sex without avoiding very intimate contact. Studies have found that men value cuddling more than women do. Of course, cuddling may also lead to sex.
  7. Getting naked. Often considered a prelude to sex, getting naked nonetheless stands as its own thing. Children are often bathed together, and couples may also do this. Of course, cuddling can be done naked when you are in a private space. And I swam naked in high school swim class. So did the girls, as we understood. Nakedness symbolizes or expresses vulnerability and to some degree trust. There are gradients of nakedness and it does not have to lead to sex.
  8. Extreme forms. The most extreme forms of touch, or solid communication, are considered inappropriate or unwanted by most of us, but are often celebrated in ritualized forms, such as boxing and football. These are the forms of touch that most of us associate with violence. It should be noted, perhaps, that any good thing can be taken too far. And so I have noted that here. Enough said.

Sex

I left sex out of this list.

Although of course it is a form of touch, it is also a special activity with a special purpose and involving a particular set of emotional responses.

I learned of the special emotional pitfalls of sex from my religious instruction. But there is one fact about it that goes beyond any particular religious teaching:

Spiritual beings have no use for sex, even though they love to touch.

This emphasizes the fact that sex, unlike the other forms of touch, is for making babies. It is an animal activity necessary for the survival of the species.

All other forms of touch extend beyond the realm of merely animal. If animals only had sex, they might survive as a species. But if spiritual beings never touched, they would lose their interest in life and slowly turn into something dead. Touch is needed in the spiritual realm, but sex is not.

Many see sex as a “spiritual” experience. Well, I suppose it is for most people. But it was made that way by artificial means. The other forms of touching require no special compulsion, and apply to all beings with bodies of all ages. Babies and children need touch and enjoy it very much, but can’t even do sex. Old people likewise need and love touch. And I can attest to that!

My personal experience with touch

I debated with myself how much personal data to include in this post.

Up to this point in this post, its contents are meant for anyone who reads it. Its contents particularly are for the unmarried women I know. And I wondered to myself who, besides them, my experience would speak to and inform.

But I now remind myself that, as an old man, I consider that part of my “job” in society is to share my lived experience with others, as so many older adults – my own father in particular – have done before me. It is time to share. It is time to let the younger ones know that they are not alone (if they thought they were) and that life is full of experience, and that not all of it is comfortable or easy to share.

My life as a young child was nothing special, I hope. All the usual forms of touching were present in my life. I checked with my mom once about her experience nursing me. Apparently there was some problem keeping my appetite satisfied (boy does that still ring true today!) and so she had to supplement her breast milk with formula. But I did nurse.

And with two siblings and many friends along the way, my childhood years were full of touch.

Apparently it is not that common for young children to fall in love. But I have, and I have written about it before on this blog. And about Linda in particular here. My experience with Linda included the first four forms of touching. From my point of view we were very much in love and she was to be my future wife.

But for some reason I felt compelled to keep our love hidden from the “adult” world. Thus, my mom, when I asked her later about it, did not know I had an intimate girlfriend when I was eight years old. I encourage you (if you are that young) to go ahead and let your parents know about such friendships. And make sure they understand how important those friendships are to you! Adults tend to think that just because children are more emotionally flexible, their intimate experiences are less important. Your child might feel otherwise! After all, your child is actually an “adult” momentarily trapped in a body that is not yet fully developed. Respect the adult viewpoints and emotions of your children!

I thought it was an easy and natural thing to do, to have a girlfriend. So when my family moved to Michigan and I couldn’t find a new girlfriend to replace Linda, I became considerably upset. Again, I hid this experience from my parents. Had they known, it is possible they could have helped me to resolve it. They could have found a way to help me contact Linda and exchange letters with her, or assisted me to find a new girl, which I seemed unable to do on my own. As it was, I gave up the search, and my “appetite” for feminine touch was starved until I left home and worked out ways to make it happen myself, with some assistance from a psychologist.

I played with boys. When I was younger, I usually played “army” with my male friends, or “exploring.” There was some touch involved, although intimate touch was discouraged, as you might imagine. In my first summer of puberty, I made friends with a boy who I would go out into the natural places behind my neighborhood and play “doctor” with. It was not a love relationship, but it was intimate.

After puberty, the boys wanted intimate contact with girls. And so did I. But I never got any. I had learned well how to starve myself!

