I don’t know how this song wasn’t on my radar until yesterday.
I came of age in rural South Dakota in the 70s and 80s. There were a lot of mixed messages around gender roles, religious beliefs regarding women’s place in home and society and male privilege.
Thank goodness for Title IV.
On June 23, 1972, the President signed Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, 20 U.S.C. into law. Title IX is a comprehensive federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any federally funded education program or activity.
Without middle & high school athletics, I don’t know exactly where my resilience would’ve come from. I was a creative, slightly above average student—I just didn’t (and still don’t) get any juice from good grades.
I remember how patiently my late father fostered my young girl inner athlete. My Dad used the intelligence most readily available to him to teach what he highly valued; practice to improve, leadership, resilience and team work.
In the 70s and 80s in rural South Dakota, that pretty much makes Dad a feminist. He would find that funny, but I doubt would disagree.
Driving around New Mexico last week made me feel like my 23-year-old self, even though I was competing in the National Senior Games. In 1989 I almost moved to Santa Fe with my college friend, Melissa. At the very last minute, we somehow decided quite randomly to move to Vermont instead. My post-college and midlife selves uniquely collided while I drove around soaking up all of the beauty I was drawn to thirty years ago.
The National Senior Games is a subculture I’m so proud to be a part of now. If you’re at least 50-years-old, regardless of your athletic ability, you should find out how to participate. There are so many options—archery, bowling, table tennis, swimming, track & field, cycling, basketball, golf, road races, volleyball and more. Check out the senior games in your region, many are open to out-of-staters. I might hit Nebraska’s games when I’m visiting South Dakota in August. https://nsga.com/state-games
One year ago at this time, Dad sat in his truck and watched me practice throwing the discus in my hometown of Burke, South Dakota. I wanted to take this trip to the National Senior Gamesin Albuquerque with Dad. I prefer a lot of time alone, just like he did.
Funny things happened that made me feel like he was indeed traveling with me.
When I arrived in Albuquerque, I got my rental car and headed north to Santa Fe. While looking for a radio station, a song, Dad surprisingly loved came on: JUKEBOX HERO by Foreigner. I sobbed.
I had a headache when I arrived in Santa Fe late afternoon, so I (we) laid down to watch TV…Everyone Loves Raymond was on. Dad watched it all the time.
I wasn’t really hungry for dinner after resting, all I wanted was ice cream—Dad’s all-time favorite food.
The morning I went to throw, in the lobby of Hotel Albuquerque I met two Vermonters who played on a men’s 75-year-old basketball team. They reminded me of Dad and they were so encouraging. I promise them I would go watch them play in the afternoon.
That afternoon, during a time-out, Stan and Don came to ask me how I did and told me to go watch the Detroit Metros play (former NBA player on their team). I did. I smiled when I walked into that game, the Detroit Metros were playing South Dakota, yet another sign from Dad. I went out or burgers, fries and milkshakes with them after they were done. A perfect end to my (our) day.
So, with all of these coincidences, I put an inordinate amount of faith in Dad’s presence with me while I competed. When I got to my last throw in the finals, I truly expected Dad to give me the extra oomph I needed to win or at least take the bronze medal. When I didn’t throw even as well as I had been practicing, I was disappointed.
I kept going over my throws in my head. I realized that I actually relinquished some of my personal inner strength & preparation, relying instead on some form of magical thinkingand faith in Dad.
We can have faith in all sorts of ways. However, now I understand that faith alone doesn’t take me off the hook from utilizing my available resources, common sense, inner strength, and resilience.
Dad, understanding the nature of faith might be the most important coaching you’ve done in my entire lifetime.
We all are a bunch of contradictions. It’s hard for me to admit that this is true—every part of me wants to deny this about myself. I would rather have elective dental surgery than investigate this further. Actually I need some dental surgery, I’ve been putting it off…another contradiction.
I did this quick check today to notice my noticing.
I stared at the words I wrote that are entirely at odds with each other.
Can I actually hold all of these contractions at the same time?
YES. I can easily throw all of these messy, contradictory emotions into my bag, grab my keys, walk out the door and go on with my day. We all do it all the time.
NOTICING is helping me understand myself a little better.
I have a lot of emotional work to do AND I don’t really want to do it.
LIFE IS AN ABSURD AMOUNT OF GREY AREA.
BLACK & WHITE thinking can make us rigid, limiting available options.
Just ask my kids, well, no actually please don’t.
Head or Heart. Winner or Losers. Right or Wrong.
This just isn’t the way the world works. When it does, things can fall apart.
Crime in the United States is at an all-time high.
NONE OF THESE STATEMENTS ARE TRUE.
They FEEL TRUE because of repetition.
