4/4 Rebirth

Learn to die to yourself, so you can experience and share great things beyond yourself ~ Mom

Some hydrozoans are jellyfish-like marine animals that, after aging, return to their juvenile form and repeat their lifecycle, and, as the NY Times Article describes, the Hydrozoan refuses to die. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/02/magazine/can-a-jellyfish-unlock-the-secret-of-immortality.html?_r=0.  Very much like the lobster ;), the hydrozoan is biologically immortal through a process akin to cellular transdifferentiation.

The article questions why we, as humans, have not invested great resources for the research of this creature and its phenomenal retro-cyclic life cycle, as it might hold the key for human immortality or rejuvenation, at the least.

I’m sure there are many technical and financial reasons why we have not invested more time and resources into the research of these animals.  But in thinking about why, I thought more about the essence of people.  I have explained in previous posts that people, although observed through anatomy and physiology, in essence, are not anatomical creatures, which explains why scientists struggle so much with the idea of when human life begins.  When the hydrozoan returns to its juvenile state, it evolves from a simple form to a more complex form, changing cells and taking on a new likeness.  The article said that it would be akin to a human shedding its old body and taking on a completely new body – new brain, new heart, new muscle tissue, etc.

Yet, the scientist still refers to the hydrozoan as the same individual creature, perhaps because there is a continuation of living cells occupying space and time continually, even though those cells are now completely new.   But if the tentacle of the hydrozoan is eaten and digested by another creature, it is then considered to be a part of that creature and no longer a part of the hydrozoan.  Likewise, if the tentacle of the hydrozoan is merely severed, it is no longer considered a part of the hydrozoan.  If a hydrozoan is severed in two and each piece survives on its own, the one hydrozoan may be considered two individual hydrozoans.

But unlike the hydrozoan, even though a genetic human being, recognized at conception, may occupy both space and time in a continual fashion, we debate over when it is a person.  Some say brain function if the essence – as long as it has brain function, it is a  person.  Some say a heart beat.  Some say viability.  As I have expressed in previous posts, a unique person is not identified by its involuntary bodily makeup but by the way  in which it voluntarily uses its resources (i.e. body) – down to its own neurotransmitters.  There are two ways of looking at it – ways in which the body controls the person and ways in which the person controls the body.  If the body solely controls the person, our worlds are subject solely to hard determinism – in which we have no free will – and there is no distinction between person and body.  If the person solely controls the body, our powers of observation are fallacies, as the person is observably granted powers and limited by the body.

Without going into a lengthy digression about free will (as I have talked about it in previous posts), the person, being only observable by its body and its actions, is more than body.  Sometimes movies express this notion in body swap films like “Freaky Friday” and “Shaggy Dog”.  More commonly, we express this notion in death – when cells of the deceased are still living but the person has passed on – or in the beginning of life, where we scientifically recognize a new living human being at conception but still, as a society, are undetermined to define when personhood begins.  Of course, these are only a very few small ways in which we recognize persons as separate from their bodies.

As essentially a person, not a body, my person is much more in need of rebirth than my body.  And so, as I continue to die – that is let go of friends and family, ideologies, experiences, loves, and transgressions (by force or by choice) – I must become reborn and die and become reborn again and so on, so as to attain personal immortality (and true immortality by rebirth in the way of creation). Looking upon nature with new eyes at age 80 may become the same joyful, new, and loving experience as looking upon nature at age 8.

Since returning to Illinois, I do not leave my wisdom gained from my life on the east coast, but I must never pose that I am so wise as to preclude myself from seeing life as a child – free from pain associated with experience and unneeded bias that will hinder great love and experience.  There will be many more obstacles and painful experiences, but my limitations will not be set by them (Dye mon gen mon), as I leave them behind in rebirth.  I do not know what is next in store – perhaps a timinaustralia blog or timinillinois blog or timinmicronesia blog or timinarabia blog or timinspain blog.  But, my success, as always, will be set not merely by a will to be, in which I strive so life comes to me, but a will to go, in which I show life.

