Saturday, May 11, 2019

Saturday Morning Musings

Rolled out of bed quite late this Saturday morning.   Whew, I needed that.  Crashed on the sofa last night around 8 and involuntarily fell asleep within five minutes, only to wake up at midnight a bit disoriented to the time.  Do you ever have that moment when you fall asleep outside of regular sleep hours, waking up saying to yourself “What?  What happened?  Did I fall to sleep?  Man I must’ve been tired.”   And that I was.  Was a busy, very full week.  But Deo gracias for the weekend. 

Part of my job requires special skills for scheduling.  I have to consider locations across the city, drive time, anticipate cancellations and re-scheduling, all while providing the service my avocation prescribes.  All of which has gotten me to contemplate lately our contemporary sense of Time.  Our sense of time today seems so artificial, at times unproducttive, and all too often unnaturally distressing.   We weren’t designed to schedule our daily work and tasks with micro-self-management, smart watches, digital calendars on our I-phones.  How we’be evolved from coockoo clocks and rising with the rising of the Sun, to our minute-by-minute measuring of everything we do. 

Would love one day a work day with more flexible hours.  Where I can more freely change on s day-to-day basis how much time I want to devote to different income-producing tasks.  Like for instance doing more late evening work, me being a Night Owl.  
As a melancholic-phlegmatic semi-introvert, who loves to just sit and think or talk about abstract ideas, this ultra-utilitarian world of ours, that inverts the order of work vs leisure, is unnaturally pressing on someone of my natural design.  Realistically, at least half of people sit in a similar boat, while the naturally Type A, Goal-oriented, Extroverts rule our modern economic order.  

Is what it is, I guess.  At least I can sit back on my couch this beautiful Spring Saturday here in Oklahoma and ruminate and reflection on such things, while dreaming of more balance in life. 

GERD.  Gastro Esophogeal Reflux Disorder.  It was after several days of increasingly alarming chest pain, and tests, that my physician diagnosed me with this.  Now I’ve had heartburn before, eating one too many of my famous jalapeƱo poppers, but this first time in my life attack of GERD was hellish, and now after several weeks of it, thank God it has subsided. 

But aside from the likely culprit of inordinate amounts of Diet Coke (mea culpa), I highly suspect stress causing it. 

Ever experienced stress?  The kind that wakes you up an hour before your alarm clock (btw, hellish inventions) was set to wake you up, with pressing thoughts.  

One of the gems of contemporary psychology, imo, is cognitive behavioral therapy.  There are excellent CBT apps to help alleviate daily anxieties.  The fundamental thesis of this approach, which Catholic writers have praised (for example Hillary White I believe in The Remnant) is:  our behavior is an effect of our emotional state, but our emotional state is a result of our thoughts.  But it goes deeper.  At the root of our thought patterns are underlying beliefs. Not so much belief about supernatural revelations, but about your view of the world, people, and yourself. 

If somehow throughout your childhood and adulthood up to the present moment you developed the inner dialogue of  “There is always a grave danger around every corner ,” then that just might manifest as daily inner mental chatter.  Imagine how that would mess with your emotions and therefore daily life.  Major stress, fear, worry, resulting in an imbalanced life. 

I don’t know about you, but my own inner see saw isn’t exactly horizontal.  It often tips one direction or the other.  I’ll confess I don’t trust in Divine Providence enough, and worry too much about all the What Ifs that could come up everyday. 

Anyway, I’ll wrap up my reflection wishing all the mothers who venture upon this blog a Happy Mother’s Day!   Wishing your day tomorrow is restful, balanced, and joyful.  And Happy Mother’s Day to Our Blessed Mother, Mother Mary!

Thursday, May 2, 2019

A Thomistic Reflection: is the Modern World Truly Chaotic?

The occasional car haphazardly merging from the on ramp onto the expressway, enough to make your heart skip a beat. The more than occasional snafoo in the work place. The frequent nonsensical micro-irritations we shoot at each other back and forth through the waking day. 

St. Thomas’ ancient counterpart Aristotle, in his timeless book about the Natural World in his Physics (btw a must read for any homeschooled high school student aspiring to the advanced study of the natural sciences)

asked the question:  are there truly accidents or chaotic occurrences in nature that go against the reasoned design of the natural cosmos?   His basic answer was “No.”  If memory serves me, the explanation is something like this: because of natural decay there does appear to to be an element of the chaotic in nature.  BUT, that is just an appearance. The human mind, like any created natural thing, experiences decay or loss of composite form and function, the result being a mental deception that the presence of decay outside our mind is chaotic or absurd.  The fact is every level of natural existence is composed of a cycle of life, of things cominguu into being, that nature being maintained, and in due course that nature decomposing or decaying. 

St. Thomas agrees, but illuminated by Divine Faith which reveals the nature of a fallen world in need of Redemption, and therefore a Divine Redeemer, he sees the apparent chaos or decay as a result of Original Sin. All things in this life must suffer loss, hardship, decay, and death. Including dogs, humans, and even stars and planets. 

What seems to be an escalating level of absolute chaos and absurdity then in post-modern, post-apocalyptic end of Western Civilization society, is a combo of Original Sin in full force but also the devolved state of our modern minds that sees Darkness everywhere in persons, places, and things which in fact ARE NOT as dominated by darkness as they seem.  There is rhyme and reason to everything in God’s Providence, including crazy drivers in traffic (Tulsa is notorious for bad drivers) or sometimes obnoxious co-workers.  There is reason and order behind the apparent chaos.  Behind the vices and failings are human beings fighting to preserve the integrity of their human natures, as they perceive it. 

And so at the end of a long day of occasionally absurd encounters, I am reminded that everything in natural Providence, even in situations out of control, are absolutely in fact governed by reason, truth, order, goodness, and beauty. If we look hard enough to see it.