Here’s a digital image for you, one I’m calling, “Surfacing.” It’s not a very Christmas-like image…at first glance; however, there is “divine birth” dimension. Where? How? WTF?

click on image to enlarge

As a beginner in the practice of meditation, mindfulness, and yoga, I’ve discovered something about the content of my own attention and the breadth of its span. Most of what I pay attention to has nothing to do with the actual spatial and temporal dimensions of the situations that I inhabit; and my five senses usually just go along for the ride throughout the day. That’s another way of saying that I’m rarely “in the moment.” Most of the time my mind is automatically wandering and dragging around clusters of feelings that reside in my muscles’ memories. I’m basically flying around and around in a bird cage whose little door is wide open but somehow hidden from my view.

I ruminate, therefore I am; and my rumination is my ruination. All of that highly-evolved cognitive activity that we call thinking, so necessary for our survival as a species, keeps us alive and incarcerated by decommissioning our senses. If we can’t see the open door, we won’t fly away. We’re taught to fear freedom by our own trauma. The curriculum for this self destruction is saturated in our flesh and bones; at the collective level it’s encoded in our enculturation and socialization processes to keep the entire flock from flying away.

Sometimes when I’m on my cushion, my mat, or my iPad Pro, I lean into an arbitrary assignment automatically delivered to me by this mostly destructive curriculum. I do so because I’ve learned that avoiding or denying them nourishes them. I’ve learned that leaning in requires an effort, takes practice, and yields dividends. I wonder if it’s a sin to vacate the Present Moment?

“Surfacing” is the result of one of these leaning into’s. Yesterday I managed to notice the compulsive appearance of one of these arbitrary assignments as it surfaced. Rather than repressing it and the scary feelings accompanying it, I entertained it momentarily before it disappeared. It grabbed the tissues of the moment I inhabited and the body I inhabit. It seemed real. With its sharp claws it tugged at and stretched the membrane of the living moment encapsulating me…until…poof!

By the time I noticed exhaling, it was gone, Merry Christmas, and another assignment had arrived.

Outlined in the Image and Likeness of PowerPoint (or something like that)

I’ve created hundreds, no, maybe thousands of PowerPoint presentations; and I’ve sat though many more created by others. Nowadays, there are dozens of alternatives to PowerPoint that all claim to offer better and more interesting presentations; however, the social and cognitive damage is irreversible, and PowerPoint is only partly to blame.

You may not be old enough to recall comedian Jackie Vernon and his slide-show routine. There was no slide show, but Jackie did use a real hand clicker to dramatize the transitions between imaginary and painfully boring slides. Brilliant! I hope PowerPoint or one of the new applications includes a “Jackie Vernon click” audio file option for slide transition.

At some point, but I’m not exactly sure when, but it’s related to PowerPoint somehow, presenters and audiences became anxious, couldn’t wait for the presentation to end, and realized deep down that time was money. First, the siesta was eliminated, along with all tangible and intangible cultural artifacts and political ideologies associated with it. Then came the bullet. They tried seven bullets for a while, but that took too much time. So they laid off four bullets, and went with three. This happened with both blah, blah, blah and yada, yada, yada. All went from seven to three, just like that! We don’t have time to discuss how the Holy Trinity had set the socio-theological precedent or why the Seven Stooges one day during the Great Depression suddenly became the Three Stooges. We’ll leave that for a future post.

Rather, let us focus on how PowerPoint has helped shape the way we think, the way we talk, and even the way we look. [A couple of years ago I sketched this doodle on notebook paper during a PowerPoint presentation that I wanted to end quickly … because I was about six feet away from a tray of donuts and an urn of coffee.]