 

 

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3 of ? Permanency

When Dad was at the Alzheimer’s home I used to read him the Odyssey.  I figured it didn’t matter what I  read him because he wouldn’t understand anyway.  I chose the Odyssey because I wanted him to come home, and I thought about his stay at the clinic as temporary and that he would eventually come back home to live with Mom and his family.

In hindsight, I read him the Odyssey because I also wanted to come home.  I came to the east coast for freedom and adventure but more so for a sense of permanency.  I wanted to find my permanent home, which I was not finding in Illinois.  A law career would allow me to provide for a family, which would bring me permanency and peace and I could give that to others.  Now leaving the east coast, I feel like I have not come any closer to my goal.

Many people would kill for my life.  I have an immense amount of freedom and little responsibility.  I am not the best looking guy in the world, but I still date many attractive women.  There is a good chance that I will soon be making a lot of money, which will open more avenues for freedom, travel, and adventure.  But to me, it is all temporary.  I feel like there is always going to be a new job, a new career, a new girl, a new city.  Many would view this as a life of luxury, but I view it as a prison.

Luxury, to me, is being able to tell my children that I will always be there for them – that I am going to be there when my boy catches his first fish, when he gets angry losing at monopoly, when my daughter gets her heart broken for the first time, when we find $100 buried in the snow, when we fight and we make up, and for every holiday and for every special occasion, and when we laugh about stupid things that happen and make fun of each other, when we watch someone’s soccer game together and cheer them on, when I play a game of one-on-one basketball with my child, when I am there at the hospital when one of them gets hurt, when I am there when my daughter graduates high school.

When I watch shows like “modern family” or any show about families, I get jealous.  And yet, I feel like so many people are jealous of my life.

I think much of my ideology stems from my upbringing and early experiences.  I had the most amazing family experiences, and I want to do that again.  One by one, I witnessed each of my brothers and sisters change, branch off, become disconnected.  And I realized that what I experienced was temporary.

Although I still long for permanency, my idea of marriage has changed.  I’m afraid of making that commitment.  Most adults are hardened and become boring and predictable after a while.  Children, on the other hand, are always growing, always coming up with new jokes and experiencing new things and developing new skills.  At one point in my life, I contacted a single-parent adoption network, but I ultimately decided that it would be irresponsible of me to raise a child alone, without a mother.  I thought about maybe having a live-in nanny, but that would defeat the whole idea of bringing permanency and security to my kids’ lives.

It might be that I never find that permanency again – that I am always in a new city with a new girl and a new job or career, that I have all the money and freedom in the world.  But it is difficult to think of it as a grand adventure without the hope of coming home.  To me, the Odyssey is a pointless story without the hope that Odysseus will return home to his loved ones.

I also miss people, in general.  My last day at work was emotional for me, even though none of the people I work with are my friends, the idea of never seeing them again is painful.  Faces come and go too often.

I want my cake and eat it too.  I want my adventures.  But at the end of the day, let me come home!

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2 of ? Action

I  posted a blog in October, 2012 titled “Greatest Lesson I have Learned,” which spoke about accepting what I have been given and giving from what I have been given.  In this blog, I am adding to that – action.

I am responsible for how my life is lived.  There are many amazing things I did to better my life while on the east coast and many mistakes I made.  I decided to experience life.  I left home, knowing little to nothing about where I was going, having never visited the coast.  I entered law school, I lived in the woods for a short period of time while trying to find a job and a home, I almost failed out of law school but was consoled by a great friend, I went out of my way to make great friendships, I went out of my way to make great relationships with girlfriends, I went shark fishing, I spent days at the beach even though I had nobody to go with, I reconnecting with an amazing cousin, I worked many great jobs building my resume and made great connections, my neighbor was shot, my bike was stolen, I remodeled a bedroom, I volunteered at a soup kitchen, volunteered with the Knights of Columbus, I consoled students and helped them succeed, I helped redesign the City of Wilmington to become more environmentally and economically friendly, I won a place on law review, I placed well in tennis tournaments, I became internationally published, I became lazy and depressed, I excelled to the top of my class and became looked up to by many, I hurt someone in a deep way in which I never would have wanted to be hurt, I became angry at life and fell away from God, I still constantly struggle to become closer to God, I struggle to become closer to nature, Dad died.

