Here is the promised Part II in my series, “The Only Questions You will Ever Need and Should Always Ask”. Please click on my name in the picture below to be taken to my friend’s page on Medium.com Thanks as always for reading, Jane
You can see my latest post by clicking on my name in the picture below. It is the first in a series. I hope you like it.
On and To Bloggers (but maybe we need a prettier name?)
from Jane Tawel
April 8, 2019
One of the very great things I have discovered about blogging, besides my own creating and thinking with words, is being made aware of how many other creative people there are in the whole wide world posting their creative words, art, and ideas in the medium of online personal “blogs”. This idea of blogging has changed greatly and I think for the best, as it is now a huge, flexible, and fluid medium for expression of all kinds. It is so huge that it is hard to know how to find those folks out there that might appeal to one’s aesthetic or personal needs and desires. Just by luck and through my own blog, I have come to find out about people I would never know about otherwise — people in Germany, India, Canada, Atlanta — people who make pottery and write about it as if the pots were darling children much like I write about my own darling children; people who create pen and ink drawings and then write heart-searing essays, full of “the warp and woof” of human experience; and people like Tebatjo, someone I may never meet in this lifetime but hope to someday in Eternity — people who dig into their need for writing that most modern-age maligned of arts, poetry, digging much like Scarlet dug potatoes from her decaying plantation, promising “I will never go hungry again”. We who write poetry, feel the metaphoric hungers of the world, and share our own provisions to stave off the starvation of soul-less-ness.
This blogger award to bloggers was a very wonderful thing that the originators came up with, because it is named Liebster, which in German means, “kind”. And it is truly about kindness, isn’t it? It’s all about kindness, not niceness, but about being kind; kind to the planet, kind to others, kind to self, kind to God. I have found the world of fellow bloggers that I personally have heard from or have read to be a community of kind people, people from all walks of life, genders, colors, places, ages but people who share the quality of kindness.They share kindness through comments, through encouragement, and through this award. I think any one who attempts to create art or who tries to teach other people something about how to live, no matter how bad, unjust, angry or frightening the world is — those people must have a core of kindness in order to create. No matter how much one rants or provokes in one’s art, art itself will bring one back to a sense of a world of nature and other beings, who are just waiting — just longing — to be kind; if we open ourselves to it, it is there. I have found the kindness of creativity in a “nation” of fellow bloggers.
It helps my own wee soul tremendously to know there is an unsung “nation” of souls in the world who create because that is what humans should be doing. Whether you get fame or money is beside the point, the point is as beings created in the image of a Creator-Being, we must. That’s it, we must. Creating may not be our job, but we embrace it as necessary for our lives. So it is with humility and joy that I accept this nomination (prizes awarded in January 2020), which may seem silly to some, but to me represents a whole world of people that I respect greatly and people that the word “blogger” does not do justice to. The word “blog” rhymes with things like bog or fog or smog — not things that one wants to immerse oneself in or at least stay in for long. The bloggers I am privileged to be a citizen with in The Nation of Bloggers, are thinking, creative people who give a lot of time and energy, heart and soul, to making the world a better place, whether they have one follower, one reader, or thousands. They are the liebsters of the world, whose prizes wait for them, awarded in Eternity by that Great Creator and Lover of all those who with suffering and kindness, create in Her Image. Thank you all for rest, inspiration, provocation, and joy in the journey. You are “liebstered” — you are valued.
******You will find below the award details, the intriguing questions I was asked to answer; the blogs I am nominating but also recommending for readers to check out; and my questions for the nominees. As a reader, you might have some fun answering all or one of these questions and posting them in the comments.
THANK YOU, TEBATJO MALAKA!
A hearty and heart-felt thanks, to fellow blogger and poet, Tebatjo Malaka for nominating me and my blog for the Liebster Award. You can find Tebatjo’s profound blog at https://onhillsofglory.wordpress.com/.
What is the Liebster Prize?
The Liebster Prize is an award that exists only on the Internet and is awarded to bloggers by other bloggers. The first case of the award goes back to 2011. Liebester in German means sweet, kind, dear, charming, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome. It really is an excellent way to meet other bloggers and gain more visibility in the community.
There are some simple rules to follow:
Add a link to the Official Liebester Award page in your blog post the Global aussie
- Thank the blogger that nominated you.
- Display your award.
- Answer the questions you were asked.
- Nominate at least 5 other followers to do the same post.
- Ask 6 new questions to your chosen nominees.
- Let each nominee know you’ve nominated them and give a link to your post.
- Literaa Poetry
- The Alchemist’s Studio
- The Mad Servant
- Deanne Davis at Tablespoonoflove
Questions I was asked to answer by Tebatjo:
- How do you define life?
