I am for you

Archive for June, 2010

a learning and learned life

understandting the structure of life

In my post last week called a loving and loved life I spoke about the two emotionally crucial feelings that kept me happy, pretty much unconditionally: doing what I love as often as possible, and being aware of the love my husband has for me. These are the things that keep me feeling, emotionally, healthy.

I realized today that at the next level, the intellectual level, there are other things which keep me thinking healthfully. The three most crucial thoughts that come to mind are (which you’ve probably heard many times before):

1. Humans have certain generally shared needs, for them to be healthy on all levels. (And, yes, those needs can be described in a very general way as whole food, clean water, fresh air, warmth, light, and the freedom to express themselves in some effective way, and to be in an environment where others are also getting their needs sufficiently met.) Before I started specifically researching human needs, I was very confused, and thought that our needs were too complex and individual to ever really understand, and I ended up reading and watching and listening hundreds if not thousands of all manner of experts and regular folks in my quest for someone somewhere to tell me what we’re “supposed to” be doing in life so that we can end up with that ever coveted good life. And now that I’ve found myself being the one to tell me this new, more practical, thought that the needs can be simplified rather nicely using just the input and output of solids, liquids, gases, and energy, most of my other thoughts are so much more enjoyable!

2. All living things always have the inborn motivation to do things that increase the health of themselves and anyone they feel a connection to (connections are formed when individuals share something, materially, emotionally, or ideologically). Often, though, getting one need fulfilled seems to conflict with the fulfillment of another need, and that is where “conflict” arises and makes it look like someone’s motives are not purely healthy, but when I give myself enough time to look at things at a deep enough level, I can always find the positive, healing motive in everything you do. And being able to analyze people’s actions this way, now, makes me really, really love my thoughts!

3. Finally, the last thought, which logically follows from the first two, is that the best solution to any personal or social problem (conflict) is to increase the ability of all involved to get more of what they need to be healthy, so that there is less conflict in them, and so that they can be the best, most whole, person they possibly can be, and be connected to (and thus be motivated to take care of) the widest possible diversity of life. I may not always think of this universal solution right away, but when I do, my thoughts are exceptionally wonderful and fulfilling.


learning to love your lizard brain

many dancers, one skirt - during Figment in Cambridge, Massachusetts

I’ve regularly mentioned the practical fact that when you want something to change, it’s nearly always easier to change yourself than to change others. Demanding other people do things is not only exhausting, but it also rarely works, at least not for very long. People are the way they are because that’s the way the universe made them – through nature and nurture. And fighting against nature and nurture is, as you can imagine, a guaranteed losing battle, unless you happen to be some kind of supernatural force (which I won’t entirely rule out, just to be on the safe side here. :-)

So, instead, when you want change, you might want to try changing your own beliefs about things. Strategies such as Buddhism and Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) use this strategy. I use it a whole lot as well. I look for underlying roots to people’s behaviors. I twist words around to see if there is another possible understanding of what people say. And I test out reflections of ideas to see if their opposite is also true or truer.

But even easier than all those approaches, even easier than flipping ideas around to test out all the permutations of a theory, and way easier than fighting against nature and nurture, is simply allowing my body to move in whatever way it wants – working directly with my own nature and nurture.

The physical self is governed by the most ancient area of the brain, sometimes called the lizard brain, and thus it’s design has many millions of years of experience making change happen. The prefrontal cortex, on the other hand, is just a tiny baby in the grand history of “doing stuff”, and it’s still quite wobbly when it comes to doing things without falling over a hell of a lot.

Next time you are frustrated with the world, and find yourself inclined to demand that someone else “do something!” because you don’t like the status quo, consider letting the power of just moving your body, and letting your instincts take over (as long as you are in a reasonably safe environment where you’re not going to do much damage to anyone, unless, of course, they are looking to get some aggression out as well and volunteer to play with you!). And you can trust your body to do what it needs to do, because your body was born knowing how to problem solve and heal.

(Now, moving your body only works well to make positive change when you have an abundance of energy, not when you are deficient. In the case of being deficient, just lay low for a while and maybe let people know what you need, so that they can have a chance to get it for you, if they are able to. To know which situation you’re in, listen closely to your body’s messages.)

So yeah, if you really want change, right now, try it the easy way, allow yourself to move forward, backward, or spin around, and see what changes.



the universe is like a kalaidiscope, it changes with even the tiniest movement

The difference between an obstacle and everything else…

is perspective.

Once you are looking at an obstacle from the other side, it becomes simply another interesting or uninteresting part of the universe.


your life is a ripple in the pond

expanding and receding at the same time in the same pattern

Using the pattern of growth, and the awareness that it can be seen as waves of increasingly calming peaks and valleys of taking in and expressing out matter and energy, I understand that the types of emotions that you experienced as a baby and toddler (up to about 45 months old) are the types of emotions that you will always have as your basic emotional make up, while the intensity of those emotions will continue to decrease as you age. It’s like the way the ripples in a pond stay the same shape and ratio as they both grow outward and recede.

