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❱❱ How not to freak out

It’s not as if times of fear and despair are anything new. People have fought wars, struggled to survive, faced injustice, experienced loss, dealt with violence and greed, and been caught up in historical movements beyond their control pretty much forever.

Life has never been that easy.

In Buddhist practice, you learn never to shy away from facing the pain of the human condition. At the same time, you also learn not to shy away from the beauty and value of life in all its forms.

By clearly seeing the extremes of experience, you learn to scout a middle way.

If you find all the bad news overwhelming, Buddhist teacher Judy Lief has some meditations to help…

Early in 2016 Twitter was awash with folks talking about resistance. Primarily in reference to the recently sworn in president - A man who was going to be in office four long years.

I asked people I knew there "Where did you first learn resilience?"

There was no response.

“Adversity is a fact of life. Resilience is that ineffable quality that allows some people to be knocked down by life and come back at least as strong as before. Rather than letting difficulties or failure overcome them and drain their resolve, they find a way to rise.” —Psychology Today

It wasn't surprising. The circles represented by my Twitter followers were largely comprised of folks that have been upper middle class for their entire lives. In a handful of cases, they'd even moved into full on wealth.

In that world, resilience is largely hypothetical.

Not that they haven't faced very real struggles. Both internal and external. But resilience is not required to come back from those difficulties. There is a contextual momentum that can carry one through. Repeatedly.

Take that missed opportunity for growth and mix it with privilege. Resilience becomes less a concept and more a metaphor for "spending money". Think of post-crash gold bar dreams, Post-Trump safe room fantasies, and even more extreme schemes.

Retreating into privilege can only ever work temporarily (at best). There is always something lurking around the corner to pop your bubble. Largely because the same factors that enable retreat feed what lurks.

Creating a toilet paper shortage out of fear of a toilet paper shortage is not resilience.

Neither is another video game console.

Or fearing your neighbors.

Or binge watching television.

Or refreshing Twitter.

It is liberating to drop the fantasy of there being a more perfect world, somehow, somewhere, and instead accept that we need to engage with the world as it is.

Buddhism offers a sustainable way to reduce the anxieties of events we have no direct connection with or control over. It's the way I'm personally most familiar with. There are others.

There's no better time to break these ouroborsian habits. Use that anxious energy to explore and practice.

You may find the essay from Judy Lief inspiring. In your explorations you may find something else that can't be so easily summed up in an "ism".

It doesn't matter what you choose.

All that matter's is that the actions proscribed meet a simple test: Are they wide eyed and open hearted?

❱❱ An Aspirational Vision of Life After Fossil Fuels

What will life be like after peak oil, in an age of major climate shifts? Hollywood movies often depict it as a bleak, dystopian world where each day is a struggle to survive after every system we depend on has been stripped away.
[W]hat if, instead, a post-peak-oil lifestyle was something we aspired to? It’s a radical idea that involves reimagining existing societal structures and what constitutes progress.

Building sustainable communities is the antidote to fear of a changing climate.

❱❱ Reading Colonialism in “Parasite”

This is not a charge against any attempt to relate Parasite to other contexts. Bong’s social critique concerns the international conditions of globalized capitalism, but particular to Korea’s neoliberal and neocolonial present. Examining the film as a story of class in the neocolony shifts it from a decontextualized tale of rich and poor to one of compradors and the colonized. This lens takes Parasite from an allegory of “class conflict” to one of imperialism, and illuminates the film’s recurring motifs of English, militarization and appropriated Indigenous material culture.

