Thursday, July 29, 2010

Slouching towards Tibet

At left: Authentic Texas goat attempts to eat my camera.



Father Conner grew up in New Orleans, and used to tell us that as a child, he earned extra money from plugging and unplugging various lights and appliances during the Jewish Sabbath. The Orthodox Jews in his neighborhood didn't want to break the Sabbath rules, but still needed the lights on. Tsk! I would think, self-righteously. What kind of hypocrisy is that?

Likewise, on one of those cable networks, I saw how (so-called) high-caste Hindus employ low-caste Hindus to do their killing for them: vermin, bugs, whatever. In this way, the high-caste family doesn't take on the direct taboo of killing or exterminating, yet they still get the job done and get mice out of the house. Hmph! I thought similarly.

And in my arrogance and egotism, I guess I plumb forgot the rest of Father Conner's instruction, wherein he explained that this kinda thing was the human condition, and we all do it. (This is the genesis of the expression: having your cake and eating it too.) Today, a humongous ugly bug was outside my door, still alive despite being trapped inside our apartment building all night... and like always, I flung it over to Cyril, who happily munched away on it. I'm giving him protein, I told myself.

Father Conner came floating back into my memory, and I realized that I have been letting my cats kill bugs rather than do it myself, because yeah, I am trying to stop killing beings and all that good Buddhist stuff. Thus, I am exactly like the Jews and Hindus in the above stories. I am technically not "breaking the law".. but... well, yes I am.

((shame))

Bob Dylan, one of many in my private Greek chorus, bubbles up in my brain:

Not even you can hide
You see you're just like me
I hope you're satisfied


...

Will I ever be able to let the creepy-crawlies roam about in my abode, without rousting some sleeping feline and pointing their snout in the direction of the 6-or-8-legged entity, knowing they will leap upon it in kitty-joy? Munch, munch.

Ohhh, what a thought. Yes, I can easily participate in vegetarianism, even veganism, but when I think of bugs, snakes, vermin and other such gremlins? Makes my proverbial skin crawl. I can't let them in here. What will people think of me? Better to let the cats do it, as a sort of half-assed solution.

Just like those folks that had serious paperwork to do, but still wanted to keep the sabbath, so they enlisted little Herb Conner to plug their lights in and gave him quarters for tips. And everyone was happy.

My self-righteousness in check, I get it now. And I laugh at our common humanity and accompanying dilemmas.

~*~

And just when you thought it was safe to go back into the waters of Blogdonia (nostalgic, summertime JAWS reference, for the baby-boomers in my readership)...

A comment of mine was pointedly not approved on a blog yesterday. Certainly, I'm not surprised, since the blogger's friends really dislike me. But it was a good comment; pertinent, polite, duly linked and on topic. It wasn't approved because I am still persona non grata. ((frowny-face))

Caution: Daisy climbs soapbox. (Last chance; leave now!)

The Tea Party reminds me of something... I stick my finger in the air, remembering that you don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows... and I remember THIS MOMENT. I remember the eve of Reaganism and the highly-charged political atmosphere of 1980. History and politics are cyclical. Deja Vu all over again. (In fact, continuing the historical comparison, I wouldn't be surprised if Obama is a one-termer, as Jimmy Carter was.)

And I am here to tell you: We cannot afford to be divided right now. As we were before.

I say this now to the young people, who have only known (as adults) the whole "Hope and Change" Obama-mantra... young people who think Dubya was a real right-winger (and you ain't seen nothing yet): We must come together. We do not have to agree on everything, but we MUST put aside differences and make political alliances. NOW. And these kinds of internal squabbles and petty grudges (I include my own) are a luxury; interpersonal fallout from being on the ascent. In about 5 years, the arguments will seem, well, rather silly. We will wonder why we didn't seize the moment and unite when we had the opportunity. And that window of opportunity will close. People you love will become Republicans, if they haven't already. People will convert to strict, austere religious sects that don't allow popular music. Weird shit will start happening and you will get scared, wondering if everything is going to hell in a handbasket.

To guard against despair, you need like-minded friends. And I offer myself as one.

Because I was there before, and I remember.

Just letting you know. When everyone suddenly seems to be on the Right, you will be heartily sorry for every sectarian snub, every missed chance to make common cause with lefties. Please put aside this cool-kids-clique-mentality NOW, because later, it will bite you in the ass in various and sundry ways, seen and unseen. The more diverse your involvements, the easier it will be to PIVOT (for lack of a better word) to a politically-expedient position when necessary. And the better off you will be.

