“ it’s okay, we’re more than the sum of our cancelled plans”
it’s okay, we’re more than the sum of our ignored voicemails
it’s okay, we’re more than the sum of our bi-annual trips home
it’s okay, we’re more than the sum of our over-drafted bank account
it’s okay, we’re more than the sum of these fancy cocktails
it’s okay, we’re more than the sum of our late night phone minutes with exes
it’s okay, we’re more than the sum of our lazy cab rides home
it’s okay, we’re more than the sum of our half-read longreads and full-read horoscopes
it’s okay, we’re more than the sum of our dry-clean only shirts
it’s okay, we’re more than the sum of our Marked Unread emails
it’s okay, we’re more than the sum of our Twitter drafts
it’s okay, we’re more than the sum of our missed calls from Mom
it’s okay, we’re more than the sum of our broker’s fee
it’s okay, we’re more than the sum of our Likes
it’s okay, we’re more than the sum of our mostly walked morning run
it’s okay, we’re more than the sum of our cancelled plans
The 3rd chapter of FOR THOUSANDS OF MILES deals with inspiration - specifically indirect inspiration; how influence can move from one thing to another without people connecting the dots. One of the stories mentioned in this section of the film is about a man named Thomas Stevens, who, in 1884, was the first person to ever bicycle across the United States, he would continue traveling after reaching the Atlantic Ocean, becoming the first person to bicycle around the entire world - ending his 13,500 mile trip in December of ‘86.
An interesting coincidence between Stevens and the main subject of our film, Larry McKurtis, is their relationship with a small town in the Sierra Nevadas, called Truckee; Truckee is mentioned quite a few times in the film, but I wasn’t aware until recently that Stevens spent time passing through the town, and mentioned himself many times as he followed the Truckee-River towards the dreaded Forty-mile desert.
Here is an excerpt from Volume 1 of Steven’s book:
My road now follows the course of the Truckee River down the eastern slope of the Sierras, and across the boundary line into Nevada. The Truckee is a rapid, rollicking stream from one end to the other, and affords dam-sites and mill-sites without limit. There is little ridable road down the Truckee canyon; but before reaching “Verdi, a station a few miles over the Nevada line, I find good road, and ride up and dismount at the door of the little hotel as coolly as if I had rode without a dismount all the way from ‘Frisco. […] Verdi is less than forty miles from the summit of the Sierras, and from the porch of the hotel I can see the snow-storm still fiercely raging up in the place where I stood a few hours ago; yet one can feel that he is already in a dryer and altogether different climate. The great masses of clouds, travelling inward from the coast with their burdens of moisture, like messengers of peace with presents to a far country, being unable to surmount the great mountain barrier that towers skyward across their path, unload their precious cargoes on the mountains; and the parched plains of Nevada open their thirsty mouths in vain.
There are roughly 4,200 religions in the world. They’ve all been derived via primitive stories from a time long ago when our species attempted to extract purposeful meaning from our existence. Because we didn’t have behavioral science, psychology, neuroscience, biology, or astrophysics (although we could list many more), these cultures truly had no genuine understanding of our place in the universe, let alone our place on Earth amongst everything around us.
This means that these cultures formed religions from which morality, ethics, laws, and provisions of their lifestyle were derived. So simple an
understandingignorance brought forth this bounty of good intentions tucked firmly in a bouquet of mysticism, myth, prayer to a god or gods, and a set of duties by which we were to carry out, because our life had to mean much more than their daily routine. Someone had to be running the show, because we hadn’t matured enough to comprehend the understanding of our existence as we do now.
Religion is more often interchangeable with faith, which is the subjective confidence and trust (in this case) of a deity, doctrine or view without any empirical evidence to support it. Organized religion assembles groups of people into congregations (breaking them down into “life groups” on particular days throughout the week) where people continually perpetuate:
1.) Belief in the supernatural, unseen presence of a deity
2.) Belief in this deity (or deities) by whom they are protected, cared for, and guided in their minds
3.) These people are guided in their minds by this deity via prayer (folding of the hands and closing of the eyes not required but helpful to truly focus your concentration) by which said deity will be listening intently at all times and to which your prayer will be answered not in the order it was received, but by the will (or timely manner/convenience) of said deity
4.) This deity is the same deity interpreted through the corresponding religious text/scripture, regardless of any or all skewed translations, assertions or assumptions which have since been clarified or debunked from the time of its origin to the present day.
