Denigrating ‘Peace-Loving’ Muslim Veterans

Both major candidates denigrated Muslims and Muslim veterans this week, although only one was reported as doing so. In speaking disparagingly about the Khan family’s sacrifice, and in comparing his financial setbacks to the family’s ‘sacrifice’ of their son, Donald Trump has hit a new high in lack of class (or is that a new low in class?).

His remarks (among others) prove, as many claim, that he does not have the intelligence, common sense, simple good manners, or deportment required of a U.S. president, much less the people and statesmanship skills. Uh, big surprise; we already knew that…all of us, Republicans (and in their secret hearts) his supporters, too.

Yet Hillary Clinton’s unfitness for the presidential role once again escaped attention. This time it was not illustrated by ineptitude and criminal behavior (as in the email scandals and the many others she and ‘Slick Willy’ have been involved in), nor in overt racism or bigotry like Trump, but in perhaps subconscious but telling remarks, sort of patronizing Freudian slips.

In speaking of the Khan family, she (or most likely her speech-writers) lauded the Khan family as ‘law-abiding Muslims’. Somehow, to me, this is just as disrespectful as Trump’s overt ignorance and bigotry, perhaps more so because it is cloaked bigotry, under the guise of progressive liberalism.

When I hear the words ‘law-abiding Muslim’ (especially as counterpointed with terrorist Muslim, as Hillary did), I cannot avoid hearing an old-fashioned slave owner saying ‘one of the good darkies’, or a cavalry officer speaking of the ‘good Indians’. It is the type of unthinking bigotry that classifies all others as ‘wogs’, and then separates the wogs into Good Wogs and Bad Wogs. Whatever you call them, they are still wogs to anachronistic, authoritarian types like Hillary.

When both candidates try to play off the loss of veterans and of their families to their advantage, I am highly offended, for neither has served the country, and both have opposed and derided the military, in public. This type of calculating insinuation illustrates why neither candidate is fit for office, and why both are narrow-minded bigots of a sort.

Add to that the fact they both support plans and policies (and Clinton a history) that will undoubtedly result in more Americans dying in wars. and perhaps many of those conscripted (forced) to. Under these conditions, any time these political hacks and wordsmiths speak of the military service members patronizingly, or as if they were their supporters or somehow ‘aligned’ with them (pandering their votes, in reality), I am greatly offended.

Offenses like this against one of America’s most honored minorities (veterans) are not to be tolerated, and clearly illustrate why neither candidate is fit for office, and neither party which backs such candidates is fit to represent the American people.

Lastly, the remarks of both these inappropriate candidates is an offense and affront to all Americans. When politicians try to use our sentiments to promote their own agendas, they are no longer potential representatives for us, but proven manipulators, and unworthy of our respect or votes. When they try to ‘align with’ or pander to (the votes of) people they plan to send to war, or compare their political or business sacrifices to those of soldiers who have lost lives and limbs, or families who have lost sons and daughters, they have proven themselves an offense to all of us, and thus unworthy of our votes.

When they try to pull this type of nonsense on us with a straight face, they treat us as if we were stupid, or easily deceived. That alone is a cause for rejection of someone who hopes to be a leader of the people, a representative and servant of the people.

We are often told lately the upcoming election is not a choice between ideals or a choice for what we believe, but a choice for one person, one candidate or another. One or another. It seems so simple. Yet there is another choice, especially in light of their documented ineptitude and unfitness for the position of president and Commander in Chief.

It’s not either-or.

One choice remains, to all thinking and feeling people.

Neither.

 

God

Making God Come Alive

The old Judeo-Christian books told us of a jealous god, an angry god. This was a god who saw everything you do…and punished you for it, if you broke his law. These old books told us about a powerful, omnipotent god who simply didn’t take any crap, a god who didn’t mess around. They described a god who commanded ‘his people’ to invade sovereign states and kill everyone in them (which supposedly occurred many times, according to the Old Testament).

