Please refer to the posting 'Courses I’d Like to See in 2011 / Part I: A - K' for a proper introduction to this … utter silliness on my part – & also, of course, for the first half of the list of courses!!
Now, continuing right along…
** Motherhood 101: Tips for understanding down to your very bones the wildly important fact that motherhood (once embarked upon) will be the most important (& most long-standing) role you will ever take on. Filled with joy, love, challenges, frustrations & potential near-heartbreak (at times). A role not always well understood in the modern age – but one that, if performed with some skill, has vast potential for world-healing. Closely related to Fatherhood 101 – but since the instructor of Motherhood 101 is, by necessity, a woman/mother, F. 101 will be taught by a man/father. Ambivalence aplenty to be covered in both courses – along with unbounded potential for meaning, satisfaction…& unforeseen (& unforeseeable) pitfalls. A learn-as-you-go, fly-by-the-seat-of-the-pants, over-the-top experience! *** Important Disclaimer: Instructor is NOT recommending that anyone embark upon new parenthood, a very precarious business in this ever-more-precarious world. Parenthood is an awesome experience & massive, life-long responsibility. Given the state of Planet Earth at this unprecedented time, serious consideration given to NOT embarking upon it could be considered a very wise move indeed... Additionally relevant, this quotation: “The essence of motherhood is not restricted to women who have given birth; it is a principle inherent in both women and men. It is an attitude of the mind. It is love – and that love is the very breath of life. No one would say, ‘I will breathe only when I am with my family and friends; I won’t breathe in front of my enemies.’ Similarly, for those in whom motherhood has awakened, love and compassion for everyone are as much a part of their being as breathing.” – Amma Chi, also known as Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi
** Owning Our Own Power: For fearless – or perhaps just courageous – people who are determined not to “let the world get them down,” who know “You CAN fight City Hall” (not to mention corrupt politicians & blood-sucking corporations & bored, boring & bloodless bureaucrats). All other courses offered will be very useful in moving ahead on this one. All topics mentioned in this overall Life course outline will have to be, at the very least, wrestled with. Strong self-esteem, bloody-minded determination & sheer stubborn-ness will also be essential for those who wish to “pass” the course.
** Planning: Overrated?? Prerequisite for those individuals who still don’t get that “life seldom proceeds in accordance with our careful plans” (another hopefully useful saying from yours truly). Not to be confused with Egregious & Over-the-Top Failure to Consider The Long-Term Consequences of Our Actions – a course currently taught in all engineering schools. Most professional courses of any kind, actually. Especially taught by those who advocate the use of nuclear technologies!?!?!?! See depleted uranium &/or nuclear waste of any kind. Adaptation/flexibility undergraduate course must be taken concurrently. Students will be reminded of the Winston Churchill gem “It is a mistake to look too far ahead. Only one link in the chain of Destiny can be handled at a time.”
** Poignancy 101: Prerequisites are compassion, non-judgment, & simple love of one’s fellow humans – along with great patience for human foibles, neuroses & idiosyncrasies. The ability to see how all members of the human race are at base rather simple creatures, all of whom share simple (but profound) needs for love & approval – the need to be needed & affirmed – the need to belong, & to feel part of something much larger than oneself. A very satisfying, if challenging, curriculum. Prerequisite for Stopping Beating Up on Ourselves & Judging Not.
** Pooh-Poohing with Politeness: This course essential for those individuals whose stock, default position when confronted with disturbing (& very likely personally & professionallyinconvenient) facts is to simply pooh-pooh them. Presenters with Ph.D’s in Pooh-Poohing will lecture on how to excel in this field. (Pooh-poohing in the corporate world is a growth industry, of course. Graduates will be encouraged to move on to topics such as Climate Change Denial in order to be able to graduate with the ultimate “Pooh-Poohing the Human Race Right out of Existence” diploma.)