If you back yourself into a strict, sectarian corner, huddled with only people like yourself who AGREE with you, then you very efficiently cut yourself off. You leave yourself extremely vulnerable in virtually every way. I know this from experience.

Please don't. Reconsider. If it is impossible for you to embrace ME, due to my cantankerous hippie ways, I can dig that... but please find other elder leftists or feminists, who remember the Reagan era and who can connect with you, giving you perspective and helping guide you through it.

I come in peace. Namaste.

~*~

No, I haven't totally GIVEN UP. I am still rabble rousing on behalf of my candidates, still working for alla them good causes. But as I said, I feel the change in the air. Don't need no weatherman. Sarah Palin is the Paul Revere of the movement, and she has effectively crowned my next governor. I have no reason to doubt her resolve, or any of the rest of them. By contrast, the left is currently in shreds; bedraggled and beleaguered. We can't even sustain a real live antiwar movement. (THEY have sustained their PRO-war movement.) I think they will easily kick us to the curb, unless we all WAKE UP.

And I still hear snoring. Hello? Anybody listening?

Monday, July 26, 2010

Passages Malibu: Detox as Vacation, maybe

I've been terribly curious about that obnoxious, loud-mouthed guy in the TV commercials who claims he can CURE alcoholism, but only in Malibu. Hm. He can cure you in Malibu, but not in Detroit or Chattanooga? Now, why is that? Is Malibu crucial to his special, newfangled cure in some intrinsic way?

Well, yes, as a matter of fact, it is. He can charge you Malibu prices. A dry-out session at Passages will cost you $67,550 a month.

((((coughs)))) You say WHAT?!?!

I repeat, $67,550 a month. And that was the 2008 rate, before the economy tanked.

I started thinking it was a pricey hang-out for rich pill-poppers, when I took note of the placement of the TV commercials. Many of these are conspicuously broadcast during politically-oriented TV programming, such as the Sunday morning talk shows. (Are politicians all on drugs? Are political-junkies more likely to have this problem, or has marketing research shown that viewers of these shows have more money than the majority?) There he is, blustery Chris Prentiss, whom Hyman Roth might have categorized as headstrong, talking loud, saying stupid things. He doesn't believe in the disease concept of addiction, and he won't be so rude as to call you a drunk or a junkie, which are mean, unkind words.

From the Passages website (and click over and have a look at that spread of his):

Our treatment program is not like any other in the world for many reasons. We are not 12-step based, we won’t place you in groups all day that preach the disease concept of addiction, and place degrading labels on you like addict or alcoholic. You’re better than that, and along with being free from addiction; you deserve to be free of the labels as well. For most of you that will be refreshing to hear, for others, maybe not, perhaps you still want to wear the label of addict and alcoholic even after you’re sober, such as they do in the 12-step programs, if this is the case, then we may not be right for you. If you are ready to lose the identity of addict or alcoholic, achieve lasting sobriety, and live a life of health and happiness, then we are right for you.
Uh huh. Just change those nasty, judgmental labels, and you will feel better right from the get-go!

Just like Mel Gibson, who I am sure feels so much better right now, she giggled in mean-spiritedness. Those damn LABELS are the problem!

Let me interrupt here, with my 28 years of sobriety, admittedly dotted with some spotty pill-popping and pot-smoking. I think I qualify to argue with this guy, since I think he is dangerously WRONG. But of course, he is financially RIGHT, isn't he? And I truly don't believe he CARES if he is wrong, dangerously or otherwise, but now I am getting ahead of the story.

If you are an addict, then you are. Period. You can call yourself polka-dotted or you can call yourself a Martian, or you can call yourself not-an-addict, and that does not make these statements real or true, and further, in your heart of hearts, you know it. NOT taking the dreaded LABEL does not mean you are not regarded by EVERYONE ELSE as an alcoholic or addict. Lots of alcoholics/addicts, perhaps even the MAJORITY, never claim the label of "alcoholic", but just ask anyone around them: their families, their employers, their friends. Is so-and-so an alcoholic? And they will tell you, straight up. This is the psychology of the intervention: other people correlate the facts and there is a laundry-list of your offenses, directly related to alcoholism and drug-use. No wiggle room given, when they throw you out of the commune and say, point blank, IT IS BECAUSE YOU ARE DRUNK ALL THE TIME. YOU STOLE FROM ME. YOU DISRUPTED MY BIRTHDAY PARTY, etc etc etc. It's hard to listen, but as the offenses pile up, you are forced to hear them. They are true. Everyone else is not "wrong"--while you are the only one in the right; this is not logical. Facts are facts.

