"'People need the fellowship of whole, balanced individuals' or 'Community is an INGREDIENT in the Balance of the Individual'...I return to my cave, grateful to God for the Imbalance that alone is capable of saying anything." --- From my Journal, October, 1995
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A little book of Feng Shui advises making sure all mirror edges are beveled or framed, lest a rough edge be duplicated by "rough edges in one's life"! Oh dear. A life without rough edges? Why bother? Is this to be desired?
I think of Heroism: Is that a "balanced" Way? Where would France be today if Général DeGaulle had framed his mirrors instead of organizing the French Resistance, an accomplishment virtually demanding "rough edges"? Would his strong radio voice have encouraged Parisians under curfew, had his "chi flow" been more serene?
I think of poets; I try to imagine Shakespeare or Goethe or Whitman or Rilke seeking to place his (framed) mirror on its "Proper" wall, rather than sitting down to write, perhaps by candlelight, at all hours of day and night, forgetting even to eat or sleep.
And the thinkers: Pascal, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche -
The risk-takers: Marco Polo, Wiclif, Galileo -
The greatest artists (since we're talking Decorative Space): Leonardo, Rembrandt, Michelangelo: Tell me -- Did these NOT understand The Artful Placement of Objects?
If Beethoven had practiced Feng Shui, what would this have meant for Music? Oh, woe: If he, notorious for his slovenliness and sloppiness, had been mindful of his "clutter problem", what do you think he would have composed, if anything?
Ultimately, I suppose, the issue becomes: If Pharaoh had been Chinese instead of Egyptian, if Pythagoras had been Lao-Tse, yea, if Jesus had preached "Balance" instead of Repentance, what repercussions for the West?
In this sense, Feng Shui is but one of many chic Asian modalities superceding Western traditions "dissed" by deconstructors, a mark of the ascendency of Globalthink: Eastern legalisms qua crowbar for an academically-incubated PostChristianism. For many, you see, Christianity-as-written is just too liberal ("Patriarchy" rhetoric notwithstanding). Unlike Eastern religions, there are no home-décor guidelines; unlike Judaism, no culinary restrictions; unlike Islam, no mandated time of day for prayer. Christendom itself has, from the beginning, been rebelling against the liberty preached by Christ and Paul! It is, in fact, this Rebellion that is at the forefront of welcoming, concocting, and cynically marketing to the insecure and self-absorbed Westerner these warmed-over, stylized forms.
We humans are a verbal lot, but speech doesn't emanate from Balance, the latter being a sort of Stasis, ousting or de-necessitating both rational and creative expression. Creativity, too, is the result of friction, rather than of Balance: Indeed, you and I were formed of a copulative friction. Note, too, that Western tradition recounts of epochal Salvations, always arriving via accumulated Evil and Violence (not Balance): It was when Wickedness reached a fever pitch that God spoke through Noah's 100-year-long creative task of ark-building, sending Salvation through water that wiped out a whole generation (without dictating the vessel's décor or distracting the builder with matters of his chi). Israel, too, escaped Egypt via a saving flood that permitted its passage, while drowning the enslavers; likewise Christianity issued purged and pristine from the awesome Judean holocaust of 69-70 AD. Closer to our era, even Hegel posited the achievement of Balance ("Synthesis") NOT by inner search, but opposition ("Antithesis"). Could there be something to these models?
In the Real World of Tears, Injustice, Rebellion, Stresses, Struggles and Poverty, "Balance" is not necessarily an appropriate preoccupation. Many must fight -- or succumb to -- these realities daily. Some write about them; others are even called to "scream" (artistically) about them. None, however, who hope to stem them should feign or seek "Balancedness" in denial of them. A conflagration calls for a hose powerfully spraying massive amounts of Water, not Prana; when my house is burning down, knock yourself out bringing me a ladder, but please don't be thinking about your Inner Balance or my choice of landscape elements.
Perhaps self-immersion in Balance reflects a consumer-culture's delight in ever more exotic "bread and circuses". Another possibility is that of an exhausted democracy's "Blissful Ignorance", justifying our Nation's founders' suspicions that no more than two centuries would elapse before the general public would tire of self-governance's extraordinary responsibilities.
