Tension / release

This is a lesson from yoga that I might have learned any time in the last 50 years, but I have not until last week.

For me, every microeffort involves unnecessary tension and anxiety. I am just now training myself to let that go.

Activities from moment to moment involve tiny goals. For example,

  • Typing a word
  • Getting a forkful of food to my mouth without spillage
  • Reaching for an object at the edge of my range
  • Feeling around foethe spoon in the wicker basket beside my bed

All through my life, each tiny objective has involved anxiety/release. A tiny shot of adrenalin. Holding my breath. Tension. Perhaps my other arm is held unconsciously in the air for the duration.

This doesn’t help me attain my microgoal, but it distorts my inner life.  I have begun training myself to change the habit.

Precursors and premonitions

The earliest preparation was just a year earlier. I swam slowly on my back across the lake and decided to ask Enid to marry me.

Enid has loved me better than anyone in my life, even better than Alice, my wife of 20 years, whose love was extraordinary, and didn’t end when our marriage ended. It was my love for Enid that was imperfect. I never fully respected her, and love was tied in my mind to admiration. Enid sensed this and kept breaking up with me, always coming back, But this had been one of our longest separations. What I realized in the lake was that I could make a full commitment to her.

As soon as I got out of the lake, I called her from my cell, and wasted no time tendering my proposal.

Silence. Minute after minute. I got in the car, started driving home, letting her take all the time she needed to respond. At length she figured out what was happening — her phone had been on mute. Sde had delivered a long speech about how she needed to feel loved, Commitment was not enough. I had heard not a word.

Another 11 months passed, our longest separation. This past June, Enid sent me a biographical essay, self-examining her own failures to find love over a lifetime. She mentioned in the essay that there was a new man in het life from online dating. Tom loved her passionately and wanted to go full speed ahead.  Enid liked him and was attracted to him, but she was holding back because Tom has not aged well because of an auto accident that limits his physical mobility.. He will never be able to hike or cycle or swim with her.

I immediately called Enid and spent 2 hours on the phone with her as I walked through the wooded park near my home. I listened and skillfully encouraged her to access deeper feelings. I told her I wanted her to be happy, even if it wasn’t with me. She said that’s not  the kind of love she wanted. She wanted me to br jealous. We worked on that one, back and forth. I had worked hard to delegitimize my jealousy through a lifetime. I think of jealousy as a perversion of love. But to Enid, jealousy was a mark of true love.

I encouraged Enid to try giving her heart fully to Tom for one week, to see how that worked out. She said she would not so that. I said that, fit as I am, I could be completely disabled tomorrow.

(That was the punchline.)

A few days later, I was invited to DC by some political allies. I thought, this could be my excuse to see Enid, who lives nearby. I wrote to her, said I was planning to be in her area, asked if I might visit her. She wrote bak a 3-letter reply. I was so excited I couldn’t sleep.

We had a short, blissful reunion. I was over the top in love like a teenager. I called and wrote to her constantly, told her that I was feeling the passion she always had wanted from me. She spent the weekend with Tom. 

One more presentiment. My beloved family doc who has worked with me 20 years was bugging me by email to get vaxed. I wrote back to her that the adverse events from the mRNA vaccines were through the roof. She wrote to me that risks of bicycling were much higher. I responded, “I’m well aware that bicycling is the most dangerous thing I do.” 

That was 2 days before my accident. 

Enid visited me in the hospital 2 full days. She is fully committed to my care and rehabilitation.

Pain and healing

Going into my 2nd biggest surgery in a few hours. Strangely, fear has not been an issue, and is not now. There was a moment in the ambu;ance when I thought the easy thing would be to die and reincarnate,but I knew I would not choose the easy path. I want to render service during an unfolding world crisis.

All my life I have avoided drugs that affect the CNS. In particular, pain meds and anesthetics. I am carrying this conscious approach into my hospital stay. I have managed pain with Tylenol only. I have been off Tylenol 3 days.

This is not about courage or heroics. I’m managing as I know how, and have had extraordinary help from my own body. 

I believe that pain consciousness is part of healing. The body heals best with the help of awareness of pain. My body has directed my attention from moment to moment, just where it can be of most help.

My new life, Chapter 1

I’m back at Daily Inspiration, telling my story as I am able.

A week ago Wednesday 7/21, my guardian angels decided I was ready for a new set of life lessons.

Bicycling head down on a very familiar route, I was struck head on by a truck that pulled out to pass. One piece of spectacularly bad news. Everything since has been good, miraculously good.