5.) In said religious texts, said deity/deities are revealed and communicate to the eye-witnesses and writers via hallucinations, delusions, violent acts, delusions of persecution, grandiosity, perceptual distortions (illusions), auditory hallucinations, and when reading back said texts, it’s plain to see that most of these human beings could have been suffering from thought disorders - underlying disturbance to conscious thought classified by its effects on speech and writing via loosening of associations such as a disorganization of the semantic content of speech/writing; more sever forms exhibit incomprehensible speech known as “word salad”…some call this gibberish, others call it speaking in tongues.
6.) Above all else, blind faith operates as the fulcrum of religion to not encourage self discovery and a diverse education through the actual scientific understanding of the world and worlds beyond ours, but the assurance that it’s all been figured out prior to your arrival, contradictory to all the evidence and accessible information by which we can properly grasp reality. Aiding you and comforting you in your thoughts, which is why it’s encouraged to introduce religion/a belief system into the minds of children before they have any opportunities to understand the world around them from an empirical perspective. And when living amongst a society or environment where a belief system has been encouraged or held in high esteem, the concepts of religion perpetuating and promoting the belief in supernatural forces and a warped, pseudoscientific view of the world do seem a bit strong and harshly critiqued because that’s precisely how heretics were perceived.
Heretic: a person with (wait for it….) views at odds with what is generally accepted.
Were heretics conversed with by organized religions or highly authoritative religious institutions? No. They were persecuted, scrutinized, belittled, imprisoned, slandered, exiled, openly punished and at times, killed. Why? See numbers 1 through 6.
A psychosis is plainly: a loss of contact with reality. Is it possible to aid in a psychosis? As in, not correct it, but strengthen it? Yes. That’s what organized religion does. That’s why we have the Westboro Baptist Church. Creationists. Fundamentalists. Extremists. Biblical literalists. Terrorists. Why terrorist? A terrorist uses violence and/or fear as coercion for political purposes or to perpetuate a religious ideal.
I respectfully understand what mental illness is. I suffer with anxiety, depression, loosely attributed to bipolar 1. And like all mental illnesses (psychosis included), it’s treatable and manageable. Do I think that treating the symptoms of a mental illness will reform someone of their religious beliefs? No. But it certainly would be a good start. Praying promotes inaction. For the people praying, a belief in the supernatural authority of an almighty unseen being is comforting and looked upon as a positive thing, whereby good intentions supersede rationality or something that actual works. Example: he/she had a hammer and a nail, but chose to “pray” the work to be done. But then someone says, “prayer doesn’t work that way.” Oh? How does it work then? And frankly, that type of discussion is absolutely demonizing our human species with the harshest slap in the face to our individual and collective intelligence to persevere and innovate.
I really would love to see more conversations about this because we truly need to call religion and religious fundamentalism what it is: a mental illness. A man walks up to a podium a few times a week, but most notably, on a Sunday. He (note how I said HE) speaks to the congregation of lay-people about the “wisdom” of god, and what he (note again that I said HE) can do for your life if you just “let him in.”
Ladies and gentlemen….this ia a socially acceptable mental illness. I use the term psychosis to parallel it’s similarities not in a derogatory way, but because it’s that similar, any other term I could use would be derogatory toward science and the study of the brain itself.
"Plainly there is no way back. Like it or not, we are stuck with science. We had better make the best of it. When we finally come to terms with it and fully recognize its beauty and its power, we will find, in spiritual as well as in practical matters, that we have made a bargain strongly in our favor.
But superstition and pseudoscience keep getting in the way, distracting us, providing easy answers, dodging skeptical scrutiny, casually pressing our awe buttons and cheapening the experience, making us routine and comfortable practitioners as well as victims of credulity.”
- Carl Sagan
I take my shots at religion because it incites conversation. It stings sometimes, I get that. I was a practicing Christian when I was younger. I tried, really. But the harm outweighs the self-perceived “good feelings.” Good intentions are a false substitute for the persistent educating of one’s self to the reality we live and the place and time which we all presently share. It would be a much different situation if religions “didn’t hurt anyone.” But they do. They are. And we need thinkers, doers, innovators, who, when seeing an image of young, impoverished children, ask themselves: what can I do? Or, how did it get this way? Or, what do they need that I can provide or invent to assist with? We need action, not prayers. Prayers promote complacency and inaction. Fresh water supply/generation/purification; vitamin/medicine/vaccine-enriched food….there are solutions waiting to be brought forth to assist with the world’s problems. The fresh eyes of today/tomorrow need to be educated properly in science to be able to look at a problem and contribute positive alternatives to what’s already been tried. We all are a lot more intelligent and innovative than we have been told or swayed by religions and perspectives of a lesser culture.
