the learning precipice

Things have been, Gentle Reader, more than usually challenging and difficult and I am facing October hoping it isn’t like September was.  Because September was AWFUL.

However.  There is a smattering of snow on Mt. Shasta at last.  The lady down the road who has geese sets out small blue plastic swimming pools for them and it is a joy to watch them paddling around.  We have literal parliaments of birds in the garden in the mornings, taking dew baths and eating bugs.   I figured out an easier way to make spaghetti sauce.

I also realized something pretty big about being human and how we actually change.  One of the weird things that happened last month was for the first time ever, I lost, spectacularly, my temper.  I banged a shovel on a metal gate until sparks flew.  In that moment I had a panoramic view of why people get angry, why they act out- all those things I thought I just couldn’t understand before.  On the one hand, such an exhibition produces desired results at times- and I suppose this particular time I was very lucky to live through it.  But I thought a lot about how things are now, how people can feel so alienated and disenfranchised and without recourse or alternative, and how desperate the situation is for so many in this world for things to be going as they are, so much violence and anger and frustration and basic WASTE.  At the same time I realized the enormity of the connection between all of us.  We all feel the same things whether we know it or not, and there is a huge movement between all of us:  of feelings, of thoughts. (It’s hard, of course, to think that anything resembling thought goes on in the minds of, say, the Koch brothers- those guys who pronounce their name like the beverage and not the body part they mostly behave like.  Still, it must be possible.)

Then, imagine my surprise when I realized that all these Opportunities for Growth that have surfaced lately?  I asked for that.  I had an opportunity a while ago to do some deep work.  I asked for help with a family issue, a personal relationship issue, and for help dealing with my many fears.  Of course I thought that the problematic elements would just sort of…float away.  I would be released from them.  Just as we all do, hope that our trials and tribulations will be taken from us.  BUT OF COURSE in order for that to happen, quite a bit of work must be done.   The first two concerns were, in fact, dealt with and they were two of the hardest, most painful things I’ve ever gone through.  Then, there’s the fear.  You can’t divest yourself of fear until you really know what it is, it turns out.  You can’t pretend you don’t feel it, can’t ignore it, also can’t let it run your life.  Just like in PTSD, the fears drive through your brain in horrible clockwork.  And just as in PTSD the way out is through, in noticing what comes up, what color that car in your head really is and also? it isn’t really a car.  Suddenly, after a lifetime of application, the fear reveals itself as what it is.  A thought in reaction to a circumstance.  Change your thoughts, the circumstance is changed as well.   Or more properly, its appearance is changed.  There is, as the Buddhists say, no cure for hot and cold.  And fear is like hot and cold- another experience, another sensation.  It may not be curable, but it IS explorable, and that is the key.

The thing of it now, though, is so many circumstances are so dire and intractable it might not seem like it matters at all how you think about them.  But I think it does.  How you perceive something dictates how you respond to it.  Take injustice.   The perpetrators of injustices are often not accessible, seen or even exactly known.  How do you combat something like that?  Things have taken such a direction in my life that I no longer have trust in any of the forms and infrastructures of society.  I also believe, still, shovel incident notwithstanding, that non-violence is the only lasting proper method for change.  This puts the responsibility squarely on one’s shoulders, then.  We ourselves have to shape our lives the way WE want them to be, regardless of tyranny, stupidity, poverty and greed.  There may be no basic services available to a person.  That person then has to forage, make connections, and create an alternative.  This means leaving a lot of things behind, but mostly things like materialism, complacency, disinterest.  It means you have to start actually thinking on your feet, being responsible.  Putting fear and conformity aside even in the most difficult situation really does allow space for movement and change.  It isn’t easy and I can’t imagine most people even want to touch this whole thing with a barge pole but nonetheless it is what is staring us all squarely in the face.   Or, me, anyway.  You gotta align self with Self and with the big picture.  Then? It isn’t easy or perhaps all that different but it is better without all the static.  And every day better gets better, and the strength and will to carry on grow, and great things can happen.  Great things aren’t always seemingly big things either.  All the small things everywhere add up to something though, and it is just starting to seem like there’s a reachable cohort working on peace, love, and happiness. So let’s introduce ourselves and carry on.

 

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