February 18, 2007

On anger and Audioslave

Last week was a crazy week. Work’s been nuts for months and I’ve been angry. As usual, though, there’s been little cause for the intensity of my emotional reactions. Nothing I was called upon to do last week was a true hardship. Duties not in my job description, perhaps, but that’s never stopped me from doing things before. I make a point of pitching in and doing what needs to be done. And no one who needed or expected me to do things for them last week did so maliciously. But the stuff I had to do has just further delayed projects that I’m responsible for that really do need to be completed. In the end (as I muttered under my breath all week), "It’s not f@#$king insulin, it’s just f@#$king jewelry!" Regardless of that fact, it’s time for me to try yet again to get a grip on my anger.

I’ve already written here about hatred. I can still honestly say that I can’t think of a single human being for whom I feel hatred. I’m to the point I can’t even say I "hate" eggplant. I just don’t like it and don’t want to eat it. Same thing for people. There are many I’d rather not spend time around, and many I’d much rather not see holding public office or leading a country, but hatred is one emotion I don’t feel towards any of them. Anger, though, is very different from hatred, and it’s my downfall.

Maynard James Keenan, bless his heart, summed it up for me in a video interview that I just recently found on YouTube: "Hate and anger are two completely separate energies. They might have a similar emotional charge to them, but anger is a much more constructive emotion than hate." I’m going to elaborate on that. While hate and anger are two separate energies, I think people confuse them because the two emotions are so often felt simultaneously. The one can easily lead to the other, and back again. And anger is only a constructive emotion when it’s detached from hatred, when it’s recognized and analyzed. If you don’t step back and take a dispassionate look at what’s behind your anger, then you don’t allow it to be constructive. So, that’s what I’m doing with this blog. I’m taking a step back from the anger I’ve felt these past weeks and months, looking at it, trying to understand where it comes from, and figuring out a way to de-fuse it before it gets set off in the future.

Clutch it like a cornerstone. Otherwise it all comes down.
Justify denials and grip 'em to the lonesome end.
Clutch it like a cornerstone. Otherwise it all comes down.
Terrified of being wrong. Ultimatum prison cell.
(T00l, "The Grudge" Lateralus)

From what I can tell, most of my angry responses come from two sources: a martyr complex I inherited from my parents (both Martyrs Extraordinaire, though I don’t think either of them realizes it), and a shadow-side need to be smarter and better at things than everyone around me. The martyr complex clicks in pretty much whenever someone asks me to do something, or when I have to take on extra duties for any length of time. I’m certainly not the only person in the company busting butt on a daily basis to get stuff done, but I’d sure make you think I am. And those pesky little needs that I try to deny I have? They show up in a seriously offensive attitude of disdain that I often display when I’m asked a procedural or systems question. Combine those elements with a short temper and you’ll end up with an arrogant martyr stomping around breathing scorn through her nostrils like flames while muttering curses under her breath. Not pretty. And not very Buddhist.

What’s really a killer is that, very often, I realize how I’m behaving and I become embarrassed. To cover the embarrassment, I become even more angry, as well as resentful of whoever was witness to my initial over-reaction, and end up with one more brick in the wall between that person and me. Depending on my relationship with that person, I’m convinced that it could literally kill me to just stop and apologize for my behavior. With some people, I am able to do that. With others… I’m afraid to test it. What if the lightning strike from Heaven took out innocent bystanders around me?

And on I read
Until the day was gone
And I sat in regret
Of all the things I've done
For all that I've blessed
And all that I've wronged
(Chris Cornell, "Like A Stone" Audioslave)

As a some-time student of Yoga and Buddhism, of course I know exactly what I need to do to change these habitual reactions. I need to meditate and learn to practice compassion. But meditation’s so hard to make time for when there’s MySpace on the ‘net and first-season "CSI" episodes on cable tv. I’ve said many a time that I’m going to make the commitment. It’s like an addict saying that they’re going to quit, and actually, that’s a very apt way of putting it. A friend of mine once talked about quitting smoking. He said that he was actually afraid to quit because smoking was part of his identity. When he pictured himself, it was always with a cigarette. That’s my issue. I identify myself with my anger. Who would I be without it? Some namby-pamby, perky, Rachael Ray-clone? Ick. I’d rather burn in hell (which I may do anyway, but that’s beside the point).

