Tuesday, February 28, 2017
Jean Yeager, author of this blog and "Th3 Simple Questions: Slices Open Everyday Life", a collection of essays and creative non-fiction, has won 1st Place in the Essay Category of the AGELESS AUTHORS competition with his piece entitled "Kite Justice". A second work entitled "Deputy Barney and Sheriff Andy Fight Terrorists" has also been selected for inclusion in the anthology which will be published.
Read more about the competition at:
Thursday, February 23, 2017
This was selected as an "Honorable Mention" in Essay category of the 2016 Ageless Authors competition. If this is an "Honorable Mention, then CONGRATULATIONS to the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place essays! I can't wait to read your work. http://www.agelessauthors.com/
Age 12 is one of those tension filled crossing points in life. It is a time when the tenderness of childhood is waning and we are beginning to test our growing bodies, to create our intellect. Our genius arrives in a “do-it-yourself kit”. But, there are no specific instructions, we must struggle to form it. We wrestle with this unique, “higher self” and fashion all kinds of challenges, inner and outer, large and small. Our gifts seem to emerge from our engagement in, or our fleeing from life.
When I was 12 my family lived in a particularly windy part of Colorado just east of the Rocky Mountains out on the prairies in a bedroom community named Broomfield just between Boulder and Denver. The wind blew so much out there that the metallic threshold on our front door vibrated whenever the wind velocity topped 40 miles an hour, which was frequently, at all hours of day or night.
My mother had been a young woman in the “Dirty 30s” in the Midwest and Texas. That was the era of drought and giant clouds of dust which would blow up, become storms and roll across the open prairies engulfing farms and lives. So, she knew the tragedy borne by ill winds of the Great Depression and World War II. In 1961, when I was 12, my father was in the midst of a political “dust up” in his job which would eventually lead us to being blown off the Colorado prairies and tumbling toward a new life in San Antonio, Texas.
Age 12 is also the age of grandeur. Grand ideas, big challenges are just the thing for learning life lessons. In my case, life gave us wind, lots of wind, we foolhardy boys seeking a thrill made “bike boats”. “Bike boats” were a way for us to test ourselves, our creativity and seek lofty adventure.
Two kids would ask our mothers for an old, worn-out bedsheet and getting on our bikes, hold the sheet between us so it caught the wind like a sail and propel us. We would ride our bicycles holding the sheet with hands off the handlebars rocketing down dirt farm roads, whooping and hollering.
When we crashed, and we did crash, we got the tragedy we apparently wanted to experience. The world, life, gave us feed-back on our “great and adventuresome ideas”. We would limp home, trying not to cry, practicing swear words aimed at the wind, dragging along our busted bikes, sprains and bruises and composing great lies about our adventures and daring one another for our next even grander exploit.
My father may have saved me from further damage when he gave me one of the best, yet perhaps most modest gift that a father could ever a boy – a bundle of raw, balsa wood kite sticks.
“Look what I found at the Army surplus store!” he said with sparkling eyes as he physically radiated glee.
There must have been 100 pre-made sets of kite sticks without the cheap paper covering that was typically found in that era’s 10-cent drugstore kites. A broken kite stick was less threatening than a broken limb. So, for the next several weeks, while our bruises healed, my friends and I (and my Dad) made kites, dozens of kites of all configurations.
We became kites.
Genius will work with whatever it has at hand in order to fashion you. At age 12, through your imagination and inspiration, your genius will take whatever you give it to a higher level.
A stick becomes a wand and you become a Harry Potter. A basketball and a plastic box nailed to a telephone pole and you become LeBron James. A homeless little girl named Ella Fitzgerald transforms a neighborhood talent contest into the launch pad for a lifetime singing career. Slavery, neglect and horrific abuse spins George Washington Carver into the heights of scientific insight.
The greater the headwind challenge of youth, the higher the potential to rise. 12 year olds are the holy boy (puer aerternus) or the holy girl (puella aerterna), the genius we ride in our lives to great grandeur is the kite of our selves.
Kites are all about capturing the tension between two dynamic sets of polar opposites in two bent sticks. Each of the two kite sticks is like a different aspect of our genius. Both must be put under tension and bent into an arc and both are joined together. The vertical stick represents our upright self which stands between the spiritual and the earthly poles. The horizontal stick represents that which goes between our self as an individual and the world.
If we put too much pressure on any stick, it might crack. In kite making, you have to risk in order to have enough arc to generate lift. Adding tension in life is risky because genius is both positive and negative, there is always the danger of unbridled egoism, hubris, anger or violence; or fear, depression and brooding.
The sticks are bent to create a wing shape and high flyers are the ones who can create more than enough draught to create lift well in excess of the weight of their situation. It’s a mix of wing span, angle of the wing and velocity of the wind.
