This is just for laughs. It was first sparked on a walk in the woods the week before Christmas (ah, those walks, eh??), & when I started to actually write it, all manner of ideas bubbled up. Of course, this is the season for wistful nostalgia, over-the-top desires, & the need to review the year that has just passed & contemplate the next with … boundless, naïve hopes/optimism. Here goes!
** Activism/Action: Its Own Reward! Course material will cover topics such as “Apathy is not the answer” (but then, what the heck was the question???). “Actions speak louder than words”: ancient truism (always fully grasped by male members of the species; much less so by the female, apparently...) to be fully explored. The fact that males sometimes (often??) seem to go off half-cocked will be related to the modern phenomenon of “Ready…FIRE!!!!!.......Aim.”Instructor will pose the philosophical questions: Should men do less & talk more? Should women do more, & talk less?? (Or maybe, should we all just go & live on different planets???)
** Adaptation/Flexibility: Will Take You Everywhere! Charles Darwin’s assertion “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the one most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change” to be fully explored & substantiated. Guest speakers will discuss exciting current research. (This course closely related to 'You CAN Teach an Old Dog New Tricks.')
** Bathroom Dilemmas: Why must the average North American bathroom contain 654 personal care products?? [I made this # up, btw. Just sounded good to me at the time...] Especially when most of these PCPs contain numerous (frequently carcinogenic) toxic ingredients? Getting off the PCP treadmill. (Provocative question: do humans actually need to use anything other than a fingernail to remove ear wax??) Learn creative ways to de-toxify your bathroom (bonus: you will save money, too!!).
** Bullshit Defying 101: How to detect – & counter – egregious bullshit-spewing of all kinds, in all manner of locations, & amongst all categories of human beings. Learn to spot – & call! – the B.S. spewed by parents, children, relatives, friends, bureaucrats, corporate spokespersons, etc. etc. Prerequisite for Bullshit 501 & graduate-level Bullshit Defying. Closely related to all Elephant-Rassling courses (see below).
** Cognitive Dissonance 101: Purely optional course, & not for the faint of heart. Learn to detect the stench of cognitive dissonance, which is palpable & disturbing to those with noses already attuned to it. It is, unfortunately, also virtually ubiquitous. Particularly in evidence at all public hearings of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission or CNSC (an organization whose very name reeks not just of cognitive dissonance, but also of oxymoron-hood. Nuclear safety???) Examples of cognitive dissonance in all your favourite major life, planet & people-destroying industries (think advertising world. Banking industry. Chemical industry. Lead industry. Insurance industry. Pharmaceutical industry. Etc. etc.) Arduous course material; suitable only for those with considerable intestinal fortitude.
** Corporate Life Survival Skills: Eek. Anyone actually able to pass this course is unavailable to teach it. Instructor search underway! This course closely related to Bullshit 501 & Cognitive Dissonance 101. Learn such tricks as how to sell anything to anyone; how to bullshit anyone (especially yourself!!); how to use fancy jargon so as to make yourself sound (& feel) terribly important, & also skills in being deliberately obscure (prerequisite for Obfuscation 501). Ah…. 2 new instructors have just been located! A disgruntled former insurance industry executive has stepped forward, having finally stepped down in disgust from the corporate treadmill. Also, a former nuclear insider who says he has finally had it “up to here” with corporate bullshit, lies & more cognitive dissonance than any person of above-average intelligence can reasonably be expected to tolerate.
** Cultural Relativity. Essential learning about how to render the world’s war machine obsolete. Anthropologist Wade Davis contends “The world in which you were born is just one model of reality. Other cultures are not failed attempts at being you: they are unique manifestations of the human spirit.” His book The Wayfinders – Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World will be the text for the course. A poster with this quotation & the book both available through Syracuse Cultural Workers.
** Dancing Courses!!
- Dancing with Denial – see Denial Defying, below.
- Dancing with Bullshit (closely related to Bullshit Defying & Cognitive Dissonance; see above)
- Dancing with the more-more-more disease among friends, employers, family members, oneself…etc. Some women (& other humans) are never satisfied no matter how much they have or how much you do for them. Explore possible reasons for this extremely irritating phenomenon, & learn strategies for rassling with it.
** Denial Defying: Learn how to face, learn about, & tell the truth. Graduate-level course for Helping to Change the World (& ourselves, too!)
** Elephant-Rassling 101, 201, 301, 401, 501: Graduate-level courses also available! Instructor (that would be yours truly) still struggling with Elephant-Rassling 101A, prerequisite course for ER 101. Related courses: Bullshit Defying 101, Cognitive Dissonance 101, Denial Defying & Walking on Eggs. Many new instructors needed!! Curriculum that never quits…
** Enough! a concept apparently foreign to most members of modern western “civilization.” Curriculum involves a brief review of human history in the so-called “civilized” world, with philosophical exploration into the likely origins of “modern” humans’ inability to grasp the concept of “enough.” Buddhist insights to be explored. Students will be asked to wrestle with such questions as, What is enough? Is it possible to have “enough”? Is it possible to have “too much??” When do we have enough? Are we enough? Do I have enough? Am I enough??