Actually, I have thought about what sort of person I’d like to be without my anger and I have an image that I can comfortably identify with. It’s a person who can take a breath, recognize the anger, bear witness to it, and then choose a more appropriate response. No namby-pamby-ness to it. Just rational and balanced.

"Out of evil, much good has come to me. By keeping quiet, repressing nothing, remaining attentive, and by accepting reality— taking things as they are, and not as I wanted them to be —by doing all this, unusual knowledge has come to me, and unusual powers as well, such as I could never have imagined before. I always thought that when we accepted things they overpowered us in some way or other. This turns out not to be true at all, and it is only by accepting them that one can assume an attitude towards them. So now I intend to play the game of life, being receptive to whatever comes to me, good and bad, sun and shadow forever alternating, and in this way also accepting my own nature with its positive and negative sides. Thus everything becomes more alive to me. What a fool I was! How I tried to force everything to go according to the way I felt it ought to!"
From a letter to Jung from one of his former patients, discussing her acceptance of her shadow side. Quoted in Jung’s Map of the Soul (Murray Stein)

An article in the March 2007 issue of Shambala Sun was well-timed to assist me in this latest commitment to change through meditation practice. This particular statement from Buddhist teacher David Nichtern almost directly addresses some of my concerns:

"A revolutionary approach we can take is to see that the obstacles can actually become the stepping stones of the path. Our irritation, boredom, emotional upheavals, and wandering mind are the basis of the meditation practice itself. Without them, there is no meditation practice, just some kind of gooey, vague, and highly suspicious sense of well-being that lacks any real strength or foundation. We are just trying to pacify our mind in a superficial way, without working with ourselves as we really are— emotional, speedy, tired, anxious, spaced out, or whatever arises."

Bingo. No gooey-ness, instead strength and foundation. So far, so good. The article then goes on to discuss the specific practice of maitri, or loving-kindness. Now, I have trouble with my attempts to practice Buddhism whenever that term comes up. It’s just too gooey and namby-pamby for me. But, while "maitri means loving-kindness or unconditional friendliness… [it] is also a further step into overcoming and transforming our habitual patterns of selfishness and aggression." Dammit, they got me there. The only excuse I have left is the pull of those "CSI" episodes.

So, how to practice a maitri meditation? Beginning with the image of a loved one in your mind, direct the following wishes to that person: "May you be safe. May you be happy. May you be healthy. May you be at ease." Next, extend those wishes to your self. Then, towards some person or persons to whom you feel neutral. Finally, direct those wishes towards some person or group of people that irritates you, or that you would consider an "enemy." Through this practice, one can "deliberately cultivate and direct… goodwill and positive intentions toward ourselves and others." Knowing myself, though, the computer and the tv will win out over any form of meditation.

Another method I’ve considered, a sort of shortcut, is something I remember from a television interview with Richard Gere. Gere is, of course, the most well-known "celebrity" Buddhist out there, and he’s apparently sincere. In this interview, he described a practice he uses that he described as "so simple, and at the same time, so profound." And it is. In any situation dealing with another person, whether positive or negative, merely think "I wish you peace" towards that person. When the barrista at Starbucks gets your order just right, look at him and think, "I wish you peace." When a woman with a cell phone growing from her ear cuts you off in traffic, look her way and think, "I wish you peace." I mean, really, do you (do I) honestly wish that she’d crash and her car burst into flames? No. Honestly, at that moment, you (I) really wish yourself (myself) peace, and the best way to achieve it for your (my) self is to wish it for her as well.