In many ways I lived and in many ways I did not.  If there is anything to be said about my time it is that my relationships. experiences, and ways I sought love and gave love mean so much more than this blog.  And in many ways, I am glad this blog is coming to a close.

My philosophies and ideologies are meaningless unless put into action – used to improve my life and the life of others.  It is nice to organize my thoughts, gain personal insight, and perhaps even give insight to others – but for the most part I have found that life is very simple and is meant to be simply lived.  The philosophies of Emerson and Chesterton are shadows in the actions of the joyful and the dynamic and the adventurous and the passionate lovers of everyday life.

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1 of ? End of Blog/Coming Home

In four weeks, I will graduate and come home . . . .  this is the last of this blog.

The thought of coming home makes me sick to my stomach.  I don’t know why, because it is what I desire the most.  It is my focus and everything else is secondary.  In many ways, I regret ever leaving home and regret ever having problems calling it home . . . even though I still do have problems calling it home.

Coming home means I have to deal with the realization that Dad is dead, that people are old, and much of what I loved about home is dead.  And that which isn’t dead has changed and is unfamiliar.

I hate the fact that Dad died before I graduated.  I hate the fact that I couldn’t transfer my first year.  The whole point of taking summer classes was to graduate early, so I could come home early and we could spend time together.  The fact that he is dead doesn’t bother me, it is the fact that I will never see him again – every significant moment for the rest of my life will be without Dad.  And it makes me angry.

I never realized how important having Dad as a grandfather was to me.  My goal of having a family has fallen out of focus.  What matters now is coming home and trying to pick up the pieces and reconnect with family.  Sustainability is no longer a focus.  Other than coming home, I am not really sure what my next focus is.  I think I need to travel more . . . and I need to do something meaningful, dangerous . . .  and advance my career.

 

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Kim Davis

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This blog is not really about Kim Davis.  I just used the heading to attract attention.  Although it is related to Kim Davis.  Since she refused to give a marriage license to a gay couple, the media and social media has been in a frenzy.  Personally, I have never taken a side in the gay marriage debate.  And when it comes to the Kim Davis “fiasco,” I don’t think it is worth too much attention one way or the other (if she gave the gay couple a marriage license or not).

What has caught my attention, and what I think is important, are the social media memes that have been traveling around.  There are many.  As an example the one above is a copy of many others – expressing that even though people do not believe in their job or certain aspects of their job, they still do their job.  The other example, above, presents the argument that if we allowed everyone their moral beliefs, nothing would get done and doing something as simple as shopping would become ridiculous.

Both of these arguments are legitimate, in that not every religious or moral belief is able to be accommodated in a society as diverse as ours.  Doing so might cause a gridlock of ideas, and the ideals of an individual will trump those of a functioning society.

However, I strongly disagree with the two memes and the arguments they represent.  (1) The most reasonable reason to not perform a job is because it is morally reprehensible or because you don’t believe in the job.  To do a job without any sense of belief or moral support renders the job meaningless, and employees become mindless drones instead of fulfilling purpose in what they do.  This is not to say that mundane tasks are meaningless.  A simple or mundane task is only without value if it does not seek or fulfill a rightful purpose.  (2)  It is not the idea that everyday shopping will become ridiculous and gridlocked that makes the meme about the checkout counter so ridiculous.  What makes the meme so ridiculous is that we do not find buying condoms or ham morally reprehensible.  Religious accommodation in the workplace is needed for two reasons – (a) to allow civil disobedience and support the marketplace of ideas and (b) to tip a hat to what makes our government strong and helps maintain a healthy government.  For these reasons, I do not find a problem with the law to allow “reasonable accommodation”

