Man Alone

dreamstime_8445313-1.11x1.67inBorn alone. Live alone. Die alone. That’s the trinity of man alone. Someone has said that God is an imaginary friend.. Consider that the Imagination may not be only a childish behavior. It is certainly the life and spiritual blood of the artist, philosopher and theologian. Consider that Imagination, while something other than reason and logic, may be another pathway to another kind of knowledge, knowledge of the intuition and aesthetic faculties. Some say the Story of Jesus is a fairy tale. Fairy tales work when “adult” truth is beyond a child’s mind. We have to “grown into wiser thoughts” What are we to a Divine Mind, but children, humans alone. Fairy tales help chase away the loneliness of a child. Later on art does it. Man has invented fables throughout his entire existence. Is that drive somehow a testimony to the fact that we are not alone? If we are only creatures of logic, reason and science, we neglect the possibilities in the non-rational, non-logical and non-reasonable. Truly we must be as little children.  David Milliken
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The Beauty by Thomas Hardy | Poetry Cat

The Beauty

A poem by Thomas Hardy

O do not praise my beauty more,

In such word-wild degree,

And say I am one all eyes adore;

For these things harass me!

But do for ever softly say:

“From now unto the end

Come weal, come wanzing, come what may,

Dear, I will be your friend.”

I hate my beauty in the glass:

My beauty is not I:

I wear it: none cares whether, alas,

Its wearer live or die!

The inner I O care for, then,

Yea, me and what I am,

And shall be at the gray hour when

My cheek begins to clam.

via The Beauty by Thomas Hardy | Poetry Cat.

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Overcoming Imposter Syndrome

dreamstime_8445313testIt starts with recognising it in yourself and others. Imposter syndrome can be defined as a collection of feelings of inadequacy that persist despite evident success. ‘Imposters’ suffer from chronic self-doubt and a sense of intellectual fraudulence that override any feelings of success or external proof of their competence. They seem unable to internalize their accomplishments, however successful they are in their field. High achieving, highly successful people often suffer, so imposter syndrome doesn’t equate with low self-esteem or a lack of self-confidence. In fact, some researchers have linked it with perfectionism, especially in women and among academics.

via Overcoming Imposter Syndrome.

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Thank You, Kansas City Royals!

It’s what the Royals did for all of us that matters now. And what they will do tomorrow and tomorrow. Today we are all Kansas Citians, living in a magnificent city.  Thanks, Royals, you’re no fly over team and we love you. Because of you the world knows about our stuff: tough, persistent, persevering, resilient; and the way we go about our work — whistling.  It all goes back to the men and women who busted this sod, year after year after year through drought, blizzard, blazing sun and wind.  Be Royal!  Miss ya already, but see you next Spring.  Be Royal!

David Milliken

 

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Stubbornness

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We associate stubbornness with mules, donkeys, fathers, mothers, bosses and other rusty nuts that won’t break loose.  When stubborn bolts will not give, we turn to penetrating oil or “looseners.”  Sometimes we resort to a strong, gripping pipe wrench and wind up twisting the bolt in two.  If feasible we cut the bolt with a hack saw.  After that we can only resort to a cutting torch which forces us to find a skilled person.  Somewhere along the trajectory from initial confidence of success to outright despair in failure, we hit the son-of-a-bitch with a sledge hammer — most likely damaging the greater apparatus we are trying to repair.

This is the material dimension.  The other dimension is that of human character traits where the issue involves something else like money, choosing a vacation venue, putting off filling an emptying gas tank, not stopping for directions, and clear up to issues related to divorce, going to war, appeasement, political fanaticism, even using the car tonight et cetera.

Before I go on I must exclude Tortoise from any mention under this topic. You see, the tortoise, because he is slow and often inert, may seem to be stubborn.  Further, due to constitutional vulnerability, he or she is a peacemaker, a “go along kind of creature.”  Tortoises are persistent and persevering as I have often said; steadfast, too, but steadfastness ranks with the best of virtues.  True, tortoises like most animals resist change and find security in resisting change.

We superior humans have similar needs.  Stubbornness in its more benign aspect begins in Missouri where people expect to be convinced of needful change.  That’s just healthy and mere skepticism.I My experience has been that  often those most likely to take up a simple, mindless solution are also the most stubborn in their adherence to dogma.

Now if,  a child or a spouse has experienced a lot of change, even upheaval in job turmoil, she’s likely to shy away from more of it, particularly in opposition to yet another hare-brained scheme.  If a couple experiences the turmoil together, they will share a obstinate stubbornness to any change.

I know of no bolt loosener that will work on a stubborn human being.  Unfortunately when the stubborn get their way, it is only crisis that opens their minds, even if then.  The stubborn also have a felicity for scapegoating and blaming their folly on someone or something else.  Eventually battle royale breaks out.  The only penetrating I know is patience, love and understanding.

