Friday, October 25, 2019
Why I don't dye my hair and other thoughts on aging
My father's hair started turning gray in high school. It was pretty much white by the time I was born. Then he started losing it on top as well. But he never dyed it or went for the painfully bad comb over.
I asked him once why he didn't dye his hair. He was working at a warehouse at the time. He told me that one of his coworkers had gray hair and came to work with it dyed and everyone made fun of him (this was before such behavior would have triggered an HR witch hunt). So my father just accepted that his hair was white and lived with looking 20 years older than he was.
I think my hair started getting gray when I was in my 30s. It stayed relatively brown until I was in my late 40s. It is now a silvery white. And I have all of it. I suppose I have my mother to thank for that.
I have never considered dyeing my hair. Part of it is because of my father's anecdote. The other part is I think it is painfully obvious when a man in his sixties dyes his hair because it looks so unnatural. So I accept my hair color that makes me look like a grandfather because I am indeed old enough to be one.
Wednesday, October 23, 2019
Why we don't exist
If you Google "why we don't exist" you don't get nearly as long a list as you do when you Google "why do we exist." And none of it really speaks to why humans don't exist. If you Google "is life an illusion" you start down the path. But still it is mainly just a lot of mumbo jumbo.
"Mumbo Jumbo" btw comes from the Mandinka word, "Maamajomboo", which refers to a masked male dancer who takes part in religious ceremonies. It has come to mean, according to the Oxford Dictionary, "an object of senseless veneration or a meaningless ritual."
But I digress.
Being raised a Christian Scientist, I was told repeatedly by my mother that sickness and death were an illusion. Life in fact was an illusion and that we were neither born nor would we die. She'd point to circle on the cover of Science and Health with key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy (the founder of Christian Science) and ask me where it began and where it ended. Of course unless you see it drawn, a circle has no beginning or end. That is life, she'd say.
I have to say, I had a hard time buying the concept especially when my mom tried downplaying birthdays because she believed we were neither born or died. I also saw a lot of pets and family members die. So this concept of neither being born or dying didn't jive with what I was seeing going on. For the longest time I thought it was just because I wasn't a good enough Christian Scientist.
In retrospect, Christian Science is a bit like Buddhism and the concept that you can end the cycle of birth and rebirth by eliminating attachment and desire. Christian Scientists just think you do it by praying.
I was a Buddhist for a short time, too. But I was about as good at being a Buddhist as I was being a Christian Scientist.
Tuesday, October 22, 2019
Why we exist
Yesterday I waxed philosophical about time and ended pondering why we exist. I thought about it a bit and then did what everyone does these days. I Googled it. And there were tons of pages out there touting answers. But they created more questions than answers.
Most of it fell in the Hallmark realm with answers like to love, to make the world a better place, to be happy, to experience and to leave a legacy. Some just say we exist by accident. Some claim we exist because of a god and point to the bible as our user's manual. But as with most things on the web, everyone spoke with a great deal of conviction but very little evidence to back up their claims.
Because no one really knows.
I've been binge watching three seasons of The Good Place. It's a sitcom starring Ted Danson who plays a demon architect who creates an experimental hell to torture damned souls. His approach is psychological instead of literal torture. The plot centers around four people who are told they are in the good place but are actually in Danson's hell.
In the show, people are judged by everything they do in life. If they don't accumulate enough positive points, they go to the bad place. Danson tells his subject that only one person on earth ever came close to figuring out what happens after death and that was a guy who had taken mushrooms and had a vision in the woods. In the third season of the show Danson visits the man who had figured out the afterlife and discovers he is living a miserable experience because his sole purpose is trying to make other creatures happy in order to accumulate enough points to get to the good place once he died.
Monday, October 21, 2019
It is amazing the amount of effort (and time) we spend trying to kill or pass time. Granted, you do more of it in your inpatient youth because you can't wait for something to happen. It's not until you realize that you really don't have that much of it that you rethink the logic of trying to kill time.
In the past few months though, I've taken up doing jigsaw puzzles. I do it when I have time to fill. Because I do find myself spending a great deal of my limited time waiting for people. Doing the jigsaw puzzles exercises my brain while it occupies it. And I have to admit it is quite satisfying. But it is a bit disturbing when I finish one and the only thing to do is tear it apart and put it back in the box knowing I'll never redo it.
Life is kind of like a jigsaw puzzle.
Ironically, time is actually infinite, just not for people. Time has always been and always will be. But humans see it as linear and limited. In addition to trying to kill or pass it, that also try to save it. Sometimes in a bottle. But in a cosmic sense it surrounds us and doesn't just move forward.
Time just is. In a way, time is very much like the way people imagine a god would be.
Time travel has always intrigued people. I don't think it is possible. Because it would have to assume that time is like a river flowing forward and all you have to do is figure out is how to go against the current. But since most philosophers and physicists believe time isn't linear, there wouldn't be anyplace to go back to. You are just in one continuous now.
So what we do when we kill time is just kill "now" trying to get to "then". But then is just another now.
But still, as flesh and blood creatures, our bodies wear out over time. So it is little wonder we view time as a finite construct that can be measured and parsed out. It isn't time that we are killing, it is us.
This gets into a broader philosophic discussion of why we exist at all. But I'll leave that for another blog post as soon as I figure it out.
Thursday, October 10, 2019
To delete, or not to delete...
