Tag Archives: philosophy

Pick it

I get so tired of my dual-ness. Always one thing or the other. Always vacillating. Loud:Soft. Isn’t it one of those things we learn as toddlers? Opposites. We are trained in opposites. Ugh. Such conditioning.
We can’t have a clear path to growth. Always bumping up against the wall of duality. I am of course grateful to Krishnamurti for enlightening me.
So it starts in childhood, this duality. But it doesn’t end. It goes on and on. It permeates everything. The trouble is, it’s not natural. Nature is not dual. Nature does not chop. Nature doesn’t need these words, for instance. These words are here to redefine the categories we impose on everything. I need these words to find my way through. What a bloody nightmare. It is a nightmare of our own making. Good and evil. Nature doesn’t need that.
When I watch At Close Range it gets me thinking about good and evil. I try to live my life with awareness of good and evil. I love both sides of myself. I hate having to pick sides. Pick a paint color for the bedroom wall. Pick a mattress type. Pick a school for Cody. Pick a religion to subscribe to.
The idea is that if I pick the wrong side, or attempt not to pick one at all, I am destined to bring evil into the world and into my life. If you’re not good, you’re evil. What other choice do you have? You have to pick a side, right? There have to be opposites, right? Republican and Democrat seems to be a common one these days.
One of the lovely outgrowths of duality is judgment. I can say that pretty much every single time I cast a judgment, great or small, I feel something dirty. I feel soiled inside. And the only way I can ever hope to relinquish that dirt is to cease seeing everything as chopped up into two parts. Judging is contagious, by the way. And attracting. You feel good if you see others doing it, since you’re doing it – it validates you. I can’t believe how deep it runs through our culture and our societal development.
Maybe the hardest thing is to stop judging yourself. From there you can release judgment of others.


Poison. Pain. All the things that require self medicating. I am part of the continuum of human existence that includes Carrie Fisher. I feel the same kinds of feelings that she was known to refer to, and that she used various numbing techniques for. And I know that I am curtailing my life with these techniques.

It seems to be an inescapable loop. I am learning and growing. But I am also in a repeating loop. The loop of pain. I believe Carrie (and others), who said that the pharmaceutical fixes for the pain cause quite a bit of problems in themselves. So I am not eager to experiment with them. I never was. All of my shrinks seemed to think there were other options for me. But of course I am supposed to differentiate between the healthy ones and the hurtful ones.

And then there is the question of nature vs nurture. This seems to be an ongoing conundrum in my mind. Remember the problem I had with therapy was that it wasn’t natural. I have gone astray of its philosophy in the interim years flying on my own.

Writing is supposed to be a healthy learning and exploring tool. Reading has been helpful. As you know, I have taken to studying the Bible. I wish it wasn’t so laden with baggage. So much insanity and evil seem to result from its teachings. How literally to take it? I wish I could enjoy whatever philosophy and religion resonates with me without being required to take sides in heated debates. It’s not that I don’t have strong opinions, but they don’t tend to revolve around the things most people love spouting off on. That is one of the reasons it has been helpful to write. This is a forum where I am not tethered to someone else’s outlook – I can actually express my unique perspective.


Been awhile. I still adore you. I’ve had to do some solitary work, some secretive soul searching. At this juncture, I have taken to drinking (a bit), I am working my way through the Bible (just started Numbers), I’m uncomfortable with my long-standing 12 step philosophy, I just got a fabulous bow rehair from Goering, and I built a rolling basketball system as a result of Cody starting in a mini basketball team.

My Bible reading and uncomfortableness with 12 stepping are interconnected, as you might have guessed. I have been struggling with a definition and/or verification of a higher power since I began my spiritual/religious journey, but every once in a while I have gotten a whiff of a feeling associated with my childhood religion. So it wasn’t completely forgotten, apparently. It is in there.

I’ve really been trying to find the meaning in the 12 step programs. I guess when you’re seriously striving to do that, you dig deeper and deeper into your spirituality, otherwise it seems you will continually reach an impasse within the steps. So I kind of went to the source, as it stands for me. It seems the words and the stories and the chronology of the Bible have resonated quite deeply. I even have tried out a Bible study group. But along the way, I attended a High Holy Day service (Yom Kippur, post- the Kol Nidre performance), and it struck a deep chord, so I may end up becoming willing to convert back to my original religious persuasion. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am still deeply rooted in an atheist’s mindset and philosophy. So I imagine my version of Judaism will be unique, incorporating personal quirks that allow me to remain true to myself. I guess this wasn’t meant to be easy for me.

I’m also suspecting that it may not be possible to be a believer and a non-believer simultaneously. I mean, it is possible, but it’s not productive. It keeps your spirituality stuck in second gear. Are atheists supposed to possess spirituality? There’s a continuum, between atheism and religious devotion. What if you want some of each? Are you asking for the having and the eating of the cake?

