Raising the Power

I am not pagan, though I have friends that are, and though there was a strain of belief in the village which, without having anything even vaguely to do with American/New Age/Paganism, was not… precisely Christian. Or anything much else.  Call it “using natural forces that science hasn’t yet identified” and be done with it.  It exists in every rural community.  Communities close to the land that have no room for frills spend an unusual amount of time on manipulating these “forces.”  Perhaps they are forces of the collective subconscious as things like “the Secret” claim.

At any rate, this is not to talk of religion, even unusual ones.

It is to talk of raising the power.  Raising the power (Yes, I’ve watched pagan ceremonies.  I watch a lot of things) is a fascinating concept, and it’s probably all headology, but one does feel something while watching it.

Again, I’m not pagan.  I don’t propose to raise the power from the four corners of the world, or whatever.  I also sometimes drive my pagan friends nuts by pointing out historical truths about some of the names they invoke (or heaven help us, call their children) and say “not near me.  It might be all superstition and imagination, but history has a power, and not near me.”  Having to explain to a friend that sacrifices to Tanit were NOT a Roman invention was kind of interesting.  Everywhere the Carthaginians went there’s Topeths.  And hundreds of little skeletons in clay jars.  If those were only burials of malformed/premature children, the Carthaginians must have had a hell of a child mortality rate, unheard of in the rest of the world.  And I am not a very good person (or at least very nice.  I DO try to be good.  With mixed success) but one thing I know and that’s that dead babies are an evil thing.  Sort of the touchstone of my morality, such as it is, is that “You shall not hurt the helpless, the trusting, or those who have reason to expect good from you.”

Anyway, I don’t play with things I don’t fully understand, which is the same principle that leads my poor husband to be responsible for electrical and plumbing.  I’ll do painting and carpentry because I GET those, but not electricity or plumbing.

But again, I like the concept of “Raising the power.”

So many of you, not just here, come and say something like “I’m trying to fight, I am, but I’m so tired.  I’m just so tired.”  And I get you, because I’m so tired too.  Tired of politics, tired of the career that often seems like running on ice, tired of a million daily contretemps and problems.

To continue focusing on the difficulties, the problems, the areas that don’t make you happy, doesn’t help.  It just drains you more, till you become angry and bitter.  Trust me, I know.

Twenty years ago I was dying in a hospital bed.  No, it wasn’t some woo woo stuff.  It was pneumonia, but being intracellular pneumonia it took a while to diagnose and if my blood ox hadn’t been too low to read the hospital would have told me it was all in my head and sent me home.

However, everyone who was anyone told me I was going to die.  (Except my husband who said “the hell you are.”  And that’s why I’m here, because he wouldn’t give up, even when I had.)

At that moment, clearly, I found what my “center of power” was.

I was back then still unpublished.  We had a house I was trying to fix/improve (as, when aren’t I?) and the boys were toddlers, and I had no help, let alone being eaten alive by stuff like clothes and shoes.  Life was a continuous round of work, interrupted by the occasional rejection.

But in that hospital bed, I realized what I really missed.  I missed going out garage-saling and thriftshopping with the three guys (my husband and sons.)  I missed the cats.  And I felt guilt and terrified that all my worlds I’d never written or never written well enough to be accepted were going to die with me.  (My very first world still waits writing.  I now know how to do it, but I need to clear the decks a little, first.  It would be amusing if that is the one that hits, particularly since it’s weirder than any world has a right to be. And definitely ah– Post binary.  Suffice to say it was my answer to The Left Hand of Darkness.  Then it went crazier.)

And in that moment I found my power.  I was going to live so there would be more of those moments with the guys.  I was going to live so I could write, and write well enough to be published.  (I wrote Darkship Thieves four years later.  Yes, I do know when it came out.  There are other, publishable novels I wrote in between that just need my going over and editing.  Some I’d forgotten I wrote.)

My raising of power is almost always from my family — I’m soppy that way — and there are particular jewels I keep and bring out and relive fondly.  Like the labor day when #2 son was three, and we discovered Lakeside.  (For those of you not in Denver, Lakeside is a rather decrepit amusement park with an art noveau design, and a lot of outdated, still running pretty well rides.  And a wooden rollercoaster.) Since I hate heights and falling, amusement parks are a bad idea for me.  Except the door price at Lakeside is very low (I think it was free, but parking was $5) and you pay per ride.  So Dan and the kids could sample everything from the wooden rollercoaster to the bumper boats, and I could walk around reading one of the mystery books I’d bought the day before at Murder By The Book, and then take the train ride around the park at the end.  That first time there, we left the park at ten, as they were starting to turn off the lights, and went in search of a place to have dinner.  The little one fell asleep against me, his head heavy and warm, as kids’ heads are.  And we ended up finding PF Chang’s at the top of a high rise (everything else was closed) and eating there, looking at Denver lights.  We lied to Marshall, too, and told him the duck was chicken, because he only ate chicken at the time.

I can close my eyes and bring it all back.  And I feel better.  If everything crashed tomorrow, I’d have had that one perfect weekend.

There are others, usually fleeting.  My favorite is when I was very depressed and, out of nowhere, Dan said “I’m not going to work today” (we’re terrible people.  We work on weekends) and took me off to City Park at sunset.  We made three circuits of the park and harassed the ducks.  And then we went out to eat — I THINK — at Ted’s Montana Grill, which has a little fountain outside, which we watched while we ate.  (Well, Dan might have been watching the scantily clad girls walk by.  It’s all good.)