So, what excuses do I have left? I’ve found a self-image that’s genuine, that accepts the emotional response yet catches it and allows me to choose before I react. If the anger’s valid, then I can choose to use it as a vehicle to change whatever inspired that emotion. If it’s not valid, then I’ve found a quick’n’easy choice in the "I wish you peace" practice. And, one day, maybe I’ll even begin sitting my ass down on a cushion for some real meditation in order to more easily achieve the goal of becoming that new peace-wishing self-image. Any MySpace Friends out there want to give me some words of encouragement along the way?

On another note: Late last week, Chris Cornell announced that he’s leaving Audioslave. I was surprised, yet not surprised. Contrary to most of the reviews I’ve read of Audioslave’s albums, I felt the first album was the only one on which they gelled. The music and the lyrics on that album have a much more organic feel to them, I believe. They fit better than on the second and third albums. Most reviews seem to say the opposite, but I can think of two examples on the second album, in particular, that indicate otherwise. The song "Out of Exile", for which the second album is titled, begins with a martial, military-sounding drum riff. By the time the lyrics begin, though, it’s become a sappy, romantic love song to Chris Cornell’s new wife. How could the guys in ‘Slave think that those two elements went together? The first song on the album, "Your Time Has Come", is lyrically about various people Cornell has known who died senseless deaths while still young. In the third verse, he compares these deaths to the feeling he had seeing the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC, the "wall of names". While the song’s not about war, specifically, wouldn’t it have made a tad more sense to pair that military-sounding drum beat to those lyrics? That’s just one glaring example of the synchronicity that Audioslave seemed to lose between their first album and the last two. So, as much as I loved Audioslave, I can’t say I’m disappointed. And I can’t wait to see what Tom, Tim and Brad do next, whether it means reuniting with their old Rage Against the Machine pal, Zack de la Rocha, or not. They’re talented guys who craft some killer tunes.

As for Cornell, I really think that anyone he works with is gonna have to realize that they’re taking a back seat to Chris. Even if Chris himself tries to believe that he’s working as part of a greater whole, any musicians he collaborates with are going to end up being nothing but a vehicle for his talent and drive. While I haven’t been 100% thrilled with everything he’s done on the last two ‘Slave albums (Too many sappy love songs to the new wife. There’s one song in particular that wins the title of "First Chris Cornell Song I Just Won’t Listen To"), I’m still eager to hear his upcoming second solo album. The man’s been through so many transitions in his life that have been reflected in his music, it’s been fascinating to follow along and hear how he’s grown and evolved. At this point, I may not love everything he does, but the fascination’s still there, as well as the anticipation that at least some of his words will still move me.

Forget how soon
You become a fool for words when I speak
(Chris Cornell, "Flutter Girl" Euphoria Morning)

February 11, 2007

Tea with Maynard & Carl

Lunch at Teavolve in B'more. Sun-dried tomato quiche and a pot of Keemun hairpoint. Such a serene spot, and it was especially nice that Sunni, the proprietress, apparently recognized me when I walked in. After my first visit three weeks ago, I messaged her through MySpace to ask about the paint color in the shop's bathroom. As I was ordering today, I asked again and she knew exactly what I was talking about. Though I guess most patrons don't inquire about the decorating details of the 'loo…

I've been on a synchronous kick lately of Carl Jung and T00l. As I stated in my post about "Forty-six&2", that song got me into Jung in the first place, through the exploration of the Shadow archetype. On their next album, Lateralus, the song "Reflection" also steers me towards Jungian contemplations. (Man, I'm gettin' deep already tonight. Anyway…) Here are the lyrics:

I have come curiously close to the end, down
Beneath my self-indulgent pitiful hole,
Defeated, I concede and
Move closer
I may find comfort here
I may find peace within the emptiness
How pitiful
It's calling me...

And in my darkest moment, fetal and weeping
The moon tells me a secret - my confidant
As full and bright as I am
This light is not my own and
A million light reflections pass over me
Its source is bright and endless
She resuscitates the hopeless
Without her, we are lifeless satellites drifting

And as I pull my head out I am without one doubt
Don't wanna be down here feeding my narcissism.
I must crucify the ego before it's far too late
I pray the light lifts me out
Before I pine away.

