Archive for the ‘life and death’ Category

memories of underdevelopment

I don’t know, Gentle Reader, what made me think about this Cuban film today.  I reckon, however, it is because I’ve been engaged in a rather thorough going Improvement and Possible Modernization of Actual Self for a long time and I was, in fact, Looking Back on what the State of Me was before this all began.  My memory of the film is that as usual, the new and the old move along together and some parts of each get tired and fall away all in a politicized context of NEW vs OLD, or NOW vs THEN.  It occurred to me, thinking about this movie, that in the eight and a half years (!!!!!!!!!!!) we’ve been here, I maintained my historical approach of DO and BE also, because you can’t BE accepted or included or whatever unless you DO.  If that makes sense. Let’s just say it’s totally exhausting and in fact, impossible. Kind of like having a democracy in a fascist state.  In fact, what I think about that approach now is that it rather exactly mimics the process of capitalist colonialization, except you are doing the invading, genocide, institution creating and reality fixing yourself.   You believe the invaders (I’m picturing my high school “guidance counselor” here for one) when they tell you it’s their way or else and after all they DO have the weapons, as in, you must compete in the world, you must look outside yourself for every reward- all in a vacuum with no critical thinking of course- and, after all you are probably not Leadership and Success Material anyway because of things that are out of your control, like whether you have two parents at home, what color and sex you are, and stuff like that.   So one is constantly striving in an atmosphere that is completely artificial and has nothing to do with what YOU might actually be, and be able to contribute….and there is the distinction, I think.  Contribution to

first clear night

the actual whole as opposed to achievement for you individually.  And that would all be fine if the contribution to the whole part of things wasn’t systematically stymied to a very large extent.  Because actual change and development across the board are not what are wanted.  It is success for a small part of the whole, which is defined quite specifically and these days seems to consist entirely of the acquisition of money.

Someone remarked at the outset that the circumstances of our life here approximated some fairly serious monastic settings, for which experience in deleting DOING people pay big bucks.   I see that now, of course, and at long last I am surrendering, completely- or as completely as I can in this moment- to what IS.  What IS, of course, is almost completely gravelling at times and has involved the manifestation of all of my deepest fears.  One right after another, with traffic jams at times.  There really has been, and is, no room for anything other than acceptance and surrender.  So now what?

Now what is, in part anyway, seeing things more as they actually are and not as one was told, or what one wanted to believe they were (“family” is a good concept to ponder here). This is not an easy task.  It is and has been, also, for me, the laying of my personal foundation in what I have always known to be true: LOVE.  For so long I toiled away  and lived a kind of double life.  Knowing the truth and hoping to find a glimmer of it somewhere while hiding behind the exterior of a workman. Not daring to tell anyone what I actually saw when they walked into a room, or that I heard colors and had moments of divine awareness, happiness, joy. In my private time.  Naturally that did not work all that well, even though I thought it did since I was, after all, able to support myself, which I now see of course has been my struggle and preoccupation since about age 10.  Those around me convinced me that since I was Lazy, it was important that I rouse myself constantly and go DO THINGS, like clean out the gutters or mend everyone’s clothes.  All of which developed good work habits, don’t get me wrong.  But I did at last hit the wall, irrevocably and big time, and when that happens and all the things you didn’t want to look at just now, the disappointment and oftentimes rage, the sorrow, anger and fear, all rise up at once? Even when you think you’re all grown up now and that scar really did heal nicely, didn’t it?  You got to move.

The move, of course, is one we all dread- at least from what I hear.  Because it is a move to not doing, to silence, to feeling what it is you are actually feeling- and that last bit is a real monster as Russell Brand once said so well.  And, for extra fun? You get to do that while a bunch of stuff is happening all around you, stimulating all those spots that used to flash messages like EAT ME, DRINK ME, SHOP, RUN, VACUUM TIL YOU DROP.  I’m sure you know.

So that is what I’ve been doing, it turns out, for the past couple of years and this last year? has been a real doozy containing as it has the absolute full court press of OH GOD NO, NOT THAT.  But running from things is not moving, as it turns out.  Moving is often a rather still process although what happens in that stillness seems like pieces of the ground underneath you simply flying away.

