Wednesday, August 25, 2021

On god...

 Einstein's reply to someone who asked him if he believed in God:

- I believe in the God of Spinoza.

Only those who had read Spinoza understood...

Spinoza spent his life studying holy books and philosophy, one day he wrote:

I don't know if God actually spoke but if he did, this is what I think he would say to the believer:
Stop praying and punching yourself in the chest!
What I want you to do is go out into the world to enjoy your life.
I want you to have fun, sing, educate yourself... enjoy everything I've done for you.
Stop going to those dark and cold temples you built yourself and say it's my house!
My house is in mountains, woods, rivers, lakes.
This is where I live with you and express my love for you.

Stop accusing me of your miserable life,
I never told you there was anything wrong inside of you, that you were a sinner, that your sexuality or joy was a bad thing!
So don't blame me for everything they told you to believe.
Stop rehashing sacred readings that have nothing to do with me.

If you can't read me at dawn, in a landscape, in the eyes of your friend, your wife, your man, in the eyes of your son... You won't find me in a book!
Stop scaring yourself.
I don't judge you, I don't criticize you, I don't go home angry and I don't punish.

I am pure love... filled you with passions, limitations, pleasures, feelings, needs, inconsistencies... and gave you free will...

How can I blame you if you answer something I put in you?
How can I punish you for being who you are, if I am the one who made you?
Do you really think I could create a place to burn all my poorly behaved kids for the rest of eternity?

What kind of God can do this?

If I were so, I wouldn't deserve to be respected.
If I just wanted to be revered, I would have populated the earth only with dogs. ..
Respect your fellow man and don't do what you don't want for yourself.

All I ask is that you pay attention to your life, that your free will be your guide.
You and nature are one entity.... so don't believe you have power over it.
You are part of her.
Take care of her and she will take care of you. I put and made everything good for you accessible and made it difficult to access what is not.

Don't put your genius looking for what's bad for that balance.
It's up to you to keep this balance intact.
Nature knows how to keep it very well, just don't disturb it!

I made you absolutely free.
You are absolutely free to create a heaven or hell in your life.
I can't tell you if there's anything after this life, but I can give you some advice,

Stop believing in me this way,
Believing is supposed, guess, imagine.
I don't want you to believe in me, I want you to feel me in you.
That you feel me in you when you take care of your sheep, when you approach your little girl, when you pet your dog, when you bathe in the river....

Express your joy and get used to taking just what you need!
The only thing for sure is that you are here, that you are alive, that this world is full of wonders... and that in all these wonders you are able to know exactly what you really need.

Don't look for me outside,
You will not find me....
I'm here... Nature,
The cosmos... It's me.

Excerpt from Baruch Spinozza

Thursday, August 12, 2021

On the fleeting nature of life and time ... Part the Third

 Rosemary died in 2006 - of cancer.

It hit me remarkably hard considering it has been the better part of 30 years since we have seen or even talked to one another.  But my heart actually ached!  She was an incredible mother - compassionate, caring, understanding - and I thought with a pang of her children. In 2006, her youngest K would have been around 20, her older son B. around 27- so in a sense, "adults"- but in reality still children.   There is something so difficult about losing a parent even when you yourself are so much older - at 20 (today) kids are still feeling their way.

What struck me the most was the absolute WASTE .... the sense that the world was a poorer, sadder place without this beautiful soul in it! 

Rosemary was someone who made a difference in this world. She was passionate about care for mothers and their babies. She felt strongly about making the birth experience a positive one for the mother, the child and the family and with determination made her dream happen. I can only imagine the multitude of women for whom she was a midwife and for all those that her efforts to make midwifery reputable and a genuine option were instrumental in creating wonderful memories.

As someone who had a really toxic and traumatizing birth experience with my third birth due to misogyny and the patriarchal nature of our medical system, I often regretted not having a midwife there to intercede for me and thrilled when I heard about her successful campaign to start the College of Midwifery in Toronto and the acceptance (often reluctant!)- of the medical field to accept properly trained midwives as genuine, positive and professional options for pregnant women.

I lost my faith a very long time ago.  Brought up Irish Catholic - I make the distinction because there most decidedly is one -with Catholicism with a matriarchal bent (Ireland's matriarchal history ensured that Mary figured largely in the Christianizing of that green island), was always enjoined to "speak to his mother, he can't say no!" - healthy dollop of compassion and caring, and remarkably little hellfire and brimstone.   But maturity, scandal after scandal, awareness of the absolutely MISOGNY and patriarchal nature of the Church inevitably undermined, eroded and ultimately destroyed my faith.   

Bottom line, I could never rationalize believing in this supreme being nor comprehend his supposed constant surveillance with what were clearly inequitable and grossly unbalanced realities.   Neither do I believe in karma.  My experience has been a lot of crappy things happen to really good people and a lot of fabulous things really happen to people without an ounce of decency in them.

Rosemary's death simply supports my belief.

Why her? Only 49 when she died of a terrible disease. And while I didn't know her intimately, I knew her long enough to be able to know that she was an incredibly amazing human being.  Someone who made a difference in the world - who made lives with whom she crossed paths better for knowing her.  Whose actions in her short 49 years continue to this day.

