Apply Liberally and Often

Next week I'm taking a trip.

Visiting with friends in paradise on the other side of the globe.

Traveling always reminds me that what I take for granted - clean water and air, abundant food, cozy shelter, Kettle One martinis - is unavailable to over 70% of the people on the planet. The experience of coming home and marveling at the hot water in the shower and the cold beer in the fridge.

What could I possibly have done to deserve running hot water and cold beer? Other than being born into a dominant culture at the end of the 20th century?

Nothing really.

So if I didn't warrant this special spot for any particular reason, what is my "response-ability" now that I'm here?

The thought today is "love myself".

(Unless your behavior is truly atrocious and you need serious help in sorting out years of crusted up self hatred - megalomaniac, despotic, a serial killer, grumpy curmudgeon, total scrooge or all round nasty person - this is a great place to start.)

With all our gifts, birthrights, freedom, power, education, creativity and courage, all we are asked to contribute is loving ourselves.


Isn't that totally narcissistic? Like you're the center of the universe and make-up please and "I'm ready for my close-up now, Mr. De Mille"?

Possibly. Until you think about it.

People who love themselves are in turn able to trust themselves, have integrity, honesty and are naturally generous and kind. And when the identity of self love becomes greater than the identity of self hatred, the floodgates of transformation are opened.

The micro-healing of the self generates the necessary energy to diminish the macro suffering of the world.

As simplistic as it sounds, we are the world. And when we love ourselves deeply enough, we begin to see the light of recognition shining through the eyes of every other creation.

And the love that we naturally experience within ourselves is extended into the world we see around us.

My world, myself.

What I see on the outside is a reflection of what's on the inside. The psychologists and philosophers, songwriters and ministers have all taken a big swing at this idea.

My favorite?

Uncle Ben in Spiderman, "With great power comes great response-ability."

Love is the greatest power in our personal arsenal. It starts here. Then you'll see what else needs to be done.

Self love.

Like sunscreen, apply liberally and often.


Say Hello Lewis

Sometimes I get to living and I think "I'm the only one who's thinking about this" and then I'll pick up a book and someone has discovered something that disproves everything I ever believed to be true.

Think about that whole flat world thing for example. I was born at a time when we all laughed at those guys. Give or take a couple hundred years, that wasn't always the case.

So, this morning, while my cat Lewis was chatting about something of interest to him, it dawned on me that everyone knows animals can't talk. Or think about things. Or have feelings. We know this because they haven't built any freeways, written any books or organized any rallies in support of PETA and vegan-ism.

We have no reason to think that animals do talk, therefore, they don't?

How do we know what we think is true?

Take another look at the physical world. The matter around and under us appears solid, so what do we do with the fact that it's not?

Some clever monkeys figured out how to peek under the hood of atoms and found smaller and smaller and I mean unbelievably smaller particles of little tiny building blocks of matter. Then they noticed that 99.98% of what appears to be solid matter is actually made up of empty space.

The desk holding up this key board isn't solid. It's a whirling dervish of tiny particles held together by a whole lot of nothing. Which we'll probably discover at some point isn't here either.

There you have it.

I try to hold the idea in my mind that in fact the desk isn't "here", but then it occurs to me that perhaps I'm not here either. In which case, who or what is typing? It comes apart pretty fast from that point, so for now let's stick with the desk.

So, I experience the desk as solid. Not too complicated an idea. If I asked a hundred people "Is the desk solid?", most of them would agree - after looking at me a bit quizzically since I don't readily appear to be daft.

Some smarty pants would refuse to answer and shout out a clever quip or ask a question back, but I don't intend to invite any of those into the survey. Never do, but they always sneak into the picture anyway. Mostly we'd all agree that the desk is solid.

Empiricism, the belief that what we experience is reality, isn't completely false. It's just not the whole picture. And to make things a bit more complicated, the "sub particle-ists" didn't stop with the tables and chairs.

The same kids who've sorted out that nothing is the biggest part of the universe are also busy backing up really fast on the whole rule book of "how things happen". Apparently all those laws were more like guidelines.

Turns out that the act of observation changes the state of the bits being observed. Not too hard then to imagine that the act of thinking about the particles might change their state as well.

