what is value?

messages from the future #30

The difference between what is free and what is valued is directly related to availability.

The internet has made everything available.
Everything that is available is disposable.
Everything that is disposable is not valued.

What is the exchange rate on value?
Why has value disappeared?

Nothing Personal…Or Is It?

What if the good things you have have nothing to do with you?
What if there are a finite number of possibilities for good things to happen?
What if someone else suffers because of the good things you have?

I find these questions interesting. And they certainly fly-in-the-face of popular social thought that is reward driven. People don’t like to think about limitations. We live in a time when people want to think that there are limitless possibilities for good things to happen. But what if these popular ideas are incorrect?

What started me thinking about this was in my morning Bible reading. I read from (one of my least favorite books):

And when the Lord your God has thrust them from your path, say not your yourselves, “The Lord has enabled us to possess this land because of our virtues”; it is rather because of the wickedness of those nations that the Lord is dispossessing them before you. It is not because of your virtues and your rectitude that you will be able to possess their country; but it is because of their wickedness that the Lord your God is dispossessing those nations before you…. ~ Deuteronomy 9:4,5 (Jewish Publication Society Translation)

So let’s look at this in a broader context. Let’s look beyond the Judeo-centric idea of a “promised land” here. What if this applies to all of us and the good things we have? Now I hear people talk about how proud they are that they’ve worked so hard at this or that and have acquired this or that because of their efforts, their virtues and their goodness. These people are so “works” oriented that they forget that the good things they experience once belonged to someone else. We should be grateful for the good things we experience, however we define “good” and realize it has nothing to do with us. Many churches have fallen into this self praise approach and the whole “prosperity gospel” approach that has taken hold is about as unbalanced as it can get. Sure many Christians give lip-service to God but in their hearts it’s propaganda to show how much their god favors them for their virtues and goodness.

Now it is, admittedly, a little difficult to wrap ones head around the idea that if someone suffers loss it is because of their error but my gain has nothing to do with me. And that’s just one of many beautiful paradoxes in the Bible. Why does my goodness and virtue have nothing to do with the good things I experience? Well I see it like this – virtue and goodness is the norm it is what is natural (so much for the “born into sin” preachers). After all, when the world was created, when humanity was created, God did not create it already in a state of sin. When you were born, you were not born into “sin” or born to be a sinner. When you were born, God said the same thing “He” said when the world was created, “It is good.” You were born into good therefore goodness is what is natural. It takes effort to do wrong. And that’s why wrong-doing has the negative consequences of loss.
So this is why we should NOT look on our own virtue or goodness as something reward worthy. If we are virtuous or good we in our natural state of existence, as God intended.

The other part of this is to understand the displacement of good things. I’ve often said that we all bring our own suffering on ourselves. We are ultimately responsible for the loss we experience and the suffering we undergo. This is another thing that our culture will not want to hear. Why? Because no one wants to be responsible. People don’t want to feel responsible therefore people don’t take responsibility for their actions. They blame others. Ironically these are the same people that will tell you they are “entitled” to have good things. They are “owed” good things. They’re owed because”they’re good people at heart” or “they’re not bad people”. And the verses, quoted above, are the very antithesis of entitlement.

When bad things happen to us a result of our misguided, and/or wrong actions and thinking, others will benefit and have the good things that we previously enjoyed. Others don’t enjoy the good things because of what THEY did.

Now here’s the real clincher. God has so many good things he wants people to experience that even some people may benefit in spite of their wrong doing/thinking. Like the old saying in Matthew 5:45, God causes the sun to shine and the rain to fall on the just and unjust. Sun and rain are symbols of blessing, enlightenment and spirituality. So if we have and experience good things it has nothing to do with any merit we may think we possess. And if we lose something it is most likely because of what WE did or didn’t do.

Musical Menu

So are you stumped as to what to cook for lunch or dinner?
Have you started repeating yourself?
Do you needs some fresh menu inspiration?
Well you’ve come to the right place.
Here are some suggestions.

Fried Neckbones and HomeFries

Red Beans and Rice

Silence…IS…Golden

The video today is for a great girl band called Savages with their song “SHUT UP” from their debut album SILENCE YOURSELF.  This group “gets it”    Amazing lyrics and the spoken word introduction of the cover poetry is simply amazing!!! There is almost a Taoist feel to this.

