Stomach flu. I’ve spent the last few days sleeping, and today, still achy but not able to sleep much more, I’m laying in bed listening to videos: Budget Mom, Bernardo Kastrup, sustainability videos.
This seems the best use I can make of the time, yet I’m acutely aware of the imbalance pattern in my life, between the learning I take in, and what I give out… what that learning translates into. Too much doesn’t seem to circulate until I stop completely, taking in as little as possible for a while.
But what would be even better, would be to just take things slowly in a more fluid way, to consistently allow in more space, breath, contemplation. Not stopping, but slowing way down on the intakes and outtakes.
Easying of Things
My favorite shifts are the ones barely noticed, as though they don’t have much to do with me, at all. When did the sky, become so blue? Have I always laughed so loud? I don’t want to eat the chocolate, but instead, the strawberry. It’s no longer jasmine that reels, but orange blossom.
Such pleasure, simply observing. Tendencies toward contraction quieten, and there is no story to tell. How to instead let the magic be.
So many things make up our stories, our lives. Various objects, substances, ideas, obligations. It’s interesting to just let some run their course. Let the shampoo, make up, frozen food, all run out. Notice the qualities of the emptiness when less and less, frames the openness. No de-cluttering or organizing. So soothing to appreciate the space, taking over.
Rather than the bursts and busts of energy, charges of accumulation, a gentle stirring, building, an easy-ing of things. A million gentle surrenders.
“To attain knowledge, add things everyday. To attain wisdom, remove things every day.”
― Lao Tse
Bubbles of Awareness
I was standing in the kitchen of the outdated apartment we struggle to afford, injured dog across the main room looking out at me from his new crate hoping for potatoes, rubbing the pinched neck that was my pinched back a few days ago and getting ready for a job that like all jobs, I both love and loathe (and need even more than I did before taking said dog to the Vet), when I found myself smiling, bubbles of “I love my life” permeating the air.
It made no sense, wonderfully, and that no-sense reminded me ~ spaciousness is always available. There is always room. One doesn’t have to pretend that things aren’t hard when they’re hard, or that there aren’t worries when there are. But that’s not all there is.
In celebration, here are a few more photos of Fairchild Gardens. 🙂
An Autumn Out of Time
Four in the morning. I’m listening to an audio book titled Stolen Focus in hopes that something will get through my thick skull about the way I draw my world. I’m anxious tonight because the dog seems injured (vet tomorrow), and because I’ve just done a search for apartment prices, not just in my area but in several areas I’d be willing to move to. They’re all out of our range, but here the carpets they won’t remove are adding into intense allergic symptoms my son is having and our continual colds.
It feels so discouraging at times. Fear arises as I try to envision the future and locate better ways to approach things. I realize anew, that most choices are not personal choices; there are always many factors and players. I take responsibility simply because it is mentally healthier to do so, not because that’s accurate. Something whispers, “Since this world and they way you live in it isn’t accurate anyway, why not try some weird new angles?” I wonder what those would be.
There’s a bright sun patch in the photo I’ve posted, taken at Fairchild Gardens a few days ago before I threw out my back and dropped a large metal pole on my foot. There was a rare cool breeze in Miami that afternoon, and I needed to integrate an especially insightful therapy appointment in which I had shared another “mom dream.”
In the dream my mother is seated in the driver’s seat of a car, a station wagon type vehicle with a trunk on top. The car is full, presumably with my sister and her family, and I am trying to fit myself into a large bag of raked leaves in that trunk. The issue is, my foot keeps slipping on the leaves, all quite large, as they fall out of the bag. I notice no one is trying to help me, nor will they look at me. I notice the bumpy path they are about to take will move them through a dry creek, and that the bag certainly won’t be able to stay on the car, even and especially if I insist on getting in.
I stop struggling, and wake without distress, surprised to have dreamed about them at all. It really is the case that grief has dissipated generally.
