Gratitude Sunday: Knowledge and Reality

Gratitude * Sunday
Sunday’s heartfelt tradition.
A time to slow down, to reflect, to be grateful.
A list of gratitudes, our gratefulness feeds one another.
Quoted from Taryn Wilson
Joining the Gratitude Sunday Tradition at Wooly Moss Roots.

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Sunday Haiku
Ripening grapes scent
the arbor, golden purple
globes of earth’s sweetness.

Sunday Musings
When I went back to college I was 20 years older than the traditional students in my classes. I’d had that much more experience than them but yet I had experienced so much less than them being a generation beyond the university pathway they were taking right out of high school.

One of my first classes, required for graduation, was Philosophy 101. I had no idea what philosophy even was as I’d spent the past years of my life trying to make a living and rise above the low income existence I’d carved out for my family as the bread-winning mom with a disabled hubster (who has never received disability benefits. Ever). I was working to get off welfare because Clinton and his administration decided we welfare recipients needed to get off our lazy butts and get to work, although I’d worked all my life except for a short period after the Cesarean birth of the son.

To introduce the class “Knowledge and Reality, Philosophy 101”, the professor (bless you, Dave, I’ll never forget you) asked us all this question: What do you know?

Most of the students at the private university I was privileged to attend were from affluent families who could afford to pay for their child’s education. I was a working woman long past college age who just wanted to learn and dig my way out of the poverty hole so I could establish some form of housing security for myself before I died. The traditional aged students with whole futures ahead of them had so many entertaining answers and for each one good old Dave had a response that made their answers look like gobbledegook. At that point I was pretty sure this was a trick question and I didn’t know what I thought I knew. It turned out I did know something.

So what do I know?

Simple.

I know nothing.

I don’t know anything.

This was not my response in class. I thought I knew something then. I thought because I couldn’t turn my brain off, I knew I thought. I thought constantly. I thought too much. I didn’t think enough. Or about the right things. Or in the right way. Dave made us question whether or not we even existed despite the fact we thought we knew we breathed and thought.

But, I know nothing. I don’t know anything.

Nothing is an interesting concept. I see it as a sort of black hole affair. A place, almost, of no light, no sound, no taste or feel, no gravity, no things, a space which sucks you in because it is really all light, all sound, all tastes and feeling, heavy gravity, and an abundance of everything.

Alternatively, anything encompasses all things as the word pertains to, well, you know, any thing. So many things.

I am so grateful for the ability to learn because every time I think I know something. It usually turns out I know nothing and have to increase my learning curve. I am grateful for being able to understand most of what I learn and to retain some of it. I am grateful for the brief interlude of university that encouraged critical thinking. I would like to be better at applying my critical thinking than I am now.

There’s the caveat. I am intelligent. I can research and learn. I can think critically. I am empathetic. I am practical. But I’m not always sensible. I have poor social skills. I am naïve to the manipulations and games of others, including everything clear up to global economics and politics.

So while I may know a few things about myself, I know nothing about other people. Oh, wait, that’s kind of tied up with trust issues, isn’t it? As the person who has been dropped in those stupid trust games where you fall back into other people’s arms, let me tell you I will never participate in those games again. The last time I was asked to do this game, I declined. I tried to explain it to the other participants as a form of bullying, not a true trust game, and true trust from them would honor my dissent. They scoffed and sincerely tried to persuade me. I continued to decline. They caught each other around the circle trying to prove to me no one would be dropped. I continued to decline. They were strangers. I’d been through the laughing and ridicule when everyone else was caught, but I was dropped. More than once. Once burned, twice shy, right?

Would I have developed trust in them had I trusted them enough to catch me? Or would I have been dropped once again? It was easier (read: emotionally safer) to risk alienation than a possible repeat of the physical and emotional damage of the past.

And you know what? The other students didn’t forget me or brush me off. Some of them avoided me, considering me aloof and uncooperative, but they did not forget me. And some of them talked with me. Perhaps it helped I am so nosy/curious about people and information; I loved to listen to the students and hear their stories. Most traditional college aged kids aren’t used to being listened to. They didn’t have much use for my opinions and information but I didn’t care much as I enjoyed learning from them.

So what do I know? I am a learning machine. I live to learn. Does that knowledge acknowledge reality? I’m not sure about that, because every day when I turn on the news, I’m sure the world is a completely different reality than mine. When I go out in public and see the expanding homeless population on our streets, I question reality. Can I change reality? When you are part of a society one person cannot change reality. Realistically I cannot offer sanctuary to every homeless stranger I see.

I can change my reality. I can pursue different work, trade earned income for volunteerism in retirement, move my bed or my sofa and my reality changes. In a society one person can merely be the persistent voice for change. It takes many voices to make social reality change. Even people who live off the grid are affected by people who don’t. We are all connected.

Here’s what I know about nothing.