On a different note, playing the Beatles tribute tonight was pretty religious. In the sense of the religion they espoused – love, love, love; peace; incredible harmonies, tunes and musical manifestations; fellowship; friendship. It was rather cathartic given what transpired in our country this week. I wondered what the largely Trump-supporting audience gleaned from it. It certainly made me wish the fab four were still around spreading their philosophy. We could certainly use it. I think I will have to do whatever I can to encourage those sorts of ideas and sensibilities in my circles.


Fits and starts. All or nothing. And when I say nothing, I mean, nothing. I probably mean the all part too. All or nothing. Do I have any choice in the matter? Will I forever be trapped, imprisoned, in this manner of existence? How many years left do I have to try to make some headway in another direction? I’m 44. I’m 44. If I live to 94, that would be a miracle. Largely due to this problem of which I speak/write. Let’s say, for the sake of argument, I live to 94. That is indeed 50 years. Is that really a long time? Hmmm? Let’s be honest. Not really. Unless I do something with them. Those years. One year passes. It passes. I can mark it in a variety of ways. The passing of Cody’s birthdays, the passing of my birthdays, the passing of calendar years, the passing of orchestra seasons. Anniversaries. Summer festivals recurring. All these things mark a year. How do I gauge my imprint over the course of that year? How do I gauge my progress, my growth, my accomplishments? This is one of the ways. By working on myself. I can see and sense if I have come any closer to being able to reach a higher level of myself. Of being.

Does this qualify as fourth step work? I feel, yes. I think honesty seems to lie at the heart of the program. This is how I express my honest self.


So, I hate God, and God hates me. Is that what I believe? I never knew it. If I feel God’s love for me, then I guess that means I am capable of feeling His hate. Love and hate are not miles apart. We have to find the wisdom to put distance between them. Without that wisdom, they are easily conjoined.

So I should write. I should do work. I will otherwise be unable to do step 10. I will keep hurting others, and myself. I feel put upon. I feel there is no one looking out for me, anymore. I used to feel my parents were.

Am I powerless over food? And what if I am? Can’t I just die a peaceful/painful death and call it a wash? Who really cares? Aren’t we all going to die anyway? Shouldn’t I go out with some pleasure and excitement? Do normal people ask question after question after question? Only if they’re practicing their question mark typing.

What is my bottom? Is it physical, emotional, intellectual or spiritual? Haven’t I proved I can hit physical bottom enough times? Maybe I need an intellectual bottom. Like the robot in Star Trek. I need to intellectually admit I am at a total loss. Logically. Or is it spiritual? Do I need to realize I should not give up on my own soul? That it is worth something. That it is worth saving. I am not very in touch with my soul. That would explain a lot of the agony and angst, consternation and confusion. I don’t cherish my existence. I don’t think I matter. Perhaps my physical self doesn’t matter much. Perhaps it could just continue to take crappy care of itself and die a simple death, and nothing would change much. There would be some sort of eulogy and obituary and some tears shed over my physical self.


I’m reviewing my library in search of answers. I have seen my emotional roller-coastery self of late. I feel I am in a good place to pull back and reflect. I must feel a certain stability right now, as though I’ve been through something dangerously wonderful, or wonderfully dangerous, and lived to tell the tale. Also I’ve been practicing pretty regularly, which has a grounding effect. I am still a walking advertisement for neuroses, but somehow I’m just that much more composed.
So I have reconsidered the possible sources of who I am and why I do things. I have come back to something called borderline personality disorder. In reading my books on it, I would have to say I am borderline borderline. The reason it is called borderline if I understand correctly, is because it didn’t quite fall into any readily identifiable psychiatric categories at the time the name was coined in the 1930’s. It borrowed symptoms from various illnesses and seemingly arbitrarily glommed them together, based on the patients observed. Nowadays it is an established disorder. I myself only have a portion of the symptoms, which is why I say borderline borderline. I also feel like the name borderline aptly describes my feelings in life generally, kind if like I’m in a no-man’s land between normal, functional, real-life society and a weirder place of my own making full of dreams and emotions of both wondrous and frightful nature. I am straddling the two almost all the time. It is rather frustrating because I feel I cannot commit to anything 100%. I only know how to exist on that borderline.

I think that is why I spend much of my time not being particularly productive. Non-action is the best means I can come up with to guard against falling off this fence. I guess I feel either choice is going to be a disappointment. Any choice, really. Of course I do have to make choices sometimes, but I try to keep them to a minimum.

