Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Vocabulary Words

My recent focus on the discourse between militant atheists and people like me who are labeled "Spiritual but not Religious," or Airy Fairy, Hippy Dippy New Agers, for lack of a better term, has required an examination of charged vocabulary words.  A recent example of this phenomenon was when Pinko took exception to my use of the term "leap of faith," on account of the way Religion has used faith to oppress people.  More recently, I noticed a reaction in myself at his use of the word "reward," when he wondered what sort of reward I received from my behavior.

I was all Boo Hoo because he likes a lot of atheist memes on Facebook - and in that sentence "likes" means he likes them as in appreciates and agrees with the statements as well as him clicking the Like button.  Now that we've declared we are In A Relationship on Facebook, and he's on my Close Friends list, his activity shows up all over my newsfeed.  That this whole relationship illustrates the interpersonal results possible via Social Media is a topic in and of itself, but right now I'm more interested in emotionally charged vocabulary words.  The other night, the way he said,"reward," sounded like business school speak to me, and I experienced a reaction.  My spine stiffened instantly, but I was able to control the impulse to curl my lip.  The feelings I have about Business, which I picked up along the Sabine River in East Texas, clearly run as deep as those he has about God.

I can't remember if I already mentioned that when Pinko was at the University of Texas at Austin, he was a Young Republican in Business School.  He got to Austin about the time I was leaving, although we may have overlapped a year.  While I never laid eyes on him personally until Burning Man, I saw plenty of Young Republican Business Majors at UT, and wouldn't talk to any of them.  I avoided that area of campus entirely since I was a New Wavy English Major, listened to the Sex Pistols and went to see the Ramones every time they were in town.  Everybody knew Republican Business Majors were complete and thorough assholes, or Ass-Wholes (h/t Woody).

 This was my part of campus - English, Philosophy and Foreign Language mostly

This is the business school which probably wasn't all built when he was there

Pinko voted for Ronald Reagan any time he got the chance.  That was his social and domestic conditioning, rather like my own mother's.  She was a John Bircher Southern Baptist in Texas when I was little because it was expected in her social milieu.  Any time she questioned statements made by people in her environment - people from my dad's job and the family in Beaumont - they told her she was stupid and needed to hush up.  Same thing happened to Pinko only he was surrounded by Reagan Republicans.  That both my mother's and Pinko's thinking has evolved so much over the years just goes to show how much can happen once you stop listening to people calling you stupid because you're questioning their authority.

Nevertheless, if a word reminds me Ronald Reagan and/or business majors, I have a negative reaction - but that doesn't mean the word itself has anything to do with Trickle Down Economics.  My own perspective determines the emotion charge associated with vocabulary words in my own head, and if I'm the one applying the charge to the vocabulary word, then I can modify my emotional response in order to continue a conversation aimed at establishing a common vocabulary between two individuals.

I have to pause a moment to express my appreciation for the ability to settle a lot of this cerebral stuff from a comfortable distance.  It may be easier to learn about a person through correspondence.  Correspondence is a component in many great romances.  I enjoy a correspondence.  I enjoy conversation more and Skype makes it possible to have discussions around emotional, intellectual issues without falling into bed for one reason or another.  Hiding under the covers is a good way to avoid conflict and connect at the same time, but if your feelings are shut off because you're fearful, you never really connect at all.

As it happens, Woody and I spent nearly two years sifting through emotionally charged vocabulary so that I could talk with him about stuff I was reading in A Course In Miracles.  Woody went to Catholic School and was so traumatized by the nuns, and his own mother, that he couldn't even hear the word spirit, much less God.  His experience was that anytime somebody brought up Spirit, they'd be using it against you somehow because of Guilt and Blame.  Makes perfect sense because the Catholic Church is the ultimate hierarchical, patriarchal, fear mongering organization and pretty well wrote the instruction manual on how to keep peasants in their place through guilt, blame and sin.

The thing is that the narrator of A Course In Miracles, who may or may not be Jesus himself, says all sorts of stuff that people think when they're tripping - like about how we're all connected and being At One with each other and the universe - which is why I think of the narrator as Tripping Jesus.  Turns out that Woody and Jesus say the same kind of stuff all the time about perspective, vocabulary and how the way popular, mainstream Christianity is practiced is Wrong, Wrong, Wrong. Once Woody and I got through two years of shouting so that we could listen to each other, he came to enjoy being on the same page as Jesus about all kinds of things.

These days, Woody says that my understanding of God, for lack of a better word, is an anomaly since for me, God is a verb that describes the internal process of coming to love yourself, and expanding that love in order to connect with others.  Granted, accomplishing that level of expansion is easier for people like Jesus, Buddha, etc - but the whole point of the stories about those guys is that they were in bodies just like the rest of us, so if they can do it, we can do it.  Loving is simply practice - like yoga.  That God is Love and we are Love means we are God - so naturally God is all in your head.
Where else would God be?  That's why it always surprises me when atheists say that God is all in your head as if it's a problem.  That's the best place for God - unless your ego takes over and declares itself God which is how all the trouble got started in the Church to begin with.

Religion, according to Tripping Jesus, has nothing to do with God since it's an expression of the Ego.  Ego lives in your head too and is forever interfering with Spirit.  It's no big deal because all you ever have to do is take a breath and pull your head out from up your ass - but that takes practice.  Pretty much the last place you'll find that practice is in a mainstream church since the whole financial structure depends on plenty of heads up plenty of asses.  So does the entire system of Business and Government in America but that's another discussion.  This discussion is about use of vocabulary in relationships.