“Slogans should be persistently repeated until the very last individual has come to grasp the idea that has been put forward.”
—Hitler in Mein Kampf
“But the facts don’t actually matter: People repeat them so often that you believe them. Welcome to the “illusory truth effect,” a glitch in the human psyche that equates repetition with truth. Marketers and politicians are masters of manipulating this particular cognitive bias—which perhaps you have become more familiar with lately.”
I realize that TV shows from comic books (even the genius of the MARVEL world) don’t work for everyone. So, I wanted to just share a few passages of dialogue from the FX show LEGION that really made me think about how we think. I recorded this passage on my phone while watching the show and I’ve listened to it a few times. Today, I finally transcribed it.
“So what have we learned? That a delusion is an idea. That an idea can be contagious. That human beings are pattern-seeking animals. By which, I mean we prefer ideas that fit a pattern.
In other words, we don’t believe what we see. We see what we believe. And when we are stressed or our beliefs are challenged… When we feel threatened… The ideas we have can become irrational, one delusion leading to another, and another, as the human mind struggles to maintain its identity. And when this occurs, what starts as an egg can become a monster.”
—LEGION Season 2 Episode 7 on FX
APOPHENIA is the tendency to perceive connections and meaning between unrelated things. Apophenia has come to imply a universal human tendency to seek patterns in random information, such as gambling.
After seeing episode 7 of LEGION, I realized that I was wasting a lot of time trying to make ideas & events fit a certain pattern of thought. I committed to noticing when I was pattern seeking. It’s really challenging at first. However, with practice, I now feel more in control of my mind. I haven’t eliminated the tendency, but I’ve increased my ability to notice more quickly when it’s happening.
“And now we come to the most alarming delusion of all. The idea that other people don’t matter. Their feelings. Their needs. Imagine a cave where those inside never see the outside world. Instead, they see shadows of that world projected on the cave wall. The world they see in the shadows is not the real world. But it’s real to them. If you were to show them the world as it actually is, they would reject it as incomprehensible.”
LEGION (David Charles Haller) is a fictional superhero appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics, part of the X-Men series. He is the mutant son of Professor Charles Xavier and Gabrielle Haller. Legion takes the role of an antihero who has a severe mental illness including a form of dissociative identity disorder, in which each of his alternate personas controls one of his many superpowers.
The television series Legion premiered on FX network in 2017. The lead character is portrayed by Dan Stevens (Matthew on Downton Abbey). The series is developed, written, directed, and produced by Noah Hawley.
Mostly though, I believe the distortion can be how we see ourselves.
Next, I stumbled upon this article on the PSYCHOLOGY TODAY website and thought it was worth sharing. Joe Navarro has studied the life, teachings and behavior of cult-leaders; Jim Jones, David Koresh, Charles Manson, Bhagwan Rajneesh and Warren Jeffs, just to name a few.
What he said was that these individuals were or are all pathologically narcissistic.
Then I started wondering about the differences between narcissism v. self-esteem. It’s pretty stark and worth understanding better. I thought I knew the difference. I didn’t really.
Here’s a quick guide of the differences.
Hey, the more we know, well, the more we know, right?
We all possess some narcissistic traits. I’ve certainly had to take a look at myself. It wasn’t easy at the time, but I’m grateful I did, and my relationships improved because of more awareness
It’s the extremes of these traits we need to notice.
Healthy narcissism is the characteristic of possessing realistic self-esteem without being cut off from a shared emotional life, as unhealthy narcissists tend to be.
Joe Navarro (former FBI agent): “From my studies of cults and cult leaders during my time in the FBI, I learned early on that there are some things to look for that, at a minimum, say caution, this individual is dangerous, and in all likelihood will cause harm to others.”
They all have or had an over-abundant belief that they were special, that they and they alone had the answers to problems, and that they had to be revered. They demanded perfect loyalty from followers, they overvalued themselves and devalued those around them, they were intolerant of criticism, and above all they did not like being questioned or challenged.
And yet, in spite of these less than charming traits, they had no trouble attracting those who were willing to overlook these features.”
Here are some of the traits to watch out for and avoid if possible.
the first thing I thought of was one of my favorite books. “Ahab’s Wife, or The Star Gazer” by Sena Jeter Naslund. The heroine of the story is Una Spenser. She lived a life on her own terms and is a remarkably compelling character. I haven’t read the book for years, but Una woke me up today. I guess it’s time to reread…perhaps to my daughters over Christmas break. I’ve been moving too fast—so it’s a good thing this message didn’t escape me. If you’ve tried to read Moby Dick and couldn’t stick with it OR if you’re a big fan of Moby Dick then you will love Ahab’s Wife. So many minds I respect have loved this book.