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Joshua performing genocide on the Amonites

People waited for his promised coming, for his promised appearance.They prayed for a sign, a burning bush, a hint, anything.

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Generations passed, hoping for a god or the angels to come out of the sky and help people.

deus ex machina

Deus Ex Machina, the God in the Machine

 

Oddly enough, in time the visions soon became not of god coming down to help people or bring rain to all, but devolved into pleas to exact revenge on our enemies, to demand retribution, to enforce justice -as we see it.

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Some prayed even more fervently for these distorted goals; god help us win in war, teach them durn other guys (Catholics or Protestants, Christians, or Muslims, whoever is opposite their side) a thing or two, get that bully on the playground for us.

praying2

prayislam

When Times magazine declared god was dead in the new age of technology, many people believed them. Okay, if god was dead, but people still needed a God. Was it going to be TV or drugs, booze or mindless entertainment? That new ‘whacky tobacky’ the hippies were smoking? No. People needed something more tangible than that. Lacking the appearance of a real god, we decided to create our own.

sculptor stuff

Perhaps our government in its desire to provide more and better law, security, control, etc. (the things we had previously asked of god) simply reflected our ‘inner’ wishes and outer prayers and it tried to give us well, if not god, then the things we prayed to god for.

So we made a god based on our societal model of God.

This new god hears everything you say…

monitor calls

It sees everything you do…

spy-drone

It is (almost) omnipotent…

NSA

It is a jealous god, punishing those who won’t follow his commands.

Gitmo

This god promises hell to those who oppose him….

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This god ain’t down with homosexuals or rebels…’deviants’ of any sort.

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He don’t dig blacks so much either, or any of those ‘colored’ people …

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…and certainly not those Muslims and their ‘other god’.

This new god can see through walls…

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It can see you at night…

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It hears your softest whisper…

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What this god might not see we freely confess to him…

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He sees you when you’re sleeping…he knows when you’re awake. He knows if you’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness’ sake!

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Stern and implacable, this god allows no dissent and ‘free speech’ against him of his rules is considered treason

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‘They’ do it to ‘us’…and ‘we’ do it to ‘them.’ We don’t even bat an eyelid, because, well…our new god does it to us.

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Free speech against the fundamental principles is considered treason…a reason…for death, imprisonment, and who knows what else? Maybe something worse awaits…hell.

Hell Gitmo

 

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At first, we resisted the intrusions of this fundamentalist god, but after 9/11 everyone prayed harder…and got what they wanted – and a bit more. They wanted security in our homeland and instead got Homeland Security, a money-gobbling bureaucracy (as if we needed another bureaucracy). The country needed patriots, and instead got the Patriot Act, which took away our basic civil rights.

We wanted change, and we got it; with new laws being passed (typically unannounced or covered by the media, and signed at the eleventh hour) that take away our right to fair trial, control over our food and water supplies, classify dissenters or people who sympathize with the oppressed or the victims of our empire-building paradigm as terrorists, and even threaten to take away our citizenship.

Yes, this god is a stern god. It is undeniably a powerful god.

Yet like all gods and images of gods, they can only be made manifest by our individual and collective work, with not only our compliance, but with our intentions manifest as actions and results.

So while we have made a harsh god in the past that looks suspiciously like the angry, jealous patriarchal Judeo-Christian god (like the sum of all bad fathers through history), perhaps as our understanding and compassion develop, as our world-views mature and release the tribe mentality, encompassing all people as brothers, with the shipmate mentality, we will create (or refine) our new god to be kinder, gentler, more compassionate.

Maybe instead of a father figure (and the patriarchal god that results) we will begin to conceive a more nurturing goddess figure, more of a supporting figure than a criticizing one. Maybe then the analogs and forms our gods take on earth will support us instead of punish us; maybe they will guide us into new, willingly-chosen better behaviors rather than make laws and prisons to enforce behaviors on us.

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This really all starts with us. We take the first step, towards liberation, towards compassion. As more and more of us begin, our society moves in step with us, and these analogs of the god we envision change.

