Wednesday, March 31, 2021

APRIL 2021 BLOG

 











RETIREMENT AS REFIREMENT

  

This month, my reflection is about retirement. Most people who work for many years, dream about retiring in peace, harmony, travel and enjoying their well-earned pension.

After living in “almost retirement” for over 10 years, (I still work in my private gestalt practice), I am coming to the conclusion that “re-tire” is being tired and spent, out of energy, and needing rest. Most people are tired of a long and monotonous work time doing no particular thing for themselves but working for others and earning a salary. Many of those retired are now exhausted with the current pandemic, being locked down and wearing masks for protection and full of fear of dying.

It is now over a year of “no-thing” simply being at home, shop for food, and watching a lot of movies or Netflix. A new solution emerged as the need for connections arose. That thing is called ZOOM. My wife loves it as we can easily talk to the family in Spain, design seminars and even do Yoga at home. Zoom is an online “living experience’ that saves us a lot of money going overseas. Yet, the ‘travel bug’ is extraordinarily strong and we are waiting for another year taking on Zoom waiting for news that the vaccine will do its work and protect us all from this evil pandemic. In the meantime (due to Covid-19) we are making a daily practice to manage safely our lives, be more secluded, less party with friends and be careful where we go in the city.

It seems that on a metaphorical level, we humans are undergoing a global cleansing and therefore it is time now, to take a good look at how we, not only stop the pandemic but also how to change ourselves to make sure that the future catastrophes as climate change will become a less of a major global catastrophe but more a healing experience for us and for Nature.

But coming back to the notion of ‘retirement’, I am sharing here a wonderful article by Gregory J. Beaupre published in the recent Quillette magazine. The author reflects on his own retirement and probably coins a new word for it “REFIREMENT”. Here is his full statement:





ON RETIREMENT BY Gregory J. Beaupre

It is Sunday as I finish writing this, and I am reflecting on work on this biblically traditional day of rest. Specifically, I am thinking about not working, i.e., retirement. The ultimate rest for the dues-paid-in-full working stiff.

I did not plan it, but I retired first. Before any start to a career. Through my four-year college degree program that took seven on-and-off years to complete, and a few more years on top of those, I spent my time doing a host of things one associates with a traditional retirement: playing golf, reading, hitting the beach, doing a range of odd jobs to make some money, keeping my “nut” as low as possible to match the lean cash flow, taking classes to keep my brain in the game, writing in my journal, doing some traveling, offering some folks and good causes time and help, reflecting on life past and future, learning a couple of new hobbies, hanging with similarly positioned friends, and observing with secret satisfaction all those other people who spin themselves into a frenzy in their workaday existence.

Of course, retiring first also gave me the benefit of doing it while enjoying the good health that youth typically offer, if not the better money or good sense that senior status typically offers. Today, as a card-carrying sexagenarian—a stage when culture traditionally expects me and my ilk to have hung it up—I find myself looking back on that earlier period. And admittedly, my perspective from my current wisdom-informed worldview is that I was aimless, unambitious, untethered to responsibilities like career-building and family-building, struck with wanderlust, and not too concerned about it all. In other words, I was what society calls a bum. A Young Bum, not a Young Gun like today’s precociously talented youth are dubbed.

So, unplanned, I retired first. Had a good run. Then had enough, could not run anymore, sought a new path, and got to work. (Also, I finally employed a CEO for my brain. More on that below.) In my case, the work was writing. I have been writing ever since. Four decades’ worth of words. If only I had charged by the word. I love doing it, I (usually) get paid to do it, and I have no intention of stopping. But what about that “real” retirement? After 40-plus years of working, shouldn’t I and others like me seriously be considering that?

I could. But here is something I recently learned, with unassailable data to back it up: Folks in their 60s like me (and well beyond) can perform their work—writing, woodworking, scientific research, song writing, consulting, practicing law, designing, entrepreneurial pursuits and on and on—at their highest level ever during these years. And “highest level” means more productive, innovative, collaborative, knowledgeable, wise, and creative than most younger people in the same positions. The data is quite convincing that those of us who qualified for the American Association of Retired Persons several years ago (they should not be sending out their first membership solicitation when you are 50, for crying out loud) usually have several more years of continued high performance and further advancement ahead of us.

I could choose to continue my writing work at this stage out of sheer guilt that I had taken a sloppy undeserved retirement before even getting to work and do not deserve another one. Or I could take the knowledge of likely future productivity and purposeful contribution and ask myself, “Why would I leave all that on the table for an unending series of tee times?”

I glommed onto and grappled with all this and more last year while reading the mind-opening book, Late Bloomers: The Power of Patience in a World Obsessed with Early Achievement, by Rich Karlgaard, the long-time publisher of Forbes magazine as well as entrepreneur, speaker, and confirmed Late Bloomer. (Important note of clarification: By “late bloomers,” Karlgaard does not just mean someone in advanced years who finally accomplishes something. He means someone at just about any mature adult age who ultimately “blooms” with some success or achievement; and the “blooming” can happen multiple times in a life, not just once.)

While the book was inspiring and enlightening in pointing out the positives and strengths people at my age can take with us into the coming years of professional output and personal productivity, it also was nothing short of an epiphany in helping me understand that my “early” retirement, my vagabond period, my wanton youth, maybe was not a sign of purely reprobate behaviour after all.

I now see I was, and in some significant ways still am, a Late Bloomer as Karlgaard describes. And I am just one of countless such Late Bloomers all around us, according to the research. Maybe you can relate. As I look back on it, I am lucky to have gotten away with a retirement at all, early or otherwise. These days senior folks are working well past the traditional retirement age, for a variety of reasons, oftentimes financial.