The choices I make are usually fine. And the dreams and fantasies I muse upon are generally of a reasonably pleasant or useful sort. The trouble is this dang-blasted split between the two, frequently leaving me in limbo, a dead heat of indecision. Thankfully I have found that writing helps bridge the gap.

originally published on 11/17/07


Why is it that in the middle of a shower I get the urge to go work out, thus negating the shower? And why do I want to sleep in when I must get up but arise early when I have no obligations? How deep do my contrarian tendencies go? I used to think it was optional, just something I could put on to help differentiate myself from the crowd. But then, why did I want to differentiate myself? Why was that important to me? It must have had some deeper underpinnings.
It happens to me all the time, really. And it’s annoying when I would actually like to accomplish something. I have to play cat and mouse with my urges. I must outwit them in order to achieve a goal. If I want to answer a non urgent-business email, somewhere inside I need to be planning to do something totally unrelated to writing. Then there’s hope of me doing what is opposite. Same is true for working out, unless I’ve somehow embedded it into my routine at the moment. But even my routines have to be interpreted as contrary to something else to stick to them.

My stomach tells me it’s already full when it’s time for Thanksgiving dinner, but eat aplenty when I really shouldn’t. My arms start aching when it’s time for a concert, but feel great when I don’t have any upcoming performances. See how deep and visceral it is? It’s not something easily accepted either, because it’s inherently opposite to the natural course of events. My mind is trying to follow and shape my life path, but my insides are making all sorts of detours.

It’s like I live inside a magnet or a rubber band. I’m being pushed and pulled along by an unseen North Pole or puppeteer pulling an opposite-handed string. Sometimes I think it’s my soul’s way of keeping me in a homeostatic state, keeping me centered in a way. Perhaps that’s the good side of it. So maybe I should learn to give in to the North or South Poles and let them do what they’re apt to do anyway, without intrusion from my conscious self. I do not really know what percentage of consciousness versus unconsciousness is really my favorite. It’s a fluctuating thing which is not exactly under my control, but I can tell when it’s out of whack, I guess.

This blog affects that balance. Writing affects it. As does psychotherapy. They both seemingly merge the conscious and unconscious in a smooth way. You can keep track of the intricacies of the merging process there. But again, it requires either outsmarting or randomly falling into the correct circumstance to get to this place of symmetry.

originally published on 12/5/10


Contrarianism has a close cousin, procrastination. They are easily interchanged and mixed up. Waiting for the last minute to do something is akin to doing it when it really can’t be done well anymore, at a time that it really shouldn’t be done in the first place. But for the contrarian/procrastinators among us, sometimes doing something at a late date is still a far cry better than never doing it at all.
Of course I sometimes have a tendency to do things way too soon and too fast. It’s the flip side to procrastinating. So perhaps being a contrarian causes extremism in many cases. You’re sort of required to tap into the extremes, in order to get to the desired opposing feeling.

It’s just a lot of hoops to jump through. And I’ve been a little busy lately with actual life to accommodate these propensities in the way that I used to.

originally published on 12/5/10

Why, oh why

The cello is a way for me to exhibit me, both to my own eyes and to others. I’m equally unpredictable musically as in real life. I am now surmising that most everything is equivalent. I was not trained to think that. But that doesn’t make it irrelevant.
When I play the cello I am thinking about and feeling the same series of ideas and sensations as in regular life. Why shouldn’t I be? Any energy I am exerting to heal myself is just as easily directed to music-making. And anything misdirected in real life also falls short on the cello. I have always suspected that but I have never received solid confirmation from outside myself, so I couldn’t take it seriously due to my difficulty individuating myself from others. Are some things the problem and the solution simultaneously? I can’t individuate, but I must.

The important aspect of this is how I apply this learning theory to my music. I need to be sensitive to how my feelings reflect in my performance. It’s all in there if I listen for it. If I am feeling unfulfilled, for instance, I will create music in a stifled way. But it’s not even that simple. Because like life, the music is in flux. The emotional journey and processes are more reflective than a momentary mood swing. It is trickier and subtler than what I might consider my surface state of mind.

originally published on 12/19/06


I took a nap before the concert tonight, and it gave me an ease at the outset of the performance that I don’t often feel without a great deal of concentration and (non)effort. Last summer I blogged about trying to play with utter looseness, a la Perlman. I felt it oddly unnatural and unsatisfying to not exert much effort, perhaps due to the contrast from what I am accustomed to. Tonight I remembered another phase I went through – Krishnamurti immersion. He frequently talks about non-effort, non-conflict, non-worry and non-thinking. They are tantalizing concepts, but the last time I perused one of his books I was less than taken by his philosophizing.
I like the idea of extending the technical issues I have on the cello out to the rest of my existence. That’s of course been a great quest and fantasy of mine for decades.

As the concert progressed, I gradually lost that pleasurable ease. It tends to be fleeting like that. It’s as though I like to have something to butt up against. I like friction, resistance. I need them, more to the point. I realized that I also like to hear other performers with some of that taste for friction. I am unmoved by totally comfortable, unperturbed players. It’s like watching a piece of cardboard play music.

originally published on 1/26/08