The change really all begins with us. It’s not the government’s fault…they are just doing the job as they know how, in the ‘old’ way. They are implementing our collective will. As we change, so do ‘they’, so does ‘it.’

The first step begins with us. How we live our lives, and how we act in society. Do we support parties and candidates that support war, the old regimes and bureaucracies, the old outmoded paradigms, or do we support candidates and parties which reflect our new values, our new and evolving vision of the world?

It all begins with us. With that first step towards release…from ignorance, suffering, old ways of thinking and being that hold us back. One step…

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(c) 2016 Mark Francis Mullen. All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced or published for profit. All images are copyright by original owners. Publication on Facebook or any other media or social media does not imply or allow or modify this copyright, and permits no rights to those media.

flying heart

Love as a Strategic Weapon

In a world where everyone seems to be trying to gain ascendancy over everyone else, there seems to be a fixation on weapons and strategies. We look for the super-weapon to destroy (or disable) our enemies, seek the best strategy to ‘win’ in love, or at work, or…wherever we go.

We militarize everything – even the spiritual path. We have spiritual ‘warriors’ these days, and loudly give them acclaim. We have the ‘battle between the sexes’ as if love and interaction are some sort of M.M.A. cage fight. We have a ‘war on drugs’, as if inanimate objects could fight us (in reality, we have a war on citizens who use drugs).

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Our minstrels (court jesters) sing about sapphire bullets of love, and about beating our loved ones over the head with our ‘love.’ All we need is a good weapon to do it with, right? Our politicians make war against each other, and incite us to a sort of war against each other as well.

I literally find myself feeling sick as I contemplate our monstrous separation from each other. No wonder our planet seems to be going down in flames. People stockpile rifles and pistols, as a sort of safety blanket against the scary world they perceive. Most want even better weapons than they are allowed by our (purported) laws.

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We’re just as fascinated by (and fixated on) ‘winning strategies’ as we are on weapons. Whole sections of book stores are dedicated to them…strategies to find love, to manifest love better, to get the job or mate or circumstances we so desire. Just as badly as we want super-weapons to crush the people and problems that lie before us  (or gain ascendancy over them), we want strategies to ensure we ‘win’ in life.

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These attitudes are the enemies of love. When we use weapons or make ourselves warriors, we are not really on the side of peace and love, no matter how loudly we proclaim we are. When we engage in strategies to plot how to unfold our lives, we are fighting against the natural flow, trying to force the universe to do it our way.

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We search high and low, seeking these weapons and strategies. We go to seminars where others tell us how to find or use them…others telling us how to use the weapons they like as our own. We never question this massive solipsism, and often applaud these warmongers as ‘spiritual guides.’

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I gotta tell ya, any spiritual guide who tries to sell me weapons and strategies is nothing more than an arms dealer to me. Although these suggested strategies seem cloaked in visions of love and happiness, I know that love and happiness cannot be achieved or experienced by using weapons and strategies.

Still, we search on, like kids looking for an imaginary Pokemon they’ll never find. We look for a ‘better way’, better techniques, better tools and methods to accomplish what we want. All the while, we are ignoring the one ‘strategic weapon’ that could actually help us. Okay, I gave away the suspense in the title…it is love.

Yes, love is the ‘weapon’ we are looking for, the ultimate strategy we continually seek. Love…real love, as action, as an open heart, as compassionate acceptance of others and their sovereignty.

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At first glance, the concept of love seems incommensurable with the concept of weaponry. Love is at its core (if anything) a healing and uniting tool, not a weapon. Love blossoms from the heart as a natural phenomenon, and is not made manifest by planned strategies. The two seem to be contradictions in terms. So how can I have the outright gall to suggest love is the ultimate strategic weapon? Am I as confused as the rest of our planet seems to be?

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Weapons obviously divide – there is one person at one end of the weapon (holding it metaphorically, as it were), and another on the receiving end. Weapons never bash us with enlightenment – they are made to hurt and harm, perhaps even kill. Even ‘humane’ weapons and ‘non lethal’ weapons share this attribute…one person is using force and the other is subjected to that force.