I am fortunate to have the prospect of meaningful work now and into the foreseeable future, COVID and chaos be damned. That “early” retirement will likely end up being the only one of its kind that I will experience. Frankly, I would not enjoy that kind of existence much now anyway—some of it, maybe, but not all of it. My values and experiences then are not my values and desired experiences now. It took quite a while for me to understand it, but actually getting to work at something you love doing is one of the greatest blessings you can have. And, if we are to accept the polling data out there, loving your work is an experience that is sadly all too rare.

Retirement? No thanks. “Rewirement?” Hmm, sounds interesting. “Refirement?” For sure.

We must stop excessively glorifying precocious achievement [the wunderkind ideal] and seeing human development as a “fast track” on-ramp for early success. Not only is it unjust to most of us, but it is also profoundly inhumane. It ignores the natural-born gifts that we all possess. It cuts off paths of discovery for our more latent or later-blooming gifts and passions. It trivializes the value of character, experience, empathy, wisdom, reliability, tenacity, and a host of other admirable qualities that make us successful and fulfilled. And it undercuts most of us who are potential late bloomers.

The wunderkind ideal was not so much a factor in American culture and society when I was of an age to have qualified, by age alone if not the exceptional talent. We got to go to college (if you were lucky enough back then to have the family support and enough means to do so) and truly “navel gaze,” as higher ed was designed to be then. Muse about life and your future career, have a few fits and starts, change majors seven times on average.

I recall that a semester of tuition at Louisiana State University cost about $300 back then. You could, without stockpiling debt, flunk out your very first semester, rethink things, then get back to school after waiting a semester and try again. Do better. Hit the books. But not well enough to avoid flunking out one more time. Take a year off for a fascinating job in another country. Then finally graduate cum laude with a customized degree called “Humanities Interdisciplinary.” Do it all guilt free, and not be broke for a decade. All of which I did.

One thing at work back then for me—or not at work, as this case shows—was my brain’s “executive function.”

Eighteen- to twenty-five-year-olds are literally incapable of making responsible judgments, paying sufficient attention, or managing their emotions. Yet at this age they are being measured and fitted (via tests, grades, and job interviews) for the trajectory of the rest of their lives. This makes no sense.

The incapacities Karlgaard cites are related to brain development, specifically the “executive functioning” that lives in the frontal lobe. The so-called “CEO” of the brain can be slow to fully form, such that the mental maturation process can last into a person’s late 20s or even 30s. I would like to believe the late-blooming development of my executive function was surely a part of my “retirement”; I didn’t really start buckling down until I reached about 29. Surely other aspects were at play for me, too, such as garden-variety immaturity, chronic laziness, as well as creative curiosity that sent me a-wanderin’ mentally and physically just about anywhere. (I have kept a list of all the jobs, odd and otherwise, I held during this timeframe, and I’ve started writing about some of the more, let’s say, “interesting” ones. First one on deck: Sewerage Treatment Plant Operator I… coming soon to a virtual bookshelf near you.)

There is a compelling neurological rationale for taking a year or two off before, during, or after college. People who prolong adolescent brain plasticity for even a short time enjoy intellectual advantages over their more fixed counterparts in the work world. Studies have found that highly accomplished people enjoy a longer period during which new synapses continue to proliferate. The evidence is clear: Exposure to novelty and challenge while the brain’s frontal cortex is still plastic leads to greater long-term career success.

Karlgaard entertainingly cites many fascinating examples of people who did much as I did, most of whom ended up simply fine—and in some cases, really fine like J.K. Rowling. These stories about late bloomers, whether the blooming happened in their 30s, 60s, or even 90s, are some of the best parts of the book. I should also mention that his stories of the precocious achievers, many famous ones, who shot to stardom right out of the gate (Bill Gates aside), only to crash and burn, are equally riveting and highly confirmative of the book’s thesis.

Our brains are constantly forming neural networks and patterns—recognition capabilities that we did not have in our youth when we had blazing synaptic horsepower. As we get older, we develop new skills and refine others, including social awareness, emotional regulation, empathy, humour, listening, risk-reward calibration, and adaptive intelligence… abilities we acquire up until the end of our lives.

Chapter 4 of the book, titled “The Six Strengths of Late Bloomers,” is simply packed with fascinating information. The deeper explorations of these six strengths are illuminating, but here is the list: curiosity, compassion, resilience, equanimity, insight, and wisdom. And the key point Karlgaard makes is that each of these is conferred only with time. Diving as deeply as I have been into this recollection of my Decade of Delayed Development (my term, not Karlgaard’s), I am inclined to give myself some grace and be thankful that Patience, somewhere, somehow, entered the picture for me.

What about our creativity, our ability to land upon the unexpected insight? Once again, we retain that capability for much longer than previously thought. The idea is that random thinking—seeing beyond the obvious—is connected to creative thinking. When an apple falls from a tree, the creative person does not simply think that apple must have been ripe; like Isaac Newton, he sees the apple fall and pictures the invisible force of gravity.

If this sounds like self-promotion, it is, but for my whole superannuated cohort: Karlgaard’s keen insights and data-driven analyses show why you should hire (or keep) talented people of, let us just say, ages later than are currently in vogue in ad agencies, marketing departments, social-platform giants, and lots of other places.

One of my favorited quotes from a writer’s standpoint is from Henry David Thoreau: “How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.” I have used that thought to support my procrastination on personal writing projects for years, saying to myself, “Hey, buddy, you’re just not ready.” But for this purpose, I will paraphrase: “How dumb it is to have a 25-year-old barely out of her art school bubble create real-world advertising reaching out to incontinent seniors on welfare.” Okay, that is an exaggeration (or maybe not), but you get my drift. And, with that, I have ticked off a bunch of bright and talented twenty-something friends and colleagues of mine in the biz. I did not mean you!

