I can’t paddle your canoe

February 17, 2018

As one goes through life one learns that if you don’t paddle your own canoe, you don’t move.
Katherine Hepburn

Life keeps
Coming at you
And you wonder
What to do
You know
I wanna help
And I’m always
Here for you
But I can’t paddle
Your canoe

I can sit
And I can listen
Till morning’s
Wet with dew
I can even talk
If you want
My point of view
But I can’t paddle
Your canoe

I can love you
I can feed you
Hold your hand
And tie your shoe
I hope you
Always know
I got a million
Hugs for you
But I can’t paddle
Your canoe

by Richard W. Bray

Busybody

February 15, 2018

Tell me everything about you
Everything you ever did
Every thought you ever had
Since you were a kid

I need to comprehend you
Right down to the core
I need to write your story
And tally up your score

Hero, goddess, superstar
Scoundrel, lowlife, sinner
I live to differentiate
The loser from the winner

I’ll tell you what you’re all about
Reduce you to a label
Find the moral of your life
And tell the world your fable

by Richard W. Bray

Don’t let nobody tell ya

February 12, 2018

People looking at you
Cuz they wanna see themself
Listening to advice
Is gonna ruin your mental health

Don’t let nobody tell ya
Who you’re sposed to be
Try to please the people
And you’ll never be free

Ain’t no one alive
To tell ya what you’re all about
Listening to advice
Is gonna turn you inside out

Don’t let nobody tell ya
Who you’re sposed to be
Try to please the people
And you’ll never be free

You’re the only person
Inside you from the start
You’re the only one
Who knows what’s living in your heart

Don’t let nobody tell ya
Who you’re sposed to be
Try to please the people
And you’ll never be free

by Richard W. Bray

The Melody Lingers

February 8, 2018

I cannot unhurt you
I can only walk away
I hope we find tomorrow
What we cannot give today

Everything I am
And all I’ll ever be
Connects to who you are
Connects to you and me

Bleeding in the twilight
Of a special melody
The tune that hurts and heals
Is the love you gave to me

by Richard W. Bray

sweet and pure

February 6, 2018

Nothin’ from nothin’ leaves nothin’
Billy Preston

There ain’t a woman who can see
All the love inside of me

Stupid two-bit loser town
Bitches try to bring me down

I need a woman sweet and pure
I’ll find my truth inside of her

I spend my cash and act a clown
Bitches try to bring me down

A million things that I could be
If only she believed in me

I could drink until I drown
Bitches try to bring me down

by Richard W. Bray

Judgement Machines

February 4, 2018

From natural selection’s point of view, the whole point of perception is to process information that has relevance to the organism’s Darwinian interests — that is, to its chances of getting its genes spread. And organisms register this relevance by assigning positive or negative values to the perceived information. We are designed to judge things and to encode those judgements in feeling.

Robert Wright, Why Buddhism is True: The Science and Philosophy of Enlightenment

Like any paradigm, evolutionary psychology is an extreme oversimplification of our multifarious existence. Even if we accept the premise that human beings are shaped by evolutionary pressure, which I do, it does not automatically follow that everything we are is the direct result of “natural selection.” Many mutations and alterations in our genes are merely coincidental.

If, for example, a parrot with an efficient nutshell-crushing beak happens also to be blue, its descendants are likely to be blue despite the fact that their blueness does not foster their success like that marvelous beak does.

Human beings are not “designed” by evolution; we’re the product of happenstance. And nobody can say for certain what the “whole point of perception” is. But you needn’t be a natural selection determinist to appreciate Wright’s picture of human consciousness.

The Difference Between Berry and Toadstool

Wright is certainly correct to say that human beings automatically assign “positive or negative values” to “perceived information.” Every thought we have is wrapped inside a feeling. These feelings often had the benefit of keeping our Hunting Fathers alive long enough to pass along their DNA. That’s how we got here.

Determining the difference between berry and toadstool, lamb and lion, or friend and foe is an essential survival skill. Our ancestors survived and prospered thanks to the happy associations they made with the delicious berries that sustained them and the painful associations they made with frightening beasts that killed their friends and relatives.

The Old, Old Tale of Narcicussus

It’s natural for human beings to constantly analyze and reevaluate the world we live in. And, as social organisms, we evaluate ourselves in relation to others. That’s why we’re forever recalibrating our opinions of one another.