So crucify the ego, before it's far too late
To leave behind this place so negative and blind and cynical,
And you will come to find that we are all one mind
Capable of all that's imagined and all conceivable.
Just let the light touch you
And let the words spill through
And let them pass right through
Bringing out our hope and reason ...
before we pine away.

What I always wonder about this song is how Maynard defines the term "ego". When he sings that he must "crucify the ego", he seems to be using the standard connotation of ego as something that becomes inflated and takes over our better selves, as opposed to the Jungian interpretation, or even the Freudian, for that matter.

The book I've been working on lately is Jung's Map of the Soul, by Murray Stein. It's basically an introductory overview of Jung's theories regarding psyche, the ego, the self, persona/shadow, anima/us, complexes and consciousness. Stein starts out in his introduction comparing Jung's exploration and explanation of the psyche to a map, but the impression I keep getting is of a solar system or a universe, with just a bit of a skew. At the core of Jung's 'universe' is the ego: "It forms, as it were, the centre of the field of consciousness; and, in so far as this comprises the empirical personality, the ego is the subject of all personal acts of consciousness" (Jung). As the center of the 'universe' I keep picturing, the ego becomes not the Sun but, as in an antiquated view of our solar system, the Earth. It is "one's experience of oneself as a center of willing, desiring, reflecting and acting" (Stein). "The ego is a kind of mirror in which the psyche can see itself and can become aware. The degree to which a psychic content is taken up and reflected by the ego is the degree to which it can be said to belong to the realm of consciousness" (Stein). What's important to keep in mind with Jung's concept of ego is that it is not consciousness itself- consciousness is awareness, it contains the ego as well as the other complexes that revolve in the solar system of the psyche. Floating throughout this solar system are the various contents of consciousness- thoughts, memories, identity, fantasies, emotions, images and words. As the center of consciousness, the ego plays a large role in determining "which contents remain within the realm of consciousness and which ones drop away into the unconscious" (Stein). Here's where we begin to get into repression: the ego can choose to repress contents that it doesn't like or finds painful or incompatible with other contents (which leads to the development of the Shadow).

The ego can also be said to be the factor that sets us apart from other creatures, as well as from fellow human beings. It gives our conscious behavior focus and direction. It wills and acts, it represents our free will. Stein gives the very basic example of choosing to go to the post office as an action decided upon and directed by the ego, but it goes far beyond that. "Because we have an ego, we possess the freedom to make choices that may defy our instincts for self-preservation, propagation, and creativity… A strong ego is one that can obtain and move around in a deliberate way large amounts of conscious content. A weak ego cannot do very much of this kind of work and more easily succumbs to impulses and emotional reactions" (Stein).

The ego is developed via "what he [Jung] called 'collisions.' In other words, conflict, trouble, anguish, sorrow, suffering… As the ego tries to apply its will, it meets a certain measure of resistance from the environment, and if this collision is handled well the result will be the ego's growth… A moderate amount of conflict with the environment and some frustration are, therefore… the best conditions for ego growth" (Stein). A strong, well-developed ego is necessary to deal with the various complexes buried within us that throw our psyche out of balance at the touch of a button. "What the ego can do, if it is strong enough, is to contain some of the complex's energy within itself and to minimize emotional and physical outbursts" (Stein) that can occur when we are in the grip of a stimulated complex.

Similarly, Freud's definition of the ego implies a "a set of psychic functions such as reality-testing, defence, synthesis of information, intellectual functioning, and memory" (Wikipedia: Ego, super-ego, and id). It is "based on the reality principle. The ego understands that other people have needs and desires and that sometimes being impulsive or selfish can hurt us in the long run. Its job is to meet the needs of the id [the source of our most basic drives and impulses], while taking into consideration the reality of the situation" (AllPsych On-line: Freud's Structural and Topographical Models of Personality. On the flipside, while satisfying the desires of the id, the ego must take care to not upset the super-ego, which is the seat of our conscience and sense of morality. A weak ego, in the Freudian sense, would not be able to maintain this balance, leading to a personality either given to impulsive self-gratification or a rigid and judgmental morality. A strong ego is one that is able to balance these other aspects of the psyche to keep us centered and able to cope with reality.

