Stoned ponderings on recurring themes: one after another after another


I
I would say that I have a good marriage, yet Peggy is a serious disappointment to me in some ways. For example, she’s a procrastinator who often expects me to help her with one project or another at the last minute when she’s under pressure, and I have something else I want to do. I don’t do pressure, and I become testy when someone rushes me, so it’s a bad situation that I blame entirely on her because she’s the one who’s doing the imposing. However, I finally had to give up trying to change her. Not that I don’t bitch and moan from time to time, but I would be an idiot if I expected anything but broken promises to come of it. The sad truth is that EVERYONE is like Peggy. Instead of expecting another person to be all but perfect and to love you forever, put your emphasis on deciding whether you even find them tolerable.
II 
When I was in my teens and twenties, I would ponder all these heavy religious and philosophical questions, but my half-sister, Anne (my elder by eleven years), was the only person I ever knew who wanted to discuss them. I assumed from this that everyone else must already know the answers but for some reason wouldn’t share them with me. I made this assumption because I couldn’t imagine that questions which were so compelling to me could have escaped their notice altogether. When I finally—after many years—concluded that they had, I started to think less of other people and more of myself. I pictured everyone else as being like dogs or cats, nice enough in their way but sadly lacking nonetheless.
III
I was embarrassed to be a Mississippian long before I moved to liberal Eugene, where Mississippi and every white person in it is considered a joke. I would get mad when I heard people trashing Mississippi, not necessarily because I disagreed, but because they couldn’t have named the major towns, or pointed to The Delta on a map, or identified kudzu and fireants. They were simply relaying to me, a lifelong Mississippian, all the bad stuff they had heard. For awhile, I joined them; for awhile, I kept my mouth shut; now, I demand to know their sources because theirs is usually a case of prejudice based upon hearsay. It doesn’t even matter to me that a person is right; if his reasons for his beliefs are unfounded, he’s still a bigot.
 IV
Foolishness that is at least understandable in the young becomes inexcusable with age. I'm very aware that I'm a "senior" now and, except for the physical pain and limitations, I rather like it because at no time in my life have I experienced more of wisdom or contentment.
 V
I just finished Hell in the Pacific by Jim McEnery. It wasn't the best war book I've ever read (that would be With the Old Breed at Peleliu and Okinawa by E.B. Sledge), but I'm glad I read it. The following passage will stay with me more than most: “I’ve never lost sleep over the enemy solders I shot or bayoneted or blew to bits with grenades—not even the wounded ones I put out of their misery…. I did it the same way you’d chop off the head of a poisonous snake that was about to bite someone.” I would call that a pretty good example of the dehumanization of war. Of course, the Japanese military went out of its way to earn such hatred (just as we did with our “Shock and Awe” bombing of Baghdad), but still… About three years ago, I heard an old man say with tears in his eyes that he had recently hugged a Japanese woman, her being the first Japanese he had touched but didn’t kill.
VI
Someone wrote that I put unnecessary limits on my openness to experience by labeling myself an atheist. This ignores the fact that I used to be a believer, and that I don’t consider any of the experiences of God that I had back then to have been worthwhile. I went from being scared shitless of God when I was young, to hating him when I was a teenager, to not believing in him when I was in my twenties. That said, I should think that a person who is committed to believing in a particular version of god might be at greater risk than an atheist of limiting his experience of the divine. For example, what if God should come along but not look or act the way a person expects him to look or act; might not such a person fail to recognize God? Because an atheist wouldn’t be so committed, he might be better able to experience God than a lot of theists. After all, few atheists categorically say that God's existence is impossible; they simply say that they can't find a reason to believe in him.
VII
Old times seem to look better with age when the sharp edges have eroded somewhat, and everything has been interpreted and reinterpreted so many times that reality is forgotten.

Photo by Manfred Brückels

24 comments:

angela said...