Genius inspires all arts, transforms all effort into art, and all people into artists. The configuration or the form of the art is the wingspan. For a writer, a haiku, for example, is a short, intense form with high imaginative velocity. Meaning, inspired in the reader, gives lift (or not). The angle of the message rises above culture and makes use of the headwinds. Genius inspires all the arts.
Genius, can be craft, all hand work, or earth focused and inspired as well – contractors, carpenters, mechanics, farmers, or gardeners. We all have connections with the spirit and with our communities.
Kites can spin out of control if the genius is too intense and one sided. A kite can spin in a strong wind and won’t rise unless there is counterbalance. A kite, a genius, requires a counter balance – a tail.
Kite tails are bits of fabric, usually cast aside fabric, torn up and tied together and attached to the earthly end of the spirit / earth pole. Separate bits of life brought together. Each is like a memory perhaps of attempts, failures, regrets, embarrassments, tragedies. Bike boat crashes. Gravity. These are what gives weight to our souls. Our shame adds heaviness. We are glad they have sunk down beneath our consciousness, but they are not gone, never gone. They balance out our enthusiasm. They are the fruits of our lies. Our seasoning. Our tempering. Our scars. The tail of the kite of our lives.
Some wise high flyers with special genius to see into the spiritual world have said that when we die, and we look behind ourselves as we ascend into the spiritual world and see that our egoism, failures, misdeeds, sins and errors stream behind us like the tail on the kite of our genius. They are the tail of the kite of our genius.
The memorial services which I have attended for friends have a public portion in which we speak and honor the genius of the dear-departed friend. And at the same time, we sit in unspoken silent remembrance of their flight, including the choices which held them back.
The headwind of life continue to blow no matter how old we are. There is a chance to rise even higher than before. Are we able to rise with it? Do we still struggle? Do we risk failure? Bike boats of elder-age? Are we still in contact with the source of the good and holy of our genius?
Our final years are tension filled crossing points in life. We wrestle to free ourselves from what we have created during our life in order to rise again. This is another “do it yourself” kit.
(C) Copyright 2016, Jean W. Yeager - All Rights Reservedhttps://goo.gl/3Wzpl5
Wednesday, February 22, 2017
This will appear in the 2016-17 Ageless Authors anthology to be published soon.
“I am your Deputy Barney self. I’m your built-in system for thought, emotions and behavior. I’m on guard and on patrol 24/7. With my quick reactions you are hyper-vigilant! Nothing gets by me, I mean, you. You are armed and ready! I have a dash-cam in my squad car; I mean you, have a... <grin> you know what I mean. I, you have a taser on my, your hip. I am quick thinking and fearless!”
“And your Deputy Barney self quickly jumps to conclusions 100% of the time, don’t you, Barney?”
“Yeah.” <grin> “I’m a machine for jumping to conclusions, aren’t I Sheriff Andy?”
“And statistically, 80% of the time, your intuitive conclusions are wrong, aren’t they Barn? Your conclusions lead to contusions.”*
“Oh, Sheriff Andy! You know I don’t like statistics!”
“The Sheriff Andy self is not impulsive. Sheriff Andy thinking slows you down. The Deputy Barney self wants you to believe quick action is the way to go, right Barn?”
“Well,” <grin> “I don’t have time for reflection! I’m a doer, I see and I do.” (Pointing a finger), “Click-bang!”
“Click bang, huh?! So, tell ‘em, why did you un-holstered your TASER in the squad car?”
“It’s my job to be ready for bad guys. I was practicing my quick-draw.”
“TASERed your crotch, huh?”
“It was an accident”
“Thousands of people in our country get shot accidentally each year? That’s why I made you unload the bullets from your service revolver.”
“But, Andy! I can’t be courageous with an unloaded gun! I gotta be a winner.”
“You haven’t re-loaded, have you!?”
“No.” <moping> “I got my bullets right here!” (Pats shirt pocket.) But, Sheriff Andy, that TASER shot was not my fault.”
“The Barney brain will never admit it made a mistake.”
“Why should I? Live and learn is my motto, Andy.”
“Learn? Don’t think the Barney brain is strong on forethought, are you Barn. Tell ‘em about eating chili with beans in the squad car.”
“I hate dash-cams with audio. Not fair. Ought to be banned from squad cars. We deputies are professional!”
“Sheriff Andy, after what happened in France, Orlando and Dallas, Mayberry’s finest needs body armor.”
“Oh, really? The Barney self wants body armor?”
“Yeah with “POLICE” stenciled on the back. And a black sweater! ‘N black paratroop pants, and a real-ly nice black belt with lots of holsters ‘n pockets to put stuff in! And a black truncheon in case it gets hand-to-hand! Oh, and storm trooper boots! ‘N a black balaclava, so only my eyes are visible. And, of course, a black euro-style helmet stenciled with 2-inch high letters reading: “MAYBERRY SHERIFF DEPARTMENT – M.S.D. - SWAT TEAM – B. FIFE, DEPUTY”.