Fact: Your life is out of your control, or you wouldn't be in this predicament in the first place. Why are you so concerned about LABELS at a time like this? You cannot keep on passing out and waking up in places like South Dakota or New York City (true stories of mine). Aren't you worried about dying or getting killed? Isn't your LIFE more important than whether you wear some damn LABEL? If it isn't, maybe you don't deserve to have a life, and adios. Stop wasting everyone's time, money and resources. BYE! (Sorry, the hard-ass 12-step sponsor emerges from time to time, even if I haven't been to a meeting in 8 years or something.)

If you are in such dire straits that you are spending close to $70,000 to get clean, you are an addict. Is this really in dispute? Certainly, I never spent money like that, even in the depths of alcoholism. If I HAD, I hope I would have the presence of mind to admit that I was indeed extremely desperate... and I hope everyone understands that DESPERATION is what we are discussing here. People do not spend that kind of money unless they are 1) rich people who want to get their relatives/employers/whoever off their backs in the short run and figure this might do it, or 2) desperate junkies who have tried everything else.

But this makes me very glad I was a poor addict, rather than a rich one (see post here, near the end, for my observations on that phenomenon). In the end, I was homeless, and homelessness makes for a unique sort of desperation, not the desperation of the rich movie-star or business executive... but desperation that concentrates the mind in a certain way that cuts out all the self-aggrandizing, egotistical bullshit. TIME TO DEAL.

I am grateful this happened to me, and I saw clearly. In Alcoholics Anonymous, this is known as a MOMENT OF CLARITY.

Perhaps the Passages people never get one of those. Do they?

I found a very informative article titled Addiction: Buying the Cure at Passages Malibu in LA Weekly, written by Mark Groubert. (There are 199 comments, also worth your time, if this subject interests you as much as it does me.)

The Groubert article is some fascinating reading:
Inside the cavernous main hall — there are two other buildings on the 10-acre facility — are yet more columns, a cascading staircase and a gaggle of pretty young guys and gals. These are the personal assistants. Each client at Passages gets his or her own personal assistant, which is kinda cool when you’ve been hammer-heading (combining Ecstasy and Viagra) for months and need a Himalayan goji-berry cocktail brought quickly to your bedside so you don’t miss the next installment of Intervention on your personal 46-inch plasma TV while waiting for your kick meds to kick in. The 29 comfortable beds here are currently filled with patients who pay $67,550 a month for them. Passages, owned and run by Chris Prentiss and his son Pax, is the most expensive, luxurious and controversial residential drug-treatment center in the world.

The Prentisses are the Holocaust deniers of the addiction-recovery industry. They deny the existence of addiction. They deny the existence of alcoholism. They deny that it is a disease, or that it is incurable.
...
“Doctors and scientists are still treating alcoholism as if it is the problem, when it has nothing at all to do with the problem,” Prentiss tells me. “They might as well be studying scratchism for people who have a chronic itch.” Prentiss insists that one of his major goals is to “see the word alcoholism eliminated from the English language.”
...
Prentiss immediately tells me the I Ching is “the greatest book ever written,” that “it tells the future with 100 percent accuracy.” He tells me he has written more books on the I Ching than any writer in the world. I wonder if that’s true, seeing as how I am currently surrounded by I Ching books written by an author named Wu Wei —titles like I Ching Wisdom and I Ching Life, I Ching Readings, The I Ching Workbook, The I Ching: The Book of Answers. Wu Wei, it turns out, is Prentiss’ pen name. It means “no name.” All his books are self-published under his own imprint, Power Press.
Ah, so Prentiss is a self-styled California GURU too. Why am I not surprised?
Prentiss now tells me how his system of workshops and therapy can actually cure addiction: “Our powerful treatment methods provide total recovery from addiction through intensive individualized therapy. Our fully customized treatment program first discovers and then heals the underlying causes of a person’s addiction using one-on-one therapy.”

Confused by Prentiss’ claims, I later call Dr. Drew Pinsky,
[1] the noted addiction specialist. When I read Prentiss’ statement to Pinsky, he states emphatically, “There’s no evidence that aggressive therapeutic intervention early in the course of addiction does anything but make addicts want to get loaded more.”