Is the American School System Damaging Our Kids?
Education has become an American institution—of the worst kind.
Parents send their children to school with the best of intentions, believing that formal education is what kids need to become productive, happy adults. Many parents do have qualms about how well schools are performing, but the conventional wisdom is that these issues can be resolved with more money, better teachers, more challenging curricula, or more rigorous tests. But what if the real problem is school itself?
The unfortunate fact is that one of our most cherished institutions is, by its very nature, failing our children and our society.
Children are required to be in school, where their freedom is greatly restricted, far more than most adults would tolerate in their workplaces. In recent decades, we’ve been compelling them to spend ever more time in this kind of setting, and there’s strong evidence that this is causing psychological damage to many of them. And as scientists have investigated how children naturally learn, they’ve realized that kids do so most deeply and fully, and with greatest enthusiasm, in conditions that are almost opposite to those of school.
Compulsory education has been a fixture of our culture now for several generations. President Obama and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan are so enamored of it that they want even longer school days and years. Most people assume that the basic design of today’s schools emerged from scientific evidence about how children learn. But nothing could be further from the truth.
Schools as we know them today are a product of history, not of research. The blueprint for them was developed during the Protestant Reformation, when schools were created to teach children to read the Bible, to believe Scripture without questioning it, and to obey authority figures without questioning them.
When schools were taken over by the state, made compulsory, and directed toward secular ends, the basic structure and methods of teaching remained unchanged. Subsequent attempts at reform have failed because they haven’t altered the basic blueprint. The top-down, teach-and-test method, in which learning is motivated by a system of rewards and punishments rather than by curiosity or by any real desire to know, is well designed for indoctrination and obedience training but not much else. It’s no wonder that many of the world’s greatest entrepreneurs and innovators either left school early (like Thomas Edison) or said they hated school and learned despite it, not because of it (like Albert Einstein).
Most students—whether A students, C students, or failing ones—have lost their zest for learning by the time they’ve reached middle school or high school. In a telling research study, professors Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and Jeremy Hunter fitted more than 800 sixth through 12th graders, from 33 different schools across the country, with special wristwatches that emitted a signal at random times of day. Each time they received a signal, the students filled out a questionnaire indicating where they were, what they were doing, and how happy or unhappy they felt at the moment. The lowest levels of happiness, by far, were reported when the children were in school, where they were often bored, anxious, or both. Other researchers have shown that, with each successive grade, students develop increasingly negative attitudes toward the subjects taught, especially math and science.
As a society, we tend to shrug off such findings. We’re not surprised that kids are unhappy in school. Some people even believe that the very unpleasantness of school is good for children, so they will learn to tolerate unpleasantness as preparation for real life. But there are plenty of opportunities to learn to tolerate unpleasantness without adding unpleasant schooling to the mix. Research has shown that people of all ages learn best when they are self-motivated, pursuing answers to questions that reflect their personal interests and achieving goals that they’ve set for themselves. Under such conditions, learning is usually joyful.
The evidence for all of this is obvious to anyone who’s watched a child grow from infancy to school age. Through their own efforts, children figure out how to walk, run, jump, and climb. They learn from scratch their native language, and with that, they learn to assert their will, argue, amuse, annoy, befriend, charm, and ask questions. Through questioning and exploring, they acquire an enormous amount of knowledge about the physical and social world around them, and in their play, they practice skills that promote their physical, intellectual, social, and emotional development. They do all of this before anyone, in any systematic way, tries to teach them anything.
Continue reading over at Reader’s Digest
Listen, motherfucker. I don’t know what you thought would happen when you picked me as your spirit animal, but you can take all that adorable woodland creature nonsense and shove it up your unenlightened ass. I’ve been around. I’ve seen shit. I fucked Bambi’s mother back when she was still hot.
That’s right, bitch. This ain’t gonna be some gentle cleansing of the soul. We’re not gonna skip through any dreamscape meadows together. We’re not gonna dip our cute little noses in any babbling brooks of mystic energy. I’m gonna drag your useless shrieking ego through the black forest shadow dimension until your higher consciousness can move through the eternal nothingness without fear of its own annihilation.
You think you’re ready for a vision quest? You’d better be, asshole. I’m gonna eye fuck so much ancient sacred wisdom into your thick human skull that time and space will melt away into harmonic vibrations of universal oneness.
Go ahead. Whisper your darkest fears and deepest secrets into my furry little ears. I’m the righteous guardian of your fate, and I’ve already seen your death.
I finally found my power animal