“You really thought that out well, didn’t you Barney.”
“2-inch high letters? SWAT? As in fly-swatter? That’s the kind of SWAT we need around here.”
“Mark my words, Andy, there are rumors of foreigners. Strangers coming to Mayberry! It’s all over the social media!”
“Barney, this is fear talking. I’m gonna have to ask you to turn off your wi-fi tablet in the squad car. You’ve been sitting in the squad car watching the internet and FaceBooking with Gomer.”
“But Andy... !”
“Apparently it makes you afraid of our new neighbors. So, as Sheriff, I want you to turn of the social media! I want you to talk to people. Just do your job. We don’t have to be paranoid here.”
“Oh, come on, Sheriff Andy! I heard a new Falafel Restaurant may come into town. I gotta investigate!”
“Yes, go investigate. Meet the new owners. It’s Aisha, the wife of Ali, the new math teacher at the high school. Don’t over-react, Barney.”
“Can I get anti-terrorist gear?”
“The Deputy Barney brain like to snoop around at night, dressed in black. Right Barney?”
“I gotta be suspicious 24/7. It’s my job!”
“Aunt Bea would be scared out of her wits to see you sneaking around at night dressed all in black! Why do you want to scare Aunt Bea or anybody?”
“But, you can’t prove we’re safe!”
“Barney, settle down! If you scare the Gomer, Goober, or the Floyd the Barber brains, one of them might accidentally shoot you! You don’t want that and neither do I.”
“We don’t need terrorists in our souls. Do we Barney?”
*Sheriff Andy and Deputy Barney are inspired by Pulitzer Prize Winning Psychologist Daniel Kahneman’s book, “THINKING, FAST AND SLOW” which describes the two systems within us.
(C) Copyright 201`5, Jean W. Yeager - All Rights Reserved
(C) Copyright 201`5, Jean W. Yeager - All Rights Reserved
Psychologist James Hillman writes about Love Maps in his book, CODE OF THE SOUL (Random House NY, 1996). These maps are one of the ways psychology tries to account for how each of us is “seized by love.”
Why do we “fall” for a certain person? The Love Map is a schema of elements you have created by your life experiences. The “map” is layers of physiology: inner chemistry, brain neurology, sight, hearing, taste, touch, smell; and psychology, personal sympathies and antipathies, fears, phobias, joys, emotions of all sorts.
This is a kind of experience or sentient body constructed within you and also shaped by your life. Ah, Nature and Nurture! Family practices, Aunties, Uncles (including weird Uncle Al), tribal, neighborhood, cultural, religious, village mores, jobs, media, books, traditions, and on and on. All these combine to shape, mold and fashion your own, unique Love Map.
In your imagination, in your heart, your sentient Love Map forms an idealized a “proto-image” of your ideal love partner. Day by day, year by year, you watch potential love partners go by. You refine this “proto-image” until it gradually emerges and gets fired by hormones right down to the details: size and shape of the nose, hair color, teeth, complexion, lip size, voice and mouth, ears, hip width, even worldly goods.
The Love Map is the physical part, the individualized part of love. It has a deterministic affect on how we travel over the road of life and the terrain of Love.
As we grow, and age and change, our Love Map changes. My Love Map today at age 65+ is far different than my Love Map at age 30, or at 20. I should have regretted at age 20 that I had so few camels (exactly zero) and was therefore not on any Love Map to a large portion of the world’s women.
THE SEVEN LANDS OF LOVE
The Love Map is only one part, an intimate personal part. Another part is that according to Hillman and other psychologists, there are seven Lands of Love, named by the ancient Greeks, through which we travel in our lives.
The love between parents and children and children and parents is call storge. It is a deeply visceral love. There is deep trauma when it is broken.
The love between young children who are playmates is called ludus, playful love. Between older folk, ludus is flirting, teasing, or dancing in a playful loving manner.
Philia is a love between deep friends, comrades. It includes, personal sacrifice, honesty, sharing intimacies, support, trust, responsibility.
One land of love we all meet is philantia, self-love. You will enter the land of self-love and either come out with greater self-control and transformation, or greater vanity, narcissism, gluttony or any one of a dozen longings to fulfill your personal desires.
If you emerge from philantia able to tolerate others, have learned some patience and are able to share practical work; you will enter the land of pragma, the love of the craft, the practical, the consistent and steady love possible between couples.
Self-intoxication is high if eros, sexual passion takes hold of you. The the ancient Greeks were fearful of losing control but not us! Sexuality as love has top of mind in our culture. It’s what we call romantic love. Fantasy embellishes the land of romance. Hillman even wonders whether or not fantasy “designs” our Love Map for romance today.