Introduction
The world used to be silent
Now it has too many voices
And the noise
Is a constant distraction
They multiply, intensify
They will divert your attention
To What’s convenient
And forget to tell you
About yourself
We live in an age of many stimulations
If you are focused you are harder to reach
If you are distracted
You are available
You are distracted
You are available
You want flattery
Always looking to where it’s at
You want to take part in everything
And everything to be a part of you
Your head is spinning fast
At the end of your spine
Until you have no face at all
And yet
If the world would shut up
Even for a while
Perhaps
We would start hearing
A distant rhythm
Of an angry young tune –
And recompose ourselves
Perhaps
Having deconstructed everything
We should be thinking
Putting everything back together
Silence yourself

 

SHUT UP

TOO MANY TO CONVINCE
TOO MANY TO HIRE
AND NOTHING YOU EVER OWN
THE WORLD’S A DEAD SORRY HOLE
AND I’M COLD, AND I’M COLD
AND IM COLD, AND I’M STUBBORN
I’M SICK TO KEEP IT OPEN WIDE
AND SPEAKING WORDS TO THE BLIND

SPEAKING WORDS, TO THE BLIND
SPEAKING WORDS, TO THE BLIND

AND THE SOUL OF THE PURE
AND THE EYES OF THE LOVER
AND THE ONE WHO TRULY SAW YOUR SOUL
AND THE ONE WHO TRULY SAW YOUR SOUL

I’M THE ONE, WHO TRULY SAW YOUR SOUL
I’M THE ONE, WHO TRULY SAW YOUR SOUL

AND IF YOU TELL ME TO SHUT UP
AND IF YOU TELL ME TO SHUT IT
DID YOU TELL ME TO SHUT UP
OH IF YOU TELL ME TO SHUT IT
I’LL SHUT IT NOW

YOUNG, JUST BORN
FRAGILE AND TREMBLING SOUL
YOU HOLD IT TO THE LIGHT
THAT POURS DOWN THE MOON AT NIGHT
YOU KEPT ON HOLDING IT
YOU KEPT ON HOLDING IT
IT WAS A DANGEROUS THING TO DO
BUT YOU DID IT WHEN NO ONE KNEW
WHEN THE EYES WERE CLOSED
AND THE PEOPLE ASLEEP

NOT AN ANIMAL
NOT A HUMAN
NOT A SOUL
NOT A SOUL

AND IF YOU TELL ME TO SHUT UP
AND IF YOU TELL ME TO SHUT IT
DID YOU TELL ME TO SHUT UP
OH IF YOU TELL ME TO SHUT IT
I SHUT IT NOW

I AM A BREAKER OF OCEAN
LEADEN LIKE A BULLET TO THE SUN

I AM A BREAKER OF OCEAN
LEADEN LIKE A BULLET TO THE SUN, TO THE SUN, TO THE SUN…

Conform to Deform

[fyi – this is a repost from my previous blog from 11/2012]
CONFORMIST PARALLAX
conformist paralax

Another abstract creation derived 3 manipulated images taken during a walk along the towpath through an industrial area in Akron, Ohio. With Sunday normally being associated with conformist religion. It seems the perfect day to promote nonconformism. 😉 Be yourself.

Of course the key to all ideas is finding balance. It is possible to bend without losing ones identity. Balance and flexibility. Being able to absorb the questions, criticisms and observations of others without offense or fear will make us strong.

“The green reed which bends in the wind
is stronger than the mighty oak
which breaks in a storm.” – Confucius

“The little reed, bending to the force of the wind, soon stood upright again when the storm had passed over.” – Aesop

Feyd-Rautha: [whispers] You see… your death… my blade will finish you.
Paul Atreides: [thinks] I will bend like a reed in the wind.
– From the movie DUNE

“It would be easier to roll up the entire sky into a small cloth than it would be to obtain true happiness without knowing the Self.” – The Upanishads

I went to a psychiatrist once. I was doing something that had become a pattern in my life, and I thought, Well, I should go talk to a psychiatrist. When I got in to the room, I asked him, “Do you think that this process could, in any way, damage my creativity?” And he said, “Well, David, I have to be honest: it could.” And I shook his hand and left. – David Lynch from his book, CATCHING THE BIG FISH

“Sometimes restrictions get the mind going. If you’ve got tons and tons of money, you may relax and figure you can throw money at any problem that comes along…. But when you have limitations, sometimes you come up with very creative, inexpensive ideas.” – David Lynch from his book, CATCHING THE BIG FISH

Cabaret Voltaire – DIFFUSION from the original 1985 recording “GASOLINE IN YOUR EYE and also the collection CONFORM TO DEFORM’82/’90. ARCHIVE;

Does the USPS need to End?

So lately I’ve been wondering what’s up with the United States Postal Service (USPS). It seems that they are more intent on building job security for a continually failing system instead of actually delivering packages quickly and safely. There are many locations that have seen local postage sorting facilities close. One of the results of this is that packages are constantly being rerouted and there are longer delivery times as a result. If I mail a package in my city it can take 2 days longer for delivery than if I drive 5 minutes to the next town. And the only reason is that my city sends it’s mail to another location within the state for sorting. And these problems with the USPS are not just in my city or state. They are nationwide. 3 times now I’ve ordered merchandise online and following the tracking has been humorous and disconcerting. Here’s just two examples of what has happened recently.

1. I live in Ohio. The most recent fiasco is an order I placed on Amazon.com It was being shipped from New York. Ohio is is just 2 states west of New York. But what did I see when I followed the tracking id? The package was sent first to Missouri which is 3 states west of Ohio. So why did the USPS overshoot Ohio and send to Missouri before sending it back east to Ohio? Good question. It certainly is NOT economical – and they wonder why the USPS is losing money. It is adding additional days to the delivery time which is just poor service. And now it has overshot Ohio again and gone east to Pennsylvania. Oh by the way, I’m still waiting for this one to arrive. Maybe after a week or two the postal service will get tired of playing hopscotch with my mail.

