Friday, January 24, 2020

Dinosaurs in Heaven

The Afterlife is something that has been ingrained in our psyche for nearly the entire existence of the human race. There are stories of people seeking the means towards achieving immortality – the Fountain of Youth. But every single religion past and present gives us this immortality in one form or another through the existence of our Living Spirit. Many religions base the nature of this everlasting life upon our deeds in mortal flesh – either Eternal Bliss or Eternal Damnation. But when it comes to actually describing how it all works, things get more than a little fuzzy. It seems it is simply beyond our ability to understand, despite the fact that we have been able to come to understand a great deal about the universe we live in up to this point in time. We’ve even been able to detect the possible edges of the universe. Yet, the ability to detect anything remotely like Spiritual Energy or this alternate plane of existence is still lacking. Where is the evidence for it? How it is determined who and what can enter this plane of existence.

People will point to near death and after death experiences as the proof that there is something beyond our current mortal existence. Yet those are only anecdotes, and they are anecdotes from a point in time where tremendous trauma has been incurred by the person experiencing them. It is certainly no mystery that there are a great many things that affect our perception and how our brains interpret our experiences. Our experiences and desires most certainly affect our dreaming on a daily basis, so these brushes with death must certainly have an impact on what people perceive to see in such a state. At the end of the day, it is just as likely that any notion of an Afterlife is just the typical human condition of trying to understand something which is beyond our understanding.

For centuries the human race has come up with things to try to explain how the universe works, and to interpret our experiences within the confines of our knowledge at the time. Current science has disproven our ancient concepts of how the planets move, or what controls the elements on our world. We once believed that things were the result of Gods or Magic. We now know that there is a set of mathematical laws that govern the existence of our planet, sun, and stars. So it’s no surprise that lacking any concrete scientific evidence, we must attempt to explain the notion of non-existence in the form of an Afterlife, which negates any concept of non-existence.

What we are is the sum of all the things we experience during our lifetimes. We know of no other way than experiencing this form of Existence. The concept of not existing is completely foreign to us because our brains cannot grasp a concept that we cannot experience. There is no way for us to experience true non-existence because by its very nature it is a complete lack of experiencing anything. We can catch glimpses of it. I imagine that coma patients feel that sense of non-existence from the point of their last memory to the point of their first reawakened memory. I have felt flashes of it during periods of sleepiness – when I look at the clock, and then check again a few minutes later only to find an hour or more has passed. But we are aware of those moments only because we “exist again” after that period of timelessness.

So in order for us to avoid facing the fact that each and every one of us will cease to exist at some point in the future, we have to create this concept of the Afterlife, in which our consciousness – that sum of all of our experiences – continues without a physical body. We still cling to this notion despite the fact that all the power of our science has yet to be able to detect one iota of this otherworldly existence which breaks the current known laws of the physical universe.

But it goes beyond that. Despite the fact that we believe in Eternal Life, we still have an instinctive fear of Death and try to avoid it at all costs. In addition to that, we are so emotionally torn when someone, or something, we care about deeply can no longer avoid Death, that we continue to ascribe further stipulations to our concept of the Afterlife. We are all young looking in the Afterlife and even our beloved pets join us in this new plane of existence. And that’s where it all begins to break down.

What exactly determines who and what is “allowed” to pass over into this separate plane of existence and continue to exist as we are ad infinitum? God? Well, which God then? Humankind has believed in many, many different forms of God over the centuries. How do we know which is the right one? Simply because one form of God is the most popular today doesn’t necessarily make it the right one. The Greek and Romans Gods were the most popular during their time, and according to our modern reasoning, they were incorrect.

So, is it simply a matter of intelligence or consciousness that allows us to continue to exist? We have little understanding on what consciousness is, human or otherwise. But if one subscribes to the fact that humans have an afterlife because we are conscious and self-aware, then that would preclude any other form of life being able to exist after Death. We believe there are several types of animals that are self-aware. Are these animals then also able to exist in the Afterlife? What about those that are not? If we believe all our pets join us in the Afterlife, then certainly there would be quite a few animal types outside of our cats and dogs that would be hanging out there. People have had many forms of reptile, insect, and mammal as beloved pets. Do all join us in the Afterlife? What about those animals in those groups that have never been the subject of a human’s affection – the mosquito for instance. Why would a mosquito not be in the Afterlife, but ants from someone’s Ant Colony would? What about any form of spider that we pretty much fear and detest as humans, compared to a pet Tarantula? What about prehistoric humans? Do they exist in the Afterlife as well? In what form do they exist? What form does the Conscious Energy take in this other plane of existence? Going back even further, what about all these other forms of life that have existed on the planet before Humankind? Some of these creatures were around for millions of years. That’s quite a bit of timed compared to our relatively short existence.