One final land of love remains in our life We will need others to care for us, and we will need to care for others. That is the land of love called agape, selfless love. Or universal loving kindness. It is caretaking love. It is a land in which we all will arrive. It is a love, we all must practice.
WHAT DO I WANT?
Always that question, eh? What do you want? What is your choice? In which land of love will you live? Is your Love Map sophisticated? Are you only looking for people in your lives to match the one profile which you created when your hormones were intensely raging at age 16 or so? That may be pretty narrow, even crude map. How many ways have you shown that you love someone else? Have you travelled through all the lands of love?
Is your experience of philia “friending” a whole bunch of people on Facebook?
Are you honkey-tonk dancing and doing a ludus country-western two-step or are you a lit-tle too erotic?
We spend a lot of energy to “fall in love.” But, psychoanalyst Erich Fromm wonders how much energy to we spend to “stand in love” as in pragma, in the act of giving love to save a relationship?
Research and violence today shows that agape love has declined sharply. Is it hard for us to care about strangers? C.S. Lewis called agape love, “gift love. We love ourselves, no doubt about it. But, Aristotle said, “All friendly feelings for others are an extension of our feelings for ourselves.”
I want for us all to be seized by that gift love and “fall” in agape-love with the world - "Children, love one another."
© Copyright 2016, Jean W. Yeager
All Rights Reserved. https://goo.gl/kSA6R7CODE OF THE SOUL, James Hillman, Random House NY, 1996
Monday, February 6, 2017
WHO AM I?
A friend and former shipmate of mine and I, both of us old pirates on the sea of life did not pass quietly as ships do sometimes in the night. We hove-to, dropped our sails and spent a few hours juxtaposed and adrift together. It was not smoke and mirrors, cannon blasts or fancy swordplay. It was genuine, problematic intimacy. She, the world navigator reported a tumult of miracles, bombings, and Beruit taxi rides. Always the positive. Always ahead of the games. On the way to care for grandbabies between world-wide gatherings armadas of small pleasure craft-lives into workshops in which she boards, and opens treasure chests of the heart in a therapeutic ransacking.
There is a deranged proximity about us – and the others. Some were monks, are still monks, will always be monks out of the flow. They loving their logic. We have left them in the monasteries while we freebooters cannot sit so still for so long. We think better beneath the flysheets dealing with the flow, the forces far bigger than ourselves, the gales, the currents, the tides, apparently still surviving. Desiring for the difficult, the unsettled, the potential exotic, the flesh. The vital words without logic. The rap of lives rhymed, and always very much alive, very much flowing, flowing.
WHY AM I HERE?
Freedom. We serve no King nor flag except the tattered hearts and push the debate. There are hints of prostitution but only from those who see life as a debit-credit scheme. We are under the waterfall of life, pleased at all costs. Suspecting emotions. We are linguistically in disarray rubbing up against our apparent feelings. There are obvious conclusions.
A glass of red wine. Two Margaritas. Grilled fish. A large bowl. And the stories, always the stories. The pitfalls. Blindsides. Near misses. We dissolve into tears. Touch as only old pirates of the heart will permit themselves to be touched by another. There is no myth of dominance. We plunge into desolation. Dive into the unfulfilled, never to be fulfilled, what were we thinking? We short-circuit our best and most well-worn vanities. We imply old successes but tread on the deck of tragedy. And laugh. We laugh. We know we will not stay. Cannot stay.
WHAT DO I WANT?
Piracy is not carried out in a monastic order. We are lonely. We turn our loneliness those destiny moments with others - fierce and mad enjambments. Crowd scenes where everyone but us is clothed in burkas where we only see their eyes and then comes their revelations of secret, childhood (teenage, adult, mid-life, elder) abuse they have held onto so tightly they have pressed into jewels. Their lives have been arranged around these jewels to protect them because, they would be adrift otherwise. The heart chests hold such awful jewels. And, pirates, well pirates help the agonized victims open their chests and look at the jewels of great value.
Like an oozing, unasked snake that is fascinating and coils around us and between the piratess and I filled with venom and investment, is the question, “So, how are you, really?” with the drop into the abyss on the word “really.
But, we don’t pry. We are shy. We know the awfulness we have in our chests and we presume the other has the same – probably worse. After all, she is older, walking the plank of age, disease, doubt, fear... or am I talking about myself again? Probably.
That’s why we move. Move away from the coiling questions, which we give to others. We know the questions, we can shift the wind, the currents, the question. We don’t want to be faced with actually looking into what the other has in her heart. “Look at that, will ya? What will I do about that fetid, stinking treasure I love so much?”
Awful jewels are what people keep in their chests. Better not hurt one another. Another day. Maybe a mooring in the future. The note with the black dot. Treasure Island?
© Copyright 2015, Jean W. YeagerAll Rights Reserved