Ju-Hyun Park's scene by scene breakdown of the explicit role American colonialism plays in Parasite's tale of inequality…

❱❱ Ring and Nest helped normalize American surveillance and turned us into a nation of voyeurs

Catherine, a 58-year-old Florida snowbird who uses Blink cameras to watch her home in Minnesota and who requested to use only her first name, said the cameras have become so easy to turn on that many people don’t really think about what’s at stake. Parents who installed cameras in kids’ rooms, she said, might end up depriving them of the privacy they need to grow into independent adults.
“We’re all getting too paranoid. Everybody thinks they’re going to be the next victim. And it’s set into us this mentality that we have to watch everything and everybody,” she said. “They think, ‘If I put all these cameras up, I’ll be safe.’ Safe from what? … It’s only making them more afraid.”

Speaking of consumer culture developing, then praying upon, a stunted maturity…

❱❱ What It Takes to Grow Up, What It Means to Have Grown

Perhaps the most difficult beauty and the hardest-won glory of true adulthood is the refusal, vehement and counter-cultural and proud, to relinquish our inner magnolias as we grow older, declining to sacrifice them at the altar-register of a culture that continually robs us of our self-worth and tries to sell it back to us at the price of the latest product.

Maria Popova collects a bit of wisdom about growing up and it's relationship to consumer culture…

❱❱ Why You Can't Trust Yourself

  1. You are biased and selfish without realizing it
  2. You don’t have a clue about what makes you happy (or miserable)
  3. You are easily manipulated into making bad decisions
  4. You generally only use logic and reason to support your preexisting beliefs
  5. Your emotions change your perceptions way more than you realize
  6. Your memory sucks
  7. ‘You’ aren’t who you think you are
  8. Your physical experience of the world isn’t even that real

Thorough breakdown from Mark Manson…

❱❱ Simple pleasure

Usually in the Buddhist tradition, you sit, and then you stand up and do slow walking in the meditation hall, and then you sit again. We don’t do that here. Instead, we do outdoor walking. That practice is helpful because you can apply it in your daily life. You walk normally—not too slowly—so you don’t look like you’re practicing and people see you as normal. And then when you go home, when you’re going from the parking lot to your office, you can enjoy walking.

The basic practice is how to enjoy—how to enjoy walking and sitting and eating and showering. It’s possible to enjoy every one, but our society is organized in such a way that we don’t have time to enjoy. We have to do everything too quickly.

Thich Nhat Hanh answers questions about  sitting, walking, mental illness, consuming entertainment, and modeling joy…

❱❱ It is solved by walking

Antonia Malchik for High Country News…

Walking a thousand miles a year hasn’t given me a tidy list for how to live a good and effective life that I could stick up on the refrigerator. But it’s kept the promise contained in the Latin phrase solvitur ambulando, or “it is solved by walking.” Originally used to describe a premise that is explored through practical experiment, the phrase has been used by thinkers, writers and travelers throughout millennia of written history, people who believed — because they walked and found it to be true — that walking was an answer to the stuck thought, the sorrowing heart, the moral dilemma. It is the realization that freedom of the mind is intertwined with freedom of movement.

Throughout Elementary and Middle School I was a "walker". In High School I'd occasionally miss the bus - It was a 2½ mile walk home.

When I left St. Louis, I sold my car. Most days I walked to and from work. Enduring Northeast winters when gusts of below-zero-wind would harden the contacts in my eyes. Through humid summers where I'd arrive home soaked with sweat.

In San Francisco I rocked a granny cart to help when trudging large piles of laundry to the laundromat. For a couple of months I lived at one end of Sutter Street (near the bus lot) and worked at the other (at Market). Walking the length of that street at the end of the day is the best job perk I've ever had. When going back to visit, I'll make time to walk it again. It's up there with SFMOMA and a burrito on my priority list.

In Santa Fe, pedestrians have the right away. Though no one seemed to know it. Or they did and were furious about it. Even city buses will come at you aggressively while you're in a cross walk (with a stop sign). Still…It's hard to beat a snowy walk through little adobe neighborhoods.

I bought a bike a year or so after moving to Portland. I can count on two hands the number of times I've ridden it.

I'd much rather walk…


How to Walk by Thich Nhat Hanh & Jason DeAntonis