And is it really "Spiritual", let alone aesthetically beautiful, to adhere to a legal system of color or Object Placement in one's home or office, rather than to relax with one's own personal tastes? Does the world not offer enough varieties of "will-worship", i.e., self -checking and -congratulation, according to regulated systems? Before Feng Shui came to the U.S., many of us freely created beautiful interiors and enjoyed spontaneous artistic expression combined with meaningful lives, thank you.
There are countless "gurus" today (especially here in the San Francisco Bay Area) writing books about Balance, Order, and systems, borrowing from Asian teachings, applying this repetitive theme to food, medicine, mental health, spirituality, gardening, sports, travel, you name it. All are geared to the Self-obsessed and -enclosed middle class consumer (oblivious to the world's burning houses?), and all advocate an almost one-size-fits-all no-mindedness (in the name of Zen, perhaps) ripe for following increasingly ridiculous "guidelines"; one is "enlightened" insofar as one stalks the Balanced Chakras, Meridians, Religions, Living Rooms, Relationships, or Diet. To my mind, these books could interchangeably be written by Chopra, Myss, Dyer, Hay, Flinders, Moore, Gray, Remen, Lerner, Fox, et al, et al, so predictable and uniform is the worldview.
The Blood Type Diet, as I see it, is NOT a party to that cause, which accounts for its being so misunderstood: Many assume it's just another arbitrary, legalistic system; unfortunately, its own adherents are often guiltiest of so interpreting it. Whereas Feng Shui tells you to frame that mirror, Dr. D'Adamo says, "Enjoy a big, juicy steak, or a small slab of swordfish, or a whatever-sized scoop of turkey-salad, or..." He doesn't legislate your tastes, your portions, or your lifestyle, nor does he suggest that you punctiliously do so yourself. While Macrobiotics, for instance, requires that the Western follower buy into fundamentals of Taoism and Zen practice, no such religious rhetoric finds its way into Eat Right 4 Your Type. Bottom Line: There's nothing coercive about a Science that extols Individuality; and I perceive that its very liberality, like that of true Christianity, is suspect, even frightening, to many who don't really want to be original or occupied with issues broader than Self.
If you desire to have created, a few decades hence, a population of automatons marching in lockstep and oblivious to their own political status, teach the sheep now to count calories, fat-grams, and percentages of protein; better yet, enforce Radical Veganism, admonish against decorating with spike-leaved plants or renting an apartment with its bathroom(s) on a South wall...or hanging an unframed mirror, but DON'T encourage people to choose their own foodstuffs as utter individuals (even all Type O's don't have to eat alike!), or - WORSE - to speak or create or live spontaneously and courageously, as individuals, with all their rough edges.
Give me Paul ("I am crucified with Christ").
Give me Luther ("Here I stand").
Give me Beethoven ("Da-Da-Da-DOM").
I'm always happy to be able to "put together" something yummy and nutritious from whatever scraps happen to be about the kitchen. This afternoon I discovered a container of plain (whole milk) yogurt with today's date on it, AND about a half-cup of Half-&-Half with tomorrow's. On this warm afternoon, I dumped 'em into the blender and then decided to process half a bunch of fresh spearmint into it. The yogurt was quite sour, so I added sugar...and then one drop of essential oil of spearmint, for zing. What a lovely, refreshing snack! Bonus: The pale green (my favorite) color. I enjoyed it with a few spears of fresh watermelon. B-Heaven.
For dinner, I'm thinking Salade Niçoise: Butter lettuce, tuna, a hardboiled egg, red peppers, and a small potato, with some sort of dressing: Vinaigrette or Aïoli. No rosé in the house, but I can finish-off the 2005 Sauvignon Blanc (or the '95 Vosne-Romanée!) that's in the fridge door.
More LITTLE food things:
- Whole Foods Market now sells these mini-bagels, a dozen to a sealed plastic bag - I love 'em! Here's why: You can keep them in the fridge and pull out one-at-a-time, per person, for a very small (enriched white flour) wheat portion: Just enough! Each whole "Bagelette" weighs 1 ounce, the equivalent of one slice of bread; and I only eat that much bread per day, so it's perfect. For those with a yet smaller bread allowance, eat HALF a Bagelette!
