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How is it that our society has advanced in so many ways yet we remain controlled.  Through the ages there have been ‘the masses’ and most of us are it.  I have to laugh when someone proclaims that ‘people are stupid, they are sheep’ yet that, most times, includes them.

It is true that we are enslaved in so many ways, but my thoughts at the moment of massive lay offs, my own included, is jobs.  We seem to desperately attach ourselves to a JOB as if it is a life saver, when most of them are really ‘life’ killers.  For those who love routine, there is usually that aspect that pleases them, but not all people crave routine, or the same desk, parking place, limited tasks….monotony.  We’ve all seen the movies of people becoming more drone-like and once or twice I found that I had to pause on my 8+ minute journey from my car to my desk, and as I looked around everyone seemed to have the same dull look on their face, carrying briefcases and bags or dragging a piece of luggage that carried the work they took home.

More than one of us in our drone-like state has said or agreed that it’s not the job that keeps me here it’s the people…..  well, there’s one thing.  I believe we can make friends with many people in many circumstances and I have many wonderful, long-time friends that I have met through the corporate environment, but I’m hoping those friendships don’t keep me at a job that does not serve me (and I hope that for others too).  And… when you work in one of the higher paying industries, you constantly hear that ‘you can’t make this kind of money anywhere else!’  And everyone shakes their heads in agreement.  Yet, most of them are in trouble financially, living paycheck to paycheck.  Uh-oh, so the job is boring, the pay is not a healthy exchange, but ‘it’s the best you can do’??

Perhaps these massive lay offs that are happening in the US will create an opportunity for more people to awaken from their half-sleep.  I see many who are very afraid to be let go from this treadmill, but many are using this lay off to either think and work outside their box, or at least expand the boundaries of their box.  Those of us in this lay off spot may find that we now have different needs and may even slog forward to create businesses that fulfill these new needs.

Understanding that most people feel that jobs provide security, I still say that a lay off may be scary, but one may be able to create a better security for one’s life and family outside the confines of Corporate Amerika.  Each year large corporations are cutting health care coverage, 401K contributions, pensions and most other benefits especially for the non-exempt employees.  The security of one good job for 30 years is all but gone.  It could be time for even the most scared employee to ‘cut your losses’ and really find ways to make life more independent and interconnected instead of more and more dependent on some entity that cares nothing for ‘the masses’.

I, for one, am looking forward to a few months to recreate my life to fit into more of a community effort than a serfdom.  Somewhat scary, but 1) I didn’t choose it, and 2) it could be the greatest thing to happen to me.  Onward and Upward!

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For every different person there is probably a different way to grieve.  I remember before I ever lost someone immediate family type close to me it all seemed like it should or would be the same – crying, being sad and wearing black.  But I was in my early 30s or so when my uncle died suddenly.  I thought my aunt would just die with him, she loved him so much.  But then a few weeks later she just went traveling to California on a vacation….yo, what’s up with that!?  I thought you were supposed to be sad for a longer time than that.  Well, of course, she was still sad and her visit to CA was probably previously planned but this threw me for a loop.  One could not ask for a more calming life lesson than this.  I would never doubt her love for him and I know she still misses him dearly, but her way to grieve was to step away from the experience and see what life was like from this new perspective and why not see it from California!?!  This lesson showed me that everyone grieves differently and no one can judge whether or not another is grieving enough or properly.

As I mentioned in my first post, my big sister died last year; in fact, it was a year ago yesterday.  I wish I could have gone to CA for a vacation.  Well, of course, I could have.  I just wish I did go.  But I just went with the flow and stayed here in Pennsylvania for this past year.  When Dad died in ’91 I was living in CA, so went home to CA.  That may have been easier.  Being here near too many reminders of her and family and all that ‘reminder stuff’ may have made this the more difficult time….but even within our own lifetime, we grieve differently for different people at different times in our lives.

Where does that leave us? or even just me?  Eh, who knows.  Life is an interesting endeavor and I feel like I’ve lived a few lifetimes so far.  They are all very interesting.  There was that one where I drank alot and went out to parties and bars with my friends…alot.  There was the one when I was living in CA totally on my own and living a nice, somewhat simple life, working, meeting friends for breakfast or dinner, learning Kenpo Karate with Jeff Speakman, working at the Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum in Topanga.  That was an interesting one too.  Then there was that one where I went back to college in my 40s.  So, one might still wonder, where does that leave…or perhaps lead me?

To here and now, I guess.  And tomorrow, it could be a different here and obviously a different now.  And so on and so on….  Well, it leads me to or just reminds me of a thought Carolyn came to one day.  She shared with me that someone looked at how terrible their life was and said out loud ‘How did I end up here?’  Now this was a thought provoking moment for Carolyn and she said “Well, that was just plain stupid!  What did he mean ‘end up’ when he was alive and could be somewhere else tomorrow?  Hopefully somewhere better!!”  She was incredulous!  End meant End and that person wasn’t dead, he could change his circumstances at any time.  She decided to make some good changes in her life at that moment; and that she did.  Things shifted, though, and she did end up dead from cancer at age 57.  How did she end up there?  Well, I doubt she asks that question from where she is.