What this makes me think is that all fairy tales are probably true. Or at least somewhat true. Kind of like the laws of physics, as far as we thought.

We're inhabiting a wonderland that moves according to both our intention and observation. Only not exactly in the way we think. Oh, it sells more books to tell the monkeys that we're at the helm. Which makes good business sense, but when you think about it, seems kind of silly. Really, monkeys? Please.

Or we're flying through the heavens on a paradise ship, conceived, created and ruled by a single, very unique character that has been giving dictation to monkeys?

And this creator asks that we love or kill each other depending on which monkey he talked to in what century? Well, actually, that might make a bit more sense, given how random this appears from the ground. And no one has proved that isn't true, so I can let that be.

Perhaps humanity may actually be no more than barely here pulses of light, being observed and observing. A trillion cells of energy, briefly organized in what appears to be a solid mass of top grade protein, with bits of salt and a tiny current of electricity.

No more improbable than the world being round.

Lewis laughed.


What's love got to do with it?

In trying to wrap my little blogger mind around the topic of love, I've started and stopped a couple to times. Love is one of those subjects, maybe like weight loss?, that have been done to death. The shiny promised land until you learn to read the fine print?

There isn't a monkey on the planet who doesn't recognize love's power and force in making the world go round. Organized religion promotes and perverts it. Madison Avenue pimps and produces it. Educational institutions withhold and award it. Performers crave and earn it.

Love creates people. Loving moms and dads around the world passionately dedicated to a future for their children that is brighter than their own.

Wary of answers and prescriptions, I've experienced love as one big ass mystery. And like any great mystery, it is unknowable from a single perspective and takes eons to unfold. The characters and stories loop infinitely through every culture on our little blue marble. Love is at the center of every story - in either it's anticipation, presence or absence.

Love is as big as one of those "fish don't know they're in water" things.

Love is so huge that only crazy poets would try to unwind it. And while I get the pure brilliance of wonderful poetry, I often have a hard time reading it straight up. A manifestation of the modern day malady of attentional fractionation?

So, wrapping the poetry around a spoonful of music opens up the lyrical play books packed by modern bards as a fertile source of clues. Some sophisticated audiophiles can grab the directions straight from the music, but the majority of us need a little more input. And those of you who can read poetry straight up, please dive in without the beat.

Modern muse Tina Turner posed one of the best questions I've ever considered on the topic.

If we ask ourselves what is love's motivation, can we ever be far from the flow of life?

There isn't a conundrum in my mind, a duality, an argument, riddle, power struggle, situation or lesson, that isn't completely undone by asking myself "what's love got to do with it?" How is this dilemma on love's agenda?

Look into ancient and modern horrors - genocide, terrorism, environmental devastation, starvation, poverty, corrupt and despotic governments?

What's love got to do with these?

Love is missing. And we cannot punish the world into peace. Only love can bring peace.

There isn't a stable resolution to these tragedies from a place of hatred and fear.

Look into the blessings of life - health, family, dancing, breathing, dark chocolate, laughter, flat shoes, sunshine, music, yoga.

All of joy is grounded in love.

In response to Tina's inquiry?



Oh really?

Like most monkeys, my mind is strong and undisciplined and I lose my perspective on a regular basis. I'm always having to redirect my attention up out of the muck and mire of the daily drama of life, at least if I want to experience a moment's peace!

Perspective is probably one of the most valued elements in a modern monkey's mental tool kit. Hardest to find, easiest to lose, expensive to replace, invaluable upon application.

Whether we're trying to keep one's, take another's, or discover a whole new perspective, the process involves getting some distance on the story.

Lake Lucerne, Switzerland

While the view is lovely, the key is the telescope.

For a moment, step behind the telescope.

Imagine that while focusing on the distant shoreline, you see the mind wrestling ferociously in the mud with some story. Riveted with the details of the plot line, whether hero, villain or victim, absolutely the leading man or lady, the mind whips round and round.

And from this side of the lake, watching the whole show through the telescope, all the drama seems franticly comical, and at the same time, distant and remote.

Story after story. The mind has infinite explanations and justifications for how this story is new, different, and very important. How this time the story is real.

Trained by Wile E. Coyote, supplied by Acme Tools, the characters race off of cliffs and get nailed by anvils.

