Fallen Leaves

There is an Asian philosophy which encourages reflection on serenity, the deeper meaning of life, even the beauty of its passing. This sort of reflection certainly appeals most strongly to left brain dominant introverts, the ones who live inside our own minds and who seek a deeper meaning in the people and events that swirl around us in chaos. We don’t have a choice in the matter; it’s how we’re wired. I’m not sure whether its a blessing or something else, but it’s never dull nor shallow.

I study things, people, events, because that’s unquestionably more interesting than gossip or television shows or parties. I would rather think about where lightening originates and what was the fuel for the “big bang” if there was no universe to provide fuel, or what makes a person behave in certain ways, than waste brain time on trivia. Obviously I’m not usually the life of the party and that’s okay. There is a world of unanswerable questions and beautiful conundrums to contemplate, and challenges which can never be bested…at least not in this lifetime, or dimension. You choose.

I buried my mother last week. You can’t prepare for that, even if you understand the course ahead of you, even if you know the suffering will end, even if your mother is tired and ready to go. You can’t prepare. But if you slow down and think, you realize there is beauty in the end of life which may be more spectacular than its beginning or even the rises and falls within it. There is no question that suffering is the worst image of humanity we ever see, particularly when it is a loved one who suffers, but when the bond between the physical world is released to that of the spiritual one, there is a peacefulness and beauty not seen at any other time in life in my observation. And I think it is beautiful because leaving the place where, upon entry you immediately begin to die, to a place where your sprit is released from physical degradation to unity with the universe, is unimaginably exciting. That’s part of it.

I have been at the bedside of several loved ones and good friends as they passed on to the next dimension. There is great honor to be able to stand beside someone you love as they leave, to witness their going, to stand guard for them, as it were. It is frightening to contemplate ending until you realize that the spirit does not end; it goes somewhere else but it does not end. It is the greatest contradiction of which I know, to feel such pain and confusion and beauty simultaneously. And yet, there it is, every time.

As my first grandchild was born, I held my daughter’s hand and for a split second I was in the past as my child was born, and in the present as her child was born. It was as though for some segment of a second, I was not in my body, but elsewhere, observing the passing of time from a distance and obviously not sequentially. It was past and present at once. As my mother passed, I was pulled all the way back to early childhood, feeling the panic I felt as a little girl when my mommy walked away from me, and yet I was an adult mourning my loss now. These events remind me that we live within our reality, but not necessarily THE reality. There is a perspective we simply cannot see clearly from our point of reference.

I am reading a book about people who experienced death, called “near death”, but I disagree. It’s death. It’s brief, not permanent death, but it is death. In any case, without fail these people describe time as being nothing like what we experience in life. I know. I get that. I’ve felt a hint of it three times now. And there’s another extended time ahead of me. Nobody gets out alive.


I try to feel better about never being able to see my mother’s face again, or touch her, or hear her voice in conversation. I know I will never stop missing her. I can say that falling leaves of Fall are never so beautiful as they cling to the tree throughout Spring and Summer. I can say that there is great beauty in the fallen leaf as it wafts to the ground, coming to rest atop other fallen leaves waiting to decompose and contribute to the circle of life. I can try to convince myself to feel okay about death being a part of life. It doesn’t work. Pain is what I feel. I grieve. And yet, great grief is a sign of great love. There is love in grief and beauty in the fallen leaf.

The Dumbing Down of Entertainment

Shock value has become the simple minded avenue through which writers attempt to nab viewers.  Perhaps the “shock” paradigm is working because there are few other choices and so few engaged viewers; but I think it’s a flashing neon sign that creativity is dead and intelligent thought is a dead activity.  I believe people are becoming less ABLE to think, because nobody really has to anymore.  Everyone wins, everybody gets to retake tests until they “pass”, everybody’s entitled, the fun thing is to pull one over on the world and put an unqualified body in a position of power and importance, and if you can read it online somehow that qualifies you as an expert.  Faking it and lying have become art, an aspiration.  What happened to America?  Even a college degree has become unimportant and therefore a useless waste of time because universities are giving them away for financial benefits.   So now?  BS degree?  No big deal.  My dog has one.

By the way, a REAL college experience develops creativity and by “real” I mean one where you actually work and lean something.  We might be on to something here.

Some of my saddest moments are when I look around at the sheer laziness of people, and some of my most frightened ones are when I see creativity either dying or being killed, before my eyes.  People are lazier and dumber by the year, and it seems to be okay, because dumb is a whole lot easier than smart and inquisitive and engaged.  But it is also far less rewarding, and unfortunately these unengaged lazies are the ones making rules and running the show.  I want a renaissance!  I want an end to entitlements and I miss intelligent, engaged people!   I miss original thinking, creativity, NEW ideas.