** Potential 101: A real barn-burner, this one!! Sensing the true vastness of human potential is an inspiring, exciting & empowering experience. Empirical evidence to be provided in abundance!! Frequent reminders of the Ralph Waldo Emerson statement: “What lies behind us and what lies ahead are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” From Dr. Martin Luther King: “Everyone has the power of greatness; not for fame, but greatness. Because greatness is determined by service.” A more recent quotation: “Fossil fuels may be infinite, but human psychic potential is infinite!” (this one from yours truly…) And of course the great & inspiring Marianne Williamson insight. Menopausal women will be encouraged to read Dr. Christiane Northrup’s The Wisdom of Menopause, where they will learn that women’s brains actually catch fire at menopause!! Finally, students will be encouraged to contemplate the Joanna Macy contention that “Our roots, our true nature – is vast.” Just think what humans could achieve if we each mined even a small amount of our own, personal potential??? Yikes! We could really blow the roof off!!
** Saying Thank You/Singing: Essential activities to be practiced faithfully & often. Success in this course may ensure success in all of the others offered & is a prerequisite for understanding the overall ‘Joyful Life’ course curriculum.
** Staying Out of the Way 101: Very, very difficult course to pass. Sometimes one “stays out of the way” out of sincere consideration for others...& then is merely perceived to be uncaring or inconsiderate. Sometimes one barges right in when one really ought to have seriously considered going off to China for a week (or a month. Or…maybe forever??) Tough call on the curriculum for this course. Instructor is still really rassling with course content, prerequisites & minimum course requirements. Stay tuned!! Curriculum under continuous revision.
** Swamp-Avoiding: A course in which success is virtually unattainable, given that wading through swamps of an astonishing number & variety is a clear prerequisite for Life 101 right through graduate-level Life courses. People are invited to go ahead & sign up, however, since many humans apparently remain convinced that swamp avoidance is … desirable, achievable, possible… & that attempting to micro-manage one’s life/thoughts/other people’s lives/thoughts/plans will somehow miraculously bring joy/satisfaction/whatever else it is these folks believe it will bring.
** Talking Quietly on the Phone: Another course that is un-passable. Even those who squawk the loudest & most often about other people’s propensity to talk too loudly on the phone appear to be equally guilty of this (usually rather minor) human habit/transgression. Ah well. Perhaps the course on ‘Poignancy’ will be of use here. The all-too-human tendency to “point a finger” at others, in order to accuse them of faults/imperfections/wrong-doing, is so frequently a terribly …poignant reminder that we too are each highly fallible…& also very likely talk too loudly on the phone!
** That’s SCANDALOUS! Curriculum still under development. Issues relating to lead (which, according to historians, caused the downfall of the Roman Empire) & nuclear energy certain to achieve top billing. Many other industry-related topics will also be covered. Insurance industry a top contender. Auto industry, banking industry, chemical industry, pharmaceutical industry; you know, the usual suspects… Radioactive consumer products are one clearcut example of scandalousness (scandality??) - & over-the-top corporate rape, pillage &....dare we say, even, perhaps, evil??
** The personal is political: Essential curriculum for life – whether one “passes” or “fails.” Whether or not one is even vaguely tuned in on this topic, one is entirely caught up in its essential, unavoidable truth/wisdom.
** Using Your Voice! Essayto read in preparation for first class. Refer also to this one.
** Walking: Highly recommended for people of all ages, nationalities, sexes, cultures, political beliefs, backgrounds…for any human being who has legs, pretty much. Walking often leads to serious outbreaks of the sensation of simple wellbeing, & thus is actually quite subversive. Instructor will refer to these quotations about the benefits of walking.
** What is a Person to DO?? Relevant curriculum for any & all individuals hoping to check into “Heaven” (or heck – even Hell!) at the time one “passes on.” All must wrestle with this essential question. No firm answers to be provided, however. Assuming one has paid attention to all previous elements of essential Life curriculum, & even if one has failed numerous listed courses, provided one wrestles sincerely & meaningfully (& more-than-sporadically) with the question “What is a person to DO??” one may yet – & even spectacularly! – graduate joyfully & triumphantly from Life 101.
** Which Came First, the Chicken or the Egg?? The eternal conundrum will be explored. Instructor has no definitive answers to this age-old question, & will thus introduce the intriguing concept of Mystery. Also to be suggested, given the endless (almost daily!) existence of chicken & egg scenarios in one’s life & in the world, some strategies for cutting through the paralysis one often confronts when unable to locate the riddle’s answer. Simple strategies such as: Pick up the phone! Apologize! Sign up for some therapy! Consider attending a Landmark Forum weekend! Join a political action group or community group or environmental organization involved in an issue one gives a damn about! (Remember the very first course offering? Activism/Action: Its Own Reward? Cuts right through that age-old chicken/egg scenario, doesn’t it??)