It's pretty hard to take the mind seriously from way over here.

And the funniest part about these characters? You see that you're related to most of them!

Whether biologically, economically or socially, there's always a central role for the mind in the story. Family dramas, neighborhood scuffles, company scandals, political intrigues. Some story lines more powerful than others, always repeating. The mind slides easily into character - taking positions of outrage seeking justice, conquering personal agendas, pushing desire driven outcomes that most assuredly have much greater meaning.

The mind scrambles for the high ground, pretending that the story has a satisfying conclusion, victory within sight, triumph over evil just a story board away.

"Oh really?" as my friend loves to say when the stories in my mind have grown righteously and pointedly dramatic. He's gently reminding me that I've lost my perspective and slid right back onto the muddy banks of the lake.

Stepping back behind the telescope, the story edges soften and fade.

Ever wondered, if your mind is over there wrestling in the mud, who's behind the telescope?

For those who like to think about definitions - http://bit.ly/3yTLzP


Beau pantalon Lubna Hussein

Currently I'm more likely found at my computer making stuff up than arguing with people in glass walled conference rooms about making stuff up. Consequently, I am less directly involved in the flows and woes of the greater world.

Calendar dates are mostly relevant for client appointments and social engagements, so I didn't wake up this morning with today's anniversary on my mind.

Amazingly, eight years later, so much is not different.

On the surface the political landscape hasn't changed. The red and blue teams are still going at it, crying foul whenever the other team might get a flag for what they themselves did during a previous administration. (Obama focuses his comments on grade schoolers - early work on a second term? - and is excoriated until the Reds realized that Bush Sr. did the same thing in 1991.)

Health care is still a massively complex subject with clear moral imperatives and astoundingly fuzzy math. My only hope is that the solution isn't worse than the problem we're trying to solve.

And predictably, the global back and forth shoving match of "here's why you're so wrong" isn't moving much along. Fortunately for U.S. politicians, that whole shoe throwing thing didn't gain much ground in domestic forums. Although had it caught on in America, there would probably have been a sponsor promoting the loft and ease of handling of their shoes for pummeling speakers with whom one disagreed.

Thousands more innocent and some very guilty people have died around the world for sketchy reasons and despite the protests, videos, news updates, name calling, effigy burning, rigged elections, Twitter trends and hand wringing, people are still dying today.

For unjust and noble reasons, for random and specific acts, by accident, by careful planning, for no good cause and with no solid answer "why". People around the world continue to suffer and die.

Ever thus. No matter who's on television explaining the details.

Which brings me to Lubna.

The following news bite comes from The Economist - one of the few sources of global news that is so well written, no matter what monstrous horrors they report, you actually feel somewhat empowered for having read it.

Here's what caught my eye in this week's issue. "A Sudanese woman, Lubna Hussein, was found guilty of wearing trousers, a practice said by the authorities to be indecent. Her case has sparked an international furore. She was freed from prison after journalists paid a fine of $200 (against her wishes). She also faced up to 40 lashes if convicted, but that punishment was not imposed."


Did Lubna know when she got the trousers that there was a law against wearing them? Were these contraband pants that were snuck into the country? Was she encouraged to wear the pants by a covert group of revolutionary pant wearing women? Was she a pawn or a prophet?

Could we infer that the US Secretary of State's ongoing commitment to pant suits could have been a factor?

Were the trousers even hers? Or did she sneak out of the house in her husband's pants, just to run down to the store?

Of course there's more to her story, and Sudan has many greater tragedies than this one.

But I remain perplexed in that she was freed against her wishes? Because she wanted to go on a hunger strike? Was she working on something in jail? Radio interview scheduled? Didn't have time to build up material for her book?

Or was she afraid to return home since she got busted, lost her pants and may face public stoning or being shot by a male relative who's been embarrassed?

Whatever her motivation, Lubna Hussein's story connected with me and reminded me of where I stand today.

I firmly disagree with imprisoning people for their choices in clothing. Much less lashing them with a whip. Regardless of the time and place, that is just not okay.

And whatever values, God or Goddess may rule the heavens and earth for you, my Beloved encourages me to be comfortable. And sometimes only pants will do.

So when I think about the many aspects of today's tragic milestone, I will add Lubna to my prayers for peace and wear pants in support of her struggle.