My high school male friends played music together, and did similar activities. I participated in making an 8mm movie with one of my friends. With some other friends we once visited the University library and found old books about botany written by English noblemen. I spent a lot of time alone. I did not experience my alone time as emotionally painful. There was still a bit of touch among family and friends. I could share my sister’s space every now and then. And so this tended to offset the absence of intimate touch in my life.

As mentioned earlier, we did high school Aquatics without swim suits. As far as I know, this is no longer done.

Adulthood

I did not leave my parents’ house until I was 22. When I did, I “went home” to Berkeley, California. It was a good choice for me. Though I needed help from a psychologist to figure out how to “unstarve” myself from female relationships, I eventually did. I began meeting people through Sierra Singles, and via dance classes. I also went to clubs where there was live music. And I joined a musical performing group (Gamelan Sekar Jaya). These experiences were great! They boosted my sense of well being and my social confidence. I was happy again!

My first girlfriend was Lenora, who I met through Sierra Singles. She lived across the street from me. She took the lead, inviting me to numerous events that included polka dancing at the Finnish Hall, which was directly across the street from my apartment building. It was not until our last meeting that we experimented with intimate contact, on her initiation. But it ended up making her feel upset, so she decided we could not take the relationship any further. She had earlier very bad experiences with another man. But a few years later, she became happily married.

I met Susan at the place where I took dance classes, Ashkenaz. This club was, and remains, a Berkeley landmark and a potent symbol of cultural diversity. We had sex for the first time the day after we met. She was an old hand at this, and two years older than me. It was my first time. It ended six months later, after she reacted in bed in a way that upset me (by kicking me) and I sent her home in the middle of the night. This was unfortunate for me. I adored this woman and all the touch she gave me. But she did need a different sort of relationship than what I could provide, so the breakup was probably inevitable.

For the next 27 years or so, I devoted myself to my church. Though that experience provided a lot of human contact and interaction, it did not include any intimate relationships for me. I did not consider this a problem particularly until my mother died. This tension I am sure contributed to me leaving. It was a good work environment for me, and my church needed every willing person it could get. But I needed more touch; I was getting too little of it there.

Scientology auditor training actually involves a lot of touch. We drill control of another body, and that involves touch, for sure. And of course the exchanges that take place between auditor and preclear can be quite intimate, though this is on a verbal level only.

But I had no breakthroughs until I met a certain young woman. And I will not share that story in any great detail, as it is an ongoing story and involves many sensitive issues. But I should note that it started as a series of conversations and was not intended to ever become anything more than that. I was extremely happy to have someone to visit with and talk with, even though it was only for an hour a week. It was a kind of light therapy for me. I was surprised when it started serving a similar purpose for her, as well.

After she lost her job, we went out of communication for several months. At first I did not feel the loss. But gradually it began to feel worse and worse. The isolation caused by the lockdown orders didn’t help. By around the time of my birthday (October) I was crying every single day and struggling to reach out to this one woman who I had managed to make friends with. When we finally reunited and sat down to talk, she put her head in my lap (it is a form of cuddling). And that changed everything!

My breakthrough into intimate contact with another human being (a young woman) after all these years (40 to be exact) opened the floodgates and the pent up emotion poured out. It still does, and I have no idea when it will stop. Maybe it shouldn’t stop. Maybe this is the way we are meant to feel about each other. Time, I suppose, will tell me more. Tears stream from my face as I write this. And perhaps they should. Perhaps this is how we all would feel if we just allowed ourselves to be alive enough to feel it.

Perhaps some day this woman will become a more public part of my life. Or perhaps it will be some other woman (though that is a little difficult for me to imagine right now; my experiences with this woman have been totally unique in many ways). But however things turn out, I have allowed touch back into my life, and I don’t want to turn my back on it again. I consider it far far far more vital to human life than sex. I hope the above discussion makes it clear why I feel that way.

Two Bags of Gifts

23 December 2020

I have for you two bags of gifts. Both are given freely. But one of them you must reach for.

The first bag contains my love. It is unconditional and lasts forever. It is yours whether you want it or not! The door to my love is always open. It is always offered to you. It cannot be shut.

The other bag contains knowledge, wisdom and pleasure. These are all things you must decide about. They are offered on the condition that you reach, that you decide you want them. There is some risk in reaching for these things. And to benefit from these things you must be willing to commit a certain amount of time and energy. So reaching for them takes some courage.

