Naked On A Strange Planet

Sights, Sounds & Reflections on Life


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Getting Into The Holiday Spirit

Last year, during the Christmas holidays, I read a lot of posts from people disillusioned by all of the commercialism so prevalent during the holiday season. Please don’t despair!  Just because the holidays seem to have been co-opted by commercial interests doesn’t mean that the true spirit of the season has to be lost! It doesn’t matter what religion you practice or if you don’t practice any religion at all. There is still something beautiful to be shared and en-JOY-ed during this time of year.  Here are some points to ponder:

  1. We often get so caught up in our daily routines that every single day seems to be the same day & time just flies by without our noticing. During the holiday season, though, things start to look a lot different than on our “ordinary” days. Lights, colorful decorations and joyful music suddenly appear just about everywhere giving us the opportunity to be drawn out of tOur Christmas Tree 2012he dream of our daily routines. Take advantage of this opportunity to truly “be there” and to reflect on your life.
  2. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I tend to develop a negative attitude towards the world and the people I encounter throughout the year.  Everyone seems so distant and self-centered and the news is always bad. But during the holiday season, a different spirit seems to permeate – not necessarily other people or the world in general, but within myself. I don’t know if it’s the pretty lights or the music or if it’s just the simple fact that I am now thinking about giving gifts to others instead of just thinking of myself as I do for most of the rest of the year. Whatever it is, I start to see people differently and my heart is filled with love instead of mistrust, disdain or indifference. Maybe I should reflect on this & ask myself if my life might be happier and more meaningful if  I looked at people through the lens of the Holiday Spirit all year long. In other words, maybe the problem is me and not them.
  3. The winter holidays are very interesting from a psychological perspective in that this is the time of the year when the days of sunlight are so short, everything is mostly grey and dead looking. And, yet, this is the time of year when humans choose to celebrate their most festive and extravagant holidays! If this doesn’t speak of a great spirit of Hope & Faith, I don’t know what does. Think about it:  If suddenly everything that supplied you with your life’s sustenance was suddenly dying and disappearing, wouldn’t the sane thing be to hoard as much as you could get your hands on? Instead, we prepare great feasts and give everything away. Think about this deeply.

So, don’t despair! Sure a lot of people are looking to make lots of money from the holidays – it only makes good business sense. But good business sense has nothing to do with the true Holiday Spirit. As stated in #3 above, the holiday season is really all about a glorious foolishness and madness wherein human beings choose Hope & Faith over Fear & Uncertainty! So, let’s all try to take advantage of the season to go a little crazy & to take a look around at the world and at each other and see if maybe there isn’t a little Love, Joy & Hope to be had.

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Hurricane Sandy & The Upcoming Election

There has been a lot of talk this past week about the effect of Hurricane Sandy on the upcoming elections. As I watch news footage of this devastating storm I too am thinking about the effect that this storm will have on the elections, but my concerns have nothing to do with voter turnout or interrupted campaigns. Instead, I am thinking about the millions of Americans who are watching the same news footage that I am watching and seeing the heroic efforts of other Americans in trying to help those who have been stranded, injured and suffered terrible loss of property due to this storm.

Much has been made during the current political campaigns about the cost of social programs and aid provided by government to those of us who “should be more self-sufficient and stop thinking of ourselves as victims.” Who can forget Mitt Romney’s comments about the 47% of Americans who “don’t pay taxes” won’t vote for him, as they “are dependent upon the government, who believe they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it.”

I am not a Liberal or a Conservative. I am, however, an American citizen and a human being. I prefer to not label myself and to keep a real open mind when it comes to anything. I don’t believe you can ever learn anything or get anywhere in discussions with other Americans or other human beings if you are enslaved to “ologies” of any sort which cause you to be unable to really hear and perhaps give credence to another’s viewpoint when they may actually have a point worth considering. This is why I will admit right off the bat here that, in part, I agree with the idea that people should become more self-sufficient, confident and willing & able to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps, as the saying goes.

What I disagree with, however, is the purpose for doing so. A person should become as strong and able as they possibly can NOT just so they can survive when others do not. A person should become as strong and able as they possibly can in order to be able to help others in times of need who cannot help themselves.  As this terrible “Frankenstorm” has shown us, “shit happens”.  It happens to all of us at times. There is not a person among us who has not or who will not need the help of another at some point in our lives. To watch those who CAN help those who CAN’T during this devastating storm fills my heart with joy and love and renews my sense of pride in being an American and a human being. The issue shouldn’t just be about those who need help in this country, it should also be about the fact that we, as Americans, need to give help to others. It is not just a simple matter of economics it is also a spiritual matter. It is a question about our purpose and the meaning of our lives.