Eight years later and there are women on our planet who are imprisoned and threatened for their choices in clothing.

Sad, sad monkeys.

Thank you Lubna, for reminding me of the freedoms that I take for granted and just how different my world would be if I had been born at a time in a country where my choices in life were violently constrained by my gender.

Thank you Lubna, for reminding me that hatred is the product of a mind gone mad.

Thank you Lubna, for your courage in the face of this insanity and cruelty.

Beau pantalon.


Waiting for Lassie

Isn't it enough to know when I'm wrong? Do I have to keep repeating the same mistakes over and over again? At least couldn't it be new mistakes? Maybe this is where the phrase "oh grow up" comes from?

Here's the thing.

I was raised on miracles. Really, magic. The big "ah ha" moments that made all the difference. The just in the nick of time triumphs. The San Francisco 49'ers led by Joe Montana in the final two minutes of any game in the 1980's. Or the last five minutes of the Rocky Balboa movies.

Coming at the tail end of a big family, I learned most of my early life lessons by watching television. Or maybe it was just the newest baby sitter on the block and my generation, regardless of the chaos of their homes, were parked in front of this amazing story telling machine.

And unlike life off screen, these stories always wrapped up tidy with a bow in time for dinner.

Take Lassie for example. There wasn't a problem that dog couldn't solve. In the early, tender moments of my life, sitting in front the tube, Lassie did it all. And for heaven's sake, isn't any monkey smarter than a television dog?

Apparently not.

The one hour family drama - which is now probably closer to 39 minutes plus commercial and station breaks - guaranteed time bounded, heart warming, easy moral lessons, reinforced stereotypical platitudes and delivered gratifying resolutions. The bullies got bullied, the bad guys got caught, the parents proved wise and kind.

Otherwise, who'd watch? Much less buy the advertiser's solutions?

If Timmy died in the well in the first episode? Lassie would have never been syndicated. If Dad dumped Mom and ran off with his golf buddy? Wouldn't happen in this tidy world.

All of the characters ended up happy, safe and secure. Unless there was a very peaceful departure of a minor, obviously elderly character of advanced years who drifted off to sleep, eyes gently closing, to the sound of harps and soft focus shots. "She's with Grandpa now." (Which is kind of a scary thing if you think about it. Having never met Grandpa, where the hell did she go?)

So miracles came in the last five minutes. But when trying to apply these classic stories to my life, I ran into some bigger issues. And what I'm still learning today is that waiting for Lassie sets a whole lot of suffering in motion.

First of all there's the whole aspect of trying to decipher how much of the show has gone by? Are we in the first ten minutes of setting the scene? Or are we past the first commercial break where the tension is building? Is this a major plot line? Are these important characters being added to the story? Or simply supporting cast designed to bring some color and interest, but ultimately fading out of view?

What if we're past the second commercial break and this is actually the absolute nadir of the whole shooting match, where certain death, destruction or at least guaranteed social failure, is waggling right in the middle of the screen?

Looking around my life, there is an immediate clue.

I'm not seeing the dog.

I think this means I'm past the halfway mark and that the scene is darkening. Maybe the bottom of the well? It's dark in here and smells pretty funky, which is what one of my teachers said is a guaranteed sign of having one's head up one's backside.

So, no dog and a bad attitude.

And the sponsors? Probably getting nervous about the numbers and asking if this plot line is better for rehab programs or adult diaper sales.

If my life were in French or German, this would probably be okay, since my European cousins seem much more comfortable with the idea that life isn't tidy. And that monkeys are always making bigger messes than dogs can clean up.

I imagine they're sanguine with having the same story arc end again and again in a warp of ambiguity. At least for the grown ups anyway. They've managed to set Tin Tin aside and move on to adult themed conundrums and ambivalence.

No dog, bad attitude, nervous sponsors and no relief from the allies?

Absolutely middle aged and definitely the last fifteen minutes of the show on the horizon.

For one brief moment, I remember again that Lassie isn't coming.

As the credits for my story role by on the screen, I let go of Lassie. I let go again of my story ever being tidy. And remember that with no story, there's no ambivalence or ambiguity, no need for resolution, no tension.

The drama fades. A sense of ease and peace returns.

A time and place before television.

