Archive for the ‘What things mean’ Category

what persists

This morning’s brain storm involved Greek philosophers.  Who said, among others, two things.  (And, spoiler alert, we may have successfully inserted a picture at the end here….)

One: Resistance to what is causes suffering. (They weren’t the only ones to say this of course.)

Two: What we resist persists. (I think we all have this tattooed on our wrists, actually, and mistakenly think it is an instruction instead of a caution.)

So.  Suffering thus continues ad nauseam if we let it, by behaving as if we have no control over ourselves and thus none anywhere else.  Control is of course a relative term, since the only thing we can ever even hope to control is how we respond to things.  But our responses do have demonstrable effects and those can be positive instead of negative if we choose wisely.  It becomes more a thing of seeing the flow of things instead of the immobility of how we think we want it or how unfair it is that it isn’t the way we think we want it.

So, what I thought, Gentle Reader, was: If, and it is a largish sized IF, we accept what is as simply that- what it IS, we alleviate our suffering.  And we also can posit that while pain is, as they say, inevitable since it is what IS quite often, in not resisting that in the sense of non-acceptance and non-acknowledgement, we again alleviate our suffering.   And alleviation of suffering leaves room for process, change, and movement.   Flow.  Which is still flow even when you have a slight limp.

Things really are bloody awful in this country right now and look poised to take a dive into even further depths of the dumper.  It would be easy to become totally discombobulated, which a part of me often feels is Part of The Plan.  The speed of the digital world leaves no time for digestion, basically.  Also substance is often lacking therein, no matter what topic or level you choose- it’s thorough going from A to Z.  So everyone is malnourished while feeling stuffed and empty at the same time, and when you’re in that space you’re cranky.  You may even reach for something totally inappropriate to assuage that feeling, only to find it’s made things worse since it gave you acid indigestion.

Resisting this whole paradigm was causing suffering, let’s just say.  So I began to task myself with focusing on letting nothing that came from me, word, deed, dessert or salad, come from anything but love.  This is very easy in the abstract of course while one is pulling weeds or staring into space, but in the nuts and bolts day to day it takes a certain discipline to even think about how while, no, you don’t have to kiss this jerk you really want to hit with a two by four, at the same time the helpful thing is to recognize the divergences and not pay undue attention beyond that.  For me this quite often means keeping my mouth shut and my face clear and just skipping the exegesis about whatever it is. ( I’m expecting to see some significant weight loss from all this effort, too…) Another component is not letting one’s mind go amok with all the things that could go Terribly Wrong At Any Second, complete with all the embellishments that can happen when it turns unexpectedly into a novel writing episode.  I mean, really.  The things you can imagine going sideways can make you completely nuts, and are also completely unnecessary.

In that vein, I can report things are going better- only a third of my head explodes at any given time of late. It’s a fascinating experiment to conduct if nothing else, just seeing what happens when you give any situation, or thing for that matter, your positive and appreciative attention.  Somehow that energy returns to you, then goes back, and it circulates on.  And also? You feel better yourself.  So much of it is also about replacing all those self centered thoughts with doing something for someone else, however small.  Open a door, give a complement, do something for your loved ones you know they want done (like, say, picking up dog poo from the yard).  Simple.  In fact so simple it is easy to think it’s of no value.  And this can be extended to whatever is happening outside one’s immediate personal life.  Love, as Athol Fugard said, is the best subversion.

The Dog of course continues to be the constant instructor.  We had to do several business and anxiety provoking errands this week, and we all went.  The mere PRESENCE of the Dog made people smile, then laugh, then be extra helpful.  He smiled all day with enough wattage to power the yurt.  It really made me think long and hard- the simple fact of the joy inherent in living is what he manifests- even when he gets irritated about the density of Mommy not seeing that he needs a treat RIGHT NOW.  And that has a huge impact on everyone around him.  We had a good example of that, too, the other morning.  He went outside with the Partner for his morning rounds, and a hummingbird flew up to him at eye level.  They looked at each other for several seconds in an astonishingly companionable and communicative way.  The Partner asked the Dog what Hummingbird said to him and for some reason I hummed the tune from Close Encounters.  Dog? looked at me in a startled way then SMILED and I swear he also nodded.  That’s what Hummingbird said I guess- it’s a big cosmos and we should probably accept that and enjoy it.  There’s everything and more for us to see and experience and learn, no matter what the circumstance.  Here he is, probably pondering the Next Lesson if I know him.heavycrown

Blessings and thanks, as always.

searching for the muse

It’s one of those days, Gentle Reader, where one’s head feels as though it is encased in a jar of vaseline.  So even though I can barely move I’m still thinking about all the things I’d LIKE to do given it’s Saturday and all.