So if you experienced a wide range of different emotional states as a child, due to your environment and situations, then you will have a wide range of different emotional states as an adult. And if you experienced a narrow range of emotional states as a young child, you will always only have that narrow range. And either way, the emotions that you experience will continue to mellow as time moves forward for you, so that as you age, you become more balanced and calm, while still experiencing the same kinds of emotions you were exposed to as a tiny person.


a loving and loved life

boys and their joys!

Some people who know my personal situation and my relationship, housing, and employment history might find it surprising, but I honestly and deeply love my life the vast majority of the time.

I think that there are two internal reasons for this:

1. I do what I love as often as I possibly can, even if it seems silly, “bad”, or if others don’t understand why it’s important. (With the crucial caveat that everyone around me is free to ignore me or leave my presence so that they can be personally responsible for taking care of their own needs at the time.)

2. I am aware of evidence that the man I married and love so passionately and deeply most likely still very much loves me and values me and thinks I’m a good person and does in fact want me to he healthy and happy, and wishes to be with me passionately, too, even if he isn’t always able to express that. (And, at a somewhat lower level of importance, but still probably significant, the perceived love and respect and support of my parents is part of this overall sense of being a person who is indeed better off alive than dead.)

So this vision of being free to be the most loving person I possibly can be while also feeling that I am a very much loved person is what makes me very happy to be alive most of the time these days.

Which leads me to ask: What if we had as a goal for every individual human (and eventually every other individual social animal) to feel loved and loving most of the time? What if that was incorporated into public and private policy? What kind of world can you imagine if this was normal?


totem pole

without the cracked mushroom and awkward seashell crown, the flowery turtle would fall down!

The factor that makes all the difference between someone being “sick” and one being healthfully different is, from what I can tell, literally describing an individual as one other the other and then treating them as such.

It’s not just the “magic of words”, but that’s part of it. The other part is the magic of action, which, as we know, speaks even louder than words.

So, how are you speaking and acting when it comes to those around you? Are you aware enough of the value of their different approach to life – physically, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually – and their general tendency to choose the most healthful solution from the options that they see as being available to them, to be able to express how they are healthfully different in word and deed?

I certainly haven’t done this a whole lot, due to training and habits for doing other things instead, but I continue to pay attention to the idea of seeing the value in everything, and that intentional practice has indeed improved my performance in this skill. And I will continue to remind myself to look for how others are different and healthy as I go though life interacting with so many incredibly diverse individuals who all contribute something important to the health and growth of life itself, whether I am consciously aware of it or not. Perhaps this is what makes me healthfully different from you. Or, perhaps this is what makes me similarly healthy to you, depending on which sorts of ways you are healthy.

Also, if anyone can come up with a more poetic way of saying “healthfully different” I’d love to hear it! I’m always happy to encourage my memes to evolve into more resilient and beautiful creatures!


why people do what they do

complexity from simple ideals

It’s been said that we humans are incredibly complex. And clearly we are. Heck, we’re not really even just one species. Instead our internal make-up contains something like ten thousand different species, (mostly microbes). And we’ve got something like trillions of trillions of cells in our body, including all those other species that are the individual human “us”.

And that’s just one single individual human being.

So yes, life is indeed complex. At least when you look at it from a microscope, or it’s literary equivalent.

But from a different perspective, one much broader and more inclusive, life is also simple.

Individuals want things that help us grow. Individuals want to avoid things that prevent us from growing. And individuals have the ability to get information about the things we individuals encounter in our environment.

So when people do something, you have the option to look at their behavior from this comfortably simple perspective of them wanting to grow, wanting to avoid obstacles to growth, and/or trying to get more information about the world.

And when you look at people’s behavior that way, it really makes people look far more beautiful and positive. Which is nice, for a change, isn’t it? :-)


emotional and intellectual Aikido

all the energy you need is there, just reverse the polarity!

Emotional Aikido is using the emotional energy that comes at you, including fear~anger, to do something you want to do by positioning yourself so that you can redirect things in a productive direction.

In addition to Aikido practitioners, sailors also know all about using what others might see as a negative force for a positive outcome, as they learn how to sail into the wind. And film photographers definitely know the importance of negatives when it comes to making a positive.

Because energy of any sort is a gift, as we living things require energy to grow.

And, it turns out that those who give you energy are like magnets, if their energetic gift is pushing or pulling you in a direction you don’t want to go – towards something that prevents you from growing – you can choose to instead rotate yourself, and possibly even your magnet~friend, around a little to make that energy push or pull you towards something that will help you grow. And if you’re really good at it, you can aim both of you in a direction that is mutually beneficial.

