Lucky Dragon & Wise Snake

According to  Chinese Astrology:

“2012 and 2013 correspond to the lucky Dragon, and the wise Snake years; the Dragon and the Snake together make up the life-palace of Spirituality.”

If you are into fairy tales about love, dragons, princesses, and snakes, this is going to tickle your fancy, because it’s not sanitized for children, but it’s told with a childlike honesty…

Lucky Dragon & Wise Snake (A Concession To Skyline)

Erich Fromm On Love, Marriage, Fun, and Joy

“Man’s happiness today consists in having fun. Having fun lies in the satisfaction of consuming and taking in commodities, sights, food, drinks, cigarettes, people, lectures, books, movies—all are consumed, swallowed. The world is one great object for our appetite, a big apple, a big bottle, a big breast; we are the sucklers, the eternally expectant ones, the hopeful ones—and the eternally disappointed ones. Our character is geared to exchange and to receive, to barter and to consume; everything, spiritual as well as material objects, becomes an object of exchange and of consumption.

The situation as far as love is concerned corresponds, as it has to by necessity, to this social character of modern man. Automatons cannot love; they can exchange their personality packages and hope for a bargain. One of the most significant expressions of love, and especially of marriage with this alienated structure, is the idea of the team. In any number of articles on happy marriage, the ideal described is that of the smoothly functioning team. This description is not too different from the idea of a smoothly functioning employee; he should be reasonably independent, co-operative, tolerant, and at the same time ambitious and aggressive. Thus, the marriage counselor tells us, the husband should “understand” his wife and be helpful. He should comment favorably on her new dress, and on a tasty dish. She, in turn, should understand when he comes home tired and disgruntled, she should listen attentively when he talks about his business troubles, should not be angry but understanding when he forgets her birthday. All this kind of relationship amounts to is well-oiled relationship between two persons who remain strangers all their lives, who never arrive at a central relationship, but who treat each other with courtesy and who attempt to make each other feel better.

In this concept of love and marriage the main emphasis is on finding a refuge from an otherwise unbearable sense of aloneness. In love one has found, at last, a haven from aloneness. One forms an alliance of two against the world, and this egoism à deux is mistaken for love and intimacy.”

“Who will tell whether one happy moment of love or the joy of breathing or walking on a bright morning and smelling the fresh air, is not worth all the suffering and effort which life implies.”

“A person who has not been completely alienated, who has remained sensitive and able to feel, who has not lost the sense of dignity, who is not yet “for sale”, who can still suffer over the suffering of others, who has not acquired fully the having mode of existence – briefly, a person who has remained a person and not become a thing – cannot help feeling lonely, powerless, isolated in present-day society. He cannot help doubting himself and his own convictions, if not his sanity. He cannot help suffering, even though he can experience moments of joy and clarity that are absent in the life of his “normal” contemporaries. Not rarely will he suffer from neurosis that results from the situation of a sane man living in an insane society, rather than that of the more conventional neurosis of a sick man trying to adapt himself to a sick society. In the process of going further in his analysis, i.e. of growing to greater independence and productivity, his neurotic symptoms will cure themselves.”

“Love is a decision, it is a judgment, it is a promise. If love were only a feeling, there would be no basis for the promise to love each other forever. A feeling comes and it may go. How can I judge that it will stay forever, when my act does not involve judgment and decision.”

“Man is the only animal for whom his own existence is a problem which he has to solve.”

“Love is the only sane and satisfactory answer to the problem of human existence.”

Death and the Dervish

 
“I begin my story for nothing, without benefit for myself or anyone else, from a need stronger than benefit or reason. I must leave a record of myself, the chronicled anguish of my inner conversations, in the vague hope that a solution will be found when all accounts have been settled (if they may ever be), when I have left my trail of ink on this paper, which lies in front of me like a challenge. I do not yet know what will be written here. But in the strokes of these letters at least some of what was in me will remain, no longer to perish in eddies of mist as if it had never been, or as if I had never known what happened. In this way I will come to see how I became what I am – this self that is a mystery even to me. And yet it is a mystery to me that I have not always been what I am now…”

MEHMED SELIMOVIĆ

A Two-Legged Wardrobe

As if high on clean mountain air, Love walks on a rope tied between Faith and Hope: a rope at times loose, depending on the firmness of both sides.

Hope is the worst of evils, for it prolongs the torments of men, said Nietzche. For that to blame is more those who give crumbs of it as if feeding pigeons that peck like robots. It’s equal to crumbling into pebbles a rock of punishment above someone’s head.

Apparently, they feed them until they’re symbolically grown into white doves of peace, which only becomes a metaphorical gavage-based break between wars. There is no lasting Peace without Love.

Love helps Hope and Faith to become one, and in the end it resembles, if you wish, Holy Trinity. But it only resembles it, since the real one consists of Love, Freedom, and Truth, independent from one another, while Hope, Faith, and Love mutually support each other so that all three of them could survive.

Freedom doesn’t need Hope, and Faith either. The same goes with Truth. They exist of their own accord. One beautiful, the other sharp, and Love is strong as long as Hope and Faith are mutually inclusive.

Indeed, Love sprouts out of the purity of an emotion inspired by beauty, which again is impossible without genuine goodness and freedom of a person to feel anything.