We still don’t know everything about dinosaurs, and never will know everything unless we one day develop the technology to transcend time. We humans have developed a consciousness and self-awareness in our short time on this planet. The dinosaurs had millions of years to evolve and develop. We ascribe simple intelligence to them based only on what we can observe millions of years after they died out, but who is to say that they didn’t develop some form of self-awareness that we have been able to detect in several species of animals today. If that is a qualifier for being able to transcend to another plane of existence – one based on pure energy instead of a physical being, then wouldn’t it stand to reason that dinosaurs also exist in this same plane? After millions of years of evolution, I think it silly that dinosaurs would not have developed at least some modicum of awareness and consciousness. Why wouldn’t there be dinosaurs in Heaven?

This religious notion of an Afterlife doesn’t seem to hold much water if you scratch just the surface of it. Of course all of that is waived away by the notion of God.  He/She works in mysterious ways and makes it all possible. Yeah, and Helios drove the chariot of the Sun across the sky each day. If we are, at our core, beings of intelligent ethereal energy, why have we no memory at all of our existence beyond our mortal lives? I can remember all sorts of things from my time here on Earth, dating back decades to when I was a kid. Certain things I can picture as clear as day in my mind’s eye – just like I’m watching a replay of it on a Blu-Ray disc. Yet there is no memory, no inclination of anything outside of my experiences in the physical world. Nothing else aside from that exists in any form in my mind or memory. All memory and function in the brain are nothing but electrical impulses – it’s some form of energy. Yet this energy maintains no blueprint of itself prior to physical existence.

The truth of the matter is that an Afterlife exists because we need it to exist. Our minds are incapable of accepting the knowledge that life itself must cease to exist. We need something to cling to in the face of despair when we witness life ceasing to exist on an almost continual basis. We simply cannot understand the concept of what it is like to not exist just like our ancient ancestors could not understand the concept of the gravitational forces that make the planets orbit the sun. We have to believe in it, otherwise what meaning or value is there to our experiences in our short lives? Somewhere along the way, we as humans have developed this sense that there must be something more in this life and to life. In all reality it seems that Life just is. Just as a mindless energy driven star is born, lives, and dies, so does our not so energetic flesh. The universe is a slave to Time. So long as there is existence, there is a certain knowledge of its passing. It is a cycle that exists in the most primordial of energies and it will consume all of existence as it has and will continue to consume all those that exist within it. Billions of years have passed before our existences, billions more will pass once we are gone. All within the blink of an eye. We cannot achieve immortality as existential beings because we are slaves to time. It is only in non-existence that we break free of that bond and transcend timelessness.

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Unborn Lives Matter



We have arrived at the end of another year. Time marching on seems to be the only constant in our existence. It has done so since long before any human science can trace back, and will continue to do so for millennia after we are long since returned to the Cosmic Dust.

This final entry for this blog in the year we dub 2019 has been in formulation for several months now. But it always seems that Time is the one commodity we possess so little of. Here I sit, though, slicing up the bits of Time I have and willing myself to put a denouement to a series of entries I began more than a year ago. Certainly to be controversial one of the foremost in my mind, but also to (hopefully) make people stop and actually think (a commodity that is even more lacking than Time) about where we are heading as a society. I will leave it up to each person who takes their bits of Time to read to decide whether that has been successful or not. For me, at this point, it feels like it matters as much as shouting at a brick wall does. At least it has been a cathartic process. A process that makes me appreciate each day I have a little bit more.

This is a topic that I spent very little time thinking about until the controversy started up over the late summer when politicians began working to chip away and overturn the infamous Roe v. Wade decision of 1973, which legalized abortion. I was barely a toddler at the time, so pretty much grew up with this fact of life a natural part of our existence in America. As I got older, and being a male, it was a thing that really didn’t have much bearing on my life. Any thoughts of it were pretty much, “Yeah, less government control of our lives.” Something I have always stood behind, but in my now (hopefully) wiser years, something I realize isn’t simply a black and white issue. In fact, the more I have looked at modern society, the more I realize that we all do actually need at least a modicum of government control in and over our lives. It’s really the only way that a civilized society can exist.