I know people need homes to be a productive, healthy work force. I know people need refreshing sleep and healthful foods and a bit of hygienic privacy. I know people need to be able to clean their bodies and have clean clothes free from insect pests. I know people need a sense of belonging, of feeling trusted and important to the function of the unit so they are not so lonely they seek relief from loneliness with distractions such as addictions.

My knowledge is simple and basic. My knowledge is nothing, anything, something, everything. My voice when joined with other voices can change reality.

What do you know?

Color Watch – colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – One of my favorite color combinations, hot pink and purple fuchsias. dscn6006 Interesting pink and salmon colored begonia blossoms. dscn6856-2 Burgundy leaves and white oxalis flowers. dscn6738 Purple tipped green sedum hens refreshed after the rain. dscn6698 Hardy pink roses still blooming through the summer. dscn6056-2

Current View – {These are only my opinions about movies and books, but don’t let me stop you from trying these reviewed items yourself; your opinion may differ.} Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter, and Spring (2003, rated R) in Korean with subtiles, the story of a Buddhist monk from childhood through old age. Lovely photography. * Adaptation (2003, rated R) Merle Streep, Tilda Swinton, Nicolas Cage, a different twisted story about orchids. * East Side Sushi (2016, rate PG), one of those fun movies all about cooking. A Latina chef accomplished in Mexican cuisine becomes an accomplished Sushi chef overcoming the gender and racial barrier. The love story element is delightfully low key, more about trust and friendship than sex. * Seasons two and three of Scott and Bailey (2014 and 2015, not rated) a BBC production with female investigators. Interesting little mysteries.

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Currently Reading – Finished A Tale for the Time Being (2013, fiction) by Ruth Ozeki. Oh, my universe. I will read this again. Recommended. Especially for anyone who thinks too much about time. The Nordic Theory of Everything: In Search of a Better Life (2016, social policy) by Anu Partanen. Had to return this shared item to my local lending library as it has a long waiting queue. I’m back on the list. I’m more convinced than ever American government does not represent its constituents in the manner in which we deserve. Maybe I’ll understand more after I read Why the Right Went Wrong: Conservatism From Goldwater to the Tea Party and Beyond (2016, politics) by E. J. Dionne Jr. I don’t usually read politics but this came highly recommended by somebody I respect and admire. Macdeath (2015, fiction) by Cindy Brown. A formulaic detective fiction, not terribly well written or inspiring, from a condescending author who assumes her readership knows nothing about live theater. A quick fluff read.

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This week I have been grateful for:

  • The son, who is 24 today. He was 9 on 9-11-2001. He is empathetic, intelligent, and passionate. He anguishes over social injustice (wonder where he got that?).
  • Walking in the perfect late summer air with just right sun and just right breeze.
  • Many neighbors who love flowers in their yards close enough to the sidewalk so I can enjoy.
  • A refreshing rain that blew through.
  • The fragrance of resinous pines on a late summer day.
  • The fragrance of hot juniper trees.
  • Being old enough that caffeine doesn’t work any more.
  • Still warm enough to open doors and windows to let the breezes freshen the house.
  • Still in my own home. The privacy feels luxurious.
  • 50 years of Star Trek.
  • Getting back into the pool after their annual maintenance closure.
  • Watching an intricate crow dance outside the freshly cleaned huge windows at the pool. For more than an hour I watched about 30 of them pair off and separate, swooping and soaring, landing on the patio area and prancing on the concrete together. What a treat to watch them with their glistening shades-of-obsidian feathers. Crows are so smart and so beautiful.
  • Water.

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

floral[1]

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

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2 Responses to Gratitude Sunday: Knowledge and Reality

  1. piratesorka says:

    I know all about that “trust exercise” I’ve seen it several times. Just as you declined.so did I. For me it wasn’t the question “Do I TRUST you?” but rather ” Do I trust your ability to CATCH me”. See I had noticed that all the people being caught were smaller people. I , was the elephant in the room or as the charming (Ha) Judy Callahan of Milwaukie Jr High fame, would refer to me: I was the RHINO. In Judy’s mean-ass tiny mind, fat people like me were akin to the unattractive rhino.
    See what I just did there? I took myself right back in time and reopened that wound. Years and years later THAT is still with me.

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    • sassy kas says:

      Ms Pirate: remember the rhino is a glorious creature with a thick hide. Thick enough to survive and let all those slings and arrows bounce right off. Judy had many challenges in her family and life and let me tell you, she bullied because she was jealous. You were (and are) smarter than her, your family was more stable (let’s not go into details), and you had friends who liked you for more than sex which was probably all she ever knew for love. When you think of her put a big green donkey’s ass where her face is and remember she bullied as a survival mechanism and you may have had more advantages than she ever did. You have more wit for one thing. It’s likely Judy has had a rough life to deal with. Or we can only hope, right? 🙂

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