After that come Hope and Faith in the eternity of an enchanting moment. One wants it to last, while it exists only in the present, which ticks steady as long as we’re totally aware of it.

The Side Effects of Happiness

 Sitting in the Oncology/Hematology waiting room…

It’s one of the most advanced and developed centers in the States. Lance Armstrong was treated here too—the patient of Dr. N. that had seen my father a few times, replacing Dr. D. when he was away.

As usual, I looked around, young and old people, different walks of life, in a fragrance free zone, patiently waiting for their chemotherapy or radiation treatment.

Every time that would cause a little discomfort, a little guilt trip, as if I didn’t belong there, as if it was their thing that for some reason I was still spared from—although I’ve lived last ten years of uncertainty about my father’s case—but every time facing the bitter-sweet feel of the Russian roulette, knowing that the next time it could have been me.

Sometimes I’d just get out of the waiting room and wait in the little hallway just before the elevators. Recently one had set up a little table there with all kinds of cute little brochures about cancer, as if it were a trip to Hawaii or Disneyland.

Last time they had lots of information and packages about the prostate cancer, and it calmed me a bit as I read that men should start checking it out once they hit their 50’s.

As I had recently hit 40’s, I’d think I still had ten years ahead of me, although some blunt pain in my left testicle would wake me up from a carefree dream from time to time.

This time the brochures were about the breast cancer, and it even made me feel good for a moment realizing I don’t have to worry about that at least.

So I picked up one of those brochures since its design was simply inviting you to do so. It was all shiny and crisp, and, surely, was a bestseller promotion.

“Chicken Soup for the Breast Cancer Patient’s Soul.” Inspiring stories about breast cancer. Like the story about Donna—“she lost her hair, she lost a breast, she lost her privacy, and she lost the comfort associated with the assumption that tomorrow always comes.” On the previous page there was a Peanuts cartoon:

– I think you’re afraid to be happy, Charlie Brown… Don’t you think happiness would be good for you?

– I don’t know… What are the side effects?

As I read that, as if I was struck by something. It was funny but so true, so obvious and simple, but yet so clever and profound.

Surrounded by side effects one simply adopted it as a way of thinking and being. Everything has just become big words—love, death, cancer, overdraft fee, grocery shopping, headache, stress…

Why not classify happiness as well as just another state of being or mind that one deals with? Chemotherapy has side effects, Aspirin does too, so why not Happiness?

No doubt—happiness is. The ultimate joy and as such is additive-free. The only problem is what happiness is to each and every one of us. What makes us happy can definitely have side effects. There are thousands, maybe millions of different cases, or, perhaps, only a few?

When Spanish conquistadors massacred Zuni and other pueblo Indians in today’s New Mexico and in their quest reached California, they were not very happy, ending up disappointed for not finding any gold so that they abandoned even California after all, leaving all their horses behind to become wild and free in time to come.

The side effect of their happiness was that even the forceful converting of the Indians into Catholics didn’t help them feel good about themselves, because the motto of gold was Never Enough. And if there is no more of it, the less is even worse.

The interesting fact is that their own faith couldn’t help them realize it, or it’s themselves who wouldn’t let it. On the other hand, all the Indians wanted was their ways and their old faith back—they didn’t care about gold—but the side effect of their happiness was the imperfectness of the world and the simple fact that greed knows no frontiers and can even sail the seven seas to disembark one day, shooting around in the name of religion and one and only god.

Horses too didn’t enjoy their freedom for very long because the side effect of their happiness was that they were useful and could carry lots of load on their back—and that suited both Spanish and the Indians in the end.

The question now is—could all three of them be happy in their own way without interfering with each other?

If the Spanish didn’t come and bring the horses, the Zuni Indians could have still been happy, but they would also still have some of their mean neighbors, fellow Indians, attacking them from time to time, and that again would be another side effect of their happiness.

Back home Spanish also had their neighbors that now they caught up with in a new world, having the same old issues. It seems that only horses could have been self-sufficiently happy if only left alone…

California, nevertheless, became a myth, a surrogate of happiness.

California dreamin’, the food basket of America, the eternal sunshine. Everybody wanted to live there. Even Schwarzenegger became the governor.

The side effect of that happiness is that today whoever doesn’t want to live there anymore then comes to Oregon. And then people from Oregon move to Washington, or Alaska. Following the pattern, maybe everybody could slowly head back over the Beringhia, taking the long way home. Back to Siberia, where apparently the Zuni’s originated from. The Russians are still leaving it behind, coming over here.

What about our little Oncology/Hematology waiting room then? Picc lines and soul scars, bad hair, no hair… And those two nurse guys, welcoming them with big casual smiles as if nothing else mattered, as if they were just there like anywhere else, a little check up, a little tune-up… And everybody dealing with whatever they deal with, looking like it’s an every day thing, like it’s just another side effect, like a headache is a headache in the end, no matter where it came from.

Still, some of them came there to be treated, and pay for it, as if they had not already paid a bit too much (with their own lives), while the others are paid for treating them right, or whatever right means. Maybe it’s just a side effect of wrong…

Meanwhile, the pharmaceutical industry goes full steam ahead. All those pills gotta be used somewhere, and paid for dearly, causing more side effects…