I actually started a new drawing this past week, and got the garden planted for the most part, negotiating tricky things like where to put the cabbage.  I’ve taken a bunch of pictures now that I am firmly in the 21st century.  However the chasm of getting pictures to reproduce on my laptop after being sent from the SMARTPHONE is still big and deep so the promised stellar Dog Portrait will have to wait for another day. *sigh*  Someone remarked to me a long time ago that watching my life was like watching someone hiking up an uneven surface, advancing a few steps, then being grabbed on the scruff of the neck by a wolf and taken someplace completely different, where the enterprise started all over.

I’m not sure, truthfully, that this is a fanciful characterization, and this past week, including photo, er, bombs…. lent some clarity to how it works in practice  For example.  It finally dawned on me that 90% of interactions with “professionals” of any ilk is aimed at keeping you chasing your tail.  There’s the scruff of the neck part.  I need some medical tests.  Provider says, contact your insurance to see if they’ll pay for it. So I do that. And they say, first,  we can’t tell you THAT. I say, what has to happen so that you CAN tell me? They say, the doctor has to send us the order. I felt my eyes cross as I thanked the person for their “help”, declined to take a customer service survey, and hung up.  What this means in actuality is that I will have to go to the lab, where they will look at my insurance and in a crowded room say loudly what that lowly insurance is and that it probably won’t pay, by which time I will have already, since I’m in the lab, signed up for the tests.  In short, you can’t find out if a procedure will be paid for until after you have it.  Which, if whether not it gets paid for is a potential deal breaker, is a bit of a problem.  So that was fun.  BUT.

Clearly progress has been made because not only did I navigate this rocky ford calmly, this past week’s political events did not plunge me into a dark pit of despondency. ( This must be the part where the wolf drops me off and I keep going.) In fact, since it was virtually impossible to miss the LPV Gang’s response to certain Testimony, I found myself looking at the LPV’s attorney, and thinking, jeesh, he BARELY got his human suit zipped over his reptile body, and what a tour de force anyway! What poise in completely changing what basic English means, and confidence in describing something everyone had actually seen as being completely different than what it was.  I was less successful when hearing a snatched bit of the LPV braying about being exonerated or whatever word was used but thank god for mute buttons.  On top of every other thing that was done last week, and all the other things that got done that we don’t know about yet, this really made me feel more firmly that the entire situation, everywhere, is so rotten that only a complete change is going to do a thing.  And since the situation is rotten, it will collapse, and then? It begins again, in a completely different place, having been grabbed by the scruff of the neck by a wolf that couldn’t take it any more and hustled it away.

All this is to say there was some wisdom in that wolf analogy.  We live with the illusion that people are in control.  Then when things go some way we don’t want, we get bent out of shape.  Depending on where we are on the food chain, we either go after the nearest thing until it’s all gone, or? We assess our position.  Maybe we do nothing for a while.  Maybe we give thanks for having enough brain left to take in what’s going on without wasting a lot of energy in resistance.  Resistance really IS futile, because so often resistance is just a small spoiled brat deep down stamping its feet and saying, no I don’t like it like this, I will not accept reality and I’m not playing.  Instead of looking at what it is, not shooting the messenger so to speak, and doing something DIFFERENT.  Turns out that changing your thinking isn’t as hard as it seems in the gnarly initial stages- it’s a matter of consistency and gentle focus.  Also turns out that this very act is what does change things.  It reminded me of a story about two yogis.  One was under a tree, a huge, huge tree with uncountable leaves.  The guru told this yogi that he had as many lives to go as there were leaves on the tree.  The yogi thought for a minute, smiled and said, good! I take refuge in this Work!  The guru proceeded to the next yogi, who was sitting on the ground in a clearing, next to two ants, telling him that it looked like he had two lives to go only.  This yogi pitched a massive hissy fit: this wasn’t how he liked it, he’d worked so hard, it was wrong and unfair, etc. etc. You know.  All the stuff we say to ourselves when we resist what IS.

So. Let us give thanks for wolves.  And also pray for technological inspiration so the Dog may be revealed in his current photographic splendiferousness.  In the meantime, do what you can do.  Gandhi said that even if what you had to do seemed completely unimportant, it was most important that you do it.  So, yee haw, right?  Blessings and thanks!

 

what just happened here?

Lately it’s been a daily-ish experience to kind of have my head, unexpectedly of course, snap around and wonder what just happened here?  It’s almost as though Sleeping Somebody just woke up and however much sleep is rubbed from the eyes, it’s still an unfamiliar vista.