Why should a sixty-five-year-old or a seventy-two-year-old not work if they want to and their employer finds their contribution to be valuable, at the right level of pay? (Note to CEOs: If your human resources and legal departments cannot figure this out, replace them with ones that can.)

Why not, indeed? And that “level of pay” part is key. It is utterly illogical to squeeze out a senior employee who is fully and richly capable just because she or he has a salary now deemed too high (or ignorantly assumed to be cognitively diminished, over the hill, out to pasture, all washed up). It is entirely logical to keep the person who is good and likes their job, and has unique qualities to offer, and just agree to an appropriately lower pay, with maybe some diminished responsibilities or shift in duties (e.g., reducing or eliminating stressful client contact for a creative who can then focus on the brilliant concepting). Sounds like a win-win to me.

I recently returned to the world of freelance following a five-year full-time stint as lead copywriter and creative director on a large agency’s largest account, and I can honestly say that those five years were the best of my career on several levels, like those mentioned earlier: more productive, innovative, collaborative, knowledgeable, wise, and creative. Did I, as of changing my status to lone-wolf freelancer, just because of the number of years on the planet, lose all those abilities overnight? Again, I am pleading the case not just for me, but for all my chronologically advanced peers.

Our brains are driven to seek calmness as we age. Columbia University social psychologist Heidi Grant Halvorson claims that calmness is central to happiness. As we age, she says, “happiness becomes less the high-energy, totally psyched experience of a teenager partying while his parents are out of town, and more the peaceful, relaxing experience of an overworked mom who has been dreaming of that hot bath all day. The latter is not less ‘happy’ than the former—it is a different way of understanding what happiness is.”

What better person to have working in the often hectic and chaotic trenches alongside you than someone who is calm and growing in calmness every day and who has been through these fire drills countless times and intuitively understands the patterns associated with them and how to use them to succeed. And not only that, but someone who is happy, too. And not a watered-down version of happiness, but a wised-up version of what is truly worth being happy about. Go ahead, tap that sixty-something who retired first, stretched the plasticity of her brain, and gained unique and highly marketable strengths through the whole unintended experience, to the great benefit of her career-long employers.

As we age, we collect and store information. That, and not a “fuzzy memory,” is part of the reason it takes us longer to recall certain facts. We simply have more things to remember. Older people have vastly more information in their brains than young people do, so retrieving it naturally takes longer. In addition, the quality of the information in older people’s brains is more nuanced. While younger people excel in tests of cognitive speed, one study found, older people show “greater sensitivity to fine-grained differences.”

In terms of what Karlgaard and others call “crystallized intelligence”—the cumulative and growing amounts of skill, knowledge, and experiences we acquire in life—those of us in our seasoned years know a thing or two (million). And we tend to see, typically more clearly than those lacking our depth of crystallized intelligence, the nuances, subtleties, and pin-pricks of light in a given situation, which are often right where the sparks of true insights are found—i.e., the kind of lively and actionable insights that really kick a Creative Brief (and creative practitioner) into high gear.

We get smarter and more creative as we age, research shows. Our brain’s anatomy, neural networks, and cognitive abilities can actually improve with age and increased life experiences. Contrary to the mythology of Silicon Valley, older employees may be even more productive, innovative, and collaborative than younger ones.

Okay, so a couple words to all the youthful people, my many friends and colleagues and former colleagues out there, whom I (and Karlgaard) seem to be trashing throughout this piece. To the contrary! What Rich Karlgaard is speaking to and I am trying to reinforce is the egregious unfairness and incorrectness of what our culture puts by way of expectations and paths forward for our teens, twenty-somethings and beyond.

For the unfortunate majority, however, our latent skills are neither discovered nor recognized nor encouraged until much later, if ever. As a result, most of us are falsely labelled as having less talent or ambition; we are written off as lazy or apathetic. But, the light simply isn’t shining on [young people’s] true abilities, on the things [they] can do uniquely well. The toxic combination of early pressure and conformity is turning us into machines.

Karlgaard clearly is not arguing for the Beaupre Method of Delayed Advancement through Really Early Reckless Retirement here, and I am definitely not either. Yes, for sure, let us consider, hire, unleash the wiser older practitioners out there for everything truly valuable they can offer employers and brands and mentees and communities and industries. Just as important, maybe more important in the longer scheme of things, I think we need to give a whole lot of grace and encouragement and opportunity to those younger ones who seem to be in those early stages of struggling and on whom, like for me once, the “light simply isn’t shining”—yet. Let us celebrate our next generations’ full range of human ability and possibility. And as Karlgaard posits, let us give them all diverse timetables and genuine opportunities for individual success and achievement.

I strongly believe that we need to go back to what it used to be:

In the past, success was not about becoming rich or famous, or about achieving as much as possible as early as possible. Rather, it was about having the opportunity to live to our fullest potential. It was about being appreciated for who we are as individuals.

So enough already with the wunderkind ideal. Let us each, younger and older and in between, be and do our best and keep doing so without looking at the clock or the calendar or the culture’s misplaced expectations. May you, too, be blessed in your work. To my peers who are of such a bent, here is to a great refirement. And if you are not, more power to ya! Keep it in the short grass. As for me, I did retirement first, and once was enough.

 

Gregory J. Beaupre is a non-retired freelance practitioner of 40 years in the writing arts, including advertising and marketing, public relations, the occasional song lyrics, and limericks, as well as a journalistic effort once in a while. In between advertising writing projects, he is currently writing a series of memoirs/essays while enjoying the home-free life, traveling the US with his wife and dog. You can contact him at beauwriter@me.com.

