Jenny Holzer: Truisms

According to Wikipedia:

Jenny Holzer (born July 29, 1950, Gallipolis, Ohio) is an American neo-conceptual artist, based in Hoosick Falls, New York. The main focus of her work is the delivery of words and ideas in public spaces.

Holzer belongs to the feminist branch of a generation of artists that emerged around 1980, looking for new ways to make narrative or commentary an implicit part of visual objects. Her contemporaries include Barbara Kruger, Cindy Sherman, Sarah Charlesworth, and Louise Lawler.

Holzer’s initial public works, Truisms (1977–79), are among her best-known. They first appeared as anonymous broadsheets that she printed in black italic script on white paper and wheat-pasted to buildings, walls and fences in and around Manhattan. These one-liners are a distillation of an erudite reading list from the Whitney Independent Study Program, where she was a student. She printed other Truisms on posters, T-shirts and stickers, and carved them into stone benches. In late 1980, Holzer’s mail art and street leaflets were included in the exhibition Social Strategies by Women Artists at London’s Institute of Contemporary Arts, curated by Lucy Lippard.

Her list of truisms follows below. While I don’t agree with all of her thoughts, cut from whole cloth, I find value in many of them. Your mileage may vary.


A little knowledge can go a long way.
A lot of professionals are crackpots.
A man can’t know what it is to be a mother.
A name means a lot just by itself.
A positive attitude means all the difference in the world.
A relaxed man is not necessarily a better man.
A sense of timing is the mark of genius.
A sincere effort is all you can ask.
A single event can have infinitely many interpretations.
A solid home base builds a sense of self.
A strong sense of duty imprisons you.
Absolute submission can be a form of freedom.
Abstraction is a type of decadence.
Abuse of power comes as no surprise.
Action causes more trouble than thought.
Alienation produces eccentrics or revolutionaries.
All things are delicately interconnected.
Ambition is just as dangerous as complacency.
Ambivalence can ruin your life.
An elite is inevitable.
Anger or hate can be a useful motivating force.
Animalism is perfectly healthy.
Any surplus is immoral.
Anything is a legitimate area of investigation.
Artificial desires are despoiling the earth.
At times inactivity is preferable to mindless functioning.
At times your unconsciousness is truer than your conscious mind.
Automation is deadly.
Awful punishment awaits really bad people.
Bad intentions can yield good results.
Being alone with yourself is increasingly unpopular.
Being happy is more important than anything else.
Being judgmental is a sign of life.
Being sure of yourself means you’re a fool.
Believing in rebirth is the same as admitting defeat.
Boredom makes you do crazy things.
Calm is more conductive to creativity than is anxiety.
Categorizing fear is calming.
Change is valuable when the oppressed become tyrants.
Chasing the new is dangerous to society.
Children are the most cruel of all.
Children are the hope of the future.
Class action is a nice idea with no substance.
Class structure is as artificial as plastic.
Confusing yourself is a way to stay honest.
Crime against property is relatively unimportant.
Decadence can be an end in itself.
Decency is a relative thing.
Dependence can be a meal ticket.
Description is more important than metaphor.
Deviants are sacrificed to increase group solidarity.
Disgust is the appropriate response to most situations.
Disorganization is a kind of anesthesia.
Don’t place to much trust in experts.
Drama often obscures the real issues.
Dreaming while awake is a frightening contradiction.
Dying and coming back gives you considerable perspective.
Dying should be as easy as falling off a log.
Eating too much is criminal.
Elaboration is a form of pollution.
Emotional responses ar as valuable as intellectual responses.
Enjoy yourself because you can’t change anything anyway.
Ensure that your life stays in flux.
Even your family can betray you.
Every achievement requires a sacrifice.
Everyone’s work is equally important.
Everything that’s interesting is new.
Exceptional people deserve special concessions.
Expiring for love is beautiful but stupid.
Expressing anger is necessary.
Extreme behavior has its basis in pathological psychology.
Extreme self-consciousness leads to perversion.
Faithfulness is a social not a biological law.
Fake or real indifference is a powerful personal weapon.
Fathers often use too much force.
Fear is the greatest incapacitator.
Freedom is a luxury not a necessity.
Giving free rein to your emotions is an honest way to live.
Go all out in romance and let the chips fall where they may.
Going with the flow is soothing but risky.
Good deeds eventually are rewarded.
Government is a burden on the people.
Grass roots agitation is the only hope.
Guilt and self-laceration are indulgences.
Habitual contempt doesn’t reflect a finer sensibility.
Hiding your emotions is despicable.
Holding back protects your vital energies.
Humanism is obsolete.
Humor is a release.
Ideals are replaced by conventional goals at a certain age.
If you aren’t political your personal life should be exemplary.
If you can’t leave your mark give up.
If you have many desires your life will be interesting.
If you live simply there is nothing to worry about.
Ignoring enemies is the best way to fight.
Illness is a state of mind.
Imposing order is man’s vocation for chaos is hell.
In some instances it’s better to die than to continue.
Inheritance must be abolished.
It can be helpful to keep going no matter what.
It is heroic to try to stop time.
It is man’s fate to outsmart himself.
It is a gift to the world not to have babies.
It’s better to be a good person than a famous person.
It’s better to be lonely than to be with inferior people.
It’s better to be naive than jaded.
It’s better to study the living fact than to analyze history.
It’s crucial to have an active fantasy life.
It’s good to give extra money to charity.
