Faulkner on reading, for writers

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Read, read, read. Read everything — trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it. Then write. If it’s good, you’ll find out. If it’s not, throw it out of the window.― William Faulkner

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Us and Them -My reality shift

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My sadness over the reality of our divided society overwhelmed me today as old lyrics rang in my ear, in the form of an old favorite song, Us and Them, by Pink Floyd. I used to listen to this song, hour after hour, with giant headphones, with my best friend, Leslie, back in the 70s. We loved that song’s ability to take us to another place. Its ethereal sound soothed us. The words were, well, just words, back then.

Imagine my surprise today when the same song, the same sounds and the same words ripped me out of relaxation to a horrific state of revelation. These words embody my greatest fears and disappointments in our current society’s state of affairs.

Take a look at these prophetic words:

Us and Them 

“Us (us, us, us, us) and them (them, them, them, them)
And after all we’re only ordinary men
Me
And you (you, you, you)
God only knows
It’s not what we would choose (choose, choose) to do (to do, to do)
Forward he cried from the rear
And the front rank died
And the general sat
And the lines on the map
Moved from side to side
Black (black, black, black)
And blue (blue, blue)
And who knows which is which and who is who
Up (up, up, up, up)
And down (down, down, down, down)
And in the end it’s only round ‘n round (round, round, round)
Haven’t you heard it’s a battle of words
The poster bearer cried
Listen son, said the man with the gun
There’s room for you inside

“I mean, they’re not gonna kill ya,
So if you give ’em a quick short, sharp, shock,
They won’t do it again. Dig it?
I mean he get off lightly, ’cause I would’ve given him a thrashing
I only hit him once! It was only a difference of opinion, but really
I mean good manners don’t cost nothing do they, eh?”

Down (down, down, down, down)
And out (out, out, out, out)
It can’t be helped that there’s a lot of it about
With (with, with, with), without
And who’ll deny it’s what the fighting’s all about?
Out of the way
It’s a busy day
I’ve got things on my mind
For the want of the price
Of tea and a slice
The old man died.”

A blog commenter, “SkinnyD,” put his two cents in, eleven years ago, giving his best interpretation of this, “oldie but goodie.” He wrote:

“Timeless poetry such as this has many levels of meaning.
Laid out before us by the artist so succinctly, yet so sublime.

All of us can see the reference to the nature of war, its cruelty, and futility.
However, I believe there is a more primal meaning to these words. It’s more about human nature, rather than the nature of war.

The “Us and Them” verse refers to how groups (tribes) of humans can be cruel to one another, but as individuals we like to think we would not act this way.

The “Black and Blue” verse refers to how, from the beginning of time and until its end, individuals are drawn to congregate and called to war. We like to think that as individuals we are called to war by our dehumanized leaders with their wicked words.

The “Down and Out” verse is the clincher that exposes one cruel aspect of human nature, greed. The greed of nations cause war and we can’t deny that is what the fighting is all about. Yet, in our personal lives, our greed can blind us to the suffering of the needy within our own society with people dying for the price of tea and a slice.

I believe the lyrics examines how we like to think of ourselves as individuals and how we truly act on a personal level.”

I agree, SkinnyD. If you’re still out there, props to you. Thank you for expressing what many were feeling then, and today.

Maybe I will cc my old BFF, Leslie, and get her opinion, after all these years. She probably feels the same…

Readers: What do you think about our world today? Has your view of reality changed for the better or the worse, since childhood?

Mo

Song lyrics by Pink Floyd

Comments by SkinnyD at  http://songmeanings.com/m/songs/view/2812/

She Let Go, the poem (my fave meditation)

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She Let Go

She let go. Without a thought or a word, she let go.

She let go of the fear.  She let go of the judgments.  She let go of the confluence of opinions swarming around her head.  She let go of the committee of indecision within her.  She let go of all the ‘right’ reasons. Wholly and completely, without hesitation or worry, she just let go.

She didn’t ask anyone for advice. She didn’t read a book on how to let go.  She didn’t search the scriptures. She just let go.  She let go of all of the memories that held her back.  She let go of all of the anxiety that kept her from moving forward.  She let go of the planning and all of the calculations about how to do it just right.

She didn’t promise to let go. She didn’t journal about it. She didn’t write the projected date in her Day-Timer. She made no public announcement and put no ad in the paper. She didn’t check the weather report or read her daily horoscope. She just let go.

She didn’t analyze whether she should let go. She didn’t call her friends to discuss the matter. She didn’t do a five-step Spiritual Mind Treatment. She didn’t call the prayer line. She didn’t utter one word. She just let go.

No one was around when it happened. There was no applause or congratulations. No one thanked her or praised her. No one noticed a thing. Like a leaf falling from a tree, she just let go.

There was no effort. There was no struggle. It wasn’t good and it wasn’t bad. It was what it was, and it is just that.

In the space of letting go, she let it all be. A small smile came over her face. A light breeze blew through her. And the sun and the moon shone forevermore.

I said NO…explanations are unnecessary.

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Saying No

For many of us, the most difficult word to say is one of the shortest and easiest in the vocabulary: No. Go ahead, say it aloud: No.

No – simple to pronounce, hard to say. We’re afraid people won’t like us, or we feel guilty. We may believe that a “good” employee, child, parent, spouse, or Christian never says no.

The problem is, if we don’t learn to say no, we stop liking ourselves and the people we always try to please. We may even punish others out of resentment.

When do we say no? When no is what we really mean.

When we learn to say no, we stop lying. People can trust us, and we can trust ourselves. All sorts of good things happen when we start saying what we mean.

If we’re scared to say no, we can buy some time. We can take a break, rehearse the word, and go back and say no. We don’t have to offer long explanations for our decisions.

When we can say no, we can say yes to the good. Our no’s and our yes’s begin to be taken seriously. We gain control of ourselves. And we learn a secret: “No” isn’t really that hard to say.

Today, I will say no if that is what I mean.

From: The Language of Letting Go by Melody Beatty

What a prophetic quote from 2009…

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America is a young dumb country and it needs all kinds of help. America is a dumb puppy with big teeth that bite and hurt. And we take care of America. We hold America to our bosom; we feed America, we make love to America. There wouldn’t be an America if it wasn’t for black people. So you have some dedicated black Americans who will die a million deaths to save America. And this is home for us. We don’t know really about Africa. We talk it in a romantic sense, but America is it. And so, America is always going to be okay as long as black people don’t totally lose their mind, cause we’ll pick up the pieces and turn it into a new dance.

Not good enough!

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I had the opportunity to chat with an old and very enlightened friend some time ago. I was, that day, having a “Triple P” for myself (translation: Personal Pity Party), with hats horns, cupcakes and all. When she asked what was up, I told her I had set such a high bar for my personal growth and achievement that I feared i would never reach it. I asked her for suggestions on lowering the bar, but she said the unexpected. “REMOVE the bar,” she snorted. She knows me SO well! I can’t see my forest for my own darned trees…so I am grateful for friends and family who remind me that I’ve always been “good enough.”

Mo