Beef Stew for the Atheist SpiritPosted by Jim Newman on October 26th, 2012 – Comments Off – Posted in Personal Stories
Beef Stew for the Atheist Spirit
Post by Jim Newman
It’s been a psychobabble week. For the protection of the innocent I will reveal nothing but I needed relief.
What’s a poor atheist boy to do? I am thinking: there are all of these “great” religious books that spout theostuff for people’s comforts. There are all of those comfort reasons to have an imaginary big dad at your side. What do we atheists do? I am finding consolation in a few things I want to share as beef stew for the atheist spirit. If it works for you, send me a buck.
First an introductory, 1967 video of Woody Allen and William F Buckley. The sad part is when Woody wishes a conservative were voted in for president for a year because then no one would vote conservative again. Ok, I’m over that—the world is more weird than ever as people love the older Bush and of course, the country is more conservative than ever. Allen responds to a question of what is a liberal: liberal as if a girl is liberal she will neck with him if Buckley would neck with him that would be very liberal.
I list the stews below followed by descriptions. At the end are some beef stew videos I found that sated my appetite for spirit work.
- Praise your partner
- Spend time with children
- Tend your family
- Frequent friends
- Celebrate life
- Seek nature
- Create art
- Mind drugs
- Cherish faults
Praise your partner. If there is a rock in one’s life of care, it should be your partner. After all the petty disagreements, the big-issue juggernauts, and the general psychoclutter that obscures the view we all benefit from having a strong relationship with another human, though living thing, or thing, will do in a pinch. I find consolation in the concerns of those who love me. I find consolation in helping those who care for me, and even those I don’t know, for that matter. After the thrashings of tumultuous seas I find the ropes attached to the rocks at shore are most held by those to whom I am most committed. Comforting to hug, kiss, admire, and share.
Spend time with children. While it comes off as evobio oriented it is hard to argue with the benefits of loving those who are genetically close to you the most. Of course, this implies a good relation with family. For me it helps to have this relation. Independent to a fault I don’t like to feel alone. Comforting to be with, share, and support. As silly as it is, looking at photo’s of family has a great effect. I embarrassedly cruise the photo albums. I need to get over the embarrassment.
Tend your family. Good family is helpful. Bad family is torturous. Most families have some combination of the two. Your family has its own culture, your culture, whether you like it or not. You are born with the genetics and you are inculcated with their choices. Understanding this helps you understand your position with the rest of the world. Comforting it is to seek siblings and share and support each other. It is also comforting to get that you are what you are because you were born into a family. There are things in you which you can change and there are some which you cannot and should not. Independent, individual, yes—alone and without, no.
Frequent friends. Yep, I am following the path of evobio altruism but it also sounds like an expanding circle of care, or self. Your friends help you define yourself as well as support you, and vice versa. Some say you only have a few close friends in life and others say many. For me, I make friends easy but don’t visit often. Being project and independent oriented has its solitary aspects.. Visit and bring gifts you have thought about.
Celebrate life. I can’t emphasize this enough. This is the coolest, most awesome, absolutely most wondrously joyous planet I know. Embrace the mystery. I mean don’t get caught up in the optimist Dr Pangloss that this is the best of all possible worlds. Rather, I mean celebrate life. We, you, I are here and it’s better that we are. Given the being of existence, the preference of full tenure and not existential suicide, it’s time to celebrate that entry. I can look up and see the stars or whatever moves me. Sometimes that means embracing sorrow, pain, and discomfort as your own. Embrace your attitude. Whatever it is live it deeply until you cannot and then pass time until you can. I don’t mean mindfulness, I mean celebration. I don’t mind dispirited or removed from the desire. I mean full embracement; joy or not, disgust or not, meaning or not. Celebrating life is seeking intensity of motivation to interest.
Seek nature. Nature has deep and satisfying effects on us. I don’t mean to worship cancer or flies. I mean get involved with natural things to your taste and benefit. Sublimity has often been used to describe the wonders of the world. It has a mechanically positive effect on you. Water, air, warmth, dirt. Ancient sources.
Create art. The more refined the friend, the more refined their taste often is against nature. The perfect environment they say is the house. I get inspired by walking Manhattan or the DC Mall or a Mayan ruin. I am still moved by the experience of seeing Rembrandt paintings in person. Adding art to work adds pleasure and cultural depth. You are adding something great to the world.