I looked at my life and have to question, why her and not me?  I have not made a huge impact on anything in life. In many ways, I feel I have wasted any potential I might have had - starting off strong but then fizzling out - and in the end making few waves and drifting through time and space with few ripples and no long-term effects.  

I see her death as another nail in the coffin of my former beliefs - a confirmation that indeed this life is a crapshoot and ultimately without meaning.

Rosemary's death is a true tragedy and I mourn her passing.

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

On the fleeting nature of life and time... Part the Second

 Now Rosemary and I did not become bosom buddies - she was immensely popular and I, thankfully, bonded with another "new kid" Kim - a South African immigrant with her own amazing stories - including one of being kidnapped by a local Indigenous youth and having to be tracked through rural South Africa by a team of trackers to get her home.... she was also amazingly FLEXIBLE - not kidding - like she could twist herself like a pretzel - I later read that certain people can do that.  Mind you, in earlier times they ended up in circuses as performers!

But I digress... so that was my first and until many decades later - only interaction with Rosemary until I walked into that Moms and Tots group and SHE recognized ME ... albeit it may be the name ... I have a distinctive and unique Irish name which even today with the plethora of Celtic-named children is not often heard.  But she reminded me of our earlier meeting and thankfully I was able to recall her.

Here's the thing. By the time I was 14, I had lived in 4 different countries, been to at least 5 schools and through self-preservation, figured out how to survive.  My sister right under me found solace in connecting and remembering pretty well every friend she ever made. To this day (she is 60)- she consciously, methodically and passionately keeps in touch with her vast number of friends around the world, never losing touch, making a concerted effort to call, email and physically touch base with them on a fairly frequent basis. My elder sister and I tended, out of self-defence, to compartmentalize.  Once we would inevitably move, we would close that door, lock it, throw away the key and move forward. In hindsight and self-reflection, I think the reason for K and I doing it our way and D. doing it her way was K and I always had each other!  D. was only 18 months older than our youngest sister but S. was on the spectrum and while D. took a parental and protective role, there was no mutual bonding and true "sisterhood" like K and I.  So during all the upheaval and changes, K and I ALWAYS had each other for companionship, friendship and protection.  We were also protective and cared for our younger sisters but definitely more of a parental role.  

But I did remember Rosemary once I jogged my memory.  She continued to be a kind, compassionate and amazing human being.   At the time, I had M. my eldest, who was around 3 and R. at 1.  My eldest was from the moment she was born, a challenging, passionate and incredibly intense child.   As she lay between my legs having just birthed her, a huge shock of black hair, green eyes screwed up in rage and the ROARS!!  she was PISSED at being summarily ejected from this nice warm dark place into this COLD, sterile BRIGHT room and was letting the world know she was NOT pleased. The doctor, bemused, stood there looking at her screwed up bright red face and said "that is the MOST pissed OFF newborn I have ever seen!!"

Things didn't get easier.  She was demanding, passionate, intense and prone to classic, massive tantrums. She could be aggressive - and did everything at 150 mph and early - walked at 8 months (I mean RUNNING)- talked in sentences by 15 months, and generally could be an exhausting if entrancing child.  As a new mother, I was, I felt, faking it - trying to understand how to bring up this bright, intense, demanding child while setting clear boundaries (against which she fought like a demon)- and feeling - often - like a failure as my child threw fits while all the other kids watched in confusion and shock.  Mothers are not always your best supports either - and I got a lot of overt and implied criticism as well as vocalized negativity , leaving me mortified, ashamed and worse - feeling as if I were failing my child.  Rosemary was the FIRST mother to EVER sit down with me (M was in a timeout - in hindsight, she was an amazing kid - I mean, I said timeout and she DID it) .... Rosemary took my hand and warmly held it - and looked at me with her beautiful blue eyes and said - YOU ARE A WONDERFUL MOTHER - don't let people tell you otherwise.  M. is just an intense, sensitive child who hasn't learned how to deal with her emotions yet. She went on to talk about her eldest son B. (who was fulltime in school - she was at Mums t B Tots with her younger daughter K who was around M's age) - who she said had been JUST like M. and now at 9 was the kindest, most compassionate child ever with zero issues - "Hold on" she said to me "you've GOT this and are doing everything RIGHT" - it made such a HUGE impact on me that little conversation.....  it supported me, assured me I was doing ok with raising my kids, bolstered me when I was down and gave me strength....

For the next few years we saw each other both at the group and outside periodically.  Rosemary was an RN who worked tirelessly - and I feel any patient who ever had her as their nurse was blessed indeed.  Her true love, however, was babies and mothers - and to that end, she worked hard to push for midwifery to be sanctioned and part of our healthcare system.  She prevailed and it was (I believe) largely due to her unstinting and passionate work on it that finally had Ontario open it's first College of Midwives- of which she was a part.

By this point in time, I had had 2 more children and life was crazy busy - I worked nights, napping only when my kids who were not in school napped and was now wrapped up as a volunteer in their elementary school.  Inevitably we lost touch and moved on with our lives and our children grew.

But my thoughts sometimes drift back to those friends in my early days as a mother - as we all mustered along doing our best, no doubt making mistakes but hoping our love would make amends for our missteps ... but the coincidence of Rosemary being there in Grade school at a pivotal time, compounded by her championship of a distressed, exhausted mother brought her to mind at random times over the years.  So, curious, I googled her the other day.... only to find her obituary.....