The Ides Of March

Breakdown

OK. So Nebuchadnezzer II was responsible for the destruction of Jerusalem in 587 BC. I did a little study last night and I stand corrected. However, because I’m not Jewish I don’t regard that as worse than any other cultural takeover in Earth’s history; they all are tragic. But that stuff about Daniel and the lions’ den? Nuh-uh. Not buying it. No more than I buy most religious tales. While I enjoy mythology, I cannot swallow it as actual history. I believe every myth has a seed of truth at its root, but I’m not a literalist with any civilization’s folk tales. Mostly, I just get weary of history always being about men of war. I’d rather study history that has been radically altered by people of peace, like the Buddha, Mahatma Gandhi, and Nelson Mandella. But I understand why humanity’s past is what it is. It takes time for us to evolve. Hey, today is the Ides of March; Julius Caesar was assassinated 2060 years ago. On to the present.

The most difficult thing about this social media fast is that, these days, outside of the occasional benefit event, Facebook is about the only social life I have left. Stillwater isn’t the best place to meet people when you’re my age, unless you attend church every week. The Bible Belt wasn’t made for people like me. I miss the diversity I enjoyed in California, where people did things unrelated to religion and sports. It’s a great town for the university students, though, but the longer I’m here the more isolated I feel. Thirty days is going to be a long time where social interaction is concerned; I’m a social creature. On the other hand, it’s only a month and I have to admit I really enjoyed being away from everything yesterday. Today, I’ll be going out to Aldi and Hellmart for groceries, but I don’t like the fact that this has become the only real social event in my life.  Still, I’m an ENFJ (extroverted introvert) so I’m not really complaining. As long as I have my rich inner life and creative life, I’m pretty self-contained. Plus, I’m not completely isolated where human interaction is concerned. I have my family and you. But I do look forward to moving to Woodstock when we retire. Farmers markets, drum circles, live music, street fairs, and making friends with other people like myself are exactly the kinds of things I enjoy. I miss being part of a community.

I’m finally starting to pick up where my energy is concerned. The last two weeks have been pretty rough both physically and emotionally, but I’ve survived it and am now beginning to feel less fatigued by it all. I think getting away from Facebook, where the drama is ongoing, is a big help. The internet really dupes us into believing that it’s the real world, that the issues and crises that happen there are impossible to avoid. At every turn, with every word we write, we run the risk of pissing someone off and opening ourselves up to abuse with both passive-aggressive memes and outright aggressive attacks. But turn the damned thing off and it all fades away like so much vapor. Go for a walk and no one you see even knows. The trolls, the bullies, the spiteful slander and blame? I can make them all disappear. Poof! Be gone! It’s called a power button for a reason. This is what I’m really trying to do with this fast, you know. It all got too, too heavy and I felt myself being dragged down into a scary depression. One day away and I already feel better. Things already look clearer, my perspective is already beginning to shift, and the knot in my gut is already relaxing.

Well, I guess not all of my entries are going to be interesting, but writing as soon as I wake up is a mental exercise I’ve missed. It’s good to be back, or almost back. It may take a little while to strengthen that muscle.

It’s Tuesday. Make tacos!
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Artwork by Molly Haan

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Oh, Where The Mind Will Go!

break

The first thing I notice is an almost instinctive, auto-pilot directive to open my laptop and login to Facebook. “Nope, not today,” I remind myself. It then comes home to me just how long 30 days is. I sit back and sip my coffee, leaving the laptop propped up against the chair I’m in. Looking around instead of at a keyboard, I notice what a truly lovely day it is outside. I remember then that we’ve been promised 80+ degrees today. The neighborhood lawns are unseasonably green, the jonquils and the forsythia are blooming, and a few of the old trees on this corner are leafing. I remind myself that today is houseplant watering day and I decide to move some of them back out to the front porch. They have a long spring and summer ahead of them. That’s when the Busy-mind kicks in. The kitchen needs a light cleaning, I should vacuum again, and isn’t it the perfect day to go out and see what new litter has been blown, or dropped, into the yard?

“Just as I am amazed by the power of Busy-mind,
I am equally amazed by the power of Pausing.

Busy-mind tells us that it has the keys to the kingdom,
that it has the solution to all problems, the answer to all needs.
Under its influence, we can easily forget how
powerful (and necessary) it is to pause.”

Abby Seixas

Of course, this social media vacation is meant to be, among other things, an opportunity for me to attend to things I need to make more time for, but I certainly don’t want to spend all my newly-found free time working. I’m past the age of needing to be busy all the time. I no longer define myself by what I do. But the universe will not tolerate a vacuum and if I’m not careful the one that I’m creating could easily be filled with things that could prove to be equally time and brain sucking as Facebook or Twitter. The point is to make more time for creative thought, contemplation, and mindfulness. But, I tell myself, I can get to those much more happily and less distractedly if the house is clean and is not reminding me at every turn that there are things I need to do.

On to other things.

A couple of weeks ago, during one of our really windy days, I went out to the front porch to find that my Tibetan prayer flags had been blown down. I checked because something in me told me something was wrong. I was afraid they’d flown down the street, but they’d only gotten wrapped up in one of the shrubs by the front steps. I brought them into the house and waited for the next auspicious day to hang them back up. Instead of the front porch, though, I decided to hang them from the trees in the yard just outside the kitchen window. In the past week they’ve billowed with gusts of wind and they’ve hung heavy and drenched with rain. Today they flutter happily in the breeze; I can see them from where I sit here in the living room. When I hung them, I did so with a prayer that they would send their blessings of goodwill and compassion to every person who drives by. It has more recently come to me that they do so when they blow toward the road and then back at our family when they blow toward the house. With this they seem to have taken on a life of their own. A spirit. If you drive by and see them, feel free to accept their free gift.

I spent the entire day yesterday watching documentaries about ancient history on YouTube (I don’t count that as social media because I hanginggardensnever take part in the comments). Today I am fairly bursting at the seams with information about the Minoans, Alexandria and the Ptolemaic Empire, Herculaneum, and the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The last one got me wondering which of these long-gone wonders (the Giza pyramid excluded) I wish was still around. I think this would have to be the hanging gardens of Babylon. I admit, when I was a kid and hearing about “wicked” Babylon in Sunday School and church, I was fascinated rather than turned off. King Nebuchadneezar II seemed like a pretty okay guy to me to build those gardens for his wife, Queen Amytis. In fact, Nebuchadneezar II established religious tolerance and equal rights for women and was a huge force in education and the arts in his country. Babylon has always fascinated me, and I think it got a bum rap, just so much propaganda from the old guys back in Jerusalem. I admit I don’t know a lot of actual, impartial history of those times where Babylon is concerned so don’t stone me. I intend to learn more, immediately. I may go to the library tomorrow and see what books they have on the subject.

The thing that really impressed me throughout the day was the level of architectural know-how the Minoans had. Sewage pipes, septic systems, even flush toilets. There are some people who believe they were, along with the people who lived on Thera (modern-day Santorini), the real Atlantians. They were wiped out by a tsunami when Nea Kameni blew, after all. There are a lot of theories about Atlantis, of course, and I believe that that if it existed at all it could very well have been the Agean islands. But I also believe the truth has been so wrapped up in mythology and sci-fi that we wouldn’t recognize Atlantis if we wrecked a ship on it.

Well, off to add to this awesome start to my day. This time change has got me all messed up! Have a great day!

Ancient History Engyclopedia

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