You Don’t Have to Be Pretty. You don’t owe prettiness to anyone. Not to your boyfriend/spouse/partner, not to your co-workers, especially not to random men on the street. You don’t owe it to your mother, you don’t owe it to your children, you don’t owe it to civilization in general. Prettiness is not a rent you pay for occupying a space marked “female”.
How can we honor Priya Haji, a social entrepreneur, a mother, a friend, an inspiration to us all? She had such heart.
Priya believed that everyone, from ex-Presidents to ex-cons, were worthy of respect. When, in a group of entrepreneurs, someone had behaved badly, everyone backed away. But Priya said, yes, that wasn’t good, but here’s how he can be helped. When she met people, she saw they weren’t the worst thing thing they had done. She saw them bigger than they were, bigger than they even saw themselves. She treated everyone this way.
Van Jones, at her memorial yesterday, said that when everyone on the Stanford campus was marching around, waving banners and saying that Racism was Bad, Priya was down the road in East Palo Alto starting Free at Last. She believed everyone, without exception, could do better. From Free at Last, through World of Good, and to SaveUp, she was always working to make the world, and everyone in it, better, kinder, more compassionate. As good, and as kind, and as compassionate as she herself was.
Beloved Priya, Goodbye.
A friend of mine died this past week, suddenly, of a pulmonary embolism. After she died, I learned that a pulmonary embolism is caused by a blood clot, typically from the legs, blocks one of the pulmonary arteries in your lungs. Death is sudden. Be aware of potential causes: you should be cautious after surgery, if you have cancer, after flying on a plane, and if you have been immobilized for some time — when you are most likely to develop blood clots. On planes it is common to have swelling in both ankles, but you should be on guard if one of your ankles, or feet, has more swelling than the other. Call a doctor immediately! And do those plane exercises, and move your legs as much as you can during the flight.
I wasn’t aware of any of this and felt it should be passed on. It turns out that many people I know have friends and family members who have died from pulmonary embolism. Here is more information about it from The Mayo Clinic.
And while we’re talking about the end of life, please read Shoshana Berger’s essay How to Die in 5 Easy Steps — and make sure you have an advanced directive written to help people who love you make decisions about your care should you become incapacitated.
My notes from Ursula LeGuin’s essay about Hans Christian Andersen and Jung, from her book “The Language of the Night”, “The Child and the Shadow”
If the ego “is weak, or if it’s offered nothing better, what it does is identify with the “collective consciousness.” That is Jung’s term for a kind of lowest common denominator of all the little egos added together, the mass mind, which consists of such things as cults, crees, fads, fashions, status-seeking, conventions, received beliefs, advertising, pop cult, all the isms, all the ideologies, all the hollow forms of communication and “togetherness” that lack real communion or real sharing. The ego, accepting these empty forms, becomes a member of the “lonely crowd”. To avoid this, to attain real community, it must turn inward, away from the crowd, to the source: it must identify with its own deeper regions, the great unexplored regions of the Self. These regions of the psyche June calls the “collective unconscious,” and it is in them, where we all meet, that he sees the source of true community; of felt religion; of art, grace, spontaneity, and love.
That mass mind is “stuffed full of the one-sided, shadowless half-truths and conventional moralities”
Jung wrote;” Everyone carries a shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is.” The less you look at it, in other words, the stronger it grows, until it can become a menace, an intolerable load, a threat within the soul. Unadmitted to consciousness, the shadow is projected outwards, onto others. There’s nothing wrong with me–it’s them. I’m not a monster, other people are monsters.
If the individual wants to live in the real world, he must withdraw his projections; he must admit that the hateful, the evil, exists within himself. This isn’t easy. It is very hard not to be able to blame anybody else.
If one were to deal with his own shadow, he has….grown toward true community, and self-knowledge, and creativity. For the shadow stands on the threshold. We can let it bar the way to the creative depths of the unconscious, or we can let it lead us to them. For the shadow is not simply evil. It is inferior, primitive, awkward, animallike, childlike; powerful, vital, spontaneous. It’s not weak and decent, like the learned young man from the North; it’s dark and hairy and unseemly; but, without it, the person is nothing.
Which is more important? Being cool, winning, and engaging in consensus reality with other winners? Or catching a glimpse of something miraculous, unforeseen, strange or uncanny, full of chance and possibility?
“Yes, my consuming desire is to mingle with road crews, sailors and soldiers, barroom regulars—to be a part of a scene, anonymous, listening, recording—all this is spoiled by the fact that I am a girl, a female always supposedly in danger of assault and battery. My consuming interest in men and their lives is often misconstrued as a desire to seduce them, or as an invitation to intimacy. Yes, God, I want to talk to everybody as deeply as I can. I want to be able to sleep in an open field, to travel west, to walk freely at night…”
― Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath
“Morality isn’t just about stealing and killing and honesty, it’s often about menstruation, and food, and who you are having sex with, and how you handle corpses.” –Jonathan Haidt
Jonathan Haidt’s research into disgust and politics is fascinating. For example, many conservatives are disgusted by the ideal of gay sex and are therefore against gay marriage. Libertarians tend to have the lowest levels of disgust. I saw a TED talk of his in which he said that most people would find it disgusting to contemplate, but college students are able to consider “eating their pets”. College is an environment designed to encourage openness — the ability to think of things in novel ways, and entertain unconventional beliefs. Here’s a lecture by Haidt on Reason that’s a good intro to some of his ideas.