It’s important to stay clean on all levels.
It’s just an accident that your parents are your parents.
It’s not good to hold too many absolutes.
It’s not good to operate on credit.
It’s vital to live in harmony with nature.
Just believing something can make it happen.
Keep something in reserve for emergencies.
Killing is unavoidable but nothing to be proud of.
Knowing yourself lets you understand others.
Knowledge should be advanced at all costs.
Labor is a life-destroying activity.
Lack of charisma can be fatal.
Leisure time is a gigantic smoke screen.
Listen when your body talks.
Looking back is the first sign of aging and decay.
Loving animals is a substitute activity.
Low expectations are good protection.
Manual labor can be refreshing and wholesome.
Men are not monogamous by nature.
Moderation kills the spirit.
Money creates taste.
Monomania is a prerequisite of success.
Morals are for little people.
Most people are not fit to rule themselves.
Mostly you should mind your own business.
Mothers shouldn’t make too many sacrifices.
Much was decided before you were born.
Murder has its sexual side.
Myth can make reality more intelligible.
Noise can be hostile.
Nothing upsets the balance of good and evil.
Occasionally principles are more valuable than people.
Offer very little information about yourself.
Often you should act like you are sexless.
Old friends are better left in the past.
Opacity is an irresistible challenge.
Pain can be a very positive thing.
People are boring unless they are extremists.
People are nuts if they think they are important.
People are responsible for what they do unless they are insane.
People who don’t work with their hands are parasites.
People who go crazy are too sensitive.
People won’t behave if they have nothing to lose.
Physical culture is second best.
Planning for the future is escapism.
Playing it safe can cause a lot of damage in the long run.
Politics is used for personal gain.
Potential counts for nothing until it’s realized.
Private property created crime.
Pursuing pleasure for the sake of pleasure will ruin you.
Push yourself to the limit as often as possible.
Raise boys and girls the same way.
Random mating is good for debunking sex myths.
Rechanneling destructive impulses is a sign of maturity.
Recluses always get weak.
Redistributing wealth is imperative.
Relativity is no boon to mankind.
Religion causes as many problems as it solves.
Remember you always have freedom of choice.
Repetition is the best way to learn.
Resolutions serve to ease our conscience.
Revolution begins with changes in the individual.
Romantic love was invented to manipulate women.
Routine is a link with the past.
Routine small excesses are worse than then the occasional debauch.
Sacrificing yourself for a bad cause is not a moral act.
Salvation can’t be bought and sold.
Self-awareness can be crippling.
Self-contempt can do more harm than good.
Selfishness is the most basic motivation.
Selflessness is the highest achievement.
Separatism is the way to a new beginning.
Sex differences are here to stay.
Sin is a means of social control.
Slipping into madness is good for the sake of comparison.
Sloppy thinking gets worse over time.
Solitude is enriching.
Sometimes science advances faster than it should.
Sometimes things seem to happen of their own accord.
Spending too much time on self-improvement is antisocial.
Starvation is nature’s way.
Stasis is a dream state.
Sterilization is a weapon of the rulers.
Strong emotional attachment stems from basic insecurity.
Stupid people shouldn’t breed.
Survival of the fittest applies to men and animals.
Symbols are more meaningful than things themselves.
Taking a strong stand publicizes the opposite position.
Talking is used to hide one’s inability to act.
Teasing people sexually can have ugly consequences.
Technology will make or break us.
The cruelest disappointment is when you let yourself down.
The desire to reproduce is a death wish.
The family is living on borrowed time.
The idea of revolution is an adolescent fantasy.
The idea of transcendence is used to obscure oppression.
The idiosyncratic has lost its authority.
The most profound things are inexpressible.
The mundane is to be cherished.
The new is nothing but a restatement of the old.
The only way to be pure is to stay by yourself.
The sum of your actions determines what you are.
The unattainable is invariable attractive.
The world operates according to discoverable laws.
There are too few immutable truths today.
There’s nothing except what you sense.
There’s nothing redeeming in toil.
Thinking too much can only cause problems.
Threatening someone sexually is a horrible act.
Timidity is laughable.
To disagree presupposes moral integrity.
To volunteer is reactionary.
Torture is barbaric.
Trading a life for a life is fair enough.
True freedom is frightful.
Unique things must be the most valuable.
Unquestioning love demonstrates largesse of spirit.
Using force to stop force is absurd.
Violence is permissible even desirable occasionally.
War is a purification rite.
We must make sacrifices to maintain our quality of life.
When something terrible happens people wake up.
Wishing things away is not effective.
With perseverance you can discover any truth.
Words tend to be inadequate.
Worrying can help you prepare.
You are a victim of the rules you live by.
You are guileless in your dreams.
You are responsible for constituting the meaning of things.
You are the past present and future.
You can live on through your descendants.
You can’t expect people to be something they’re not.
You can’t fool others if you’re fooling yourself.
You don’t know what’s what until you support yourself.
You have to hurt others to be extraordinary.
You must be intimate with a token few.
You must disagree with authority figures.
You must have one grand passion.
You must know where you stop and the world begins.
You can understand someone of your sex only.
You owe the world not the other way around.
You should study as much as possible.
Your actions are pointless if no one notices.
Your oldest fears are the worst ones.