Fear

Why would anyone not want knowledge, wisdom and pleasure?

What a grand mystery of life! There must be some fear connected to these things. Yes, sad but true, there is.

Knowledge is feared for the responsibilities it puts on your shoulders. You are likely to feel shame if you gain knowledge then never use it to help others, or never even offer it.

Wisdom is feared for the success it brings. How audacious for any human being to think he could succeed in the face of death! How awful to laugh at death for the pale and tiny menace that it actually is! How bold to suggest that we could be winners in the games of life! In the end we are all supposed to lose, aren’t we?

Pleasure is feared for its affirmation of the supremacy of life over the merely physical. There is only pleasure in survival. There is only pain in the failure to survive. How dare we assert our desire to survive! How dare we insist that the games of life must continue, in spite of all signs and warning flags that they are too dangerous to be played! How dare we enjoy living!

Fear is ever-present around us. It is like a virus that can infect anyone. Some become infected and totally succumb to the infection. While they survive they are the “criminals” of society. They lie, they cheat, they steal. They work all day and all night to bring others down to their level. They are afraid of everyone around them, for no good reason. They are convinced that no one else can be trusted, that they have no choice but to be what they have become and act like they do. They are insane.

The rest of us must deal with these ones, the totally lost, and as well with our own lesser sicknesses. Most of us want to do right and don’t want to do wrong or hurtful things. Some of us, though, succumb at times to the illness. We let our fears ruin things that are valuable to us. Our passions, our marriages, our ways of living, our friendships – our lives – can all be destroyed if we let in too much fear.

Some of us let fear into our lives in the form of someone else gone crazy with it. If we don’t recognize when this happens and act accordingly, our lives can easily be ruined. Our health can fail, our bodies can become broken by accidents and injuries and sicknesses, our good friends and our great loves can be stolen from us.

Courage

Though courage has been described in many ways, what it amounts to is the willingness to face Fear and work to conquer it. It is the willingness to “get well” in spite of all temptations, all reasons why, one should stay sick.

It is the ability to see Fear warn you against doing something pro-survival and to disagree with that warning.

Courage begins with recognizing fear for the false protector that it is, then to use knowledge, wisdom and pleasure to rid your life of it.

Courage broadens and deepens as you walk out into the world and embolden others to face up to their fears and defeat them.

Your courage may not be rewarded with praise or thanks. But it will be rewarded with happiness, with friendship, and with a sense of self that can become unshakably strong. Your courage can help you to manifest your love more completely, more unconditionally. And that is what you, your loved ones, your groups, your species, your ecosystem, your universe, your Spirit and your God need the most from you.

Your love is ever-present. With courage it manifests and becomes more and more powerful.

Don’t deprive this world of your love! Use courage to conquer your fears! And help me bring life fully back to our universe!

There are two bags of gifts offered you today. You may choose either, both, or none. What will be your choice?

Message to a fiercely independent person

11 December 2020

I wrote this on the 28th on November and it reflects my perceptions at that time. I hesitated to publish it then, thinking I had perhaps seriously misunderstood the whole situation. But on a re-reading, it still seems important. Though it is a bit overly personal, I publish it now as a complement to the piece I wrote earlier today.

Larry

Perhaps I perceive this incorrectly.

But I see a being struggling to resolve this thing under her own steam. A being, embattled and cornered, convinced she must stand alone, or fall.

Perhaps I am mistaken in this. Perhaps I see too much of myself in you.

This was my attitude, when I was young. And it was fierce enough to inhibit my parents from injecting themselves overmuch into my young life.

But on my 22nd birthday, when I finally decided to say goodbye and boarded a train West, an unsuspected but unshakable secret friend stood there waving goodbye. My mom.

And not long after I landed in the Bay Area and got settled in my new life, she began to write me letters. I would say that she wrote me once or twice every month, from that year until I lost her 15 years later.

And I answered those letters. I shared with her many of my adventures, big and small. And she shared with me bits of her life, more prosaic perhaps, but adventures nonetheless. She acknowledged my struggles and encouraged me in the pursuit of my dreams, as ill-formed or misguided as they might have seemed to her. She stood as my friend, as someone always there, a constant in my life.

Marriage?

What need, then, did I have for a wife? The connection did not even occur to me until we lost Mom in ‘92. My life then changed. But how exactly? I pondered for some months before it became clear to me. She was being my stable terminal. She was being the one that I was collaborating with to create my life. Like…a wife. It hadn’t occurred to me before.

