ValerieT
Location: Seattle, Washington, United States
Traditions: Buddhism, Christianity, Humanism, Universal Ethics, Freethought, Scientific Inquiry
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Valerie T's Wisdom Page

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"We are each other's business; we are each other's harvest; we are each other's magnitude and bond.” --American poet Gwendolyn Brooks

What I'm About

My life mission is to tend the well-being of the intricate web of creation that gave me birth and the well-being of my fellow humans within that web. In "More about me" you can find the Ten Commandments that I try to live by. Mostly of late I find... more
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On Recovery from Fundamentalism
For the rest of my life, I will chance across pieces of fundamentalism that are still embedded in my psyche – fragments of shrapnel from a deep early wound, working their way to the surface.

On Recovery from Fundamentalism

For the rest of my life, I will chance across pieces of fundamentalism that are still embedded in my psyche – fragments of shrapnel from a deep early wound, working their way to the surface.

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The Blessing of a Bad Memory
Brynn and Marley, my two daughters, somehow have been the perfect age since the days they were born. Each day, having only the haziest notion of who they used to be, I delight in who they are. This and the inability to retain grudges are two of the greatest gifts of my terrible memory.

The Blessing of a Bad Memory

Brynn and Marley, my two daughters, somehow have been the perfect age since the days they were born. Each day, having only the haziest notion of who they used to be, I delight in who they are. This and the inability to retain grudges are two of the greatest gifts of my terrible memory.

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On Migraines
Who would I be without my migraines, without bouts of intense helpless pain that began before I could tell people what was going on? I empathize with end of life decisions, because I have experienced a state in which death would be a mercy. I glimpse the anguish of a bombed child or a burn victim. I understand hell, viscerally. Would I be as compassionate as I am? Would I have chosen to be a healer? Would I still believe in the self-indulgent absurdity of a perfect loving god who slotted most of humanity for unending torture?

On Migraines

Who would I be without my migraines, without bouts of intense helpless pain that began before I could tell people what was going on? I empathize with end of life decisions, because I have experienced a state in which death would be a mercy. I glimpse the anguish of a bombed child or a burn victim. I understand hell, viscerally. Would I be as compassionate as I am? Would I have chosen to be a healer? Would I still believe in the self-indulgent absurdity of a perfect loving god who slotted most of humanity for unending torture?

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On Wearing Shoes
It is ok to get softer as I get older, to wrap fuzzy socks and sturdy shoes around two tough explorer feet that used to love the feel of scorching pavement or wet grass. I am in the process of becoming a small wrinkled round woman curled in a rocking chair, bundled in blankets. I will embrace every point along the way.

On Wearing Shoes

It is ok to get softer as I get older, to wrap fuzzy socks and sturdy shoes around two tough explorer feet that used to love the feel of scorching pavement or wet grass. I am in the process of becoming a small wrinkled round woman curled in a rocking chair, bundled in blankets. I will embrace every point along the way.

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On the Voice of God
While listening to the words of preachers, I have marveled at how transparently and often they mistake their own voice for the voice of God. "God told me to go to Seattle." "God hates soft men." "God wants me to have a big house." It finally occurred to me that, in fact, they always mistake their own voice for the voice of God. There is no separate deity inside their heads, intervening in their day-to-day decisions. So by definition, any voice they hear is their own. Only the boundaries around their narcissism dictate how many of their own preferences and desires get sanctified. Some strive to sanctify only our shared moral core, meaning humility, veracity, and charity – the guiding voice of these three. Others have no trouble putting God’s name on social mores, cultural differences, or personal decisions with moral relevance. Still others blindly sanctify their own base instincts: greed, bigotry, and tribalism. Which voices in my head do I sanctify and serve?

On the Voice of God

While listening to the words of preachers, I have marveled at how transparently and often they mistake their own voice for the voice of God. "God told me to go to Seattle." "God hates soft men." "God wants me to have a big house." It finally occurred to me that, in fact, they always mistake their own voice for the voice of God. There is no separate deity inside their heads, intervening in their day-to-day decisions. So by definition, any voice they hear is their own. Only the boundaries around their narcissism dictate how many of their own preferences and desires get sanctified. Some strive to sanctify only our shared moral core, meaning humility, veracity, and charity – the guiding voice of these three. Others have no trouble putting God’s name on social mores, cultural differences, or personal decisions with moral relevance. Still others blindly sanctify their own base instincts: greed, bigotry, and tribalism. Which voices in my head do I sanctify and serve?

