Sunday, October 25, 2009

For Cat Lovers

Cat Drinking From the Faucet loves to dip his head all the way under. This is entitled the "Inefficient Drinker." c/o Doris Rubenstein from

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Monday, October 19, 2009

Closer to Fine, Even without a Foot

Only the footless knows the blessings of the feet.

But then, of course, there are the exceptions of those who have body dysmorphia, who feel that their feet are deeply burdensome. I have a certain disagreement with the word "dysmorphia" because of the "dys-" prefix because by dictionary definition, it means "bad,"

ASIDE: Before you object to my "political correctness," please know that I have only a small, but deep incentive to be politically correct. I belong in large part to a community that abhors how rampant political correctness is -- to the tune of feeling that they are unable to express any new ideas because someone is ready to jump all over them when a word "taken" in the wrong context and spirit. I have great empathy for this frustration because I inherently have a desire to express myself and believe that others share this desire, too. I know what it's like to be verbally attacked because I used a word they were offended by. My incentive to be politically correct is only in the spirit of deeply communicating with people I value -- so that my ideas will be accepted and considered, so that they will respond in kind with their ideas, and so that we can both benefit from the process of knowledge sharing.

Video documentary on body dysmorphia.

My disagreement with the prefix dys- in dysmorphia comes from the ambiguity inherent in the word; it's so easy for people to confuse what the meaning of "bad" is directed at exactly: the person? the condition? the limb?

Don't we as a species have not an obligation, but the honor of helping others achieve their deepest desires and dreams as long as it doesn't harm or burden anyone else?

And then again, how can we be absolutely sure that harm and burden are completely avoided -- ever?

I understand the feelings that people have with body dysmorphia:

The doctor says, "What if, in my best intentions to heal, I proceed to amputate and the patient returns and says they made a mistake -- they want their foot back, and maybe worse, wants to sue me for it." *Notice the fear of losing the life's work.

The religious community says, "If we are supposed to feel grateful with what we already have, how can someone who does not and cannot feel blessed for their foot (no matter how hard they try), fit into our community?" *Notice the directive of "supposed to."

The government says, "We have a commitment to provide aid to those who cannot do for themselves. How do we handle the paradoxical situation where someone would actually become "more able" with the removal of their foot?" *Notice the underlying belief surrounding "ability" and what it means to be "able."

Some folks without a foot might say, "How dare you want your foot removed when I cannot have one of my own!" Others might say, "I can't imagine why you'd want to make your life more difficult, but go right ahead." And still others might say, "Jump on in! The water's just fine." *Notice the varying degrees of contentment with their own situations.

These last people of whom I speak...they are swimming in the pool of my happiest dreams. And my wish for everyone is to have an experience like that.

Closer to Fine (lyrics) -- Indigo Girls.
Closer to Fine (music video) -- Indigo Girls.

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Sunday, October 18, 2009

Turned Ankle Proves Angels Exist

I sprained my ankle on wet leaves once....slipped right off of the curb. My husband, Marty, had bugged me about taking my cell phone with me on my walk, and I didn't want to bring it. I was looking forward to some peace and quiet for awhile. We'd had a bit of an argument, then, but I persisted.

Only two blocks from home, and there I was: on the ground, not a soul in sight or within shouting distance and completely unable stand again. I hated the idea of giving Marty the satisfaction of being right about the cell phone.

So instead, I sat quietly for about five minutes before a woman emerged from her home. She said, "I knew there was a reason I wasn't supposed to go to church this morning!" She returned with her roving phone so I could call Marty. By the time he got there, she had me all set up with ice packs and an ace bandage, which she happened to have on hand because her husband worked at North Memorial Hospital.

Of course, when I got home, Marty delivered the "I-told-you-so speech," to which I replied: "I didn't need my phone. One was provided to me."

I went back to the woman's home the following week on crutches to return the ice packs and ace bandage -- and to thank the woman for her help with a bouquet of flowers. After no one answered the bell, I peeked in the window to see that the house was empty! Confused, I turned to hobble back to my car and noticed the "for sale" sign posted in the front yard, now with a "sold" one above it.

The experience in its totality was very magical for me. At the same time, it is a series of pure coincidences that I cannot deny. I am always a little irked when people say that happenings like this are "just" a coincidence. Coincidences are pretty incredible... miraculous even. My objection is partly with the insertion of the word "just." Adding "just" makes the coincidence sound as if "it's not important" -- that the listener to the story is flippantly disregarding the power of the coincidental experience and that it has no meaning whatsoever.

Watch this scene from Finding Neverland, if you will, about the word "just" -- and perhaps you'll better understand what I mean:

Here are some ideas that follow....

  1. agreement; coexistence
  2. a striking occurrence of two or more events at one time apparently by mere chance: Our meeting in Venice was pure coincidence.
  3. the condition or fact of coinciding.
  4. an instance of coinciding.
accompaniment, accord, accordance, collaboration, concomitance, concurrence, conformity, conjunction, consonance, correlation, correspondence, parallelism, synchronism, union
  1. The state or fact of being synchronous or simultaneous; synchronism.
  2. Coincidence of events that seem to be meaningfully related, conceived in Jungian theory as an explanatory principle on the same order as causality.
accord, coetaneousness, coevality, coincidence, concurrence, conformity, conjunction, contemporaneousness, harmony, order, peace, simultaneousness, synchronicity

Sweet, Kind Person (The woman who helped me.)
  1. One who creates harmony, peace (see synchronicity above)
  2. One who collaborates and corresponds ( see coincidence above)
  3. An angel
Is it so strange that people believe in angels? I ask myself this as readily as I ask my dear friends of the Athiestic and Agnostic persuasions.

  1. Attendant of God
  2. Sweet, kind person (see previous definition)

God's messenger, archangel, celestial being, cherub, divine messenger, guardian, heavenly being, holy being, seraph, spirit, spiritual being, sprite, supernatural being
Perhaps it is the imagined idea of angels, once an artistic expression -- the white winged being with a halo hovering overhead -- an image that has become so solid in our culture -- that confuses us and separates us from the real qualities of the angel-ic. We become slaves to the form-based image instead of the meaning.

Here is an interesting painting by Finnish artist Hugo Simberg entitled "The Wounded Angel." Depicted here, we see a winged female sitting in white robes with a bandage around her head. Two young boys carry her on a stretcher.

Look at the expressions on each face. The angel looks ashamed, with her head hanging down. The last boy looking out at us -- he appears irritated, inconvenienced, burdened. His eyes meet our directly, almost glaring with a silent fury.

And why shouldn't he be irritated? A messenger of God, injured? How is this possible? If God were really so Great and Powerful, how could this wounding of his Messenger have happened at all? What a burden to have to carry this falsehood -- this contradiction, this lie!

But it is no lie. The angel does exist -- he just doesn't appear in white with wings. We humans have come to decide that for a thing to be true, it has to "look a certain way." For an angel to exist, it must come in flowing white robes and feathers and halo and have a certain degree of "divine power."

Who is angelic here in this painting? I'd put my money on the boy at the front. In black, he dutifully carries the symbol of his faith, eyes softly down but forward. He leads them all to wherever healing is likely to happen.

(Isn't the whole idea of healing miraculous? That our bodies have the capability to self-repair?)

Just as in this painting, a notion of "reality" deceives us and removes us from our direct experiences of life.

And the mysterious woman who helped me during my own time of wounding, only to disappear? Neither did she come with wings. But all the same, she was an angel to me. She offered me a direction to healing. And that was meaningful to me beyond measure.

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