Thursday, October 26, 2017

Illustration of why our minds develop but our culture evolves.

Maybe this illustration will help. A young person predictably develops their cognition from pre-operational to concrete operational by say age 8. What mutated? And if this is a transition that virtually all uninjured brains make in pretty much the same way - why does it make sense to call it a mutation? 

Similarly - a fertilized egg develops into a fetus in a mammal. Where is the mutation involved in this transition? There isn't one. So we don't say the egg is "evolving", we say it is growing or developing. Even if there is a mutation that changes the physical development, we don't say they are evolving, we say they have a genetic mutation. If the mutation proves to be beneficial, then we say the species is evolving because they pass the mutation on and their descendents thrive.

So - while at different points in our lives, we may develop mutated ideas and communicate them - we don't say our ideas (memes) have evolved, we just say someone had a new idea. But over time if these ideas take root - essentially if they find a reproductive home in other minds - they propagate and become something that is reproduced in large swaths of our species. And then they are no longer mutations - they are features of the culture, and the culture has evolved. 

But if the ideas aren't ripe for reproduction in other minds - they don't transmit - they whither and die on the vine. The mutation wasn't adaptive and is not propagated in the culture. Evolutionary forces pruned it out. 

If that doesn't illustrate the difference, I'll think about it. Maybe I'll come up with something else. Like I said - if one is using evolution and development as synonyms that is fine - but I think its instructive to consider the ways in which evolution is different from development and so, which word is actually the better descriptor of the process. Does one of them leave something out? Does one of them imply something is taking place which isn't? 

There's not much difference here to the conventional way we think about AQAL UL & LL - but I think there's some underlying theoretical structure here that can tie together the parallels between the evolution of culture and the development of individual minds, in terms of all quadrants and traditional Darwinian ideas of evolution through mutation and natural selection.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Every 8 months whether I need it or not.

Here we are in April.  I will turn 51 soon.  I'm certainly feeling many of the shifts that seem to come with this age.  I am lower energy, I have less concentration, I don't learn as easily, etc. But on the plus side, I find that I am less and less concerned with pleasing other people.  I have fewer effs to give, if you will forgive the expression.  The field in which I grow them is barren as they say.

I am lowering my hours at Capital Area Counseling, which continues to be a wonderful place to learn and get experience with kinds of therapies and kinds of clients I haven't encountered before.  I may take on some couples at Capital Area Counseling to get some experience with them under my belt.  I have counseled many individuals on relationship issues, but helping a couple is an animal all its own.
To orient anyone who may be reading, when we counsel a couple or a family, there is a way in which our client is none of the individuals involved, but the relationship itself.  The point is to help that relationship become more functional.  Many come to couples counseling looking for a therapist to be "on their side" or to "fix their spouse" - but this is not what you are going to get from most therapists. Even if after sufficient experience with a couple, we may privately think that one or the other members is behaving in the most problematic ways, that is not something we would probably bring into the therapy room or into the relationship with the couple.  The more relevant question than "Who is at fault?" is "How can this relationship heal itself and thrive?" and that almost always involves effort and skill building on all sides.

If you are approaching your relationship as a question of "my partner either fixes this list of things about themselves or I'm out of here" then you might as well call it quits.  Human relationships are hard.  You have to learn to deal with what is in front of you - not the thing you wish you had.

Now - if this is how you feel - I encourage you to seek counseling for yourself and for your relationship rather than quitting.  It might be possible to shift your perspective to see your challenges in a new way.  It might be possible for you and your partner to learn new skills that will shift your experience and make that list irrelevant.

Now - all of this is about relatively safe relationships - not abuse.  That's a topic for another day. If you think you are being abused, please seek help, and if necessary sanctuary and physical escape.

I have appointment times open so give me a call if you want help.


Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Missed a day

But who cares?  Its a process, right?

My patience is wearing so thin any more.  I mean, most wouldn't notice.  I'm a pretty copacetic dude on the outside. But on the inside, man I can't even deal any more.

