Can’t sleep, vol. 2

The light from the screen is blinding my near-darkness-adjsuted eyes. I’m having trouble falling asleep again.

I’m thinking about the On Being interview with physicist Brian Greene. And about the book Do the Work! by Steven Pressfield. (I’m also thinking how much computers, for all their infinite wisdom, can’t tell when something should be capitalized or not, damn autocorrect!)

In the book, Pressfield talks about thoughts. About what Buddhists call “monkey-thoughts”, or all that noise that occurs in the primitive lobes of the brain. And about the other thoughts we regurgitate from sources. 

What has me up tonight is, where do my thoughts, if any are original, come from? I’m laying in bed, and I’m hearing Brian Greene talk about string theory and quantum mechanics. I’m thinking about the origins of the Universe, as I’ve learned from theology, spirituality, Darwin and physics. I’m wondering, what the bleep do I actually know?

Perhaps this is all a bit heavy for midnight contemplation on a Sunday/Monday post-meridian interchange. But I’m just so darned perplexed. My feet won’t stop shaking, and my brain is going a mile a minute. Hence just plopping some thought vomit out on the internets. 

I’m working on a short document, exploring where I believe thoughts to come from. I doubt I’ll get to any firm answer, but at least I can muddle through these thoughts I’m having on thoughts. 

Good night… I hope.

You’ve got mail

I want fewer email. I want more messages.

Rather than getting the daily appeals from every organization I’ve ever given to, bought from, volunteered for, etc., etc., send me something worth reading.

We receive way too many emails in our inbox now. It’s not fun. It’s a disaster.

Early days of email were about distant, instantaneous connection. Now it’s about instantaneous selling.

From connection to consumerism. When something loses its ability to connect, only to be replaced by the need to create profit, then it has gone off the rails. It’s not expansion, and it’s not engagement. It’s assault, and it needs to need to stop.

Companies – Stop forcing us to give you our email. Ask for it. Maybe you’ll get it, if we feel it’s worth reading what you have to say. Don’t assume. Many times, we don’t want to hear it.

I want content worth reading. I want an inbox that is less full and more interesting. I want a connection.

The week that was

When I first started Michael’s Musings, oh, some point early in the Obama Administration, I really just wanted a platform to rant and rave about what I saw as wrong with politics. Or, what I saw as right about Obama. Or, honestly, who knows. I made one post, and have since moved that to the trashbins of cyberspace.

Still, I’m civic-minded, and I see many things going wrong, and some that are going right. (It seems we always focus on the wrong, and rarely on what’s going right.) I’d like to devote my Sundays to writing about politics, about civics. About discourse that I muse about. So that’s going to be my Sunday devotional. Starting today.

This past week, Jon Ossoff lost in Georgia.

For the record, I was sick of hearing about this race.

I live in Florida. I’m a registered Democrat. The amount of emails was mind-numbing, mostly asking for money, and not giving me a damn lick of information that I cared about.

Problem number one: The message.

What is it you want the American people to know? The voters? The immigrants? The wealthy and the poor, the blue-collar and white-collar? And, most important, you need to stay honest.

Problem number two: How we lose.

I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about political races, about why we get into politics, about how we run campaigns. (I’m using the Royal “We” here, but I’ve considered running myself from time to time.) I have to believe that we get into politics to make the world, our world and our nation, a better place.

In my opinion, there’s a way to do it, even if you lose. Be better.

That’s it. Be betterDon’t smear, don’t snipe, don’t attack. You may not win a race running it fair, clean, and good. But if the only way you can win is by playing dirty, are you even winning?

That’s the nation that Trump became president in. We live in fear, and we live in troubling times. But even in losing, we can show the nation a better way.

I love the line from Hamilton: The Musical:

George Washington speak-sings, “If I say goodbye, the nation learns to move on. It outlives me when I’m gone.”

Be the example. That’s the point of politics. Be better. And that’s all I have to say for this week.

What’s it all for?

We spend our lives mired in the weeds of mediocrity. The big problems are hidden from us now as television, work, and society vies for our attention. We’ve consigned the larger questions to arenas of academia. Why should we progress any further, we ask ourselves? We have everything. Don’t we?

Sure, we have TV dinners and auto start coffee makers. We have fifty-hour work weeks, commutes and audio books so that we can ignore our commutes; roadside billboard so that we can ignore our commutes; blasting radio stations in Bose car audio systems so that we can ignore our commutes.

