The opinions expressed on this blog are solely my own and, except where explicitly stated, do not represent those of any other person or corporate entity.

30 July, 2017

Esse Quam Videri

“There are those who say that seeing is believing. I am telling you that believing is seeing.” ― Neale Donald Walsch, Home with God: In a Life That Never Ends

"Virtute enim ipsa non tam multi praediti esse quam videri volunt” (Few are those who wish to be endowed with virtue rather than to seem so). – " Marcus Tullius Cicero,  Roman Philosopher and Poet, "On Friendship", 44 BCE

Esse quam videri: To be rather than to seem.

I had yet another of those short (they can never be long enough)  but sweet Facebook message exchanges with a friend of long standing last night. The discussion rambled, but eventually the phrase "beauty sleep" came up.
A quick sketch of, let's call her Elizabeth: she's highly successful by several measures, driven, and insanely busy. Sleep to her is a waste of time, and time is (of course) for accomplishing things.

My gentle rejoinder that self-care is an accomplishment, often a vital one worth spending considerable time on, was received with warm distraction. Absolutely teeming with inner qualities--and also being one of three woman in my circle of friends who could grace the cover of any fashion magazine you'd care to name, today, right this instant--it's that latter that seems to mean the most to her. In other words, as thoroughly atypical as Elizabeth is...she's a typical woman.

She said something to me I've heard you don't want to know how many times before. "I don't see myself as you see me". To hear it coming from her of all people...well, it put me in mind of one of my closest male friends, we'll call him George.

George, too, is astonishingly successful, by material measures easily the richest of my friends, and one of the reasons we're still close despite the vast class gap is because he never let his success (to be clear, borne of hard work that often only LOOKED like shit luck) go to his head. He's never once looked down on me, especially when I got into the nasty habit of looking down on myself, and his friendship is highly, highly valued.

George's life has always looked, from the outside, to be charmed. Looks can, of course, be deceiving: he's fine now, but he once referred to himself as Richard Cory, from a poem we both took in school. It alarmed me to no end: Cory looked for all the world like a glittering success, and he went home one night and put a bullet through his head.

Elizabeth is not a Ricarda Cory, to be clear. She's as full of life and verve as anyone I know, and fuller than most. But, like Cory, she has a vision of herself that is at odds with the way most anyone would see her.

It's not that Elizabeth thinks she's ugly. What an enormous relief it was to glean that from her words, because trying to convince someone that what they see as black is really white...that's the work of a lifetime. I'm already engaged in that work on two fronts, and have neither the time nor the emotional energy for a third.

No, Elizabeth at least, and unlike the vast majority of women I have known, recognizes she is beautiful...but like virtually every woman I have known, she pins that beauty on physical appearance. Which means, in her mind, it is fragile.


Beauty is not fragile.


Beauty, like love, ENDURES. 

Elizabeth doesn't think so. She's fighting a war against Time, seeking to maintain what she thinks of as her beauty. It's a war we all lose in the end, unless the worms (or flames) raise a tribute to the beautiful corpse before they devour us. 

Elizabeth happens to fit one of the the (male, needless to say) definitions of female beauty like a glove. Her closest friends, Marie and Louise, do not...and yet I find all three of them beautiful beyond measure. Elizabeth's outward layer--likewise that of Marie, or Louise, or any of us) is the least remarkable thing about her, at least in my eyes. What's more remarkable about her is that she doesn't feel the all-consuming feminine need to don a mask.

The concept of beauty as the world defines it is ephemeral. It is also, often, a seeming thing: hence "don't judge a book by its cover", vulgarized by men to "don't stick your dick in crazy" (the "crazy" woman is, of course, conventionally attractive on the surface).  To maintain appearances, a woman in our world is all but required to resort to ENDLESS,  EXPENSIVE cosmetic flimflammery. Which in my eyes is seeming rather than being. 

There is, of course, an argument to be made that self-confidence, if not self-esteem itself, is the result of donning that mask. Many women feel better about themselves if they are painted up: one young lady I know--yet another whom anyone with eyes would call beautiful--refuses to be seen unless she's "made up". 

I do know other women--I'm very close to three of them, one of them is in fact "Marie"--who place a greater value on authenticity and who feel comfortable in their own skin. What a tremendously liberating feeling that is. It's emotionally liberating because there's NOTHING more attractive than a woman whose beauty is allowed to penetrate the skin from within; it's financially liberating because the average American woman spends $300,000 JUST ON HER FACE over her lifetime. $300,000. That will still buy you a house here. Or a lifetime's supply of serviceable cars, or God alone knows how many experiences. 

Just think if you could summon the self-confidence to BE, rather than SEEM.  How would you go about that?

By practicing the other epigram above daily, if not hourly. BELIEVING IS SEEING.

That too is not how the world conditions us to think. We live in a distrustful world that needs to see to believe. That leaves us vulnerable to visual deceptions of all kinds--again, judging the book by its cover. I'm telling you to look inside the cover to what REALLY matters. Is the person loving? Does he treat you with respect? Is she intelligent, compassionate and caring? Do they make you laugh? Are they, above all, kind? Because THAT makes a person beautiful. No matter what they look like. BELIEVE those things--if they are true--and you will SEE the beauty. Inside and out. And that beauty is eternal. 

It's easier to do this with others. Many of us, myself included, are seemingly much better equipped to see the beauty in others than we are to see it in us. However, if you have the empathy to see beauty beneath the skin of others, you can turn it around. Start by acknowledging the qualities others acknowledge in you. Actually believe the good things they tell you. Not to do so is questioning the judgment of the friends and loves who care about you...you don't like it when your judgment is questioned, do you?  

