Saturday, March 31, 2012

Laughter

A contemplation, a poem by
Lauren Cooper
(1964 - 1999)




Laughter, she echoes down the valley;
Laughter, she dances on the stair;
Laughter, she rings through the hills and the dales;
Laughter, she's everywhere.


Laughter, she sits in the tree-tops
Weaving her spell of pure joy;
Filling kind hearts with enchantmeot
That nothing can destroy.


Laughter, clothed in a long, soft dress
Of white with sweet flowers of pale blue;
Her eyes are twinkling emeralds;
Her tears are clear, fresh dew.


Laughter, her hair is soft, warm and fair,
As laughing she gluides through the skies,
Floating, light-hearted, on the cloudless air,
Or laughing through people's eyes.


Laughter, she chuckles in the sunshine;
Laughter, she dances on the moon;
Laughter, she's merry from day-break
Through morning, and way after noon.


Laughter she echoes down the valley,
To ring in your ears all day through;
Laughter, she's never found sleeping ...
She's laughing all night long, too.



Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Everyone is a Genius

" Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid "
~Albert Einstein

I have been contemplating (the other) Uncle Al's comment here of late...and considering its great wisdom.  I have touched on it before certainly, but here, it has been said so succinctly and there are, as it were depths to it left yet untouched.
I have been engaged with the Disabled Resources Center of Long Beach California, involved with a peer counseling class the lasted eight weeks and yesterday was our graduation.  Towards the end of the class we were read a wonderful essay on the rights of the disabled, and how prior to the 1970s, the prevailing "wisdom" was to warehouse individuals with disabilities, and remove them from the mainstream in all walks of life...educational, home life, occupational.  We are reminded how even today there are those that would vehemently deny our rights for equality.  Today Representative Alan West (R) of Florida fought on the floor to deny rights to the disabled.  At question was a law that would protect the rights of disabled to use public pools and spas, he said:

"This is another example of the bureaucratic nanny-state not considering the economic ramifications of its insidious regulatory policies," said West, a Republican from Plantation. "I have talked with and received letters from several South Florida hotels saying this is a wasteful exercise that will cost Florida businesses a lot of money and accomplish nothing." 
While I'm neither equipped, nor ready to argue the for or against case of this particular issue I find this disgusting.  In fact, those rights are already protected under the law, while many are unaware of it.  The Americans with Disabilities Act swimming pool guidelines became the law of the law of the land in April 2011, but many commercial pool owners are still unaware of the law, which requires all commercial pools to be handicapped accessible. Those pool owners will now have to install wheelchair lifts or sloped entries at their own expense.

At issue here is the rights of all individuals in equal access to such things.  Some might argue that if they don't have legs or have paralysis and cannot swim that they have no business being in a pool, and that a chair lift need not be provided for them.  But let me ask you this, say that I am a blind man...then why should we bother building windows into your office, since I don't need them?  Why are we wasting money on overhead electric lighting if I don't need that either?  (You get the point.)

I'd like to take this discussion now, into a slightly different arena...Is it not so, that it takes many individuals to create a village, a society, a government?  What would happen if there were only mathematicians, or only grocery clerks, scientists, only school teachers, only tailors...I dare say that such group would grind to a halt.

In like manner what would occur if an orchestra were only strings, or wind instruments, only percussion?  I dare say it would become a dysfunctional monotony at its best, at its worst would cause me a migraine headache?  What is my point here?  My point is such that human beings are each endowed with a unique genius, much as Einstein says in the quote mentioned above...and we loose the great richness and possibilities inherent in humanity when we either force all into an identical box or demand exclusion of those that don't fit out particular role in life.

Much as Einstein says, again...I was told my entire life, what an idiot fish I was, because I couldn't climb a tree.  Here I am with above average IQ, yet my perception/reception/communication in the world looks very different for me than it does for you?  What gives anyone the right to judge me (or anyone else) by such a standard?  How short sited, how utterly impoverished such a viewpoint, that would rob itself of richness, texture, color and variety simply because it is different.  Although disability rights are protected by law, it could easily be argued that today, the largest minority discriminated against in the U.S. are the disabled.

And we wonder, wonder why the sad and ugly case of the murder of Trayvon Martin?  We wonder why, under stress of war, inbred hatred and anger a soldier goes off and kills (more) innocent civilians?  Again, these examples have many layers, I'm not willing or able to argue, other than to say, violence and exclusion, segregation and separation can only beget more of the same.  


And for those of us who live with a disability, be certain, that you (and I) have responsibilities too.  It is up to us to discover who we  are...we (I, you) are not a "disabled person", we are first and foremost persons who happen to have a disability.  I know myself, that I have though long and hard in recent days, especially in light of changes in my life that have improved both my attitude and self understanding, as well as medical intervention that has radically helped me for the better, who and what I am, without the definitions and restrictions put on me by those who would pigeonhole me, would try to tell me who I am according to their own definition.  Yes, society needs to change, yes, I will fight until my dying breath for the equal rights of all human beings in self expression and living, and growing beyond labels put on them...but this must start with me (you.)


All of my life, I have said, and believed that if one is to change the world, and this is truly one's deepest desire, then one must needs look to themselves first, liberating the genius that lay dormant within...humans learn best by example.  One has only to look to Albert Einstein himself for a shining example.  While theories abound around his life, it was obvious he was not your average individual.  While his intelligence was off the scale, he had great difficulty in social interaction and adjustment...One wonders today what might have occurred had not he followed the muse, the inner genius and curiosity that gripped him as a child the first time his father saw him operate a compass, and he realized "it moves without me touching it."  (This was the beginning, in his own words of the insatiable curiosity that later led to his own genius.  How utterly poor and impoverished the human culture would have been had he not discovered his own place within it.

What is your muse?  What is your own genius?  What instrument do you play in the symphony that is Life?  Without the contribution that only you can provide this orchestral universe is that much impoverished.  The beauty that only you can bring, can and will have untold, incomprehensible effect on all mankind, I daresay all Creation, all Consciousness.


~Just Joe

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Sesame Street: I Love Trash

And old a very dear memory, an ode to my childhood (YIKES!)  Watch for a good laugh!

Omnipotentiality vs "My Way or the Highway"

There is a common human trait that I have seen in school and real life.  People read something, and they self identify because they are seeking answers.  On the other hand there are times in everyone's life where they read something, almost as if they themselves wrote it, but could never "find the words" to express it.