Photo by Chris Thompson on Unsplash


Sunday, February 28, 2021

MARCH 2021 - FEAR OF FEAR


 




FEAR OF FEAR










Tainting by Thomas Aring


Dear Reader,

I am reflecting, this month, about the enormous pandemic of fear that we are experiencing globally. The Covid-19 epidemic is still with us, the vaccinations are starting but there are many complications, economical issues and other social issues are promoting more fear. Yet, this is not new in the history of humanity. Fear separates a person from his or her inner resources that help to live a good life and the past events have indicated the perils that fear is imposing on all society. Michael Made states:

“Throughout history, epidemics and plagues have stirred deep levels of distrust and fear that have, in turn, thrown entire cultures into upheaval. The current pandemic seems to be a perfect storm of fear that permeates all areas of society and exposes deep divisions as well as wild extremes.

Eventually, it becomes necessary to realize that what we fear will not simply go away; rather we must face our fears or else become overwhelmed. It is important to know that the hidden aim of fear is not “fight or flight,” but rather the revelation of untapped inner resources that are trying to awaken in each of us. Healthy fear involves an increase of consciousness that stirs deep instincts and intuitions that can be life-protective, lifesaving and life enhancing. In critical times, the greatest safety can be found in becoming wise enough to take the right risk.”

While afraid, we feel the need to become dependent of others, but a lack of help can quickly turn into aggression. Fear is multi-directional, as recent invasion of the Washington Capital indicated. The mob incited by the Qanon conspiracy theories and white supremacists have created a violent atmosphere where the paranoia about the elections results were considered  “stolen elections” from Trump. This is what the psychopaths in power are creating a collapse of whole government by speaking to people about theories that are clearly fake but place the faults to the other side. Daniel Pinchbeck a NY bestselling book review on “Conspiranoia: The Betrayed States of America” has a very insightful theory about how conspiracy theories turn to “facts” convincing whole mobs to attack and become destructive to people and property. I am offering an excerpt of his remarkably interesting book:

"A segment of the ruling elites in government, finance, and the corporate world are psychological deviants on the psychopathic spectrum. These individuals rise to power in hierarchical systems based on control, dominance, and exploitation. They win the game because they lack conscience. This allows them to ignore destructive consequences and “externalities.” Psychopaths can sense each other and recognize their distance from ordinary human beings. As the winners of the power game, they see themselves as innately superior, “masters of the universe,” who have a natural right to control and manipulate the mass population.  ​Some of them actively enjoy causing suffering. Over time, some of them get addicted to the adrenaline rush that comes from illicit, immoral, and criminal activity. Like addicts, they must keep increasing the dose. As world leaders, they enjoy performing increasingly flagrant immoral and destructive actions without getting caught or punished.  ​This framing helps us reach a coherent understanding of events like 9/11, why the Chinese leadership decided to spread the Coronavirus globally once it was released, and the partly orchestrated social breakdown that is happening in the US right now. Psychopaths do not necessarily need to be meshed in tightly plotted conspiracies to be working toward the same goal and agenda. Their tendency will be to push societal forces in the direction that serves their perceived, short-term interests. They automatically project the barren quality of their inner lives into the outer world, reshaping the world in their image.  ​That we are being ruled and manipulated by psychopaths without conscience helps to explain the vacuous, numbing quality of contemporary existence.




 

“When you understand the true nature of psychopathic influence, that it is conscienceless, emotionless, selfish, cold and calculating, and devoid of any moral or ethical standards, you are horrified, but at the same time, everything suddenly begins to make sense,” Callahan writes. “Our society is ever more soulless because the people who lead it and who set the example are soulless — they literally have no conscience.”

We can, therefore, define one new organizing pole for a global counter-movement: It will be based on identifying psychopaths — through brain scans, personality tests, and observation — and removing them from positions of power. This is something that people can agree with, from across the political spectrum. The various forms of psychopathy must be understood more widely, along with methods for identifying the manipulative mechanisms used by psychopaths to cover their tracks.  ​Along with this, we need to define a new direction for human society that is distinct from the technological control paradigm which is sociopathic in its essence. I believe that liberals and progressives are making a mistake in rejecting working class anger against automation and corporate globalization. They need to re-think their position, finding common cause with them. Similarly, I consider the mass movement questioning vaccinations and other advances in biotechnology and pharmaceuticals to be a healthy one that is worthy of support. The subject requires much deeper analysis as well as oversight from civil society.  ​There are legitimate reasons to be concerned that a rushed vaccine for COVID-19 could have negative long-term health effects for many people. We have seen a massive increase in vaccinations since the mid-1980s. During that time, children have become more prone to many chronic diseases and conditions, from asthma to autism to ADHD. Vaccines provide enormous profits for pharmaceutical companies and billionaires like Gates. The pharmaceutical corporations that produce vaccines are part of the same market system that led cigarette companies to hide the danger of cigarette smoking and energy companies to disseminate climate change denial. Someone who develops a chronic condition is a long-term profit centre for a pharmaceutical company. Such long-term conditions are actually advantageous to pharmaceutical companies, increasing their bottom line. Also, in the US, vaccine-makers have been released from legal liability for damages they cause.

 ​My reason for writing this is to persuade those who still support the old progressive establishment or neoliberal agenda (which encompasses the technocratic / biosecurity worldview, the Blue Church etc) to abandon this obsolete ideology. We need to build a new alliance between the working class and the progressive “woke” elite — a group that includes those who have inherited wealth, plus the self-made entrepreneurs and tech company executives who flock to events like Burning Man, Nexus, and Summit — by defining a new orientation toward what is taking place as well as a shared vision for humanity’s future. Before we can get there, establishment liberals and progressives must take a step back and reassess. They need to understand there are valid reasons that the masses feel scorn toward them, reject their ideal of progress, and are now embracing lurid and dangerous conspiracy theories.