2. On another order I had placed online. It was being shipped from Kansas. Something got all screwed up with the tracking id because it was tracking twice using the same tracking#. I had to laugh at the absurdity because the first time it tracked showed the package was delivered 2 months before I even ordered it. As if that wasn’t absurd enough, when the same tracking ID was re-tracked the route it took added two weeks to the delivery time. It was sent from kansas (4 states west of Ohio) to California (on the west coast), then to Texas and finally to Ohio. As it was, I could have driven to Kansas, picked up the package and driven back and had it sooner.

So what the Hell is going on?
Is the USPS just practicing job security for it’s employees and making the customer suffer?
I say it’s time to let the USPS die a natural death. Have those employees absorbed into alternate carrier systems (UPS, FEDEX, DHL, etc) and let’s get back to on-time, economical and efficient delivery. And the USPS postmaster general needs a new job altogether.
Meanwhile I’ll wait for my next package to be tracked to every state of the union before I actually get it.

3 ?s

Is it possible that we have over-read and over-interpreted the Bible?
Has over-reading lead to mis-interpretation and misunderstanding?
Have we missed the whole point?

Do What You Love? – Yeah, Right.

At the age of 53, I can tell you that I have had many jobs. And over the years I have read many job search books and spoken with job coaches. Every single job coach I’ve heard and every job search book I’ve read has said to “Do what you love.” They appeal to the narcissism that exists in all of us – something most of us deny about ourselves. I think the biggest harm is that this approach raises unrealistic expectations – i.e. if you do what you love you can expect to love what you do. And I’ve done that – I’ve taken jobs doing work that I loved. So why have I ALWAYS been disappointed? Why do I always end up hating what I loved? Those are serious question and they are not addressed in any single job search book. Job coaches just dismiss the questions saying that I just haven’t found what I love yet. But, what if the point is to just work and it doesn’t matter what you do? What if you can find some sort of peace, satisfaction and consolation in what you do even if it’s not what you love? What if it’s not the job you do but HOW you do your job? The longest job I held was for 15 years. It resulted in a near nervous breakdown and personality shift. That was a job that I started because I loved that type of work. What job coaches and books fail to recognize that the work you do is not important because it’s the people you work with that make the job enjoyable and you can actually come to love those people instead of the work itself. It’s the people that make the job lovable or hateful and miserable. And unless you learn how to deal with the different personalities of the people you work with, accept them in spite of their values and practices you will never be happy no matter what you do.

messages from the future #70

At the time I left my previous job that I held for 15 years, I started to read the writings of Thich Nhat Hanh. It was in these Buddhist writings that I started to explore the ideas of mindfulness and adding that to my Christian faith. It not only helped me understand myself but from this also evolved the notion that it doesn’t matter what work I do. In spite of the tasks I can find enjoyment, happiness and even love based on how I was mindful of others and sensitive to their needs. Whatever emotion you attach to it – the job becomes meaningful because of relationships not the task itself.

At the time I came to this realization I was unemployed, between jobs. Disillusioned, tired, depressed and unsure of what I did want, I decided to look for work that I COULD do instead of work I wanted to do. It opened up a whole new realm of employment possibilities. The first thing I did is go over previous performance appraisals and made a list of two columns of things that previous employers thought I did well and things they thought I sucked at (although they would label it “needs improvement”). There were contradictions which is understandable because of two things. 1) We are contradictory beings in nature. 2) When you ask 10 people about something you’ll get 10 different opinions. Being fully aware of the contradictions and differences I started looking for work that would be acceptable based on the abilities perceived by others. I’d see a job description and ask can I do this job well based on my abilities and skill set. If I could answer “yes” to that question I would apply – even if I didn’t have the education degrees that the employer said they wanted to see. While an educational degree is helpful it does not ensure success in either obtaining a job or successfully doing the job. Once I had the interview I answered the questions by talking about my experience and skill set based on what the employer was looking for. Now, I’ve always hated interviews. But I found that since I already knew what I could do that it didn’t matter if I got the job or even loved the job. What mattered was I knew I could do the job and it was up to the employer to decide if they were going to take a chance on me or not. I took the same mindfulness approach in the interview which relieved the stress of the interviews.

What happened was something I was not expecting. I took a job doing something that had never appealed to me and would never have previously chosen because I would not have seen it as something I could love. I have found the job rewarding, challenging and just what I needed. I’ve worked this same job now for 5+ years and do not have any regrets about taking this job. Sure there are times when I wonder, “What the hell was I thinking” but that happens in every situation in life. Sure there are things that make me angry about work but I’m able to move beyond that not let it affect my work. It’s the people that matter more than the job itself. When I keep that in mind everything works out.

Now this may seem simplistic and like a bunch of malarky. But its worked for me.

(fyi – the art in this post is #77 from my Messages From The Future series which will be published in book form in 2014.)