Showing posts with label Fresh Air. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Fresh Air. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Tuesday Tonic - Make Your One Life Extraordinary!

"I was not argued out of faith - I was inspired out of it." Brandon Fibbs 

For your Tuesday Tonic today: a special treat from Plumbline Pictures. The elegant, inspirational and beautiful message of this video is only matched by its stunning visual beauty. Bonus: After the main video there is a seven-minute montage of iconic film images.

The video (linked below this post) is in HD. Do yourself a favor: close the office door, turn off your phone, bring the video up on full screen, turn up the volume and soak up the goodness. You'll feel relaxed and restored after this rejuvenating Tuesday Tonic!

Here is a transcript* of the video:

One Life...

As a Christian, I believed, as most persons of faith do,
that this life was temporary,
a sort of proving ground, in which we made ourselves worthy, through our beliefs and our deeds,
for an eternity spent with god in paradise.

The most critical decision anyone could possibly make, was to accept god's redemption
for their broken, sinful nature,
and to love others into the Kingdom of God.
Because this mortal existence was destined to evaporate in the blink of an eye
it was critical to understand the bigger picture
and recognize that only eternity mattered.

Absolutely everything else was superfluous.

All pleasure, all happiness, all love,
even all the good you did in this life
was to be jettisoned
if it in any way distracted you from your heavenly goal.

Pain and hardship was to be endured cheerfully
because the worst of it was nothing compared to the glory that awaited.
This life was merely a foretaste of things to come,
a trial run, an existential impostor, a pale reflection of future glory.

As an atheist, however, I have a very different perspective.

When I gave up a belief in god, I also relinquished any sort of claim on an afterlife
While such a surrender is not, by definition, required by atheism,
I have found as much evidence for life beyond death as I have for the god
who supposedly awaits us in it.
As with the concept of god,
I see far more persuasive evidence that the afterlife is an human construction
meant to allow us to pretend we can cheat death
and hold our tenuous mortality at bay.

The afterlife exists only within the pages of our ancient books;
we have no true evidence for it.

We have no reason to believe human beings have eternal souls
or that anything outlives the cessation of our wondrous but constantly degrading biological machinery.

Life is not some sort of launching pad for something greater.
The human story is far simpler
and far more profound:
this is the only life you and I will ever have. Right here. Right now.

The belief in an afterlife cheapens and diminishes the value of this existence,
and dehumanizes the people in it.

It hobbles our ability to live life fully
because we imagine there's something much better waiting in the wings. It's the ultimate greener grass.

If life is eternal, then where is the sense of urgency?
We take our pleasure and our pain less seriously.
Such a belief allows us to downplay our own discomfort, biding our time for relief later.

We consent, we surrender, we settle.

Such a belief gives us the ability to overlook injustice
because an omniscient god sees all and metes out punishment even after death.
But if there is no afterlife,
much less an ultimate judge keeping tally of our sins and transgressions,
it means we are responsible for our own choices, actions and deeds.

You are not some sort of spiritual marionette,
with the forces of good and evil pulling your strings.
No one made you do anything, and no one will absolve you of it later.
You are not born monster,
you become a monster through your own choices.

We must not shirk our responsibility to see justice done in the here and now.

Knowing that this life is all there is pushes you to live well,
not because of some reward or punishment, but because this is all you have.
The truth is, our desire to love brightly,
live fiercely,
hold death at bay
and mourn our dead
shows that, whenever we may claim to believe,
it's not how we actually live.

Look around you.

What you see is all there is or ever will be.
Don't neglect it. Don't trivialize what it offers or who you shares it with you.
The great American poet Walt Whitman said:
"O Me! O life!...of the questions of these recurring What good amid these, O me, O life?
Answer: That you are here, that life exists, and identity;
That the powerful play goes on, and you will contribute a verse."
George Bernard Shaw said:
"Life isn't about finding yourself, life is about creating yourself."
Some people are terrified at the prospect of creating their own meaning and purpose.

They prefer to have something larger and smarter than themselves in charge.
Others, like myself, find it liberating.

You are the captain of your ship.