But the events of this summer in particular made me really stop and think about the ramifications of what that decades old decision really means. I am not a very religious person, and certainly don’t believe in any God as described (prescribed?) by any religion, past or present, a topic I covered in one of my previous entries. So I don’t look on this subject with any preconceived notions based on any religious influence. It’s simply based on the science that life exists in all different forms, and that even a basic cell is alive in one form or another. That has lead me conclude that Roe v. Wade should indeed be overturned simply because it has legalized murder, and not only that, but legalized it for entirely selfish purposes.
 
From the moment of conception a new life begins. It may only be a group of primeval cells, but it lives nonetheless. Heck, we even have laws on the books that the death of an unborn child is considered murder when it occurs during the commission of a crime – the Unborn Victims of Violence Act. People have been convicted of such murders. Yet, here we stand saying that Abortion is not murder. It is simply incredulous to me. Supporters of Roe v. Wade offer up the theory of Choice, and a woman’s right to choose her own outcomes for her own body. Again, something I can stand behind on principle, but at this point not when it becomes a choice to do murder.

If you want to talk about choice, the choice was already made. There’s a choice to keep your pants on and your legs closed. There’s a choice to use any number of contraceptives to prevent pregnancy. The choice was made to engage in a distinct act for which the primary purpose is procreation and perpetuation of the species. To legalize murder as a choice when one made a poor choice in a previous instance is simply mind-boggling to me. And of course it just highlights the roots of what is wrong with our society.

Abortion is nothing but a selfish act of murder, not any different than someone committing murder for financial gain, or religious zealotry, or just outright hatred of someone else. Unless the life of the mother is in imminent danger from the results of the pregnancy, any excuse used to have an abortion is simply a selfish and self-centered act. The fact that we have let this travesty continue on for over four decades is equally heinous. It speaks volumes about how far from a civilized society we truly are. It is pure hypocrisy to damn those who murder for any of the reasons I just listed, along with the myriad of others that we bear witness to day in and day out when we still have no issue with people killing their unborn children. A mother will be tried and convicted for leaving a baby out in the cold to die of exposure, but that same mother can walk into a clinic before that baby is born and kill it without anyone batting an eye. If that is not a picture perfect definition of insanity, I don’t know what is.

That being said, however, I do believe there should be cases where abortion is unfortunately necessary. The biggest is the one I just mentioned – the health and life of the mother. If circumstances dictate that it becomes a choice between the life of the mother and the life of the unborn child. Then I do feel that we need to have the choice available that saves the life of the mother at the cost of the unborn child. It by no means is an ideal choice or situation, and one that I hope to never have to make (and I don’t believe it’s one that I would be capable of making), but it is one that should be available. I also believe that abortion should be an option in the cases of rape and incest, though to a much lesser degree, as I believe many people alive today who were brought about by such circumstances may very well have a differing opinion. But again, having choice as one of the necessities, in these cases, the choice was certainly not within the woman’s ability to make. To not be forced into continuing to relive the trauma of such acts through a pregnancy and birth I think is just as important as the physical life of the mother.

But outside of these outliers, I can see and accept no other valid reason to continue to have the murder of unborn children a legalized part of our society. We should be, and we need to be better than this. There has been so much talk about how Black Lives Matter, or Blue Lives Matter, or All Lives Matter. When the hell are we going to start talking about how Unborn Lives Matter just as much?

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Marley

The Wackadoodle and Us. That was an idea that I had for a long time, and even mentioned it in the second posting I ever did for this blog. I think I had even made an attempt to start writing down Marley’s antics while I was working for a tech company back between 2009 and 2013, just to try to relieve some of the stress and pressure while at work. Unfortunately, that stress sucked out the motivation to do so pretty easily. I kinda wish I forced myself into writing a blog about the doodle now, but I have a hard time getting motivated to write in this one any more, the short blitz of the last eight months or so aside. I wish I wasn’t here writing this one. But it’s one that I need to do to honor our companion of the last 11 years.

It’s been just over three years since my last similar entry, when we lost Flash in 2016. Doesn’t seem like that long ago, but I guess it has been. It’s already been a week since we lost Marley late on Saturday, July 20th. This one hurts a lot. Not that any of our other losses didn’t hurt, but at least with Willy and Flash, we had time to prepare for the inevitable. Willy was never in good health and it was only a matter of time. Flash was just a good old cat and he lived out his life well. Both hurt when they passed, but we still knew that their time was coming soon. With Marley, he seemed perfectly fine Friday morning, and then, less than 48 hours later, we were saying our final good-byes. It just didn’t make sense, and we just were not ready for this time to come.