Your peggy is like my husband. We just have to love them for what and hip who they are. I too will moan about it abut after 24 years of marriage I go with the flow! See how wise they have helped us become. I hope your pain has been manageable keep,well my friend

Myrna R. said...

You have so many good thoughts when you're stoned.

Once I went to a Marriage Enrichment weekend. (A Catholic workshop to strengthen marriages.) At the end, the memento I got said, 'I wouldn't change you if I could.'

Perhaps that was the beginning of the end of my religiosity. I love my husband dearly, but there are plenty of things I'd change in him if I could. Unconditional, full acceptance is really, really hard.

Just being honest like you.

Good post.

Charles Gramlich said...

I like quite a few human beings. I don't respect many of them. Humans are far too...human for that. I include myself. I have almost no respect for myself, even though I try to do what I think is right. I fail so often that it's amazing. This is why I tend to respect fictional characters who do not fail so often. Of course I know the difference between reality and fantasy. that has nothing to do with the issue for me.

Snowbrush said...

"You have so many good thoughts when you're stoned."

Thank you. More than anything, I like to write when I'm using marijuana, and I do notice that I at least make sense and, oftentimes, touch a greater depth than I would otherwise be capable of. On the other hand, I'm sure I move a little more in the direction of narcissistic omphaloskepsis at times, but that's an inherent hazard of personal writing anyway.

"Unconditional, full acceptance is really, really hard."

It works best when you're not invested in a person because the closer you get, the more differences grate. It seems odd to me that one should be expected to accept their spouse fully when they don't even accept themselves fully. After all, much of what Peggy and I would like to change about the other, the other would also like to change.

"I too will moan about it abut after 24 years of marriage I go with the flow!"

To "go with the flow" strikes me as a good counter to Myrna's workshop expectation of total acceptance. When acceptance is too much to accomplish, tolerance will substitute.

"I have almost no respect for myself, even though I try to do what I think is right. I fail so often that it's amazing."

This reminds me of George Peppard's statement, "I'm no fan of George Peppard." I respect myself quite a lot despite my imperfections. My biggest fear (in that direction) is that I will do something foolish on the spur of the moment that I would have avoided if I had taken time to reflect.

SQT said...

I have to say that I respect Charles quite a bit. I found *this* blog through his-- I figured any friend of Charles must be a pretty interesting guy. I was right.

Love this post. You defense of Mississippians made me smile. It reminded me of being a kid when my brothers would thrashing anyone who picked on me while saying "no one gets to hit our sister but us!"

Chartreuse said...

I can't help wondering if you would have tied all these thoughts together better if you'd been sober. This stream of consciousness thing is interesting, but also somehow unfulfilling.

lotta joy said...

VI was insightful for me.

As an athiest, few things can surprise us that would floor a long-standing believer. We never feel abandoned by a loving Father, and the only ones judging us are the same ones who judge everyone else.

We have no unanswerable questions regarding "WHY ME?".

We also never feel the need to explain why the bus full of nuns and children went over the cliff other than brake failure.

Snowbrush said...

"Your defense of Mississippians made me smile. It reminded me of being a kid when my brothers would thrashing anyone who picked on me while saying "no one gets to hit our sister but us!'"

Yes, there is some of that.

"I can't help wondering if you would have tied all these thoughts together better if you'd been sober."

Marijuana doesn't intoxicate (like alcohol) so much as it opens new avenues within the mind. As for tying thoughts together, I have no idea that what I've written even could be tied together. In any event, I made no attempt to do so.

"This stream of consciousness thing is interesting, but also somehow unfulfilling."

Probably because it doesn't come to a conclusion, yet, for me, it has its place. After all, life itself doesn't come to a (coherent) conclusion. We live, and then we die (nearly always with loose ends hanging), and that's just the way of things. Have you read Kerouac's On the Road? It is presented as a series of loosely connected glimpses into his consciousness during a trip across America. He might have been high, he might have been insane, he might have been making the whole thing up, but does it matter? Well, one critic said that Kerouac didn't write, he typed, so to him it mattered. As for me, I was blown away. I wonder how you would feel.