Your fate is in your hands.
You carve your own shape from life's marble.
While religion forces you into prescribed molds,
forbidding and punishing those who leak out into other shapes,
a life without faith has no prescribed limits.

Stop allowing religion to permeate you with fear,
and trick you into believing that your life must be lived within the tiny boundaries of suffocating ideology.

Your freewill is not the false freedom religion prescribes.
Don't live as if everything is predestined.
Your steps are not ordered.
You do not have a destiny.

You are not a automaton.

Nothing is written.

This is not terrifying, it is emancipating.

It is one of the great privileges of being human.

Instead of working toward some ephemeral reward,
turn those energies to the here and now.

Seize this empowerment.

Decide for yourself.
Your world is moldable.

You can change it.

It responds to your touch.

Death could come for us at any second.

We are breathtakingly fragile.

Recognize that you are human, that you are mortal,
that your time here, in cosmic terms, is a blip of a blip.
But that is what makes us so precious.

An eternal being is not rare or special.

Instead, our lives are defined by our limitations.

We are exquisite exactly because we are rare,
because we are born, bloom and perish.

And when this life ends-
and it will end for us all, prince and pauper-
all we experienced, all we loved, all we learned, all we changed,
will vanish.

This is not a hopeless situation, as some assert.

It merely transfers importance from there to here.
It exchanges false hope for present actions.

When I die,
my body will disintegrate back into the atoms which make up its constituent parts
I will, once again, become stardust.

I will feed the cosmos,
and I find that breathtaking.

You are but an infinitesimal speck in a Cosmos that has not the agency to know or care of your existence.

And yet, you -finite, fallible you-
are able to take it in, to investigate it,
to examine it, to interrogate it, and even,
to some degree,
to comprehend it.

You possess the most special power of all:
a human brain capable of rational thought.

The ability to reason.

That is what makes you marvelous.

It is what sets you apart from all the other animals sharing this planet with us.

You can peel back mysteries and see the clockwork of the Cosmos.

That should make you feel...


You only get this one chance
this one chance to experience this exquisite planet.

The world is vast and full of wonder.
Replace judgment with curiosity and explore.
Be famished, every day, to learn something new.
Love incandescently and be loved the same in return.
Laugh as often as possible.

Instigate happiness-
for yourself and for those around you.

Aid in transforming the suffering of others whose brief flicker in this universe may be one of pain and anguish.

Stop judging others and trying to control how they live and who they love.

Stop killing time, treading water and running in place.
Stop limiting yourself.
Risk standing out.

Dare to be unique and unfettered.
Dare to dream big and live even bigger.

This is it. This is all you get.

One life.

No exceptions.

It's not for the timid,
but it rewards the bold.
How will you make your life...

- Brandon Fibbs, January 2, 2013

I can hardly believe that this video has only about 6,600 views - I hope NiftyReaders will share the link and do something about that! (This video is a feast for the eyes: the niftiest way to view it is to turn off the CC and just take it all in).

* transcript via transcriptsearch.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Monday Music - Sisters!

Today's Monday Music break is in honor of my sister, who celebrates a birthday today!

Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen (both parts sung by Rosemary Clooney): Sisters!

Happy Birthday, Sis!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Thorsday Tonic - Now This Is A Mayor!

This week, the northeastern United States and Eastern Canada are bracing for a snowstorm projected by some news sources to be "historic" in snowfall and disruption. While nor'easterners are battening down the hatches and preparing for the coming excitement, The Weather Channel and its affiliates NBC and Weather Underground have gleefully "named" the storm Nemo, and have wallpapered the internet and TWC with hysterical "reports" about the possible magnitude of the storm. 

This naming of winter storms is an effort to equate (in the public psyche) regular winter events with massive, life-threatening but far less regular occurrences such as tropical cyclones. So, let's talk about that.

The northeast has endured wicked winter storms for centuries. 
The people really do know what to do and how to handle themselves.

Winter storms are a pain. They also have the potential to cause life-threatening conditions, but nearly always of the sort that can be avoided by sensible people preparing for normal winter events. Slippery roadways and cold, while potentially deadly, are nearly always avoidable or manageable - unlike 120mph hurricane winds taking the roof off your only shelter or massive flooding caused by a cyclone which inundates every shelter for miles. Except in rare circumstances, winter storms are just a costly nuisance. That is the reason why very little is being made of the possible aftermath of "Nemo" - because the truth is that it will cause a lot of headaches for a couple of days and then nearly everyone will get back to normal life. 