Love unites. So how could it be a weapon? It really can’t, if it wants to remain love. Yet love can have the end result that weapons intend (but never achieve). Weapons basically are used to get someone to do something you want them to do, or to stop them from doing something you want them to stop (such as living, or messing with your grandma, or whatever).

Weapons are all about force – a force that harms and divides. Love is about force, too – a force that unites. The two seem to be separated by a gulf, polar opposites, diametrically opposed to each other. So how could love be a weapon?

Say we want to get someone to bend to our will, or to force them to see things as we do. Why, we typically just grab a weapon (which could be simply arguments or the sharp side of our tongues) and start bashing until they comply…or run away. That has proven to be highly ineffective – yet we persist in hoping that with a new, improved weapon we might finally get us what we want.

What if instead we used love? Love implies understanding, compassion, acceptance, concern, and respect for the ‘other’. What if we used this anti-weapon as a weapon? Would we have a chance of accomplishing more with compassion, understanding, or acceptance – or will a bigger, better weapon get the job done? Would we get more bees with tasty honey than with bitter vinegar? Uh, let me ask a third grader, for they will surely know what we adults seem to have forgotten.

let love win

If we meet our enemies with understanding (or the desire to understand their issues), we might have a chance. If we meet them with acceptance of how they are (and a desire to find a solution acceptable to both of us), would we have a better chance of getting (if not what we want exactly) a mutually agreeable outcome? Will the sun rise tomorrow?

So yes, love can be a ‘weapon’…the only one that might work. The one peaceful ‘weapon’ we could possibly use.

squirrel bhakti

If this is possible, maybe love would also work as a strategy. Instead of plots and plans, what if we used love (and the open and heartfelt listening and consideration that results from real love)? Love’s strategies are simple…placing the other at the same level as the one in which we place ourselves. Granting the other the peace and understanding we desire for ourselves, could that work…or be a good first step towards communication and eventual harmony? Will the moon shine in the sky this month?

Strategies based on love (instead of the divisive self-interest they usually serve) might just work. They might just offer us a path for ‘getting to yes.’ We sure know that weapons and our ‘normal’ strategies aren’t working…just look around at our divided planet.

Tar and feather

In Nazi Germany, their endlosung (final solution) was to kill all those pesky Jews and Catholics and homosexuals, destroy all the liberals they could find. How did that work out for them? I suggest the real endlosung is to implement the strategies of love. It seems like a no-brainer, but who has tried it…really tried it on a large scale (or even a personal one)? Those who have we call the sages, the wise.

world supported

It disturbs me how insidious the power paradigm is. Today I read a meme post by a woman who is typically quite loving, a real yogi, someone who knows and practices the value of love. Her post said something like ‘a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.’ Now that is a saying that is sure to unite us all, right? Wrong! It is as nonsensical as its idiot cousin phrase ‘you can tune a piano, but you can’t tuna fish.’

Another woman I know (knew?) was of the idea that love was simply too overwhelming, that it distracted her from her ‘inner work’, led her off her ‘path.’ Now the question pops to my mind…what inner work or path is more important than cultivating and preserving love? What good is the watered-down pseudo-love that attaches to no person, which promotes no tangibly loving actions or attitudes? That is a travesty of love, a mockery of it, as far as I can tell.

Perhaps our world is becoming divided not into ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’, or liberals and conservatives, rich and poor, but by those who persist in the Neanderthal notion that weapons and strategies will get us what we want and those who see love (and its attendant attributes and manifestations) as the only real answer.

Yes, I think the only real ‘strategic weapon’ is love. If love is the basis for our strategies, then perhaps the goals those strategies are meant to reach can be achievable. If love is the ‘weapon’ we use (not to get what we ourselves want, but to get what both want…or can accept), then maybe we have a chance.

Otherwise, one more weapon or strategy might just be the thing that puts us over the edge into planetary barbarism…people considering only what they and theirs want, and figuring the best strategy or weapon to get that (at the cost of others not getting what they want or need).