Marley lived up to his namesake well in his early years, but mellowed out a bit as he got older. He was still a bit of a troublemaker every now and then, but our proudest moment came when we were able to train him to get along with Hershey so they could co-habitat together. I regret not trying to do it sooner with Willy and Flash, but I don’t think the cats would have accepted it anyway. They were used to having a house all to themselves for far too long. That was probably my biggest regret with the cats – not being able to get them all to live together. 

Yeah, Marley was a special dog when he was growing up. Like any dog, he liked to chew, but Marley seemed to take it to another level. He ripped apart every dog bed we got him within a day. He chewed the furniture naturally. And he turned out to be a wonderful garbage picker. Many a day we came home to find the trash can knocked over and garbage trailing around on the floor. He never got out of that habit, no matter how much we think we garbage proofed the house, every once in a while we would find evidence of him poking about one of the other cans. He even liked hitting up the litter box on a regular basis. Yeah, there was nothing that dog wouldn’t eat – from a candy cane full of Hershey Kisses, to a box of Cadbury Eggs, to some chicken bones in the garbage outside, to even my glasses off the bathroom sink one day. There was nothing he wouldn’t eat, it seemed. Unfortunately, that seems to be what finally did him in. After the trip to the ICU at the animal hospital it turns out his digestive system was blocked up and would require expensive surgery to fix, but that wasn’t the only issue. In the end, at best, he had a 50/50 chance of making it past the weekend. We were told our decision wasn’t the wrong one, but it still feels like it is.

He was one heck of a special dog. I seem remember reading that puppies won’t go to the bathroom when they are caged. Well, one day when I got home from work, not only did Marley go, but he got it all over himself, requiring an emergency bath. Heck I still remember hitting a pile of poo every morning when he was a puppy, no matter how many puppy pads we put out in the house. That dog could go and go and keep on going. Cleaning up the back yard is probably the one thing I will not miss. But I wish I still needed to do it. Yup, he was special all right. I still remember a time when Marley was investigating a strange being that landed in our back yard. He would cautiously step up to it to try to sniff, then leap back just in case it tried to attack. Then back to try to sniff again, then leap back as if it made a move towards him. This went on for a couple of minutes as he circled the strange being and eventually managed to get up close enough to touch with his nose before turning tail and running away, just in case it attempted to attack at that moment. The strange being – a basketball. So many stories and I don’t even remember half of them now. I wish I had forced myself to write them down like I wanted to all those years ago. I wish I still had a few more years to start writing new stories down about our special doodle.

I’m still in that phase where I’m following habits developed of the last 11 years – trying to look for and avoid the poo spots outside while heading to the shed, or making sure I don’t step on him when I get up in the mornings to turn off the alarm. I still wait to see him at the window when I come home and then rush outside to wait for me to open up the gate in the back. I still think he’s waiting in the wings for Hershey to finish eating so he can rush in and gobble up what she didn’t finish. He was our special doodle and I’m going to miss him every day.

Monday, May 6, 2019

The Uncleared Path

A long time ago, when I used to work at a bowling center during the day when the senior citizen leagues were run, I used to chuckle to myself at some of the “senior moments” they used to have. I just couldn’t understand how you could misplace your glasses or keys when you literally just set them down on the counter not five minutes ago. And then I got old and now I realize just how damn easy it is. That’s kind of where I am at right now. I wanted to start this entry off with a story back from my grade school days, but for the life of me, I can’t remember exactly what grade it was or the specific school I was attending at the time. The one thing I remember distinctly was sitting in the lunch room of that school one day with a couple of my buddies as we hatched out a plot that (unbeknownst to us at the time) would actually be the catalyst to effecting some change at the school.

I think this was around my Intermediate or Junior High school time – 7th or 8th grade maybe, but it could have been earlier. Regardless, the plot we hatched that day was to minimize the amount of homework we were getting at the time. Obviously, things are a bit skewed when you are that age, but I seem to remember that we were frustrated that there appeared to be no communication between the teachers of various subjects on the amount of work each one would assign on any given day. Thus we were getting several hours of work that limited, or eliminated, any of the free time we had as kids between the end of the school day and bed time. So, we ended up coming up with a Declaration of Independence from Homework (or something to that effect). What we wanted was for the school to put a limit on the amount of homework that was assigned in any given subject so that we could balance that work with still having some free time as a kid. We wrote up a petition and started passing it around during lunch time for the rest of our classmates to sign. Of course, me being who I was, I had to be the first to sign, and make sure my signature was the biggest, just like John Hancock. Within a few days we had three or four pages of signatures. Not too bad for a group of kids that weren’t part of the most popular cliques that are typically formed by school kids.

