Tag Archives: insight

Something to Ponder – 2

banaba 1a

Sage advice from an elderly gentleman perched atop a lonely Mountain.

Hello friends! Today our question comes from Myrtle Trisk of Portnoy, North Dakota.

“Dear Banaba,” she writes. “Why are people so stupid?”

To my friend, Myrtle I say, “Because.”

I say because, because there is really no better answer to that question, at least as Myrtle poses it.

It is what some might refer to as a “loaded question.” For without context, the ability to assist her in reaching a higher level of enlightenment is greatly diminished. Despite our very best efforts, to try and divine a satisfactory response that helps illuminate the pathway to resolution related to her specific need is very much like trying to lasso a single star in the great universe that surrounds us.

Let us try instead, to better understand what drives such a question, to then see if a more reasonable answer will present itself.

First, Myrtle is not alone in her search for the answer to this question. Many write to Banaba asking the very same thing with varying levels of related information. But the question itself seems to be more an expression of frustration. The motivation to ask the question comes when understanding the actions of those around us – both in circles close to us and those in representational groups we are forced to recognize – eludes us.

In most cases, it is clear that a person or persons have acted, or are acting, in a way that conflicts with what we see as our own definition of common sense. We see them as behaving contrary to what we deem as “smart” and the action is so far away from “smart” that in order to easily classify them for the sake of discussion, we must ordain them as “stupid.”

As an example, let’s say that many users of the Internet start responding to a common and widely dispersed post that asks, “What kind of cat are you?” You begin to see tens, then hundreds, then thousands of responses from some of your very closest friends and family members to throngs of total strangers, which define for you, and each other, what kind of cat they are.

We know, of course, they are not currently and never will be a cat. Let’s say too, that you do not like cats in the least. Let us say finally, that you find this kind of mindless group exercise to be a fruitless and meaningless waste of time.

You will certainly not be playing the game, for you could care less about what kind of cat you are. In fact, we could go as far to say that your strongest desire might be to post something completely contrary (like being a dead cat) that would wrinkle the noses of those who are playing the game.

However, since you see yourself as better than that, and you are not interested in dealing with the potential rage of a group of angry cat lovers, you do nothing. That lack of satisfactory action and the inability to put an end to the distraction causes frustration. In the worst case, this frustration can make one very angry to the point of wanting to break something, or wanting to punch someone in the face. But again, because you are so reasonable, you boil that frustration down to the point where all you have left is to ask, “Why are people so stupid?”

You don’t really need an answer.

You need a better question.

You need to release frustration that comes with trying to figure out what you may never know. You need to understand that the energy put into figuring out why people do what they do, may never result in an answer that gives you great insights, for the moment you think you’ve seen it all, a whole new crop of stupid is almost certainly guaranteed to rise up and greet you.

Thus, the better question for you Myrtle and so many others; the better possible pathway to a deeper layer of inner peace may be:

Why do I allow people who act contrary to my personal sense of, or definition of intelligence, distract me so that it restricts the progress I make on my personal journey to enlightenment?

Remember too, the you may at one time or another, do something that falls outside of someone else’s personal definition of smart. You will be a distraction to their focus, which feeds the pool of their frustrations, and they may one day write Banaba a letter about you.

Peace to you  – Banaba

Something to Ponder – 1

banaba 1a

Sage advice from an elderly gentleman perched atop a lonely mountain.

Hello friends, today I bring to you some thoughts on a question sent to me from a Mr. John Tanner of Mesquite, Texas.

“Dear Banaba,” he writes. “The question that constantly comes to my mind is simply, what the Hell? I mean, as I look around me, I wonder…seriously, what the Hell?”

To my new friend John I say, “What the Hell, indeed.”

Your question is really most profound.

Many people around the world have asked it again and again throughout all of time. Some have used it more as an expression of their frustrations and in more of a rhetorical sense while others seriously and earnestly ask it because they would really like to know in that moment – “What the Hell!?”

No matter what in your life brought to where you needed to ask, the question as you ask it certainly deserves an answer.

I can tell you that the answer is not easy, nor is it overly complex. The answer can also be as individual as the person who asks it and may be affected by the variable context in which it is asked. So, there could be over a billion possible answers.