** Everything isn’t all about ME!! Course curriculum may shock & horrify; best to arrive at first class with a comforting prop of some description – either pharmaceutical in nature, or perhaps simply an old favourite stuffed toy. Introductory essay found here.
** Fear 101: How our “civilization” (using the term loosely) inculcates fear in young humans in a myriad of ways so effectively that most wind up living their lives running in circles like rodents on treadmills, never even looking up long enough to observe that there is an entirely (& quite awesome) life to live out beyond the bars of the cage (the door to which is actually not even closed, although most don’t look around long enough to notice this startling fact!).
** Fear-Defying 501: Strategies for climbing down off the treadmill. Closely related to Following Your Bliss (see below). Other useful courses: Bullshit Defying, Cognitive Dissonance, Gratitude.
** Fitting In; Standing Out: Knowing when to do which & how to achieve some kind of uneasy equilibrium while engaged in this delicate (& apparently life-long) balancing act.
** Following Your Bliss: Based on the Joseph Campbell wisdom “When you follow your bliss...doors will open where you would not have thought there would be doors & where there wouldn’t be a door for anyone else.” Guest speakers will testify to dramatic & inspiring personal experiences. Instructor will provide seductive proof that “following your bliss” can lead to frequent attacks of feeling positively full-to-bursting (or F2B).
** Friendship 101 – 501: Prerequisite courses for Living Life Fully (& JOYfully), a graduate-level course open only to those who have grabbed onto gratitude (with both hands), learned to follow their bliss (at least to some degree), wrestle often & semi-successfully with elephants, & defy fear & bullshit (at least some of the time).
** Global Economy: Learning the “down” side of the global economy. Explore the proposition: Global economy means never having to say you’re sorry! Or responsible. Or that you care about anyone, anywhere – except maybe yourself, your stock portfolio, & your immediate family. Screw the environment “over there,” & social justice concerns “over there” too, &, well… heck, here too! Who really gives a damn about petty stuff like that??? After all, “He who dies with the most toys, wins,” right??
** Hard Truths: Too numerous to list here in mere brief course outline. Course will cover both the personal & the political. Just take the plunge & sign up for the course! If you have the balls, that is…
** Ideas: How to have fewer of them, more of them, maybe none at all?? Learning that most of what human beings obsess over, go crazy over, kill over, etc. etc., is actually just mental noise taking place inside the head!! Learn to laugh at your own thoughts, not to let them overpower you, & especially not to let them make you do mean things to other people. (Lao Tzu said: “As soon as you have made a thought, laugh at it.” Eckhart Tolle says “The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but your thoughts about it,” presumably paraphrasing Epictetus, who said “Men are not troubled by things themselves, but by their thoughts about them.) Required reading: Tolle’s book A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose. His earlier book The Power of Now recommended as excellent supplementary material, as is This is It – The Nature of Oneness, by Jan Kersschot. Instructor will also point out that "All emotions are preceded by thought" & that "We can control our emotions by controlling our thoughts." Highly important insight!! [from Healing Journey Workbook - An Active Response to the Crisis of Cancer]
** Judging Not: Simultaneous curriculum for those dancing with denial, rassling with elephants, learning to walk on eggs (semi-skillfully, one hopes, although this is lifelong curriculum, apparently), practicing compassion, rassling with the possibly imminent breakdown of “civilization” (using latter term loosely) & who are also studying concurrently ‘Owning Our Own Power,’ ‘Poignancy 301,’ ‘Paralyzing Pissy-ness’ & ‘Nullifying Neurosis.’
** Knowing When (& How) To:
- Shut up
- Speak up
- Dive in
- Show up
- Stay out of the way
- Run for cover
- Read a mindless novel
- Go for a walk (or canoe trip)
- Go away for a few days
- Take a break
- Ask for a hug
- Go & visit a friend…
- Work your ass off.
This is a post-post-post-graduate level course for those who have passed all the other courses listed here and/or who are simply bloody determined to keep “flying by the seat of y/our pants” & “fakin’ it ‘till we/you make it” (another essential course for all humans) & fully prepared to step in it up to their/our eyeballs when we/they:
- Make the wrong call
- Blow it
- Love someone too much / too little
- Tell the Truth / Don't Tell the Truth
- Try too hard
- Don’t try hard enough
- Screw up
- Hope for too much (or too little)
- Put up with too much (or too little)
- Give in too soon (or too late)
- Care too much (or too little).