This is Water

david-foster-wallace3  by David Foster Wallace

Greetings and congratulations to Kenyon’s graduating class of 2005.this is water

There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, nods at them and says “Morning, boys. How’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes “What the hell is water?” This is a standard requirement of US commencement speeches, the deployment of didactic little parable-ish stories. The story [“thing”] turns out to be one of the better, less bullshitty conventions of the genre, but if you ‘re worried that I plan to present myself here as the wise, older fish explaining what water is to you younger fish, please don’t be. I am not the wise old fish. The point of the fish story is merely that the most obvious, important realities are often the ones that are hardest to see and talk about.
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Smiled Soul

 

 

Smiled soul,
effervescing brightness,
a divine loving nucleus
with no beginning or end,
no dimension or space:
you’re simply a vestibule
amid a human shell encased.

Oh, human shell!

Oh, human shell!

Be not battered
by emotions and prejudices.

Smiled souls of ages past,
and smiled souls yet to come,
are guides through the
transcending vestiges.

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How I Am Wired is What my Brain Fires

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During my last yoga class, my lovely instructor shared a theory with us:  Hebbian Theory.  The Hebbian theory basically states that “cells that fire together, wire together.”   You are probably asking yourself, “what does that mean?”  To me, “what I look for, expect, or anticipate, I see, receive, and endure.”

“The general idea is an old one, that any two cells or systems of cells that are repeatedly active at the same time will tend to become ‘associated’, so that activity in one facilitates activity in the other.”(Donald O. Hebb,  1949, p. 70)

“When one cell repeatedly assists in firing another, the axon of the first cell develops synaptic knobs (or enlarges them if they already exist) in contact with the soma of the second cell.” (Donald O. Hebb 1949, p. 63)

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Bloom Where You Are Planted

by Michelle Maynard-Koenig

This poem is dedicated to all of the “dandelions” in the world. Keep facing the sun of your truth and grace our universe with your beauty!

bloom where you are planted

Not everyone appreciates dandelions,
like they do pristine roses,
mowed down as unwanted weeds
and simply disposed of.

But I see each of us as flowers
in the garden of life,
with diverse stems and petals
contrasted in width and height.

Roses, Poppies, Daisies,
Ivy, Lilies, and Orchids so blue,
Sunflowers, Carnations, Cattails
Peonies and Dandelions, too.
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Do You Carry A Moral Compass?

This day I breathèd first–time is come round,
And where I did begin, there shall I end.
My life is run his compass.
~Shakespeare

We all have a moral compass. A magnificent intangible tool to guide us through the journey of existence in this life. As a fan of self-inquiry, I came across a terrific website that contains a understandable description of moral compass.  The site is called www.moralcompass.com:

‘A useful way to think about your “moral compass” is to think of it like an ordinary compass with true North representing Integrity, South – Forgiveness, East -Compassion, and West – Responsibility. These four universal principles are honored in some form by people of all races and religions, regardless of gender.’
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Laughter – The Best Medicine

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The next time you feel compelled to stress, worry, frown, or say something you may regret later, take a moment and consider that there is another alternative … like LAUGH YOUR BUTT OFF!  Why?

Laughter Is Good For Your Health

  • Laughter relaxes the whole body. A good, hearty laugh relieves physical tension and stress, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after.
  • Laughter boosts the immune system. Laughter decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease.
  • Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.
  • Laughter protects the heart. Laughter improves the function of blood vessels and increases blood flow, which can help protect you against a heart attack and other cardiovascular problems.

Laughter And Humor Help You Stay Emotionally Healthy

The link between laughter and mental health

  • Laughter dissolves distressing emotions. You can’t feel anxious, angry, or sad when you’re laughing.
  • Laughter helps you relax and recharge. It reduces stress and increases energy, enabling you to stay focused and accomplish more.
  • Humor shifts perspective, allowing you to see situations in a more realistic, less threatening light. A humorous perspective creates psychological distance, which can help you avoid feeling overwhelmed.

See The Lighter Side Of Life:

  • Laugh at yourself. Share your embarrassing moments. The best way to take yourself less seriously is to talk about times when you took yourself too seriously.
  • Attempt to laugh at situations rather than bemoan them. Look for the humor in a bad situation, and uncover the irony and absurdity of life. This will help improve your mood and the mood of those around you.
  • Surround yourself with reminders to lighten up. Keep a toy on your desk or in your car. Put up a funny poster in your office. Choose a computer screensaver that makes you laugh. Frame photos of you and your family or friends having fun.
  • Keep things in perspective. Many things in life are beyond your control—particularly the behavior of other people. While you might think taking the weight of the world on your shoulders is admirable, in the long run it’s unrealistic, unproductive, unhealthy, and even egotistical.
  • Deal with your stress. Stress is a major impediment to humor and laughter.
  • Pay attention to children and emulate them. They are the experts on playing, taking life lightly, and laughing.