People have good reason to freak out about ever-increasing corporate control and techno-surveillance, enforced vaccinations, as well as other aspect of the bio-security control agenda. It is good that they are rejecting neoliberalism and seeking alternative. There are, also, good reasons why many people deeply distrust the traditional media. For many decades, CNN and The New York Times and other mainstream news sources have been thoroughly infiltrated by intelligence operatives who shape the content and rhetoric of the mainstream news when necessary. We know this to be the case from many past examples, including recent ones, such as the media frenzy over Hilary’s emails before the 2016 election, which tilted the election to Trump, or the laughable coverage over Jeffrey Epstein’s “suicide.”   Until space colonies on Mars open, we still must +deal with this world and its fragile, increasingly insecure, and unstable realities. If we hope to change the dynamics of the global geopolitical game, those of us who wish to see a more just, ecologically sane, and truly democratic society must coalesce around a new strategy. At this point, no matter who is “elected” as US President, this strategy must go beyond traditional political means.   

Much of our government and financial system is controlled by psychological deviants, outliers, who lack conscience. These psychopaths constantly seek more wealth, power, and control, to compensate for their innate insecurity and fear of discovery. They recognize each other intuitively and work toward the same basic goal: A destabilized and chaotic world order that allows them to oppress, dominate, and exploit. ​We need to acknowledge the invisible, occult, and ceremonial aspects of the culture, the operational theater, of our ruling elites. Some of them are drawn to secret societies. Some participate in rituals of domination and pedophilia sexual abuse which directly express their position above and outside of the law. Others share an ethos of self-interest, where the “means justify the ends” (the ethos of The Illuminati, an influential 18th Century secret society which has become legendary) on an individual or societal level.  ​When we turn our collective focus to address these two issues — the psychopaths who have taken control of human civilization and the technocratic system that enhances their capacity to manipulate us — we can build a global movement across classes, races, religious and ethnic groups to defeat them. If the mass populace’s fury can be redirected and channelled, transformed into a unifying force, we can bring together various classes and political factions in a global rebellion against corporate and technocratic rule, in favour of local democracies and bioregional autonomy. We can focus on building a regenerative system that supports local communities and allows humanity to focus on our next great collective mission, that of healing the biosphere, which requires harmony across classes, races, nations, and religious groups"

 

Pinchbeck, Daniel. Conspiranoia: The Betrayed States of America (p. 50). Kindle Edition.

 

I could not agree more with this analysis and learn from his book that I highly recommend.

 

 

 


Fear and Anger are related 

 




Monday, February 1, 2021

FEBRUARY 2021 CANCEL CULTURE AND THE PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN MOVIE

 





FEBRUARY 2021 BLOG


CANCEL CULTURE AND THE PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN MOVIE.

 

Dear Reader,

Recently I went to see a film with some of my male friends. The movie was hailed as an amazing and complex story of a young woman attending a medical school at a University in the USA. Her studies were interrupted by a rape of her best friend, who later suicides. She becomes totally obsessed with VENGEANCE and stalks young men pretending she is blind drunk. A quote from a review:


“She lives with her parents, and spends her nights going to bars and night clubs and pretending to be dangerously, blindly intoxicated.  When men take her back to their places—under the pretense of helping her—she rejects their advances, begs to go home, and then, when they persist, switches off the slurring and asks, in a cold and sober voice, what they are doing. It is startling enough that they always immediately backpedal. “I thought we had a connection,” one sputters. “I’m a nice guy!” Afterward, she goes home, tallies each conquest in a small notebook hidden under her childhood bed, and the next morning begins the whole process over again”.

The movie A PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN (written by Emerald Fennell) was very upsetting for me and I walked out at the middle of it. I felt a sense of inner disgust at the way the woman “Cassie” is after vengeance against all young men. Here the victim and the vigilante collapse into a single entity or confluence and it is an overly complex story. As I left the movie theater, I had a flash in my mind about how similar the theme seemed to the old Westerns where the good (hero) cowboy is taking vengeance on several “bad guys” who killed his friends. He stalks them and kills them all.

But vengeance (male or female) is a place where a ‘fractured’ mind goes when it is striving to stay whole (sane). But in many cultures, revenge means ‘doing something’ right and justifiable.

While reading several reviews to find out the end of the movie, I found this description:

Much has been made about the film’s ending, the final way in which “Promising Young Woman” sets itself apart from its lineage. Cassie infiltrates the bachelor party of Nina’s rapist disguised as a stripper. She ties him up, tells him what she knows, tries to get him to admit to what he has done, and threatens to cut Nina’s name into his skin. He breaks free of his restraints and smothers Cassie with a pillow. It takes an agonizingly long time for her to die. It is as brutal as watching the rape we’ve never been witness to.”

Now, this is an amazing topic for a serious discussion, and I am inviting my male friends to meet and share freely their opinions and feelings about the movie. I am asking my friends to be open and free to keep the door of rational debate and do not enter a place that journalists call  “the cancel culture”. where all rational open sharing is quickly judged, and the blame is usually put on the men.

Young men, in my experience, are frightened to express themselves freely for fear of being castigated and blamed for injuring women. Many young men retire to their mobiles and stay quiet.