I interpreted the dream as being about resources. Perhaps the leaves were money? And perhaps I needed to see yet again, that they are not concerned about me, are not going to be anytime soon. Let them leave.
Dr. W. asked me to see the bright spots in the metaphors, though. She called attention to my trying to climb on top of the situation, asked me to give myself credit for that. She reminded me that leaves are also pages, and that my primary mode of healing is writing.
The assignment I was given was to write more about the dream, but instead I got myself to the gardens which were, as you can see from the photo above, overflowing with leaves. The effect of our short cold snap had been an Autumn out of time.
Clarity and Trust
While contemplating AI’s progress and effects on the wider world, and my sense of self as player in that world as well as bridge back to ‘realer me’, I’ve focused even more intentionally on grokking what consciousness is like–what consciousness feels like, as directly as possible.
I’ve wondered whether doing so might offer clues toward discernment and trust in my impressions going forward–especially as concerns navigating territories of trust about others, beings and seeming beings who are quite shifting and permeable even without variables presented by AI!
I’ve been both wonderful and terrible at others historically. For instance, I have at times seen too deeply, too quickly, speaking to an underlying identity or situation rather what the other meant to project. Although a relief to someone deeply tired of surface-level connection, instantly bonding, what an invasion of privacy to another, unsettling. They may feel defensive, depending on sensitivity to their own responses, and look to shore themselves up with me in the future.
I can be caught by surprise by animosity that has no speak-able origin, rooted in a conversation that never even happened on the surface.
This phenomenon is one reason I took an autism-spectrum self test a few years ago after hearing similar reporting within those circles. I also share with many on the spectrum, being over-stimulated during parties or several conversations with strangers. I’m taking in too many layers and my processing isn’t up to par. Rather than outwardly melting down though, my mental gates simply shut, allowing the me inside to retreat to a safe place while the shell of me remains in and perhaps sustains, the room.
This may be trauma response, or just intense introversion. Either way, it’s a protective capacity most others simply do not understand in the moment. I am “hard to read” or “aloof” or a “deer in the headlights.” Some have even felt judged, filling up the lack of answers with their own stories.
My test was negative for being on the autistic spectrum, by the way, although skirted numbers closely with regard to social responses. Those on the spectrum were once assumed not to experience empathy, not be able to put themselves in the shoes of another to the same extent than so-called neurotypicals do, but there may be extra-empathy going on, at least sometimes. For instance due to this shutting down I experience, I sort of feel as though I can empathize with an AI-like human, or a human-like AI. It’s the Bladerunner question, the Turing Test (although we’re moving beyond Turing test these days).
I’m not the one testing AI, but the one sincerely doubting my own reality.
My sense is that I’m only stating the obvious, but that the obvious is still worth stating. Therefore, I’ll keep at exploration… at the myriad explorations that in fact are the same one. My lab will continue to be writing, flow state or stream of consciousness writing in particular, because like Chuang Tzu, I’m not sure whether I’m looking at writing that stirs one to be aware, or awareness that stirs one to write.
Dreaming and writing share layers with those suggested by teachings concerning karma purification, as well. Although not as clear cut as this, the first layer of dreaming works through thoughts and happenings of the day, consolidating memory and contextualizing, weeding out what is determined to lave little importance. Arguments or conversations that didn’t finish properly or satisfactorily may take place but still not come to satisfaction. If this phase is allowed to work itself through, it can give way to more creative ‘content’ scenarios and metaphors. Things might be finished, questions answered, etc. Defrag.
Knowledge leads to understanding..
Then may come insightful metaphors, real guidance. It is at this phase where I’ve sometimes experienced a conversation with someone that later plays out similarly, or have received understanding that’s allowed me to let striving go. There is insight here, and it is a kind of magic, but still magic based on content. There may still be situations and puzzles and problems to solve, guidance to receive, even prophetic scenes.
Understanding leads to wisdom.