- Portions: Since I tend to forget to eat what's perishing in the fridge, I have reverted to shopping à l'Européene: One meal at a time! I might buy ONE lamb chop, or a quarter pound of halibut, or ONE little potato. I have the cheese guy slice me the tiniest sliver of cheese. Don't be ashamed to ask for minuscule amounts; if the clerk has attitude about that, wonder why, but don't be intimidated.
- Clean, natural rice pudding comes in single serving kid-packs, very handy for snacktime. Spoon a whole (large ice cube-sized) pack onto a dish with a few berries or disks of banana.
- The little "shot glass" portion of heavy cream I occasionally enjoy at bedtime - sometimes diluted with cooled tea.
- Little sips: I buy Trocken Sekt (champagne-method dry sparkling wine, made from German Riesling) in single-serve bottles that come 3-to-a-pack. Perfect for small brunches: No more gone-flat ex-sparkling in the fridge door.
Non-Gustatory Little Things:
- The unbelievably fragrant green/white blossoms growing between my sanseveria's (snake plant's) leaves: I've never seen/smelled these, over the years. Maybe the plant really loves its relatively new location by the (N-facing) window.
- A few pairs of little reading glasses, "grabbable" from any (yes, ANY) perch in the house.
- Little Pacifica-brand votive candles in favorite fragrances, on sale: "Rose" for the bathroom, "Indochine" (lemongrass/cucumber) for the bedroom, "Spanish Amber" and "Guaiacwood" for hall and living room....
- Picked up a little book(let) at a book sale yesterday, called "The Principle of Non-Intrusion", a series of sermons (1952) by a Baptist named Duncan E. Littlefair. An amazingly applicable point of view (vis-à-vis SHARING, as opposed to IMPOSING or even PERSUADING, re: the Blood Type Diet, et al.), clearly and methodically explaining why Intrusion (defined in novel ways) can be counted upon to result in rejection of both idea/product and intruder! Good for anyone in sales, family life, marriage, courtship, community, u-name-it. A refreshing perspective, challenging the reader's expectations or prejudices, given the denomination!
- Little bottles of essential oils. Some essences are so costly, they come in 1 millilitre bottles: That's 1/30 of an ounce! Some people exercise their pecs or glutes; I enjoy olfactory workouts at my organ of 100 essences.
The Best Saved for Last:
- The littlest people in the world, because of whom I make (almost) a living. My smallest ever, born last December, weighed 4 lbs., 8 oz.
-- "Hello" and a smile to the neighbor.
-- Remembering peoples' names.
-- Holding the elevator door for someone, even when you're in a hurry.
-- Tipping the counterperson.
-- Waving the other driver in.
-- Giving up your seat for your elder.
-- Saying "Thank You".
--...Refraining from Intrusion.
The real Von Trapp family had a somewhat different history than that described in The Sound Of Music. For one thing, Maria married Georg Von Trapp in 1927, years (rather than weeks) before Anschluss (Nazi Invasion of Austria, March, 1938); for another, Von Trapp lost a huge fortune when, a couple of years after his marriage, the Austrian bank collapsed, a bank he had generously shown his good will as it faltered, by transferring ALL of his millions into it from safety in England!
Suddenly, Baron Von Trapp owned only real estate: Substantial, yes, but entirely earmarked for his children's future; his liquidity was gone. The children went from being privileged progeny of the nobility to responsible and enthusiastic pitchers-in: "Aren't we lucky, Georg," said the real Maria, "that we lost that money! How would we ever have found out what fine fellows the children are?"
She began to experience a strange elation. "What's the matter with you?" exclaimed her husband. "You act as if you had made a million dollars!" "Oh, much more," [she] said. "I have just found out that we were not really rich; we just happened to have alot of money. That's why we can never be poor. I'm so happy to know that we don't belong to those for whom it is so hard to enter the Kingdom of God."
Georg was tense and angry throughout the early days of their austerity, and Maria only upset him more with her insistence that he was, in fact, fortunate: "For all the money in the world, you couldn't have found out who your real friends are, and now you know." This made him, finally, laugh heartily, as, indeed, his aristocratic "friends", distancing themselves from him, wanted nothing to do with him, dreading his need.