As I followed my own intuition regarding the origin of the movie script and as I read the interview with the writer published in the VULTURE (www.vulture.com),where the author, Emerald Fennell, states that she loved old cowboy movies – YES! I thought, here is the source of her script. A hero cowboy now converted in the girl Cassey, is on a rampage to avenge the killing of his friend and goes and kills all the bandidos (bad guys). Therefore, I am seeing a ‘cancel culture” model emerging in the movie where the hero is a woman, and the young men are the bad guys. As Gemma Tognini states in her newspaper article: “The mob does not always dress in black and wear dark glasses, and carry knives or guns, the mob also wear suits and dresses, and are everywhere.” So, my readers, here is the challenge – speak up and write your comments - and here is a question:

As viewers, we have our own questions to ask. Do filmmakers owe us realistic portrayals of rape and its aftermath, or may we take pleasure in revenge fantasies, in which real-life obstacles are cast aside?


the futility of vengeance


 

 

  

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

JANUARY 2021 - BLOG




 

 

A LIGHT IN THE DARKNESS

 


Dear Reader,

 

As we are coming to the end of an exceedingly difficult and critical time that began with a global pandemic and then huge fires in California and Australia, you are invited to reflect about what it takes to survive physically, mentally, and spiritually.

As I reflect upon the great events in Nature while walking in the park near my home, or just sit on my veranda watching the sunset, or experience the light of the full moon at night, I become aware that every living being (from a virus to a whale) is filled with organic change and movement.

In our human experience, we can go through loss, suffering, pain, and all sorts of difficulties that seem to be a constant everyday occurrence. Meeting these difficulties, whether big or small, it is imperative to understand that these are not only outer changes and shifts but also, they are in our own inner nature.

As a psychotherapist with the gestalt orientation, I meet many people in my practice that are full of grief, anxiety, fear, loss, and many turbulent emotions that are carried inside. It seems like the Soul itself is crying for a solution. Yet, most people simply want to run away, blame others, and feel unlucky because they are not healed.

Working with a therapist or taking time for some meditation, or simply walk in a park (preferably barefoot) connects us with the place within that has all the solutions necessary to resolve most if not all our difficulties.

This ‘Journey of the Soul’ offers us important lessons and even amazing “gifts” that in time, will transform our lives. We all have the capacity to heal. We are a self-regulated organism, but we must take time to discover that all experiences, may they be good or bad, are lessons that lead to healing.

As preparation for this blog, I came across a book sitting on my shelf called: A LAMP IN THE DARKNESS by Jak Kornfield Ph.D. Jack trained as a Buddhist monk for many years in Thailand, Burma, and India. I became a follower of Jack’s writings when I was interested in Buddhism some years ago. Now I am happy to connect with his teachings again. I remember what Buddha said: “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear”.

Here I will not comment on the book but do recommend all readers to purchase this book. The Kindle edition is only $12.34, and the paperback is $34.90. This is a great read for the new year and for your own ‘Soul Craft’ work. The paperback book has a wonderful CD of meditations that are coordinated with the teaching. Here are the titles of the meditations:

1.       SHARED COMPASSION – a guided practice for planting the seeds of Compassion and opening the heart to all living beings.

2.       THE EARTH IS MY WITNESS – a meditation to establish firm footing amid the darkness of the soul.

3.       THE PRESENCE OF FORGIVENESS - known as the only medicine that can release us from the past and begin anew.

4.       THE TEMPLE OF HEALING – a guided visualisation to meet your inner healer.

5.       EQUANIMITY AND PEACE – a meditation to maintain a balance and acceptance regardless of your situation.

I am very indebted to Jack Kornfield by reading his books and meditating on my own journey through the WII as a child in Europe, my learning and healing time during the immigration to Venezuela and then Canada. Finding a place of peace in Australia and a partner who is a great support and, I am grateful to my two sons for being well.

To finish this reflection, I am quoting Jack from his book:

“Every life is filled with change and insecurities, and every life includes loss and suffering and difficulties that arise regularly. We are all nomads in an everchanging world, and we need ways to ground ourselves and remain cantered no matter what happened.”

 

 I WISH YOU ALL THE VERY BEST FOR THIS HOLIDAY SEASON - HOPE FOR PEACE AND PROSPERITY.  HAPPY NEW YEAR!




 

 

 


Tuesday, December 1, 2020

DECEMBER - 2020 BLOG

 

REFLECTIONS YARO BLOG - DECEMBER 2020




                                                                                                                            
 ODIN - THE NORSE FATHER


 

Dear reader,

Have you heard or read about the Canadian professor of psychology and author of the book “Twelve Rules for Life”? If not, go to YouTube and click on Jordan Peterson. Somehow, he has proven to be a tragic human even though he is highly intelligent and is incredibly involved in promoting the open and  diverse culture of free speech and writing and giving video presentations that are being “killed” by false intellectuals.

Like many great geniuses in history, they alone were able to do the ‘impossible’ and open the world to everyone. Christopher Columbus discovered what now we call AMERICA, GANDHI liberated India, SIMON BOLIVAR liberated South America, Nelson Mandela, and so on.

Jordan Peterson is another man who single handily is breaking the new PC (politically correct) movement that is shouting loudly in the media about the need to silence his words and want the Penguin publishers to cancel his new book.

Like most religious movements in history the 'nice and positive' preaching is about spirit, togetherness, and community, but in reality, (when we check the facts) it is about power and control. Now the PC movement appears to promote ‘diversity’, ‘inclusion’, and ‘tolerance’ at the expense of controlling what we can read or listen to. Speakers, writers, and promoters of freedom and debate and understanding are shamed in public and even prosecuted for their ideas. They say: How they dare to write books that question the natural pattern of being man and woman, male and female? Today Shakespeare would be arrested for what he wrote because he represents the ‘patriarchy’ that has become a swear word for many.