Intellectual Aikido is similar, in that you take the information that you’re being given and use it to help you gain progress on understanding how the world works. Regardless of the kind of information, or the source of the information, that you’re offered, you can notice how it relates to the subjects you most want to know more about, because, ultimately, everything is connected.

How to do all this is still somewhat of a mystery to me. Most likely it simply comes naturally when you are getting your basic physical needs met, and when you have a very clear intention for your highest goals in life. In other words, you will more easily get where you want to go when you know where you want to go, and have the basic physical resources to keep your body healthy enough to make it there. Which means that you can focus your resources on ensuring these two things – physical health and clarity of purpose – and you’ll be well prepared for anything that life throws at you.

Essentially, these are the ideas behind being able to see value in everything that happens to you, so that you can indeed grow, even in an environment that has many obstacles.


to my beloved DPM, on our Solstice

Solstice 2004, Cape Elizabeth, Maine - photo by unknown friend of Betty :-)

The best environment one can be in – i.e., the environment that leads to the greatest health – is one which not only offers the highest quality things we need, but that also can accept and even use all that we need to get rid of.

Which is why intimate partners, especially parents and spouses and other close family members who make up our home, are so crucial to our health. More than anyone else in the world, close family is there to provide us with an outlet to vent our toxic crap, an outlet to offer our overabundance of creativity, and, of course, help in getting the food, water, air, warmth and light that keeps us surviving, growing, and thriving, so that we can indeed overcome the obstacles that are in our path as we make our way through our universe.

And that, my honey, is how I am for you. :-)


obstacle words

looks pretty overcomable to me!

Words wield power. When taken too seriously, they can be devastating. I’ve personally seen the power of words. I’ve seen words be able to comfort, and to hurt, and to enlighten. But even when taken for what they truly are, as a very fuzzy approximation, of a fairly fuzzy and necessarily incomplete idea, of just one perspective of the universe… even with that awareness, words are still very important.

There are so many unuseful and inaccurate words, spoken out of fear, that have been lingering painfully in our past, words such as “wrong”, “sick”, “not good enough”, “bad”, and so on. They are attempts to get at something that we all know deep down, but that isn’t being expressed in a way that allows for enlightenment.

But right now, I’m suggesting that all these words are indeed a part of the past, a past of fuzzy frustration. And right now I’m suggesting that all of those words are attempts to describe what are essentially blockages, obstacles that got in the way, but that have clearly been passed now. Obstacles that were neither good nor bad but were simply there, perhaps from the beginning of time, waiting for us to pass them by in some determinedly creative way, as we, and the rest of the universe – literally the “story of the all” – expand ever outward into the future.

And whenever we have overcome one of those obstacles, either under our own power, or with help from others, what we’ve found is more light upon our path, more clarity of purpose, more understanding of how things are, allowing us to more easily overcome any new obstacles that might be in our path.


can’t is the present tense of didn’t

if you blinked, you can't have not blinked

Yep, can’t means didn’t but in the present tense.

If you didn’t do something, it means that at the time that you might have done it, you actually couldn’t do it.

Many people will argue with this, aggressively and even violently. But I’ve yet to see anyone who can offer any real, logical evidence to the contrary, while reality offers pretty much total evidence supporting this.

Why didn’t I do X? Because, given all the factors of the situation, I couldn’t do X. Though I might well have done it and/or do it at another point in time, in another (possibly even very similar) situation…

What does the minister of detail do?

less money more love!

According to Rory Sutherland, in his revent TED talk, the effectiveness of a solution is inversely proportionate to the amount of money~force used (though his diagram up there doesn’t actually show this very effectively, does it? – he must have hired an expensive consultant to make it… :-), and so Sutherland very much wants to create positions in the world where people have:

“Immense amounts of power, but no money at all.”

I tend to agree. The solutions that people come up with when they can’t just go out and buy a “band aid” for the problem tend to be far more innovative and deeply researched, and thus more universally effective. Money tends to lead to the superficial decorations of a more bling-covered world, while the ability to really look at the core of the problem and understanding what people truly want and need is something that happens when money is mostly out of the picture. And as those “poor” people who are looking more deeply into the problem and coming up with more universally available solutions are given the power to enact those solutions, the world will become a more honestly better place at it’s heart. Perhaps, the meek really should inherit the Earth, if we want to truly solve the world’s biggest problems…

Because, ultimately, the universe is not Newtonian, and is instead, a chaotic, quantum place, where even the smallest changes in position and direction have a huge effect on even the largest masses.

And Mr. Sutherland’s challenge to us is to come up with a term for this. What is it that we do when we look into the core of what people want and need, and find a way to give it to them with the least possible resource allotment?

