Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Lord of the Flies

When I was in high school I had to read the "Lord of the Flies." The story of a plane crash on a deserted island where the survivors are from a boys school. It is about the evolution of the boy's behavior as time passed and the instinct starts to rev up. After reading the story, the teacher asked us to write an essay about whether or not humans were innately good or evil. Over the years, I often think of this question.

This really cuts to the chase. It represents your basic belief or assumption about the very nature of people. Do you believe at their core that their motivation is for good or evil? But there's another component to that decision, what do you consider to be good and what do you consider to be evil? These answers will be different for each person. Shaped and molded through personal experience, religious frameworks, stories heard through the years, what your parents have taught you. Its is your story. The story you tell of people.

To me, people are animals. We try our best to get along because together we can achieve more and with more, we can provide. We seek to provide for ourselves and our children, so, we may live. We have an amazing survival instinct. When we feel, we have been threatened or we need to take action to survive, we do what's necessary to accomplish that... in other words, if it becomes a you or me situation, then, I will hopefully be the one standing. Is that evil? In high school, I determined it was. Today, I know that a desire to survive may cause us to do horrific things, but one act does not define one's character. I believe that the humans connect with others and thrive most frequently. I believe people are good. I know for the rest of my life. I will reflect on this question and see how its changed. Never underestimate the power of a teacher.

Monday, October 25, 2010

To My Husband

In my youth, I saw glimpses of you. Flashes of moments. A gentle touch. A loving look. We sang. We danced. We loved. Together, we shared the world. I thought you were a fairy tale spun by the imagination of a hopeful child. A prince charming concoction in a real world where the frogs do not transform and the silver lining is laced with lead. Until I met you...

You made no promise. You just took my hand and walked with me. As we traveled our path, I fell in love with your perspective... the way the world looked in your eyes. In my most visceral of states, you are compelled to my essence. You allow me to be essentially me while allowing our spirits to eternally entwine, my team mate, my soul mate, my counterpoint. Two complementary parts which are given a deeper meaning through their combination. The comfort I find in your arms allows me to wear tinted lenses that draw the sunshine out of the darkness and give me faith that the weather is more sunny than storms.

When I see our daughter's determination, her steady personality or perhaps in her glance, I know she will be amazing because she is part you. Thank you being exactly you and loving exactly me.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Semantic Animal

Can an animal be human? Do you see the irony of this question?

Definition of ANIMAL
1: any of a kingdom (Animalia) of living things including many-celled organisms and often many of the single-celled ones (as protozoans) that typically differ from plants in having cells without cellulose walls, in lacking chlorophyll and the capacity for photosynthesis, in requiring more complex food materials (as proteins), in being organized to a greater degree of complexity, and in having the capacity for spontaneous movement and rapid motor responses to stimulation

This definition identifies the composite structure of an animal. This structure unifies all complex creatures: our need for nourishment, interaction and ability to engage in the world around us. The definition implies similarity versus exclusion, however, if you continue reading, the conflict of the human spirit emerges. The human species had the ability to think hypothetically, to reflect upon one's being. We have unique languages which we use to convey impressions and thought. We do so in an effort to connect and create shared understandings with other. Each word is carefully selected in an effort to match the essence of our impressions with the perceived meaning of the word we chose to represent it. This allows humanity to discuss what is not directly in front of us with people who are nowhere near us. However, inherent in any selection is the process of choice: deciding what is the most important components of your message. The dictionary is a source where speakers of a language can go to clearly determine the socially accepted use of a particular word. It aligns a word with relative ideas to try to convey a clear vision. We understand this explicitly with artistic word creations like poetry, novels, movie dialogues, public speeches.... but we fail to understand the beauty of every day speak and the impact of our word choice on how we view this world.

2a : one of the lower animals as distinguished from human beings b : mammal; broadly : vertebrate
3 : a human being considered chiefly as physical or nonrational; also : this nature

Differentiation. Since we can talk about ourselves and reflect on our behavior, humans can express how we're different from others. Based on our focus, we imply a preferred way of being. An implied value structure that society has more or less agree upon. Would you agree that generally high is better than low? That we would prefer to be at the apex than at the bottom? Is it coincidence that our science has developed a structure in which humans appear at the top and all other creatures are lower? Value for self is a value for life. Since we are capable of thinking, would it not be "rational" for you to share this perception? The main function of your being is to live physically, so you can live essentially, emotionally through interaction with others. Rational? Does that not imply a thought process free of emotion? Is emotion not an inseparable part of the human experience? By denying our physical being, the wellspring of human emotion, are we truly defining human? From the moment of birth, we are immediately faced with overcoming our own natural state.