So actually believe these things. Believe the beauty others see in you and you will see it, too. Encourage those others to believe what you see in them. And simply be beautiful...don't merely seem it. 

28 July, 2017

My last word on Omar Khadr

Okay, I'm not supposed to be blogging. So sue me, and we can settle out of court.
And only a few of my erstwhile Breadbin readers care about matters political. Whatever. Deal.

THIS...is infuriating.

This survey is put out by the Conservative Party of Canada, and every single question in it is a leading question, designed to elicit the obvious (and desired) response. It is also monstrously ignorant of the facts of the Khadr case.

Let me explain something. The $10.5 million that Khadr was "given" was about HALF what he WOULD have gotten had the federal government not settled out of court. I know this for an absolute certainty. Let's change the first question to:

Is it okay for the federal government to settle a case out of court when it knows it will lose the case because the Supreme Court has already ruled against it?

That's a leading question, too, I suppose, but at least it leads in the direction of the facts. Because the Supreme Court DID rule that Khadr's rights were grievously violated, and as the link notes, whether you think of Khadr as a terrorist or a child soldier, he was and is a Canadian citizen with rights. Incidentally, if you think of him as a terrorist, you're wrong twice over. Legally, (pdf) any person under 18 is considered a child soldier, and Khadr was 15 at the time of his alleged crime. I say "twice over" and "alleged" because his guilt has never been proven. In fact, the Canadian military magazine Esprit de Corps raises several points that suggest Khadr is entirely innocent of the charges against him.

Maybe you don't agree with any of this because Khadr confessed. And pled guilty. Well, the initial confession was under torture; you'd have confessed too. Forced confessions have no legal value; an involuntary confession is not admissible in court. As for the guilty plea, Khadr has explained that himself. He wanted to return to Canada, and extradition after a guilty plea was the only way to accomplish that. Why did he want to return to Canada? I'd imagine to get out of the hellhole called Guantanamo Bay. Again, you'd probably do the same thing. Guilty or not.

I don't know if reading any of that changed your mind. The thing is, you'd have HAD to read all this to have any chance of changing your mind, and that abomination of a survey's not giving you a chance.

Reality is complicated. Reality isn't black and white, and it's often not consistent with what your gut might tell you. It really bothers me that a political party would so blatantly ignore facts in favour of feelings.

But it gratifies me immensely that this approach is backfiring on the Conservatives. Liberal support is actually up since the settlement.  


26 July, 2017

Surprise!

Well, folks, I AM writing. Of course, nothing seems to kill a muse faster than TRYING to summon it, and so I haven't written much, and what has been written has been deleted several times.

I'm trying to write polyamorous fiction--linked short stories about a single polycule, or relationship network, to start. What keeps staying my hand three or five pages in is establishing conflict.

Conflict, every would-be writer is told, is necessary to drive a plot. My problem is that conflict is not something I do too well, or often. Short term, explosive conflict I handle by remaining as calm as possible, conceding the other person is right in many respects, and then backing off if need be until both of us can reason our way through it. Usually, it turns out not to have been such of a much. Such short-term conflict is comparatively rare in my relationships, and I strive to keep it that way. Actually, I can state that as a positive benefit of being in a relationship with me: you're almost certainly going to become more calm, more at peace with yourself and the world...and hopefully it translates into your other partnerships.

My life is such that even things which might provoke worlds of conflict for others tend to just fall into place, more or less neatly. So a conflicted mind is very hard for me to relate to, most of the time.

Long term conflict, on the other hand, is something I have extensive experience with. The sense of not belonging, of not being understood, is very much with me. That kind of conflict expresses itself in the silences, in words left unsaid, in whole wings of relationships being closed (never by me).

And oh, how polyamory lends itself to THAT. Being told by a family member--to whom a good half of my polyamory blogs have been at least partially directed over the past three years--that the way I live my life will never be understood...it comes out as "I'm glad you're happy, but please keep it somewhere I don't have to look at it. Write about something less personal instead. Like hockey or something."

Any protest and I'm "overthinking". Which is definitely something I do, and so it shuts me up for a while. But I usually come back defiant, particularly when it's something so integral to who I am.

So much more I could write here. It's a shame that people can't be accepted for who they are and how important they are. It makes it scary for anybody contemplating polyamory: will I have to choose between a single, unfulfilling relationship and the possibility of losing family and friends for daring more? 

Hmmm.

I can write this!

See...that's what I needed to do...I needed to write to get to a place where I could write!

Polyamory is what I'm going to be writing about, primarily, offline. I have both experience with it and passion for it, and my life has evolved in ways that make even some more experienced poly folks raise their eyebrows.

Trying to figure out ways to imbue my SHORT stories with a sense of deep, perhaps insolvable conflict is taking up a lot of my mental energy. Trying to devise a plot that hangs together is harder than it should be.

In all my life, I've done it twice. Both stories are published here: if you're interested, the first is here and in the four subsequent posts; the second you've probably seen.  Usually, though, blog post or story, I just...write. I have next to no idea where I'm going to end up when I start.  Guided writing is a bitch, especially when my guide is a drunk hobo with Alzheimer's who takes me into the bad part of Noun Town and abandons me.

But I am, at least and long last, working on it. And now I have HAD AN IDEA. Let's go see what I can do with it.


Our Belated Anniversary Excursion

Yeah, okay, I'm not strong enough to stay away from this place. So sue me. I'm in another lull at work before all hell breaks loose ...