Checklist For Lightening Uplaughter_225

When you find yourself taken over by what seems to be a horrible problem, ask these questions:

  • Is it really worth getting upset over?
  • Is it worth upsetting others?
  • Is it that important?
  • Is it that bad?
  • Is the situation irreparable?
  • Is it really your problem?

Create Opportunities To Laugh

  • Watch a funny movie or TV show.
  • Go to a comedy club.
  • Read the funny pages.
  • Seek out funny people.
  • Share a good joke or a funny story.
  • Check out your bookstore’s humor section.
  • Host game night with friends.
  • Play with a pet.
  • Go to a “laughter yoga” class.
  • Goof around with children.
  • Do something silly.
  • Make time for fun activities (e.g. bowling, miniature golfing, karaoke).

Incorporating more humor and play into your daily interactions can improve the quality of your love relationships— as well as your connections with co-workers, family members, and friends. Using humor and laughter in relationships allows you to:

  • Be more spontaneous. Humor gets you out of your head and away from your troubles.
  • Let go of defensiveness. Laughter helps you forget judgments, criticisms, and doubts.
  • Release inhibitions. Your fear of holding back and holding on are set aside.
  • Express your true feelings. Deeply felt emotions are allowed to rise to the surface.

Simply Sum It Up – Don’t Worry, Be Happy!

One essential characteristic that helps us laugh is not taking ourselves too seriously. We’ve all known the classic tight-jawed sourpuss who takes everything with deathly seriousness and never laughs at anything. No fun there!

Some events are clearly sad and not occasions for laughter. But most events in life don’t carry an overwhelming sense of either sadness or delight. They fall into the gray zone of ordinary life–giving you the choice to laugh or not.

Laughter is your birthright, a natural part of life that is innate and inborn. Infants begin smiling during the first weeks of life and laugh out loud within months of being born. Even if you did not grow up in a household where laughter was a common sound, you can learn to laugh at any stage of life.

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Informational sources: Melinda Smith, M.A., Gina Kemp, M.A., and Jeanne Segal, Ph.D.

Once Upon A Time …

by Michelle Maynard Koenig

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Once upon a time there was a girl

who feared happiness

. . .  now she laughs

who feared to speak

. . . now releases her voice

who feared imperfection

. . . now dances with truth

who feared death

. . . now trusts life

who feared love

. . . now introduces her soul to everyone

who feared tomorrow

. . . now welcomes today

who feared yesterday

. . . now recognizes its lessons

who feared the burden of doubt

. . . now soars on the wings of courage

Once upon a time there was a girl

who journeyed into her own;

nothing is ever as bad as it seems

nor is it as good as it can only be.

She finds the possible in the impossible

and life is like a dream.

Life’s Mystery … Solved In A Grain of Sand

A Grain Of Sand

If starry space no limit knows
And sun succeeds to sun,
There is no reason to suppose
Our earth the only one.
‘Mid countless constellations cast
A million worlds may be,
With each a God to bless or blast
And steer to destiny.

Just think! A million gods or so
To guide each vital stream,
With over all to boss the show
A Deity supreme.
Such magnitudes oppress my mind;
From cosmic space it swings;
So ultimately glad to find
Relief in little things.

For look! Within my hollow hand,
While round the earth careens,
I hold a single grain of sand
And wonder what it means.
Ah! If I had the eyes to see,
And brain to understand,
I think Life’s mystery might be
Solved in this grain of sand.

(Robert William Service)

Just as there is nothing ordinary about life, there certainly is nothing ordinary about sand.  In fact, as the images below reveal, there is more astonishing beauty going on in the world around us than meets our human sight.  I challenge you to see beyond the limitations of human sight.  I propose each grain of sand is a galaxy amid a galaxy of galaxies.  The more you question, the more you know that you don’t know.  That is what makes life exhilarating … for me.

“The total number of stars in the Universe is larger than all the grains of sand on all the beaches of the planet Earth.” ~ Carl Sagan’s, Cosmos Episode 8, “Journeys in Space and Time.”

Sand grains magnified 110-250 times reveal each grain is unique.

 

The tip of a spiral shell has broken off and become a grain of sand. After being repeatedly tumbled by action of the surf this spiral sand grain has become opalescent in character. It is surrounded by bits of coral, a pink shell fragment, a foram (a type of protozoa) and volcanic material.

A handful of sand grains selected from a beach in Maui and arranged on a black background.

sand grains

Magnified 250 times. Every grain of sand in the world is unique when viewed through a microscope.

Sand Magnified 4 X.

The glacially deposited sands around Lake Winnibigoshish, Minnesota, contain abundant sediments from the igneous and metamorphic minerals of the Lake Superior basin. A sample includes pink garnets, green epidote, iron-rich red agates, black magnetite, and hematite.

 

Puffy Stars — Star-Shaped Sand Grains from Okinawa. These tiny foram, a type of protozoa, secrete beautiful star-shaped, calcium carbonate shells, or tests.

 

A small grain of copper impacted into a larger grain of copper. These grains precipitated downwind of a smoke-belching copper smelter. (Magnification 110x)

Many grains of sand are tiny crystals (shiny, flat sided solids). Sand from Zushi Beach, Japan, contains what looks like a sapphire crystal. The crystal is larger than the surrounding grains and has survived eroding because of its hardness and quality.

