Thursday, April 26

An aphorism

"Change never happens one says, 'This will be,' but when they say, 'That was.'"

Take a person who is trying to stop eating so many cookies or whatever. If they keep saying, "This will be my last cookie," they have failed to create the change. It still exists in the future but not now. The person who says, "That was my last cookie," however, now looks upon their actions from a different vantage point. Their choices and actions are now cast in a different light because the change has been made.

You could make a compelling argument that this is simply a matter of semantics, but I disagree. It's a fundamental change in your structural understanding of a system because, as mentioned only two sentences ago, your choices and actions can be seen in a different way once a change has been asserted by saying, "That was." If one continues to say, "This will be," the structure they are operating within remains.

Of course, this still depends on the individual capacity to make choices. Either way of discussing one's choices is only as good as their ability to make the choices they want to make. I just feel that the second method provides a better structure to act from.

Sunday, April 8

No meat

I gave up eating meat for Lent. For the most part, I succeeded in this, accidentally eating a slice of pizza with Canadian bacon because it was covered by cheese once and picking up a seafood wrap without thinking another time. Now it's Easter. I've already had lamb and am anticipating lasagna later today. What about it all then? What did it mean to give up meat? Could I live this way?

To begin, I have no compunction against killing animals. I've heard that there are some highly liberal colleges which have the freshman class communally raise a pig or something over the year and then kill it for a barbeque at the end of the year. Wouldn't bother me. I've gone hunting, though I never shot anything myself, and seen plenty of animals die. As long as it were killed quickly and with minimum pain, I would have no problem with it. Rather than ethical, my concern with vegetarianism is economic. The world population rises exponentially, and somehow everyone has to be fed. With respect to that, the amount of energy put into raising animals for their flesh cannot be defended. Personally, I believe that within my lifetime, barring a population stagnation or a drop, we will all become vegetarians for this very reason.

One question I was asked several times over the 40 days was if it were hard. I guess the implicit assumption there was that I missed the taste. Really, that wasn't such a big deal. Since I began cooking my own food at college, my meat intake in general has drastically gone down. Meat's expensive and a pain to store with my limited refrigerator space. I immediately have to do something with it, so it wasn't such a great change in the first place. The only times it became really difficult were when I was at a restaurant, there were maybe two or three vegetarian options and everything else looked so bleeding tasty. Good thing then I don't go out to eat very often.

On a related note, I could never go vegan. I could live as a vegetarian, but I like my eggs and cheese too much. Besides, when you need to take pills for vital nutrients, you've gone over the edge.

Sunday, April 1


In posts past I have written on sunrise and the snow. All of those came from my experiences back in Minnesota. None ever originated from Gonzaga, mostly because it's an urban school, in the middle of a residential neighborhood and only a mile or so from downtown. It's really not so bad. Spokane is hardly a metropolis, and the streetlights aren't so plentiful that they completely block out the stars. Still, the campus is such a controlled environment, so any time I'm able to completely remove myself from campus and the city itself, it's a beautiful experience.

This weekend, we had a retreat out at Bozarth, a mansion on the outskirts of Spokane. And I mean outskirts. Just down the hill from where Bozarth stood was a minor marsh, the kind of place where the trees weren''t transplanted, the terraforming is minimal, and there's grass that has never been touched by a lawnmower. The kind of place I could bike to in maybe ten minutes back in Baudette but need a car to reach now.

First of all, the sunset was beautiful. I'm so used to sunsets on the plains where I can watch the sun go all the way down and nothing obstructs the view, but here it fell behind the mountains first. The mountains were covered in trees made golden by the setting sun and cast shadows that seemed to be miles long. The colors caught by the clouds? Rich and warm, colors that would have taken Picasso out of his Blue Period early.

But that wasn't the capstone of it all.

Around midnight, I took a walk into the marsh, hoping for a little stargazing. I hadn't even reached the path down the hill when I realized that wasn't going to be much of an option. The moon was full and bright enough to cast shadows of its own. Freaking shadows. I've seen it before, but it still amazes me. Do people even know that can happen? Still, I felt the need for a walk, so continued my way down. The hill was steep enough to need switchbacks, and everyonce in a while the trees were open enough that I could get a decent view of the valley and marsh. It didn't so much take my breath away as make me forget to breath for a few moments, which really is funny. I had made the walk earlier in the day and commented to friend that it would have looked so much better had it been later in the spring or summer because it was still all drab and brown from the recent winter. But there is no color in moonlight, and all that remained was a magnificent intensity to the landscape. Details were lost, and the focus turned to other elements. A stream ran through the marsh. In the sunlight you could see all the way to the bottom and all the life and litter that were in it. At night I only had a sense of motion. I couldn't tell if it's depth were measured in inches or yards, but the light captured the little breaks in the surface and the rapid flow of the stream.

It was beautiful.