One thing that really gets me?  Knee jerk postmodern exception citing.  Because that's what Po-Mo is - citing exceptions.  No generalization is universal - that's the whole idea (ignoring the universality of the rule of course). Well enough.  Cool.  Great idea.  Good.

But you know what's redundant?  When someone says "Most of the time, xyz" and someone else says "Uh-uh!  Sometimes its abc!"

I think that's what most means, isn't it?  Do we really have a disagreement here?

It isn't though someone said "PoMo grad students are always and universally jerks" and so we are obligated by intellectual honesty to point out that "no - of course there are PoMo grad students who are not at all jerks and I personally met one a few years ago in a far away land who would be devastated at this gross generalization."

But if we said "Most PoMo grad students (or NaNoWriMo bloggers) are jerks." there would be no reason at all to point out an exception, right?  I mean maybe we can say "ok show me the statistics on that." to dispute the assertion of 'most' but then we'd be regressing to a modernist position and that just wouldn't be right at all because phallologocentrism etc.

On the other hand, my iPad has an electric piano app that can lock in key signatures and scale modes so I can play with little more than some basic musical and rhythmic sensibility - like I'm all Dr. John and shit.  So there is hope for life.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Hah one minute to spare.

Or.... its still Monday in California.  NaNoWriMo day 2.

So what's active for me today. Not getting everything done that I think I ought to.  By a long shot.  Not in my day job.  Not in my night job. Not at home. Not in my relationships.  Sure, its obvious I have to learn to let things go - but whoever said it was easy to learn.

I'm listening to an interview I did with a good friend on relationships.  We are talking about polyamory.  On the one hand I'm super impressed with myself.  I sound great.  I sound like I know what the hell I'm talking about.  On the other hand I think who am I to think I know anything at all.  I have a huge case of imposter syndrome.  And on the third hand I'm always a little self conscious about my voice.  Its always a bit nasal, a bit pitched up into my head, as if I'm always trying to sound harmless or young or feminine or something.  I'm kind of like Hagrid.  More and more people are comparing me to Hagrid, which I really hate.  Yeah, Hagrid was lovable, but he was also a big clumsy oaf, a doofus, and really just not sexy at all.

I've been learning to swing dance.  I feel like Hagrid trying to swing dance. I feel more than a little ridiculous. When what I want is to feel graceful, expressive, joyful.  Instead I feel heavy, clumsy, unfit.

I met with my supervisor today - about my problem case.  I won't give any even remotely accurate details here, because privacy, but suffice to say its a challenge for me.  They have very strong defenses.  My usual bag of tricks just bounces off of them. And they make me very sad for them.  Their need for love is so strong - like a huge gaping wound - and they are so skilled it blocking out any chance at all of receiving it. Its my first challenge as a counselor I think.  My first real one.  What do I do when I really can't fool myself into thinking I'm "fixing" them at all (or fool them).

Yes, yes, of course we don't fix our clients, yadda yadda yadda.  I've got the degree.  Now can we just dump the doublespeak for a minute?

And the answer is that I hold hope.  That's my whole job.  For 50 minutes a week I visit them in their hopeless space and I sit there with them and believe in hope. I keep one hand on the shore while I swim with them.  And when we're done, I get to climb out, dry off, and breath deep of all the hope that is in my life.  They have to stay there.  Until and unless I can get them to take a chance on hope again.

Its a pretty hard job.  But what the hell, I wanted to do something worth doing.  If working hard to help someone find hope isn't worth it, then really I think my standards are just way, way too high.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

NaNoWriMo - sorta.

ok so I'm not writing a novel.  I'm just going to try to write every day.  It often seems like I have a lot I want to say and nowhere to say it.  Often I censor myself - there are things I won't say just because of who I might upset or what kind of fight it will cause or what it might mean for my career(s) if the "wrong" person were to read it.  Or maybe my ideas just aren't formed.  Or I don't really think I can fully support them - they're too speculative or subjective or something.  Or I don't know how it should all fit together thematically.