Of all his offbeat claims, Prentiss’ “success rate” may be his most outlandish. In an industry where reputable facilities such as the Betty Ford Center and Hazelden wouldn’t dare claim even a 25 percent cure rate, Prentiss sticks to his guns. He looks me square in the eyes and says: “We have an 84.4 percent success rate since we opened our doors in 2001, the highest in the world.”
I really love that .4 that he adds to the high number, really makes it sound scientific.
Prentiss says his cure rate is based on the latest survey involving 700 of his graduates, with whom he keeps in contact through phone calls and alumni gatherings.

I ask him how he could statistically compare someone who left his rehab sober seven years ago with someone who graduates tomorrow having spent 30 days off drugs. In 12-step programs, the person with 30 days sober is considered to be in the infancy of his or her sobriety. Prentiss doesn’t see it that way. Once the car comes off the assembly line, it’s ready to drive.

“It’s easy,” he grins. “They’re both cured.”
Well, there you go.

That well-known "revolving door of detox" we've all heard of in AA? Just old wives tales. One visit to detox, 25 visits, all the same. You're CURED, baby! [2]

The stories of suffering individuals who have spent astronomical amounts of money on this half-baked bullshit [4] are very disturbing and make me wish these folks could file malpractice lawsuits.
Despite the pressure to stay another month, [Passages patient] Billy took part in the talking-stick ceremony after 60 days and some $100,000 of his parents’ money. One of the first things Billy did to celebrate was to smoke two eight balls of crack in a reunion with three other “cured” grads after renting a luxury hotel room on Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica. Combined, the four upscale crack heads had spent more than $300,000 on the Passages cure. The two eight balls, by contrast, cost around 500 bucks.
One fellow named Stuart spent around a quarter million on two stays at Passages, about six years ago. Interestingly, at that time, AA meetings were part of the process!

So what happened?
“When I was there, we did six or seven [A.A.] meetings a week. Two or three in-house and the rest out,” he says. “And they were mandatory. When Chris wrote his book [The Alcoholism and Addiction Cure],that ended. That’s when he decided A.A. was the villain, because he decided he could make a fortune if he just claimed he had found the cure for alcoholism.”

The business executive continues in an upbeat, almost appreciative tone: “Chris has a brilliant scheme that they have cooked up there. He has the perfect sales pitch.” His voice suddenly drops. “I know. I fell into it. It’s a beautiful sales pitch when someone is at the end of their rope.”

When I tell Stuart I couldn’t find any of the success stories Prentiss brags about, he tells me, “People come in there, they fail and nobody can call him on it. He’s got clients with confidentiality agreements to hide behind.”
Stuart believes the word CURE was the marketable innovation, and of course, AA does not believe in cures, so Passages and AA were then at odds. "Chris was having trouble filling the beds, and the minute he changed the message, they filled to the brim. He created a cash machine,” Stuart says.

Stuart is now an AA member, and feels he must expose the 84.4% fib.
“I scraped ex-clients out of seedy hotels, that’s why I have firsthand knowledge. I actually cleaned up the mess. The first thing they would say to me was, ‘Omigod, I relapsed,’ and the second thing was, ‘Please don’t tell anyone at Passages. Chris will be disappointed in me. I must be hopeless.’ They believed the 85 percent cure rate and felt like complete losers.”
I dearly wish this scam could be exposed further. I'd love to stop seeing the extremely pricey commercials for their extremely pricey "cure" every Sunday.

And if these advertisements were about a cure for cancer? Diabetes? Asthma? Eczema even?

Would they be allowed to claim cures on expensive network television?

Don't make me laugh.






~*~

Notes:


[1] In the article, Groubert notes that Dr Pinsky and the Prentisses squared off on Paula Zahn's TV show:
“I think [Prentiss] said it wasn’t a disease,” said Pinsky, somewhat amused. “I don’t know what you can cure other than diseases.”
HAHAHA! Good shot, Doctor!

[2] One of my personal pet peeves is when smokers claim they have quit 10 (or however many) times, so yes, they know how, and of course (wait for it!), they can quit any time they want to!

I always correct them. As an ex-smoker, I cannot restrain myself from pointing out the error: No, you TRIED to quit smoking 10 times, and you failed, or you wouldn't still be smoking.

To me, this is a simple delineation, but I guess it's too difficult for Chris and Pax to understand (or perhaps it's just not in their economic interests to get it).