The Old Wolf has spoken.

The only way to the stars.

It won’t be technology that gets us there, although that’s a critical part of the equation. It won’t be money alone. Humanity won’t crawl out of the mud until we really learn to care for each other.

Kate McCormick.png

This sad tombstone reads:

Seduced and pregnant by her father’s friend,
Unwed she died from abortion, her only choice.
Abandoned in life and death by family,
With but a single rose from her mother.
Buried only through the kindness of an unknown benefactor
Died February, 1875, age 21
Victim of an unforgiving society
Have mercy on us.

The poem below was part of a BBC program, unfortunately not available in the US, translated by redditor /u/Reedit_girl

1jwalka

Too many people in this world live and die essentially alone and ignored and forgotten. How can we possibly hope to inherit the stars if we can’t even take care of our own here on this Pale Blue Dot?

This image from David Linn – “The Ascent” – illustrates beautifully the Quaker proverb, “Thee lift me and I’ll lift thee, and we’ll ascend together.”

david-linn-the-ascent-helping-into-the-light

That’s what life is about, regardless of your spiritual walk, be it person of faith, humanist, deist, atheist, anti-theist, or somewhere else – it matters not. We’re here to make a difference in one another’s lives for good. If you’re doing that, you’re on a good road.

The idea is not new, it’s as old as the hills. In the Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 31a, we find this:

hillelquotehebrew

“That which is distasteful unto yourself, do not unto others. This is the whole Torah, the rest is commentary. Go and study.”

Lest you think I’m being partial to Judaism, have a look at the Golden Rule in many faiths around the world:

Golden Rule

Missing from the chart is the humanist “ethic of reciprocity,” the belief  that people should aim to treat each other as they would like to be treated themselves – with tolerance, consideration and compassion.

Until we live in a world where this idea is as natural to every person as breathing, we won’t be ready to inherit the stars.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

 

The Egg by Andy Weir

This exists in multiple places on the Internet; it went viral a few years ago and I remember seeing it at that time.

The Internet, however is a big place; I’m sure there are some of my readers and/or followers that haven’t seen it, so I thought it was worth sharing here. You can see the original post here, with translations in numerous languages.

While this is not entirely consistent with my own cosmology, there is a significant intersection, and it has some very powerful thoughts in it.

uUntq

The Egg

By: Andy Weir

You were on your way home when you died.

It was a car accident. Nothing particularly remarkable, but fatal nonetheless. You left behind a wife and two children. It was a painless death. The EMTs tried their best to save you, but to no avail. Your body was so utterly shattered you were better off, trust me.

And that’s when you met me.

“What… what happened?” You asked. “Where am I?”

“You died,” I said, matter-of-factly. No point in mincing words.

“There was a… a truck and it was skidding…”

“Yup,” I said.

“I… I died?”

“Yup. But don’t feel bad about it. Everyone dies,” I said.

You looked around. There was nothingness. Just you and me. “What is this place?” You asked. “Is this the afterlife?”

“More or less,” I said.

“Are you god?” You asked.

“Yup,” I replied. “I’m God.”

“My kids… my wife,” you said.

“What about them?”

“Will they be all right?”