(1) The Still Does His Job Meme

When have we allowed “because it’s my job” to substitute “because it is what I believe in”?  When have we become sheep to the workplace – ruled by wealth instead of served by it.  We can either dedicate our time and skills to serve meaningful lives or we can merely do what the boss says because we like money.  There are many meaningful reasons to do our jobs – to serve society is one of the best.  If, at some point, you believe that performing a task harms society in such a way that it would be best not to perform that task and risk being fired, by all means I argue that you should not perform that task.  I am not saying that Kim Davis was right or wrong (personally, I probably would have issued the marriage license), but I am saying that there are certainly many important reasons why one should not perform their job.  If a job pays extremely well, but is incredibly harmful to society, then why take the job?  Money is not what is important.  The sake of merely doing a job is not important.  What the value of that job or task is is of the utmost importance.  Sometimes I do not easily recognize the value of a job, but some jobs, no matter how mundane or dull they are have EXTREME value to them – to society and the individual.

(2)  Ridiculous Checkout Lady Meme

As a society we view this meme as ridiculous because we do not find anything morally reprehensible about what the man is trying to buy.  On the other hand, if the man was trying to buy crack cocaine and prostitutes, we would think that the man is the one being ridiculous.  Further, without opportunities for expansion, there is no room for ideas to grow and the marketplace of ideas becomes dead.  For example, the gay movement was only allowed to grow because people made “reasonable accommodations” for the moral belief that allowing marriage for gay couples was the right thing to do.  If there is no room for opportunity to grow, society’s moral code will remain static with the changing times.  Therefore, a balance must be placed between the moral code of society as a whole and the individual.  A “reasonable accommodation” in the workplace helps maintain this balance by giving opportunity and freedom to the individual while still perpetuating the common good.  Anyone who disagrees with an individual’s moral code, will of course find it ridiculous.  And many argue that others should not be allowed to force their religious views on them, but that is the working of a functioning society.  Much of our society exists today because of the forcing, if by pseudo-democratic means, of religious ideals on others.  Similarly, much of our society exists today because of the forcing, if by pseudo-democratic means, of secular ideals on others. It is the marketplace of ideas.  Therefore, I argue that not only should religious beliefs be afforded some protection in the workplace but also those that are merely considered moral beliefs.  Let the free market determine what it wants for itself as a whole.

An argument, which is much more difficult to swallow for those who are not religious, is that religion maintains healthy government.  Without a recognition of higher consciousness, which connects morality to the will of a superior being, people lose morality to their own will, which is egoistic by definition of its own superiority.  A friend of mine wrote that the law of the land supersedes God’s law but failed to justify why.  Do we want a government that is self-justifiable – that can do whatever it wants and be justified in its action?  One might argue that the people keep the government in check, but I do not wish to substitute a self-justifying government with self-justifying people.  They are really one in the same.  No individual or government is the arbiter of right and wrong.  Although I am very guilty of this myself, it is a bit strange when people say “why would God allow such a terrible thing?” in response to a tragedy.  However, we fail to recognize who defines what a terrible thing is and why we feel that something is such a terrible thing.  Why do we feel that something is terrible?  Where does that feeling come from?  Where does our sense of right and wrong come from?  The ideas of mercy and compassion do not originate from ourselves but are programmed into us.  To make ourselves the programmers would make ourselves self-justifying.  Unless we create an infinite line of justification, morality must come from a source that is self-justified.  When correctly justifying itself, a government grows in prosperity and health.  When merely justifying itself to itself, government becomes egotistical and self-righteous because it is self-justifying.

As far as fearing a gridlock of ideas, the law speaks for itself.  The law has allowed reasonable accommodations for decades.  Businesses still run.  Society still continues.  And life, as we know it in these circumstances, has been what it has been since the inception of the law many decades ago.  As a 31-year-old man, all I have ever experienced in the workplace is reasonable accommodation.  Another reason why the meme sounds ridiculous is because the circumstances described probably would not pass the reasonable accommodation test.  Those who fear reasonable accommodation because of the meme fear a law that does not exist but which they believe is the law of reasonable accommodation, making the law of reasonable accommodation a scapegoat for their fears.

For the above reasons, I disagree with the messages presented in these memes.

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Constant Journey

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Collateral

The collateral damage of today is often tomorrow’s main damage.  Likewise, collateral joy of today is often tomorrow’s main joy.

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