From the outside looking in, I got a slow start this month on my reading. Fact is, I plowed through a rather sizable number of books on personal growth and development right from day one. In an effort to break some of the cycles of negativity, I quite literally bombarded myself with binaural and isochronic healing frequencies, meditation tapes, and positive messaged audiobooks. I didn’t review any of them, but for what it’s worth, my highest recommendation goes to The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. In this midst of this, I reinforced my meditation practices, and I renewed some old studies that had fallen by the wayside, those of Qigong and Tai Chi. I’ve started chipping away at a book on Kindle, The Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi: 12 Weeks to a Healthy Body, Strong Heart & Sharp Mind by Peter M. Wayne, Ph.D. with Mark L. Fuerst. I’ve revisited my old favorites, Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching and Morihei Ueshiba’s The Art of Peace. As a direct result of all of this, I’ve started looking deeper into the history and philosophies of Taoism. These ideas have occupied the bulk of my leisure time, but it has made such a remarkable difference in my life that it would be foolish not to make this a part of my lifestyle from here on. The religious aspect of Taoism that came later… none of the books I was reading or have read over the course of the last couple of decades have really delved into that part of things, so I got curious. I picked up Eva Wong’s Taoism: An Essential Guide. It covered the history, the evolution, some of the practices… really fascinating stuff. I can appreciate it for what it is, but as with every other formal religion out there, I see it more as part of the greater whole. While the dogma actually makes some sense to me due to similarities with my own foothold in Western paganism, I don’t know that I’m ready to commit that strongly. I have the same goal as the Taoists: to learn to become one with the Great Tao. But there’s so much of it that seems more difficult than it needs to be.
There’s something in Taoist teachings that truly impressed me, and I think the world would be a better place if every other religion would get over themselves and get on the same page. “There are no heretics, only sects.” I wrote a blog last week about that and about my own path, if you’re interested in such things.
My first “non-spiritual” read of the month turned out to be one that had quite a spiritual profundity within, Eric Idle’s Always Look on the Bright Side of Life: A Sortabiography. It reminded me I need to laugh more. As voice actor Rob Paulsen says, “Laughter is the best medicine, and the good news is you can’t O.D., and the refills are free.” You wouldn’t think people would need reminding of that basic idea, but I’ve always had a Saturnine demeanor. It takes all types, you know? And my sense of humor doesn’t gravitate towards most of what passes for comedy in pop culture. But I know what I like. And, dammit, I like Monty Python.
What’s not funny is that right on the heels of this, and in the midst of so much spiritual awesome, I had to mercy kill Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park sequel The Lost World. When you find yourself cheering for the dinosaurs before the characters ever confront them, there’s a problem.
I did get in a little horror this month, reviewing Patrick Rogers’ City of the Shrieking Tomb. It seems like a bit of an oddball at first, but trust me when I say there’s a quality haunting in there. Very well done.
Because of his role in the next installment of Star Trek: Short Treks and on the upcoming Picard series, I looked up author Michael Chabon and found a book that quickly found its way into my all-time favorite reads: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay.
On the heels of that (because it was relevant to both that novel and to current events), I revisited a book I’ve not read in a lot of years: William L. Shirer’s The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. In the midst of this, Trump declared war on the transgendered, and I started seeing the similarities line up in ways that were undeniable. And my review suffered for it. I got more than a little ranty. I make no apologies for that. It’s easy to point fingers when you find yourself in the crosshairs. I make no apologies for that either. I only hope people will do the right thing and vote this regime out of power before they start competing with the Nazis just because “we can do anything better, even death.” Sounds like something Trump would say, doesn’t it? All of this happened before one of his loyal voters shot up a synagogue in Pittsburgh. In the wake of it, Jewish leaders in Pittsburgh say Trump is not welcome there. They’re pressing for an end to the incitement of terrorism against all minorities, not just those of the Jewish faith. That is all kinds of refreshing to see right now. News & Guts has that story. My love goes out to all of those caught up in those events.
I’ll reiterate what I wrote in that review of Shirer’s tome. Any who vote for Trump or any who are aligned with him or their cause, you side with the enemy. It has to come down to humanity and unity over political party. Civil rights. Human rights. These have to come first and be defended. If any one group loses, we all lose in turn. The smear campaigns from the right are indefensible. The spins of conspiracy are even worse. History is going to judge this, and it will not look favorably on any of it. Our entire written record thus far proves that much. No exceptions are made.
Thankfully moving into something happier, and speaking of Star Trek, I have completed my commentary posts for The Original Series, and have summarily begun work on The Animated Series. I haven’t posted anything for TAS yet, but know that it’s happening. For the same reasons that are slowing that down, I also dropped a blogging streak after 68 days. Sometimes life drops some priorities in front of you.
This month also marked my return (as a most appreciative audience member) to the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. It started with a bang and a flourish, and I’m really looking forward to the rest of the concerts I’ve got lined up for this season.
I celebrated the 80th anniversary of Orson Welles’ infamous radio broadcast of “The War of the Worlds” at the end of this month. This is one of my personal favorites for a number of reasons, and something of a tradition for me every year around this time. Mad respect for this one, and for the man behind it.
At the end of the month, I listened to a debut spy novel by author Joni Dee, And the Wolf Shall Dwell. The narrator drove me a bit nuts, but the story was fun, and I’m readily able to separate the two after all these years of practice. Worth it.
My final book of the month is I Hear You: The Surprisingly Simple Skill Behind Extraordinary Relationships by Michael S. Sorensen. The review is out there, but I’m still processing it, and probably will be for a while. It helped to offer a new perspective on what I’m doing wrong and/or not doing in my interpersonal relationships. Easy enough concept, but I’ve missed the obvious due to my own filters and emotional echo chamber. In short, a lot of messy excuses that go with being raised to mimic something you’re not so as to fit in undetected in a society that really has no idea what interpersonal communication is. I can implement this new understanding. It’ll take practice, and I’m sure to mess it up here and there, being the social exile that I am, but any step forward is a positive one. I think it’ll go a long way towards undoing some of the emotional damage and helping me to integrate between my two worlds without any real danger.
The end of this month marks the pagan new year, Samhain. In terms of the calendar, I’m conditioned to mark things the same as everyone else, from January to December. But in terms of spirituality, I follow the cycles of life and death, and my personal flow just happens to align with the so-called dark months… more yin than yang, as they’d say in Taoism. My objective is to continue the healing journey I’m on, to better balance my flow between my two worlds. I can’t rely on others to understand this, let alone help me; it has to begin with me. My path is mine to walk. I can’t let politics or religion or the ignorance of those who will not understand dictate my existence or undermine how I come to understand myself. If I express myself only digitally, so be it. If it comes that this country takes a serious downward turn towards the fascistic, I hope you’ll understand if this site suddenly goes dark. My journey into my feminine soul existed before the internet, and it will continue without it if need be. I hope beyond hope that doesn’t happen. But if it does, I will do what I must to survive. The Great Work will continue regardless. And for so long as the lights are on here, this blog will continue to champion the rights I fight for, continue to provide a voice for my mixed bag of random, and — hopefully — continue to enlighten, entertain, and nurture on some level… even when I piss people off.
Thank you for being there. I love you all for your support and understanding on any level. ♥