I'm kinda tired of that.  I feel blocked.  Stuck.  So screw it, I'm going to try to write everyday and see what happens.

Its going to be about all kinds of crap.  Integral theory. Kink. Polyamory. Counseling. Psychology. Politics. Geek/Nerd culture. Marriage. Parenthood. Romance. Music. You name it. Who knows? I may even write some fiction.

Self-care is on my mind a lot these days.  Its a term we throw around in counseling circles - it means, how the hell do we stay sane, energized, healthy, fresh, happy, content, etc., when we're asking ourselves to help people shoulder their burdens. Often it boils down to just stopping being so hard on yourself.  I mean we're devoting huge amounts of our energy to helping people for fuck's sake. And it isn't as if counseling is a hugely lucrative career.  If we are careful and make some wise choices with how we run our practice we can do pretty well - but lets face it, if you are entering a helping profession what are the odds that you're just a natural born entrepreneur and small business owner-operator.  The number of counselors who seem to bleed themselves dry with overly aggressive sliding scales, for instance, always shocks me.  

(not to say sliding scales are bad - people need sliding scales - not every one has insurance or can afford therapy - yadda-yadda-yadda-etc-etc.  Can we just assume that I'm not a cold-hearted bastard please? I'm totally sure I'm getting into counseling because I just can't wait to really sock it to people's pocket books. Yes I know I'm projecting.  And no, I'm not at all sure someone isn't reading this right now thinking exactly that I'm somehow insulting sliding scales.  Because our call-out, politically correct, trigger warning culture has beat this into me deeply.)

But anyway, back to self-care. Now that my professional internship is in full swing at the *same* time that my day job is beginning to heat up - I'm finding myself feeling pretty beat, pretty often.  I'm getting older.  I've never taken great care of myself.  I'm always prone to neglecting my own needs in favor of someone else's.  Its just how I was raised.  And the hell of it is, I kind of think my family (of origin) thinks I'm too selfish and inconsiderate sometimes - when as far as I'm concerned *the* struggle of my life is learning how to be appropriately selfish and let other people take care of themselves.  I'm nowhere *near* selfish enough.  I sacrifice my own needs and wants in the name of people I care about (and even people I don't particularly care about) constantly.

Obviously a recipe for burn-out - which I've already done a couple of times even in lines of work that are not at all about taking care of fundamental human needs.  So an important area of focus for me is getting my hands wrapped around self-care.

You would think it would be obvious but its not.  Sometimes you just have to take the day off and veg-out in front of the TV.  Sometimes what you really need is a work-out.  Sometimes you need to do something creative.  Sometimes you need to just let yourself be the least creative, most reactive, most neurotic, tired, whiny, grumpy, selfish person.  Just go ahead and watch the presidential debates and throw things at the TV.  That can be self-care.  Just letting yourself go from standards of decorum and thoughtfulness and how an evolved self-aware person should be spending their time.  Just tell your super-ego to go fuck itself and crank up the South Park.  In the scheme of things, just who the hell am I hurting? Are more people *really* going to die in Syria if I laugh my ass off at some very offensive comedian for an hour or two?  Obviously not, but boy part of me really thinks so.  Part of me is just standing there, tapping his toes, crossing his arms, pursing his lips, shaking his head sadly.

I really want to strangle that part of me.  Just punch his face in.  He isn't helpful.  He isn't moral. He isn't helping me be a good person - he's undermining me by trying to convince me I'm a *bad* person.  Well, I'm not.  Ok, maybe I've done a shitty job of breaking up with a few girlfriends.  Maybe way back when my job barely covered my student loans and living expenses I borrowed a few paper clips from the corporate supply closet.  Maybe I've unthoughtfully said things that hurt someone's feelings (usually followed by weeks of apologies).  Yes, maybe there are a few things I've done in my life that I *really* wish I hadn't.