The cat purring on my lap.


Machine Time

Punctuality was personal.

An old fashioned point of pride, being on time meant that you were well bred, capable, respectful and trustworthy. Not surprisingly, the whole idea of time now stresses me out.

It's bad enough that the days themselves are moving so quickly. I've recently noticed that my life is set by a clock of pure monkey madness.

I'm not alone.

Looking back into our twentieth century time capsule, the descent is easy to trace.

In order to feed the machinery of the industrial revolution, we reset the clocks of heaven and earth. When monkeys migrated from farm to city to labor on machines, we ended up spinning modern myths, sacrificing our celestial rhythms on the altar of material progress.

Ancient rhythms were replaced with a mechanical clock that promised social reward, physical security and a guaranteed spot at the feed trough. We abandoned our citizenship of the sun, substituting a little glass face and ticking dials, in order to take up our spots on modern production lines.

Is it any wonder that we lost all sense of time?

We detached ourselves from the rhythms that move the planet and the seas, animals, plants and stars around it. The closer we moved to the machines, the more we were not subjects of the earth, merely here to consume and rule it, trashing it in the process, and then somehow moving on?

Where exactly?

We substituted clever monkey stories for the intractable laws of nature, and in turn, we ended up denying our physical reality to the nether reaches of insanity.

Check this out.

For the hot rock that we're living on, the longest day of light ends somewhere around June 21st. (Northern hemisphere.) Then, slowly, the days get progressively shorter and nights longer until December 21st or thereabouts. Then, the days start to get longer again.

The entire planet is aligned with this cycle, moving along the same path of light to dark to light again. Everything that has life, has a relationship to this flow of light and dark.

Except for the wacky hairless monkeys.

We invented machines and in order to keep up with them, we decoupled time from life on the planet.

See the power of this creative exchange in the cartoon of The Sorcerer's Apprentice. http://bit.ly/NeWs9

In order to sell this new kind of time, we rewrote the myths of living and reinforced them with an upside down schedule of celebrations and rituals.

We celebrate the "beginning" of summer at the end of the school year, with remembering the war dead. Nothing wrong about celebrating the dead. I'm a big fan actually, up there with Mother's Day and the rising of the dead in the spring.

However, just as the lights are beginning to dim for every living thing, we're gearing up for water sports, gardening and night time baseball games.

Then we mark the "end" of summer by honoring labor, and scheduling one last barbeque before the kids begin their annual cycle of standardized testing. Big shopping opportunity and a sigh of relief from the stay at home moms and dads. Our factory life resumes with commute, meet, eat, meet, commute, eat, sleep.

Fall comes and we briefly relive our glory days in college with the beginning of football season.

Meanwhile the days are visibly shortening, growing colder and darker. The equinox passes with absolutely no notice. We are at the halfway point to the darkest day of winter, when all of creation is turning inward, slowing down, withdrawing, reflecting.

What's up with the monkeys? We're tailgating.

Reflecting to some extent as the leaves drop from the trees, we're wondering whether our prayers will be answered for a last minute touch down and the accompanying satisfaction that heaven is actually on board with our favorite team.

Time for another celebration of the dead. Now we're checking in with the larger than life aspects of the paranormal. The fantastic stories of heroes, action figures with super powers, royalty, talking animals, ghouls and ghosts of all manner. The veil between the worlds of shadow and light are at their thinnest now and we peer into the darkness to see our personal ghosts waving 'Hi'.

And we hand them a candy bar.

Next we're sliding towards the end of the year with an orgy of food - ostensibly to celebrate our successful harvest and bow our heads briefly in gratitude for the astounding prosperity we're enjoying.

A small number step out of their comfortable nests to briefly imagine the lives of the thousands of people living without the security of food and shelter. This momentary reflection on the suffering of others interrupts their day and then the reality of those lives slips away, followed by the secret relief that they can charitably visit but don't have to stay.

(Never mind the starkly tragic facts of history that underpin our feasting. We're encouraged to look away from our role in the decimation of the indigenous first Americans, who were repeatedly betrayed, rounded up, imprisoned, robbed and often slaughtered in order to create our "free" country. Not the story we're encouraged to tell at the table. Turkey anyone?)