At least part of what you come to is this.  Yes, awful things happen in life and there is pain.  And there is also the pain of others which can be even more difficult to deal with since it tends to elicit a sense of powerlessness that often leads to hitting the metaphorical snooze button. Nevertheless most of the things you fear are in your mind, are about how you think about things and not what they are. (Aside of course from things like “climate change” which is quite scary enough just as it is, and quite overwhelming when you wonder what you can do about it in light of the giant snooze button it has attached).  Facing those fears without running or flinching is tremendously difficult, but you can become skilled and able to do it, and as you do, somehow that basic ground of LOVE comes into focus, you see the pattern of life in a large moving sweep rather than an isolated pixel that has your face in it.  You are able to stop looking for what’s “wrong” and accepting that it is, as they say, what it is.  That what is contains everything, which means there are dynamic possibilities. Then, more fun! because you accept responsibility for yourself and begin to learn how to live with respect for yourself and all your relations.  There will be no more acceptance of the basically unacceptable in one’s “controllable” perimeter, aka the brain or some part of it.  No more snap-fests that last for days, no blame, no paralysis either which turns out to be one of the best parts….just the exploration of a whole new world, which you loved before and love even more now.  Functional expression of that love is what is, now.  So even when someone transgresses, it can actually be balanced AT THE TIME, without rancor, and who’da thunk?

Quick notes on magic: I have an almost 30 year old passion flower plant in the middle of the garden area.  We noticed this week that there is a long, vining tendril of passion flower growing out of the ground at one window- which had to seed itself somehow and is, in fact, in a direct line of float from original plant to new tendril spot.  Beets have sprung up again in the pot they were initially placed in as seedlings, then thought to be discarded since they more or less disappeared in the summer heat and smoke.  Something else got planted in the pot, the pot got moved, and now? We have both the something else AND beets.  Then there’s the forest of swiss chard that seeded from the OTHER swiss chard that had been there for three years.  It stopped being 398 degrees every day and the roses bloomed again, the butterfly bush did its thing and the Rose of Sharon has been extravagant.  The mugwort is about to bloom and we have a ton of tomatoes in the back at long last- after a summer’s worth of grumbling from the Partner that he was watering these huge-ass bushes and for what? Well? Cherokee Purple tomatoes at New Year’s is what.  We even had another successful solstice non-birthday, with guava bars and arroz con leche as this year’s favored dessert.  I also learned that I can, in fact, make a good red chile enchilada sauce- having always favored green up to now- and it’s pretty simple.  Add to that the discovery that Meadowsweet, already a favorite herb, as a single tincture applied to inflamed sores of any origin, works like a charm, humans and canines alike.  Not bad for a recent trip through Hell, yes?

Blessings and thanks!

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don’t think it hasn’t been fun

how-it-is.jpg  This cartoon from The New Yorker pretty much says it all.  And yes, we HAVE been eating olives.

What with the over 110f temperatures every day for a long time, the state of the world and all, everyone’s been a bit Tense.  Barky, if you will.  So this past week kind of put it all over the top, completely, seeing as how we currently find ourselves a bit closer than we’d ever want to be to the south end of an 89,000 acre fire, complete with firenados and total murk as far as air goes.  The wind here is always like something out of some movie where you’d say, Oh, that’s not realistic!!! Wind doesn’t do THAT! so when there are flying sparks involved and the wind does THAT? It creates something very close indeed to apocalypse in spots.  This afternoon is the first time in days that there has been anything even hinting at blue sky and it’s mostly in my imagination, probably.  Anyway the other night we watched the City of Redding burn from our front door- the flames reflecting off the huge clouds of smoke.  The fire guys got on it quickly and the red sky dimmed in an hour or so but I very much hope not to see anything like that again.  It’s all kind of a stress blur, but yesterday it looked very likely that we would have to evacuate.  In this situation, what that actually means is you leave and know there will be nothing when you return.  So, what THAT actually means is you have to get over your sense of your entire body being ripped open, think it through and realistically assemble what can be taken- if you have, as we did, the…uhm, luxury…of time.

Seeing as how I have hundreds of books and bottles of oils and tinctures and essences and what not this was not the most fun I’ve ever had.  But, I was proud of myself because I actually was able to put things together in a pile by the door.  Leaving, of course, 99.9% in place.  A Kitchenaid mixer can be replaced.  An out of print copy of the only existing authoritative book about Yoruba herbology probably cannot, but there it is.  In the end, at least for yesterday and today, the fire line held and we are still here.  For which I am truly thankful.  While we’re not anywhere near the end of this, unless the wind does something totally infernal, even for it around here, we will probably be OK.