But that's it. My prissy little tattletale superego can go fuck itself. I have better things to do with my time and energy. I have my family to support. Friends to love. Clients who I'm trying to help.

And now, I was planning to do some paperwork for the state licensing board.  But fuck that, I'm going to crank up the electric piano instead.  Then if its *lucky* my laundry will get done.





Thursday, June 5, 2014

Rape Culture: Any Decent Person

In light of all the recent discussions of gender privilege, rape culture, etc. I think I'd just like to say the following: Any decent person would and should intervene to prevent and stop rape and abuse in all its forms including domestic abuse, date rape, incest, drugged rape, and drunk rape. Any decent person would and should take victims stories seriously and seek justice for them and upon their perpetrators. Any decent person would and should change things in our society and culture that permit these actions to go unprosecuted, unjudged, and unsentenced while blaming their victim.
I suggest a new hashtag. ‪#‎ANYdecentPerson‬.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

On Tami Simon, Marc Gafni, et al. - Part I - "Short" Version

I've been pondering how to respond to this for a very long time. I've probably written this blog entry five times and trashed it. I've decided to take another go at it. I think I owe it to the small number of people in my community who might find themselves reading this blog in the future to be honest and clear about my take on these events. This is a subtle and difficult subject. You might disagree with me. I don't think you're a bad person if you do. I don't even necessarily think you're incorrect or misguided if you do. The answers here aren't clear. It’s hard to know the good and the true. The beautiful in this case, I'm not so concerned with. It might be the easier perspective to take - because regardless of where you stand I think most would agree that this was ugly.

This is a complex topic and it’s easy to make incorrect interpretations of what anyone might say. I'm going to post short versions and long versions - if you find that you disagree with me vehemently, you might want to read the long version to make sure you really understand my intent.

I want to be clear that I am a skeptic and critic of Gafni. I don't write as a supporter or defender. But it’s very important to be fair. My personal suspicions and opinions are obviously not the ultimate arbiter here.

My opinion on the ethics of what I understand Marc did and did not do.

Bottom line, I don't think that Marc did anything obviously wrong here. There is no widely agreed upon ethical standard for polyamorous relationships and there's also no widely agreed upon standard for the ethical behavior of post-traditional spiritual teachers. Marc has been public about his beliefs on these matters and he's acting in accordance with those beliefs. I don't know of any testimony or evidence that Marc was abusive in any of these relationships or that he was acting in bad faith with regard to any of his relationships. What we have is a woman, Tami's friend, who was uncomfortable or even deeply troubled by her secret, though apparently fully consensual, relationship with Marc - and that knowledge of her emotional discomfort undermined Tami Simon's provisional support for Marc Gafni - provisional in light of earlier allegations against him having nothing directly to do with these events.

Based on all of this, I really can't make a strong condemnation of Marc's behavior in good conscience. These were all consenting adults and the woman who seems hurt by her relationship with Marc is not one of his students that I can tell. At worst, what Marc has done is to make a bad choice for a relationship partner - someone who really wasn't up to the complexity of the kind of relationship Marc offered.

At the same time, I really can't fault Tami's behavior. Sounds True is her business. She can publish or not publish whoever she wants to. If Marc's behavior undermined her trust in him, then that is just what it did. Whether Marc was guilty of any ethical violation or not, Tami was no longer comfortable working with him.

In general, my personal opinion is that Marc's behavior is not giving due consideration to dual relationships. I think that there should be an ethical standard of behavior for spiritual teachers and I think Marc should be expected to sign up to it - but that's just my opinion.

I wish him and his students and associates peace. I applaud his relatively recent honesty and transparency about his intentions and his behavior. I hope he becomes more transparent and more honest. I hope his behavior and choices no longer invite drama into the integral community (as for my hopes about the rest of us in the integral community - I'll get to that later).