Ironically, after celebrating the dead for months, we now kick into high gear to override the darkening days with a hysteria unmatched during the rest of the year.

The "return of the sun", a phenomenon of celestial timing first marked by our earliest predecessors, has been transformed into alternating currents of hectic activity and despondent cynicism. An unnaturally fueled bipolar express, cue reindeer and elves, moronic jingles, peppermint everything, and expectations running amok.

So many great things have been said about this season. And there are reasons to celebrate the return of the sun.

Only there never seems to be enough time?

If you're curious about winter solstice http://bit.ly/lOPt

Suffice to say however, purely from a timing perspective, really, this whole machine driven season can be so nuts.

Personally, I imagine the end of hibernation as the opposite of hysteria. It's a gradual awakening, bit by bit, the light slowly increasing a few minutes per day. Family rituals to celebrate mythical childhoods don't appear on my list of gentle awakenings.

One last hurrah to wave goodbye to another cycle and greet the new year ahead. We honor the monkey made clock again with resolve to set our worldly efforts down a path of redemption. At least the days are getting longer and we're briefly aligned in some regard with a new season of beginning.

As we approach the balancing point of light and dark, our rituals momentarily align with that most amazing moment of creation, the return of life.

The equinox passes with less remark or little notice. More on Equinox http://bit.ly/2qHKU1

It seems odd to me that rebirth might be the most under represented of all the seasons in terms of modern commercial play. With the exception of cleaning, little homage is paid to the miracle of life's reawakening. Perhaps its metaphysical roots keep it veiled? Or its associations with procreation are prudishly set aside to maintain a G rating?

Rising from the dead is too cool to be underplayed. Resplendent with myth, story and symbolism, check out eggs and rabbits. Maybe March Madness could be construed as an explosive celebration of the rites of spring?

No natural hook for marketing in the resurrection of life beyond basketball, bonnets and parades, we move through monkey graduation rituals and on to the pursuit of the perfect beach body, adequate sunscreen protection and novels of intrigue.

If we take time at all.

The light continues to lengthen until the 21st of June or thereabouts. Then at the Solstice, the light begins to shorten and we return to the darkness to await the return of the sun.

Nothing of this cycle is apparent from the factory floor, the claustrophobic cubicle, the jam packed freeway, the crammed parking lot, the concrete classroom, the asphalt runway of the modern machine life.

Our little clocks ticking, we dance faster and faster in smaller and smaller circles.

Days shorten unnoticed. Leaves drift quietly. Time to reflect.

I'm probably late.


Bits of Plastic on the Ocean

Problems were my thing.

Loose thread? I pulled it. That chip in the paint? All I saw.

Personal complaints? My pleasure!

Hailing from a family versed in the geography of suffering by virtue of an early sibling death, I eventually trained as a professional listener. Coupled with a natural curiosity, my compassion was easily evoked and solutions were applied like a healing poultice to the boo boo's of life.

With all those problems front and center, I took great pride in accumulating a virtual landfill of solutions. Easy, quick, magical, occasionally helpful?

Snap, snap, snappy judgements and answers.

I saw problems everywhere. Heard and talked about them all day.

My mind easily tuned into what isn't.

What isn't fixed. Isn't right. Isn't fair. Isn't true. Isn't good. Isn't best. Isn't better.

Isn't now. Isn't then. Isn't comfortable. Isn't easy. Isn't here. Isn't there.

Isn't mine. Isn't yours. Isn't ours, his, hers or theirs.

My mind tells me there are plenty of other minds set on isn't. And of course, if there are minds full of problems, there'll be industries created to solve them.

Anything with the word improvement in the title will do nicely.

Physical, emotional, social. Home, auto, laundry, pets, children, furniture, communications, food, clothing, entertainment, health, money, life, personality, relationships, marriage.

If "isn't" were a country inhabited by "isn't-zens", it would be bigger than Facebook and Twitter combined.

For a long time my mind couldn't think of anything that isn't.

But what if what isn't, isn't all there is?

I became more than a little concerned.

Where the hell is what is?

I turned over what isn't in my mind and what is appeared.

Relieved by finding what is, another thought crept up from no where in particular.

Maybe what isn't and what is are connected.

Could both be true?

My mind rebels at the thought.

It isn't happy.

It doesn't want to think about this.

