I’ve been tagged by the ever-talented James Maxey, a writer I know from Codex, to list five things few people know about me. This reminds me of my favorite question to ask people I’ve just met, which is, “Tell me something about yourself I’d never think to ask you.”
- 1. I sang back-up for Barry Manilow when I was in high school. He came to my hometown and requested local high-school talent for a show he was doing. He wasn’t a very nice man, at least to the back-up singers.
- 2. When I was 11, I decided that orange was a sadly neglected color and it didn’t get enough love from the world. So I decided that it would be my favorite color. It was my one small contribution to justice in the world. Actually, I didn’t really like orange. But I bought a lot of orange things, including fluorescent orange Converse shoes. I kept those shoes for 18 years, even though I grew another size and they no longer fit.
- 3. I was partly raised by my next-door neighbor, Jane Lyon. She was 76 years older than me. On Saturday afternoons, instead of playing outside like most kids, I’d go over to Jane’s house and talk to her all afternoon. Jane was a firebrand of a woman who’d run away in her youth to China. She had a garden and a barn, despite the fact that we lived in middle-suburbia. Her interior porch was also a garden room, filled with plants and exotic items from China. Many of my art projects ended up decorating her home. I never expected Jane to see me graduate high school, but in true firebrand fashion, she lived until I was well out of college. Her kids finally convinced her to go to a nursing home, where she passed away peacefully at age 98. I’m told she flirted with all the men in the home. Sounds like Jane.
- 4. I’m a modern-day temple dancer, also called meditation through movement. To put it another way, I like to listen to tribal or world-beat music and rock out. Sometimes I use recorded music, but sometimes I can find something live. When I dance myself to exhaustion, I find that quiet space at my center from which my creativity stems. This is how I worship the universe. I’m a pantheist or an atheist, or both–depending on how I feel when you ask me. I see no contradiction between the two philosophies–indeed, many don’t. Sometimes I dance with a group, most notably through the Temple Arts Institute.
- 5. I’m cautious about what I blog, because I’m convinced that within our lifetimes, the Internet will evolve so that we can read old posts as easily as we recall childhood memories. Possibly with technology implanted directly into our skulls. I’m hoping we start to clone replacement teeth too, but I’m less optimistic about that.
6 thoughts on “Five things few people know about me”
I’m curious about your definition of pantheism and/or atheism that you don’t find a contradiction between the two. It maybe I don’t understand pantheism. Isn’t it the belief that everything we see around us is part of God, including ourselves? I suppose you could argue that if everything is God then nothing is God. Still, I thought that one basic distinction between a pantheist and an atheist would be that a pantheist would still believe in a divine and guiding force… you could pray to this force, for instance, to turn away the tornado bearing down on your house or cure your cancer. An atheist would have no such recourse. Or am I missing a subtle point here?
Hi! Glad to see you here, James. I do take the stance that if everything is God then nothing is God. Without darkness, we couldn’t comprehend light. But I find this comforting rather than nihilistic. If everything and nothing is God, then all of existence shares a deep, powerful connection. This is a force I tap into as I write.
Some pantheists are closer to paganism–directly worshipping gods and goddesses and asking for their guidance. I don’t feel comfortable treating them this way, because I think deities are literal embodiments of human creativity–they’re the natural desire to find order in an unordered world. As symbols of human desire, they’re certainly powerful forces for many people–and great metaphors for writing.
Yet I don’t feel fully comfortable with the particular type of rational atheism that states everything is comprehensible with enough time and effort. I don’t think that’s true–I think that position overestimates the human capacity for understanding. It also underestimates the human need for spirituality which many people feel. (Not everyone, of course, but a great many people.)
Life is too threatening to get through without some form of comfort, whether that be prayer, meditation, dance–or the sense of pride in seeking truth and rationalism in one’s own life without recourse to spirituality.
Having said that, I do work hard to be tolerant of others’ beliefs. My personal path is right for me, but I can’t say whether it is for anyone else. Others may find their own paths through their lives. I’ll respect their choices if they respect mine.
sang back-up for Barry Manilow when I was in high school
Seriously? You know, when I was in college I sang backup for Barry Manilow myself.
I am one hundred percent serious. He came through town and needed a choir to back him up on “One Voice.” So the choir director picked some people, and off we went. We sang, Manilow turned around and pretended to direct by waving his arms, the end. There was hardly any contact, but we did stay and watch the rest of the concert.
Yeah! That’s exactly what he did with us. Except he had us do some other songs too. I guess that’s just what he does.
how come I forgot to subscribe to your blog? I feel the same way about blogging – I keep worrying that our entire search histories and webmails will also surface. Although at that point the amount of noise from everybody else’s secrets will be too deafening for anyone to point and laugh at me, particularly…
Good point. Everyone will be too busy hunting down the secrets of the new cast for Survivor: Martian Sea to pay any attention to mine.