Friday, January 24, 2014

Who is Perfect?


Prompt: I was thinking about the first time MLK was asked to join in a march. He said no, explaining he was the new minister in town and that he didn't want to make waves or endanger his family. A few days later he changed his mind. That's the MLK we know.


t was once very impatient with a student. I actually wanted to strangle her. I kept telling her something and she didn't get it. It was one of those "I want a cigarette" moments. But I didn't smoke. I just pretended to maintain my cool and repeated myself over and over again.

The next day she thanked me for being so patient with her. I felt pretty bad, remembering my impatience and being so ashamed that I wasn't the person that she was thanking.

When I was in college, at one point I had nine dogs. Well, I had three ... Bonnie, Clyde, and Blackbeard. Bonnie got kind of stuck one day when I was walking her before classes. I tried to separate her for this very aggressive male but failed. Soon, 64 days later, I had the six ugliest puppies I had ever seen. Or maybe I should say that Bonnie had them. I had no idea how to contend with so many dogs, esp. without a fenced yard. And as you can imagine, the six little ones started to use my floor as their yard. Just after cleaning up one mess, one of the still unnamed puppies made another mess. I started yelling at the small innocent being. Her mom took one look at me and went over and cleaned it up. How small did I feel!

We tend to glorify heroes, but, for me, it is the fact that they were humans rather than gods that makes them so special. I've known a few heroes in my life. They were bigger than life. They could do no wrong. They only had the best of intentions. And then I learned a little more about them and realized that they too were just human beings ... special, but not because they were perfect, but because they were not.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

It’s a Boy … Or Is It?

Knowing Fish
One day Chuang Tzu and a friend were walking by a river.
“Look at the fish swimming about,” said Chuang Tzu, “They are really enjoying themselves.”
“You are not a fish,” replied the friend, “So you can't truly know that they are enjoying themselves.”
“You are not me,” said Chuang Tzu. “So how do you know that I do not know that the fish are enjoying themselves?”
My god, I told my friend it was going to be a boy, forgetting that she had told me that she didn't want to know. It came to me as I was sitting. So then I started thinking, “what lies could I tell to deceive her into thinking that it really wasn't going to be a boy but rather some worthy alternative?”

I could say that I had lied and told her the opposite because she said she didn't want to know. But knowing and not knowing are different. It isn't a surprise, at least not the same surprise, if you know, even if you are wrong.

We rarely hear of people mistakenly not knowing. We all believed the world was flat until it became round in 1492. We love to think we know everything. Kids ask "why" until they learn that's a sign of being a kid, and then they stop asking. In school they aren't told about all the things we don't know—just about the stuff we do know.  Wouldn't it be great to have a textbook of all the things we don't know? Do fish enjoy themselves when they are swimming about? Does anyone know?

Michael at the temple said the other day that he was an agnostic at best. That's a little bit of a mind twister. What would an agnostic at worst believe? I guess in the continuum of believing, Michael goes from 0 to 50, while the at worst agnostic would go from 50 to 100. My father was once an atheist, but then he softened because he didn't want to offend anyone. He became an agnostic, he said, never adding "at best" or "at worse." Right before he died he said that now he could be with his wife. Did the morphine change what he knew?

So perhaps this is all some very elaborate scheme to divert her from thinking she knows. I was reading about a movie on Wittgenstein. It said that at age 32 he solved all the problems of philosophy and then was tormented the rest of his life realizing that he could be wrong about everything.

I said it was a boy. My daughter (perhaps lying to really surprise us) said she heard that from the doc. But perhaps she didn't want anyone to know. Telling the opposite is a good way to pull that off, especially when there are multiple choices. Are you sure it is a boy? Do you know if fish enjoy swimming around? Someone once told me that the great high for a fish was getting caught with a hook? Who knows that?

I'll let you know in July whether it is a boy or a girl. Only the babe knows for sure.