Almost as good was the time two years ago, when older son was working near-full-time and odd hours and I was trying to rebuild a house, write (which was difficult as thyroid issues only allowed me to think of three words at a time) and make some sort of life in a space cramped with boxes. I don’t remember why but we had to go to the mailbox (which we had the foresight to get in Denver even though at the time we lived in the Springs.)  Must have been a contract or check I was expecting.  So we drove to the mailbox, and since it was an hour and a half away, while we were there (after getting whatever it was) we decided to go to the zoo.  It was pouring rain, so we stopped at a walgreens and got umbrellas, and then we walked around the cold, rainy zoo, talking, having the zoo all to ourselves.  Afterwards it was too late to drive home (we’d have hit right at rush hour) so we went to Pete’s kitchen and watched the rain stipple the windows while we had coffee and (against our diet, very much, but we only do this once every few months at most) we split a baklava.

Or there’s the time when we were so broke that Dan could only afford one gift for me for Christmas, and that was a little blown-glass owl, which still sits in my office, because it reminds me of how much trouble he went through to get it (having to drive to Manitou during work hours, while working unusually long hours) and how much thought he put into it.

If we let despair and turmoil overcome us, we deny that these good moments can happen, that there is beauty and happiness in the future.

Or we can think of and meditate on our “happy places” and our “centers of power” and raise the strength to dive back into the muck.

Once more into the breach, my friends, but let us keep in mind those things that make life worth living.

It’s all very well to pledge your life, your wealth, your sacred honor, but life must be worth living to be worth sacrificing.

Remember that.  Raise the power.  And fight on.

 

155 responses to “Raising the Power

  1. Life has a power that many of us tap when necessary. It presents, as in your instances, as reasons to live when giving up would be easy, and it presents as joy in being alive.

  2. Interesting. I ‘get’ plumbing (or so I think) but I do not like dealing with doing such. Electricity is no problem. I used to work with a fellow whose main work then was with the sewer dept. – he was my opposite: plumbing was no issue, but electrical work was right out.

    I encountered a prof. of Electrical Engineering who didn’t like teaching the general engineering electrical course (the one the non-EE’s had to take). He summed it up thus: My EE’s have a healthy respect for electricity, but those others just have a fear of it.

    Of course, before reading the context of the post, the title reminded me a bit from the tune S-100 Bus:

    And when they turn the power on, it’s sure to dim the lamps
    At plus and minus sixteen volts, and fourteen hundred amps!

    • And when they turn the power on, it’s sure to dim the lamps
      At plus and minus sixteen volts, and fourteen hundred amps!

      Once had an engineer visiting a previous place of employment for a project. His project was using a SEL and the rest of the machines in our computer room were VAXen of various sorts. He’d sniff at our MicroVAX “don’t like it; smells funny”.

      Eventually we decided that it must have been lack of ozone because, unlike the SEL, the MicroVAX didn’t require enough power at +5V to strike an arc.

      • That must be why lightning struck our VAX terminal! (Through the highly illicit wire on the *outside* of the physics building, because of some stupid argument about whether or not we needed a VAX terminal in our lab. Apparently Zeus sided with the “no” vote…)

        And if you really need extra ozone, run a copper vapor laser. Pretty, but WOW. Decaying plastic everywhere nearby.

  3. Sweetie, I detect a certain tone of empty nest in your remarks today. Trust me, true Marsh is moving into his campus crash pad, and Robert has become the troll in the basement, but I know from my own personal experience that they can move out but they never really leave.
    Someday soon, when you least expect it, and more importantly when the boys least expect it a couple of unusually intelligent and extremely odd young ladies will allow themselves to be trapped into lifetime relationships, and before you know it you’ll have a whole new generation of strange and wonderful creatures to deal with.
    Change is always difficult, because it’s not what you’re used to. New experiences don’t respond to the same old trusted methods. But with change comes opportunity. Gonna be a rough time ahead, say next four years at least, but the good times they are a coming. So hang tough.

  4. Thanks. This is good. Life is worth the living.

  5. Funny thing that you should talk about that today. I went into the rehab doctor’s office today depressed because the exercises aren’t producing the necessary results (or certainly not very fast), and offhandedly said to the nurse, “I should just quit trying to walk and get the wheelchair.” And she said, “You don’t want to do that!”

    And then I realized how stubborn I am, and the doctor came in and analyzed the results of my efforts, and asked more questions, and was puzzled, and listened – and tried more things. I left with some new exercises – because I wouldn’t take her easy answers, and she actually got out my file, and two books, and thought. I hadn’t found one who actually listened since the botched surgery in 2006, and had almost given up hope.

    I’ll be trying to walk until they cart me out.

    • Good luck. And yes, don’t give up. As my dad put it, if you take to the wheelchair, you’ll never get up again.

    • Martin L. Shoemaker

      Please keep at it. You can do it!

    • Doctors who look thing up are good. One of my favorite medical quotes from Sir William Osler (the father of teaching medicine at the bedside) is, “It’s not surprising that a man can practice medicine without books; what is surprising, is how badly.”

      • I don’t think I’ve had it before; I just figured nobody ever would.