“That’s what I like to see,” I said. “You just died and your main concern is for your family. That’s good stuff right there.”

You looked at me with fascination. To you, I didn’t look like God. I just looked like some man. Or possibly a woman. Some vague authority figure, maybe. More of a grammar school teacher than the almighty.

“Don’t worry,” I said. “They’ll be fine. Your kids will remember you as perfect in every way. They didn’t have time to grow contempt for you. Your wife will cry on the outside, but will be secretly relieved. To be fair, your marriage was falling apart. If it’s any consolation, she’ll feel very guilty for feeling relieved.”

“Oh,” you said. “So what happens now? Do I go to heaven or hell or something?”

“Neither,” I said. “You’ll be reincarnated.”

“Ah,” you said. “So the Hindus were right,”

“All religions are right in their own way,” I said. “Walk with me.”

You followed along as we strode through the void. “Where are we going?”

“Nowhere in particular,” I said. “It’s just nice to walk while we talk.”

“So what’s the point, then?” You asked. “When I get reborn, I’ll just be a blank slate, right? A baby. So all my experiences and everything I did in this life won’t matter.”

“Not so!” I said. “You have within you all the knowledge and experiences of all your past lives. You just don’t remember them right now.”

I stopped walking and took you by the shoulders. “Your soul is more magnificent, beautiful, and gigantic than you can possibly imagine. A human mind can only contain a tiny fraction of what you are. It’s like sticking your finger in a glass of water to see if it’s hot or cold. You put a tiny part of yourself into the vessel, and when you bring it back out, you’ve gained all the experiences it had.

“You’ve been in a human for the last 48 years, so you haven’t stretched out yet and felt the rest of your immense consciousness. If we hung out here for long enough, you’d start remembering everything. But there’s no point to doing that between each life.”

“How many times have I been reincarnated, then?”

“Oh lots. Lots and lots. An in to lots of different lives.” I said. “This time around, you’ll be a Chinese peasant girl in 540 AD.”

“Wait, what?” You stammered. “You’re sending me back in time?”

“Well, I guess technically. Time, as you know it, only exists in your universe. Things are different where I come from.”

“Where you come from?” You said.

“Oh sure,” I explained “I come from somewhere. Somewhere else. And there are others like me. I know you’ll want to know what it’s like there, but honestly you wouldn’t understand.”

“Oh,” you said, a little let down. “But wait. If I get reincarnated to other places in time, I could have interacted with myself at some point.”

“Sure. Happens all the time. And with both lives only aware of their own lifespan you don’t even know it’s happening.”

“So what’s the point of it all?”

“Seriously?” I asked. “Seriously? You’re asking me for the meaning of life? Isn’t that a little stereotypical?”

“Well it’s a reasonable question,” you persisted.

I looked you in the eye. “The meaning of life, the reason I made this whole universe, is for you to mature.”

“You mean mankind? You want us to mature?”

“No, just you. I made this whole universe for you. With each new life you grow and mature and become a larger and greater intellect.”

“Just me? What about everyone else?”

“There is no one else,” I said. “In this universe, there’s just you and me.”

You stared blankly at me. “But all the people on earth…”

“All you. Different incarnations of you.”

“Wait. I’m everyone!?”

“Now you’re getting it,” I said, with a congratulatory slap on the back.

“I’m every human being who ever lived?”

“Or who will ever live, yes.”

“I’m Abraham Lincoln?”

“And you’re John Wilkes Booth, too,” I added.

“I’m Hitler?” You said, appalled.

“And you’re the millions he killed.”

“I’m Jesus?”

“And you’re everyone who followed him.”

You fell silent.

“Every time you victimized someone,” I said, “you were victimizing yourself. Every act of kindness you’ve done, you’ve done to yourself. Every happy and sad moment ever experienced by any human was, or will be, experienced by you.” [1]

You thought for a long time.

“Why?” You asked me. “Why do all this?”

“Because someday, you will become like me. Because that’s what you are. You’re one of my kind. You’re my child.”

“Whoa,” you said, incredulous. “You mean I’m a god?”

“No. Not yet. You’re a fetus. You’re still growing. Once you’ve lived every human life throughout all time, you will have grown enough to be born.”

“So the whole universe,” you said, “it’s just…”

“An egg.” I answered. “Now it’s time for you to move on to your next life.”

And I sent you on your way.

In some ways I am reminded of Isaac Asimov’s famous short story “The Last Question,” which remains at the top of my list of science-fiction writing for the yearning questions about man’s destiny that it poses.

A hat tip to Andy Weir for a superb piece of literary exposition.

The Old Wolf has spoken.