Courses NOT on the 2011 curriculum:
** Beating Up on Ourselves: This course not offered in 2011, since, dammit, people – haven’t we all spent too way much time on this already??
** Micro-managing (or at least trying to micro-manage) your spouse/partner/kids’/friends’ lives/plans/ thoughts/activities…etc. etc. etc: Since this only drives everyone nuts anyway!?!!? (And no one ever, ever, ever, ever thanks you for it!)
** Walking on Eggs: Simply because the instructors who have always taught this course are fatally tired to death of yet another curriculum that never ends, and are on sabbatical from relationships in which almost constant egg-walking is required. When they return, they will teach courses in Lightening Up on Ourselves (& On Each Other). Watch for it!!
Additional Courses Under Consideration for 2011:
** Flying by the Seat of Our Pants…& Loving It!!
** Fun: How to Have More of It!! Involves following your bliss, laughing (at oneself, in particular), honesty, lightening up, letting go, singing, music &, most definitely…friends!!
** It’s Definitely Not About the Money, Honey!!
** Looking Good: Course instructor will challenge students with the question: “Good Lord, is this really what it’s all about, people??” Brainstorming sessions to find strategies for overcoming the obsession with looking good & the fear of looking stupid.
** NOT Jumping to Conclusions: Jumping to conclusions takes too damn much energy!! See essay here. It also leads frequently to endless mistakes, misery… even war!?!!?
** Pettiness: Not a Winning Strategy! Curriculum to be determined… Course highly recommended to humans of the female persuasion, many of whom seem inordinately inclined toward this unfortunate tendency.
** Sin: That Which Separates? So Nietzsche believed. Search underway for course instructor. Relevant essay here
** Social Skills 101: Compulsory course for those who do not understand the importance of simple conversation, & who have seemingly not yet grasped the truth that “words are indeed important.” (see below)
** Weirdness: Universal human trait, apparently. Instructor will work to convince students that weirdness is utterly necessary & normal - even essential for a happy life!
** Words Are Important: Instructor is obsessively word & book & quotation-oriented & will dispense quotations & book recommendationswith gay abandon, offer provocative evidence that conversation is the single most important thing there is, & challenge students with wildly inspiring quotations.
** Work: What IS Work?? Instructor promises to provide convincing evidence that work need have nothing whatsoever to do with a paycheque. That one can & often does perform one’s most meaningful (not to mention challenging…& rewarding) …work… without entertaining a single solitary thought involving money. Somewhat related to the radical contention that ‘Wealth has nothing whatsoever to do with money.’
BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS for 2011:
First off, there are 2 long lists of recommended reading on this blog. Check 'em out!
Secondly, here is what I recommend this morning. By this afternoon my list would probably be different. I am an absolute KOOK when it comes to books!?!?!
Books I am currently reading & wish everyone else would too:
1. Eaarth - Making a Life on a Tough New Planet, by Bill McKibben. Top pick of the year!
2. Disconnect - The Truth about Cell Phone Radiation, What the Industry Has Done to Hide It, and How to Protect Your Family, by Devra Davis. Review here If you do a Google search, you can also locate a 2-minute YouTube of the author discussing her book Better yet, Google 'Disconnect + Devra Davis' & locate a series of YouTubes of her longer lecture. Since almost everyone we know uses cell phones with gay abandon, reading of their risks seems like a pretty good bet!
2 others I've read & can't recommend highly enough:
1. In the Absence of the Sacred - The Failure of Technology & the Survival of the Indian Nations, by Jerry Mander. I just did a blog posting about this one.
2. World as Lover, World as Self: Courage for Global Justice and Ecological Renewal, by Joanna Macy. She helps readers rassle with despair, for one thing - & for another, she makes you realize that our culture, instead of encouraging us to deal with the "big picture" problem that human beings are destroying the planet, encourages us to get so lost in our own personal pathology that we can't act with courage & conviction. Awesome book, awesome woman! Blog posting here about her 2009 talk in Toronto includes links to more Joanna Macy good stuff...