Grinding noise, slowing gears, smoke curling, acrid smell of burning oil.

Can't hold it.

Isn't easy.

Rumbling - using that deep voice when bullying me that I don't know what I'm thinking - my mind drags out any authority figure stand-in, 'doctor-father-god-male' rational, logical, frowning, groaning, pronouncing - must have one answer.

(From experience, this speech often proceeds pay dirt in the excavation of consciousness!)

Gently returning to the idea that both are true.

See dialectical thinking - http://bit.ly/oAoDy

One of the cornerstones of freedom from a prison of the mind's own making.

Both are true.

This phrase unhinges my mind and it flops open.

Solutions float off.

Gently drifting bits of plastic on the ocean.


Flavor Wars

Every 90 days I send a check to a local organic farming co-op. In return, they send me a weekly box of fruits and veggies to a nearby pickup spot.

Like with every choice, there are benefits and burdens. I get amazingly fresh, seasonal produce from a trusted source and I don't have to go to the grocery store and stand trying to imagine what I'll feel like eating at some point in the future.

The downside? As any gardner can tell you - getting pounded by seasonality.

Eating a delightful white peach for breakfast, I was contemplating what on earth to do with this week's thirty tomatoes.

Savoring the tender and uniquely gentle sweetness of the flesh, momentarily wishing for a year round peach season, I wondered why don't all fruits and vegetables taste the same?

Wouldn't it just be easier?

Or maybe if there were only two or three flavors of each?

In the interests of efficiency and the breakneck pace of modern life, you'd be able to more easily pick one and move on.

Maybe divide the flavors up by time of day? Even name them "morning flavored fruit", "evening flavored vegetable".

Or use technology to develop a "universal flavor delivery system" which would download fruit or vegetable applications to an edible soy-based cube of water and fiber?

Was all that diversity really necessary?

The thought occurred to me, would we then need to agree on which flavors would prevail?

Of course, any time monkeys try to agree, there is lots of drama and conflict.

Maybe even flavor wars.

The middle class "potato-ists" versus the immigrant "cabbage-ists" debating on television.

Round the clock programming about the merits of the asparagus platform as weighed against the bitter benefits of endive.

Campaigns for celery root and parsnips might only appear on late night cable or youtube postings.

The entire squash family might band together for a documentary about its ethnic roots, historical importance, mild character and broad applications.

Would the Federation of Fans of Watermelon outspend The National Coalition in Favor of Peach?

Disclaimer - I would actively campaign for all things basil, Meyer lemon and pistachio. That said, I would also be quietly supportive of arugula, artichoke and chard.

If we did agree on limiting flavors, would we invade other countries to guarantee their rights to raspberry?

Identify hostile flavor hosts where taste insurrectionists where plotting an overthrow of our national flavor agenda?

Prop up governments in order to secure our supplies of cocoanut?

We can all relax on that one. Cocoanut would never make the national agenda, since it not a universally adored and associated with too much tropical liberalism for the majority identified with the centrist appeal of apple.

A black market might instantly spring up offering illegal flavors. Entrepreneurs around the world would surely find ways to supply the lovers of contraband lychee and persimmon.

Guaranteed some clever monkeys would find a way to capture the blueberry flavor and make a killing.

With such a small basis of choice, would financial markets be vulnerable to severe swings and easily manipulated with rumor and innuendos, insider trading and political graft?

In the ensuing economic chaos, the panicking public might demand government action.

The Institute for the Study of the Regulation of Flavor (ISRF) might publish a series of white papers and condemn the open manipulation of the flavor markets.

Liberal eggplant defenders would wage epic battles of rhetoric with conservative corn pundits.

A senator from a state with no native flavors - Utah? North Dakota? - would propose legislation for the return of choice.

A new candidate might run for president on the platform of diversity.

Based on the populist preference for sweet peas and proposing that the freedom to choose flavors could be inferred from the Constitution, she might lead a movement to unseat the big three flavors - thereby opening the flood gates for all flavors to be reinstated.

Making the country safe for diversity once again.

I finished my peach and thought about tomato sauce.

Maybe all those choices are a good thing.

Maybe diversity just is and we don't have to agree about it.

Maybe all we have to do is appreciate that not everyone likes beets?