We now have a new member of the family! This is not thee best picture, but the tank at night is queersome, especially with some dark ambient Steve Roach playing in the background. His head is black, and his body kinda shifts from an ultraviolet blue to turquoise. He is still changing, and I hope we did right by his ultra filtered and pH balanced water, complete with a couple Java ferns buried in the fluorite substrate and - something he's not had for over a year, maybe two of his life - a heater!
Welcome to the fam, Betta Buddy! Now do tell us your name.
Recently I watched a film with Tim Robbins called "The Lucky Ones" about a group of wounded soldiers on leave back in the States from Iraq. It reminded me of why I loved serving my country in the Army during Desert Storm and just how much of that confidence has dwindled over the years of being jobless and homeless. No matter how tough I felt and how much my "I'm gonna get through this" attitude I had, getting only a couple hours of sleep at a time and having no real way to afford quelling my injuries from the service got me down. Bad, sometimes.
Even more, this film showed me how much the civilian populations could benefit from some confidence courses like the ones in basic training. Here is an opinion, I think that loddy doddy everybody (words of the drill sergeants coming out) would be so much more if they only knew what they were capable of, and had to depend on other complete strangers in dire straits. Just riding the bus to my new job, I notice that the guy next to whom I sat suddenly was just looking out the window, like a poodle who'd been caught pissing on something and had his pouty little nose stuffed in the corner. It's not just him, either - I can see the perceived oppression on too many faces as I walk through Seattle. From what? What is so threatening about sharing a seat on a bus?
It was so refreshing to see the medic sergeant in the movie using an absent doctor's office, against the warnings of the attending receptionist/nurse/whoever, to treat his fellow soldier's bleeding leg, because he CAN. We learn that there is a time for protocol, and a time to Get It Done. No professional around? Let the able-bodied people do it. We don't need titles or permission to aid urgent things. After basic, I felt like I could walk from one end of America to the other, and not only could I defend myself, nobody was a stranger. In the military, you can talk to just about anyone about just about anything. The Fear Factor just vanishes.
Well, in the end, the film was poignant in that the poor, homeless and unwanted found that the Army was their home - not because of the camaraderie, which is lacking so much in civilian life, but because there weren't any other perceived options. But that is how it is outside the movies. Those are the men and women trying to serve you. My hopes on this day echo a statement from John Rambo: For our country to love us as much as we love it. May it happen soon.
It's that time of year again! Crispety, crunchety leaves all a-swirl as the chilly wind casts snowfalls of brilliant colors around your feet...
You curry your four-legged friend, using a step stool if you have to, to get all the dust and grit you can from under the saddle blanket. He sidesteps with anticipation as you come around the trailer with his tack, and you let him sniff it and begin to chew out of recognition, signaling he knows what this is and that he is relaxed about it. He doesn't even flinch when a stirrup falls over the side, and is still as you work your way around and under, straightening and attaching and cinching. At last you slide the hack up and around his nose, over the ears, and clasp the cheek strap. Step stool ahoy, you slide your foot in the stirrup and flip a leg over in one graceful move, then nose your other toe in the other stirrup. Smooth pets down the side of his neck tell him thank you for agreeing to do this again. The two of you walk around, doing some drills to see if there is any soreness, stiff limbs, or emotional ghosts hiding in the closet. It's amazing how sometimes the most familiar things can become frightening because of something that happened that day - to the both of you - so we scare them out into the open and watch them vanish.
It doesn't take long for the scent of hot horse hair to begin emanating, mixing with the leather rigging, the neoprene belly band, and the fleecy saddle pad, wafting its way up through your nostrils and out the top of your soul, a giant imaginary flag set to winds unseen. You ride through the wide open spaces, beside the gurgling waters of yesterday's torrent, until the inner darkness between young trees begins to disappear the details of the forest, and vapor breath creates dew on long whiskers. The end of the day is coming, and he walks with the swagger and grace of a half-drunken dancer up to the trailer and stands there after you dismount with no need of being tied as you peel off the sensitive layers that comforted the ride on skin and bones for the both of you. Naked and free, he begins to graze at your feet, and you pick up your brush to whisk his aura clean, walking behind him step for step while you comb through the long, variegated strands of his tail. The last golden rays outline each member of the herd dotting the hill, as they connect again to the ancient rituals of their ancestors.