The most amazing thing was that the school officials took notice and actually acted upon what we really thought was a pointless whim. They saw the dedication we had to this particular issue and our ability to showcase it enough to have many of peers agree and sign the petition. So they made some changes to show their respect to that dedication and even shortened the school day by 15 minutes as a result. That may have been the first instance where I truly learned the value of speaking one’s mind, regardless of who may or may not like it.

That was kind of reinforced this past week as my mother brought over an essay my sister wrote for a class assignment back in 2002. The essay was to write about a person that had a profound impact on her life up to that point. Naturally, she picked me! (Just kidding *insert proper emoji here*). The purpose of her choice was to point out that I tended to be a “non-conformist” back in my youth and not let what other people thought or said to influence my thoughts about myself, or my beliefs. I guess I was just born to be a rebel. I think I lost sight of that along the way of growing up and being more adult after my early 30’s, when she wrote that essay, or maybe she saw something more in me that I didn’t even realize I saw in myself at the time. She wrote that I “have always been the type of person who will not allow the spoken word to interfere with what he deems worthy or necessary.” That I have “always been willing to take the different perspective, even at the risk of peals of laughter and resistance.”

“He has always chosen the ‘uncleared path.’”

Maybe I’m just turning into a Grumpy Old Man, but I feel like a lot of my frustration of the last few years has been because I have allowed myself to lose sight of those qualities that my sister saw in me almost 20 years ago. I think that’s one of the reasons why I wanted to start this blog several years ago, but allowed myself to avoid using it for that purpose until recently. I think last year I finally woke up and had my “Mad as Hell” Network moment. I can’t point to any one thing that got me mad as hell, but I think just any number of things that in no way in any level of hell should be accepted, we have come to indeed accept as society . Most of all, I think I was mad at myself for not going to the window and screaming at the top of my lungs at the fucking lunacy we have devolved into as a society.

 

Erin’s Regional Competition track meet held yesterday (May 5th) was another case in point. This was the second weekend of completely piss poor weather to do anything outside. Sort of the perfect bookend since the first week of season turned out the same way. My gut feeling on both those days was just to say screw it and keep Erin home. There was absolutely no reason for either competition to be held on either of those Sundays at the level these kids were competing at. But I ignored my gut feeling and trusted that those in charge were making the right decisions. I compromised my values, and even worse, didn’t really speak up about it after the first week, like I initially wanted to. That made me pissed at myself even more. I lost sight of what it was about me that my sister wrote about all those years ago. So I think the last few months of this blog has been me making the course correction to start clearing that uncleared path once again. It is also the same reason I wrote an e-mail expressing my feelings on the matter and sent it out to the coaches and parents. It’s something that I felt needed to be said and everyone involved needed to hear it, because I got the impression that a few other people felt the same way. It was about time someone stood up and said it. I did it because I was absolutely furious at myself for not doing the right thing by staying home on either of those days, regardless of the commitment we made when signing Erin up for track this season, and trusting someone else to make a decision for me and my family. I hope what I said gets a lot of other people mad as well – whether they agree with me or not. It’s long past time for us average, everyday people to stand up and start being heard just like the fringe elements of society have been doing for far too long now, even if we don’t necessarily agree with one another.

In fact I hope that us average, everyday people don’t always agree with one another. It’s the discussions that can come out of that disagreement that can bring about the change that is necessary in our society instead of letting the others do it for us. We have been letting them do that for far too long now as it is. So whether it’s getting necessary changes in some dinky CYO athletic event that keeps the health and safety of everyone involved as the main priority or finally getting people into public office who have an ounce of common sense (and common decency – and no I am not just talking about Trump, but every single elected official in the United States and beyond), each and every one of us need to start picking up a shovel or hatchet and start clearing that damn path.

I get closer to knocking on Heaven’s Door every single day, and I have wasted a lot of my previous years lost in the woods hoping someone else would find that path for me because I was too afraid to say I was lost, and then do something about it. I’m not going to go to my grave with that regret on my shoulders. I’m going to do something about it. I will continue to say the things I think need to be said. If people agree with me, then that’s great. If they don’t then that’s great as well. Let’s get a discussion going and bring some actual progress to the topic. I’m damn tired of walking around in circles and having to keep my mouth shut for fear of pissing someone off. It’s about time that a lot of us got pissed off and started saying it.

I’m picking up the shovel and getting back to that uncleared path I abandoned long ago. Everyone else is welcome to pick up a shovel and join me. If you disagree with my choice of tool or which direction this path needs to take, then by all means let’s discuss. It’s long past time to get mad as hell and start making the changes that need to be made.