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One more stupid meme (which means ‘the same’ in French) originated by someone else and yet passed on unthinkingly by blind, sheep-like followers…that might just be the thing that sets off the conflagration – if not within the entire world, then in our own hearts and minds. Let that happen enough and the entire world will soon be running around yelling memes (ideas originated by others)…and acting on them.

old yeller

I suggest that if weapons are to be used, let’s try love as a ‘weapon.’ If strategies are to be implemented (or imagined) then let us base them on love. We might just have a chance that way.

Love. It is the only answer, the only valid response, the only hope for our fragmented and tattered planet. Love.

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“All you need is love”

-Da Beatles

“This I command you, to love one another…”

-Yeshua (Jesus) the Nazarene Rebel

“Shine on the world, shine on me…love is the answer”

-England Dan and John Ford Coley

“Love is a rose but you’d better not pick it”

-Neil Young

“Love, love, love”

-Hippies and lovers everywhere (and every when)

food is love

(c) 2016 Mark Francis Mullen. All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced without permission (especially for profit). Facebook and other social media are granted no rights to this document or its contents, regardless of publication on their pages.

Arisen

Like the Phoenix, I rise from my own ashes. Coming out of the flames is a new being, rising above the embers. Given the gift of self-destruction, all that is left are memories…stories that happened to someone else.

Phoenixes don’t rise with old friends, lovers, and habits clinging to them. They begin anew. The begin as any newborn does – naked, with nothing. Gone is the ‘I.’ What remains is this one. This one leaf on an endless tree, this one drop of water in the ocean, this one tiny cloud beneath the Infinite Sky.

‘I’ had to die first to get here. All the dross was left behind, burned away in the crucible. I had bowed again and again to Shiva, the Lord of Destruction. Shiva answered; that aspect of Divinity that prunes us down, clears the way for new growth. The old must be destroyed, removed to make way for the new. AUM namaha, Shivaya! Thank you.

Now this one is suspended, sustained. But first came birth. New birth is always painful. Change does not come cheaply, especially momentuous change. From the destruction of Shiva rises the ground of Being, that of Brahma, from which all things are born.

In having lost everything, there is freedom. Nothing left to lose. This is immunity of a sort. I am okay. Just like this. Nothing else needed. No lovers, groups, or support structures required.

Nothing required.

Ready out of the box…no extra ingredients or assembly required.

This ‘okay’ survives wars, pain, pestilence, death. It is not limited or constrained by situations or circumstances.

Of course, to get here I had to die a thousand deaths. I had to wander through hell, cold and alone. I had to give it up…all my hopes and dreams. I had to drop it, my attachments and expectations.

No guru or God can help in this….this task must be done alone, can only be done alone, when nothing is left.

In pain and despair, as well as in euphoria, there is only the Seer. Just that remains.

Gone also is the clinging to meaning, the desire to Do Something, to contribute something, somehow. Nothing need be done. Just be. Be what ‘I’ am. Once the idea of doing something is out of the way, something can perhaps be done. But not by me, myself, or I.

Phoenixes don’t do anything…they just fly. Unicorns have no purpose or mission, they just ARE.

If the ‘right action’ the Buddhists speak of is required, it will happen…naturally, without planning or pushing. No one will be doing the actions, performing the tasks. No hero will arise, to take credit or shoulder blame.

No one there.

No one home.

Just this mythical and magical phoenix.

To the logical and empirical, all there is to be seen is a pile of ashes…maybe just one final ember rising. No phoenix. Phoenixes do not exist in that world.

That is not to say they don’t exist. They just don’t exist in that world. If they did, people would hunt them down. But they would keep rising, just out of the grasp of their slayers.

Rising out of the fetters of this world, into the expanse of the new one…it appears to be the same place. New and old, as one. What was it the holy man said? Salvation is at hand. It is always here, always within reach, this new world. Its seed germ lies in the old. Heaven is here, now…the only place it could possibly be.