The summer following Anschluss, Maria was ill and pregnant, refusing, against the Munich (Nazi) specialist's prescription, to have an abortion; he'd told her assuredly that the baby would certainly not survive and that her own life, too, was in grave jeopardy (as, for political reasons, her husband's was about to be)... The Doctor ordered "a very strict diet" (ALAS: I don't know of what it consisted!), to bring down her blood pressure. The whole family observed a "diet" of constant prayer, as well.
So: Here was Maria, in Munich, entering her second trimester, ordered to rest, take it very easy, and maintain a rigid, specialized diet. She and Georg left the Doctor's office and strolled to the nearby Nazi Art Exhibit, which all schoolchildren would be required to attend. The display being very upsetting to them, they afterwards retired for refreshment to an adjacent Biergarten, where, to their shock, one of the men at the next table was: Der Fuhrer.
- On that same day, Georg opened a letter from the Reich, commissioning his service to establish a submarine base "eventually" in the Mediterranean Sea. - On the same day (!), his son Rupert (who had graduated from Medical School two days before the invasion) also received an official government letter, offering him a prestigious medical position in Vienna. - Later that week came this announcement: The Family had been chosen to represent the "Ostmark" (Nazi appellation for Austria), singing at Hitler's birthday party the following April.
Each of these "opportunities" meant huge financial rewards, not to mention restoration to social prominence, after several years of being poor, shunned, and humiliated.
The family conferred:
- "Will we have to say 'Heil Hitler'?"
- "Will we have to sing the Nazi anthem?"
- "Will we be forbidden to sing any songs with 'Christ' in them?"
- "Can we remain anti-Nazi while we accept their money and praise?"
Georg concluded: "You can't say no to Hitler three times -- It's getting dangerous." And here are his words, as quoted by his wife, when, days later, the Archbishop counseled the family to flee Austria AT ONCE: "We have now the precious opportunity to find out for ourselves whether the words we have heard and read so often can be taken literally: 'Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His justice; and all these things shall be added unto you." [Matthew 6:23].
The VERY DAY AFTER the family had fled over the Italian border, the Austrian borders were closed: No one could leave the country anymore.
From Italy, the Von Trapps went to England, where, in September, they obtained tickets, as an advance against promised vocal performances in the US, to sail to New York. The Atlantic passage was choppy and uncomfortable. The pregnant Maria, on no diet in particular, dedicated herself to learning the most basic English.
Once in America, the refugee family immediately went on tour (via bus - and I don't mean "Air Conditioned Motor Coach"!). So much for "rest...diet...". They consumed plenty of insipid American "coffee" and diner food.
Again, Maria learned: "It was even beautiful at times to be regarded as poor, because one discovered such riches in one's neighbor's heart, and there was so much genuine love around."
Insisting on a home-birth (as, in Europe, hospitals were only for the seriously ill and wounded, nor would an American hospital permit her husband to hold her hand throughout labor, nor -- get this -- the entire family to sing chorales and to pray in an adjacent room!), Maria gave birth to Johannes Georg (10 lbs, 2oz), the first American Von Trapp, at a new friend's house in Germantown, Pennsylvania, during Christmastide: The Doktor in Munich was wrong: Mother and baby had survived an unimaginably stressful pregnancy.
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Especially for spiritual reasons, I love these, and other, stories, taken from Maria's book, The Story of the Von Trapp Family Singers [NY, Dell, 1949]. Her faith was great enough to entrust her life, and that of her unborn child, to God, rather than to endanger this huge and principled family's liberty and moral integrity by following doctor's orders and staying put.
The American food Maria ate during the last months of her pregnancy was...pretty junky. And perhaps at times our own dietary decisions can and should be based on many, or other, considerations. Often, in real life, we cannot afford to scruple about diet at all and must bow to more urgent priorities; in these cases, we mustn't be afraid to "let go and let God":
"Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?" [Matthew 6:25-26]
And, a few verses down from these (v.33), we find the verse Baron Von Trapp decided to test, on the day he, his precariously pregnant wife, and their children, fled Austria with, literally (can you imagine?!), only the (Tyrolean hiking) clothes on their backs:
"Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you."