I want to reflect, again, on the word PATRIARCH or PATRIARCHY. It has become a “swear” word in our culture. In analyzing the word, we become aware (note) that PATER is a Latin word for FATHER and in ancient Rome the man in the family was called with the respectful phrase as PATER-FAMILIAS. Here I quote from history: “The pater familias, also written as paterfamilias, was the head of a Roman family. The paterfamilias was the oldest living male in a household and exercised autocratic authority over his extended family. The term is Latin for "father of the family" or the "owner of the family estate"

Roman law and tradition (mos majorum) established the power of the pater familias within the community of his own extended familia. In Roman family law, the term "Patria potestas" (Latin: “power of a father”) refers to this concept. He held legal privilege over the property of the familia, and varying levels of authority over his dependents: these included his wife and children, certain other relatives through blood or adoption, clients, freedmen and enslaved persons. The same mos majorum moderated his authority and determined his responsibilities to his own familia and to the broader community. He had a duty to father and raise healthy children as future citizens of Rome, to maintain the moral propriety and well-being of his household, to honour his clan and ancestral gods and to dutifully participate—and if possible, serve—in Rome's political, religious and social life. In effect, the pater familias was expected to be a good citizen.” Now much of that authority has changed but the false interpretation of FATHER is being pushed as a negative title for a man.

Historically, the early humans did not have any separation of powers until the advent of agriculture and settlements of groups of families to work the land and contribute to the survival of the tribe or clan. Over time, the cultural shifts, religions, and the need to keep a society in control, the patriarch became a symbol of power out of necessity to survive.

Feminist theorists and writers have published extensively about patriarchy either as a primary cause of women's oppression or as part of an interactive system. Shulamith Firestone, a radical-libertarian feminist, defines patriarchy as a system of oppression of women. Firestone believes that patriarchy is caused by the biological inequalities between women and men, e.g. that women bear children, while men do not. Firestone writes that patriarchal ideologies support the oppression of women and gives us an example the joy of giving birth, which she labels a patriarchal myth. For Firestone, women must gain control over reproduction to be free from oppression. Feminist historian Gerda Lerner believes that male control over women's sexuality and reproductive functions is a fundamental cause and result of patriarchy. Alison Jaggar also understands patriarchy as the primary cause of women's oppression. The system of patriarchy accomplishes this by alienating women from their bodies.

However, in the latter half of the 18th century, clerical sentiments of patriarchy were meeting challenges from intellectual authorities – Diderot's Encyclopedia denies inheritance of paternal authority stating, "... reason shows us that mothers have rights and authority equal to those of fathers; for the obligations imposed on children originate equally from the mother and the father, as both are equally responsible for bringing them into the world. Thus, the positive laws of God that relate to the obedience of children join the father and the mother without any differentiation; both possess a kind of ascendancy and jurisdiction over their children”.

This idea of who is who keeps coming up in many cultures around the world, Today with the many ways to express our own beliefs and theories, we have the social network that instantly communicates to many about what is the “truth”. On one hand, we observe the PC groups that want to control the ideas and on the other, we have still evidence of religious practices that forbid women to show their face in public.

We have a lot to reflect upon and keep learning from every point of view and the internet is a good research tool if used wisely. Perhaps we are in the midst of ending the patriarchal culture of the past or maybe the female goddess that was worshipped in times of early human settlements will ‘give birth’ to a new awareness and a new path to unite the human race.

I am including here a podcast by my great gestalt teacher CLAUDIO NARANJO entitled: THE END OF PATRIARCHY AND THE DAWN OF WHOLENESS.

 





Please click on the link above


Your comments are very welcome.

Monday, October 26, 2020

REFLECTIOS YARO BLOG – NOVEMBER 2020

 

YOU ARE NEVER OLD


                                          
                                                                   Robert Dessaix Author of "The Time of Our Lives: Growing Older Well"




Dear reader,

I am reaching the most important age this October 30. I will be 80 years young and according to my biological age, I am 69 this year.


Definition of biological age: We think of chronological age as the amount of time since you were born—whatever your driver’s license says—whereas biological age is the age your body resembles or functions at. Even though two people may both be thirty years old chronologically, one of them could have a biological profile that is closer to twenty-five, whereas the other might have a biological profile of thirty-five. see yours at https://www.biological-age.com/).


I am noting that the age of very deep reflection is even deeper now. There are many points of view and many research theories about prolonging “old age” or making more time for life and avoid death. But death does come some time and that is not a philosophical exploration but a reality.


However, as a young man, I was very curious bout what is death all about and searched for ideas at temples in India, Zen centers, Buddhist teachings, and so on. All are the most interesting concepts worthy of research and reflection.


Now as I am reaching the age when reflection is a way of taking time to just BE.  I am now exploring a book called “The Time of Our Lives: Growing Older Well” by Robert Dessaix who is 80 and lives in Hobart, Australia. A review of his book was written by Stephen Romei and published in the Weekend Australian. I was so inspired by the review that I bought the book and finished reading it this week.


I am delighted and even entertained by this author who represents, to me, a real OZZIE bloke. His point is: “you are never too old, “there is no fountain of youth” and he starts to give a vivid and joyful description of his own experience. How to grow old happy and well is the theme of his narrative and is full of examples of the encounters he had over his lifetime with his friends.


Since I am completing 80 years, this October, I am joining his club of elders. The book is divided into several topics by the review written by Stephen Romei and thus we can reflect on every topic in the book and then read the book. I highly recommend it. 


1.     Robert Dessaix suffered a heart attack in 2001 walking on Oxford st in Sydney. “I technically died twice,” he said. He was revived first by a paramedic and the second time in hospital. He describes his experience as “nothing happened because there is nothing that can happen”. There is no bright light nor any meetings with the deceased, but it is like a mobile phone that goes ‘dead’ – just dead!


2.     Aged Care - it is a time when Robert visits Rita at the aged care home in Hobart. He describes her life there right up to the final days. His observation of Rita as a characteristically old Rita. She cannot think clearly, and states that somehow Robert is someone called Olive and she constantly asks him if she can come home. Her expressions are not heard by anyone nor anyone cares about her feelings. This is surely a different place from home, and according to statistics, it will be needed as the populations grow older over the years and more of us will need such care.