Considering these definitions of ego, it seems that Maynard has it backwards. Rather than crucifying the ego, what is needed to escape that "self-indulgent pitiful hole" is to strengthen the ego, to develop it in order to prevent our descent into that hole in the first place.

Now, when I look at this song from a Buddhist perspective, I pick up on other elements of it with which to disagree (Sorry, MJK) First off, Maynard describes finding peace within emptiness as "pitiful." This is in contrast to the Buddhist idea of emptiness: "This concept, known as sunyata… is a key feature of Mahayana Buddhism. Such a term may appear, on the face of it, to have negative connotations, as though something is lacking. The opposite is in fact true. In Buddhism, the realization of emptiness equates to the experience of nibbana (nirvana) and therefore the cessation of suffering or dukkha" (About.com: Buddhism- Emptiness). As such, the concept of emptiness is a comforting one to Buddhists, and not a pitiful state to which one concedes in defeat.

"So crucify the ego, before it's far too late
To leave behind this place so negative and blind and cynical,
And you will come to find that we are all one mind
Capable of all that's imagined and all conceivable."

There is one line in which MJK sounds a tad Buddhist, in his assertion that "we are all one mind." The idea of interdependency is just as basic to the study of Buddhism as is that of emptiness. We are all one and inseparable. This lack of separation, this oneness, means that the self-indulgent narcissism Maynard sings of is a delusory state that leads to that painfully blind cynicism. Baaaaad Buddhist that I am, I have to admit that this idea actually kind of scares me sometimes. When I look at the people around me, the idea of being of one mind with some of them just freaks me out. I mean, I'm of "one mind" with that Larry-the-cable-guy clone in the pickup truck that just leered at me as he cut me off in traffic? I'm of "one mind" with the Ebonics-talking woman in the Sheetz restroom, screaming at her kids while carrying on a raucous conversation over the cellphone growing out of her ear? Forgive my blind, cynical and narcissistic ego here, but can't I just be of "one mind" with somebody like MJK and leave it at that?

And the Buddha's probably now rolling in whatever entity he's currently incarnated in… (Oh wait, I've used that joke already. It wasn't funny the first time, either.)

That'th all folkth!

Revision added 2/14/07:
Seriously, though, in spite of my nit-picking contradictions with MJK's use of certain terms, the overall message of this song is a valuable one. The idea that letting go of the narcissistic b.s. we all cling to will open us up to oneness and peace is very Buddhist, and certainly something to aspire towards. And the music to which these words are set is beautiful and haunting. On those rare occassions that I make an effort, I've found this a wonderful song to meditate to. (Note to self: Make that effort a little more frequently!!)

February 6, 2007

Step into the shadow, forty-six+2 are just ahead of me...

This is the song that got me into T00l, and then subsequently got me into Jung. I've read various things around the 'net about the 46+2 reference having to do with the fact that human beings currently have a chromosome composition of 44+2, and that if/when we develop the additional chromosomes necessary to reach 46+2 then we'll achieve "Christ consciousness." Yadda, yadda, yadda... That may or may not be, but on a more basic level, I still get plenty out of this song:

My shadow's
shedding skin and
I've been picking
Scabs again.
I'm down
Digging through
My old muscles
Looking for a clue.

I've been crawling on my belly
Clearing out what could've been.
I've been wallowing in my own confused
And insecure delusions
For a piece to cross me over
Or a word to guide me in.
I wanna feel the changes coming down.
I wanna know what I've been hiding in

My shadow.
Change is coming through my shadow.
My shadow's shedding skin
I've been picking
My scabs again.

I've been crawling on my belly
Clearing out what could've been.
I've been wallowing in my own chaotic
And insecure delusions.

