Wednesday, January 27, 2010

my morning

sun explodes through brick
the hope of a new day tricks
the shimmer of a smile
that's been lost in denial
holds the expectation
without a proper explanation
of why it disappears
and is replaced by so many tears

the buzz of so many souls
who don't know their roles
trudge through life under the ever changing sky
with that melancholy despair look in their eye
its all about truth, lies, and survival
hope you all come to the revival

long strides, dark colors, dark faces
all fighting, working, moving to new places
without hope, without happiness, without peace
with anger, with fear, looking for a new lease
on life--this life, the one, the only
time erases both the true and the phony

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Next Steps

So if you're one of the many people that are not bound by the many material vices of the modern world, what's next? This is the question I was discussing with my wife as we were in the middle of a conversation about being better people. She immediately said "what about being more reflective, less angry, less stressed, happier, and being able to deal with stress better." I whole-heartily agreed with her at which point in time I promptly made a very non-reflective comment comparing our relationship with another couple's. She pointed out my error and I immediately saw my folly and realized where I was in my own fragile evolution--not there yet; but I don't know if that goal is ever reached, for anyone, in a thousand lifetimes--its all about the journey.

Life is a never ending mountain climb. As soon as you reach a plateau there is another, maybe larger rock to conquer. You know that if you stop moving, if you fail to attempt to climb that rock, the only other option is to descend. So when the external vices are under control it is then the goal to corral the internal vices that can have such a detrimental effect on other things, or people.

I guess its like anything else; if you're disciplined and consistent at controlling the negative thoughts and emotions, eventually they'll disappear. It sounds so easy in my head and looking at it on the computer screen. Its shifting the paradigm. The second part is thinking about where you want the thoughts to go. That is, if a specific situation makes you have a stressful reaction, where to you put that? If you're used to projecting your stress onto others what do you do with it? Usually a stressful situation in under your control to do something about, so it would seem logical to proceed with not projecting the negative feelings upon others and turning them inward, deal with them head-on and come up with a positive solution. This is a simple approach, and there have been many parallel philosophies that have discussed the same course of action.

But that's another dilemma, there is a clear starting point, the stress, and clear end goal, turning inward and making a potentially negative situation into a positive, but what about the middle? The journey? This is the hardest part, this is where the actual "work" is done. But its all just a state of mind, right? Believe it and you can do it, right? Again easier said than done. (sorry about the cliches, but they're true) Maybe, creating some type of emotional tracking system, where it is recorded what the stressful situation is, coming up with solutions to relieve it, following through on the solutions, and reaching the inward, positive goal is the correct course of action. I think this would be poignantly reflective and paradigm changing solution to the dilemma.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Is competition the only spark for evolution?

The theory of fight or flight was first advanced by Walter Cannon, a famous psychologist in the 1920s. It was also called the "acute stress response". It basically puts words to the automatic human response to a stressful situation. This has been our history. This is who we are, how we react to stress, how we survive advance as a species. This is a very animal-like response to situations that we are forced to take action in.

As human we are animals, however, we have also been given the opportunity to use logic. The history of logic can be traced back to the great Ancient Civilizations of the past; Greece and Egypt. Logic relates to the mathematical concept of geometry, which has its origins in Ancient Egypt approximately 2,700 B.C. or roughly 5,000 years ago. When a numerical problem is presented and can be solved, it is done so with logic.

If we look at the grand scheme of things, we see that humans in their current state have been around for 6 million years. The logic was always there. It did not surface until around 5,000 years ago. That means that as humans, we've employed the use of logic, consciously, for 1/1200 of our recorded existence. By looking at it this way, we are still relatively new to the concept.

Why is logic important? It offers an alternative to the concept of this "acute stress response" symptom that has been embedded in our DNA through evolution. Instead of a fight or flight response, maybe there is an alternative. Maybe there is a way to logically think through stressful situations together, rather then possibly having a harmful, painful result. This, however, is not to discount the importance and value in the evolutionary survival technique of the fight or flight concept. Obviously, this evolutionary miracle has caused humans to survive and thrive throughout history.

So why use this strategy of logic in today's world? Simply because there is no need for fight or flight in certain situations when it used to be needed. For most of our existence as humans there was a grand need to survive, and only survive. Now (as I've posted previously) we have the ability as humans to do more than just survive; we've transitioned from the "need" to the "want." Of course, I'm writing from the perspective of the Western, non-poverty point of view. However, this relates because we have the resources, knowledge, and ability to help every society in the world do more than have the ability to survive.

Survival is based on "need." Need for water, food, shelter, and the competition for these things. Most of these "needs" are met without an unusual amount of effort in the Western world. Need to survive, in the past, often involved a competition for these things. Competition involves the fight or flight mechanism. Is the "need" great enough to have to fight for it? Or can it wait for another day/opportunity?

With the common competition for the "need" satisfied we've shifted this competition to the "want." The "want" of a better car, house, phone, or other luxury; things that are unneeded, except for that of shelter, however, in this case it is presumed that the person already has a shelter and just wants an upgrade. Do these "wants" have to be associated with the "acute stress response" mechanism that we needed in order to survive? No. We have, however, made no distinction.

Bear with me on my long and winding road here. The "wants" can included broad things like world peace, absolving hunger and poverty, seeking alternatives to conflicts that have in the past included violence, and narrow things like drug, alcohol, and substance abuse, gambling, stealing, or cheating on a spouse. This short list makes the picture clear.

Our "needs" were solved with being programmed with the "acute stress response". I also think that our "wants" have been programmed with the use of logic. All of the issues in the previous paragraph can and should be solved with logic, or at least logical thinking. We all know how to solve issues, so why haven't we? Because we're using the wrong schema. So how do we shift our response to these issues from the "acute stress response" to logic? By being conscious and reflective in the present when these situations arise.