¹ For me, this paragraph is the core that resonates with me the most powerfully as it relates to the here and now.

The Joy of being Different.

Different

A lot has been written, both in print media and on the internet, about the importance of being different, or simply being yourself. My first encounter with this philosophy came in high school and we were studying Walden, hence the world view of Henry David Thoreau. He stated famously,

“If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.”

I agreed with it then, and I agree with it now. It’s far more important, in my way of thinking, to find happiness and fulfillment in life by following one’s heart and one’s dreams than to march in lockstep with the rest of the crowd for the sake of comfort and security. Unfortunately, most of the business and corporate world worships conformity. The image below graced the front of Scott Adams’ Dogbert’s Top Secret Management Handbook.

Managers

For most businesses and large corporations, the working philosophy is “don’t make waves, don’t be different, or (as they say in Japan) “the nail that sticks up gets hammered down.”

the_nail_that_sticks_out_gets_hammered_

“Deru kui wa utareru” – found at Nichiren Buddhist. “Japan is a country that typically prides itself on conformity, and sees anyone who is outspoken and holds different views to popular opinion as a potential threat to the rest of the group.  This lone voice must be knocked back into line.  It doesn’t even matter if the difference is the teaching of a great philosophy or something that can be harmful to society, as long as you are different from the mainstream, you must be put in your place.”

Indeed, other thinkers have an entirely different take on originality; In  his 1999 novel Invisible Monsters, Chuck Palahniuk wrote: “Nothing of me is original. I am the combined effort of everybody I’ve ever known.” Palahniuk is certainly correct in positing that we are all heavily influenced by our environments and whatever we have incorporated into our encyclopedic knowledge of our surroundings, but I disagree that originality is a scarce commodity. Much of it is simply drowned out in the vast sea of conformity that surrounds us. And like any other skill, the art of thinking creatively can be taught, and learned, and practiced, and developed.

A good example of thinking “outside the box” is the classic nine-dot puzzle.

07ninedot

The challenge is to link all 9 dots using four straight lines or fewer, without lifting the pen and without tracing the same line more than once. Like “Columbus’ egg,” the solution is easy when you know how, but many people will struggle with the puzzle because they can’t get their minds outside the borders created by the dots.

The traditional solution (although there are others) is below:

the-nine-dots-puzzle-solution

Other organizations, among whom are found religions, are also opposed to the concept of free thought. The cartoon below by Calvin Grondahl describes almost exactly my mother’s experience in Sunday School as a young girl:

Maggie Church

 

As a result of this and some other similar experiences, she never darkened a church door again.

The good news is that even in the corporate world, there are those who promote, foster, and encourage difference. Apple Computer is one of these. I remember well the 1984 advert which launched the Macintosh line:

Apple’s philosophy has continued to celebrate difference – the following dictum is often attributed directly to Steve Jobs, but was in fact written by Rob Siltanen with participation of Lee Clow, and used in a couple of different advertising campaigns:

The Crazy Ones

Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes.
The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them.
But the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They invent. They imagine. They heal. They explore. They create. They inspire. They push the human race forward.
Maybe they have to be crazy.
How else can you stare at an empty canvas and see a work of art? Or sit in silence and hear a song that’s never been written? Or gaze at a red planet and see a laboratory on wheels?
We make tools for these kinds of people.
While some see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.

To me this makes a lot of sense. One of my Facebook friends posted this today, which got me thinking down these lines in the first place:

1486933_637960289581182_1498031942_n

Another one which I saw earlier and saved off is below:

insane

Naturally, we’re not talking about real mental illness here, which is no laughing matter, and which continues to get short shrift in social and health circles – but rather the simple joy of being oneself, regardless of what the world around you happens to think. Dr. Seuss had it right,

386760_444294978971016_2123145239_n

 

and Fred Rogers spent a lifetime encouraging children to celebrate their uniqueness:

fred_rogers_quote

Naturally, for every good philosophy there will always be caveats:

UniqueDemotivator-s795x596-36535

This notwithstanding, the purpose of our existence is to find joy. It is my firm conviction that Tony Gaskins was right when he said,

“If you don’t build your dream someone will hire you to help build theirs.”

Given the emphasis on conformity, and the difficulty in breaking out of society’s molds and expectations, it should be a given that it’s not easy. But I know for a fact that it’s worth it. I have never been happier than when I was being my own vision of who I should be, rather than trying to shove myself into someone else’s mold.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

That’s one way of looking at it

The Egg

By Andy Weir

egg

You were on your way home when you died.