Travel across country. Interview and get job. Find out the immense training requirements that need fulfilled. Cat diagnosed with unknown tumor. Can't afford pathology so wait and see what happens. Sift through what's left of stuff from not being employed last three years to see what I can bring with me. Move to Seattle. A horse goes lame. VERY lame. Vets want like $500 to find out what's wrong (and then talk about what it would cost to get him better). Can't do that either, so wait and see what happens. Meanwhile the nerve damage from my neck makes my arms tantamount to useless and turns my hands into more like paws. Brain works about 60% of time, and saw fit to just open the pasture gate and let the horses out to run up the driveway. Half a mile later, I recapture... you get the idea.
And Monday is an early day, first day of the rest of my job. Cross your fingers!
Apparently there is this seemingly little-known veteran's organization (to me) although it is 90 years old and the third largest of its kind. The Disabled American Veterans is a private, federally-chartered organization whose mission is to better the lives of all disabled vets and their families. There is SO much they do, one must really check out their website for the variety of services, not to mention the colorful history. As for me, I have begun my long haul of training, which will include doctor-level anatomy and physiology, attorney-level veterans' benefits laws, and also some public speaking and legislative writing.
One week I may find myself interviewing soldiers just returning from the Middle East for any possible claims processing, the next week I may be giving a speech in state or federal Congress proposing yet another new law, while the following week I may be riding with fellow service officers in a mobile office motorhome in the nooks and crannies of our great nation seeking veterans who may still need help.
They say not a day will go by that I won't have helped at least one person better their situation. Most days it will be several. I know this, mine will now be among them.
One hour! maybe more! The "housemates" are grocery shopping... that's an hour of travel time at least, then add the shopping cart paces...
Yippee! I want to run around nekked... I want to dig into the ice cream... I want to cut my hair and see if anyone notices... play loud music... put in a sappy movie... make a mess...
Alas, there is something wrong with the music files (all digital) :o( and I promised myself I wouldn't have ice cream for a couple weeks. And, well... I just did cut my hair a few days ago and they have yet to notice...
It is not enough time. After months of being pinned to other human beings 24/7, an hour is just not enough time. One of those multi-day vacations, maybe. Where you can read your book in the bathtub and nobody comes in to pee next to you. Where not even the cat can reach you when she wants some milk out of the refrigerator. That's more like it.
This installation includes a delightful selection of philosophy from Moshe Feldenkrais, from Awareness Through Movement. First published in 1972, it contains timeless snippets of wisdom with that distinctive air as only belongs to our elder, less commercialized predecessors.
But first, the news. I've been wondering if from time to time my random imaginings should again make it to print. Of course it's really great when people acknowledge them, and I love commenting on others' pages too, but I believe there was a time when sending my bottled messages into the aether did spike a feeling of loneliness for me. Little did I realize the messages coming back just weren't the same form in which I sent them. I've missed my blogging buddies and reading their precious insights. So here I am. Now, back to our story.
As many may be aware, the Feldenkrais method teaches that "As verbal abstraction becomes more successful and more efficient, man's thinking and imagination become further estranged from his feelings, senses, and even movements" but can be brought back into touch by certain motions (also poignantly illustrated in The Tao of Equus by Linda Kohanov, another favorite book). Leading to these exercises are a mere 60 pages, replete with stunningly keen observations, some of which follow:
The essential flaw in education as we know it today is that it is based on ancient and often primitive practices whose equalizing purpose was neither conscious nor clear. This flaw has its advantage since, having no defined purpose other than to mold individuals who will not be social misfits, education does not always succeed entirely in suppressing self-education.
Nobody knows the purpose of life, and the education that each generation passes on to the succeeding one is no more than a continuation of the habits of thought of the prevailing generation. Life has been a harsh struggle since the beginning of mankind; nature is not kind to creatures lacking awareness. Under such conditions of strain, education is improved only to the extent that is necessary and possible in order to bring up a new generation able to replace the old one under more or less similar conditions.
Still reading? This blew the stuffing out of me:
The basic biological tendency of any organism to grow and develop to its fullest extent has been largely governed by social and economic revolutions that improved living conditions for the majority and enabled greater numbers to reach a minimum of development (emphasis mine). Under these conditions basic potential development ceased in early adolescence because the demands of society enabled the members of the young generation to be accepted as useful individuals at the minimum stage.
The negative aspect of learning to achieve aims is that we tend to stop learning when we have mastered sufficient skills to attain our immediate objective. Thus, for instance, we improve our speech until we can make ourselves understood. But any person who wishes to speak with the clarity of an actor discovers that he must study speech for several years in order to achieve anything approaching his maximum potential in this direction. An intricate process of limiting ability accustoms man to make do with 5 percent of his potential without realizing that his development has been stunted.
How is such a vicious circle created, which at one and the same time stunts men's powers, yet permits them to feel reasonable self-satisfied for all that they have limited themselves to, a small proportion of their capacities? It is a curious situation.