        I want to be a puzzle a PT or MD wants to solve, not get rid of. It takes SO much energy for me to go to the doctor, that I get really discouraged at most of the visits.

        There is something left there of muscles and functioning nerves; I just want to walk as well as I can without surgery. And I want my neuroplasticity! They keep finding things, and fixing things – why not me, too?

  6. Summon the Power, and use it as you need!

  7. What the? I wrote a rather long comment. Posted it. And now it’s not here.

    • Patrick Chester

      WordPress Delenda Est!

      …and Posner is an idiot, or a liar hoping people are stupid enough to believe him.

    • Happened to me yesterday. Maybe we should verb the name. “Aw nuts, I had everything all written out and hit ‘send’ and the computer wordpressed it.”

    • WP delenda est. I’ve started copying comment before hitting post when I get kinda long winded (hard as it may be to believe about me, the soul of brevity, the count of conciseness, the… ahem) so I can paste it in if WP eats it.

      It’s been useful more than often enough to pay for the extra effort.

    • I’ve had that happen a few times too… Hope this one doesn’t get eaten, it’s happened often enough that I’ve not been posting.

  8. Patrick Chester

    Hm. When I drifted away from Catholicism I did look into some of the pagan religions and then quickly realized I was agnostic on pretty much every faith. None inspire me all that much.

  9. Though Grandma tried to raise me Lutheran, Dad’s tradition and a misplaced ‘faith’ in Pure Reason led me to becoming an atheist in my mid-teens. This caused a bit of confusion in a young Wiccan lady of my acquaintance in college who tried to get me involved in her group. It took some time for her to get the concept that my atheism wasn’t just non-Christianity but *a*theism. Much like those contemporaneous (and current, for that matter) ‘anarchists’ who confuse anarchy with simply being against this particular government.

    • you too? I find all too many pagans are simply anti-christians who still need to believe in a higher power, and want to be trendier than thou, hipster types so they eschew the other majors and latch on to, mostly Wicc but Norse B.S. occasionally. Funnily enough, most of those “preying” to Odin would have been among those most likely to learn first hand what a Blood Eagle felt like.
      As for our Black Hoodie wearing, V mask loving, hide behind a pregnant woman while shooting at police, anarchists that are actually socialists? I say we give them actual anarchy. Shoot them out of hand.

      • I have met several pagans whom I believe to be sincere. However, I have only met 2 followers of Asatru whom I would genuinely believe would sacrifice an enemy to Odin. I have utmost respect for them and have no desire for them to be my foe, ever. Possibly the two most dangerous (in terms of personality, not necessarily skill) humans I have ever met.

        • I should note, my experiences might be skewed by the fact most of these folks, I met while living in and around New Orleans. The percentage of Loons at the time approached SF/Berkley. Most made you wonder how the remembered to breathe, they were so low I.Q.

      • I’ve read New Age/Wicca stuff on Greco-Roman gods. They would have been fed to the lions faster than the Christians, not only as atheists*, but for their impious theurgy.

        *not worshiping the required gods.

      • My wife and I have friends who are Asatru and we’ve socialized a bit with their coreligionists. Nearly all were raised Catholic or Mormon, that is – in very structured and rigid faiths. And it shows. They still tend to be very prudish, uptight, sorts who think that all Christians are prudish, uptight sorts. As the token Christian, my wife particularly enjoyed startling them by not being prudish in the least. (If you’re married, it’s not weird.) I enjoyed asking how much time they thought Thor spent managing the Great Red Spot on Jupiter. (That upset them for some reason.)

        I have to agree – it’s pure rejection of the faith they were raised in and little else. A few years back neuroscientists speculated that we were hardwired for religious belief. (Makes sense; why make something with no user interface?) So they’re going to latch onto something low cost like modern paganism.

        • I’ve found personally that my Catholicism is very pagan, and my Asatru is very Catholic; and when I detour toward agnosticism/atheism I can only make it to deism.

  10. *closes window against sudden allergy attack* A clear night with stars, when I can walk out and just be me, not teacher-me, or writer-me, or daughter-me, or [insert role] but me-me. And breathe, and look at the stars, and walk until my legs start calling me names, just me and the sidewalk and the soft thump of my dog-stick’s tip against the ground.

  11. Is it not liking the link (to a blog post where I’d discussed some similar ideas)?

    I’m a physicist and tend to be death on pseudo-science so this might surprise some folk.

    I have described as an Asatru leaning Agnostic, or a “practitioner if not a believer in Asatru”. I don’t particularly believe in any gods, those of Asatru or otherwise, but it’s a big Universe full of lots of things we don’t understand and probably never will understand.

    That said, there’s power in ritual and symbolism. It may simply be that of focusing ones will and drawing more deeply on ones “inner resources” (adrenaline, bypassing usual “safety limits, whatever) or it may be more yet tapping into part of that “full of lots of things we don’t understand and probably never will” but it’s there.

    You don’t even have to believe in the symbols as having any objective connection to “reality”. Simply assigning a meaning to them can be enough to invoke whatever power one gets from symbols. I used to have a necklace with three “charms” on it: a wolf’s head, a Thor’s Hammer, and an expended .50 BMG round. To each one I assigned a meaning. No, I didn’t “believe in” Thor, nor in any “Wolf spirit”, and I might joke about “Saint John” (my favorite Mormon) the cartridge was just a piece of brass, but I could draw strength–emotional and otherwise–simply from the meanings I assigned to them.