And so I decided to seek out a woman to marry. This did not go well. It was an adventure for me, as I had never proposed to anyone before. But the only two I could find who appealed to me were an affable and petite woman 15 years my senior and a girl wise for her years, but 20 years my junior. The former had been through an awful experience with marriage and was not eager to play that game again. The latter stated simply: “You are old enough to be my father!”

Going it alone, again.

This, then, was the beginning of a long period in my life of single-handing (steering the ship without a crew on deck). It seemed familiar. Hadn’t I been through this before when I was younger? Yes, Mom had been there to take the temperatures and bandage the bruises, but we had never had an intimate conversation until after I left home! So back then, I thought I could survive somehow. But every time I met, then lost, some pleasant young woman likewise seeking friendship, my heart twinged. I was not giving the situation enough skilled attention. Indeed, perhaps, I was incapable of doing so.

And then you came along. It began as had other acquaintances, friendly but a bit offhand. It then took a turn beyond the limits I was used to in this life. You were, suddenly, no longer married; and sharing some of that hardship with me. You, too, had lost your stable terminal. We were “in the same boat” so to speak. But we both had other friends – and you family – available for comfort and support, or so this is what I perceived.

Isolated.

But new disasters struck and those we thought would stand by us became concerned with their own problems. We were now really alone. The disasters had even successfully separated us from each other.

It was only with considerable effort and many emotional days and nights that I found a way to reconnect. And though you have told me some of what you have been through, I doubt I can fully appreciate what you experienced. I was confused: You still had your parents, your sisters and brothers, and your own two sons. But still you spoke of enormous emotional pain. I, meanwhile, was down to nobody but Facebook friends and a few church staff members randomly contacting me. I was crying almost every day and night.

Is friendship worth it?

So: Am I perceiving this correctly? Are there still matters you would prefer to handle by yourself? Or is my own longing for touch causing me to hallucinate?

Yes, solitude has its place. But how could we ask for more solitude than what has been demanded of us in recent months? We have a chance, perhaps quite brief, to make ourselves available to each other. Let us take advantage of it!

In the life stories I have been reading, our heroine runs into this problem all the time. Her husbands don’t love her. She becomes estranged from the people she does love. Her stable terminal is not her spouse, but her brother, her father, her mother, or some spiritual adept who seems to know when she really needs help and appears out of nowhere to be of assistance.

I wish I could offer you that much! But even still, why not work together while we have the chance? It can’t last forever, but perhaps it doesn’t need to. Perhaps we can help each other grow out of needing each other. After all, I have but 20 years, more or less, ahead of me, and you may well have sixty or more. And yet we both need help right now and can at least do something for each other that may lead to greater stability in the future.

What do you think?

Jack

3 December 2020
Our 1971 Christmas.

This photograph is pregnant with meaning for me.

See the narrow wooden head in the upper left corner? That’s a sculpture I made of oak which I called “introvert.” It was new then. Now it’s just a memory.

In front of our “Christmas dieffenbachia” is my mom. Here she is wearing her characteristic big smile. She loved having guests over. My dad looks very comfortable here in his sweater. He sits below an oil painting made by Pat Christie, a neighbor with two little girls who I loved to babysit. Judy Rothman sits in our big black recliner. Our new tape recorder is on the lamp table. I used that a lot in those years to tape music and programs off the radio. That beautiful blonde with her back to us is my sister. She was a very pretty teenager then. She still is kind of pretty.

And then there’s Jack.

What could you say about Jack? He’s so New York! Judy, on the other hand, is from Boston. Jack always liked to talk and express himself. He was a friendly man, even though he spent his years studying and teaching Social Psychology.

What made me think of them? Maybe it was the image of Amy from my previous post. I had no idea where Jack was or what he might be doing, nor did I have any clues about his daughter, and had not tried to follow the family since I left Ann Arbor in 1976. As it turned out, his family followed me out to the west coast in 1984.

The Bay Area and the L.A. area were big news back in those years. That’s where everything that meant anything was going on. The place had not suffered from corporate takeover as it does now. Of course, this was well-advanced in both metropolitan areas back then, particularly with the aerospace/defense industries that peppered the Los Angeles basin and San Fernando Valley, along with military bases at the outskirts and the ever-present entertainment industry, which was to become so important in advancing certain agendas as the years wore on.