But, let us not try to boil the ocean today. Instead, today let me tell you that there are basically three answers to your question.

Number one:

In a literal sense, the answer relates to Hell itself, of course. For some reason, things in your life start to move in a direction that you feel ill prepared for. It may appear to be something that is either truly difficult to resolve or just too much of an inconvenience at that point in time for you to want to deal with it. Mentally, you may feel as though Hell has literally opened up and brought forth this horrible thing just to ruin your day.

In many ways, you are correct.

As an example, you are driving to an appointment and are running late, but you have it all planned out and you still have time to get to your meeting. Then you realize you need to pick something up at the store. You can adjust your plan, but that makes your schedule even tighter. It’s doable, of course, but much tighter. Then you find yourself in a traffic jam. It’s bad. You will miss your appointment, you will not get to the store and in fact, it looks like you will miss your next appointment as well and get home late.

“What the Hell!?”

It seems unlikely – if Hell is as we understand it to be – that Hell, or whoever runs it would select you out of everyone who needs their compass adjusted, to ruin your day. However, if that is how you feel, that is your reality, and that is ultimately what you must deal with.

Number Two:

If we further explore the more rhetorical side of the question, viewing it less as a question and more of an expression of emotion, Hell in this case may be no less real, but is then applied to the thing you see or encounter.

As an example, you are walking along minding your own business when a speeding truck barrels down the street and plows into a box of baby rabbits.

What the Hell!? Am I right?

In this case, you are making an expression that applies to the horror, or the Hellish scene, that unfolds before you. Unless those are your bunnies, you are probably not directly affected in this case, but the horror for you is still very real. You do not have to deal with the circumstances of the situation intimately, but you will have to learn how to process what you have seen so that in some way you can accept that the thing occurred and can now move forward.

Number Three:

As a good friend once told me, “Hey Bro, sometimes shit is just messed up.”

Again, this leans less toward an answer and more toward an expression. But it can also be taken as an ending statement, like a period at the end of a sentence.

You may not understand what happened or why, no matter how “messed up” it is. In this sense, your “What the Hell?” is merely an acknowledgement of the event. A stake in the ground that allows you to take the next step into your world without being eternally bound to the event.

To think of it another way, it is giving yourself the right to move past what might be seen as the futility of over analysis, complicating the very simple or getting stuck in something you have little or no ability to change.

As an example, you come across a lavish tray of freshly baked cookies. You know you do not need a cookie, but that knowledge is nothing against the desire to have a cookie. You could spend many valuable minutes of your life debating the pros and cons of eating a cookie, when in actuality, you have already decided to eat the cookie and you are merely going through the exercise of internal debate to soothe your conscious mind once the cookie is consumed.

To resolve this conflict, you say, “What the Hell?” and you eat the cookie.

So you see John, despite your frustration in the moment that inspired this question, you will likely encounter a great many more. Being able to answer your question, and being able to accept that answer will be the key to a greater inner calm and a better overall life.

Peace to you – Banaba

 

 

 

 

 

An open letter to congressional Democrats

Java typed with determination and focus, as she was prone to doing in these situations:

An open letter to congressional Democrats –

Dear congressional Democrats:

You don’t know me, but…Ouch! Need some salve for that burn?

Just kidding. My apologies for the snark so early in the note. I sometimes hold that until the end as sort of an exclamation point on the ideas I try to convey, but dang it all if you all didn’t just slap your own big exclamation point on your moment in the sun as the majority seat holders in the U.S. Senate.

I imagine you feel a little salty heading into work these days, what with the Republicans waving their index fingers around, screaming “We’re number one!” and basically telling you all to go suck it. It will make me proud to know that despite the tanning of your hides, you will proceed in your duties as elected officials with grace, professionalism and the knowledge that you are still good people who are there to do a job and to do it the best way you know how. Rise above it.

I would tell you to remember this moment and the feeling that comes with having been defeated, even in what they call a lackluster mid-term election. I would tell you to use this recent string of events as motivation to get back up on your proverbial political bicycles and make a truly inspired effort to regain what was lost so that you might continue to work on making the world a better place. I would tell you all those things…and more… if I thought for half a second that you might a) listen and b) actually remember. Sadly, my faith and my hope in both those areas are severely degraded, if not completely shattered. Shadoobee.