How we feel about others is a function of how they make us feel about ourselves. The world is our mirror, as W.H. Auden notes:

A friend is the old, old tale of narcissus.

Severing how we feel about others from how we feel about ourselves is not possible  we don’t exist in a vacuum. But we can examine our natural tendency to “judge things and to encode those judgement in feeling.”

Jesus commands: “Judge not.” But judgement-free perception simply isn’t possible. What we can do is listen to our thoughts and examine the feelings that ignite them.

Avoiding Misery and Masochism

Don’t squander your precious time on Earth trying to figure out who deserves to be happy. There’s always going to be people you can point to as undeserving of the gifts life has bestowed upon them. Should it really be your task in life to figure out who’s to bless and who’s to blame? By fixating on the unfairness of it all, you’re setting yourself up for a lifetime of misery and masochism.

I’m not suggesting that we should accept the world the way it is. On the contrary, fighting injustice and trying to make the world a better place is one of the best ways to find meaning in this crazy old world.

 

by Richard W. Bray

alright

January 26, 2018

its ok not to talk
its ok not to listen
its alright to stand apart
investigate whats in your heart

its ok not to talk
its ok not to listen
its alright to find your space
silence is friendly place

its ok not to talk
its ok not to listen
its alright to disconnect
and energize your intellect

its ok not to talk
its ok not to listen
its alright to find your sphere
and take some time to disappear

by Richard W. Bray

daddy go bye bye

January 24, 2018

took all the pennies
saving in my jar
daddy go bye bye in a car

mama say daddy
drinking in a bar
daddy go bye bye in a car

daddy took his things
and drove real far
daddy go bye bye in a car

daddy real mad
dont love us anymore
daddy go bye bye in a car

by Richard W. Bray

Fixating Fixater

January 20, 2018

Fixating fixater
Frightened of yourself
Never stop talking
About everybody else

Fixating Fixater
Hanging by a thread
Neurotic fabrications
Stuck inside your head

Fixating fixater
Yackity yap yap
Pointing all your fingers
And talking loads of crap

Fixating fixater
Hiding from the pain
Take a slow breath
And look inside your brain

by Richard W. Bray

Listening to Yourself

January 14, 2018

Metacognition

Metacognition means thinking about thinking. You can do this by listening to the words you say aloud, and more importantly, by listening to the words you silently tell yourself. That’s where the real action is — inside your head.

Self-awareness begins by examining the words and phrases your mind creates and then asking yourself if it would make sense for someone in your position to say such a thing.

Phrases to Watch Out For

Any sentence that begins with the words “I don’t care” is probably a lie you’re telling yourself to protect your feelings. Here are some examples of the types of ego-preserving lies we tell ourselves and one another all the time:

I don’t care that dad abandoned us when I was four.”

“I don’t care who she’s going out with.”

“I really don’t care if he ever loved me or not.”

Here’s another example: Whenever you hear yourself say, “He’s just_______,” “She’s just_________,” or “It’s just________,” it’s probably because someone or something has hurt you and made you feel bad about yourself. And now you want to diminish someone or something to make the hurt go away. It never works, but our brains are designed to do it anyway.

For example: Let’s say that Walter is bragging to the guys about his hot date with Gladys. Poor Alex secretly adores Gladys, but he never quite got up the nerve to ask her out. Now his brain is cascaded with defensive outrage and denial:

“Walter is just a stupid, arrogant, spoiled asshole.”

“She doesn’t really like him. She’s just going out with him because he’s tall, good-looking, and his parents are rich.”

“She’s just a dumb little bitch for going out with that guy”

We Think by Feeling

We often talk about thoughts and feelings as though they were in competition with one another. “Don’t let your feelings get in the way of your decision,” is a common refrain. But there is no such battle occurring in our souls between thinking and feeling. Thoughts and feelings are inseparable. Thoughts don’t exist in opposition to feelings — thoughts are better understood as the residue of feelings. “We think by feeling,” is how the great American poet Theodore Roethke put it. This observation has been confirmed by a whole body of modern brain research.

Scottish philosopher David Hume figured this all out over two hundred years ago without the benefit modern fMRI machines that tell us which parts of the brain are involved in the decision-making process. Hume was one seriously smart and reflective dude.

The Unexamined Life

Socrates said that the unexamined life isn’t worth living, but it’s also been noted that ignorance is bliss. So what should you do? Who knows? Metacognition is both painful and enlightening. The question is: Can you handle the truth?

By Richard W. Bray