But those years were happy for Californians. Electronics was on the rise, and more and more money was seeping, perhaps even rushing, into Tech. That’s what paid my bills before I left Berkeley in 1982 to work at my church in Los Angeles. Little did I know that Jack and his family would be joining me there. I never made contact with them during those years.

In his later life, Jack decided to try stand-up comedy. He was just a few steps away from it, being a college professor for most of his life. (That’s supposed to be a joke.) Amazingly, he set up a YouTube channel in 2018 and posted two videos there. One shows Jack and Judy celebrating their 65th wedding anniversary. And the other shows Jack’s “politics” routine at a comedy club in Santa Monica. Their daughter Amy figures strongly in the first video as the cake lady.

I am thrilled to “meet” Jack again after all these years. I always enjoyed his company and imagine I still would.

Jack Rothman, 2007.

Suppressive Games

2 December 2020

This goes along with yesterday’s post as I attempt to document my struggle to create authentic friendship.

Suppression, suppressives and life

I think I have made it clear now in numerous posts that suppression exists all around us. It stems from the dramatizations of a certain type of personality (called a “sociopath” in classic psychology) who finds himself stuck in an ancient and long-gone problem where he was being attacked from all sides. His only solution was to lie, cheat and steal in order to survive. And though the attackers disappeared long ago, he is stuck in that moment, in that problem, and he still thinks that behaving like a “criminal” is his only survival option.

When a society becomes overrun with such people, more and more of us will be confronted with invitations to become like them, rather than to act as honest sovereign beings. In short, we are invited to play suppressive games.

Life is full of games to play. In theory, each of us decides about which games to join and which to reject. But as criminality becomes more “popular” in society, more and more people begin to feel as though they have no choice but to participate in games that they really don’t feel very comfortable with. And in this way, the criminals can drag a whole society down closer to their level, a level very near total insanity. It is a level that some of us call “slavery.”

What a suppressive game looks like

There are many games we play that treat some players as less than sovereign individuals. This includes a wide range of activities from relatively harmless ones to intensely evil ones.

But I can identify at least two common elements that can be used to spot a game that you might want to stay away from.

  1. Those who run the game are not responsible. This can be expressed in many ways. It can be subtle or blatantly insidious. It can make a bit of sense or be obviously crazy. For example, an ice rink might have you sign an agreement that you won’t hold them responsible if you get hurt while skating. Well, that makes some sense. But then if they go ahead and leave the ice surface all messy, or bumpy or cracked then it begins to look like they aren’t willing to do their part to make the rink safe and that maybe they are hoping you will get hurt. In another example, say a region suffers from a disease outbreak. The government wants to do something about it, so it enters into a contract with a drug company to develop a cure. The company then tells the government “we won’t develop this drug for you unless you pass a law protecting us from being sued if anything bad happens.” That begins to look more shady. The company seems to be using the bad luck of a disease outbreak to make a ton of money regardless of whether their product helps or harms.
  2. Those who play the game are the only ones who suffer if something bad happens. Right now we have a situation where extreme losses of liberty are being enforced to keep the population safe from a disease. But who will pay the price for those losses of liberty? We are expected to. The governments were just following “expert advice” in imposing these restrictions. If you choose to disagree with that advice, you will be made wrong for exercising your sovereign choice. You might even get fined or arrested or worse. Wouldn’t it be easier to just get sick?

Criminals work to find ways to make their victims accept crime as something that is just inevitable. Thus, any suffering that results is the victim’s problem.

A much lighter social example

The above discussion is a result of pondering a much lighter game that has long been accepted in society and is, perhaps, the cause of many sad songs about “broken hearts” and so on.

It starts with a problem that most cultures have accepted as just the way things have to be. Both sexes have a desire for sexual intimacy, for “sleeping together” and things like that. From my limited experience, women desire this at least as much if not more than men do. But in most versions of this game, the woman isn’t allowed to say so. She’s not allowed to take responsibility for what she wants and to simply state it as a desire. And so the stage is set for a suppressive game. Maybe it’s not that bad. Most of us learn to live with this. I never did, but I’m strange. We all agree that I’m strange, right?