[3] To be clear, Passages is just one of many elite, resort-type treatment centers for celebrities in the area that specialize in pampering. By contrast, at Betty Ford, even the rich and famous must take out the trash, but no such demeaning work will be required by these swanky resort outfits, which I gather is a major reason they exist.

I know how eye-rollingly humorous it is, when Alice Cooper or Robin Williams or someone comes out of rehab, all starry-eyed about how, wow, I took out my own trash for the first time since I was a kid! But that is part of the process for such people, taking them down off their high-horses and reminding them that they are fallible human beings like everyone else. This is crucial to recovery for a person accustomed to being idolized. Because if you are super-human, you can therefore take super-human amounts of chemicals and endure, right? This is thinking like a drug addict, and puncturing such depraved-thinking is necessary. Taking out the trash and washing dishes is a good place to start.

As we can see from the link, Lindsey Lohan getting perpetually waited-on did nothing for her sobriety.

[4] Hey boys and girls out there, don't forget: Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous are FREE. FREE FREE FREE. In the big cities, you can walk to meetings at nearly any time, within minutes. And some of them will have coffee and donuts, and they will be FREE too. (Since they understand addiction intimately, they ASSUME you are poor already, and they are usually right.) Recovery in AA will not cost you a red cent, unless you feel like donating. And donations is what the organization is built on.

Just a friendly reminder, in case you need one. :)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Please don't be long, or I may be asleep


Now if you ask of psychology just how and why aims that were peripheral become at a certain moment central, psychology has to reply that she is unable to account accurately for all the single forces at work.

--William James, Varieties of Religious Experience


I have always tried to be honest when it comes to spiritually-based matters. Even when it makes me look crazed or stupid. This time, however, has been especially difficult.

It seems I don't have the right words, the proper references, the easy approach. On some level, I find Westerners who claim Eastern religions to be pretentious and silly; tourists of the soul. And yet... I wrote about my beloved George Harrison for a reason. I made the case for him and people like him.

Of course, I realized I was also talking about myself. I knew this could all apply to me at some later date.

The date and time arrived, without any preparation, rather like an old rusty sundial that nobody pays much attention to. Time's up. The clock struck the hour, and as the book of Matthew tells us, no man knows the day or the hour, not even the angels in heaven.

I hesitate to call it a conversion. But I am stuck with Western words--words with their roots in Christianity. As I said in the George Harrison post: they don't do it like that, we do it like that. But then, I am talking about ME, right?

I do it like that.

~*~

My study of Buddhism has grown extensive. And just like those numerous TV detectives (or Greg House), I was in the middle of something else entirely when it happened. In a series of realizations, everything coalesced, made sense, lined up. I tried to fight it, because I knew what it meant. (I briefly wrote about that here.) I am frankly terrified at the idea of "leaving" the Church, even psychologically. (Physically, I have no trouble staying away for months at a time.) A creator God is an idea I can't overcome and can't shake; an idea that seems etched somewhere on my cerebellum. In addition, my deep love for the saints and the Blessed Mother is a palpable and real phenomena in my life. I don't want to change, I protested inwardly, I don't want to.

Then why are you reading all of this stuff? Why have you steadily prayed for compassion?

It was the graveyard. I asked the spirits of the dead to speak to me, and tell me what they know.

~*~

I decided to take photos of the German graveyard in Fredericksburg, Texas. These immigrants are the people my grandchildren descend from, my son-in-law's family. They came thousands and thousands of miles, to these hills that must have seemed so hot, so inhospitable, so strange. They left the "old country" and arrived in the land of coyotes and cactus. I thought of what it was like, never hugging one's parents again, crossing a huge ocean and knowing that you will never again see the place you came from, the land that nurtured you and formed your imagination.

I saw the gravestones, some of them the graves of babies. The whooping cough, polio and other diseases these babies likely died from, have been largely eradicated in the West. And yet, our pain, our suffering, does not diminish. We have all kinds of modern conveniences that these Germans would have found incredible, the answer to any number of daily problems; even a telephone would have been an amazing innovation in their very primitive, pioneer way of life. But what does the modern proliferation of phones bring us? I thought of the woman seated behind me on the plane, arguing on her cell phone in controlled tones... arguing with who? I tried to figure it out and could not: Husband? Boyfriend? Best friend?