Obviously the expectation is that I would die instantly. That didn’t happen. The first real miracle was that my body flying through the air knew exactly how and where to take the hit. Guardian angels? This was not part of my vocabulary previously, but now I’ll use this language and try to understand.

My vital systems were completely unharmed. Heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, spine, CNS, brain. All untouched. Small concussion, from which I bounced back.

My legs were shredded. Huge chunks of bone sticking through the skin. Flesh and muscle ripped up. Both legs shattered below the knee, But the knees themselves  Knee replacements are tricky for ortho surgery, and Doctors tell me I’m going to have my own knees. Broken radius, left wrist. Some missing bone. Piece of cake for the hand surgeon who will set it tomorrow.

The point is that everything that is wrong with me is in areas where Western medicine is brilliant. I’ve written extensively about limitations in the conceptual foundations of Western medicine. But trauma is where Western med shines.

Enough for my first installment. They talk to me about full recovery. 

Prayer in a Time of Transformation

In this time of unraveling and reweaving the human fabric,
May all passions of my heart draw me into collective truth.
Guide my acts in service to the diversity and unity of life,
Connect me with bonds of love, learning and cooperation;
And, to the extent it does not distract me from my calling,
Grant me a vision of the full tapestry in its effulgent glory.
JJM, 7/21/20
Lake of the Woods, CA

Time lapse plant movies

Michael Pollan, writing at New Yorker, shows us how plants have goals and behaviors that are calculated to achieve them. We don’t see it because we don’t have patience to sit and watch them long enough to appreciate their time scale.

Not only do they sense their environment without sense organs and process information without neural networks; they also have a sixth sense of what’s going on far from home.

In the above video pea plants reach for a support pole. They seem to know not only that the pole is there, just beyond their reach, but also that there’s a competitor vying for the same pole.

We must stop regarding plants as passive objects—the mute, immobile furniture of our world—and begin to treat them as protagonists in their own dramas, highly skilled in the ways of contending in nature —- Michael Pollan 

The Oldest Extant Art

Deep inside the limestone cavern are hundreds of highly animated wall paintings of bison, bear, ibex, lion, rhinoceros, hyena, wooly mammoth, and horse, “signed” by the red-ochre handprints of the artists. The darkly etched charcoal drawings were sketched in the cave’s smoothed chambers, their walls rounded and pocked from water’s eonic hollowing. In the space are also pudding-like towers of calcium drips, whose conical shapes record the geologic heaping of age. The images, now protected as a World Heritage Site, were done between thirty-thousand and thirty-three thousand years ago.

Thomas Larson at 3QD makes the case that the paintings were just one element of a multimedia environment used for entertainment or perhaps for ritual experiences.

Happy Birthday to PDQ’s Dad

It’s not easy to make people laugh with music. It’s not easy even to keep the listener’s interest. Peter Schickele knows this. I’d say that not since Rossini was there a composer whose central focus is to keep the listener entertained.

Of course, his own music has been overshadowed by his son, PDQ Bach.

What makes this funny? The easy laughs come from surprising shifts from classical counterpoint to boogy-woogy, or from string orchestra to pennywhistle. Another trick is to abuse the venerable practice of repetition until the listener wonders whether the needle is stuck on the old 33 lp. But the best of PDQ Bach’s humor is reserved for seasoned classical music buffs who recognize the far-flung quotations from the romantic repertoire that are prone to show up when least expected.

Charles Ives and Luciano Berio were previous masters of quotation from the classics, but their intent was not overtly humorous. What is the difference? And is there a clear line?

Much less well-known is the music that Schickele has published under his own name. I like to think that Schickele has learned a great deal from PDQ about how to hold keep the listener on his toes. Here is the first movement of his piano quintet, an action-packed minute and a half. (What is the counter-rhythm between piano and strings at the 30-second mark?)

Happy birthday, Peter PDQ Schickele-Bach, 86 years old today.

Collective intelligence, no neurons necessary

Slime mold occupies a funny in-between ground, not a single-celled organism nor a multi-celled organism. It’s a colony of single-cell amoebas that behaves in some way as a unified organism.

This week, an experiment came out of the Harvard laboratory of Niroshu Morugan. A slime mold colony on a petri dish senses its environment and makes a collective decision in which direction to move (by growing new cells).

There is some evidence about how the cells sense the environment, but none about how this information is communicated to the colony, or how the information is processed to support a decision. We haven’t a clue.

This experiment challenges our idea of what kinds of organisms can exhibit intelligent behavior.


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