We drive by the poor, the homeless, and the disenfranchised, then drive into fast food drive-through lanes. We live in our own bubbles of invisibility. If we look up, we may see Wonder Woman going by in her invisible airplane.

Why not stop being invisible? What’s the cost of saying hello to your neighbor? And why stop there? If you’ve gone that far, why not have a conversation? Did you know that your neighbor has a passion, a hobby? My neighbor hands washes his fifteen-year old VW every week because he loves it enough to keep it in pristine condition. You probably have something you love like that. A hobby, or a passion.

I’m a proponent of the conversation. Of going to farmer’s markets rather than Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart’s business model is one of invisibility. (I’ll have to explore that thought in a later post). Finding the small ways that life can be joyful.

I’ll leave you with this thought, from Leo Brouwer. “To be useful is something incredible, because you’re at the service of the world.”

Can’t Sleep vol. 1

Still awake at ten past two. It’s not for one with a weak disposition, I think. I am tired, but almost physically incapable of attaining sleep. It’s as if it purposefully eludes me.

I perhaps ate something that disagreed with me, and now secretive digestive processes conspire to steal my resting hours. Or it’s the chill air, blowing through the open windows in a cross breeze. No, that can’t be it. The cool night air is good for helping me sleep.

There’s little ambient noise now. The perpetual low, moaning hum of the air purifier. With it off, particulates invade my sinus cavities and make sleeping uncomfortable, so I allow the white noise of the purifier to lull me to sleep.

I can’t get comfortable. I’m laying in bed, writing this on my side, but my left arm doesn’t particularly care for the position it’s in. My leg also feels abused.

“Fine,” I say to my my appendages. “I’ll move.”

I move.

But writing like this, from my new position, is more difficult. For one, I can’t see the keyboard as well.

“You don’t need to see the keyboard to type!” I hear a century’s worth of education on typing molest my ears. Well, I’m sorry to tell you, but my finger placement is wonky at best. So yes, I do need to see the keyboard.

From where I’m at though, all these red underlined words are appearing in my document. To be expected, as I can’t see the damn keyboard. Hopefully, when you’re reading this, all spelling errors will have been corrected.

Twenty after two. Still awake.

I’m not writing about anything, really. My inability to sleep I suppose. I do need to relieve my bladder. (With you in mind, I chose the phrase “relieve my bladder”. The first thought was urinate, which sounded too formal. Than pee, which was too childish. Piss also, but sometimes vulgarity doesn’t serve a purpose, and I’d rather have the full lexicon of naughty words available to me when I really need it.)

So, I’ll put this up, and post it later. Perhaps I’ll get to sleep.


My shorthand for tarot readings, Nine of Pentacles Reversed. I had a rough day at work, and decided it was time to move on; time to leave there and find a new job. I wanted to ask the Universe what today taught me. This was the card I drew.

“This card in reverse may be telling you that something you are spending a lot of time on will not yield financial or personal gain. You may be wasting effort. Consider if it’s time to throw in the towel on something that is not giving you the results you had hoped for.”

Thank you Universe.

I’m listening to Dvorak’s New World Symphony right now, to relax. I picked up a used album at a library sale a few weeks back. I’ve been wearing that vinyl down. There’s something supremely reassuring about the notes of No. 9 in E Minor, Op. 95.

I had listened to a Chamber Ensemble in Prague, and the Second Movement of this symphony was played. It’s one of my all time favorites.

The title of this blog post comes courtesy of watching Shut Eye, on Hulu. I just got around to seeing it, and really enjoyed. Each episode was titled after a Tarot card, and was relevant to the plot.

The overall thoughts on my mind are new beginnings. Learning that life has a path, a plan. To quote Tosha Silver, “Let what wants to come, come. Let what wants to go, go.”


Why work?

What is the purpose of work? Other than making money, of course. Why are some people so satisfied with their professions, while others are left feeling that what they do doesn’t matter, and they just collect the paycheck and move on with their lives?