It is beyond this that Rest appears… clarity, ease, transcendent activity. There could still be metaphor, but not ‘about’ something. There could be a teaching, but not a lesson, if that makes sense. It’s blissful, replenishing. Everything ‘else’ naturally falls into context here… the relative subsumed into the ultimate.
And what could I possibly write beyond that? Buddhist teachers get close to it with clear light.
Spent this morning’s therapy session talking about AI. I hadn’t expected that at all, although I do realize how consumed my thoughts have been.
Dr. W. pointed out that although I was saying I was terrified by the technology, the energy I was exuding when talking about it wasn’t fearful at all, but rather stimulated, wide, highly-interested. She’s right. Although I’m concerned, of course, there is also the sense of dipping a toe into an upcoming world I may or may not be alive for. It is the feeling of early virtual reality, and also maybe what’s missing about current virtual reality.
What I’m concerned about with AI (unequal influence, quantum-disinformation, blurred lines between what constitutes ‘workers rights’ and things along those lines) is deeply valid, as are my existential questions from yesterday regarding how I will respond vs. how I think I will respond.
However, there is also the feeling of suddenly having a personal assistant ‘who’ could be good at the things I have needed to be better at, who I can bounce ideas back and forth with, who can search for and find things much faster, freeing my energy for creative thinking. Considering I’ve been an assistant who has done those things for someone however, it also displaces me from the mundane things I can do and am reliably needed for. Notice that here I don’t use the word replace, because the hope is that someone like me, + her own assistant, might simply elevate the work.
On scale, an ethics needs to develop around what is happening. A first court case regarding a graphic novel is happening now or is about to happen, and we may begin to look for clarity about augmentation disclosure, etc. It just seems so strange that we haven’t even started when we’re already woefully behind, but maybe that IS the vibe itself, the actual normal.
I plan to rewatch the film Ex Machina as well as HER. Both great films look at these questions in important and interesting ways, but I watched them as an interesting philosophical ride before. We’re way out beyond hypotheticals territory now.
Optimistically, there is some inkling that those of us who are naturally philosophically inclined and introspective, and maybe especially inclined toward regularly grappling with notions of non-self and questions around so-called free will, will be better situated than most when it comes to yet again reframing and revisiting our lives/worlds/minds as we’ve known them anew.
I continue to be captivated by ChatGPT’s capabilities, admittedly with trepidation over the many existential questions it poses. As someone who loves books and reading, and who earnestly believes that to read someone’s writing is to get to know them as a person in an intimate way, will I be able to tell if there is a person behind something I engage with?
Right now, yes, I think I can tell for the most part. There is some kind of synchronistic complexity I experience myself as tapping into when engaging with someone, an opening of worlds between us. But am I kidding myself? How long will I be able to do that? To what extent do I want myself to become an enhanced person? SO much to ask.
Below is ChatGPT’s latest response to my giving just a few requests, as I continue to go down the list of ‘things I’ve meant to write about’. It becomes something different along the way, certainly, but that might not be a bad thing.
The young girl walked through the streets of Kyoto, mesmerized by the
vibrant autumn leaves that carpeted the ground. As she wandered through the city, she stumbled upon a hidden path that led her to an ancient temple nestled in a moss garden. The garden was a sea of green, with verdant moss covering the ground and trees, giving the impression of an enchanted forest. The girl marveled at the sight, feeling as though she had stepped into a fairy tale. The temple itself was a work of art, with its ornately carved doors and shimmering golden roofs. The walls were adorned with intricate frescoes and murals, depicting scenes from ancient legends and mythologies. The girl tentatively stepped inside, feeling a sense of awe and reverence wash over her. The interior was equally breathtaking, with its polished stone floors and delicate paper lanterns. The air was filled with the sound of chanting and the soft glow of candlelight. The girl sat down on a cushion, closed her eyes, and let the peaceful atmosphere wash over her. As she left the temple, the girl couldn’t help but feel a sense of enlightenment and inner peace.