3.     Sexuality – the author states that “ we need to learn and acknowledge that people’s sexual needs will be met in different ways – raging erections, however, are out of the question as we grow older and appreciating our freedom to either be loving or lonely but certainly LOVE IS FOREVER”.


4.    Friendships – This is certainly an inner feeling of Love that can never be bought.” Our friendships, affections, attachments, understandings and intimacies, some long-lasting and some temporary are the most difficult and most rewarding kinds.”


5.     Heaven and Hell – Labelling or not labeling the beliefs of heaven and hell, is something personal and depends on cultural reinforcement. The hell drama of a devil holding you on pitchfork or being rewarded by angels on a cloud sitting around you is like a TV drama. We know it is a play, but we all want to believe in what the actors say.


6.     The Arts – Although we have great art, music, and stories, many are over one hundred years old and still inspire us, but the modern culture of today is teetering on the edge of an abyss. ‘It is a culture that is losing its soul and is nearing death”. I am thinking now of the youth culture following YouTube or Tik Tok. There is some attempt at entertainment, but it mostly gives vent to nothingness.


7.     Clutter – As we grow old, we must get rid of things as much as we can. Declutter all the things that accumulate in your life and free yourself for new space to create new projects. He said that the only book worth keeping is CRIME & PUNISHMENT by Dostoyevsky. I would personally keep my Gestalt therapy books to remember to BE HERE AND NOW.


8.     Travel – I agree fully with Dessaix that we must travel as much as possible when we are young. In this way, we can remember all the adventures when we are old. I was extremely fortunate in this area of my life as I would travel around the world for six months after 3 years of teaching at the University of Queensland.


9.     Caring less – less care (worrying) for people’s opinions, evaluations, comments about our self, that have little importance. This is true freedom of being yourself and to be able to tell some people to just “piss off”! and enjoy their reaction. This is the secret of nurturing yourself.


10.Contentment and happiness – The difference between these two concepts is central to Dessaix and I agree. As we grow older, we realise that contentment is much broader than happiness. Part of this is that we can share our contentment with others. Naturally, I do feel happy when I am dancing to music or listen to my favorite Mexican 'ranchers', and particularly my happiness is great dancing the Tango. I took Tango lessons for some weeks, years ago, and still can happily dance the Tango. It is the secret of a good life.


11.Remembering and forgetting – writing, painting or just being involved in my own projects is a way of putting my experiences either on a canvass or a book. Then things are ‘set in place’ and people can then recall what you did in your life. I have written my own story in a book called JUST PASSING THROUGH, as a way to give my friends, relatives, and my two sons my version of my life so they can ‘re-call’ me. Recalling stories is one way not to lose memory.


Finally, a quote by Dessaix: “I do not think that many of us find death ‘unbearable’ at all. It’s the process of dying that we are fearful of”.


 


 

 


                                                                                          HAVE A GREAT TIME !!

Saturday, September 26, 2020

OCTOBER BLOG - 2020


 ELDERS IN INDIA



TRANSITION – NOT CHANGE

 

Dear Reader,

In the last blog, we examined the topic of LIFE AFTER LIFE. In this October Blog, I am reflecting on the meaning of change and what we can do to make our life a transition to something rather change into something. We can think of ‘changing our clothing’ as we dress in the morning, but what we call transition is a deeper notion.

At some time in our lives, we begin to feel the physical body older (the symptoms are there). Everything in the Universe is going through what the scientists call ENTROPY. This means deterioration break up, collapse, degeneration, destruction, worsening. Just pick your own word.

At this time, we all have a series of anthropic events that indicate a movement toward the end. The COVID-19 epidemic is only one example. Then there is the climate change crisis, cultural and economic upheavals, all direct most of us to the experience of feelings of despair and chaos. At the same time, there is an opening for more sharing on a global scale.

All is impermanent as Buddha said about 3000 years ago. But today this sense of shifting sands is more intense and is experienced on a global level. As I read and watch the world news every day, I cannot but feel deeply the end of life as we knew for centuries.

As an ‘older man or elder,’ I am developing an ‘elder men’ project that will examine the idea of LIFE AFTER LIFE. I reflected on this idea in my last blog and now I am putting this project into action. I have invited about half a dozen men to come for a half-hour video interview with me. These men are of pre-retirement and post-retirement age. All men are known to each other because we meet every Saturday morning at the Brisbane West End market. We sit around a table, drink good cafĂ©, and just share whatever comes to mind: opinions about politics, own stories, events, and so on. Nothing is sacred or forbidden and we laugh a lot.

So far, the four men that came for the video interview shared amazing stories. Even though we met every Saturday at the Brisbane West End market, the stories impacted me greatly and given me deep insights about the many roads we have traveled in life and the many stories about ourselves we collected. Each man has a unique and original journey offering us an amazing mixture of cultural and educational wisdom. They represent the typical Australian modern people. Finally, I am aware how, despite so many differences, we are all interconnected

My other perspective about the interviews is that we are not old but spiritually ancient. We represent the ancient wisdom of many cultures It is more than living a life, but it is a gathering of each men’s Soul Energy that enables us to grow and develop no matter what the circumstances and a creative way to put forward the creativity and wisdom to others.

My mentor, Michael Meade, the mythologist, speaks of the ancient wisdom referring to the moon phases indicating that as the moon faces change, they represent the movement form new to a three-quarter to full moon and new moon again without any stopping but always changing. Thus, we are being taught by Nature itself how we grow and mature and end to - begin again.





 

Here is a link to Mead’s podcast, please listen.