I thought of the juxtaposition of the arguing passenger, and the German immigrant (lying here in this cemetery?) of the last century, who would have been so overjoyed to hear that her husband was merely late, not hurt or harmed on his long, muddy trek home by horse-drawn wagon. Telephones were once used only in similar emergencies, to notify Atticus Finch there was a rabid dog outside, and other scary stuff like that. But now we all carry one, like talismans to ward off the problems of modern life that materialize seemingly out of nowhere. And as a result, omnipresent telephones have also helped to multiply our distress.

I thought about my newborn grandson, my nearly-five-year-old granddaughter, and the pain I have experienced, not being able to see them as often as I want to. I know they will not die of these old diseases, causing me great pain, but I do feel the intense pain of separation, the same crushing pain these German immigrants felt. In that sense, nothing has changed. Our common humanity is the same, and we feel the same, even after the passing of a hundred years.

We have improved our lot, we are living longer, I thought, but we are still sad.

And tellingly, graveyards have not changed. We have not changed the fact of death, the end of our earthly existence.

~*~

I entered that area of the cemetery in which the names have worn off the stones. Who are these people?--I thought. Please talk to me. There were gothic-appearing cages surrounding the oldest stones, some very rusty. To keep the grave-robbers out? Frightening. (One might also say, to keep the dead people from escaping, if one were sufficiently spookable.)

I could always get through the first two Noble Truths pretty easily. I mean, come on, who can argue?

The Nature of Suffering (or Dukkha):
"This is the noble truth of suffering: birth is suffering, aging is suffering, illness is suffering, death is suffering; sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief and despair are suffering; union with what is displeasing is suffering; separation from what is pleasing is suffering; not to get what one wants is suffering; in brief, the five aggregates subject to clinging are suffering."

Suffering's Origin (Dukkha Samudaya):
"This is the noble truth of the origin of suffering: it is this craving which leads to renewed existence, accompanied by delight and lust, seeking delight here and there, that is, craving for sensual pleasures, craving for existence, craving for extermination."
I would even agree with the third one, but I just wasn't sure it was for an amateur like me:
Suffering's Cessation (Dukkha Nirodha):
"This is the noble truth of the cessation of suffering: it is the remainderless fading away and cessation of that same craving, the giving up and relinquishing of it, freedom from it, nonreliance on it."
And finally, the fourth, the stumbling block. Aye, this is the rub.
The Path (Dukkha Nirodha Gamini Patipada Magga) Leading to the Cessation of Suffering:
"This is the noble truth of the way leading to the cessation of suffering: it is the Noble Eightfold Path; that is, right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness and right concentration."
Yes, it folded in on me, very simply and honestly.

This is The Truth, and I have found it, after much seeking. I am now ready to accept it.

And there it was, one of the most intense moments of my life, strikingly similar to my two other conversion experiences, which have brought me to this point. (I love trinities; these kindsa things should happen in threes.) I then saw the gravestone that said "Our darling" (photo at left)--and that was it. I started to cry, right there in the old German graveyard, for the suffering of all beings. And I wanted so much, with every fiber of my being, to end it.

I reached out and touched the words: Our darling. I felt the keening, the tears, of the mother who asked for those words on the gravestone. I am so sorry, I sobbed, I am so sorry.

~*~

I promise not to turn this into a Buddhist blog. I wouldn't know how to begin, in any case. I am merely reporting the incident and the shift in my sensibility. My sense of peace and new sense of mission, has not abated in the slightest, and has only increased. I know this means I have to go further. It will be my task to correlate my old beliefs with the new ones, and to figure out what I need to do to fulfill these new convictions in my everyday life. This is called dharma, a word I don't use easily. As I said, the feeling that I am some kind of religious tourist, or worse, a cultural imperialist, is overwhelming, probably fallout from too much leftism. Still, I hope this feeling will keep me honest. And as I seek out a path for myself, I hope my spiritual reticence will prevent me from bloviating nonsense!

In the short run, the change in my life has been enormous. The truth shall set you free!

As always: Stay tuned, sports fans. :)

~*~

Notes:

:: I loved Kloncke's recent posts as Feministe, and highly recommend her blog.

:: And as we speak so honestly of suffering: While I was gone, a sometime blog-reader and good friend passed away. He was one of those very generous, sweet-tempered Christians who embody the Word, and would gladly give you the shirt off his back if you needed it. Rest in Peace, generous and loving soul, Gregg James Farrier 1947-2010. The fierce and beautiful kindnesses you left on the earth, stay behind to remind of us of what we are capable of becoming, if we try.

:: Non-Beatles fans might wonder: blog post title is from George Harrison's Blue Jay Way.

After all of these years, I finally understood the phrase.