Wow. Right out of the gate, a question that leaves me a bit stunned and silent and the point is to write about it, but I’m assuming I can’t write a 5,000 page tome, which is what it would take. So, for now —I define life, I guess, as something we are given on our birth date, a great and wondrous and often, ponderous, gift, and then as we live, each human has the choice to accept life as gift or to see life as work. We can use our lives to construct something meaningful, or we can choose to deconstruct or destroy those essential and unique elements we are given as human beings. Now, some people are given more viable and good options in this lifetime than others, who get the short end of the stick or are exposed the evils of the world in ways that are completely unjust. And whether you are born into a life of ease or a life of hardship is not at all fair, but if you believe, as I do, that we also have the choice to not let this short passage of time that we live out on Earth, be the only and finite life, the only definition of what a life means; then the option of choosing a spiritually-led life is yours no matter your circumstances. In fact ironically, Jesus makes an interesting comment that scares some of us fat cat first worlders — he said, it is harder to live a meaningful life if you are rich and powerful than if you are poor and unjustly persecuted. But as all things are possible with God, even entering the life of God’s Kingdom, then seeing life as gift, no matter our options, will ensure that someday, somehow there will be a life of justice and truth, love and peace, and a wholistic life that for now we can only see and experience dimly or in pieces. However, the crux of the matter is, how I define my purpose in living, for just this morning, this day, this moment even – that is a reflection of how I truly define “life”; which should be paradoxically sobering and freeing.
- Based on answer in 1. above, how often do you think about death?
I think about death pretty much every night before bed and first thing in the morning, when I am pleasantly surprised not to be dead. I wouldn’t say I think much about death in between those times, except to rather daily frantically pray for the people I love to not die that day. If you do read my blog, you will no doubt fairly soon discover that I have more questions and more thoughts about what comes after death than about death itself. I do find this question interesting because I think Americans and perhaps all First World-ers are in dangerous denial about the one certain fact of this life – we will all die. You can use all the Botox, build all the safety nets (or walls) you like; but you cannot protect yourself from the certainty of death. However, see the John Donne poem below in my answer to Question #6 for some hopeful philosophy on our deaths. Or I might recommend a meditation on The Christ’s view of life after death as found in the book of John, particularly John 5:24 and 11:25
- If you had a clone, would you be pleased in telling him/her your life secrets? And how would you accomplish the task of reassuring him/her that everything is going to pan out alright when he/she is about to give up on life?
So, I have to assume that my clone doesn’t know everything I know. (For a wonderful meditation on whether we would really like to have a clone or not, watch that old chestnut “Multiplicity” with Michael Keaton). And I have to assume that I know or have “life secrets”. And are these life secrets about my own life’s journey, or about the “secrets of life” or are both always connected? And then I have to assume I am dealing with someone who is suicidal – Yowza! In terms of telling someone my life secrets, I would tell them to someone I trust and someone who could learn by them. I have told my children some of my “life secrets”. But the tough part of this question of course, is how to talk with someone who is “giving up on life”. I come from a dynasty of “cheerleaders” who believe in the old “buck up” method of encouragement and that the best thing to say is always: “I’m proud of you and you are great and all is going to be fine for you”. But then your kids grow up or your spouse gets sick and you realize, “so what if I’M proud of them? And also, things do not by any stretch of the imagination always turn out fine.” And isn’t pride actually, in the end, the problem, not the solution; either the lack of the right kind of pride or too much of the wrong kind of pride.
So what to say to someone who has gotten so far along the road in life undetected, or unswayed by the cheerleaders and encouragers, that he / she feels life is not worth living? The problem starts with thinking life is all about me; which in the end, even for those who are famous, wealthy, powerful etc. is never enough, as we find to our sorrow with the famous, powerful, wealthy, people who commit suicide. The deeper issue is with making me, myself and I the trinity idols of my life. And this is such an insidious religion of humanism masquerading as Christianity, or Judaism or Islam now, at least in my country, it is. What blindsides us in the end, is that people don’t realize that self-worship is what they actually believe. They think they believe in God or have faith in Jesus or practice living like Buddha, or will die for king and country; but we have so long been afloat in the sea of materialism, humanistic idolization, greed and power masquerading as success and fulfillment; and self-pride, that with the first moderately strong waves of despair, depression, fear, or failure that eventually assault our sense of meaning, we are capsized into despair or we drug ourselves with religious feeling or pharmaceuticals or more stuff to make the bad feelings go away. But the waves keep rolling. So I guess if my poor clone wakes up one day, as truthfully, I do some days, and says, “Original Model Jane, I don’t feel like living.” I hope I would simply give Clone my time, that most precious of treasures for now. I hope I would simply sit and hold her hand and make her some tea and maybe a scone or two. I hope I would stop talking and advising and cheerleading, and just listen – even if it means just listening to the small, faint sound of her heartbeat and the miracle of her breath.