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Our Father: "Give us this day our daily bread"...and may it be blessed to our nourishment, as we receive it with thanksgiving:
"For every creature of God [is] good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer." [I Tim. 4:4,5]
He fed John the Baptist in the desert, on locusts and wild honey; Elijah had to subsist, in the wilderness, on whatever was miraculously brought to him by ravens! If we depend upon God, and He provides us with food, any food, in Him it is utterly pure, and nothing to be..."Avoided!"
Many of you know I'm seriously techno-illiterate. And some remember (my blog: "Three Reasons to Watch TV", 2/21/06) that I've spent much of my adult life living in TV-free habitats.
After my most recent TV-free stretch (7 months, ended Feb. '06), I found myself again watching "habitual" TV; the transition from none at all to this daily behavior was so drastic, it jarred me. I realized this is no "love/hate" relationship: It's really "hate/hate"!
So, I unplugged the set a few weeks ago and put it away. Thus, it's not easy to "just flip it on"; in fact, to watch it would require making space for it somewhere, carrying it into that room, plugging it in and "hooking it up". I haven't wanted to bother yet. Perhaps if I should come across an interesting video (that's right: I don't have a DVD player), I'd consider taking the VCR and the TV out of storage, hooking each up, and indulging. But it'd require an effort.
Ever think about how ridiculously easy it is to watch television? It's the supreme impulse-pastime. Well, I've not only moved the TV set and the VCR to greater inaccessibility, I've re-assigned their use to another category entirely. With TV-viewing unavailable as the Default option on a Kill-Time menu, I find myself...killing very little time!
I like the way this feels. I like the restored clarity and continuity of days-long trains of thought, as well as various household projects' prioritization. In this Electronic Age, even with Tevo technology, Life still flourishes outside the box - yes, that one.
Je suis le régime GS exactement, "Niveau Un": Normalement, je ne mange pas les "à éviters". Quant aux "Eviters" majeures (poulet, cecis, cacahuètes, lentilles, tomates, sésame): Je ne les mange plus; je ne les achète jamais, Tout Simplement.
Hier, lorsque je crevais de faim (Mme La Sauteuse-De-Repas, encore), on m'a présenté un déjeuner presque tout-à-fait anti-B. Voilà ce qui était sur l'assiette:
A éviter: Poulet, tomates, cecis et hummous, sauce sésame.
Autrement: Salade, pain pita, épinards, fromage feta...etc.
Je regardais ce plat, étonnée, et je riais à haut voix! Ayant une faim radicale, je l'ai tout mangé avec un coeur reconnaissant, et c'était bon.
A dix heures ce soir, chez moi, j'ai décidé de prendre mon dîner/souper: Quelque chose de typique: Un petit morceau de saumon grillé et 2 ou 3 asperges (les restes d'hier soir), un "mini-bagel" grillé au beurre, et un demi verre de vin rouge (Shiraz australien).
Dessert: Un petit bol de "fromage-de-fermier", avec les canneberges et une tranche d'ananas. Comme digestif: Du thé au gingembre.
Ahhh. Que cela me va!!
Je ne suis pas un de ces gens qui tombent malades après avoir mangé les "à eviters". Mais, j'admets que je me sens uniquement contente, satisfaite, après un repas "bénéfique"!
Je n'ai pas pris du café aujourd'hui. Je commence à me coucher plus tôt le soir.
Et , oui, ça fait presque 3 semaines depuis mon débranchement de la télé. C'est ainsi que je complète pas mal de projets à la maison recemment. Il est remarquable, et je le recommande comme jeûne. (Oui, le Carême est presque passé - mais - une bonne idée pour ceux qui diffèrent face à de grosses tâches!)
Autrement: La semaine dernière, j'ai commandé, à emporter, les côtelettes d'agneau tandooris à un restaurant indien voisin. Elles étaient formidables, pleines de parfum fumé: Je les ai plongé dans le raïta, accompagnées du pain naan, avec des oignons. Mmmm....
Je suis reconnaissante cette semaine - comme toujours, grâce au Seigneur - pour l'Agneau de Dieu, oblation et sacrifice acceptable à Dieu, en odeur de bonne senteur: La Véritable Nourriture (Le Suprême Bénéfique, si vous voulez).