American politics get into a lot of moral areas where many of us think it should not:  debates about abortion, euthanasia, and gay marriage. The reason these issues do come up, whether we like it or not, is because we want our government to reflect our moral values. We don’t just want a cold and efficient bureaucracy running things.  We want our “leaders” to care about the things that we care about and to mirror our values.  In this time of great economic crisis, our morality has been muddied and clouded with fear.  The issues as they are presented to us are not moral issues but are instead based on cold, practical policy-making. Sure, the issue of “gay marriage” is once more in the forefront. But does “gay marriage” really count as an issue that defines us as a people and as a nation? I would say that it does not, no matter what side of the debate you’re on. What really defines us as a people and as Americans are the very acts that I’m watching on my television today:  our willingness and our ability to be there for each other and even for those in other countries around the world when we are needed.

The issue over government provided social services and aid programs isn’t just about those who NEED services. It is also about those who need to PROVIDE services. We are a nation of givers. It is a large part of what defines us as a people.  It is often said that the United States of America was founded on Christian principles. This idea impels many of our political choices. What Christian principles could be more important than those of Faith, Hope, Charity & Love? It seems that we have forgotten these while focusing instead on finger-pointing and judging others. Let’s not allow fear (which is the absence of Faith & Hope) to defeat that which is the best in us. If we work together and listen to each other and care about each other, we can overcome any crisis while maintaining our integrity and our principles. Let’s not sell these so cheaply.

So, please watch footage of the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy with me and allow your heart to be moved by the courage and spirit of our Fellow Americans reaching out and helping other Fellow Americans in need. Let your heart decide the future of our country and not your fear or your political affiliations.  Let’s remember together what really makes America great. This would be the greatest and most important impact that Hurricane Sandy could possibly have on our upcoming elections.


 


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Can’t Buy Me Love

Please pardon me for waxing sarcastic and cynical, but we’re all allowed a little bit, aren’t we? You may want to prepare yourself for even more in the future…

Money can’t buy me love. Why not? It can buy me anything else I want. What’s so fucking special about love? Here’s some money…now love me dammit!  It turns out that even love can’t buy me love.  It doesn’t matter how much you give away, you still come up empty on the returns at the end of the day.

Oh well, fuck it. I don’t care anymore anyway. Who wants love anyway?  How many times am I going to use “anyway” in this paragraph? I don’t know. Anyway…

Gimme a cigarette.

Now, there’s love for you.

But, once again, only on my part.

I love my cigarettes, but they don’t really love me.

They just pretend.

But, really, they secretly want to kill me. I know this. And yet I continue to spend time with them.

That’s real love for you.


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Heartshine

I recently suffered the loss of my little furry friend and companion with whom I had shared my life for the past 17 years. Needless to say, I was very sad and depressed to have lost my little cat-friend, Sissy. I have had and lost other cats in my life, but she was really someone special and the loss of her left a large hole in my life and in my heart.

I posted about my loss on Twitter as a simple expression of my grief. What I received back from people on Twitter – all virtual strangers who I will probably never have the privilege of meeting face-to-face in the “real world,” was nothing short of life and heart changing.

My Twitter friend, @SimonDevon75 sent me the following beautiful piece of prose that broke my heart all over again, while at the same time healing that broken heart:

What moves through us is a silence, a quiet sadness, a longing for one more day, one more word, one more touch, we may not understand why you left this earth so soon, or why you left before we were ready to say good-bye, but little by little, we begin to remember not just that you died, but that you lived. And that your life gave us memories too beautiful to forget.

Another Tweeter whom I have come to know over the past year, @Kilanalu, also sent me her love and support even though she, herself, had just suffered the loss of her brother.

This morning, I had a beautiful and life-changing exchange with a few other Twitter friends, some that I have known for awhile and some that I just met this morning through this exchange. My friends, @Atomic_Honey & @Atomic_Twlrbee, along with new friends, @Ravenval & @Marousia shared their special “garden” with me and introduced me to the word/concept of “Heartshine.”

Heartshine, to me, represents the wonderful and warm feeling that occurs in one’s heart when the outpouring of love from others is shared and received in one’s own heart. That is certainly the feeling that I experienced this morning. Sometimes, especially at times of loss, we can feel like life has lost its meaning and/or specialness. My experience of “Heartshine” this morning has given me a renewed sense of what life is really all about. In the end, the only thing that really matters is love – and love can only be expressed and experienced when there are others to share it with.