I know I am not the only one who has noticed “remakes” ad nauseam, to the point where we are thrust back in time to think about what led up to the great story someone ELSE once wrote.  And I am tired of the practice of  ‘sampling’ of others artists’ works because musicians have no talent to create their own good body of work.  Forget great; I’ve given up on great.  But “sampling” used to be called plagiarism and was not only frowned upon, but also was illegal.  EVEN if you gave credit to the person from whom you ‘borrowed’ ideas.  Commercials, also known as television, are reduced to using sex and violence as the draws.  Why?  Because it takes no ingenuity nor creativity to know that men respond to sex and violence.  You’ve heard it:  Sex sells.  And it does, because that’s the norm now.  It’s what we teach our children is most important.  You know, base animal behavior. That’ll get you a great job.  Be an animal.

There’s nothing wrong with sex, but you don’t put man on Mars by watching sexy commercials or porn.  You do that by physics, chemistry, action, fitness, bravery, ingenuity and plain old hard work!  OH, and lets not forget competition!  That’s a dirty word unless you’re talking sports.  By the way sports was one way dictators controlled the masses, did you know that?  Think gladiators.  And now think about how important the NFL has become.  We are lemmings.

And don’t tell me there’s nothing new under the sun; there’s new, we are just too lazy and uncreative to search for it.

We used to exist in what we were told was the golden age of television, and perhaps it once was.  We saw the birth and development of talk shows with substance, news shows that were truly balanced, and television shows that made you think at least a little bit, about life and circumstances.  We saw shows that made you laugh, about real life, not some twisted idea to garner ratings.  I recall watching talk shows with political themes where the commentator was almost invisible in the grand scheme, because he (yes usually he) intended the spotlight to be on the guests.  Now, the commentator has to be the STAR, and their political views are thought to be somehow more important than anyone else because they have the microphone.  But lets face it; reading a teleprompter or a stack of notes does not make you smarter than I, nor entitled to make up MY mind about what’s happening in the world.  I need you to stand down and let me listen to the people who may or may not be qualified to make laws by which I will be required to live.

Do you remember Firing Line with William F. Buckley?  He was the person who really started the whole idea of political talk shows.  His show was truly a show for intellectuals, but what he did was provide a platform for ALL of the views.  Everyone came prepared to state his position and to defend it, in a civilized manner, and everyone expected to be treated with dignity because anything else was unheard of.  It was the audience who made up their minds, not some commentator doing it for them.   Now, if you want to watch politics, you choose the one that repeats back to you what you want to hear, which adds NO intellectual value at all, and you nod and drool at the oracle commentator who thinks just like you!  Nobody wants to entertain the other views or God forbid actually give them a platform, because it has become all about emotion.  No brains needed.  Dumbed down.  Next they’ll just sing it to us as they serve alcohol or drugs.

Lately we see commercials with peoples’ heads exploding, or cannibal cereal bites.  Are you kidding me?  Do we have ten year old boys writing this stuff?  It’s not cute; it’s not amusing; it’s subliminal violence and it’s a red flag, waving frantically, that the creators are unintelligent and uncreative and juvenile, and WE, the consumers are idiots for watching this mess.  I don’t.  I turn it off.  And I wonder where the creative ones are.

And while we are on the subject of turning it off, let’s talk about TV again.  I called the cable provider to fire them, and of course they asked me why.  I told them I was tired of paying for advertisements.  I don’t CARE about what this medication or that medication does, and no I won’t ask my doctor to prescribe it because I also hear the side effects in those ads…which the pharmaceutical companies are trying to make go away, by the way.  So far their efforts haven’t worked because there are still some intelligent people out there.  But watch. Pretty soon they will disappear from the ads.  Why?  Because the masses have become so lazy and dumb, so enamored by drugs, that they would rather memorize the ACTUAL names of the plethora of drugs in their cabinet, than get an education and see that these drugs CAUSE most of what ails us these days.  Bottom line?  Most people clearly don’t mind a continuous stream of advertisements AND don’t mind paying big bucks for them.  I’m shaking my head.  Where is the substantive content?  No longer on TV.

All I’m saying is that I lived in the world where innovation was natural, where great ideas bloomed every day.  I lived in the world where people used their imagination and intelligence and enjoyed it.  I lived in the world where competition was fostered and where it fomented even greater ideas as a result. I didn’t live in the world where everyone ran around with a bloodsucker raised, frantic to insert it, at any cost, into a host.

Sanders keeps citing Scandinavia as the blueprint for a utopian America, but what he fails to report, or fess up as it were, is that these countries are stumbling under the weight of all of the bloodsuckers weakening the host, and under the weight of the demise of work ethic, which made these countries great to begin with.  So their recoveries happened when they adopted more “right leaning” policies…in other words to scrap the entitlements and send the bloodsuckers elsewhere, stop paying people to NOT work.  Reward innovation, creativity, a desire to become better!

There’s no such thing as utopia.  Instead there’s steady decline as the host dies, unless people get busy and start using their god-given brains.  I barely tolerate lazy, and I rage against extortion.  But mostly I feel sad at how dumb and lazy we have become, and I know I might see the day that this behavior causes this country to fall. In the meantime, I watch documentaries on Amazon.  At least there’s usually some good information there.

What it boils down to is this:  The entertainment we are served is a recipe for the environment in which we live.  What I’m seeing makes me very sad, because I have seen the “golden age” and this?  Nothing like it.