I wanna feel the change consume me,
Feel the outside turning in.
I wanna feel the metamorphosis and
Cleansing I've endured within

My shadow.
Change is coming.
Now is my time.
Listen to my muscle memory.
Contemplate what I've been clinging to.
Forty-six and two ahead of me.

I choose to live and to
Grow, take and give and to
Move, learn and love and to
Cry, kill and die and to
Be paranoid and to
Lie, hate and fear and to
Do what it takes to move through.

I choose to live and to
Lie, kill and give and to
Die, learn and love and to
Do what it takes to step through.

See my shadow changing,
Stretching up and over me.
Soften this old armor.
Hoping I can clear the way
By stepping through my shadow,
Coming out the other side.
Step into the shadow.
Forty six and two are just ahead of me.

Around the time I first heard this song, I had recently experienced the end of a six year relationship in which I willingly suppressed parts of my personality in the name of what I thought was "compromise". Trite as it may sound, these words from MJK were a revelation. I'd been spending a lot of time "wallowing in my own confused and insecure delusions" of rejection and abandonment. Upon hearing this, I realized it was time to get re-acquainted with all those more... unusual portions of my self that didn't quite fit with my ex.

The idea of the shadow, I think, is often mis-represented. Many people seem to perceive of it as only containing our most perverse, unacceptable, "dirty" aspects. It's our "dark side", it's ugly, it's dangerous, it's sexy. That's like the Hollywood reading of the shadow. My own interpretation takes a wider view. While the shadow does seem to encompass the darker, perhaps less moral characteristics we'd rather not admit to, it also can contain all those silly, petty little needs we'd like to pretend we don't have: need for attention, need for approval, need for commendation, need for acceptance, need to always be right... Less dark, and decidedly less sexy. Also hidden amongst all of the dark dangerousness and less dark pettiness can be strong, creative, more elemental aspects of our character that we may just plain not know how to deal with, so we stuff them down and sublimate them in those deep areas of our unconscious. Here's a concise description that seems to me to be fairly accurate: Confrontation with the Shadow by Kevin Wilson.

By taking a good, hard, objective look at our reactions and behaviors, we can begin to see some the elements of our own shadow. It's especially easy to see when we catch ourselves in the act of projection. As our MySpace friend Kevin explains, very often the qualities we abhor in others are the very aspects of ourselves we'd rather not be conscious of. The obnoxious, arrogant co-worker who always has to be right. The self-centered, inconsiderate idiot who cut us off in traffic. The silly bimbo chick who gets all the attention at a party. The terrorists who blow up others in the name of "belief". If we look deeply enough in the mirror, we might see glimpses of ourselves, if not committing the same acts, then at least occasionally exhibiting similar characteristics and motivations, or wishing that we could. The fear of consciously realizing this about ourselves enrages us and, voila!, our fear and rage is projected onto that other person. (Hmmm... Suddenly this is tying in with my post on hatred...)

When we take the bold step of looking back over our feelings, actions, and motivations, really, truly and objectively analyzing them, then we can begin to catch glimpses of our shadow. The next step is to admit that we have these imperfections. Not with shame or self-loathing, mind you. Just with objective, rational acceptance. Even the Dalai Lama's shit stinks, man. Learn to live with your pettiness and your darkness. We all have some assortment of bad habits, needs, desires and traits that would get us kicked out of Sunday School. Why be so ashamed and afraid? This is not to say one should give these traits and impulses free-reign, of course. There is a reason that they're considered "bad". But let them out of the dark cellar of the unconscious, show them a little compassion, and you may find there's less to be afraid of than you thought. They may even behave themselves better than you expect, and can color your personality in some very interesting, albeit quirky, ways. Treat them as little siblings of the "big brother" good qualities in your nature. While the big brother gets a scholarship, goes off to college, becomes an intelligent and magnanimous President of the United States, those dark little siblings can sit at home quietly blogging, not feeling so much need to act up because they know that they're unconditionally accepted.

I choose to live and to
Grow, take and give and to
Move, learn and love and to
Cry, kill and die and to be
Paranoid and to
Lie, hate and fear and to
Do what it takes to move through.