To me, work is the calling to something more. We all have gifts, notions about who we are and what we are capable of. I believe that people, deep down, all have a desire to provide help to their fellow man. 
Work is the fulfillment of that desire. Yes, work pays the bills. Or it should. Work is a commitment. Work is the place that we spend a good third of our lives.
Work is not the end-all, be-all. Work is not, or should not be, the daily grind. Work should lift us up, provide a sustainable lifestyle for its employees. We work because we have to, but we should also work because we want to. To do that, the work should be a vocation.
To work is to be interconnected. Within a job, we are part of the whole global economy, not merely isolated in our decisions and choices. What we do, how we do it, and the results of our labors are part of a much larger whole. Neglecting this fact, believing that we operate in a vacuum, is detrimental both to our health and the health of society.

I’m curious right now about the relationship between currency and wealth; of income disparity; the economic state of our Nation and the World. One more topic in the litany of interests I’ll be reading about, or studying, over the coming months. 

I Lost a Poem

I lost a poem last night.

“Where,” you ask?
“Did you mislay it, or place it
on a shelf, behind some
knickknacks, or under that
pair of old, wooden Foo Dogs?

“And I looked,” so I’d answer,
simply. “I lost a poem.”

“Well which one?” you might reply.

“It was unnamed,” I’d say.
“It came to me while I lay in bed,
awake, though I had tried
counting clumsy sheep.

“It blew in on a cold air,
streaming up from the
open bedroom window.
It settled on me, along
with the cool air, and I
struggled with the thought
of getting up, the first
few lines still fresh in my
mind, or staying warm and
oh so sweetly near the confining embrace of slumber.

“And so you lost the poem?”

“I did,” I say sadly.
“But I found this one while looking.”

Find your true North

Most of my life now is lived in the phrase,”Recently I’ve…” As in, “Recently I’ve been reading…”; or, “Recently I’ve started a practice of…” Very little in my life as it is can date back to before a year and a half ago. I’d say it would be a positive thing (living in the moment, and all that) but recently I’ve noticed that much of what made me who I was has been lost in the shuffle as well.

Like most things, I sat down thinking I’d be writing about the book that recently I’ve started reading, Designing Your Life by Bill Burnett & Dave Evans. I had heard an interview with them on NPR last year and made a mental note to read the book at some point. 

Thinking of the design problems of life (my life in particular) led me to think of another book that recently I’ve started reading: Wanderlust, by Jeff Krasno. This was a companion piece to the fact that recently I’ve started a practice of yoga. Which, in the full circle way my mind works, brought me back to the fact that the past eighteen months has been a whirlwind and I still have no clue what I’m doing. 

Then I thought, that may not be a bad thing. We got lost sometimes. Lose our way. Think we’re following a path only to look down and see that we’re the only set of footprints to be found. But every path had to be discovered that first time. Not every mistake leads to innovation, but every innovation began with a mistake. 

The cover of Wanderlust invites the reader to “find your true north”. I set the picture of my first tattoo as header because I’ve been searching for true North for longer than eighteen months. Maybe that’s the one constant throughout my whole weird and wonderful existence. Who knows if we ever reach it? But I believe that we can keep moving the needle in that direction.


Turn on, tune in, drop out

Per Timothy Leary: “Like every great religion of the past we seek to find the divinity within and to express this revelation in a life of glorification and the worship of God. These ancient goals we define in the metaphor of the present — turn on, tune in, drop out.”

Now we face an era of turning on the tv, the device, the screen; tuning in to what’s happening there; dropping out of the reality that is around us – family, friends, life as it was. 

I want to take this space and talk of escapism, the exit we experience when we retreat into our screens (phones, televisions, etc). We’re avoiding something, whatever our deficit is in our life, when all we do is escape. Sure, you can hear the talking heads deriding a generation spent staring into their phones, but they’ve been conditioned that way. There needs to be a conscientious return to old practices (such as spontaneous conversation or disconnected, i.e. no phone, meals) otherwise it will not happen. No one is going to fix the problems for us, other than ourselves.

For Leary, “Turn on meant go within to activate your neural and genetic equipment. Become sensitive to the many and various levels of consciousness and the specific triggers that engage them. Drugs were one way to accomplish this end. 

“Tune in” meant interact harmoniously with the world around you – externalize, materialize, express your new internal perspectives. 

“Drop out” suggested an active, selective, graceful process of detachment from involuntary or unconscious commitments. “Drop Out” meant self-reliance, a discovery of one’s singularity, a commitment to mobility, choice, and change. Unhappily my explanations of this sequence of personal development were often misinterpreted to mean “Get stoned and abandon all constructive activity”.