- If beauty was defined in terms of a moment, what/how will it be?
Looking at my baby’s face, breathing in the scent of the back of her neck, caressing the little limbs, chubby and soft and helpless, hearing his little bleating cries or his soft coos of contentment as he nurses nourishment from me, looking up from her soft downy head at the great big world, and feeling that sense of awe that this beauty has been given to me.
- Between cooking and eating, what’s best, on the assumption that none of the two is obligatory?
Cooking, because cooking means that I will have family and / or friends around my dinner table, enjoying something I have made just for them. The joke in my family is that I cook as if all the field hands on the ranch were coming in hungry to chow down. I cook as if all four kids were still coming in to dinner each night, along with all their friends – hungry as only kids can be and wanting leftovers of their favorites for later. I am not a gourmet chef but I cook as generously as I hope my heart is generous.
- Do you believe life is a function of fate or destiny (note: destiny is the direct antithesis of fate.)
Ah, the old Shakespearean conundrum: “Is the fault in the stars or in ourselves?” As asked by Brutus, that most wretched philosopher /friend in the play “Julius Caesar” or take Edward in Henry IV: “What fates impose, that men must needs abide; it boots not to resist both wind and tide.” Or The Player King in “Hamlet” “Our wills and fates do so contrary run, That our devices still are overthrown; Our thoughts are ours, their ends none of our own.”
Alas, these are all quotes from plays in which people die and die and die some more. So what does Shakespeare or any one for that matter, do with the great Worldview Questions, especially the one about death and dying, when they answer it with, “well, that’s fate”. I posit that the great poets and artists and philosophers of our times, know quite well, that “fate” or “destiny” is never actually an answer – it will always remain a question. It is one of the ultimately unanswerable questions because only God can look at us, our world, and the element of Time from outside those elements and determine the true meaning of anything. We are not even 20/20 in hindsight, as there is always our very personal interpretation of what we see in the rear view mirrors of our lives, compared to what any one else might see or assess.
I’m also not entirely sure I agree with Tebatjo that destiny is the “direct antithesis” of fate. See my answer to question #1 on life, but if we have any kind of Judeo-Christian philosophy, then we believe that all human beings are created for the same destiny: to love and glorify The Lord God, Creator of All; to live a life of justice-seeking peace, kindness, truth, and fulfillment; and to work at loving others as we love ourselves. This is everyone’s “destiny” but not of course the end result of every human being’s choices. In fact, woe is me, it is the end result of very, very few of us.
Of course, Shakespeare is also wrestling with this conundrum of fate and choice; God and humans as little gods; and none of his characters have it completely right, only pieces of it, which is why Shakespeare keeps on asking his characters and his audiences this question. Shakespeare’s questions on fate and human beings versus Providence or A God are much like you can find in the Biblical book of Job – a play with characters worthy of Shakespeare for sure. As you can see, I find it necessary to turn to those great Questioners of the ages in terms of questions like this one. If you check out Job, you will find that God Himself questions Job. The gift of art is the gift of living in the questions. And this for me includes the question of “fate or fault”, “fate or destiny”.
In terms of fate, I refer readers to find some munching on material in, perhaps, the views of two great poets –John Donne and Emily Dickinson.
Superiority to Fate (1081)
Superiority to Fate
Is difficult to gain
‘Tis not conferred of Any
But possible to earn
A pittance at a time
Until to Her surprise
The Soul with strict economy
Subsist till Paradise.
Death Be Not Proud
The Holy Sonnets by John Donne
Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;
For those whom thou think’st thou dost overthrow
Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,
Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee do go,
Rest of their bones, and soul’s delivery.
Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,
And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well
And better than thy stroke; why swell’st thou then?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally
And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.
- If you were to write a five-line poetry for that one person in your life, how would it look like?
I do write a lot of poetry for the people in my life, my husband and children. Yesterday my husband and I had one of “those” fights. So here is my poem for Raoul, my one person, for today.
Five Lines, by Jane Tawel
You and I, muddling through.
There are days you hate me and I abhor you.
But we keep living the gift of a long-term love,
which all but God fall badly short of.
We both mess up badly, but our love remains true — you know, I love you.
Jane’s Questions for the Nominees:
- If you could get out one all important message to the world, what would it be?
- You can build your house on either a mountainside, in a forest, or by a body of water. Which would you choose and why?
- What one book of fiction would you recommend everyone read at least once if not many times in his / her lifetime? Why?
- You must choose between lots of money and fame right now or being recognized after your death as a profound and meaningful artist. Which do you choose and why?
- Pick at least three different artistic mediums and name someone who has effected your life through their creations.
- Why do you keep doing what you do?