I’m guessing you don’t remember, because those who don’t remember their histories are bound to repeat them and guess what? You’ve been here before! That’s right! You have had it all, the control, the faith of the people, the momentum to proceed with a reasonable agenda and boom, you squandered it! Pissed it away, as my grandfather might say, through petty squabbles, lack of conviction, misguided alliances and dare I say, a fair bit of your own hubris. With all your power and promise, you accomplished nothing. And while you can say, “Well, the Republicans didn’t do anything either.” (which will make you sound small, petty and immature) you forgot that they are the masters of that game and it is an arena where you clearly cannot compete.

I think you need to take some time for reflection. Not a lot of time mind you. You could probably suss this all out over the few minutes it takes to drink a decent cup of coffee. But you need to consider what went wrong and how to fix it, for while you may be down right now – you are not out…provided you get your shit together. Here are a few things to ponder.

  • The people did not let you down – Quite the opposite, you let the people down and this is their way, misguided as it might appear right now, of telling you that you sucked it up.
  • Try taking more credit for the way things are going – You need to pay more attention to the real world and less of what’s going on over at Fox news. Things in America are better than they were when you retook control. Yes. There is a lot more to do, but housing is up, employment is up, the stock market is up (aside from a few days here and there where the market takes a dump – but hey, we all have our off days) gas prices are down. I’m not convinced that you really had anything to do with these trends, but it’s fair to say they happened on your watch and the mindless collective called the voting public appears to believe what they are told with little question (for evidence, please refer to Tuesday’s election results).
  • WTF – Middle East and other areas of global unrest – Look, this is a thorn in everyone’s paw. Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses. A case could be made that the for many on the other side of the world, creating and maintaining a constant state of turmoil, unrest and a slow simmer of self-destruction seems to be what they do best. I mean, after all this time, if they really wanted to work things out, they probably could. My guess is that there is more money in turmoil and distress than in peace, so until we can create a higher profit margin for peace, we are kind of stuck. The point here is, many have tried. Many. Have tried. For decades and decades to get things straight over there. At some point, the rest of the world is just enabling the conflicts. The Republicans were burned by it and you have been burned by it. I don’t have any answers on how to resolve it, but we need to decide how much longer we need to participate, what we are going to do where – do it and then get the hell out of there and focus on the good work that needs to be done here at home.
  • Reacquaint yourself with Dr. Seuss’s story of The Zax. – Seriously. Read it, or watch the cartoon, or have somebody read it to you and show you the pictures. I don’t care. There is a message for congress there.

I could go on and on, but I realize that you are only congressional representatives after all, and that your attention spans are short, your memories are thin and your intentions are about as deep as the next election. If you take that as fairly harsh criticism, then I’m OK with that. If you could muster up a moment of self-reflection I dare say that you will come to the conclusion that you deserve it.

My one parting notion to you would be that while you are down right now like the stock market in ’07, you are not out. The deck is shuffled and you still have some good cards to play. You will need to be smart over the next year or so, which will be hard, I know, but buckle down and get the work done. I’m fairly certain that you can count on the Republicans doing nothing, aside from setting their focus on the next election, but I’m pretty sure the potential for a bright future lies ahead if you do what you need to do. And if you, meaning both parties, could consider for at least a half a second what it is you are supposed to be doing in Washington instead of what you actually do (or more commonly, do not do), the put upon cogs and wheels of this country – the American people would be truly grateful.

Your friend – Java

 

 

 

 

Boys – Part V

“Taddy?” Gunther said, in a whisper just loud enough to be heard over the rain attacking the attic roof.

“Yeah?”

“How long are you going to hold my hand?”

“Shut up,” Taddy said quickly letting go. “Just shut up and give me your flashlight.”

Gunther felt around him. “Wait,” he said. “”I thought you had a flashlight.”

“Mine’s dead, remember?”

“Well, I don’t have one,” Gunther said, trying to force any sign of a whimper from his voice.

