Friday, August 29, 2014

Prowling the Streets of Paris

*This is another excerpt from my journal in reminiscing over my travels through Europe.  Paris was one of my favorite cities, my to my own surprise.  I had expected to find nothing but cliche but it seems all I'd heard about this exquisite city proved only too true.

My world travels have drawn my attention today, particularly my short stay in Paris.  I recall floating along the Seine viewing cathedrals to my left and intricate residential architecture to my right, approaching a magnificent bridge and waving to a mass of gay, friendly strangers thereon who excitedly pronounced their affection to any and everyone in the nearing boat.  The cold, which usually fills my heart with dread, in this case seemed appropriate, especially after the drizzling London streets, and not only rendered me the opportunity to don a soft, comforting sweater but acted as a continual reminder that I stood in a separate hemisphere and an ocean away from my native country.

The manicured gardens of Versailles were enchanting in their immensity if for no other reason but the extraordinary attention to seemingly each and every leaf and fountain bespoke the greatness and importance of the place as well.  Man made lakes and rolling hills stretched as far as the eye could reach and such subtle caressing landscapes continued harmoniously, unmolested along the intertwining highways of France.  The blueberry tart I tasted on the Champs Elysees, at rather a less than endearing price I might add, although filled with so much sugar my eyes watered after the first bite made its contribution to what I have since believed of that noble country - that everything is calculated and created therein for the express purpose of beauty and general acceptance.  While some may argue that the French are expressly wrong in their taste, I have not known many societies that attempt so fully to make each and every moment, regardless of the medium, beautiful and pleasing to the senses.

So there I imagine myself now, surrounded by brisk and merry Parisian streets, breathing the intoxication of the city of love and relaxing into the safety of passion, romance, and the soft desire for joy that emanates from every flying buttress and gold encrusted dome.

A Man Walks into a Dojo And Says, "Ouch!"

SLAM! *Kids shriek and then melt into giggles*

The noise wakes me from my reverie to find my children's sensei making an adventurous racket with kick shields in order to keep the kids focused, giggly and involved.  He is 6'3", built like a mountain and eats typical black belts for lunch.  My eight year old daughter loves to hug him and has nicknamed him her Cuddle Bug (when he isn't around).  Situation normal and I drift back to my thoughts.

One would think it would be hard to peacefully meditate in a school filled with kids, punches, kicks, yells and bangs.  Strangely enough, it is profoundly easy.  I have never, since my brother took martial arts in our youth, felt that karate was about punching and kicking.  I'm not quite sure where that idea arose in the first place, but it has always been much more than that.  My earliest memory of one of his martial arts lessons included most palpably a powerful feeling that accompanied it.  It was something at once deep and lofty, generous and commanding of respect.  In fact the feeling so impressed me that I felt that martial arts was reserved only for those who were somehow greater than the typical human being and found myself shy to the point of oblivion of approaching so profound and beautiful an art.


I open one eye to find Mr. K attacking my seven year old son.  His massive fist miraculously stops about an inch away from my precious prince's nose.  Josh lets out a delighted giggle and looks at his teacher with wide eyes of admiration.  Yeah, that happens too.  I melt away into thought again.  I must be a terrible mother perhaps to be so calm about my little one's face so close to becoming  mangled, but that is the other strange paradox.  I am quite relaxed at the dojo partly because I know that it isn't going to happen, Mr. K is even more profoundly interested in safety than I am, and that self control is a paramount key to what transpires here.  

And of course we can't forget Rocky.  This guru, as I have grown to call him, fell into my life when darkness encircled me and I hadn't strength left to stand.  I didn't realize that his kindness, his belief in me and his protective attitude came to some great extent from his experience in martial arts and the fact he taught it with a passion.  One might conclude that my long association with him is what inspired me to sign my kids up for martial arts years later and that I found the peace and passion in martial arts because of his influence.  I can't say that exactly, but the art seems to continually creep into my life in various ways when I least expected it.  I entered my kids into the dojo without knowing why save that God strongly impressed, even coerced me into doing it on nearly blind faith and a calm assurance it was His will.  I didn't find martial arts.  Through the direction of God I'm pretty sure that it found me.

The Politically Incorrect Frankenstein

"What are you reading now?"  Nick asked as he paused behind my chair at the sushi bar.  I showed him the cover of my latest and greatest.

"Frankenstein, huh?"  He suddenly brightened and excitedly gave me his analysis of the famous classic. "My teacher taught us that the moral of the story was to treat foreigners better and refrain from prejudice.  It really makes you think!  You'll have to let me know how you liked it!"  

