Thanks Return

I was in physical pain on November 9th. Ten minutes after I heard the US election results, I still could not draw a full breath. A big part of me absolutely could not grasp what happened.
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closed-system9-006Neither Bugs nor Barney could look directly at this thing.

Now that the consternation, confusion, and terror have receded somewhat, I have found some space to contemplate what has happened. I have found some comfort in the reminder, from Rev. William J. Barber, that the vicious backlash this election represents is but the latest in a long history. As we have struggled, over the centuries, to forge a more perfect union – as the psychic wound of slavery and segregation has been torn open again and again – there have been those heroic individuals who have stood up and called out for decency and humanity, sometimes even when standing as a minority of one.

“[O]ur foreparents were up against more with less. And they taught us that a dying mule always kicks the hardest.”

I have written again and again in this blog about our limitations as a thinking, feeling species. About “subjective backward referral” and “inattentional blindness.” About the strong tie between our emotions and the way we pay attention. About how closed systems of reliance on outside authority and rote behaviors lead to a pinched, punitive, domineering world-view that causes suffering.

Now, in casting around to try to come to grips with what has happened, I like another metaphor. This article compares our immune system with closed-off belief systems. Where our system is open to the outside world, we are armed with white blood-cells to protect us against bacterial infection. Where our system is closed, as it is in our cerebro-spinal fluid, when bacteria get in there they create devastation immediately.

Closed belief-systems are like the spinal system. There is no protection, in a closed belief system, from propaganda, lies, scapegoating. “If bad information gets in . . . it usually ends up very damaging to the whole. . . . Without built-in protective functions like critical analysis, self-reflection, openness to counter-evidence, willingness to re-evaluate any and all beliefs, bad information in a closed-off system ends up doing massive damage in short time.”

But, as memoirist Mary Karr writes, “anybody maladroit at apology or changing her mind just isn’t bent for the fluid psychological state that makes truth discoverable . . . . The human ego is a stealthy, low-crawling bastard, and for pretty much everybody, getting used to who you are is a lifelong spiritual struggle.”

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And how.

So, with the current state of affairs has come a determination in me to stay open to counter-evidence that what I sincerely believe may not be true after all.

Take, for instance, my long-held conviction that the diet I feed my cats is good for them. Even so, though – as long ago as July 17, 2012 – I was trying to formulate a means of assessing why it was that Bugs has suffered from chronic dietary upseturinary problems, and skin sensitivities.

All this came to a head around this election. Bugs could not hold down a meal. After a day and a half of regurgitation, I took him to the vet. Naturally in this crisis our regular vet was out of town, so we went to a new one close by. Bugs was in such a bad way that the new vet hospitalized him over two days to treat him with antihistamine injections and IV-infused fluids.

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Barney remains calm.

Her opinion was that Bugs was allergic to my blue-ribbon home-made diet.

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Oh no. Why didn’t we think of that sooner?

Well we’re thinking of it now. I have given up my belief that with my blue-ribbon home-made diet, nothing could go wrong. To rephrase: My belief-system has now opened up to admit inconvenient counter-evidence. My blue-ribbon diet has been making Bugs sick for years.

Barney takes the elevated view.

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“You did the best you could,” he says.

I have given up striving to create Bugs’s food. I have now resorted to Primal frozen raw. Bugs is doing much better. Even his clicker-learned acceptance of the crate has survived, though I feared it might be poisoned by the vet experience. No worries. Bugs is back to throwing in the crate behavior all the time to get his hypo-allergenic treat.

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Gratitude has returned.

I was hoping it would. Thanksgiving is supposed to be the time when I rejoice. Bugs came to me on Thanksgiving in 2009, and every year I have reiterated rejoicing on this day for that reason among others.

This year, I could not see how I could rejoice.

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I still can. Gratitude’s back.

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About nadbugs

Anita loves cats. This must be because she, too, has had nine lives. She’s been dancing since she could walk, she was a commercial artist and advertising producer, she earned a third-degree black belt in Aikido, she is a drummer with the Afrique Aya Dance Company, she is an attorney, and she’s a meditator and a devoted student of Nonviolent Communication. She also spent one lifetime sidelined with a devastating back injury in 1992. Since then – FELDENKRAIS METHOD® to the rescue. The FELDENKRAIS METHOD is all about dreaming concretely – thinking intelligently and independently by way of a gracious and kind physicality. The work affords all who study it a process by which to reach, with movement, into the mind and the heart, to make nine lives into one whole being.
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5 Responses to Thanks Return

  1. Deziz World says:

    Happy Gotchaday Bugs. Glad things are goin’ better. We like da Primal freeze dried raw best, but mommy would like us to eat raw. Maybe someday. MOL As fur da election, we are among da happy ones. Peeps seem to have only heard da bad, and dat wasn’t actually much. None da less, we know things in our country will get better. Big hugs. Happy Fanksgivin’.

    Luv ya’

    Dezi and Raena

  2. Well, hell. You just never know with the kitties, do you? I need to find a better way to give Lumi raw. He was raised on it, and kitten kibble. And this lovely German canned chicken that looks and smells good enough for me to eat! The raw is frozen, tho, and in order to get a meal out of it I have to partially thaw and re-freeze. Which doesn’t seem like a good idea. Or maybe that is only for cooked foods?
    I’m glad you are feeling better. I found a Facebook group that has been helping me a lot. It’s a secret group of nearly 4 million, oddly enough!

  3. Herman says:

    Wishing you all the best and hope you’re having a marvellous day!
    Happy Gotcha Day, Bugs! Mr. Bowie says “Meow!”

  4. Summer says:

    Happy gotcha day to Bugs! Each kitty’s system is different – some food that other cats are fine with makes Binga throw up! BTW, my human threw up on election day too… and is now making plans for us to move part time to Vancouver, BC, because she no longer feels safe or welcome in the country of her birth and thinks we need a safety net, just in case.

  5. Connie says:

    Happy Gotcha Day Bugs 🙂

    Food allergies stink. I’m sorry it happened but glad you were able to figure it out. I was sure that feeding raw would insulate my cats from many diseases but I just had that thrown in my face.. We can only do the best we can with the information we have on hand.

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