Fragments of baby sea urchin shells. Biogenic sand, which forms from the remains of marine life, is the major ingredient of many tropical beaches. (Magnification 100x)

 

A magnified view of the tropical beach sand from the Caribbean island of St. John (U.S. Virgin Islands). The grains include porous fragments of brightly-colored corals, minute foraminiferan shells, fragments of sea shells and shiny, star-shaped sponge spicules.

A Grain of Sand – Nature’s Secret Wonder
The Amazing Microphotography of Dr. Gary Greenberg

Every grain of sand is a jewel waiting to be discovered. That’s what Dr. Gary Greenberg found when he first turned his microscope on beach sand. Gemlike minerals, colorful coral fragments, and delicate microscopic shells reveal that sand comprises much more than tiny beige rocks.

Author and photographer Dr. Gary Greenberg is a visual artist who creatively combines art with science. He has a Ph.D. in biomedical research from University College London and holds 17 patents for high-definition 3-D light microscopes. Dr. Greenberg lives in Haiku, Hawaii.

Carl Sagan famously remarked “the total number of stars in the universe is greater than all the grains of sand on all the beaches on the planet Earth.” It is estimated that the total number of ‘all’ grains of sand on the whole planet could be approximately 2000 billion billion. Scientists still believe there are more stars in the Universe. (hassers.blogspot.com)

And as to planets:

If a grain of sand represented an entire galaxy; so each grain of sand, or galaxy, contains 100’s of billions of stars, you would need to fill six rooms full of sand to contain all the galaxies in the known universe. If you drilled a tiny whole in one of the grains of sand, ‘our Milky Way universe,’ that would be the area that we have been capable of searching for planets so far. 534 planets have been discovered so far. (directedplay.com)

Buy the Imageswww.sandgrains.com

Buy the BookA Grain of Sand: Nature’s Secret Wonder by Dr Gary Greenberg
www.amazon.com

The Art of Giving: Don’t Hold Your Breath

Many thousands of years ago a great sage in Babylon said “The reward of charity depends entirely upon the extent of the kindness in it.”

It is one of life’s wonderful paradoxes that you limit the power of your giving by having an expectation of getting something in return. When you give without any thought or desire for something back, your returns will be truly limitless.

Your life is like a river of energy, continually flowing. What happens when a river stops moving? It get very muddy, and stagnant. A fast flowing river is full of life and clear water. Where would you rather drink?

The acts of giving and receiving are a continuous process of circulation that continues the flow of your life’s energies.  Giving and receiving, it’s a cycle of energy in perpetual motion.Hold-Your-Breath

Pause for a moment as you read this, and take a big, deep breath. Hold it for as long as you possibly can. As you hold it inside, notice how uncomfortable you begin to feel when you are holding on to something that is meant to be released.

Now exhale completely and hold your breath with your lungs fully emptied. Feel how uncomfortable you feel when you are resisting receiving something that you need: air!

The act of giving doesn’t have to be limited to an exchange of presents at holidays or birthdays. You can treat every person, place and thing you come in contact with as an opportunity to give. It could be a kind word, a simple smile, some appreciation, the sharing of some special knowledge, even a helping hand or a bit of support during a difficult emotional time.

Don’t hold your breath.  True giving, without expectation of anything in return is as effortless as breathing.  Let your true essence flow!

Who Do I Have To Hate To Be Your Friend?

Who do I have to hate to be your friend?
When are we gonna see us is them?
Unforgiveness is the prison we are living in.
Who do I have to hate to be your friend?

Hello Mother, alone, we regret to inform you
That someone you love is not coming home.
Charles and Maggie, Thomas and Stephen,
Body for body, we call it “getting even.”
Ahmed, Mohammed, David and Abdul,
Along with Jameela, won’t make it to school.
Boaz and Leah, Jonas and Chavez are carried away.
Tell me which ones to grieve and which ones to celebrate.

Who do I have to hate to be your friend?
When are we gonna see us is them?
Unforgiveness is the prison we are living in
Who do I have to hate to be your friend?

Rage, like poison, we swallow the pill,
Making us sicker each day,
When it’s them we are trying to kill
We build a wall that’s unbending with shame.
Lands and languages differ but our pain is the same.

Haasad is wailing and mourning Ameer,
Joseph’s son Joseph is supposed to be here,
The blast – it happened so fast, Johnny could not get clear,
And the cry of his newborn son he’ll never hear.

Who do I have to hate to be your friend?
When are we gonna see us is them?
Unforgiveness is the prison we are living in.
Who do I have to hate to be your friend?
Who do I have to hate to be your friend?

(These introspective words were written by Bret Martin, aka “The Cancer Crooner,” from Santa Rosa; Tommy Smothers performed “Who Do I Have To Hate To Be Your Friend?” during a 2007 Live Vegas Stage Show at the Orleans Hotel, the video can be viewed HERE.)