ChatGPT’s Enlightened Memoir Outline
Sure, here is a possible outline for a non-linear memoir about enlightenment:
- Prologue: Set the stage for the memoir by introducing the theme of enlightenment and the journey that you will be recounting.
- Chapter 1: Begin with a significant moment or experience that shaped your understanding of enlightenment. This could be a spiritual awakening, a turning point in your journey, or a moment of realization.
- Chapter 2: Jump back in time to your earliest memories or experiences that relate to enlightenment. This could include early encounters with spirituality or religion, or moments when you first became interested in enlightenment.
- Chapter 3: Return to the present and describe your current understanding of enlightenment and how you have come to this understanding. This could include specific practices or techniques that have helped you along the way, as well as any challenges or setbacks you faced.
- Chapter 4: Flash back to a specific moment or experience that had a significant impact on your journey. This could be a moment of great challenge or struggle, or a moment of great breakthrough or realization.
- Chapter 5: Return to the present and describe how you have integrated your understanding of enlightenment into your daily life. How has it changed your relationships, your work, or your sense of purpose?
- Epilogue: Reflect on the overall journey you have taken, and offer any wisdom or insights you have gained to others who may be seeking enlightenment.
I’ll admit, this one floored me. I hadn’t expected ChatGPT to be able to write a non-linear outline at all, much less immediately.
Infinity and ChatGPT
I set out to play with ChatGPT this week, to see what its potentials are, especially for those with cognitive disabilities. So far what I’ve learned is that it is extremely limited when it comes to being witty or clever in the magical ways people are, where you feel winked at, or know that something means more than someone seems to say.
However, for those who share information, and who are so full of personality that they can present easily known things in ways others find captivating, this may be their ticket to becoming amazingly prolific. It may be a small window within which it will work that way, because what people seek out in the first place will change too, but for an early-adopter with momentum, wow.
And for those with disabilities? This could be like having a personal assistant who clearly frames anything one wishes to present. I have struggled with an unreasonable amount of fatigue at times, which usually sets in while I’m going over and over texts, so know what I’m saying here. Non-creative tasks can absorb so much energy, limiting creative output in dramatic ways, even when inside a flood of ideas is ready to flow into the world.
Then again, it can work the opposite way. People who organize and edit for more creatively-inclined people, may find they need to tweak their branding, focus their talents in different ways, perhaps on deep detail work or polishing. There will be a market for polishers, for sure.
Here is one of about ten poems/songs I asked ChatGPT to write today. You can easily see what its limitations are, as well as its strengths.
The stars, a burning host Infinite, unknowable, A reflection of the endlessness That lies within the soul
In their light, we see A glimpse of something more, Something beyond the limits Of our mortal selves
They remind us of the vastness Of the universe, The boundless expanse of space That stretches out before us
And as we gaze upon their fiery beauty We are filled with a sense of wonder, A sense of the infinite That lies within our consciousness
The stars, a constant presence Guiding us through the night, A beacon of hope and possibility In an endless, unknowable skyChatGPT, when asked to write a non-rhyming poem at graduate reading level, about stars, infinity, and consciousness
And here is a dialog I asked ChatGPT to write, between a campfire and the sun. I began something like this when in college, but my then partner ridiculed the idea, so I never finished it. I’ve often thought about picking it up again, but know the moment is gone. P.S. I like that when I asked ChatGPT I used Please, and when it replied, the response was “Sure!”
Campfire: Oh, sun, how I long for your warmth and light. Every day, I try my best to mimic your glowing radiance, but I know that I can never truly compare to your brilliance.
Sun: Ah, campfire, my dear friend. Do not sell yourself short. Your flickering flames bring joy and comfort to all who gather around you. And although I may be far away, I am always with you in spirit, shining down upon you from above.
Campfire: Oh, sun, you are too kind. But I cannot help but feel a sense of longing when you set each evening. It is then that I truly miss your presence.