    So, if you draw strength from a cross, if I do from a hammer, if someone else does from a Pentacle, someone else from an Ankh, or whatever, then more power to you. So to speak.

    • Hey, third time’s the charm. 😉

    • I think Esmerelda Weatherwax in naming the phenomenon ‘Headology’, has the right of it. The source doesn’t matter as much as the effort you make to believe it. Some explanations are probably closer than others to the truth. A benevolent Christian god, or quantum-entangled thoughts to the human hive mind seem at least more cheerful than worshiping Kali or Anubis, but your mileage may vary.
      But the belief itself is a powerful force in the human mind. That this power is universal, planetary or just a single entity working Headology, is a good source for speculation, and probably tons of SF/F novel plots.

      • The source doesn’t matter as much as the effort you make to believe it.

        The thing is to a large extent you don’t even have to believe. You just have to assign the meaning.

      • And this damn thing will not let me post the link to my Blogspot post on a related subject. Just won’t let me do it. No “comment in moderation” or anything. Just nothing.

        Grrr.

        • It’s not in moderation. sorry. You know I don’t calibrate the word press, right?

          • I do remember there was a time (or maybe it was MGC) where comments with multiple links automatically went into moderation. But even in that case I’d see the comment with a “comment is awaiting moderation” notice. Nothing like that here just…nothing.

            Wondering if it’s just me or if others also can’t post links. (Always possible that there’s something weird on my end.)

            • I’ve run into that with websites someone at WP has decided are “potentially harmful” or some such nonsense.
              Someone somewhere may have blacklisted your blog post for whatever (or likely no reason what so ever)

              • That’s actually a fairly common SJW tactic: have a mass reporting of a site you don’t like as a source of malware to the various firewall and anti-virus sites. Even if the target realizes what’s going on, getting the site removed is darn near impossible.

                • Okay now what. I had a reply to this, no links, that isn’t posting.

                • Normally I wouldn’t think my blog would be “high profile” enough to draw their attention–my all time best # hits posting (cumulative) is like a day on Larry’s blog. I have no illusions on the size of my place in the scheme of things.

                  OTOH, recent events (reported on my FB page) suggest that I might have gotten onto somebody’s radar.

                • Found this yesterday …

                  Alinskyite Tactics, Robert Creamer, and Us
                  … Alinskyite leftists quite simply do not believe in liberal democracy, which is why they’re so willing to violate its norms.

                  In 2007, Robert Creamer published Stand Up Straight! How Progressives Can Win, a tactical handbook for the left that he wrote while serving a prison term for tax evasion and bank fraud. Creamer’s advice on how to handle conservatives (pp. 74-6) makes for interesting reading about now:

                  In general our strategic goal with people who have become conservative activists is not to convert them—that isn’t going to happen. It is to demoralize them—to ‘deactivate’ them. We need to deflate their enthusiasm, to make them lose their ardor and above all their self-confidence…[A] way to demoralize conservative activists is to surround them with the echo chamber of our positions and assumptions. We need to make them feel that they are not mainstream, to make them feel isolated… We must isolate them ideologically…[and] use the progressive echo chamber…By defeating them and isolating them ideologically, we demoralize conservative activists directly. Then they begin to quarrel among themselves or blame each other for defeat in isolation, and that demoralizes them further.

                  courtesy Stanley Kurtz, author of Radical-in-Chief. Emphasis added.

    • That would be John Moses Browning, patron saint of firearms design?

    • I have some decidedly strange ideas on this. It’s tempting to write a story based on that. The problem is that the last thing the world needs is another cult, and I’m not about to throw something out there that could head in that direction.

    • I’ve found actually, that symbols actually mean something – not necessarily the same thing to everyone else. In the case of a ‘thing’ for you to focus your concentration on for meditation, it works very well.

      Then was finding out that just because people stopped believing in the supernatural, well, that doesn’t mean the supernatural stopped believing in us, and a holy symbol is a holy symbol.

    • If you can’t say “F if I know how it works, but it does,” then you’re not any kind of scientists, rational-based philosopher, etc– you’re just someone who has an extremely limited philosophy with your own knowledge at the center of it.
      (And you don’t pay very much attention. At all. We don’t even know how, exactly, electricity works…but we know how to use it.)

      *******

      About assigning meanings– I’ve got a rune pendant that a gaming friend sent to us, which bing-search-translates as something like fire, light, knowledge, enlightenment, etc. (Add in the bunkum fudge factor, I’m guessing it’s somehow associated with fire and light.)

      I’ve got it on my necklace with the saint pendants as a symbol for the Holy Spirit, because I don’t much care for the Pidgeon family. Always liked the “flames of fire” version more than the dove, anyways.

      Symbols do have power— both for you, and for anybody else involved. (Or any-incorporeal, for that matter; I’m very much with Sarah on the whole “no, no, HECK no, not near me” reaction to some symbols.)

      • Ah. He probably sent you the letter Kaun/Cen, ie the “K” or “hard C”.

        C for Comforter, Counselor, Consoler… yeah, lots of stuff.