So when Pinko started talking about Rewards the other night, and how the reward was being Right, it was clear we had a common language because ACIM talks all about how the ego needs to be right all the time so it can feel special, and the whole cycle of isolation, fear, blame, defensiveness - all that stuff kicks into high gear.  Tripping Jesus also spends a lot of time explaining how Special Relationships, or being "In Love," is all about the ego because none of us are Special.  We all have individual characteristics because we're in bodies here on this earth, but because we're all from the same energy, none of us is special.  So having A Special Someone is a big problem for both yourself and that someone especially when Hallmark cards, Hollywood movies and the DeBeers have been creating the definition of another highly charged vocabulary word:  Love.

Using the common, DeBeers inspired definition, there's Love, and then there's everything that Love entails.  I'm not sure what it's entailed for Pinko, but for me, the whole Love thing has been problematic on account of looking to other people to validate my right to exist.  I used the vocabulary word Love, but it is more accurate to say Special Relationship.  The good thing about Notta Goodman is that since I was studying what my ego did during the interaction instead of having a relationship with another person, I could get a clear picture of how Special Relationships function especially since I had spent my life giving someone else the power to determine my value and to forgive my mistakes and shortcomings.  That's why Special Relationships are fucked up.  Nobody else can determine your value, and even though people can forgive each other, the real issue is forgiving yourself for being vulnerable.  So when you're looking to somebody else to do what you can only do for yourself,  there's no way s/he can get it right.  When s/he gets it wrong, you get all pissed off, resentful, blaming, judgmental -- all that Ego stuff wins again.  Being in a relationship on those terms is absolutely convoluted, and I'm grateful that that my perspective on Love has shifted enough so that Special Relationships are in the past.

Which brings us to the present.
Pinko may very well be here in two weeks, and I keep finding reasons why he should stay in New York until Christmas, when we'd each go to our respective families of origin.  That's because I totally love Pinko in exactly the same way as I love all my friends and family - which means there's none of that Special shit making me nervous.  Talking about it makes me a little nervous, though, because when it comes to some vocabulary words, the dictionary definition is simply insufficient.


ellen abbott said...

When I finally stopped looking for validation from my husband who could never give it to me because he was too busy needing it himself, things changed. By that I mean, my feelings changed and so of course, the relationship has changed. One thing being that we didn't fight anymore. That's not to say that we always get along, but I simply don't engage in pressing my point or 'rightness'. Either he figures it out himself or he keeps being deluded about whatever the disagreement was about. I don't really care. that's another part of the change. I don't think I care as much. We don't have discussions or conversations about things because he is still too invested in being right. or else he's too busy making jokes out of everything. That gets tiresome. I have been wondering lately if we would have even hooked up if I was then who I am now. I know we used sex (and it was great sex) to hide from a lot of things. I'm not looking to get out...too much time invested (37 years), two children, and our job is dependent on each other. Plus, I don't think I have the energy to look for someone new and start over. But here's the other thing, if no one is special (and I agree with you on that point as far as spirit goes), if there are no special relationships, if special relationships are fucked up, then why any one person over another?

PENolan said...

Why indeed?
There's a big difference between relating to another person and partnering up with him/her, just as there's a difference between Judgement and Evaluation. I don't want a partner who has little kids for a hundred reasons - so there's one reason to choose one person over another.
Frankly, after I got divorced, I was convinced I'd never live with a man again. But during the Restoration project, when I slept on Gigi's couch for three months and then lived with my buddy Diane for another three months, I saw that when you're with a real friend, then it's nice to have the company and conversation (as long as it's balanced with plenty of peace and quiet).
The thing I especially like about Pinko is that I already loved him like a real friend before I went out there - just like I love my other Roundtree colleagues and a few other folks I only know from the internet.
Buzz Kill and I were never friends. I wasn't friends with The Narcissist or with Notta Goodman either. I think we may be on to something here . . .

Gail said...

HEY TEXAS - love that you are in a relationship. Enjoy it as it is. From one who loves and is loved, adores and is adored, stands firm and yet I am flexible it is all about trust, and by that I mean you know the other person and there are no red flags so trust is a given and you can relax, hard to love if you are nervous or anxious, so look for that relaxed feeling within you when you are around him, if you don't have that, run like hell.
Love you girl

Susan Partlan said...

I definitely think you are on to something here.

That part of campus where you studied is beautiful.

I like what your first commenter Ellen said about letting others be deluded if they want to be. That seems like good advice in dealing with others in general, not just life partners.

Comrade Kevin said...

I'm not sure I could be with anyone who was both an Atheist and had a Republican past. Much of my Quaker work has been extending an invitation to believe for those who have been damaged by repressive forms of Christianity.

Atheism is often its own religion, which closely resembles the faith traditions cast aside by many of its adherents. Consider me the eternal apologist, hoping to lead by example.

PENolan said...

A lot of evolution can happen once a person starts to do some reading. He may have started out as a Young Republican but he's a commie pinko anarchist now.

Susan and Gail - this feels so comfortable and relaxing, and exciting and exhilarating at the same time, that I'm 100% optimistic. I'm sensible enough to be a little cautious and take it one day at a time, but I'm betting we have many good days ahead.

Gail said...

That is the best "reply" ever!! I couldn't be happier for you, yay!! :-)
Love you Texas

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