Happy New Year

New Years 2008 hatching

I hope that everyone had an amazing New Years’ Eve, and that it all went down safely. Now that the sun has returned (Winter Solstice), the fat man in red has visited (Christmas/Santa), Advent calendars have all their doors opened, and the mass populace is waking to a massive retail hangover (holiday debt) that will last from 4-6 months, it’s high time for some resolutions.

Most people make self-improvement resolutions. A very low-granularity, non-scientific poll of a couple of places I’ve been in the past week shows that the focus of the vast majority of New Years’ resolution-makers are resolutely dedicated to losing weight, working out more, and not being as workaholic. A smaller subset indicated more generalized goals along the same ilk, including eating healthier, being for financially responsible, and spending more time with family.

Writing out that list for some reason brought up all the arguments I’ve been hearing about the evolving workplace, and the quest people have been on over the past few years for what has been termed “work-life balance”. It’s definitely something that everyone needs, but the term itself seems to scare the Wilikers out of management types. Of course, any base-level change generally scares management types. The main tenets of the work-life balance as it is discussed in employment interviews and in workshops is a great idea, but what about your personal life balance?

I’m talking about a sense of yin and yang, a philosophy. The green spot on the wall you follow from one point to another, no matter who you might believe is holding the LED laser that creates the dot… Our lives are running faster and meaner than ever, and it increases every year. It’s important on a day like today (a new beginning of sorts) to take a moment to sort things out, and decide how we fit everything into the every day and the every week. Between all the hours at work and school, all the hours driving to and fro, all the time we spend sleeping, the time we spend helping others, visiting with friends and family, our personal pursuits, and all the surprises in life we need to deal with… An encompassing philosophy is in many cases our only refuge, depending on how much “stuff” we’re stuffing into our day.

So, my primary resolution for this calendar year is the same one I had last year:
Increased wisdom.

What’s yours?

Happy 2008 a.d.(5008 a.l.)!

Generations: belief systems

I was reading an article by Jenny about the possibility of your kids choosing to follow a religion that is entirely different from your set of beliefs.

I’m pretty sure that this comes up with every parent, and has been going on for a long time. The phases that kids go through as far as trying to find their identity socially, and trying out lifestyles of friends that they make along the way, and out of just plain rebellion just seem to call out for trying on psychological and religious worldviews that seem to counter what has been set forth in the home… Especially if it is done rigidly.

We are entering the second generation of kids that will have our highly advanced mass communications available. It was a big huge deal when my dad was young to know someone who had their own television set, even though there were only three channels, and those only broadcast a signal for a few hours a day. Now there are hundreds of 24/7 channels, movies, recorded programs, and the the whole digital gold mine of the internet. If someone has thought or believed something, you can bet that there is something out there, and it’s a billion percent easier to find and explore than it would have been 40, 30, 20, or even ten years ago.

When the kids decide to explore another religion (and they WILL), I would say that it’s a good idea not to overreact. As long as they aren’t hurting themselves or others, it’s a good exercise. If you are incredibly strict about your belief system at home, this will not deter the kids in the least. It will only make them careful to hide it from you. I’ve seen that one a million times, and that was back in the youth of my generation.

When I’m thinking of these kinds of questions, I try to remind myself of my primary function as a parent. That helps to keep things in perspective. That primary function is to nurture them, and to help them attain all the skills that they will need when they are on their own in life.

If they are not allowed to explore themselves or their environment, they will not be able to grow. Simple as that. I hope that all of your kids at least read about other belief systems.

It’s funny that this comes up, because as the holiday displays show up all over the Retail Kingdom, My girls have started asking questions about different holidays that they are hearing at school…. and I have been using these questions as a launching board into (very brief) overviews of different beliefs. Thursday evenings’ discussion was on the ride home, after K asked, “Do we celebrate, um… Hanukkah?” I know a lot of parents whose answer would either be a simple “No”, but I take these as good opportunities for growth for the both of them.

synopsis: Pasaquan

The path to Pasaquan was, like most worthwhile journeys, elusive and tenuous. As we left the metro Atlanta area heading south, there was a severe backup of our primary route. There were signs warning of construction happening, but the backup of the freeway suggested that there was also a major accident going on. We were moving along at a glacier-like clip for quite a while, and when we got to the next possible exit, made the detour, and abandoned the carefully picked directions scribbled down the back of an envelope. Turning to the “Georgia” page of the road atlas, we quickly located a full detour route that went though several small towns, all of whom were having a Fall festival of one sort or another, like Barnesville, Thomaston, Talbotton, and Geneva. We also stumbled onto…. The Rock.