“Then we’ve got to go get the one my mom has in the kitchen,” said Taddy, still whispering as if the darkness demanded it. “And we’re going together.”

“Right,” Gunther said. “I mean you’re not leaving me up here by myself.”

“Let’s go then.”

Taddy started to inch his way toward the hole in the floor and stuck a foot down through to find the ladder. Gunther inched with him, keeping a hand near Taddy’s shoulder so he wouldn’t lose touch as much for the connection to comfort, as it was a way to accidentally fall down the hole.

“Don’t push,” Taddy said.

“I’m not,” Gunther insisted.

Once on the ladder, Taddy’s instincts took over. He made the climb and descent in the dark thousands of times and was able to slip down into his bedroom in seconds. Gunther followed with a little more caution, but made it to the floor safe and sound.

“I can’t see a thing,” said Gunther. “This is crazy! I mean, look how dark it is. Where are you?”

“I’m over here.” Taddy clapped his hands and reached out for his friend. Gunther found him and the two began to slip their feet along the floor, inching their way to the door.

“Gah!”

A large flash of lightning filled the house, trailing off into the flicker of tiny strobes of light. Any progress the boys made toward adjusting their sight to the darkness was dashed in those seconds of brilliance.

“Boom!”

The thunder followed as they were still rubbing the brightness of the flash from their eyes.

“This sucks!” Gunther shouted. “I can’t see. Now I can’t hear. Really … this sucks!”

“Come on,” Taddy said. “There’s a flashlight in the kitchen. We’ll be there in a hot second.”

They continued their careful movements across the floor, to the stairs and down to the foyer. They inched their way to the kitchen, running their fingers lightly across the wall as a way to stay clear on their path.

Taddy reached the cold tile first. He stepped forward and reached out for the chopping block top of the island in the middle of the room. Finding it, he walked himself around to the second drawer where his mom kept the flashlight and any other number of assorted and likely useless odds and ends. He pulled the drawer and pawed around inside until he found it.

Click.

“That’s it?” Gunther asked, still standing on the edge of kitchen.

A pathetic, whimper of a glow lazily forced itself from the small light. Bringing recognition to Taddy’s face. He smirked and shook the light. It went dark. He hit it a couple of times and the light came back a little stronger, but not much.

“This is all we have unless I can find some more batteries,” Taddy said. “Or, until the power comes back.

“What about candles?” Gunther asked. “Do you have any candles?”

“Yeah,” Taddy said. My mom has a bunch in the…”

Any word Taddy might have said was murdered by another glaring flash of light. The boys had just enough time to look at each other before the thunder followed.

BOOM!

“Ahhhh!” The boys screamed.

“I wish it would stop doing that!” Gunther pounded on the wall next to him.

CRASH!

“What was that?” Taddy yelled. “What did you do?”

“Nothing,” said Gunther, running into the kitchen. “I … nothing. It sounded like window in the front room. You saw me. I was right there. I swear I didn’t…”

“Shhhh! Shush! Hush! Shut up!” Taddy said, trying to cover Gunther’s mouth.

The boys stood in the faded yellow glow of the sad flashlight, listening hard for whatever it was Taddy thought he heard. After a moment, they turned slowly to face each other.

“Footsteps.”

“Breathing.”

While they spoke at exactly the same time, it was clear, they each heard something different.

Doll – Part IV

“Jesus Christ, CJ!”

Chalmers stirred as the sound of her voice rang down upon him. He wasn’t waking up, because he wasn’t really asleep, but he was being drawn out from wherever he was by her sour tone.

He had yet to open his eyes, but he squeezed the lids shut tighter just the same to eliminate the possibility of any light at all getting to his eyes and ultimately his aching, pudding-head brain.

“Oops,” he said, but it sounded more like, “Ooopshhh,” as he forced his words into the floor.

“Have you been there all night?” Margie said. “Again?”

The linoleum felt cool on his face, nice really. A puddle of drool had formed near his mouth. When the unexpected burp erupted from his lips, his acidic breath splashed the fluid and the smell reminded him of his reason for his current position on the floor … scotch.