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On Food
When I wish I was thin, I am actually wishing that the intricate system of neurotransmitters that regulate our appetite was somehow optimized just for me. Mercifully it is not. Our fierce attraction to food was optimized to serve life under conditions of hard labor and scarcity. Without it, others would die. I reject the cultural norms that make me long for a slim body. When I embrace them, and all they imply, I make myself the measure of the world.

On Food

When I wish I was thin, I am actually wishing that the intricate system of neurotransmitters that regulate our appetite was somehow optimized just for me. Mercifully it is not. Our fierce attraction to food was optimized to serve life under conditions of hard labor and scarcity. Without it, others would die. I reject the cultural norms that make me long for a slim body. When I embrace them, and all they imply, I make myself the measure of the world.

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On Humility
Even those of us without gods are profoundly vulnerable to mistaking our own perspective for Reality. The only protection against sanctifying our own perceptions is to nurture a constant awareness of this profound, universal human flaw. Like background music, a part of our minds must always be asking, what am I distorting? what am I missing? how am I being seduced and blinded by self-interest? We must cherish doubt, the guardian of goodness and truth. And we must surround ourselves with friends and advisors who help us to safeguard ourselves: People who ask us hard questions. People who bear witness to our complicated motives. People who ask us to think more deeply when we are spouting half truths.

On Humility

Even those of us without gods are profoundly vulnerable to mistaking our own perspective for Reality. The only protection against sanctifying our own perceptions is to nurture a constant awareness of this profound, universal human flaw. Like background music, a part of our minds must always be asking, what am I distorting? what am I missing? how am I being seduced and blinded by self-interest? We must cherish doubt, the guardian of goodness and truth. And we must surround ourselves with friends and advisors who help us to safeguard ourselves: People who ask us hard questions. People who bear witness to our complicated motives. People who ask us to think more deeply when we are spouting half truths.

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Child-Mind
Loving a child opens a door to the magic in the world – the texture of a leaf, the puzzling mental life of a chicken, the warmth hidden in a brick wall after the sun goes down. To move between the wonder of a child-mind, and the rigorous, accountable curiosity of a scientist, this is the essence of being fully conscious.

Child-Mind

Loving a child opens a door to the magic in the world – the texture of a leaf, the puzzling mental life of a chicken, the warmth hidden in a brick wall after the sun goes down. To move between the wonder of a child-mind, and the rigorous, accountable curiosity of a scientist, this is the essence of being fully conscious.

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On Experiencing Delight in a World of Suffering
Every piece of art that has ever been created, every song that has been sung, every loving moment--each has existed along side unspeakable suffering, horrors inflicted by nature and human nature. I must embrace love, beauty and delight even while my heart aches. I cannot wait for the world to be better. I need to fully experience now the fragments of heaven that surround me and those that I have worked so hard to bring into being.

On Experiencing Delight in a World of Suffering

Every piece of art that has ever been created, every song that has been sung, every loving moment--each has existed along side unspeakable suffering, horrors inflicted by nature and human nature. I must embrace love, beauty and delight even while my heart aches. I cannot wait for the world to be better. I need to fully experience now the fragments of heaven that surround me and those that I have worked so hard to bring into being.

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Coves
I. Two hulking copper forms,juxtaposed in memory if not in space,Rise up and offer a silent memorialTo death, the sea, and the tides of time.In one cove loomsthe battered iron torso of a shipAnd scattered lies in severed evidencethe thundrous power of driving wind of sea in storm.In another reststhe twisted wooden bulk of amishapen whale,learing gothic tribute tothe patient power of age and toil,weariness and death.II.She who feeds on thesmallest forms of lifeso in turn becomes their food.We who live in the flow and ebb of timein our turn shall beconsumed. 

Coves

I. Two hulking copper forms,juxtaposed in memory if not in space,Rise up and offer a silent memorialTo death, the sea, and the tides of time.In one cove loomsthe battered iron torso of a shipAnd scattered lies in severed evidencethe thundrous power of driving wind of sea in storm.In another reststhe twisted wooden bulk of amishapen whale,learing gothic tribute tothe patient power of age and toil,weariness and death.II.She who feeds on thesmallest forms of lifeso in turn becomes their food.We who live in the flow and ebb of timein our turn shall beconsumed. 

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scribblings - 5/30/87
Contribution #1357

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scribblings - 5/30/87
Contribution #1357