Thank you so much, my beautiful friends. I truly love you all.


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Why I Love Follow Fridays on Twitter

Twitter Follow Friday #FF hashtag

Occasionally, I will see some criticism of the common practice of using the #FF, or “Follow Friday” hashtag on Twitter followed by a list of people that the Tweeter is encouraging others to follow. The main complaint about this practice is that it clutters up one’s Twitter timeline with basically useless and uninteresting content. This is not an entirely unfounded complaint as any Twitter user will see when perusing their timeline on any given Friday. However, I have looked past the “clutter” to the original intent and purpose of the Follow Friday tradition on Twitter and have come to love all of the little hashtags and lists of Twitter “handles.” Following are the main reasons why I have come to love Follow Fridays on Twitter:

  1. Sometimes, I have a really busy week and don’t get onto Twitter that often, if at all. This makes me feel a little guilty because I have neglected my Twitter friends. However, because #FF has become such a tradition, I NEVER miss it. This gives me an opportunity to let my followers and followees know that I am thinking about them even though I haven’t participated with them on Twitter for a few days.
  2. Another reason that I love Follow Fridays on Twitter is that the people that I follow and who follow me have some really interesting things to share and I really do want others to follow them so that others can enjoy the same benefits and interactions that I enjoy.
  3. Finally, I love Follow Fridays most of all, because, instead of seeing the hashtag clutter, I see other potential interesting people to follow. If someone that I enjoy following is suggesting that I follow these other Tweeters, I want to check them out to find out if I too would enjoy following them. In this way, I have connected with even more interesting and wonderful people on Twitter.

So, if you are annoyed by all of the Follow Friday hashtags on Twitter, or if you are wondering what it is all about, check them out. Follow some new people and suggest great people for others to follow. Join the community spirit and find out what Twitter is really all about!


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The One or The Many

The One or The Many. The debate has raged for eons in philosophical and religious circles – and even in movies. Today, I was once again faced with the question myself:  Should I continue to post about MANY topics on my blog, or should I narrow it down to ONE topic? Or, posed another way:  Should I continue to have only ONE blog, or should I separate my topics out onto MANY blogs?

Today, I actually purchased two more domain names and pulled my Naked On a Strange Planet blog off of WordPress.com in order to host it myself so that I could “redirect” some of my posts to my new domains.  I spent a good part of my day copying, pasting, and redirecting; as well as selecting new themes, plugins, etc. for my many blogs. When 5:00 pm rolled around and I realized that I had spent my entire day on this insane task, I said, “STOP! What are you doing and why?”

  • Do I really care how large my readership is? No, it’s the quality of the interactions that I have with people on my blog, and not the number of readers that I have that brings joy to my life.
  • Do I really think that I’m ever going to make tons of money from affiliate advertisements on my blog(s)? No, not really. Besides, we all know that’s not what it’s about, right? It’s about being able to express yourself and share your thoughts, interests, etc., with the wider world out there.  I know for a fact that I will make more money actually working than I will ever earn by spending hours tending to MANY blogs instead of ONE.
  • Do I really suppose that if one of my readers has no interest in a particular blog post that they will unsubscribe from my blog? I would hope not. Just delete the email and don’t read the post – knowing that the next one will be right up your alley. Or…try something new and different on for size, you might be pleasantly surprised!

Finally, I decided that I had simply succumbed to a case of temporary insanity brought on by the ever-present, evil desire for MORE, MORE, MORE. More domains. More blogs. More readers. More search engine hits. More obligations. More time spent. More money spent. More aggravation, headaches, and…. You get the picture.

So, it is after much wasted time and effort, that I have finally decided to have it both ways:  I will continue to have ONE blog with MANY topics.

 

 


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Doc Daneeka is Dead

One of my favorite books is Catch-22by Joseph Heller. In the book, the military insists that one of the characters, Doc Daneeka, is dead simply because his name was on the flight roster of an airplane that crashed, despite the fact that Doc Daneeka, himself, was standing right there insisting that he was not dead. But government paperwork does not lie, does it? Unless the government says it’s true, it’s not true.

Case in point – my local newspaper has a story titled: “Possible Tornado Strikes OC” – they have photos, video and dozens of eyewitnesses, but the tornado is still listed as “possible” because they are waiting for the government to tell them if there really was one or not. How pathetic have we all become? This just goes to show in a very obvious way how dependent we have all become on government and government agencies to the point of no longer trusting or believing our own eyes, ears or intuition.

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