So once again I marvel at the workings of the universe and all its mysteries, and once again realize that you do create your reality with your thoughts.  No matter how awful the scene in front of you appears to be, it is always shaped by how you are reacting or responding to it.  I couldn’t help thinking about all the people who live with smoke and destruction all the time, like in Syria.  And what that kind of stress does to people- the grocery store yesterday was enough to make a person reach for Xanax, after a mere week of this disaster.  But also? There are the unimaginably angelic individuals, like the farrier who was helping people move their animals to safety just Because.  And of course, the firefighters.  I feel as though I have a lifetime debt to them- it’s going to be interesting to figure out how to get that in balance- aside of course from the daily work of kindness to those one encounters.  These people go directly into Hell and save places and people they don’t know, with everything on the line.  Just Because.   So in the end, and despite certain other things that transpired that sent me directly to the cocktail olives, I feel for the first time in a long time, a certain sort of hope…or maybe it isn’t hope. Maybe it is the sense of the Light that is always there, no matter how dark it appears to be.  There is a peace in that, and a peace in knowing that there always IS light, and it is us and we are it.  And, eventually the ash will stop falling, we’ll reorganize and move along.  All of us.

Blessings and thanks as always!!!!!!!

 

aside from soccer

It’s been a very good thing that the World Cup has been on because otherwise? Recent events might have been almost undealable with, minus the distracting flow of the juxtaposition of luck, skill, politics, and byzantine rules.

It’s been tough sledding for us earthlings, and the fraying nerves and fear and tension are all visible in the outside world.  So too, though, is a depth and kindness, which, given where we are, is quite encouraging.  This being kind of an Epicenter of Ugh, and all, the more prevalent occurrences of kindness and restraint are striking.  Not that it isn’t still a bastion of  oxymoronic white supremacy which is ever more sickeningly mind boggling and seems to be on the ascendancy when one is feeling badly.  But.  The necessity of remembering that unity is real and duality is an illusion seems to be gaining ground even if it is in a bit by bit fashion.

Given the expeditionary quality of life now, every experience sort of requires a new way of looking at it.  New in the sense that as a human on earth we may not have always looked at things in their entirety, which is to say we are each part of a huge, colossal whole, which actually has sentience and thinks (for lack of a better word, Gentle Reader.  It’s HOT here and the brain does not do well over a prolonged period) for itself.  There is a motive power in all this, a cohesion, which we have, in this culture and world as I see it anyway, been separated from for….ages.  It’s not top down, in short, and far from it.  So every experience and relationship which has been structured in that way is up for dismantling whether we like it or not.  And life being what it is, we’re all presented with these little challenges from time to time.

In that vein, I’m happy to report that progress is possible and things do get better, especially when you don’t have a fixed image of what that is or might be.  My most recent challenge of this nature came upon me when I was already reeling from last winter’s brush with homelessness, and various other decisions that had to be made based on actual reality and not what one wished it was.  This most recent Learning Experience involved “Family” and Death.  And long standing resentments along with fictionalized histories and a large serving of guilt gravy.  Manifesting into shape many of my deepest fears and scraping open so many old wounds it seemed impossible.  The Dog just looked at me in a worried way, and the Partner reminded me that in the big picture, none of it really had much to do with me at all even though it appeared that it did. (Really? sometimes he is just SO IRRITATING.  Being right all the time and all.) In an almost funny mix of mistaken identity (on every level) the thing unfolded and I felt at times as though I just couldn’t do it this time.  But then? It became clear that all of it was, essentially, a story, and one in which I could choose to participate.  Or not.  And that decision had to be made on what IS, which is that colossal cosmic reality, and not on the top down story, which was the mistaken identity happy roundelay.  A rather new experience, really.  Not easy.  But totally doable.  It did involve a lengthy view of just how other people had seen me which was, of course and in this case especially, a bit challenging. (OK, I cried a lot) Then it involved the realization that all of it, and I do mean ALL OF IT, was in essence a story, and since it was a story that did not truly include me, I could wish it well and say good bye.  And rest in the flow of that colossal, cosmic reality knowing that however things look, there is something behind the apparency and that something sustains throughout, no matter how it turns out or looks.  In the midst of the pain and conflict, I saw for absolutely sure that the essence of things really is love.  Whether it is received or not, kind of irrelevant.  It just IS.  When you have negative experiences while you are “growing up”, it can lead you to believe things that are simply not true, many of which revolve around your supposed “badness”.  The world is full of people acting out of all that pain and misunderstanding, much of which is fomented of course on a political level, but nonetheless.  It is possible to stop doing that and just step into the open space that reveals itself.  Then you see what happens.  It helps if you have a dog.  Just saying.

Blessings and thanks and may we all continue to step into the real from the unreal, and turn the lights on for everyone.