I find myself having the later experience, in regards to a work referred to in an earlier post in regards to the writings of Thomas E. Brown Ph.D., specifically his book " Attention Deficit Disorder - The unfocused mind in chidren and adults. "  In chapter 6: "Adulthood: Managing Reponsibilities, Finding a Niche" he says:

"  The young man's comment "I've always had difficulty making choices" reflects a problem with "omnipotentiality"- a fantasy based attitude, common among adolescents, that all things are possible, all choices are open.  Usually this attitude is dispelled during mid-to late adolescence as most individuals are forced to confront the reality that some doors are not open to them....With a persisting sense of omnipotentiality, they experience themselves as being on a protracted shopping trip for life options-interested in multiple possibilities, but unable to invest in any one choice enough to put up with the inevitable frustrations of getting started and becoming established...  "
He goes on to explain how those individuals with executive function (EF) disorders (like AgCC and ADHD) take longer to resolve this conflict, and that for some it remains a lifelong dysfunction.  He mentions that those of us with EF disorder carry this onto adulthood in some predictable ways.  I was particularly struck that he mentioned many of us have had (myself included) dozens of jobs, in the space where the average person may have had just a few...that we have this difficulty with the organizational aspect of "what will it take for this long term goal" and lacking the skills to plan for this, we quickly become frustrated, moving on to yet another possibility, and never settling for just one "future focus" (my term.)  

There is yet another aspect to this particular presentation of EF dysfunction.  While we are on a particular "track", we can see no other track than that which we are traveling on, so to speak, and when confronted, can become frustrated, angry, and not understand when others point out to us that the particular track we might be on may not succeed.  We all know the experience of putting our hand into a flame for the first time, we learn not to do it again...on many levels this isn't so for those of us with collosul disorder and/or ADHD.

Since I've been on this new drug protocol, Strattera, I have noticed an absolutely remarkable change in these particular areas.  I've observed that the tendency of the brain exists to "still go there," yet the longer I am on this medication, the more control I have in this area.  I give the example thus:

I really want to go back to school and finish a degree in psychology.  I'd given up on the idea, simply because I had to admit that my cognitive function was not such that I would succeed in the task.  With the combination of therapy, medication, self-awareness and self-training, C.B.T. and other tools I know have in my "belt" such as The Work of Byron Katie, there is absolutely NO doubt in my mind that I will succeed in this desire.  Now, this is where it gets even more special for me.  In the past, when I've had any sort of success in growth, albeit none as dramatic and consistent as I experience now, I would go "full bore ahead" and jump headlong into whatever it was I wanted without any real forethought or planning.  This is truly a remarkable change for me...I am recognizing the cognitive ability to clearly think about things such as what needs to be done in order for me to have a foundation to build upon to complete the task.  Looking at all the various things I will need to do and have in place, before I actively pursue this goal. (Which I am now fully committed to accomplishing.)

My life is currently, and happily so, engaged in the love and support of Troya, whom I mention in other posts.  This is significant in many ways...She has helped and supported my coming forth out of the cocoon, my coming into a fullness of my real possibilities and growth, unlike almost anyone else I'd ever known.  In her time of need as she fights this courageous battle with ovarian cancer, I have the opportunity, in some small way of returning the love, as if that were really possible.  There is nowhere else in life I would rather be.  Pain is a given, suffering is optional.  As I watch my dearest friend in these days, I'm still learning from her moment by moment.  I only hope that when my time comes to face my own eventual demise that I face it with the brilliance, faith, strength and hope that she is demonstrating to me even now.
~Just Joe

Friday, March 23, 2012

Are YOU a Treyvon Martin?

There is no justice in a country where I can be jailed for killing a dog,
but I can kill a child in cold blood and get away with murder.

Are YOU a Treyvon Martin?

It Gets Better

It does get better...

I was, as it were forced out of the closet at a very young age...and dealing with my disabilities, my simply being a young and arrogant, frightened kid, I both mistreated and was mistreated by my family.

I was told time and again by society around me that I should be ashamed...that I was "doing this to be hurtful" and all similar sort of bullsh*t...Today, I can tell you, it does get better, you'll have those in your life that love you, if you are lucky and blessed that will include your family, and if they were truly friends to begin with, you will have friends.

Being AgCC/ADHD (alphabet soup, basically ...ROFL) and gay was a horrendous experience as an adolescent, but I've grown to love and accept myself, and so has many members of my family and friends (and I believe "more to come")  If you have any doubts, go to Youtube and search for "It Gets Better"...I promise you, it does...Life is wonderful, love is wonderful, YOU are wonderful...

30 Dr. Seuss Quotes that can Chang Your Life!

I Want it NOW! I'll Do it LATER!

These sentiments are common ones, both for those of us with ADHD, as well as many with collosul disorders.  As many (or most) around us do not understand how our brains work (or don't work) it can be a source of shaming, judgement and frustration vented towards us.  Having heard over and over again "you just need to try harder," "your just lazy, stupid or crazy" others effectively bash our self esteem, and we often do a good job at that ourselves.

Those of us with collosul disorders and/or ADHD, as many observe haven't any problem "paying attention."  Rather due to impaired executive function of the brain, we have trouble doing so at will and consistently.  Hence "willpower" really has very little to do with it.  Executive function (EF) also regulates the sustaining and the placing of attention in the first place.  EF regulates our alertness vs our needed "downtime."  Many, for example, with ADHD, can related to reading a book, or listening to a lecture, and falling into a deep slumber.

Stimulant medications help about 80% of those with ADHD.  They only helped me in limited ways, and also caused a great deal of agitation and anxiety, hypomania and anger.  Strattera, however, that changes the rate of Dopamine and Norepinephrine uptake (this refers to how quickly the synapses of the brain "reload" for the next signal.)  Its truly been a miracle medication for me, after many, many years of trial and error.

While in many ways I find very minor issues with my EF, my attention, et al, my overall cognitive ability has improved far beyond that which I'd honestly ever believed it would or could.  I find myself in many ways angry with all those who would judge us, label us morally flawed, because of the symptoms described above.  My mind now, is much clearer and faster, higher functioning, my ability to communicate, to understand others has also improved quite a bit.  Now, I'm dealing with the years of self doubt and anger wrongly placed in my own direction.  True, that others did this as well, but people will do what they do, and we cannot (directly) change it.

I find myself, having to add new levels of forgiveness and self love, where before it did not exist. I also find that I've a lot of anger towards many who have judged me unfairly over the years.  But I do have to ask myself, were I in their position, without the knowledge that I now have, would I myself have judged unfairly? The answer, for me is obvious and affirmative...I (we) do it all the time.

Their exists in me now, a level of relative comfort and ease in how I relate to my life, my behavior(s), my unique way of processing and living in the world.  I will continue to make mistakes, missteps, and foibles...just like everyone else.  And (I know, its not proper to start a sentence with "and") I truly believe, that we all fall down and get up, fall down again, and get up.  The only difference though, between a failure and a success, is getting back up.  If we ever labor under the false delusion, as I had for many years that I should simply give up because I'm not going to get "it" then I've given in to failure.

For those still suffering, all I can say is this:  I firmly believe with all my heart that pain and discomfort, even disability, is a given...at the same time suffering is optional.  I also know that in the moment, for those of us who have just fallen down (yet again), this statement can seem arrogant, can seem a lie.  I would also say, please, please, do not take my word for this...such would just be listening to the misguided ramblings of yet again another person who has not (exactly) walked in your shoes.  However, try...test it...get up again...one more time...and should you fall, get up again, one more time.  You may just find (for yourself) the hope, the solution, the key you are looking for to succeed.