February 3, 2007

Some favorite song lyrics and quotes...

"There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture in the lonely shore,
There is society where none intrudes...
I love not man less, but nature more."

George Gordon, Lord Byron (I don't know which poem this is from, unfortunately. I just found it somewhere.)

"A man may take to drink because he feels himself to be a failure, and then fail all the more completely because he drinks. It is rather the same thing that is happening to the English language. It becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier to have foolish thoughts."
George Orwell, from his 1946 essay "Politics and the English Language"

"Think for yourself. Question authority. Throughout human history, as our species has faced the frightening, terrorizing fact that we do not know who we are, or where we are going in this ocean of chaos, it has been the authorities, the political, the religious, the educational authorities who attempted to comfort us by giving us order, rules, regulations, informing, forming in our minds their view of reality. To think for yourself you must question authority and learn how to put yourself in a state of vulnerable open-mindedness; chaotic, confused, vulnerability to inform yourself. Think for yourself. Question authority."
Timothy Leary, sampled on live version of "Third Eye", Salival (T00L)

"With an ounce of pain,
I wield a ton of rage..."
Chris Cornell, "Like Suicide", Superunknown (Soundgarden)

"The words you say
Never seem to live up to
The ones inside your head..."
Chris Cornell, "The Day I Tried to Live", Superunknown(Soundgarden)

"Friends and liars, don't wait for me.
I'll get on all by myself.
I put millions of miles
Under my heels,
And still too close to you I feel."
Chris Cornell, "I Am The Highway", Audioslave(Audioslave)

"Praise & blame,
gain & loss,
pleasure & sorrow,
come & go like the wind.
To be happy,
rest like a great tree
in the midst of them all."
The Buddha

"I choose to live and to
Grow, take and give and to
Move, learn and love and to
Cry, kill and die and to
Be paranoid and to
Lie, hate and fear and to
Do what it takes to move through."
Maynard James Keenan, "46+2", Aenima (T00L)

"Forget how soon
You become a fool for words
When I speak..."
Chris Cornell, "Flutter Girl", Euphoria Morning)

"With my feet upon the ground
I lose myself between the sounds
And open wide to suck it in,
I feel it move across my skin.
I'm reaching up and reaching out,
I'm reaching for the random or
What ever will bewilder me."
Maynard James Keenan, "Lateralus", Lateralus(T00L)

"Close your eyes and bow your head,
I need a little sympathy.
Cause fear is strong and love's for everyone
Who isn't me..."
Chris Cornell, "Burden In My Hand", Down on the Upside (Soundgarden)

"Sitting here like uninvited company,
Wallowing in my own obscenity,
I share a cigarette with negativity.
Sitting here like wet ashes with X's in my eyes,
And drawing flies..."
Chris Cornell, "Drawing Flies", Badmotorfinger(Soundgarden)

"And as I pull my head out I am without one doubt.
Don't wanna be down here feeding my narcissism.
I must crucify the ego before it's far too late.
I pray the light lifts me out
Before I pine away."
Maynard James Keenan, "Reflection", Lateralus (T00L)

Church signs

I get a kick out of some of the sayings posted on signs in front of churches. Some of them are quite witty, or at least quite pun-ny. Two of my favorites:

"Give Satan and inch and he will be your ruler"


"When Satan comes knocking at your door, simply say:
Jesus, could you get that?"

The second one I saw one snowy afternoon along Rte 40 coming out of B'more and it cracked me up for the rest of the day. I got the most vivid picture in my head of some Baltimore housewife in a housecoat, with curlers in her hair and a cigarette dangling from her lip, clicking the remote at the tv (think Divine in Hairspray), hearing that knock on the front door and going "Jesus, hon', could ya get that?" And then Jesus, in his homespun robe and sandals, turning off the vacuum cleaner and shuffling to the front door with a sigh, while a bright red, horned Satan stands outside peeking in the window...

If there's a hell, I'm surely headed for it