Wool And Water: Who’s Fleecing Whom?

“Can you do addition?” the White Queen asked.
“What’s one and one and one and one and one
and one and one and one and one and one?”
“I don’t know,” said Alice. “I lost count.”
– Lewis Carrol (Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There)


I ask you … is inconsistency the only thing consistent in your life? Is ambling through life with no real purpose seem to be the norm for you? Does getting through the day seem to be both a tall order and the order of the day?

Turbulent times, indeed! I’m reminded of the old Chinese toast that chimes, “May you live in interesting times”. Of course, the saying actually reflects a curse … but then I guess it’s all how you interpret it. Still, a devil’s advocate might suggest that going all ‘Pollyanna’ would most likely mean that something has gotten lost in the translation! Yes, it’s often hard to know what to believe and more importantly what to think.

It’s been diffcult for me to write as of late because all manners of things have been flying fast and furious in my life. Personal upheaval, a.k.a ‘change’ is quickly looming larger on yonder future’s horizon. Meanwhile, a steady stream of daily distractions continue to buffet any real attempt I have to get a grasp on where my life is headed, or even the tasks I need to manage on a day to day basis. At times, I feel like I’ve been caught in the midst of a sudden hurricane; the wind gusts mercilessly, and as much as I want to run for shelter, I’m stuck in a crouching position in a vain attempt to defy the forces of nature, so as not to get blown away. Isn’t that the case? It seems in times of struggle we rarely go with the flow, but instead try to feign the ‘immovable object’ knocking heads with the ‘irresistible force’.

Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas any more.

I’ve often written about chaos and consider it an absolute variable in the creative process. In this respect, Bob Dylan was once quoted as saying “chaos is a friend of mine”. By the same token, Henry Miller, one of my favorite authors, claimed that “Chaos is the score upon which reality is written”. Too true.  For an artist, the endeavor to create is sometimes a matter of riding out the storm and seeing where you land … and also how far you’ve been thrown!

Sometimes, you get ‘thrown for a loop’. Yes, life has a funny way of sucking you up into a whirlwind of incoherence. When twisting in the winds of bedlam and mayhem, it’s easy to lose not only your bearings, but also your system of beliefs and values. Unfortunately, there are always some who are there to guide you, promising enlightenment. Of course, the caveat is that you must ‘believe’; you must swallow what you are told, hook, line and sinker.

Sometimes what you are being asked to swallow is harsh. Sometimes it comes in the form of a bitter pill … others times, as in the case with economically strapped Greece and the EU’s austerity measures, it comes in the form of a suppository. Regardless, to experience the magic you are told you need to move out of your comfort zone and take the bitter medicine. And so, you begin to actually think that you are … sick.

Wool and Water

In ‘Alice Through The Looking Glass’, the White Queen admonishes Alice to practice the art of believing in ‘impossible things’. She claims “When I was younger, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

Indeed, many will advise us to just accept the unacceptable and believe the impossible. In religious circles this is called having ‘blind faith’. For con-artists, used car salesmen and politicians this is referred to as ‘trust’. I think you know where I’m going with this. Often, pulling the wool over your eyes and baptizing you in the waters of … well whatever it is they are selling … go hand in hand. Salvation and enlightenment, after all, do not come without a price.

Yet, I am a glutton for punishment. At times I want to be saved. I want to make sense of the nonsense. On some occasions, I think that in some twisted way we desire or need a leader to lead us from out of bondage and into a promised land. But trust for some does not come easily. And so, I bought a book to read to help me ‘think’.

Think Different! (It’s all in your head, you see) 

These days I’ve been reading Napoleon Hill’s classic, ‘Think and Grow Rich‘, apparently a progenitor of Rhonda Byrnes’ bestselling book, as well as elaborate infomercial for her product line, The Secret. Both books espouse the idea that thought and wilful action help to realign various properties in the universe, physical, metaphysical, or otherwise, to one’s benefit. They ask you to buy into the idea that mental and physical habits will help the universe somehow bend itself to do your bidding. The authors ask you to distend your belief in the way things really work in regards to luck, karma, fate, and many other assorted synonyms for ‘reality’ (i.e., the way it is).

Of course, the devil’s advocate in me says “what a lot of crap!”, so you might ask why I’d be reading such a book in the first place. It’s because, like with the X-Files, I want to believe. I want to deny that which is perfectly obvious and find even some modicum of truth in the unbelievable.  I want to defy the expectations that have been inbred into me. Yes, I desire change. I want change. I desperately need change.

There are days when I sense ‘the end’ is near or that ‘rock bottom’ is rising up to meet me. Maybe it’s the artist in me, therefore, that desires to think outside the box … or more precisely to think my way out of the box I find myself trapped in. It’s all too easy to see why ‘hope’ is such a great commodity to sell; it’s the final straw we might grasp at before we slip into an abyss of self-immolation.

I’ve often said that even in their final moments, even some atheists may believe in God. There is some part of us that wants to believe … not necessarily in God … but in something more than just ourselves. This is for the simple reason that we just don’t seem to have all the answers. (pregnant pause) What a load of crap!

Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires

I’d venture to say that 9 out of 10 times we DO have the answers. We DO have the power to change our destiny. So the real answer to the question of how we affect change in our lives is to start believing in ourselves. We need to stop denying ourselves our passions. We need to stop repressing our thoughts and start engaging in what brings us happiness, harmony, and contentment. We need to stop chastising ourselves for our perceptions because they may not be in sync with others. We need to embrace our individual differences and give ourselves credit for what and who we are … and in some cases how we think.

We need to stop letting others force a game on us, whoever they be and regardless of their ‘powers’. We need to stop being afraid of others … but most of all, we need to stop being afraid of ourselves. We don’t need to excuse ourselves. We don’t need to stand in line like sheep. We don’t need to take orders. And we certainly don’t need to place certain others before us … especially when they could care less about us in the first place. We need to embrace those we love and those who love us. We need to decide for ourselves what and who is significant and insignificant to us. We don’t need to be told what to think, what to cherish, who to know or love, how to act or what to believe.

Ok, in all actuality, believing in yourself is not always an easy field to sow. It may require hard work and a quest for self-knowledge. In truth, we may even need to first define and qualify what the ‘truth’ actually is and what it means to us! However, once we find it, we need to stop fleecing ourselves out of the satisfaction that we may have known it all along.  

Lastly, as a point of beginning, I can tell you one thing for certain: as much as it’s true that ‘only you can prevent forest fires’, it’s also true that only you can light a fire under your butt to get you going wherever it is you want to go. And, wherever that may be … may the road rise up to meet you and may the wind be ever at your back.


Suggested Reading:

Think and Grow Rich The Secret 100 Ways to Boost Your Self-Confidence: Believe In Yourself and Others Will Too The Art of Non-Conformity: Set Your Own Rules, Live the Life You Want, and Change the World

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