He returned to his work and I to my book and steaming miso soup.  As the chapters and days progressed I heard the same analysis from many good souls who had made the literary journey before me, insisting that the monster was good initially and the treatment of humans caused his evil behavior.  And yet...I couldn't help but form my own contrary judgement.  Anyone who is surprised must of course prove a new reader to this rather opinionated blog of mine.  

Knowing Mary Shelley was daughter to the immortal, radical authors of the dying generation and studying her own words and purpose for creating the unhallowed work I cannot help but disagree.  I mean, certainly, the moral is there to some very limited degree, but it isn't the powerful, underlying obvious one and I believe the reason the stronger moral to the story proves so obscure is because it pertains to God and we as a politically correct society simply cannot allow such a reading within the realm of public education.  Just as we often refer to the monster as "Frankenstein" when in truth he has no name and Victor Frankenstein proves the name of his creator, we misread continually the primary purpose of the work.

It is simply this. Victor Frankenstein dabbles in science so profoundly that he feels he has a right to play with the powers of life and death.  He makes himself a god as it were to create a man, not from the dust of the earth, but from foul and loathsome matter.  He lusts after power and discovery, ultimately creating a being he can neither love nor control.  His monster at length describes his creator's behavior in such terms as one would attribute to a prostitute, playing wantonly with the powers of creating life.  We cannot argue that the monster turned to vice due to human behavior, for to him, Victor was not a human but a life giving god, and the monster poured out his soul, applying to his maker for love and acceptance.  Where any of us may have prayed to God and received comfort, the monster applies to his weak mortal creator and finds disgust.  The monster turns to wanton murder in revenge, proving that he also can play with life and death.  Truthfully, I found the real horror in the stark description of what life would be like without a loving God and the moral lesson in the dangers of using science or sexuality to play lightly with the creation of intelligent beings. 

Recently National Geographic published an article about scientists trying to bring back the saber tooth tiger, mammoth, etc.  But if they could bring back one of the extinct species the life expectancy would be horrific and the animal could not procreate due to lack of a partner.  What right have we to play with life outside the realm appointed by God, and though we may have the power so to do, are we ready for the consequences?  Victor Frankenstein surely wasn't.  Until we have the pure, perfect, love of God, or at least something close to it, can we play with His role?  Repeatedly Shelley calls this act "unholy", "unhallowed" and the like.  And certainly when the creator played with life wantonly it follows naturally that the monster would take the powers of life into his own hands as retribution; the lesson is doubly taught.  Indeed, in this world where science seems ever more powerful, individuals turn to the laboratory instead of the chapel, and we find the sacred powers of sexuality carelessly employed, Frankenstein proves a remarkably poignant, timely and very necessarily politically incorrect read.  

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Passionate Meditation

*The following is an excerpt from my journal when I toured Guatemala.  I love passionate nature and this was a treat since I find my usual desert home rather parched from the breathing life of trees and gentle verdure.

The vegetation and landscape here is gorgeous.  Nevertheless, there is something that, although silent, speaks more powerfully than that.  There is something in this land that brings you closer to a beauty and strength far greater than these beautiful petals that will bloom, wilt, and die within weeks or less.  It has caused a greater awareness and appreciation of the earth itself.
Being here at Villa Santa Catalina on the edge of Lake Atitl├ín, one can tangibly feel the power of the earth beneath your feet.  The land breathes, groans, weeps with joy, and remembers the events of history as a semi active onlooker.  The rocks rent here at the death of the Savior.  Perhaps it is due to the earthquakes, explosions, and volcanoes, but surely one cannot doubt the spirit and soul of this their Mother Earth that holds and remembers all the secrets of mankind.  You can feel it's sorrow; you can sense its strength, and you can become connected with it and from the core of this massive, powerful soul partake with it its deep and intense joy.  And with this monumental life force, rejoice and worship my Father, who I know well and I love tremendously.  There are whispers in the water and they tremble with a life all their own.  Closing your eyes and focusing on its movement and passion you can almost hear the harmony between water and earth, the symphony of wave against wave and the depth of the water and land penetrates your skin and muscle, and in your bones you feel the echo of your Father and the power that is yours and makes up your whole person.  You can feel throughout your body the power you have and know and understand the connection you have with your Father.  You understand so much that the power that courses through your Maker's soul courses also through your own and it seems so natural that you should grow and learn to refine and control that energy that you have.

Tears well up in your heart and you weep inside without knowing why.  And then in a moment your mind is drawn backward and forward to hear and see and relive those things from a time long forgotten, a time and place you once know well and you can feel within your mind and spirit the memory of galaxies and stars, hundreds, thousands, and millions of them passing rapidly through your eyes, and for one brief moment all eternity makes sense and you can feel your heart expanding to swallow the joy and reality of this whole.