      • I had this conversation the other day at a holiday meal. Someone heard I was an Electrical Engineer and asked how LEDs worked. I’d just recently discussed this with my brother (also studying EE) and thought about how to simplify to the educated-layman the matter of band-gap energies: “It’s sorcery.” I explained that while I could describe semiconductors in everyday language, the only result would be that they might believe they understood me—and believe wrong.

        • A trick I’ve discovered is that a lot of the time, they’re really wanting to know what it works like, rather than how it works. YMMV, but seemed like a good place to drop it.

          Terry Pratchett had a line that’s fitting, where Ponder Simmons said something about how something the Headmaster had said was incredibly useful for understanding, advanced usability, and was utterly technically wrong?

    • “to invoke whatever power one gets from symbols. ”

      I’ve read “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.” I make it a general rule not to invoke something without knowing what it is, and what it can do to me, and whether it has an agenda that may not be obvious at once.

  12. It is at such moments that I am reminded that despair too is a sin.

    But if all I really want to do is kvetch for a moment and then get back into it, it may not really be despair. It’s very hard to know yourself sometimes.

    On we blindly stumble. Brook, I withdraw that…

    • Hey, quite a few saints were well known for complaining– the ones that come to mind are the ones that were funny/clever about it (“Lord, I know you won’t give me more than I can handle, but MUST you have so much faith in me?!?!), but Saint Jerome (compiled the Bible) was…well… some folks have described him as the patron saint of anti-social bloggers. 😉

      So as long as you’re not dragging anybody down, including yourself… a good “venting” usually makes me feel better. Or having a fight with someone who’s “safe.” (They don’t get REALLY mad, you don’t get REALLY mad, you’re both just blowing off steam.)

  13. I clicked like, because there isn’t a “LOVE” button. Love for the post, and love to everyone who’s emotionally, spiritually knackered. We ain’t done yet.

    • We ain’t nowhere near done. But I’m a bottle covey. I’d crawl back from death on broken glass to attack one more time. I’m never done…
      Though I get tired. And then I get depressed. And then I can’t write. So…

      • … so we goes and gets another bottle to covey us up for the next round.

      • Though I get tired. And then I get depressed. And then I can’t write. So…

        And then I snarl at myself, kick myself mentally until I get the @)#($*@ up, drag myself another few metaphorical feet up that cliff, and do what needs doing.

        But goddamn, Life, when are you going to start using lube on things that aren’t my hands?

        • yes. Exactly.
          Though your going has been rougher than mine, recently. And that’s a tough bar to clear.

          • The thing that kind of helps is the ability to laugh at myself. A friend once described that I seemed to blame myself for everything that I have no control over – ‘including dark matter.’ And I laughed, because it’s kind of true, and the things that go wrong in my life, are things I have absolutely no control over – and it’s to the point that even David, who has only lived with us for four years, now completely understands why I have this attitude of “Things haven’t gone wrong in a while. Time to batten down the hatches because the next time is going to hurt.”

            There’s things I can control though, and one of them is deciding how much something will hurt me. I won’t pretend that the hurt isn’t there, but I guess that just because something is thrown on me by someone else doesn’t mean that the thing is my burden to bear and I should put it down and walk away because I have ENOUGH to deal with! There’ll be metaphorical bruising, but bruises heal, and I’m grateful for the people around me for that, especially Rhys. (So many prayers of thanksgiving, that he’s in my life, willingly, part of it.)

            And the folks here, at your wonderful blog, and MGC and Larry’s and the others. You’ve all helped me remember it’s not all horrible and causes for despair. So again, thank you, for it all.

      • Sometimes the depression hits a funny phase, and you can laugh at yourself and say, “This? I’m getting depressed about THIS? I haven’t been shot, beaten, or stabbed, most of mine are healthy and well, there’s food in my belly, a cat on my lap, and a roof over my head. Things have been worse, and will be worse someday again.”

        Sometimes it even works.

        For the rest, well, many of us have this little voice in our heads that says “What would (person) do?” I’ve been blessed with some good, a few great, and a couple of *astounding* role models in life. Ones that won’t let me quit, even when I really, really want to.

        So we cajole, we tempt, we make outrageous promises to ourselves. We get up off the floor. We make a pot of tea, we clean the house, hunt trolls, build garages, write books, fix cars, do taxes, unclog toilets, and visit relatives. We are the sons and daughters of Martha. Wary and watchful all our days. There’s no end of things that need doing, and the doing of things is a ritual to banish the beast. Accomplishments, big or small, help.

        Recognizing depression is a start (I can’t always tell if it’s everyday natural pessimism or full on depression). Using whatever means to defeat it- be it self flagellation or cussed stubbornness- is what makes us human and respectable. Wallowing in it is right out.

        And really, it would be mean of us to deny others our joy. In a world with kitten videos, chocolate, daytime naps, good friends, and pretty sunrises, well, there’s some good stuff out there. Depression will happen, and that’s okay. You get over it, somehow, and get back to the music of life however you can.

        *headphones back on, plays silly songs at the end of the day*

  14. Thank you, I needed this today.
    It was a LONG day at school, PSAT testing. I was the proctor, and if there is anything more boring than taking standardized tests, it WATCHING other people take them.
    My eyes have been itchy and sore for days, I can’t read comfortably, and the TV is dreadful – politics and “reality” shows.
    I’d love to have a stiff drink or two, but I have to work again tomorrow, and can’t manage to do that and drink tonight.