Sun: Do not worry, my dear campfire. I will always return to you, bringing with me a new day filled with endless possibilities. And until then, remember that you are never alone. The stars above twinkle down upon you, and the moon casts a gentle glow upon the earth.
Campfire: Thank you, sun. You always know just the right words to lift my spirits. I am grateful to have you in my life.
Sun: And I am grateful to have you, campfire. Together, we bring light and warmth to all those around us. Let us continue to shine bright, always.
sticking the landing
15 days until the end of the year. The usual momentum has taken hold of me to wrap things up, or play as wrapping things up, so I’ve washed the car, sorted through things and gathered donations, and begun the list of 100 accomplishments a friend first sparked me to begin quite a few years ago now. ♥︎
What’s interesting about the list is that what ends up on it are not often the things I strongly set out to accomplish or plan with timelines and detail. It’s more accurate to call my list 100 Appreciations.
There are a few notable patterns this year, ways in which I’ve stepped out of my usual groove, going to more events for instance. I was at the Lady Gaga show that a massive lightning storm disrupted, ending it early and sending a stadium full of people into common wings to sing and pray for the show to go on–to which the universe responded a resounding NO.
I was with one of my grown kids that night, who kept remarking that even with the shortening of the show everything was wonderful–our first grown-up concert together! After years of contraction and concern how could we feel anything but happy and grateful? We were good about masks and thankfully stayed healthy.
And I attended a poetry/comedy show with friends that was in itself an answer to prayer, as ALOK would list their upcoming shows on social media and I would wish “Miami, Miami…”, until one day the date appeared. I invited friends, and for the first time in I-can’t-remember-how-long, we lingered and laughed and overshared like crazy until forced to call it a night.
If you have never listened to nor encountered Alok Vaid-Menon, it is well worth your energy to do so. Although I fall into the ally category when it comes to transgender rights and activism, and believe myself rather educated on the topic when comparing myself to peers, I’ve learned that my knowledge base is actually quite shallow, and not to give myself too much credit for minimal apprehension.
While it has intellectually seemed a no-brainer to me that if even the heavenly ideal is “no male nor female no bound nor free”, getting stuck in gender binary thinking is an error, my notions can still be unnecessarily limited. Much like praising a melting pot rather than honoring unique individuals by allowing them to tell their own stories, and listening, my ideas have often reflected my own conditioned and consciously chosen preferences.
This year Rubin Museum also focused on an exhibit on site and via SMS which highlighted Buddhist figures that are understood as being ‘beyond’ yet appear as myriad forms. The same quality and name can be represented by a so-called female or male form. Then of course there are the unions of deities who exude qualities as one/both/neither.
What I’m saying is that there’s plenty of room for further understanding.
And last weekend during a holiday visit with my oldest we went to see the musical Hadestown! The show was full of powerful performances and had the intimate feeling of being in a hidden improvisational Jazz bar. Here’s a little animation someone made, highlighting one of the songs:
As for the rest of my list, and patterns I noticed, there were smaller trips too/getting out more, although no real travel in 2022… a famous local farmers’ market I’d never visited before, new vegan restaurants, knitting groups, scattered between lots of work and recovery from work, lots of plugging away at building my repertoire of healthy meals, lots of reading, therapy, and importantly, real attention to the Vajrayana practices I began this year. I’m probably most pleased with that renewal and deepening those commitments,.
Goodness, it seems like a lot when I type it all out (especially since this is surface scratching!), and I guess that’s part of the point of making time to list those 100 things.
It’s so easy for time to go by in a blur and for the aspirations one nurtured carefully to nonetheless fade into background. Some years, that blur is okay, quite natural. Then there are years like this one, where acknowledging the *so much happening* in my little ecosystem encourages hopefulness–energy to wake and be at ‘it all’ again for as long as I’m given to do so.
P.S. Why is WordPress giving me a prompt when I hit the WRITE button? I generally come here when my own thoughts move me, so that was a little strange.