"We have no unanswerable questions regarding "WHY ME'"

Yes, questions that go to the core of a believer's faith in God appear nonsensical to an atheist. It spares us a lot of rationalization because, really, there is no way to reconcile rampant injustice on earth with the existence of an all just--and all powerful--God in heaven.

PhilipH said...

Still in good form Snowy.

Who was it said "Hell is other people"? (Jean-Paul Sartre, oh yes, I remember now).

So true of course. And we've all had moments when we realise this truth. Even we atheists, thank god.

Yes, though there is no god there ARE devils aplenty. Hitler and Stalin are two examples. Many hundreds more could be named no doubt.

Stop rambling Phil - just shut it!

OK, bfn.

Snowbrush said...

"Stop rambling Phil - just shut it!"

No, no, Phil, ramble on, please.

rhymeswithplague said...

"Narcissistic omphaloskepsis" is redundant.

Strayer said...

Now that I've lived in Albany five years, I find myself defending it. When I lived in Corvallis, most people made fun of Albany--the illiteracy, poverty, rednecks living here. Now that I live here, I see Corvallis in a different light. So I get your defense of Mississippi thing. Even when Albany is put down rightly, the underlying issues of the put downs are usually not understood by the bigots making the remarks. So I bristle.

Your reasoning about boxed in beliefs shutting down possibilities from outside the box is right on, in my opinion.

I don't get how people live with each other for decades and not get upset with even the tiny things, like farting. I think it's beautiful and involves skills I can't even fathom.

Snowbrush said...

"'Narcissistic omphaloskepsis" is redundant."

Egotistical omphaloskepsis would be redundant, and an argument could be made that egocentric omphaloskepsis would be the same, but narcissistic omphaloskepsis? I searched the Collier's Encyclopedic Encyclopedia of Recurring and Repeated English Redundancies, and narcissistic omphaloskepsis wasn't mentioned.

"Even when Albany is put down rightly, the underlying issues of the put downs are usually not understood by the bigots making the remarks."

That is so right-on, Jody. Yes, even when bigots are right, it's at a superficial level.

"I don't get how people live with each other for decades and not get upset with even the tiny things, like farting"

It's not so much the little things but the big ones. For instance, in my example, I didn't mention that I'm the kind of person who does everything way ahead of time, so for me to live with someone who postpones everything until the last minute creates a heck of a lot more stress than farting (which gets worse with age, as you might be noticing soon if not already).

Strayer said...

I have noticed the farting gets worse with age. My brother and his now adult son are always making farting jokes openly, but I'm still uncomfortable with bodily function jokes. Guess I'm a prude at heart. But I recall dear old dad and mom, farting openly and loudly in the kitchen and pretending like nothing had happened, which disgusted me, as a kid. Now that I'm old, I don't care anymore. Getting older in many ways means freedom. Peer pressure just doesn't cut it. Being cool, who the hell cares!

rhymeswithplague said...

"narcissistic omphaloskepsis wasn't mentioned."

That's because nobody ever said it before. Congratulations! You have invented the world's newest redundancy.

And just what would be the basic difference between egotistical and narcissistic anyhow? They both mean fascination with oneself.

Snowbrush said...

"My brother and his now adult son are always making farting jokes openly"

I think the whole point of farting jokes is to annoy other people, and this means that it's usually childish males who tell them in the presence of females. However, I very much doubt that any male past the age of 30 who has an IQ above 90 likes farting jokes. Maybe I'm not making my aversion clear. They're for people who wouldn't recognize actual humor if it fell on their heads from the top of a high shelf.

"what would be the basic difference between egotistical and narcissistic anyhow?"