The way the game works is that women get to use looks, cloths and various behaviors to flirt with guys. They don’t get to say, “I want you, let’s go.” That’s the man’s job. The man is supposed to decide to make an advance that might result in a sexual encounter. If it happens and she gets pregnant, he has to suffer the consequences of his decision. If he falls in love with her, but she walks off with another guy, that’s not her problem because the original decsion wasn’t her responsibility.

Perhaps this arrangement is best. It somewhat compensates for certain other factors that are part of biology and society that make it difficult to say that men and women are on a totally equal footing. Just because I found a few young women who preferred to express their desires to me directly rather than going through all the social ritual does not necessarily condemn this game. But there have been a lot of sad songs and broken hearts created by doing it the other way.

My 1979 Rock Art Trip

3 August 2019

As a part of putting up some “historical” articles that might be of interest, I offer a short and somewhat impromptu account of a trip I took in 1979. It was an important trip for me personally, but because we visited a remote area in California, it might be of broader interest. The photographs are from slides I took from the trip (except for the featured image) which were later scanned into digital files. Thus, they don’t have the quality of a modern digital photo taken with a 5Meg camera such as the one I have been using since the late 1990s.

The University Research Expeditions Program (UREP) started in 1976. It gave people a way to take a summer (usually) vacation and help a researcher with one of their projects at the same time. It attracted mostly college-educated people, but the variety of participants could be quite great. Their rock art expedition into the hills behind Santa Barbara was the cheapest one they offered, so I signed up for it.

There were about a dozen people on this trip. They included men and women of every age. There were two who took care of the camp and did the cooking. Very valuable! A bunch of the guys were “regulars.” And a few others, like me, had never done anything like this before. Our hosting researcher was Georgia Lee, a rock art expert working out of UC Santa Barbara.

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The scenery was iconic California back country – grazed land of course, but in this area, protected because of the native art inside the rock sheltered spaces.

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I actually have few good pictures of the art itself. But here is a sense of our little adventure. Below is pictured one of the sites we visited early on during the about two weeks we were there. You can see there was a division of labor: The site mappers, the photographers, the art tracers.

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We day hiked to all of the sites from the camp.

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If a site was too far from this camp, we didn’t visit it.

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The camp stood below a rock formation that itself had paintings in the sheltered areas.

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Some campers were writers and brought portable typewriters to keep journals or do creative writing.

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We usually didn’t go to bed in our tents until after dark.

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Showers were courtesy a water tank set up for the cattle (not pictured).

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This trip helped me to grow up. In 1979 I turned 25. But I did not have the social skills of a 25-year-old. This trip helped propel me in that direction. It was really my first experience working together with a wide variety of people who all got along at a very friendly level, even though they weren’t family.

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These people all had a mix of serious intellect, a sense of humor, a willingness to work hard, and an ability to be with each other.

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It opened up my respect for humanity, and in a way, for myself, as they were willing to accept me as one of them.

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In the following year I would take another major trip by myself on my way to a family reunion in Iowa.

I also joined Gamelan Sekar Jaya around that time, then not soon after got into Scientology and joined the Sea Org.

People need to have the opportunity to grow up and take some level of responsibility in life comparable to their awareness of life. This trip helped me to do that.

 

 

 

A flowering

31 March 2019

Facebook recently informed me by email that I was tagged in a photo. It turned out to be this picture taken in North Carolina last year, and recently posted by Ryan Prescott. It’s a beautiful communication of how people can come together when the need arises and help each other.

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This photo includes at least two people from California, several from Florida, one from Venezuela, and the women in sunglasses who I believe are from New York or that general area. We were all in North Carolina to help clean up after flooding and damage caused by a hurricane.

Sacramento Flowering Trees

Meanwhile, here in the Sac area certain fruit trees are very much in bloom.

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I noticed the incredible profusion of these flowers when I went shopping yesterday. I went back today to photograph them at the light rail station where they are most prolific, Sunrise station in Rancho Cordova.

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In this part of town some streets are lined with these trees. I am not sure of the exact species; they seem to be maybe an ornamental plum.

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Many trees and plants in this region are flowering or leafing out right now. They know they have a relatively short window of time between when there is some rainfall and when that stops and it gets really hot.

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These flowers won’t last long. The wind blows them away almost as fast as they can bud and mature.

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On this trip I also noticed the redbuds blooming very strongly. We don’t have a lot of redbuds here; I don’t think they are native to this area. But they do grow well here.

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Springtime is perhaps the perfect time to reflect on the importance of creative activities in the games of life. Where would we be without creation?