In those fields of Elysium, phoenixes soar and unicorns romp. There dwell I.

words

Speak to me with your eyes.

Show me with your smile.

Let’s see it in action.

That’s where I feel you. That’s where I know You.

Tell me with your tears.

Let the stories slide from your fingertips.

Share me in your primal scream.

Then I know you; naked.without your mask.

Just one heart.

We meet in the place where wordsvibrate into action.

There.

Yes, there.

Fog

Mist, drifting. Enchantment airborne.

Magically transporting me back in time, to a youthful state of awe. Mystically obscuring the linear shapes of the mundane. Cloaking the world in mystery, transforming the ordinary into the unknown.

I have always welcomed fog, found it to be a special gift.

winter trees

In the fog, anything seems possible. Objects appear and disappear, figures and shapes loom out of it in an instant, just as rapidly returning to those concealing tendrils. The quotidian sounds of life become muffled, adding a sense of expectancy, of pregnancy to every fog-shrouded moment.

It seemed to me, when young, quite obvious that the realm of Faerie (if it existed) depended on fog, mist, and starlight. It hinged on twilight. If it was real, it was only real in the blurred realm of soft lighting, not in the harsh, empirical light of the midday sun.

Fog seems a gateway, a misty portal.

Credit-SteveNorman_fog_lbj2

Walking the streets of San Francisco or London, enveloped in mist so thick it seems tangible, palpable, anything seems possible. Strolling through foggy rural Germany, the likelihood of trolls under bridges seems more certain than doubtful.  Hiking through the redwood forests, fog imbues the surroundings with the attributes of a cathedral, of a forgotten, ancient, and holy temple.

I know it is just a ground-hugging cloud, a floating sea of mist that refracts and reflects light according to the laws of physics. I know the silence is due to the attenuative effect of water on sound propagation…yet I still sense the magic. I know it is just a cooler air mass meeting warmer ground, not a mystical event.

Yet I dare my fellow empiricists to deny the sense of magic and mystery inherent in the fog. We know it may simply be reactions of our amygdalae at the unexpected distortion coming from the optic nerve…still you would surely jump out of your boots if an unexpected sight or sound arose from this fog.

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Drifting in a North Atlantic fog bank, the rest of the world seems quite unlikely. In this misty soup, the philosophic question/statement of ‘cogito, ergo sum’ seems less ridiculous, the Zen koan of the tree falling unobserved makes a bit more sense. Without the reassuring visual and auditory inputs, the existence of another world beyond our senses (a ‘real’, logical, linear one) seems less likely than our logical brains tell us it is (the converse of more sunlit times).

In the enfolding vapors, the romantic are called to romance, the evil to evil, and the fearful to fear. In the obscuring shrouds, none of us sally boldly forth. No, the mist adds a sense of trepidity to our steps. In the refracted world of fog, we find humility, uncertainty made palpable.

If fog magnifies the sense of mystery in life, it also amplifies the awesome beauty of natural events; snow and fog or lightning/thunder in fog are even more awesome than without it. We’ve all (most of us, anyhow) witnessed the grace of snowfall, the power of lightning. But to behold them both at once is a gift given to few.

In the monochrome world of fog, shape gains a new ascendency, is highlighted by the simple background pallette of grays and white shades. Subtle, almost imagined contrasts impart an air of simultaneous hyper-reality and surrealism. The backdrop against which geometry manifests itself no longer distracts our eye. Objects spring forth in a sudden moment of stark clarity, then fade back into the obscuring vapors, where those once-stark shapes fade with distance into the blur of mist.

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None the less magical in the explainability of its source or physics, fog remains a large factor in our perceptions and mood. Regardless of its cause, fog retains an awesome power, one undiluted by the quantifications of science.

For understanding comes from raw experience, rises from the heart, the guts, and not the head.  We experience fog…and all natural wonders from the place of the heart. If we do not, we miss the gift of magic that resides there, in spite of the explanations and protestations of the head, of the ‘logical’ mind.

The fog has magic within it…whether we see it so or not.

 

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