You don't know? What did they teach when you were in school? The difference is in gender, the male being the former and the female the latter. I think it's like, you know, a code that homosexuals use when they want to meet in the woods behind that west bound rest top on the Georgia side of the Alabama line.

I actually don't know if I should hit that orange BUTTON. I've probably offended both retarded and homosexuals in one response. Oh well, why should religious people have to take ALL of my abuse?

Snowbrush said...

Oh, in the same response, I also offended men, women, egotists, narcissists, people who tell fart jokes, and probably the states of Georgia and Alabama. I'm so insensitive that I don't even notice who all I offend unless I take time afterwards to ponder the many possibilities.

Zuzana said...

Hello again old friend.;) I guess I have been married too short time, as I think my husband is still absolutely perfect.;) I love everything about him and there is nothing I would change.;)
As for religion, I am still undecided. I am a true agnostic I guess. But death has been on my mind lately...
Take care,
xoxo

rhymeswithplague said...

Snow, the message on the wall in the last stall in the men's restroom at the westbound rest stop on the Georgia side of the Alabama line suddenly makes sense:

Egos stroked while you wait.

I can't believe I just said that. I'm pressing the Orange Button now.

Snowbrush said...

"Who was it said "Hell is other people"? (Jean-Paul Sartre, oh yes, I remember now)."

Or, as Lee Marvin sang in Paint Your Wagon: "Hell in in hello. Heaven's in goodbye forever; it's time for me to go."

"I guess I have been married too short time, as I think my husband is still absolutely perfect.;)"

Given a great enough numbers of marriages, I suppose perfect ones happen.

"Snow, the message on the wall in the last stall in the men's restroom at the westbound rest stop on the Georgia side of the Alabama line suddenly makes sense..."

I'm glad I could help.

Putz said...

this wonderful statement from me is in referance to stoned post #two on not getting the answers or at least someone to try to discusss their answers with you who took the effort to understand their theology<><>i finally met someone who had all the answers for me{yes he was a prophet in our church}and from then on i couldn't wait to share my new found truths with everyone<><><>i was in a state of having no doubts about religion><>from stoned comment #5, i read a book about an italian american soldier who went pow in the japanese theater in world war !! where i had an uncle bombed by the americans{friendly fire} who was on a japanese ship book is unbroken

Strayer said...

Thanks. Wish my brother and his cult religious son would read your blog. I'm trying to get the my cult nephew to read it. It might save him, from forming a cult! And from telling fart jokes.

CreekHiker / HollysFolly said...

Much to ponder as always, Snow.

I was embarrassed to be a Mississippian while even in high school there. I quickly noticed while at a debate conference that when we announced our home state, people mostly looked at our shoes. After befriending some New Yorkers, they told us, half were looking to see if we had shoes. The other half was looking for cow dung on our shoes.

The Tusk said...

Hey... been so busy, I have dropped in here and there to check on you. Finding time this rainy weekend inbetween clipping hedges and weeding the lawn to read you, and drop you a line. I haven't seen it yet but a line from the movie"the Best Marigold Hotel" goes like this... "It will all be alright in the end, the reason its not right now is because we are not at the end yet." Peggy knows that you always make it alright in the end, and when the end rushes up at her, it is when she turns to you to make it alright. What she sees is her knight in shining armour. What you feel is her black knight, be her white knight. You don't account for the triumphs she takes on her self, because there is no need for the white knight, for then she is just the queen of the castle holding court amongst her king.

ooops that's right you hate when I give you advice you just like me to comment.

Marijuana lends to introspection, introspection lends to narcissism, which has not been identified to selfishness, which we know you are not, but still and in all the same, it is a prohibitive adjunct to jumping out of yourself and into the deer stuck in the headlights.

Put on the brakes and don't run over the deer, your dear, drop what you are doing and get off your ass like a white knight would. When you come back to your writing or reading or wallowing in introspection you will find your mind has been exercised and more enlightenment will be at hand that you weren't expecting.

your friend Tusk