View Larger Map

That’s got to be one of the cooler names for a town ever…. The Rock, GA. There was immediate rush of “the rock” quotes, including “Can you smell what The Rock is cookin’?” and “Can’t stop The Rock!”, followed by a stream of references to rock music, Alcatraz island, and various action movies.

It took quite a bit longer to get to Pasaquan than anticipated. Once we arrived, we found that the journey was well worth it. Not only did we get to explore all of pasaquan, but there was also live music, and other folk and local artists displaying pieces as well. I got some really good pictures, shared above.

Walking around Pasaquan, Eddie Martin’s philosophy (a blending of Eastern and western thought combined with a healthy dose of both Shamanism) pervaded. Any place on the whole complex that you would look was enhanced by design: paint, hammered tin, beads, felt, carvings, statuettes… The images of people, gods, suns and moons, planetary systems, cities, flowers, and more. The magnitude of all the thought and effort instantly draws you in. The connection between human mind and nature, between ancient thought and modern thought, and between the beliefs of civilizatons all around the world seem to be fragmented in our daily lives, but at Pasaquan, one can see them all come together in jigsaw fashion, in balance, in Zen.

Yesterday was the last day of the year for Pasaquan to be open to the public until the spring. We’re already planning a return road trip. With three possible routes scribbled on sticky notes, fluttering in the wind.

Artists for Pasaquan

Time for a road trip! The cool weather has returned, and those crisp mornings are calling… Dust off your rucksack and grab a travel coffee mug and a worn-out college sweatshirt!

On Saturday, November 3, 2007, Pasaquan will host artists from all around the South for an exciting day of creative celebration at an event called “Artists for Pasaquan”.

Fifty or more artists – students, amateurs, professionals, eccentrics, visionaries – will participate in the celebration. The varied conglomeration of sympathetic artists will join together at Pasaquan to demonstrate their support for the restoration and preservation of the noted visionary art site. Participating artists will bring their own recent artwork to show and to sell and a lineup of musician friends of Pasaquan will entertain those who attend the gathering.

“Passa-what?” you say? Well, according to Jonathan Railey at Flagpole Magazine:

If you haven’t heard that name before, well, suffice it to say that he’s just about the weirdest cat you never met – so weird he refused to be airbrushed, alloyed, snow-jobbed or beaten into conformity by the forces of authority that get to most of us early on. So bizarre that he took to the open road rather than subject himself to the tyranny of a cruel and oppressive father. So eccentric that when he finally settled down, he tried to make a homestead for himself that suited him and embodied his highest ideals…

Looking at the art at Pasaquan, you immediately get the feeling that you are in a tribal place, sacred, communal. The sense of interconnectedness with nature, philosophy, the human experience pervades.

There is quite a bit of information available online about Pasaquan and Saint EOM (née Eddie Martin), including writeups by Mike Segers and
Interesting Ideas, and there was even a PBS Special!

I should be getting some good pictures, so more on this after the weekend!

Where is it? (Click for Gmap love) Near Buena Vista, GA (between Columbus, GA and Americus, GA), which is also home of Georgia Rural Telephone Museum.

Meet the new prof

Yesterday I took the day off from work in order to appear in court. I was listed way, way down in the calendar, so I spent the majority of the day there, listening to the sordid details of various cases and the circumstances that people (everyone) get into sometimes.
When it came to my turn, I found out that some other legal proceedings had gone under my radar, and that my being there was a moot point.

If I had known that, I’d definitely have taken the opportunity to go to Centennial Park and/or Emory University to see the Dalai Lama.

His Holiness was given an honorary professorship at Emory, and gave a couple of talks, including one on the subject of using guided Tibetan meditation in the treatment of clinical depression.

Check out the video on this page, which is an open press conference/interview with the editors of Emory’s school paper.

Metta, Y’all.

Om Lotus Petal Mandala
Mindfulness and Metta.