I pride myself on generally being able to begin writing with a germ of an idea and expanding it quickly into a cogent (if not necessarily entertaining) blog post without a lot of editing or rewriting. I may not be able to improvise playing music, but I have always seemed to be able to improvise writing on just about any subject.
But after 15 years and 1345 blog posts, I'm starting to notice that sometimes the stuff doesn't flow as easy as it used to. For one, I think I'm running out of things to say. Which is kind of ironic, because the blog post that prompted this one was one I just deleted called Talking about yourself. It was prompted by how I feel about blow hard's who can't talk about anyone but themselves. This led to a declaration that I don't really like talking, period.
Then I realized that all I generally do is blog about myself. So I deleted the post. Because sometimes even I can't deny how self-centered and boring some of my blog posts are.
This is where feedback (something I truly hate) would be nice. When people used to read my blog and comment, I at least had some indication that I was being entertaining or educational or thought provoking. But no one but spammers leave comments anymore. And the joke is on them. Since no one reads my blog, no one is reading their spam either.
I can take some comfort in that.
Reflecting on things, it is not just my blog that doesn't get comments. In day to day life I don't get much feedback anymore. I don't hear, "Nice haircut" or "You look nice today." I don't hear many "thank you's" or "you did a great job on that," either.
Part of that is the politically correct world we now live in where everyone is afraid to make any personal comment about anyone or anything. And part of it is that dreaded invisibility cloak age puts on me.
I am speaking at a conference at the end of the month. I keep getting marketing e-mails from them asking me to attend the conference and listing some of expert speakers who are going to be there to entice me to attend. Then they list me and show my photograph.
Now that's invisible.
Monday, October 07, 2019
I'm a little bit country...
I've been binge watching Ken Burns latest documentary series, Country Music. The series has eight episodes that incorporate 16-hours of content. It begins with the roots of what we think of as country music and traces its meandering path to present day country.
I watched all 16 hours and as usual, I was amazed at Ken Burns sense of detail and history. The series brought back a lot of memories and created a few more. It's not that I grew up listening to country music. But I grew up in what I think of as a country place. And as I root around in my family tree, my people were all from country places.
I listened to Hank Williams as a little kid. I didn't know it was Hank. I remember in particular listening to his song Jambalaya. I also listened to Tennessee Ernie Ford singing Sixteen Tons. That was pretty much the extent of the classic country that I knew. I did get exposed to some from watching television. I knew Roger Williams wrote King of the Road while staying in a sleazy motel in Garden City, a shady part of my hometown in Boise.
I also remember watching the Jimmy Dean show and thinking he looked and talked like a male version of my Aunt Irma. All of my many aunts and uncles talked country. It has a unique sound. It's slow and measured with a bit of a twang. It isn't southern, it's country. I think you can be from any state in the union and have a country accent. It's your people, not your place.
Friday, October 04, 2019
Inside my brain
I've been watching the documentary series, Inside Bill's Brain on Netflix. The brain it refers to is Bill Gates' brain. It has given me new respect for the man because I basically despise Microsoft and all of its products. But I appreciate what Gates has done with his charitable foundation once he stepped down from being the head of Microsoft (no pun intended).
I have to admit if I suddenly had billions of dollars being charitable wouldn't be my first thought. Oh, I'd eventually get there after exhausting all of the luxury things I could indulge in that I've never had before. After awhile I'd think of other things to do with the money. At least I think I would.
But it is painfully obvious that Bill Gates and my brains have very little in common. For one, although I am an introvert, I was never as socially inept as he apparently is. And although I was a voracious reader as a child and much of my early adulthood, I generally read fiction. Bill Gates is also a voracious reader but he reads non-fiction, dry as dirt stuff at the rate of 150 pages an hour and remembers 90 percent of it. I forget what I got up to go to the kitchen for.
I was a good student. I pretty much always got A's without studying too hard. Bill Gates apparently took a statewide math test before junior high and got the highest grade in the state. I hated math.
The one thing I have up on Bill and his brain is that I graduated from college. Bill dropped out and founded Microsoft. But he never finished college so that gives me a right to look down my nose at him even if his net worth hovers around the hundred billion level.
So I'm not a billionaire genius. Apparently you have to be pretty much on the spectrum to be considered a genius. So I'm wondering if it is really worth it to be a Bill Gates or Steve Jobs.
Okay if it means making billions of dollars I'd have to say yes. But it still hurts my brain to think about it.
Tuesday, October 01, 2019
I think it is difficult to have a realistic view of what you look like to others. Because what do you have to base it on other than mirrors and photographs. And those are notorious liars.
Add to the mix the games your brain plays converting signals from your eyes and you really don't have a true image of anything let alone yourself. And let's not forget the unrealistic standards given us by Hollywood and ad agencies for what we should look like.
I have never considered myself handsome. As a boy I was, what I overheard my mother tell someone on the phone, stocky. I remember being teased by some classmates in grade school about how fast I consumed my lunch. They then started saying I had a spare tire.
The spare tire disappeared in junior high. I was pretty skinny. That lasted into college. Along the way I had your typical teenagers battle with acne. And the style for hair at the time was long and pretty much unshaped.
I never had very good muscle tone. I wasn't athletic. I hated running. To this day I have skinny arms, huge calves and the spare tire has returned in a vengeance. I also have a big nose, big ears, a few double chins and crooked teeth. Oh and I have very gray, almost white hair.
Not a pretty picture.
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