It is within the intricate, evolving, reflective use of language that we can examine the human species, but you need to redefine the basic assumption about animal. The human cannot be separated from in physiology since our engagement in the world involves our physical being. By embracing our instinctual drive and physiological processes, we can begin to truly understand the motivation of language. Therefore, to be human is only flawed because have defined it to be so.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Measure of a Person

What is a person, but the culmination of their experiences. We are but animated substance. No one would argue the intricate miracle of our design, however, is it not the actions of that design which create its essence. It is our behavior, our actions which create our legacy. A legacy is what we put into this world. Forget trying to evaluate specific actions, go beyond that layer and peer into the world through my eyes. When your body is motionless and revealed for the imperfect vessel it is, when your spirit is no longer present, the spirit can only live on through the human connection and the tangible artifacts left behind.

I realized today while I was walking for you, trying to be healthy for you, that if I was not here tomorrow, would you know who I was? Sure, you would hear stories. I have heard those stories. The main character is I, but I do not see life through the same looking glass. How would you know who I am if I do not tell you? All of this information and thoughts in my head and it is just fleeting if I do not impart that knowledge to you. In the grand scheme of things, there is an insignificance to my thoughts, but not to you. I need to share as much with you as I can TODAY because that is how I will shelter you when I am gone. I do not expect to shape your perception of this world. Rather, I want to share mine. How are you to understand the beauty of your design and impact on my world if I do not tell you?

The only way my spirit will live on with you after I am gone is if I share my spirit with you today.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Who puts cactus in their yard anyway?

There was a study I read which discussed how the structure of a home has changed as the concept of community has evolved. Before people had modern modes of communication, they were only able to connect with people in close proximity to them. So, they built homes which faced towards a main connection or street with open porches to facilitate these neighborly interactions. As technology evolved, community was no longer just those who lived in close proximity... we began to enclose our porches. This made me think if home style can serve as an indicator of community then, can landscaping serve as an indication of home owner personality or eagerness to be social?

There is a house that I walk past every night which has cactus on its boundary. I live in a suburb of NYC, not Phoenix. The cactus is so abundant that it spills out on the sidewalk. You have to sashay aside and worry if your dog is piercing its paws on this thorny carpet. It might have been the design of the previous owner, but whoever chose this design, what message are you sending to your neighbors? Do you think it makes your neighbor warm and fuzzy? Does it seem like a welcoming addition to your landscape? If it does appeal to you, what exactly appeals to you? When I was younger and noticed houses bordered in thorn bushes, I felt that the owners were clear that visitors should beware. Perhaps I am complicating a simple issue of water consumption in relation to available time for maintenance, but really.... who puts cactus in their yard anyway?

Realizing Me

Where is your blog? Hmmm... not sure. Thank you for noticing. Sometimes you feel like your ranting to yourself. Where did it go? I told myself that I was going to focus the summer on my girls. They are only young once and I want to live in the moment not write about it. Yet, I love to write. How could I rationalize that writing would in any way detract from my enjoyment first hand? I do have to admit with 2 children under four it is very hard to write, but I have so much to say... doesn't take very long. What was the reason? I opened up the blog and saw it glaring like bright red paint on a white wall. Where was I in the blog? I am a mother and I am searching for my identity, but where was I?

I guess I felt like a student in a creative writing class who loved free writing, but was constrained by the class objectives. I felt limited by the theme of motherhood, probably because I felt constrained by the role of motherhood. The negotiation of the role of mother is so overwhelming at times that it overshadows the other roles I have (daughter, sister, friend, wife, teacher) which are also inextricably part of who I am. To me, self is ever changing. Self is the culmination of your experiences, relationships, perceptions, values from which emerges your concept of mother. The one to which you strive to be and evaluate your successes and in turn, your failures. The concept changes as you change. It does not just emerge from you experiences as mother, rather it emerges from your experiences in each of your roles. Therefore, in order to discuss "Mother," you need to discuss the whole woman and the world in which she occurs.

Can't you just feel the difference? I am a mostly stay at home mom who has an alter ego. My alter ego is a college adjunct professor. I go from dealing with the low level concepts of a four year old to the higher cortical conversations of the college classroom in a matter of moments. It has a profound effect on my perception of the world around me. It is part of what makes me imperfectly me.