If his math was right, and even the slightest thought of math made him queasy, this was the seventh time she found him sprawled out on the kitchen floor, incapacitated, incoherent and incapable of meaningful communication.

“I mean …” Margie stood over him one hand across her stomach, one hand rubbing her forehead. Chalmers dared to open his eyes just ever so slightly. She never came into focus. He never moved his head, so the odd angle at which she appeared while being all fuzzy struck him as oddly funny.

“I can’t do this anymore,” she said. He vaguely remembers her saying those exact words around time number four, but that time there was crying and a little pleading. This time…

“I can’t!”

“You,” Chalmers said with great effort. He paused to erupt in another hiccough/burp that made his body jerk. “Don’t … under … stand. You … never…”

“Don’t, CJ!” Margie shouted down at him. “Don’t you dare! I miss her too, every day! Don’t you dare tell me I don’t understand. At least I faced it. I didn’t hide from it and escape up into some bottle of gin!”

“Scotch!” Chalmers sort of yelled. The need to correct her forced his head from the floor. He held it there in a weary delirium for a three count before letting it drop again into his drool.

“It’s been five years,” Margie said. “Five years she’s been gone. And you left shortly after that! I can’t do this. I want to live! I’m not going to watch you drink yourself to death. She … would hate what you’ve become.”

The soft cushion of alcohol gave way to a torrential wave of anger. He swung out at her with his arm with little chance of connecting. “Shhhhuuddup!”

He rolled over onto his back swinging out at her. “Shuddup! You don’t know! You don’t know!” Tears breached his eyes and began to trickle down his face. He began to sob. “You don’t know!” he tried one last time, but it came out as nothing she could understand.

“I know,” she said, the calm in her voice reflecting her resignation. “I know all too well. I lost everything that day. I lost her. I lost you. Everything. I can’t do this. Goodbye.”

His blinding tears prevented him from seeing her leave. His sobs prevented him from hearing her go, but when the door closed and she was gone, the weight of her absence fell upon him, crushing him almost completely.

Ledge

Elliston Craw stood on the ledge and looked down, slowly so as not to toss his balance. The view from seventeen stories above the ground was unsettling at first. The ledge extended a good three inches past the tips of his shoes, so he felt sure enough that he wouldn’t slip off too easily. His back and arms were pressed against the bricks behind him as if he were holding the wall back from tumbling down to the street below.

A gust of wind ripped by him and while he felt secure in his footing at the moment, the brush of the wind’s fingers caused him to jerk and to catch himself as if he might fall.

He closed his eyes and tried to relax a little. He took as deep of a breath as he dared and then stared out across the city. This might have been a mistake.

Initially, his being here was a clear case of his curiosity, clouding…no, obliterating his better judgment. For eight years, the window next to his desk at Harlow & Jenks afforded him the opportunity to stare out into the wild blue and gray of city and sky to wonder. What do pigeons do all day? Does that ledge go all the way around the building? Is it strong enough to hold someone? How long might it take to go all the way around the building on the ledge? Would anyone notice him being gone? Is seventeen floors high enough?

He wasn’t sure what actually tipped the scales between wondering and doing. It could have been seeing the window washers last Tuesday. It could have been that it hadn’t rained in eight days so everything was pretty dry. It could have been that in eight years of wondering he realized that he did and awful lot of wondering and very little doing.

The window in the older building opened easy enough. The height of his desk and the first drawer accommodated his getting to the ledge as if they were designed to do so. Actually standing on the ledge and getting adjusted so the he wouldn’t fall was a bit slow going, but he managed and the inching down across it was like walking, once he got a pattern down.

It was when he stopped to embrace the moment that things sort of changed.

He looked down again. It was exhilarating. It was the most dramatic thing he had ever done. It was life.

Another gust of wind raked over him and he tried to get even closer to the wall as if it might hold him if he got unsteady.

His goal, if he even had one, because at this point he realized this was all pretty crazy, was to step out onto the ledge, go around the outside of the building, get back inside and finish his work on the Whorton account.

But now.

A glimmer of the depth of what was happening crept into his thinking. This was not normal. Normal people may think about walking on ledges, but normal people usually discount those notions quickly in lieu of the greater call of a food craving or other useless distraction.