I suggest filling that unlabled box with the word:


Or possibly SPIRIT, as in the original meaning of the term: “breath of life” and the rare spark that makes the difference between life and death.

Love is about the personal care and attention given to others, rather than the superficial decorations of business. And spirit is about that small but powerful difference that makes all the difference in life. Because now that the industrial age is over and we are in the age of communication, we don’t need to spend as much time and energy on making machines and policies that can take care of our basic needs so that people can survive, and we can instead spend much more time and energy on understanding how to make machines and policies that help people truly thrive.

And perhaps this is what the geeks will become, once they let go of their money and their technobling, and are finally free to spend their geeky passion on making the world a truly good place.




This morning I asked myself what my own biggest fear is, and what I came up with was not being understood.

So my mission now, is to confront that fear by being as confusing as possible, in some way, so that I’m guaranteed to be totally misunderstood, and get to learn from the experience, and find out how not-really-scary not being understood is.

Hmmmmmmm… I really going to have to think about this. I’ve always been so obsessed with being as clear and understandable as possible because of this fear, at least in my verbal communication, so it’s going to be pretty different to do the opposite. Interesting.

Hey, this could be a whole lot of fun!


is the suspense killing you?

go on, open Pandora's box...

Often the best thing to do with fears is to get them over with as soon as possible. And, from what I can tell, the best way to do that is to intentionally do what you fear, so that you at least have some control of how it happens, and you’re at least reasonably prepared for it happening.

Because if the suspense is killing you anyway, then you have nothing to lose by confronting even your greatest fears, which are very likely to be mostly illusions, with a reality that is far more enjoyable than you previously imagined, ready to be revealed once you pass beyond the smoke and mirrors.


response able

having someone in the palm of your hand is just an illusion

It’s a myth that one can be responsible for someone else in the popular sense of protecting them from harm. Not only is it often impossible to actually do, it’s also often harmful in and of itself, as it restricts their freedom, and makes it difficult for them to grow naturally, in the way that is right for them.

However, as the wonderful Fred Kofman suggests, you can be “response able” to others, in the more literal sense of simply being able to respond to their requests for help. So when you find yourself with the idea that you are responsible for someone else, remember that the best you can do, and what is best for you to do, is to find ways to be able to respond to whatever it is they are asking for, especially those basic needs of food, water, air, warmth, and light, so that they can more easily get where they are most interested in going, as they explore their world and learn about themselves and their unique talents and skills.


natural hierarchy leads to equality

what goes up must come down!

Energy flows from the areas of highest power to the lowest, with areas of more power naturally rushing to fill the vacuum created by the lack of power in other areas, with the goal of allowing for a more balanced state of affairs, unless the process is interfered with. Power equality is a law of nature. What goes up, really, really wants to come down.

Which leads us to the logical conclusion that if we’re frustrated about some inequality somewhere, and want that power to flow from where it’s overabundant to where it’s lacking, the obvious thing to do is to look for what’s getting in the way of the natural flow of things, and to remove that unnatural interference so that the energy can get to where it’s needed the most, in the easiest and most direct way that the physics of our universe will allow it to.

This might not be easy, as we’ve gone out of our way to put up all kinds of unnatural interferences all over our environment – from overly rigid grids of streets, to exceedingly complex work/play/learn/relax schedules, to bank accounts, to locks on our doors – but once we see these energy blocking obstacles for what they are, we’re able to remove them quickly and effectively, so that the good stuff can really flow freely and naturally from where it is abundant to where it is lacking, so that equality can be naturally achieved.

And the best place to start, is to look at what’s blocking our own overabundance of power from naturally flowing to wherever else it’s needed more…


Better than Cognitive Behavior Therapy, Buddhism, and drugs

it's not a magic pill, it's a melon, eat it life will be better

Medicine, self help, and all the various kinds of therapy (secular and non) are huge business, constantly gaining converts and money and power. While people are simultaneously getting less and less happy. The fact is that at best these approaches can cover up the symptoms a bit, and maybe give people a sort of jury rigged good enough type solution to their current problems.

But the best and simplest approach is to actually go to the root of the problem, which is, of course, the basic needs.

We like to think we’re all clever and holier-than-thou when we find some kind of enlightened, technological, or ancient secret that allows us to circumvent our problems. But in reality we’re just creating some fancy decoration that we’re so very carefully balancing, lest it topple over, that makes everything seem better, while ignoring the whole underbelly of our lives which is very likely corroding to the point of collapse.

While those who find themselves considering how easy it can be to actually eliminate the majority of their problems when they focus on building a strong platform of a healthy body, by putting in the highest quality whole living foods, clean water, fresh air, comforting warmth, and energizing light, soon discover that those fancy decorations are unnecessary, and that they are capable of flowing through life joyfully and easily with their own solid and flexible selves.