Archive for September, 2008

Bred For It

Friday, September 26th, 2008

There’s something of a symbiotic relationship between people and cats and dogs. We’ve obviously all hung out together for thousands of years, yet somehow cats and dogs have always gotten together better with us than they’ve done with each other. Their failure to get along is such a cliché that in the movie Ghostbusters, when Bill Murray is looking for examples of the world figuratively turning upside down, one of the things he cites is “cats and dogs living together.”

Now when I brought this up with God he rightly pointed out that plenty of people, even people I know, have both cats and dogs and the animals manage to get along and even become friends. And sure, that’s true, but it’s still enough of a rarity that pictures of dogs and cats together make for amusing web posts and inspirational posters. Not to mention the perennial discussions of whether one is a dog person or a cat person, with the assumption that the animal’s failure to get along could be expected to carry up the chain to their owners.

So I asked God if this was ever going to resolve itself, if they’d ever learn to cohabit cooperatively. He told me it was possible. He told me they’d even worked together in the past. That caught my attention, so I pestered him until he agreed to give me more details. I should have known better. He told me that the last time that dogs and cats had worked together on a project it was on a grand plan to breed humans that had something of an unconscious need to pet animals.

So are you a cat-fancier or a dog-fancier? Ancient breeders want to know.

Hard Wired

Friday, September 19th, 2008

My new house has a pool. I’ve never lived with a pool before so I’m getting to try some new things. God stopped by last night when I was doing one of those new things and I had to explain myself to her.

It was after dark and there are lights on some of the bushes that are around the pool. In particular there’s some small floodlights that shine up into the avocado tree at the shallow end of the pool. I was floating in the deep end being as still as I could possibly manage. Normally when you’re in a pool there’s a lot of turbulence. Small waves and ripples get kicked up by just moving around and by the actions we all take to keep our heads above water. Not a bad metaphor for daily living, but in this case I’m talking literally not figuratively.

Anyway… If you let the water become still it makes a mirror-like surface, reflecting back a significant part of whatever light strikes it. So I let it get that still. Then, looking towards the shallow end of the pool I can see the avocado tree and also my house and even the sky reflected back up from the surface of the water. Looking down becomes much the same as looking up. And I float out into this and it’s like I’m floating in the air between two skies.

And I find this beautiful.

So that’s what I was doing and what I had to explain to God. She just sort of nodded and told me that she had made sure that humans are pretty much hard wired to see beauty. It’s one of the things that make us special, that makes us more than just animals. She also told me that a lot of people, when they come across something like this, something beautiful where they weren’t really expecting it, a lot of people see that as proof that she exists. It’s not, but as far as things that humans mistakenly attribute to God, she says that she doesn’t mind that one too much.

All My Children

Friday, September 12th, 2008

I recently completed the ordeal of selling a house during the deflating of a real estate bubble and the subsequent purchase of another house. Obviously the buying was less fraught with uncertainty then the selling, but that’s not what I want to talk about today.

One of the things that made the whole process bearable and overall actually pleasant was the kindness, generosity and forbearance of some good friends who put me up in their guest quarters for the duration of the affair. As is usually the case, this arrangement came with many plusses and with many minuses. Thankfully, the plusses far outweighed the minuses, or at least that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. I don’t have the space to make an exhaustive list of the two sides of the ledger, nor do I have the talent to make such a list entertaining, so like always, I’m just going to talk about what interests me at the moment.

A big entry on the minus side is that these friends have three kids, who, while I was there, went from being nine, five and three, to being ten, six and four. The balancing entry, the big plus that more than made up for those kids, was also those kids. Kids of those ages can soak up an enormous amount of attention and still ask for more. They can be argumentative, self-centered, reckless and demanding. But also they are kind, fascinating, joyful and spirited. It is a wonder to be able to watch their personalities develop and grow on a daily basis.

And now I’ve moved out, and I’m missing out, and I’m missing them.

I don’t have any kids of my own, but I get what some of the joy of parenting is about. One aspect is the passing on of knowledge. There’s an incredible plethora of things we know, some that we’ve learned the hard way, and some that we’ve learned the easy way. When we have kids, we get a certain satisfaction from knowing that we’ll be there when the kid has a question, that we’ll be able to let them learn the easy way some of what we learned the hard way. And we also get a certain satisfaction in knowing that the unique array of knowledge that makes us who we are, will, at least in part, be duplicated in someone else. It’s a little bit of immortality, the mental equivalent of passing on our genes.

And that’s what God has charged me with doing in this blog. The questions I ask him, the conversations he and I have, they’re uniquely mine, they’re not the conversations he has with anyone else. And I get to pass them on to you.

You are all my children.


Friday, September 5th, 2008

In my last post I was talking about how God doesn’t need us. She doesn’t need us in the aggregate and she doesn’t need us as individuals. To a certain extent, she rightly points out, that’s because there’s a lot of us, so if a few of us don’t meet her needs, well, she’s got others. But beyond that, even if all of us don’t meet her needs, even if each and every one of us ends up going down the wrong path and doing things that she just can’t stand, she can always uplift some other species, give a new animal a chance to be her chosen ones.

This leads to the notion that we don’t need to worship her. If she’ll do just fine without us then she’ll do just fine without us worshipping her. It’s pretty much tautological. But, as I’m sure you’ve noticed, some of us just seem to have an inborn need to worship. Some of us feel a need for there to be something greater than ourselves, something outside of ourselves that we can take time to acknowledge and be thankful for.

And, as we’ve just established, it doesn’t need to be God.

Take a step back and think about this for a moment. Worshipping God doesn’t really accomplish anything. The question is, would worshipping something else accomplish something? I’m not sure. Here’s what I think, though. If we have a need to worship, and certainly some of us do, then worshipping fills a need and that’s an accomplishment, albeit a purely psychological one. So worshipping accomplishes something psychologically, and knowing that, we can then look at other psychological effects and see if there’s something positive there that can be accomplished by changing the object of the worship. So here’s my proposal: Don’t worship God. Worship kindness.

What you’ll do is reinforce in your mind the worth of kindness, the power of kindness. This will make you more disposed to be kind in your every day life. As you spread the good word and get other people to worship kindness, then they’ll become more disposed to be kind as well. If we keep it up, in a little while everyone will be being kind. It’ll be a world wide phenomenon.

Wouldn’t that be a world worth living in?