It was a car accident. Nothing particularly remarkable, but fatal nonetheless. You left behind a wife and two children. It was a painless death. The EMTs tried their best to save you, but to no avail. Your body was so utterly shattered you were better off, trust me.

And that’s when you met me.

“What… what happened?” You asked. “Where am I?”

“You died,” I said, matter-of-factly. No point in mincing words.

“There was a… a truck and it was skidding…”

“Yup,” I said.

“I… I died?”

“Yup. But don’t feel bad about it. Everyone dies,” I said.

You looked around. There was nothingness. Just you and me. “What is this place?” You asked. “Is this the afterlife?”

“More or less,” I said.

“Are you god?” You asked.

“Yup,” I replied. “I’m God.”

“My kids… my wife,” you said.

“What about them?”

“Will they be all right?”

“That’s what I like to see,” I said. “You just died and your main concern is for your family. That’s good stuff right there.”

You looked at me with fascination. To you, I didn’t look like God. I just looked like some man. Or possibly a woman. Some vague authority figure, maybe. More of a grammar school teacher than the almighty.

“Don’t worry,” I said. “They’ll be fine. Your kids will remember you as perfect in every way. They didn’t have time to grow contempt for you. Your wife will cry on the outside, but will be secretly relieved. To be fair, your marriage was falling apart. If it’s any consolation, she’ll feel very guilty for feeling relieved.”

“Oh,” you said. “So what happens now? Do I go to heaven or hell or something?”

“Neither,” I said. “You’ll be reincarnated.”

“Ah,” you said. “So the Hindus were right,”

“All religions are right in their own way,” I said. “Walk with me.”

You followed along as we strode through the void. “Where are we going?”

“Nowhere in particular,” I said. “It’s just nice to walk while we talk.”

“So what’s the point, then?” You asked. “When I get reborn, I’ll just be a blank slate, right? A baby. So all my experiences and everything I did in this life won’t matter.”

“Not so!” I said. “You have within you all the knowledge and experiences of all your past lives. You just don’t remember them right now.”

I stopped walking and took you by the shoulders. “Your soul is more magnificent, beautiful, and gigantic than you can possibly imagine. A human mind can only contain a tiny fraction of what you are. It’s like sticking your finger in a glass of water to see if it’s hot or cold. You put a tiny part of yourself into the vessel, and when you bring it back out, you’ve gained all the experiences it had.

“You’ve been in a human for the last 48 years, so you haven’t stretched out yet and felt the rest of your immense consciousness. If we hung out here for long enough, you’d start remembering everything. But there’s no point to doing that between each life.”

“How many times have I been reincarnated, then?”

“Oh lots. Lots and lots. An in to lots of different lives.” I said. “This time around, you’ll be a Chinese peasant girl in 540 AD.”

“Wait, what?” You stammered. “You’re sending me back in time?”

“Well, I guess technically. Time, as you know it, only exists in your universe. Things are different where I come from.”

“Where you come from?” You said.

“Oh sure,” I explained “I come from somewhere. Somewhere else. And there are others like me. I know you’ll want to know what it’s like there, but honestly you wouldn’t understand.”

“Oh,” you said, a little let down. “But wait. If I get reincarnated to other places in time, I could have interacted with myself at some point.”

“Sure. Happens all the time. And with both lives only aware of their own lifespan you don’t even know it’s happening.”

“So what’s the point of it all?”

“Seriously?” I asked. “Seriously? You’re asking me for the meaning of life? Isn’t that a little stereotypical?”

“Well it’s a reasonable question,” you persisted.

I looked you in the eye. “The meaning of life, the reason I made this whole universe, is for you to mature.”

“You mean mankind? You want us to mature?”

“No, just you. I made this whole universe for you. With each new life you grow and mature and become a larger and greater intellect.”

“Just me? What about everyone else?”

“There is no one else,” I said. “In this universe, there’s just you and me.”

You stared blankly at me. “But all the people on earth…”

“All you. Different incarnations of you.”

“Wait. I’m everyone!?”

“Now you’re getting it,” I said, with a congratulatory slap on the back.

“I’m every human being who ever lived?”

“Or who will ever live, yes.”

“I’m Abraham Lincoln?”

“And you’re John Wilkes Booth, too,” I added.

“I’m Hitler?” You said, appalled.

“And you’re the millions he killed.”

“I’m Jesus?”

“And you’re everyone who followed him.”

You fell silent.

“Every time you victimized someone,” I said, “you were victimizing yourself. Every act of kindness you’ve done, you’ve done to yourself. Every happy and sad moment ever experienced by any human was, or will be, experienced by you.”

You thought for a long time.

“Why?” You asked me. “Why do all this?”