Getting up again, its not about willpower. I've already discussed this above, rather its about faith, faith in yourself, in your ability to succeed at being the very best that you can be.

I find myself feeling the pain and the suffering of many who have been and continue to be in similar situations to my own.  The difference now, is that said pain and suffering serves now only to motivate me to ease the suffering of others, in any way possible, if at all possible.

My cognitive and overall processing changes have been both so stark and obvious, as well as perfectly consistent that I have revisited within myself hopes and goals, mountains to climb, that I'd given up on.  I've decided, and I'm not sure when exactly, that I will go back to school and finish my degree in psychology.  My overall function is such now that I know I can succeed in this.

Talking to my psychiatric case manager yesterday about this, she'd asked me if I had anxiety in light of all these changes.  At first I was unaware of exactly what she was referring to.  She was referring to "the other shoe dropping", or the fear that I might and could loose my newfound and stable cognitive and emotional/social improvements.  I'd mentioned to her I had, but that I even have been "taunting" the other shoe, untying its laces and seeing if it would drop...and it won't...Surely I'll continue to misstep, but I now know I have both the tools and the support to get back up again, without any doubt whatsoever.  

To each and every one of us I wish only that we might all realize the other shoe not dropping.  May we all come to the knowledge that it can get better, and it will get better.  May we all come to understand and have faith in our own unique skills and abilities, not only to survive, but to thrive and flower into the fullness that is our promised birthright.
~Just Joe

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Legacy of Helen Keller


"I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish humble tasks as though they were great and noble. The world is moved along, not only by the mighty shoves of its heroes, but also by the aggregate of the tiny pushes of each honest worker."

"The struggle of life is one of our greatest blessings. It makes us patient, sensitive, and Godlike. It teaches us that although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it."

~Helen Keller

I cannot help but be inspired by Helen Keler.  I think this great woman was the penultimate example of what I say time and again in my posts...there is no such thing (utimately) as disability, rather each and every one of us is Other-Abled.  I know that this woman saw absolutely no difficulty nor conflict in showing the world who "Helen Normal" is.  As such she remains a great inspiration.

Helen says, of her earliest beginnings of communication:

Helen as a young girl
" Meanwhile the desire to express myself grew. The few signs I used became less and less adequate, and my failures to make myself understood were invariably followed by outbursts of passion. I felt as if invisible hands were holding me, and I made frantic efforts to free myself. I struggled—not that struggling helped matters, but the spirit of resistance was strong within me; I generally broke down in tears and physical exhaustion. If my mother happened to be near I crept into her arms, too miserable even to remember the cause of the tempest. After awhile the need of some means of communication became so urgent that these outbursts occurred daily, sometimes hourly... "

I have always been haunted (in a positive way) by both this statement, and this image of Helen as a young girl.  Though I've my eyesight, and my hearing and a mouth to speak, I could almost have quoted the above as my own childhood observation.  In fact, I spoke very well (some say too much!) as a child.  Even so, I was always aware that I was never quite understanding people correctly (whatever that really means), neither did it seem to me at all times (and often to others) that I was able to communicate in a way that people really understood what it was I was trying to convey.

I see, in this picture, a powerful nuclear dynamo of a personality, Life, striving to express itself, yet presently the tools it needs to do so were unknown to her.  While not her personally, per say, I see the Wisdom of the Ages, as it were locked into a room with the curtains drawn, shades pulled down and a gag placed over her mouth...waiting for the moment that her Anne Sullivan would help her discover those tools that would set her free.  What I find most 'umbling and most empowering, is that Helen is not any different than you or I.

Furthermore, of her teacher Anne, Helen says:

" …I learned from life itself. At the beginning I was only a little mass of possibilities. It was my teacher [Anne Sullivan] who unfolded and developed them. When she came, everything about me breathed of love and joy and was full of meaning. She has never since let pass an opportunity to point out the beauty that is in everything, nor has she ceased trying in thought and action and example to make my life sweet and useful.
It was my teacher’s genius, her quick sympathy, her loving tact which made the first years of my education so beautiful. It was because she seized the right moment to impart knowledge that made it so pleasant and acceptable to me..."

You see, not only are you and I exactly like Helen, we are exactly like Anne too.  Each one of us, within ourselves, are largely unable to express the hidden divinity within, until our "Anne" sparks within us our own personal knowledge of the Way.  We are both Helen and Anne.  Each one of us while possessing unique skills, also possesses the muse or inspiration for an other's keys, tools methods to unlock our own inner genius...Regardless of who we are.

We all have many Anne Sulivans in our lives, some more tangible and immediately transforming than others...amongst the most important in my life are Shree Maa of Kamachia, Rev. Ann Davies and Troya my surrogate sister and friend.  All of these incredible individuals, imperfect as they may be by the standards of others, were and remain today for me a source of unconditional love, respect and encouragement.

My Surrogate Sister Troya
Prior to the years of my correct diagnoses and treatment, I lived an emotional, mental, spiritual and social wreck...burnt bridges, injured relationships, caused pain and suffering.   Yet when I came here to SoCal some years ago, I shared all of it with Troya, holding almost nothing back, I both shared with her, and she experienced even firsthand my highest and my lowest, my most sublime and most depraved moments.  In her words, when I came here to SoCal, the person she saw before her didn't quite match the person she knew that I was.  She had/s always given me unconditional love and trust...believed and knew  that that perfect expression of the Divine Will as "Joseph Normal" was destined to make itself known and shown, and it has.  Divine Will as me, doesn't denote some holier godlike figure, far from it...it is a recognition that whatever shows up is was it supposed to show up.

Were it not for her support and encouragement, I'd likely have died of Hep C, likely remained in the suffering in which I've languished for years on all levels of my life.  Discovering my AgCC, I had begun and continue to shed many, many years of self hatred, guilt, anguish, absence of all self esteem.  Jelaludin Rumi often spoke of a rose.  The rose as a bud has tremendous torque inwards towards itself, wrapped so tightly that if one tries to open it, it would be destroyed...But, he says, there comes the day the rose realizes that it must and can only be a rose,  and in a wild frenzy of life unbounded that torque reverses, the petals burst open in abandon, with full knowledge that one day it shall wilt, fall to the Ground and die, returning to its Source.  The beauty of this rose is unmatched in all the universe.

We are Helen, we are Anne, and we are the rose.

May we all realize the joy of being, may we unclench from our need to pull inward, may we flower in the abandon of beauty in the full knowledge of the way of things, one day returning to its Source...

~Just Joe 

Monday, March 19, 2012

Dancing in the Rain Part 2 - "Singin' in the Rain" ~ Gene Kelly

"Pay No Attention to the Man Behind the Curtain...

Says the Great and Powerful Oz..."

or, the Anatomy of the Executive Function(s):

Lately I have been doing a lot of study with what materials are available, both on ADHD and AgCC...alphabet soup, don't ya know?

As I'd mentioned in an earlier blog, since childhood, and then again in adolescence through adulthood prior to my definitive AgCC diagnoses, doctors and therapists remained "all over the map" with me, in trying to pin down both the symptoms and sources of my disability.  I'd always known I was ADHD, I was in childhood, there can be no doubt of that.  What we are learning about ADHD now, in just the past decade goes farther than the idea of "oh, he just can't/won't 'pay attention.' "  I'm currently reading a rather dense book about ADHD, titled "Attention Deficit Disorder - The Unfocused Mind in Children and Adults " by Thomas E. Brown, Ph.D. This researcher has over 30 years of intensive work with and study of both children and adults with this disorder.

I admit I get both impatient and angry at well wishers and pseudo-scientists that claim that ADHD doesn't exist, and that we are overmedicating our kids....they also like to throw around a (false) claim that it only exists in our country/culture...which simply has no truth to it, roughly the same percentage in other populations exhibit symptoms that are consistent with the presentation of ADHD.

 As I mentioned in another post, I'd recently, for the first time been put on Strattera, a non stimulant medication for ADHD mostly used in children.  I'd also mentioned that no other medication has effected all aspects of my life, thinking, cognition, impulse control, communications skills in the way it has, and in a relatively short period of time.  I've come to realize that for me, the traditional stimulant medications helped only a small bit, and for me had devastating side effects.  Perhaps the only thing the stims helped was with some concentration, but really none of the other symptoms, in fact often making them worse.

 Strattera works by preventing the reuptake (reloading in the synapses) of both Dopamine and Norepinephrine in the human brain.  Detailed studies show that this specific chemical mechanism/circuit does not work well in the ADHD brain, studies done with MRI, CAT and other scan technology give the physical evidence for this.  These two chemicals are primarily responsible for the regulation of what is now considered the executive function(s) of the human brain.

One way to think about the executive function(s) of the brain is like this:  Attention is far more than the metaphor of a Hollywood spotlight, trained on the subject of interest for a particular time.  One has also to consider the overall script of the entertainment, what the cues are, when to shine it on the subject, and when to remove it so as to not bring emphasis to the actor when "his part is no longer necessary."  Also executive function controls much more than the simple act of attention...it regulates alertness, regulates focus, and yes, even regulates will to act,  it helps maintain the focus for only as long as is necessary but no longer.  The Executive Function or EF, also is responsible for the organization & prioritization of what is currently held in memory (or "working memory") vs already established long term memories...regulated processing speed, modulates the emotions, monitors incoming & outgoing communications.

You see, then "Attention Deficit" is really only a partial description of the overall disorder that is ADHD.  As this phenomenon has been studied in well over 300 detailed medical and scientific studies, it is now coming to light that there is much more at stake in individuals with this disorder than the ability to pay attention.  Some could compare it to the Wizard behind the curtain in Oz, and they'll simply say "see, you ARE in control, you only have to work HARDER", but this is where this metaphor falls apart.  The EF of the human brain, makes hundreds, even thousand of decisions in an extremely short period of time,  but is an entirely unconscious process.  The EF cannot be trained or learned, if in fact this medical deficit exists.  Some skills can be improved, but double blind studies between "normally developed" and ADHD children and adults have shown time and again that out of three groups, one treated only with medication, one treated with therapy and other supports, and one with both prove some interesting things.  Time and again, the immediate relief of symptoms in over 80% of the medication only group was apparent, while those receiving interventions and therapies only showed negligible and even non existent improvement. Furthermore, those receiving medication, and those receiving both medication & therapies/intervention showed no differences whatsoever.

Also, in AgCC individuals EF is largely impaired, according to the many studies of Dr. Lynn Paul in the Caltech Emotion and Social Cognition Laboratory studies of individuals born acollosul (with AgCC.)  The Corpus Callosum or CC is in many ways a major part of the "fabric" of the brain's EF(s.)  Much of her research is to uncover answer to questions that defy both logic and intuition.

While the deficits of AgCC folk are permanent and apparent, we differ from those who have had the CC removed for other medical reasons.  Most often those who loose their CC to a surgical procedure can longer perform what is known as interhemispheric transfer (IT).  In short this means information present to one side of the body or brain being effectively transfered to the other.  An oddity is that many of us born with AgCC still have some significant IT, even if, compared to "normal people" we are lacking.

IT is now thought to play a major part in many different mental illnesses, from bipolar disorder to schizophrenia, OCD...

Its not my intent to be scholarly in my posts, I don't think such is within my ability...but I do hope to spark the curiosity of others who would learn more about disabilities like ADHD and AgCC.

Dr. Brown's book, mentioned above is a new paradigm for ADHD, perhaps not really new, but more clearly defined.  Before making up their minds on what ADHD is or isn't I think they owe it to themselves to read this book.

In short, all of our lives, adults with collosul disorders previously undiagnosed, as well as those even diagnosed with ADHD from childhood or adulthood, are told that we just need to "get that man behind the curtain to do his job better."  I hope that this post may help some to realize ADHD is not a question of willpower, if anything those of us with either or both of these disorders "will and will and will", try "harder and harder" to the point of exhaustion, not understanding what's missing or not working, until we learn what I have written about in my post.  If you think it frustrating for our parents, siblings and friends, I'd like you to imagine, just for a moment how frustrating, to the point of terrible self esteem it can be for many of us.

~Just Joe

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Life Isn't About Waiting for a Storm to Pass...

It's about learning to dance in the rain!

I recently ran across this statement online, and it rings so true for me.  I think I had mentioned in an earlier post, how I would answer someone (and often have) when asked what I thought God/Truth/Reality was something very similar:

Imagine a time, or remember the time, when as a very young child, prior to the indoctrination of society, our even our parents into "reality", "God" and the like...Try to remember yourself, perhaps running through a field, maybe the beach, the woods, a meadow, a snowstorm, the rain (oh, and especially the puddles)...you get my drift...

The wind blowing through your hair, the sun shining on your face, or perhaps the raindrops hitting you...in total wonderment of the excitement, the beauty, the purity of it all...Each one's experience is undoubtedly different, yet each one of us is capable of recapturing the wonderment moment that most stands out for them...This is my God, my Truth, my Reality.  Wordless, without expression, filled with utter joy and hopeful abandon.

It's unfortunate but most, if not all of us seem to forget this...as we become persons in the "real world," taking on expectations of ourselves, and of others on our behalf we forget who we are, or who we aren't.

Most certainly there are storms in life that bring things to us, or take them away, there is room for improvement, umbrellas and rain slickers, of this there is not doubt.  But have you noticed children, (I myself remember) stampeding into rain puddles and mud, and the utter silliness of splashing the mixture and jumping in it?  There is time for rain slickers and umbrellas, but I dare say we mustn't forget the puddles, we mustn't forget to dance in the rain.

In the summer, we b*tch and mo@n of the heat, and we want rain and snow...in the winter we compain about the cold and want only the warm sun on our face.  We don't often stop to think that Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter are the Way of things, the great cycle of this planet...so why not enjoy them in their season?  In like manner whatever comes to us in Life is its gift to us, and in turn our gift in and to life.

Coming to grips with my own disability is one thing, learning how to dance in it, entirely another.  I've gone from the suffering of self deluded limitation to the understanding there is absolutely nothing I cannot have/do/be in my life (given the "who's, what's and how's" of Joe), yet any one thing takes an entirety of focus and commitment to bring it in to one's life.  This does not infer (at least on the level of the average human being, of which I fit that description) can do things, have and be things outside of the realm of the gifts we have been given, and those, at least in our lifetime, we have not.


The Rev. Ann Davies
The late Rev. Ann Davies of B.O.T.A. was known to have said, for example "I can write some beautiful poetry, but I will never have good handwriting."  I can tell you, as someone who has listened to many hours of her lectures and read what she has written that she did indeed write some absolutely beautiful prose and poetry.  Yet, one wonders what would have happened, has she spent her life trying to beautify her awful (in her words) handwriting?


Her lectures, teachings and writings remain a great blessing to many because she recognized the domain that her gifts existed in, and was willing to surrender in the areas where they did not.

Granted, some may think it a cop out to accept one's own limitations, but I do not.  I think it shows the greatest of strength and character, ability to adapt and excel.  When I first heard Ann speak the above (on recording, I've never met her in the body) I never, ever forgot it.  In fact, I was in the midst of one of the biggest battles of my life, undergoing chemotherapy for advanced Hepatitis C...which I succeeded in.  The battle was not the illness, no...for me the battle and victory was in committing to, and completely succeeding in the medical protocol of 18 months (more or less) on heavily toxic drugs.  I owe her and many others my life...as they stood by me and insisted it was within my own gifts to succeed.

Day by day, I ask myself the equivalent "Do I have good handwriting, or can I write beautiful things?" in so many different areas of my life now.  My personal belief, is that no one is born "disabled."  At the least every last one of us is "other-abled", having tremendous gifts and skills, perhaps yet uncovered, as well as limitations built into our very self, bodily, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.  Each of us a point of focus, if you will, for the Will to Good to find expression in an absolutely unique way.  God/Truth/Reality says "I wonder what its like to be a dinosaur?", "I wonder what its like to be a tree?", "I wonder what its like to be a Joseph (or John, or Adam, Mary, Elizabeth, Troya, etc...)  It is your eyes, my eyes, the "eyes" of the tree, the dog, the cloud, the mountain, through which this Reality both finds meaning and conscious expression.

This is a reason for joy and dancing, not of wanting or waiting for what isn't.  I'm learning to dance in every moment, learning the joy that God experiences as "Joseph Normal."  Part of this experience is its own discovery, or "uncovery" the uncovering of all I am meant to be, if it can even be described in such terms.  Whether joy, sunshine, health, pain, sickness, death, "disability" or ability, it is all just the rain...in utter abandon, may I and all beings learn to dance in the rain, to find the joy and expression of God/Truth/Reality that exists in and as us each individually, may we know the Truth of who we really are (or are not) and rejoice!
~Just Joe

Thursday, March 15, 2012

" Troublemakers "

As Wide as the Sky, As Deep as the Sea

" The Buddha realized that his search for an answer to the end of suffering assumed a self that sought after happiness, yet was haunted by extinction.  He understood how we try to maintain the familiar presence of self, whatever that means to us in each moment.  Sometimes we affirm "me" and sometimes we protect "me."  We bring desirable things toward "me" and push unwanted things away from "me" so that the parameters of "me" keep expanding and contracting.  All this pulling and pushing fans the flames of strong emotions, and we try even harder to drive home the point: "I exist."  Meanwhile, we live with the terror of an unavoidable death. We evaluate, organize, and struggle with everything we encounter in our attempts to substantiate the existence of a self.  This is the relationship with have with the world.

Try to visualize your world without the tug of "me" with all its preferences: all its efforts to find stable ground in the world of things and protect itself from unwanted experiences.  What would happen if, rather than organizing the world to suit the self, we stopped manipulating everything and instead just stayed present for our life?


Staying present challenges our habitual reactive tendencies.  You may recognize this scenario:  You're sitting at the dinner table, or in a room full of people, when suddenly everything falls quiet.  The space feels pregnant, full of possibility, and then that one person--it may even be you--gets overwhelmed, uncomfortable, and just has to talk.  This is how we deal with pregnant moments--we try to escape them through the continual re-creation of the self.  We are not accustomed to bearing witness to our own experience--our life--without putting a lid on it, manipulating it--reaching a conclusion about it, or ascribing meaning to it in some way.  But in doing this, do we ever have a full experience? "
~Elizabeth Mattis~Namgyel
The Power of an Open Question
© 2010

I wanted to share this passage with ya'll as when I read it, I heard it speaking to my heart.  It was not as if reading something new, but rather like reading someone describing my own experience.

Speaking for myself, within my experience of life with AgCC...the "internal world," such that it is becomes (or perhaps always has been, for me) an obsession of sorts.  It is said that many with my disability lack a clearly defined inner sense of self.  For me this had always been true...Furthermore, at 49 years old, I look back and see that I have spent the majority of my life, shoring up "me", protecting "I", and yet when I inquire, and I look for an I or me that such a concept either grows exponentially and blends with the world, or becomes smaller and smaller, tinier than an atom, yet defies any and all clear definition.

Many people misunderstand the realization of the Buddha and other sages from Indian religions.  Some would classify this type of thinking as Nihilistic, but in doing so, its evident that they miss the point entirely.  It is not that the sense of a self is unreal, to be denied...it is not that there does not appear a "you" and "I", a we, the world and things...not at all.

What he realized, and many of us who inquire have begun to realize is that all of these things are "functional illusions."  There is no doubt that on some level, many apparently obvious, that these concepts deep in the thought pattern of mankind helps us navigate and function "in the world."  Yet, if we, even for a moment look for a permanence, a solidity, an absoluteness to these things, thoughts, feelings, we find them only fleeting, with no permanence whatsoever.

One such thing the Buddha prescribes contemplation of, is impermanence.  Why is it, we want something, or someone so badly...then when we finally meet/receive the object of our desire, the passion for it is fleeting...and furthermore said thing, often is a source of suffering.

Example:  We see someone, we fall in love...whether we spend the rest of our lives with the person or not, or if we come to disagreement and go our separate ways, the very thing we cherish will one day be no more.  Should we be blessed to spend the rest of our breathing days with him or her, it is certain that one day they/we/I shall die and it be no more.

The point of this may not be readily apparent.  It is not to reject things, peoples, love, life and activity...far from it.  Rather the "point" (if there really is one), is that we cause ourselves profound and undue suffering, by expecting such things to give us a sense of solidity, of permanent joy and satisfaction...all the time our innermost core acknowledge this as a lie, knowing that one day all things come to an end.

Much of Indian literature makes use of the imagery of the Sea.  All is the water of the Sea, the waves are beautiful, resounding, brilliant, sparkling in the light of day...but these waves, were only just water, experienced in the moment crashing up against the shore, destined to return to the Sea.  The Sea is a metaphor for consciousness, for mind, from within which all arises and abides, and eventually recedes into.  We can increase (the awareness of our inherent) joy by flowing with what is, embracing, then freely releasing.  It is not things, people or activity that cause our suffering, they are "fine" just as they are.  It is our clinging, our desire to somehow make them more solid than we know they really are.  Ultimately this is true for what we call "me" or "I."  If we are still, and we try to locate the "I", we cannot truly find it...At first glance, "I" appear to be in the body...but where?  Am "I" in, or am I "my" mind?  And if I try to find a beginning or end to "mind", "soul", "spirit" or any other such concept, I cannot do so.

Such understanding, I discover is at the heart of all I know.  It has led me to an unthought conclusion that all "things" are perfect in and as they are.  I experience more joy, being in the present moment, not fretting of the past which no longer (or debatedly never) exists, nor of a future that is not (yet.)  All the while, there is still a sense of past and future, of joy in the moment...and I feel as a child, lost in utter abandoned wonderment of the beauty and spontaneity that appears before me.

Realizing that I and all sentient creatures seem to be caught between this paradox of "I-ness" that we somehow experience, while at the same time acknowledging its tenuousness and impermanence...how can I help but have compassion, for myself and each and everyone that I meet?

~Just Joe

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Jupiter & Saturn, Self & Other, Moving Towards and Moving Away

(Oh My...!)

My friend & sister T gave a talk this Sunday, at B.O.T.A., an organization that we both belong to, and that I have personally benefited from greatly.  In so many ways I feel like it ties in with those things I currently have "on my plate," the things I am learning and experiencing, so I thought I'd share about it.

Regardless of AgCC, it must be acknowledged that we are all, in a sense two people in one body.  While I'm tempted to say we have "to halves that make a whole," I don't believe that this is entirely true, at least not from my perspective.  You see, I have come to a personal understanding that each and all individual beings are, as it were three dimensional holograms.  While in itself the subject of holograms is rather dense, I won't bore you with that here...suffice it to say, in my use I refer to an image, really any image, if you take it apart into "pieces", each piece contains the exact replication and duplication of the whole, albeit from different perspectives.

Gathering my thoughts back towards Earth... :-)

In traditional astrology (I'm no expert in it, but gather bits and pieces) the planets are/were not looked at as external forces that control individuals and circumstance, rather the planets (that we see) are external representation of the internal forces/planets, as it were that make up the human psyche.

In short, Vedic astrology recognizes Jupiter/Guru as symbolic of exponential growth and expansion, a "moving away from"...Saturn/Shani of limitation, restriction, boundary, structure & form.

The reason I find these so intriguing, is they speak to me of the human state/condition.  These are two polar aspects of the same thing.  In many of the ancient  writings of the Sanatan Dharma, the teaching of the sages of India there are recognized these two particulars.  That which we/you/I are is at once, never born, never dying, without beginning or end...yet is also born, aging, decaying, and one day a corpse.

Another way to see this...is a personal reality (what we see think and "know" as I or me) and a corporate or universal reality, some might even go so far as to call it a social reality.  In actuality though, neither of these are reality as it is, but are viewpoints somewhere along the continuum of "the big picture" and the "relative."  They are both "true" and at the same time only relative human concepts of something beyond our understanding.

Where we can (I know I do) often get stuck, is trying to "absolutize" (yep, my made up word) either one of these, and for me this shows up in social interaction (or lack thereof.)  I've had difficulty, all my life with social "appropriateness..."  At first glance, I'm charming, engaging, connected...after any length of time, this can seem, both to myself and to outside observers as brusk, put off and "out there."

Many of us with AgCC diagnoses, most especially adults who find out about it later in life, have undergone years of doctor visits, therapy, multiple diagnoses (often misdiagnoses.)  While I used to feel quite angry about this, I have a different understanding these days.

Without the physical diagnoses, an MRI or CAT scan this disorder remains a mystery...and being such a rare disorder, even after diagnoses of the physical abnormality of the brain it remains largely mysterious.  While there are groundbreakers like Dr. Lynn Paul and others who have begun to unravel all that being born aCollosul means, doctors, at least in regard to diagnoses and treatment, have been "stuck with" the symptomological approach of the Diagnostic Statistical Manual and "fitting in" our symptoms with known disorders and research.

I have no doubt, at least in my mind that these co-morbid conditions, as it were, do exist.  There is yet not enough research to say "this personal is acollosul, so this is what it is going to look like."  The interesting thing, is that all of us AgCCers have both skill sets and deficits across a large spectrum, albeit there are common issues that seem to always present, in one form or another, particularly on the level of social interaction.

When I was a child, long before the term ADHD was coined, I was considered to have "hyperactivity disorder."  While I know this to be a hotly contested diagnoses (mostly by those who have never experienced it personally or within their own family units, I can tell you that it perfectly described some of the major behavioral and cognitive issues in my own life...Lack of impulse control, extreme distraction, physical hyperactivity, disorders of Executive Function, to name a few...

As a very young child, I was treated with Ritalin and other stimulant medications.  There is no doubt that it helped for a time, helped impulse control, concentration, less distraction...Having said that, I've found that it also increased intensity of emotion, mood swings and general emotional regulation and stability, caused me to have added extra anxiety and the like.

I remember as I grew older, that even when I was to dose with Ritalin, I would often toss it down the drain in the school nurse's office or at home, and no one ever knew this.  I knew intuitively that it was responsible for my increased rage, anxiety and emotional instability, but unfortunately I hadn't the skills to properly relate this to parents, family and doctors, so believing the drug was having no benefit (I was actually not taking it, and they weren't aware) they took me off the medication...and things began to go steadily down hill from there.

By my mid 20's I was a suicidal wreck...made worse by the first medications that they attempted to put me on as a young adult which actually caused a psychotic episode (of the likes I have not experienced since then.)  One can imagine then, the ambivalence with which I have approached the medication approach for my entire life.  Multiple (false, and later ruled out diagnoses) later, having discovered my congenital birth defect of AgCC, my doctor and I have been focused largely on ADHD symptoms.  And recently, I have had a profound breakthrough.

One of the issues is, that people expect that medications all effect people exactly the same.  This cannot possible be true, especially in the area of mental and developmental issues.  Most people are unaware of this, but the smallest amount of research will bare out the fact that not everyone is born a "carbon copy human", there are, for example differences in shape of organ, function, color even, metabolic, and particularly brain differences in every human ever born.  Granted some of these are so small that the average healthy person will never know, yet some are so influential in the smallest detail that the same medications, whether for physical, emotional, mental...whatever health will effect peoples entirely differently.

Two weeks ago, my doctor, with my suggestion began me on a trial of Strattera, a non stimulant medication called an NRI or Norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor.  It is a non stimulant class medication that has been used to successfully treat  some children with ADHD symptoms.  Within 3-4 days, the change has been so dramatic as to be unbelievable.  Even all those around me have been commenting (without my necessarily mentioning I've done something different) on the shift.

I've had great difficulty all my life with what's referred to as "ordered thinking."  You might think of it this way:  Make a list, in your mind (or even on paper) and then do it.  Something as simple as this has been consistently  of great difficulty for me.  I can have a thought to do something, and before I leave the room it has entirely vanished.  While we all have this experience, just imagine having it 30, even 40 times a day, nonstop.

Since I have been on Strattera I have, honestly more ordered thinking than I can recall in my entire life.  Even when on stimulants, I know they helped this somewhat, but also created undue anxiety, mood shifts and extremes...and I have none of these negative symptoms at all.  Emotional regulation, another common symptom of both those born AgCC and those with ADHD symptoms, has entirely changed.  So much so, that I have been waiting "for the 'other shoe to drop' " and it hasn't/doesn't.  My ability to think before I respond, act, my overall ability to focus on what is being said in a group situation, and understand it thoroughly, be able to follow a train of thought by others in a group, all  of this has improved, so much so, that part of me  never thought this level of cognitive change even possible.  It is like night and day, someone turning a light on in a dark room.

The balance, if I may, between Jupiter and Saturn, self and other, personal boundary and personal openness, is shifting and changing, profoundly.  I'm no longer stressed by the stretch of the polarity of these things.  This isn't to say, I'm not getting angry, or happy, sad, or concerned, or engaged or distant.  H*ll, I'm entirely human in that regard, and expect (as should all individuals) this dynamic to continue for the rest of our lives.  My brain is "quiet", but not "drugged", I'm not "flat" nor am I "elated."  All in all, to be honest, a very unusual experience for me...one that feels like coming home after years of being gone, and not quite recognizing one's own house and belongings...with a certain amount of joy.

For me, and I stress me individually, I'm finding this new medication protocol to be a Godsend.  It couldn't have happened at a better time in my life, as I am spending what time we have left with my best friend and surrogate sister "T" as she battles end stage Ovarian cancer.  I can be there/here more fully for her...This woman has been there for me in the best and worst of me, and is, if not solely responsible, a huge part in the transformation in my life over the past several years...The word(s) of the day in unconditional love.  It can truly perform the miraculous.

I want nothing more, can think of nothing I would rather be doing, that serving this wonderful individual in any way I can at this time, even if it is simply by only "being here."  And, I know that the transformation I continue to go through will allow her to let go of any fear or undue concern for me.

For any and all, that have reached out the hand of love and help to me over the years, even when I was not ready, could not recognize it or benefit from it, I thank you from the bottom of my heart...from my own parents, to each and every one of you whether now in this world or somewhere beyond, I am profoundly grateful.

To those who still suffer within their disability, I want you to know there is hope.  When things seem there darkest, know that the Universe is conspiring to shower you with blessings, fullness and completeness, of this I have no doubt.  If this one can transform and continue to change, surprising even himself, I have no doubt that you can too.

May all beings be happy,

~Just Joe

Friday, March 9, 2012

Walls, Fences and Open Fields...

It is a wonderful thing to learn, to grown and to change...I've always said, and I still believe "if you're not learning you're dead!"

Being socially challenged has its challenges (eww redundant but necessary lol), and in recent days I have been working hard to examine my skills, limitations, beliefs and behaviors around friendship, relationship, boundaries (what are boundaries? I sometimes have to ask...) It seems that so many of us adults with AgCC (and I imagine children too) have so many issues, not simply with socializing, but "appropriate" boundaries (those that have been accorded by the societies we live in.)

It might be rightfully mentioned that AgCC, while seeing some common things across the board, effects those that have it in an entire spectrum.  Some of us are "mentally challenged" (HATE that term) and have IQs under 80, (sometimes even under 50), while some like myself have an IQ of 118, which is considered to be slightly above average, and others even show up on the Mensa scale...all fine and good.  Yet research bares out the existence of more than one type of intelligence.

For example there is intellectual intelligence, emotional intelligence, social, body, and other types identified.  Particularly, I've always had personal difficulty with social and body intelligence.

When I go into a large room filled with people, it isn't that I'm necessarily agoraphobic...that being said...









Say that you and I are having a conversation, in a room with 20 other peoples, or even make it just 2 other peoples,  my verbal acuity is so finely tuned and open to the environment, it is as if I hear the conversations of all 20 (or 4) peoples in the room, and my brain is unable to differentiate the sounds, the conversations...they all blend into one.  Furthermore in depth examinations have shown (actually demonstrated or "presented" in the correct terminology) that when I have verbal input going into both ears, it can cause my overall cognitive abilities to decompensate, even to the point where my brain cannot comprehend any of the language around me.  At this point, my creative, fantasy driven right brain starts making scenarios and stories, that are more powerful (to me) than even what is going on in the external environment...my brain trying to cope with what it perceives as extreme overload. 

On top of this, when they studied me, they discovered that while my ability to pick up verbal cues can be rather well developed that my ability to recognize facial cues and responses is lacking.  Some might say "learn it, you can do it if you try hard enough" but the facts are that the hardware simply is not present for my brain/computer to do this.  This leaves me with a rather interesting conundrum, which for years, until I understood it led to much confusion and suffering. 

Anybody that knows me, family, friends etc...can tell you I was always a very verbal child (turns out my cousin tells me the entire family was "verbal" LOL), so on first glance, I do know how to present the appropriate initial social behaviors...and as my pop always (lovingly) said when I was young, "I could 'charm the balls off a brass monkey.'"  Yet, anyone who has also spent time with me can recognize that at a certain point, I seem to be "off point." You and I can be, for example talking about, say, "taxes" for 10 minutes, and out of the blue I'm talking about the New York Yankees, but you (nor anybody else but me) sees any connection whatsoever in the conversation...it seems disjointed and inappropriate (putting it kindly) to others.

Perhaps the most annoying factor is that until diagnosed (and truthfully much of the time even afterwards) we may be unaware of this...and for all intents and purposes appear very bizarre to those "on the outside" of the phenomenon.

While my exact explanation and experience is likely very different from an other individual adult with AgCC, I'm guessing that their own experience falls somewhere along the same lines.

You have simply to consider the social implications of such a cognitive defect/difference to perhaps begin to understand that we tend toward having difficulty with  personal and professional boundaries.  Often not recognizing that either our thinking and/or our behavior has "missed the mark" until long after "the deed is done."  We get called, crazy, dreamer, liar, misfit...and dozens of other ugly and inaccurate descriptions.  Many, if not most of us, at least in the eyes of the society we live in don't "measure up" in emotional maturity and social skills.  Some of us have, and continue to isolate ourselves, in an effort to protect ourselves (and others) from all of this.

Many of us have undergone sexual abuse as children, or even young (or older) adults, because we lacked the developed social understanding that would tell us what was happening was inappropriate...we present as naive, and vulnerable, even when sporting an assumed self confidence.

I'm guessing, someone on the outside of this neurological defect might ask why we didn't tell our doctors, therapists, professionals about it, such as I have described above...well...think about it this way:

If a (wo)man is blind from birth, can they tell you they are?  I mean, would it be possible for them to tell you "I don't see the sun rising" if in fact they never did and never could do so?  It is much the same.  Furthermore many of us with AgCC lack an adequate internal sense, particular one that we could describe to ourselves or others.  This is especially true (for me as an adult) prior to the diagnoses.  Doctors and therapists, previously could not image the brain in such a way, (or simply often did not)...in doing so discovering that the largest structure in the human brain happens to be missing in us.

Speaking for myself, when this was definitively diagnosed, years of pain, preoccupation with suffering, and guilt began to melt away, and continues to do so.  I laugh, I used to say, "well, normal people do thus and such, but I do/do not thus and such."  I clearly understand now, that there is not one human being on the earth without both skills and deficits, mine just happen to be far more noticeable... Now every morning, with peace in my heart and mind I can look in the mirror (literally and the mirror of my life) and behold the new normal, the Joe Normal, the unique individual that I am.

 Love to all,
~Just Joe

Thursday, March 8, 2012

"The Wise (Wo)Man Beholds All Beings in the Self..,

... and the Self in all beings;
For that reason he does not hate anyone..."
It is my constant focus and goal to live up to this adage found the the holy Vedas.  I'm unsure that any one individual can live up to it entirely...including the sages and holy men of all ages.

There are indications in the faiths and scriptures of all religions and philosophies that those who are left behind to write of these great predecessors gloss over historical events, "facts" if you may, and biographical events.  While I think this should always be kept in mind, I've often considered that this is as it should be.     

Of those religions claiming to be monotheistic or monist we see an odd phenomenon, that most of us are aware of, but we somehow choose to gloss ourselves.   The historical evidence for almost every so called monotheistic religion, betrays their idealism...not to say that the ideal isn't an honorable and appropriate goal and portrayal...much as I mentioned in another post, we often forget that we stand on the shoulders of giants...I'll explain...

If one examines the language of monotheism, particularly that of Judaism, it is clear that this concept (monotheism) developed out of henotheism.  YHVH clearly says to the Moshe and the Hebrews "Thou shalt worship no other Gods 'before myself.'  This is just one example, but in both Judaism, and Islam one sees this phenomenon over and over again.  It begs the question, "  what other Gods is He referring to? "  Simply put, the concept of henotheism is that "OUR" God is the One God referred to, not yours."  In the Tanach, or body of cannonical Jewish scripture, you have Micah the prophet even saying that "the Gods of the Nations are demons."  (Yet, still here he acknowledges their existence.)

In the holy Vedas, the ancient scriptures of Sanatan Dharma, or what today is called "Hindu-ism" (term created not by their own religion, actually by Islam) one of the earliest concepts is that "There is only One God, and the wise call it by many names."  I've often thought to question those individuals that ask me if I've accepted "_____" (their God) as the one, my "savior" etc...and I find that very concept a betrayal of an all and mighty God.  It causes me to think (I try not to actually always say this verbally to them) in response, "is their/your God so weak and so impotent, that he/she/it cannot speak the language(s) of all men, women and creatures, so powerless that it is confined in how it expresses itself to its own "creation."

A more "kinder and gentler approach might be spoken and approached in this manner:

Imagine...you and I, (and everyone else) is in art gallery, and a Van Gogh is on the wall...

I'm standing directly in front of it, a bit to the left, you are across the room, on the other side, someone else, perhaps is facing sideways looking at another wall, and sees this Van Gogh in their peripheral vision...I ask you, are we not observing the same painting, from differing point of views?  Not to mention, you might see his furniture as brown, I might see it as orange, another red...but who is right?  We all are, and are not.

Due to various upbringings, cultural difference, emotional and psychological makeup, the very same thing is described in different ways...are any of us so entirely arrogant that we think our way is the only "correct" way of perceiving his masterpiece?
Perhaps there is another way of understanding this.  A metaphor often used by various religions and cultures of the East:

The Universe is a mirror of the One that Is.  Yet, in our imperfect vision, and our dualistic way of thinking the mirror that reflects that one God is shattered into many pieces.  Much like a hologram, each piece still reflects only the  image available to it (God, Truth, Reality.) No matter which piece, it only reflects this truth, yet in an incomplete fashion, without which the union of the other pieces it remains incomplete. 

You might ask why, on a blog about AgCC and disability I would even bring this up...I'll tell you:

Since I was a very young child, I knew that "spirituality" (for what its worth) would someday hold the key for my growth, maturity, evolution and happiness.  Yet, as is typical with the thinking patterns of AgCC children and adults we tend to think very black and white, very rigid, and have difficulty with ideas patterned after concepts that take quite a bit of inference to really understand.  Hence, while we appear to perhaps believe the same thing, often our knowledge is very "surface", very "rote" and not contemplated from an inclusive more intellectual view.

We often will embrace dogmatism, if not religious or political, we'll do so about our own lives...I spent many, many, years in this fashion.  Along the road, I (deeply) studied Christianity, Judaism, Sikhism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Taoism... to name just a few.  Over and over, I would convince myself I "finally had the right view", only to have it supplanted by something else later on.

A few years ago, I came to the realization of The Golden Thread...you may have heard one or another version of this...All Roads Lead to Rome....the fact is, I still do not believe this, as it isn't my experience...but if you can follow me, "All roads may not lead to Rome, but they do in fact lead to Italy."  I don't need to explain this (for myself) but it is certainly worth pondering if it initially puzzles you.

Embracing the Golden Thread, or man's insatiable need to Understand...not understand "this" or "that", or "the other thing"...simply to Understand.  This Thread has woven itself wondrously throughout human history and beyond.  Native Americans have a name for it that I dearly love, the Great Mystery.  So did Lautzu, "the Tao that can be named is not the eternal Tao."

Embracing the unspoken and indescribably essence of the Golden Thread, I now see, ever clearly how it is woven, not just into all religions, but in absolutely every human endeavor to Know (something) beyond what is "seen and tangible."  It is This that kindles within me and within all beings the thrill of being alive...

Much like a child, prior to social, religious, political, even family indoctrination...running through a meadow with the Sun on his face, grass under his feet, in absolutely wordless wonder and excitement.  This is the One that I know and that I worship.  My only prayer is that each and every "other" one discovers (their own understanding) of this selfsame truth...and for each one, each piece of the mirror, it is both glorious, unique, uplifting, fulfilling and filled with profound peace beyond measure.
~Just Joe