Mind drugs. We’re looking for beef stew right? This is not mindfulness for the atheist spirit. Sugar is a drug as is salt. Smelling paint as a painter means taking a paint drug. Smelling fresh cut hay or fresh cut wood are all drugs. Aromatic hydrocarbons have strong messaging effects. Our bodies are constantly engaged in chemical reactions with the world, whether we can smell, hear, or see them. Some drugs shoot you out of the ballpark and should not be taken. Some give you hallucinations before the coma and are taken with supreme care in a culture of use through generations. Learn your receptors, your proclivities. Learn how your body works in its own chemistry, remembering it can create different chemistry.
Cherish faults. Whatever it is, you do it for a reason. It’s not emotional or stupid. It might be inculcated or intuitive. Your bad habits give pleasure and have that utility. If you need to change them do so. My point is if you like to smoke a cigarette and you need beef stew for your spirit, today, it’s good to smoke and enjoy a cigarette with your stew. Take your shirt off, lie outside, and revel that you can’t get any work done today because you’re too damned distracted with solving the problems of the universe.
Enough! This is getting saccharine and narrow…
What I found this week was music. I determined to hear Neil Young though I no longer own many albums, one that is. The rest, vinyl, sold to move to a boat.
Harvest Moon sent me into the Partner Care Ozone. There aren’t enough great songs about loving your partner. This one hit my spot.
After that Old Man. It was a morning of cleaning up after a family work weekend or what I am beginning to call the semiannual family abuse fest. Declared crazy for writing five rather incoherent emails about how the house was being ruined, values trampled, and existing boundaries transgressed, I could but only think of my life in its long tenure. In any culture 55 is a long time. All of the changes amidst continuity. Where I have come from, where I am going. Living with the Other, Difference.
Finally, over that, I could spin My My, Hey, Hey. “Out of the blue and into the black. They give you this but you pay for that”. Time to leave this house and go to work. Time to wallow in selfpity, potent apathy, and then time to disengage from that. Yes, like the depressive deny long-term benefit for short-term gain. Unlike the hopeless depressive, the organically mute, I can wallow, splash, dive and then return having healed along the way. I was licking my emotional wounds with music. The sounds move you. The words move you. The narrative moves you. Sometimes you need to change albums.
So I survive the week with bouts of NPR—broken iphone, no podcasts, no albums, and sucky radio. Audio challenged! The weekend I dominate the kids’ ambient music and work my way through Youtube. In the morning there is Gore Vidal, Why I am an atheist and not an agnostic. He won my heart with his mention of the atomists, Lucretius and Democritus.
A few more of some like and I stumble onto an Ayn Rand interview with mike Wallace. I just want to hear her voice for a bit and see her expressions.
I later find a Mike Wallace interview with Aldous Huxley. Who beautifully states the beginning of our problems ending in a possible dictatorship are based on a lack of balance between death and reproduction, curable through education and critical thinking. Overpopulation creates the insistence towards similarity and centralization of power through pervasive media. Efficiency and scale will rule over subject and individual.
I watch a few more with Chomsky, Hitchens, Dennett looking for some thread of commonality other than secularism, and how their own disagreements with each other formed. History is so difficult compared to news; the nuances of relationships melt into goo.
YouTubing to musical la land I find Crosby, Stills, and Nash,, more Neil Young, Linda Ronstadt, Bonnie Rait, JL Hooker, Little Feat, and then Ry Cooder. He hits the spot.
One Cat, One Vote, One Beer
Mutt Romney Blues
No Banker Left Behind
Three Cords and the Truth
Onto his Chavez Ravin album the story of a Hispanic community removed by money and force to make room for Dodger’s Stadium, (originally Chavez Ravine.
I think of the good man Ry and his replacing Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie as a living Folk Hero. It’s good to be able to hear it.
Later in bed, I view, again, the great two days of shows of Ry at the Catalyst in Santa Cruz in 1987. Awesome shows where I met the band members afterwards in a line up of congrat’s. Good times and awe-inspiring music. Here’s the complete film, Let’s Have a Ball.
Jim Newman, bright and well