In this age of easily roused rabbles and the 24-hour panic-of-the-week news cycle, it is a refreshing change to come across an elected official who behaves like an adult, calmly assessing the situation and then sensibly describing the reality instead of throwing out hyperbolic statements to score political points. Upon learning that a similar storm was bearing down on his city a few weeks ago, Mayor Dennis O'Keefe of St. John's advised the citizens to be prepared for a lot of snow and possible power outages, stay off the roads and try to enjoy the unexpected day at home. 

 Mayor O'Keefe: leading by example

“Enjoy the day and 
get ready for the clean up. 
Don’t panic, 
don’t sweat it. 
The power will come back.” 
Mayor Dennis O'Keefe

Solid advice. Most valuable, however, was the Mayor's calm demeanor. You've been through this a hundred times, he seemed to say. You know how it goes. There is nothing to be gained from scurrying around in a panic. There will be plenty to do later. Get ready, then relax and rest up for the work to come. That night, the storm came and the storm raged and there was, indeed, a "heavy snowfall". Nearly two feet fell over most of Mayor O'Keefe's city. The wind howled -  blowing heavy wet snow in front of it. The power did go out in a lot of places, but people were mostly prepared.

People hunkered down, lit candles, fired up the grill and made hot beverages. They joked with their neighbors, embraced the unexpected long weekend, griped about losing power or rejoiced about power restored. Facebook friends offered to deliver hot food and drinks to friends without power, and everyone kept tabs on everyone else in case help was needed. People settled down for a long winter's night. As they have done for years.

And in the morning, the clean up began. The power did come back - not as quickly as some people would have liked, understandably - but it did come back thanks to the efforts of linemen and power crews who braved the elements to repair lines thrown down by the gale force winds. Neighbours and friends worked together again to shovel driveways and dig out cars and clear a pathway to the front door.

"Nemo" may dump up to two feet of snow on parts of New England before it finally pushes off to the north Atlantic. But, like Newfoundlanders, northeasterners are used to winter storms. They know what to do!

Whipping people into a frenzy with hyperbolic projections of "historic" storms is really not helpful for anyone but those who stand to benefit from increased viewer ratings (ahem, NBC). The northeast has endured wicked winter storms for centuries. The people really do know what to do and how to handle themselves. The damage and the scope of the coming storm may indeed be greater than most storms in the past, but not so much greater that it should be used to pad TV ratings, stoke the panic machinery and drive storm-related purchases. The stuff you did to prepare for the regular old snowstorms before the naming nonsense began in 2012 is still the stuff you will always need.

It's probably going to be a blizzard. Judge yourselves accordingly. Stay informed and stay prepared, but don't let the panic-mongering of modern commerce rattle you. You know what to do. Do it.

Preparedness tips from Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency here.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

We Want Snow!

I really do not have time on my hands, but whenever I take a break from working on the 10+ posts I'm currently working on, I find it inspiring to listen to something cheery and fun!

Here is one of the best songs from the classic holiday film, "White Christmas". It is frigidly cold here right now - I believe the saying is "too cold to snow" and that about describes it. The frozen, bare, brown earth and trees could really use a dazzling white blanket of snow!

Two minutes of harmonizing splendor. Thanks to Rosemary, Bing, Danny and Vera (Trudy)!

Now I'm smiling - hope you will be, too!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Christopher Hitchens' Birthday

Sit back and enjoy three minutes of inspiration: Christopher Hitchens on the immorality and unbelievability of Christianity. It is a defense of human dignity presented beautifully, clearly and respectfully.

Today would have been Hitch's 64th birthday.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Four Excellent Things

Here are four excellent things to listen to on this St. Patrick's eve:

Mount Everest still holds mysteries for scientists. 

Why are some countries rich and others poor?  (You knew it!!)

My idol, Meryl Streep, introducing Hillary Clinton at the Women in the World Summit:

My other idol, Hillary Clinton at the same conference: