Fulfilling vs. Expedient

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November 11, 2019, Santa Monica-

A few days ago, back at Home Base, I found that some javelinas had knocked over a couple of neighbours’ trashcans.  Although it was early morning and I was in relaxation mode, there was the element of “We don’t have to live like this”, which has long been my mantra, with regard to tolerating a squalid environment.  I went outside and picked up the entire mess.

Jordan Peterson’s seventh rule for living is “Do what is fulfilling, instead of what is expedient”.  My mother never let us slide, when it was time to get a task, chore or school assignment done.  God knows, there were plenty of times when I would have loved to hang loose and slack off.  It is a blessing that I never got away with it.

Many times, people have said to me that I do things “the hard way”.  Mostly, if I do such things, it is so I can remember how to do them properly, the next time.  As for not being necessarily expedient, I have found that cutting corners almost always returns to haunt me.  It’s better to go the extra mile, the first time.

That is also the way of the veteran, whose service rarely, if ever, allowed for expediency.

 

Thoughts On Not Stepping On A Rake

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November 9, 2019-

One of the greatest gifts imparted to me, by my parents, is knowing not to make the same mistake twice.  In his sixth Rule for Life, Jordan Peterson alludes to  a yard full of rakes, with a slapstick comic going about, stepping on one rake after another, and whacking himself about the head repeatedly.

My difficulty with repetition of mistakes has come more from failure to generalize, to apply lessons learned from one set of mistakes to similar, but anomalous, situations.

Dr. Peterson speaks quite a bit, in this segment, about resentment.  He goes through the points many of us know, as to how resentment eats away at the person who harbours it, unless he/she works through the feeling, and draws a self-improving lesson from the incident that led to the ill will.

I have learned, over the years, to work through the matter that caused me to resent a person or group.  Without exception, my path has always led to determining, through the type of soul-searching recommended by Alexander Solzhenitsyn, what I may have done that led to the incident, and how I might not open the door to similar mishaps in the future.

Proactivity can eliminate a good many misfortunes.  Avoiding self-aggrandizement can minimize resentment of those that do come our way.  I learned this, the hard way, by being Penny’s caretaker, and not, once, thinking that the whole thing was brought on by me.  Things I would better have done differently, came to mind and were fully processed.  This has only made me a better person.  Resentment of my lot, would not have done so.

Likability is Contagious

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November 7, 2019-

When I was a child, I was not “picked” for a team until last, most of the time, because of my relative lack of  coordination.  I was, however, not an unpopular person, mainly because everyone was welcome in my yard, and in my sandbox.  The disputes I had with some neighbourhood kids were never permanent.  I was taught that I was not the center of the Universe.

Jordan Peterson entitles his fifth rule for life “Don’t Let Your Kids Behave in A Way That Makes You Dislike Them”.  He notes that many parents vehemently deny that they could ever dislike their children.  I was not one of those.  When our son did something that was distasteful or reprehensible, I thought to myself that it would be remiss of me, as a father, to gloss over it.  So, I corrected him and established the lesson, that what his mother and I found unlikable, other people would also be inclined to take umbrage.

In seeing what he did that was unlikable, I also had to face myself, and look to see if I was also behaving the same way.  Penny was good at making me take account for my flaws, and vice versa.  We helped one another shed a fair amount of baggage, and after her passing, I had to shed a lot more-sometimes with the unwanted help of online critics but most often with my one-on-one self-critiques.

Today, he is largely a self-starter, and has weathered quite a few storms-many of which were not of his own making.  He has many friends and has found a wonderful woman, with whom to build a life.  None of this would have happened, had he been saddled with laissez-faire parents and absent extended family.  Penny’s parents were present, every step of the way, and my siblings took their avuncular duties seriously.

Dr. Peterson has thus encapsulated the need of the human being for constructive criticism, as well as praise, when it is warranted; that we innately have a need for boundaries to be set, as a way to know that we are in a safe environment.  There is no finer gift that a parent can bestow upon a child.

The True Standard

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November 5, 2019-

Returning to Jordan Peterson’s “Twelve Rules for Life”, #4 states “Compare Your Present Self Only to Your Past Self, not to Anyone Else.”

As social animals, we so often give other human beings far too much credit, for perfection or superiority.  I’ve heard from so many:  “It’s cold and lonely, on the pedestal.”

So, I have made it my business to measure my progress, compared to where I was-six months ago, twenty, thirty or forty years ago.  Then (1970), I hid from my peers.  Now, I am in the world, but not of it.  Then (1977), I found solace in the bottle.  Now, I find peace and tranquility in service, in meditation and in standing up for the downtrodden.  Then (1982), I handed out money on demand.  Now, I contribute reasonably, without caving in to every demanding voice or thrust-out hand. Then (1981), I viewed different people with different lenses. Now, every human being is seen in the light of their character.  Then, (1954-1986), I looked upon myself as essentially unworthy of love, as damaged goods.  Now, I am proud of what I have achieved, no matter what others might view as inadequate.  Then, (until 2010), I saw myself as a frequent victim of “politicians”, “the Elite”, “the Establishment”.  Now, I see those in positions of power as basically living out their own life plan, without seeing myself as a pawn on their chessboard.  Then, (prior to 2012), I had no idea why I behaved atypically, so often.  Now, I know I have a place on the Autism/Asperger’s spectrum-and that’s okay.

The only true standard we have is our own life.

“Like Someone Who Matters”

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October 29, 2019-

I will be writing two posts today, and tomorrow, as these are the Twin Holy Days, the back-to-back commemorations of the Births of al-Bab (The Gate) and of Baha’u’llah, respectively.  So, my post this afternoon will focus on al-Bab, Who was born 200 years ago, today (reckoned by the Badi (Lunar) Calendar.

First, let’s look at the second rule for living outlined by Jordan Peterson:  “Treat yourself like you are someone who matters.”  Baha’u’llah teaches:  “Be fair to yourself and others.”  Many parents teach their children to put others first.  That’s a good enough way to discourage selfishness, as far as it goes.  One of the wisdoms of having 2-3 children, in a family which can support such numbers, is that it is most likely to train a human being in sharing and altruism.  Those families like that of my birth, who struggled with the stresses inherent in being a family of seven, nonetheless impart a sense of belonging and of being a key part of something far greater than self.  My son, being the only child, was encouraged to make a wide circle of friends, and to regard the closest of them as if they were his siblings.

Thus, a good many of us are taught well, with respect to others.  Where we tend to drop the ball is with how we treat ourselves.  It is therefore best to look at how one wants to be treated by others, and to look at this regularly, with a view towards treating ourselves as we want to be treated by those around us- a corollary, if you will, to the Golden Rule.

In a practical sense, then, partaking of those activities and other things which enhance one’s well-being is essential.  Neither asceticism nor overindulgence result in a healthy self.  Hypercriticism of self is, likewise, as bad as narcissism.  An honest self-accounting, each day, with the follow -up of self-improvement, shows a resolve to regard oneself as “Someone who matters”.

Another Cusp, and A Lobster Tale

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October 28, 2019-

Today begins  yet another cusp, of another revolution around the Sun.  This coming year is significant, in that it is the last year of my seventh decade.  People  warned me that 68 would be the year that health challenges would surface.   They haven’t.  Maybe because of my personal regimen, and open-mindedness to the suggestions of friends and family,  the overall state of my physical frame has actually been better this year, than last.

When a cusp begins, the month before my birthday, I start to think of goals, and changes I might make.  One change is the way I sit, and for how long.  Someone has suggested using 135 degrees as good posture, when having to sit at length.  A thirty minute limit to any one sitting session has also been suggested-which works everywhere except in a theater or on a long road trip, or flight.  In those cases, every 1-2 hours works better.

Another change is to think even more out of the box than I have been.  This, of course, will give my critics fits, as they already roll their eyes at unconventional things I do and say, but no matter.  I will need to be even more flexible, with regard to my schedule and commitments, over the next several months, than has been the case in the past several years.

Now,  let’s get to the lobsters.  In his work on “Twelve Rules for Life”, the psychologist Jordan Peterson begins by describing the behaviour of lobsters.  The crusty crustaceans have a hierarchy.  There are ten levels, with the alpha lobster having a high level of serotonin, which leads the animal to maintain an erect, well-balanced posture and the low creature in the hierarchy having low serotonin, but a high level of octopamine, which leads it to splay its limbs and slump around- in other words, to be a low-achieving lobster slacker.

The implications for us human animals is fairly clear.  Seratonin is huge, for those of us who want to feel strong and be taken seriously.  If it affects posture, then let’s have more of what the singer John Mayer calls “a serotonin overflow”.  See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=81yl_76s7jA.

I would prefer not to depend, though, on a romance, or a respite from daily life, to provide me with the juice that affords me with  respect from self and others. Towards that end, as with other health-related matters, let food be my medicine, as has been said by wise men, from Hippocrates (and probably the ancients who preceded him) to ‘Abdu’l-Baha. https://www.healthline.com/health/healthy-sleep/foods-that-could-boost-your-serotonin.  More attention to posture is also in the offing.

I will have more to say about Jordan Peterson’s “Twelve Rules”, over the next several days.

Equity/Equivalence

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October 27, 2019- 

There is no inherent tie, between being in touch with femininity and emasculation.

On a visit to one of my best friends, here in Home Base, I enjoyed another of her unfailingly fine meals, followed by plenty of food for thought.  The fare, this evening, included a thorough look at the effects of  excessive social policing on the male psyche.

I am a fairly sensitive soul, who notices people’s feelings and reactions to their surroundings.  As such. weighing my words and actions has been a much higher priority, in my life, especially these past ten years.  Yes, I have had relapses, during the low water marks of grieving and recovery, not so many years ago.  Said friend has had much to do with the movement away from that low state, as has my personal faith.

I thoroughly enjoy the company of peaceful people, especially of women who have arrived at a state of personal peace.  The higher goals of one’s existence are far more achievable, when one is not pre-occupied with a set of self-conscious, other-imposed expectations.

All this underscores that emasculation,  depriving boys and men of their pursuit of meaning, in the name of gender equivalence, is the source of  much of the violence and aimless behaviour, which we see increasing in some quarters of the populace.  It cuts across all sectors of society, and its fingers may be found in the areas of drug abuse, domestic violence, unemployability, and general listlessness.

Emasculation does NOT proceed from giving women and girls the wherewithal to process their goals and pursue their dreams.  It does derive, though, from making gender equity a societal seesaw.  When Penny was alive, there was no time when her pursuits meant that mine did not matter, and vice versa.  My son’s dreams and goals matter no less than do those of my daughter-in-law, and vice versa.

Equity of opportunity and encouragement under the law does not mean equivalence of function, any more than any group of men or women must all do the same things.

Jordan Peterson calls for less political correctness, in the overall course of civic life.  To the extent that one group does not actively work to diminish another, I see his point.  I don’t really believe that there are all that many women who wish to emasculate the men and boys in their lives.  There is, though, an urgency that people attend to those who feel cut off from their hopes and dreams- regardless of the social inequality that led society to turn aside from their needs.  Again, gender equity is NOT a social seesaw.