It is my belief that she is doing something else and only ended this human life.  And she can probably do something else tomorrow.

So, I’m taking her as inspiration to do something different tomorrow, like she thought that guy should do and like Aunt Irene did.  It will be something of my choosing and probably somewhat within my price range, but something interesting nonetheless.

And as John Lennon said ‘Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans’ so I think I’ll work with life and see if my plans fit, even while I grieve.

Everything is Sacred

Most of us are raised to keep holy the Sabbath, or some version of that.  Keep at least one day sacred.  In Pennsylvania we used to have ‘Blue’ laws and one was (something to the effect) that businesses were closed on Sundays.  This meant no shopping especially, but it has been so long ago that they have been overturned that I can hardly remember the simplicity this offered our lives.  This was probably more directed toward a Christian based society that I grew up in, but I’m sure there were Jews and Muslims who lived in PA.  I never really thought about them then because I didn’t know any.

Now I’m an Interfaith Minister, on purpose.  I choose to celebrate all religious practices based in Peace and Joy and Love.  Every single week brings some sacred idea to celebrate and to ponder.  I now know that Muslims pray ‘at least’ 5 times a day.  That makes sacred at least 5 snipets of every single day.  That was the one concept that really meant something special to me of all the spiritual teachings I have learned in my entire life.  How is it that we ‘fit in’ our spirituality on a Sunday morning or a Saturday night for an hour or two?  How do we make meaningful every other hour until we participate in that weekly ritual of going to some house of worship?  How do we?

Do we at least bless our food? ..say our prayers before we go to sleep or as we awaken?  Mindfully bless a person who just stopped their little heart with a sneeze?  Do we bless as much as we curse?  I don’t mean those curse words like Damnit!, Oh Hell, Son of a Bitch, or the occasional F-bomb…I mean when we curse the person who just pulled out in front of us, or that stupid menu when you call the phone company (please listen carefully as our menu has changed….Are You Kidding ME?  I don’t have time for this!!)….or that jerk taking up two parking places…

I’m betting you won’t feel like blessing them right after you curse them, but I’m beginning a habit of listening to myself when I curse that person taking up two parking places in front of my house which means I have to park two blocks away.  I tell myself that I can bless the fact that I have 2 working legs that could use the exercise and my lungs will be better for it too…especially if I have to carry all my groceries those two blocks.  As I said, I’m ‘beginning’ this practice and I don’t always catch myself, but it helps me to also begin to make every second sacred.

I’m feeling a little more contemplative these days..perhaps it’s a phase I’m going through, perhaps it’s winter…perhaps it is the Shift of the Ages.  No matter.  I decided to work it for any ounce of knowledge or wisdom I can glean.  Every second is nothing if not sacred and special and precious.  Everything extends from that.  We are all made up of the same ‘stuff’ – stuff like molecules and atoms and such.  Helps me to realize that We ARE All One.  There is a reason we are here and this is the perfect time of year to go within and contemplate that our individuality is a part of the Whole.

Why start another damn blog?  So what if I have discovered WordPress?  Everybody seems to have a freakin’ blog.   And who cares if I feel the need to impart my wisdom to our ever-growing cyberneighborhood?  Well, in that regard I must say that I’m ever so excited that more and more people are blogging.  Our world is instantly expanded, depending on how interesting we are.  That goes for the blogger and those who comment (both generate conversation and AHA! Moments).  And being a Gemini, I celebrate the diversity of bloggers’ topics.

The first version of ‘Thoughts and Philosophies’ was created by my big sister, Carolyn Manning.  Cancer ended her travels on this 3D Earth plane in February, 2009, yet I feel that we have not heard the last from her.  Perhaps that will be through my including some of her writings into this blog.  Carolyn named her blog “Thoughts and Philosophies” and I could think of no better title for my own, so I am hoping to continue the expansion of Carolyn’s passion and not just steal her title.  Perhaps it was lack of imagination on my part but I felt a need to connect hers and mine.  Before she died, we had begun a discussion of how I could join her in her blog adventure where my concentration would be directed toward Arts and Spirituality, two of my passions, and she would concentrate on the Business aspects.

I am connected to a very large number of creative people whose websites and blogs and work I plan to share here.  This society does not value Art or Spirituality to the extent it does Math and Science, but it’s been proven that we need them all.  We are a world of multifaceted human beings, no limits.  Let’s explore where those damn little walls are and keep pushing them further until they are eliminated.  We might even get to the point where we examine the Art and/or Spirituality of Math and Science.  I know it’s there!

We are living in unprecedented times.  Let’s create what we want, reach for the Moon AND the stars, and open up even more lines of communication and maybe use more than that 10% of these brains.  What the heck do we have to lose??