  15. duck was chicken, because he only ate chicken at the time.

    #1 son had that problem when he was little. We told him it was “swimming chicken”…….

    • He went through two years he only ate eggs and chicken. it was like a weird joke.

    • Growing up, we told my brother that steak was just dark meat chicken.

      • My late maternal grandfather was an Arkansas farmer, and he would raise a couple dozen cows and butcher one per year for our family.

        As a result, even during the inflation of the mid-late 70s, we had steak on a regular basis, and one night, my sister Missy wasn’t in a steak mood and burst out with “We’re always having steak! I’m sick of steak!”

        She still gets reminded of that on a regular basis 40 years later. 😎

        One of my childhood memories is riding from El Dorado to Memphis packed into the back seat of a VW Beetle otherwise filled to the brim with a frozen butchered half cow and bundled to the eyebrows because it was COLD.

  16. The Lakeside train is a very find memory from my childhood. My friends and i always sat in the back to try and spot the grass fires it would occasionally start.

  17. Despair is my besetting sin. And I get so very tired of dealing with it. But I keep fighting because that’s what God wants me to do.

  18. Thanks for reminding me to remember many good things in life. Sometimes I forget, like when my spouse is not too well, the hot water heater quits (luckily did not burn the house down), several dear friends are terminally ill, (these are not in any particular order), and so on. Appreciate the reminders to focus on the good stuff, not just the bad.

  19. When I look at the consolidation of authority in DC via the Administrative State I find myself more sympathetic toward calls for razing the power.

  20. I read today that the DC Metro trains catch fire about 4 times a week (as a whole, not individually).

  21. caitliniwoods

    I enjoy the thought of a post where we share our happy moments, the ones we call when things get hard. No one else seems to really be doing it, but maybe if I do they’ll start?

    I might be in one, right now. I have an incredible 5-month-old, just got hired for a new, good job when I’m already in a good job. I’m a year married, and just moved into a perfect house, cheap for some flood damage that turned out easily remedied.

    And yet… in January, I was six months pregnant, had just quit my job at a call center because almost every day was tears and panic attacks, without a backup. I knew myself to be insane, unhirable, and a failure to my family in every way.

    I got two callbacks from applications the next day, and… well, was soon hired for the best, highest-paying, most responsible job I’ve had yet. (Temp, yes, like the one I just got–but I’m climbing the ladder.)

    Why it’s so good for me? The hobgoblins in my heads lie, this is proof. The difference between the most dire and greatest points can occasionally be an evening. But mostly that the hobgoblins lie.

    • *HUG!* Hime-chan is indeed the gorgeousness. And I’m glad, more than you know, to see you and Ford happy.

      By the by, tell Ford Happy Birthday from me and Rhys. ^_^

    • The hobgoblins…lie.

      Amen, amen, amen.
      This is something I’m trying to get across to my seven year old– she will drop into (sincere) tears at the drop of a hat, and it took me a while to figure out that she really does believe that voice that says “this is HUGE, this is HORRIBLE, I just so can’t possibly….”

      The strongest lies have some truth in them– if something is really, really easy, on all levels, you won’t believe it’s hard, but this is unpleasant isn’t this is impossible. And very few things are utterly simple on all levels. 😀

  22. Christopher M. Chupik

  23. Christopher M. Chupik

    All kidding aside, this blog — Mad Genius Club, Facebook, all of it — has been a huge help to me the past few years. Its sparked my writing and helped me keep sane in an insane time.

    To a new world of Huns and Hoydens!

  24. And hundreds of little skeletons in clay jars. 

    I had the…experience… of listening to two archeologists argue this point, after they identified that all of the “child burials” were done in a manner identical to the animal sacrifices in the same area.

    I think the “they didn’t kill kids” side was arguing that it was some kind of dedicating the natural-death child into the care of the god, or something, and any indications of violent death wasn’t related to sacrifice, just happenstance.

    • The Phoenicians, and later, the Carthaginians, were known to sacrifice their firstborn children. Nothing about deformity or being unable to live. And if things got bad, they sacrificed other babies or even older kids.

      • Oh, but that is “just evil stories.” 😦

        • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

          Spread by those evil Christian Romans to excuse their destruction of the Carthaginians. [Sarcasm]

          Note, IIRC Sarah has commented that some nut cases believed that the Romans were Christians when they fought the Carthaginians. 😦

          • That almost makes a kind of sense if you buy into the whole “Christianity is just a new paintjob on older religions, with a few mutations.” (And they never mean Judaism. Because heaven forbid you pay attention to the blinking founding story of the faith being that it’s the fulfillment of another, specific faith…and all the various continuities… nope, it’s gotta be some obscure as heck pagan thingie.)

            • And usually what they cite are things akin to Paul’s going into the Parthanon and going ‘let me tell you about the god you do not yet know’. Examples: The Russians have always thought red warded off evil. They heard about Christ’s sacrifice and went “OH! THAT’s what that works.” In Korea the Pagan god was Hananim (the god who made everything), his son, Tan Kun, led the Koreans out of China and away from an evil king and into Korea. The biblical stories resonated strongly with this. The Pagans who try that tack tend to settle on things like that to claim that Christianity is just ‘rewriting’ these pagan beliefs rather than Christians finding a door in the existing beliefs to make Christ comprehensible.