David Milliken

 

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John Williams’ “Stoner,” an Academic Novel Review

dreamstime_8445313testAn academic novel, assuredly but it feels like Dreiser, too.  William Stoner is not a tragic hero, but his pathos is poignant.  Stoner hails from the country around Booneville, Missouri, where he was born into a rugged, hard-working farm family in 1891.  He works the land with his parents, but finds his way to the agricultural college at the University of Missouri just down the road.  Thanks to a required course, Stoner discovers English literature and unbeknownst to his parents changes his field. His uncomprehending parents accept this change which will only increase their own drudgery.

Stoner, after the callouses of field work are gone, discovers a new kind of drudgery as his own indiscreet behavior causes Hollis Lomax, a vindictive department head to condemn him to a taxing schedule of undergraduate courses and relentless grading of freshman composition.  By this time he has become a senior professor and by tradition should be working with doctoral students.  Like his stoical father back on the farm, Stoner bears up, but the opportunity for pav back does come for Stoner.

The farmer’s son makes a very bad marriage to a banker’s daughter, a mean, selfish, frigid  princess.  Again, Stoner suffers her cruelty stoically compensated only by his love for his daughter.  A beautiful affair with a young teacher brings him joy for a time.

Williams places Stoner into the very realistic world of academic politics as accurate today as in the early 20th century.  Ultimately professors have jobs to do like everyone else.  There is nothing really special about being a professor.  If Stoner is a hero, it is not because he completes with glory an agenda of Herculean tasks.  It is because he meets despair and death with stoicism that touches the sublime.

David Millken

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Atheist, Agnostic, Deist, Spiritualist: Love

dreamstime_8445313testI know I am not an atheist.  To say that God doesn’t exist is like saying God does exist  I mean in terms of rational logic and scientific proof.  Enough people have tried and failed for me to regard the debate as entertainment. I do know that both the rational and non-rational exist.

Take a novel like Moby Dick.  Reason and rationality are not Captain Ahab’s best traits. A huge white whale is not an evil.  Yet Moby Dick is full of truth and falsehood, brotherhood and hate — pretty much empirical realities of this world.  The clash of both, too, is real.  Compulsive obsession is there, too.

The agnostic takes no stand regarding the existence of God, neither denies or affirms.  In the terms of mere reason I can buy this view.  Don’t presume to know where logical knowing is impossible.  The deist and his notion that God made a clock, wound it up, set it on a shelf and then walked off is fiction.  One can believe in a fiction. Fiction can tell the truth.

In a non-institutional sense spirituality works best for me — so long as I don’t turn it into an -ism.  There’s plenty of spirituality in every major religion of the world, plenty of spirit in art where music, poetry, painting, and fiction can evoke awe and wonder, beauty and sublimity.  They can lift us to the very brink of belief in Something beyond our material world.  It’s here that I go to Keats and his idea of Negative Capability, the idea that all we need to know is truth, beauty.  But we must not force either into some simple notion given us by fact and reason alone or some dogma.  And that means science, too.  We shouldn’t worship Imagination either.  Best to listen to the heart and keep our wits about us.  What’s more irrational than Love?

Steadfast and cautious,

David Milliken

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The Tortoise Factor has a New Look and Feel.

dreamstime_12228042-50x50-2.jpgBecause I loved the teal look and my little sea tortoise(above) swimming to the light above the sea’s surface, I found it difficult to change my header..  Tortoise is on the beach now and the tones are earthy.  Now, I really like the tracks of other tortoises who have left their trail in the sand and the youngster who is making new tracks.  And this time there are two humans in the scene.  I think the image invites a lot of thought and feeling..  Comments appreciated.  What do you think the humans are discussing?

Steadfast and cautious,

David Milliken

 

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Upon Finding My Father’s Masonic Bible: Fulness of Joy

I’ve often ventured down behind the furnace where I’ve stashed a lot of old books. Today I came across a Bible, given to my father in 1950 on some Masonic occasion. The faded light blue King James Version fell open to some prayers of David.

Recently I had come across Psalm 16:11, “Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures forevermore.” And so I read the eleventh verse and then I read the previous ten. Being seven decades into the a path of life myself, I had to ask if the Lord had shown me the path of life. I am still contemplating that question so I have no answer yet.

Like many people living in 2014 I have been mostly secular. One thing I know. David when he sought God’s preservation, wasn’t thinking much about a new iPad, PC or even a new Hyundai. And unlike me and my greatest recent pleasure, he wasn’t thinking much about the recent path of the Kansas City Royals. And yet we know that David, the King had his comparable pleasures. So in certain other moods, he thought of the “fulness of joy,” a far more profound and sacred joy than mere entertainment or even success. Such contemplations are very far from our amused minds these days. Or are they? Do the current atrocities like beheadings and devastating diseases like ebola make us long all the more for some transcendent joy? Of course, and that is why we make so much of little things like pennant races and Rose Bowls.

All I know for certain is that my trip down to the furnace room was worth it. I am thinking about the “fulness” of many things right now. David Milliken

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