“Because someday, you will become like me. Because that’s what you are. You’re one of my kind. You’re my child.”

“Whoa,” you said, incredulous. “You mean I’m a god?”

“No. Not yet. You’re a fetus. You’re still growing. Once you’ve lived every human life throughout all time, you will have grown enough to be born.”

“So the whole universe,” you said, “it’s just…”

“An egg.” I answered. “Now it’s time for you to move on to your next life.”

And I sent you on your way.

———————

This is not necessarily the way I see the universe, but I like the vision. There’s some interesting philosophy in there.

Other language versions of “The Egg” can be found at Galactanet.com

The Old Wolf has spoken


DistilPure

DistilPure is an organic, non-petroleum natural-source MSM
Certified by analysis to be 100% bio-source
No fillers or additives, suitable for vegans and vegetarians

12 Habits of Healthy, Happy People Who Don’t Give A Rat’s South-40 About Your Inner Peace

Note: This has been reblogged from Yoganonamous. It has been bowdlerized for my audience (if you haven’t used that word before, it means I’ve cleaned it up a bit.) If you want to read the original in all its salty glory, you may do so at the original page. The Old Wolf approves this philosophy.


12 Habits of Healthy, Happy People Who Don’t Give A Rat’s South-40 About Your Inner Peace

crazy-lady

Every time someone in my Facebook feed posts something like this, I click it. Every single time.

We all have this Facebook friend, right? People you genuinely love and admire. People you like hanging out with. People you invite to your birthday parties. You know. Actual friends. Until you’ve clicked links exactly like this again and again and again. For years. And all of a sudden, you start to wonder if this is some elaborate hoax, if you’ve actually just been reading the same article over and over.

It’s not like I have anything against happiness, or success, or meditation, or yoga, or being nice, or smiling more, or eating healthy, or losing weight, or being your best you, or embracing the day with a positive attitude. Those all sound great. Honestly, they do. And there are some really smart, simple truths to be found in all of those articles. There truly are.

It’s just that I have a problem with being told to do all of those things by skinny blonde ladies laughing on a beach wearing yoga pants.

Don’t believe me? Take the challenge. Next time you read one of these articles, I dare you not to play Inspirational Photo Bingo:

happier-life-bingo

Don’t believe me? Compiling these photos took less than four minutes.

anotherwomanmeditatinginfield-850x400

brandnewhappywomanarmstoside-850x400-1

happywomanarmssideonbeach-850x400

judytsuiatthebeach900-850x400

ladymeditatinonbeachtulum-850x400

manandwomanforgivingeachother-850x400
manandwomanlookingoutovermountainsandsea-850x400

motheranddaughterhappy-850x400

woman-white-beach-jump-850x400-1

woman-yello-grass-happy-850x400

womanontopofmountainatsunset-850x400

yogateachersilhouette900-2-850x400

I can’t remember the last time I pranced around a tropical island paradise waving a white scarf around my head as a professional photographer snapped a picture, but I bet if I did, I’d be a whole lot happier too.

Below please find my version of this article, that I want to share with you, the internet. May it bring you all the inner peace you can cram into your backpacking gear right before downward dogging it atop that mountain at sunrise.

  • Do whatever you want.
  • Do whatever you want.
  • Seriously, do you want that burger? Then just eat a burger. Don’t be gross about it, and don’t eat a burger three meals a day. But I beg you, women and image-conscious male humans of the world, stop beating yourself up about it and just eat the burger.
  • Do whatever you want.
  • Have good friends. Call them. Complain a little. That’s what friends are for. Return the favor. Don’t be a crappy friend.
  • Learn how to laugh about farts. Fart more. Laugh about it.
  • Be incessantly curious about the world around you! Experience art, science, beauty, and nature! But stop beating yourself up on those nights when you just want to sit your ass on the couch and watch reruns of Friends.
  • Smile when you feel like smiling. Laugh whenever you feel like laughing. Pro tip: Being told to ‘laugh more’ is not going to make you laugh more. Being told to ‘smile more’ is not going to make you smile more.
  • Make time for yourself. After you’ve run that 5K, started a load of laundry, harvested your organic vegetable garden, run to the bank, paid the bills, dazzled everyone with recipes that are cost-effective, healthy, and delicious, thought of something witty and clever to share with your social networking site, caught up on current events and politics, and cleaned all of the house, that special hour set aside just for you is so critical to your well-being.*
  • Do whatever you want.
  • Don’t care what other people think. Unless they’re right. In which case, humble yourself enough to listen to them.
  • Do. Whatever. You Want.