              • Never underestimate the capacity of those who desire to disbelieve.

              • Or the “virgin births” that were not in any way like “An archangel shows up, talks to her, she says OK, and the child appears in her womb;” they were “non-traditional sex.” One list had blooping Hercules and one of the Egyptian gods. (Something about becoming pregnant from sea foam?)

                Or the “sacrificed gods” where they just list off everyone who dies and comes back. And Balder, the mistletoe guy, I don’t know why….

                • In some Norse versions, Balder (Baldur) comes back into the new world that arises after the Ragnorak [sp] and is the new main deity. If you think there’s some Christian influence in that version, I suspect you might be correct.

                  • *snicker* I know that several of the examples of “stolen” things are only recorded at all…usually by monks…well after they’re evidenced in Christian thought.

                    Dang pattern finding monkeys, we tend to tell stories in ways that make sense to us.

        • Or good evolutionary economics. There is lower social capital invested in the very young, and greater investment required to raise them as useful contributors to society, therefore in downturns they are the easiest to discard. In “primitive” societies the elderly represent accumulations of knowledge and a valuable resource, especially as the inform elderly do not usually long survive. The adult and near adult members are typically vigorous enough to contribute beyond their cost (“profitable for society”) and do not tend to require extraordinary continued investment. But the very young simply suck.

          I only wish I believed this an exercise in sarcasm.

          • And what happened to the societies that felt the next generation was expendable? They got run over by the societies that had more kids, nurtured their young, had more survive, and eventually outnumbered the baby killers. Makes me think of Europe for some reason….

        • I was told the Romans invented them. PFUI.

  25. So many of you, not just here, come and say something like “I’m trying to fight, I am, but I’m so tired.  I’m just so tired.”  And I get you, because I’m so tired too. 

    I think it’s really going around; caught a show on the radio today about the history of the Saint Michael’s prayer (Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle….) and some general chit-chat about it.

    I think I’m going to start at least saying the opening part of the prayer when things get too heavy. Dude fought Satan, and he’s still pretty awesome as Himself’s general even when everyone paints him looking like a girl or a barely-teen boy. He’s got the spoons. 😉 )

  26. It can be hard to be happy if you feel like no one is listening to you. I think that’s what gets a lot of these “burn it down” types and the people who are just burned out in general. They think there’s no one listening, or not enough listening, or that whatever they do it isn’t enough (Tolkien called it “the long defeat” — so in the end, no, it will not be enough) and so the despair settles in.

    But that’s the importance of this blog and in networking with like minded people. There are more of us than we think and if we raise the power from nothing else it’s knowing that we are a massive legion, bigger than we realize.

    That’s actually pretty comforting when you think about it.

    • Yes, but Tolkien was talking about the inherent contrast of human perception (particularly in pre-Christian societies like the Norse) with the Christian attitude that we just have to hold out until the cavalry arrives.

      Father Hunwicke’s blog was just talking about this and John 16:33 – “Tharseite. Ego nenikeka ton kosmon.” (“Take comfort. I have overcome the world.”) “Nenikeka,” overcome, is in the Greek perfect tense, which means a present fact caused by a decisive finished action in the past.

      Of course, Jesus says this at the Last Supper, before His Passion and death and resurrection, so “I have already won” explicitly includes still suffering. And we Christians are not promised any easier lives than Our Lord had!

  27. Many, many people vote for the lesser evil. Problem is, evil bioaccumulates. Increase government evil by 10% each year, and after a few decades you’re staring at a substantial pile of evil. As we go around the exponential corner formed by 10% growth in evil each year, the level of evil exceed peoples’ optimism thresholds. They stop trying because they’ve learned to be helpless. Of course it was government school which taught them to be helpless, that’s it’s job.

    You aren’t helpless. The evil is completely dependent on you voluntarily obeying it, and voluntarily paying taxes to support it. You will not get out of this hole by continuing to vote. Instead, stop obeying bad laws. When the cost of enforcement to extract taxes is higher than the taxes yield, organized crime will be unprofitable and will stop.

    • evil bioaccumulates.

      Unsupported assertion contrary to fact. The first of many.

      Sarah, coherent trolls are entertaining, this one just makes messes on the blog floor and wags its tail in the delusion it’s done something noteworthy. Go ahead and ban — there is insufficient substance for a chew toy.

      • Evil bioaccumulates in the software of human brains for 200 years. Then, as Orwell pointed out in his book-within-a-book, some of the upper middle class deposes the former elite, becomes the new elite, and the cycle repeats.

        If the established church taught you representative democracy stably oscillates around a reasonable setpoint, you’re in the same bind as those who were taught Earth was only 6,000 years old, but then what to think about geology and fossils?

        Once upon a time there was a first world country. It had the best medicine, best science, best philosophy, best music, best industry, and had the highest material standard of living. The population believed representative democracy is evolutionarily stable, and oscillates forever around a reasonable setpoint. They were incorrect. Then along came a mentally ill person who was a fantastic public speaker. The population would not reconsider their religious beliefs, voluntarily got on the boxcars, and lost a war. Oops.

        • Have you noticed his syntax is getting better? Still completely bonkers, of course, and unable to carry logic in a bucket. But perhaps if we let the poor thing write his heart out and just ignore him it will do some good in the world. Perhaps he can ask his minders for “less Thorazine” in a more coherent fashion?
          Unless the majority is for banning.