This was…

A lot of his thinking stopped when one thought, or the memory of the thought pushed everything away. Is seventeen floors high enough?

He had a nice place to live. He had a decent job that, while it would never make him a rich man, it would give him a decent life and the occasional trip out of town. Still…

Is seventeen floors high enough?

Elliston Craw closed his eyes. He opened them again to look at the sun. Another heart gust of wind blew towards his direction.

An open letter to Miley Cyrus

Java typed with determination and focus, as she was prone to do in these situations:

An open letter to Miley Cyrus – Dear Miley Cyrus:

We don’t know each other and I doubt that the circumstances of our existences will ever allow our paths to cross. I also realize that it might appear a bit cliché to address you publicly at the peak of your current festival of weirdness. Considering all the other people in the world who have decided to weigh in on your recent round of personal and professional choices, I can see how easy it would be to assume I’m jumping on the bandwagon.

I want to be clear on this one point. I am not one of those “pile on” people who will berate you for what’s currently going on in your world. Frankly, I’m not a fan of your work, so I couldn’t care less about what you decide to do professionally. And since I don’t see you babysitting my kids any time soon, I couldn’t care less about your personal choices. I say, let your freak flag fly baby.

I was 20 once. I know what it feels like to want to break free of your childhood and establish yourself as an adult. I recognize that being 20 and wanting to be an adult is way different from actually being a mature adult. At 20, your head is still full of crazy. Some people tamp that down better than others. Very few get to go through this change as publicly as you, so they don’t know your circumstances well enough to bash you for bad decisions.

I’m quite sure that a lot of “mature adults” out there who are hating on you right now, might A) be a little jealous of your ability to completely disregard any personal sense of tact and grace, or B) be dishing out a little of what they got at 20 when they did something stupid on a grand scale.

There might also be a third factor in that many “mature adults” harbor a deep-rooted longing to break free from their own lives even now, and seeing you so loose and free only fills them with a feeling of venomous envy. I don’t know many adults who haven’t gone through a “take this job and shove it” phase.

To me, you and your circumstances raise different questions. For instance, what makes young stars, and in your case, young Disney stars, go so berserk, so publicly? Is the desire for admiration, adoration, fawning, money, or whatever might pass as genuine love in that world so strong that they are willing to do anything to keep it or grow it? I mean let’s face it, it could be argued that Disney has churned out some truly “damaged” young people.

Another question that comes to mind is what happens next, and then, after that?

There are things I did at your age, that if given the chance, I might go back and punch myself in the face for. After all, we are the products of all of our decisions. Some people get iggy if any sort of their past resurfaces say on Facebook or similar forum because they aren’t really those people anymore and they don’t want to have to justify any past decisions made with a 20 year-old’s crazy brain. I didn’t grow up in a time where every waking moment is recorded and shared so freely. You have, and you will have one hell of a time putting this all away once you decide to move on.

Maybe you won’t move on. Maybe this is the person you have longed to be and you have hit your sweet spot and the rest of the world can just suck it. If so, good for you, but I’d like to caution that the standard scale for “outrageous behavior” has shifted over the years.

Despite what some might see as your shocking display, you still have a way to go before you have to do any real damage control. I just hope you recognize that there is only so far a person can go and still look at themselves with comfort and calm. Once you’re all covered with ink, have been bare and naked to the world from head to toe, have stuck your tongue everywhere it could possibly go, have sworn and offended, have risen and fallen, and loved and lost, got loaded up and detoxified, where do you go for the shock and awe? Only you can answer that. I suppose it will come down to what you want more, the seductive drug of attention or some sense of personal joy and satisfaction.

The long and the short of it is, I wish you well on your journey. Again, I’m not a fan of your work, so the only thing I’m subjected to is the onslaught of imagery and news coverage that I wish frankly were dedicated to the more pressing matters we face here on the planet. But, I can’t control that either.

Whether you rise to the highest heights or crash and burn, it’s all up to you now. Many people have gone through far greater struggles than you are ever likely to face as a poor, confused rich girl and they come out just fine. I hope you find your path and your peace and if you could just put your tongue away, that would be awesome.

Your friend in the cosmos – Java