Do what you want. Be your self. Don’t be a terrible person. Be nice to others. Be supportive of your friends and allow yourself to give them the benefit of the doubt when they want to try something new, like rescuing shelter dogs, or making performance art in the nude, or dating terrible people. They’re your friends and you love them, and if they suck, stop being their friend. Show up for work. Pay your bills. Find some purpose in your life, and figure out a way to share that purpose with others in a way that isn’t sanctimonious and doesn’t involve a picture of a woman laughing at an empty beach. Smile because something makes you smile. Laugh because you’ve surrounded yourself by people who make you laugh, and they’re funny people, and you’re happy to be with them. Dance because you’re drunk at a big dance party with your friends and Michael Jackson is playing, not because ‘no one is watching.’ Everyone is watching. We’re at a party. That’s how parties work.

Do whatever you want.

And the next time one of you has the kind of spare cash around to take a prancercise vacation to a tropical island, for the love of all that is holy please bring me with you. I am excellent at waving scarves around but even better at buying drinks with tiny umbrellas.

*And I don’t even have kids! Or a husband! Or a boyfriend! I can’t even imagine how condescending that advice must feel to working moms. As someone who works all the time and can barely remember which day of the week the trash gets taken out: making time for yourself seems like one of the cruelest bits of advice of all. I’ll make plenty of time for myself. Once I finish all of the things.


With massive thanks to Katherine Fritz, who has a great blog called “I Am Begging My Mother not to Read This Blog,

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Be noble, for you are made of stars.

There is supposedly a Serbian proverb that states, “Будите скромни за вас су од земље, да буде племенита за вас су од звезда.”

Be humble, for you are made of earth. Be noble, for you are made of stars.

[]

Whether it is Serbian in origin or not, it’s a good proverb. I like it. Because it’s true. From Random Science Tools comes this chart of the relative preponderance of elements in the body of an average 70kg man:

Element             Amount / kg  Amount / Mol.
Oxygen   43 2700
Carbon 16 1300
Hydrogen 7 7000
Nitrogen 1 .8 130
Calcium 1 .0 25
Phosphorus 0 .78 25
Sulphur 0 .14 4 .4
Potassium 0 .14 3 .6
Sodium 0 .10 4 .3
Chlorine 0 .095 2 .7
Magnesium 0 .019 0 .78
Silicon 0 .018 0 .64
Iron 0 .0042 0 .075
Fluorine 0 .0026 0 .14
Zinc 0 .0023 0 .035
Rubidium 0 .00032 0 .0037
Strontium 0 .00032 0 .0037
Bromine 0 .00020 0 .0025
Lead 0 .00012 0 .00058
Copper 0 .000072 0 .0011
Aluminium 0 .000061 0 .0023
Cadmium 0 .000050 0 .00044
Boron < 0 .000048 0 .0044
Barium 0 .000022 0 .00016
Tin < 0 .000017 0 .00014
Iodine 0 .000013 0 .00010
Manganese 0 .000012 0 .00022
Nickel 0 .000010 0 .00017
Gold < 0 .000010 0 .000051
Molybdenum < 0 .0000093 0 .000097
Chromium < 0 .0000018 0 .000035
Caesium 0 .0000015 0 .000011
Cobalt 0 .0000015 0 .000025
Uranium 0 .00000009 0 .00000038
Beryllium 0 .000000036 0 .0000040
Radium 3.1×10-14 1.4×10-13

Chemical composition of the human body by mass

chem_comp_of_body_chart

As little as it may be, we have gold in us. And other rare elements. And we have to remember that at the creation of the universe, the only elements present were hydrogen and helium. Every other naturally-occurring element in the periodic table was born in the hearts of dying stars which ended their lives as supernovæ, or – as recently hypothesized in the case of heavier elements like gold – in collisions between neutron stars.

GRB_illustration

I like Carl Sagan’s quote, which he also managed to work into his book Contact: “The universe is a pretty big place. If it’s just us, seems like an awful waste of space.” Whether we are alone in the universe is a question which science has yet to answer, but it’s pretty mind-bending to think that the elements which make up our bodies came from the universe around us. As astrophysicist Neil Degrasse Tyson said,

“Recognize that the very molecules that make up your body, the atoms that construct the molecules, are traceable to the crucibles that were once the centers of high mass stars that exploded their chemically rich guts into the galaxy, enriching pristine gas clouds with the chemistry of life. So that we are all connected to each other biologically, to the earth chemically and to the rest of the universe atomically. That’s kinda cool! That makes me smile and I actually feel quite large at the end of that. It’s not that we are better than the universe, we are part of the universe. We are in the universe and the universe is in us.”

The Old Wolf has spoken.