        • Evil bioaccumulates in the software of human brains for 200 years.

          Still an assertion unsupported by anything resembling a fact. Adding nonsense about “the software of human brains” does not constitute a factual claim. Nor does setting an arbitrary and easily refuted time frame.

          Your “Once upon a time” fairy tale also fails as an accurate presentation of fact, as no nation in history matches that description. For example, Wilhelmine Germany had neither the best science (a term so broad it defies objective measure), the best philosophy (again, a term beyond measurement in any objective fashion although subject to the argument that, by its failure to prevent your presumed bioaccumulation it manifestly failed in its purpose), and certainly not the best music (that being produced on the American Broadway stage was undeniably better as was that being played in the jazz clubs of Harlem, St. Louis, Memphis and Chicago. Hell, American church music was superior.) Nor did any sane German have delusions about the stability of their representative democracy; such a claim as yours reveals total delusion about the acceptance of the Weimar Republic.

  28. It is, methinks, a variation on “finding your bliss.” I fear that our culture today puts way too much emphasis, and has far too little understanding of what it really means. The former is a cause of sadness, while the latter?

    The human condition. Finding one’s bliss, or raising one’s power, it is really a very simple thing to do. More importantly, it’s almost always a very simple thing that is found.

    Joy. Our fair hostess found it, or more accurately, recalled it and embraced it. And every day, she runs the risk of being surprised yet again by it, a risk that I suspect delights her.

    This is why watching children play, watching kittens and puppies is so very important. Because all three are endless wells of joy. Keep in mind though that not all joy is bright and sparkling like the laughter of a child, or rambunctious like puppies. Some joy is virtually silent, the whisper of the wind across the night-black desert while the neon lights flash across the sage. Other times its the simple deep satisfaction of a task well done, or the piercing crack of a perfect kill shot that just rolls out of the wall-floor intersection. It can be shared, and it can be experienced vicariously.

    Joy IS all around us, as long as we’re willing to be surprised by it. Tragically, many people refuse joy’s entreaties. How many people who went LOOKING for the “meaning of life” find it? Most didn’t, because it didn’t fit their preconceived notions.

    Joy is one of God’s greatest gifts. No matter how noxious the political season may be, nor how calamitous the next few years or decades even, kittens will still play, the first snow of winter will still glisten under the moonlight, the perfect inside joke exchanged with nary but a glance with friends or family, those moments of joy, and others as countless as the stars strewn across the Arctic sky, will still come.

    Abide in joy, for joy abides.

  29. Eh. Summoning is a chancy thing. “But will they answer?”. And if so, which “they”?
    There was this one time, at Ju Jitsu practice…
    I was basically running on empty (undiagnosed anemia) and about to fall over without any help. For some reason I decided to try pulling chi up out of the Earth. So, I tried, and something happened. That chi was black.
    I don’t know what it looked like, but the guy I was practicing with disengaged and stepped back 10 feet, with hands in “warding off”.
    So, I haven’t done that again. Hope I’m never in a circumstance where I might want to.

    • When I was at my sickest, and yet we somehow needed the strength to move, SOMEONE showed up. I won’t go into details, because I’ll sound insane, but we’ll say his appearance was perfectly logical but not … expected as I knew very little about him. For about five years, he dogged my steps. I couldn’t see him, but I could sense him there, like you do if you’re in a room with someone with your back turned to them. I also had a perfect mental picture of him.
      Lately, while he’s still sort of monitoring, he’s not with me every minute, and has handed me off to someone else, who sort of keeps an eye, and pats me on the head a lot. BUT not the kind of intense attention I got back then. I get that again, I’ll know the situation is serious.

    • Weeeell, there’s a certain amount of “visualizing chi” that actually adds up to “getting your involuntary and voluntary muscle groups to work really well through giving them a picture.” It’s not necessarily anything weird and psychic.

      Singers with voice training have to do almost everything through visualization or other kinds of “feelings,” because a lot of the most important muscle groups involved in singing are involuntary, or are best controlled through relaxation and aligning other muscles in specific ways. During performance or practice, you can also get weird time flow effects like martial artists sometimes have. So there are some parallels.

      And my experience is that sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between “woo woo” stuff, and “I’m finally using technique correctly,” until you’ve done it again several times on purpose. It’s usually a case of technique, although of course weird stuff can also happen.

      But this is just suggestions. I wasn’t there, so I don’t know what it was like. You should listen to your own instincts about this sort of thing.

  30. I was watching the TV show Numbers and at one point was very jealous of the home “scene” (lots of people dropping in, dinner around the table, friends coming over for a beer after work, etc…) and was wishing my life were like that.

    I mentioned it a friend who looked at me like I was an idiot and said, “you do have that kind of life.” He was right.

    Sometimes the bliss/power is right in front of you and you just need to notice it – and not be distracted by all the “shiny” that’s floating around in our culture.

  31. When I am alone, often the thing I reach for in order to keep from falling into despair is music. Sharing one of the ones I use.

  32. I just got the news yesterday that both my eyes have healed back to 20/20 after cataract surgery last month.

    Of course, now that means I simply HAVE to force myself to the range to re-zero my rifles…..