Staring at the now Very Big fennel area in the garden, which was seeded  four years ago, I not only wonder where the time went but who was that masked person who planted those seeds?  The descendants of Tyrant, the OG Hummingbird, flock around the feeder now and eat all together.  We can see the markings of everyone who went before, including the amazing copper hummy we saw last year.  Spring came and went, in the usual quick fashion of this place, with incredible lush swaths of green everywhere and the wild flowers blooming as if in arranged bouquets, short to tall, complementary colors.  Lots of new cows and goats and lizards.  It took about a month but now everything is dry and crisp for the most part, the snow and cold are a memory, and the rabbits are once again lying in the relative coolness of shade spots on the driveway.

I’m feeling the permanence of the impermanent, maybe.  We try, all of us I think, to throw off the weight of entropy, of inertia, what F. Scott Fitzgerald called the dead hand of the past, and live our lives.  At least we try to do that when we commit to being present, feeling what we’re feeling and following that, in an effort to find Peace of Mind. And when we are able to do that? There is a brilliance to things that is almost blinding,  They race by, they stand still, but everything is somehow different in its unfamiliar familiarity.  It’s a flow, a big river of energy and light and stops and gos.

Our quotidian struggles have come and gone and been replaced by new ones, of course.  (Notwithstanding the periodic bleak moments that happen when I hear “the news” however briefly and it seems like we are in a Really Deep Hole that Goes On Forever.  Like seeing that a municipality in Oregon is going to spray a 200 acre organic farm with Roundup to “eradicate weeds” so, I’m guessing, they won’t grow on the Interstate.  Uh.  If that isn’t a deep hole I don’t know what is.) The leap into the 21st century continues and I only cried once.  So I’m proud of myself, continuing to assume that my learning curve will be a curve and not a sheer drop off a cliff.  Photography, for example, how to actually get the pictures somewhere else than the phone….my oh my.  But, hope springs eternal.  In other news: The Dog did something strange and had to be rushed to the Vet a week ago, an untimely bank account draining, equanimity squashing ordeal.  However, he appears to have been restored to vim and vigor from Whatever Happened (see?) and once again I am overwhelmed with gratitude. The xrays revealed that he has an absolutely splendid trachea and spine, so there was that as well.  His Legend Continues of course.  He had to be sedated and when he woke up and came out to the waiting room? He bounded out with a huge grin, trotted briskly over to the reception counter, stood up and put his paws down as if to say, hey! I’m here! Where are the treats? Drinks for everybody!  The staff continued to tell the tale of it later in the week when I went in for…well, more treats…and they pointed to me and said, you should see HER dog!  In other good news all the seeds I planted germinated….still waiting on the culinary herbs but it may already be too hot for them.  The Partner has done a stellar job of clearing grasses and mixing soils and transplanting tiny tomato seedlings.  The beans are in, soon to be followed by winter and summer squash, melons and cucumbers.

The continuing sense of deep unease and doubt is something I’m trying to experience calmly, in order to deal with it without screaming.  Admittedly life here is a matter of continual touch and go, new gnarly things rear their heads constantly, and we watch our opportunities to adequately support ourselves dwindle.  Most of this has to do with things that are entirely beyond our control, and the only influence we have is in how we think about these things and each moment as it happens.  Given that there is so much beauty and reward here even amidst the challenges, it’s pretty disorienting. It’s a strange business working on equilibrium and basic happiness in view of the fact that everything dies and is reborn, over and over, and we really don’t have much clarity about that for the most part.  Nor are there really any reliable guidebooks, other than those containing what is often referred to as “perennial wisdom”.  It takes some time to absorb that perennial wisdom, let’s just say.  I’m wondering how to get it to work at the checkout stand in the grocery store, for example.  As in, why NO.  That total is NOT OK.  How about a whole lot less?

In the end it probably comes down to good housekeeping.  Not only can you not take it with you, you shouldn’t lug it to the departure gate either.  Nothing stays the same, even when the architecture and firmament are recognizable.  This is actually a good thing, and leads me to my personal big question, which is: why why why why why is there all this fear?  All the acting out, selfishness, war, unfairness in the world….has a substrate of fear.  So really.  What are we so afraid of?  Even in the worst circumstances peace can be found, the moving river of whatever this is moves, you take the next step into the what is, if we’re honest, always unknown.  But it isn’t necessarily BAD.  In fact, it’s often really good.  Nothing to fear. Maybe that’s what’s been happening.

Blessings and thanks!

 

understanding

I’ve been pondering the course of my life lately, Gentle Reader. And I have FINALLY gotten a bit of it. There was a fair amount of blood and composure loss along the way, but that’s life in the fast lane, apparently.

Anyway.  Not to belabor things, I grew up, as do many, with hardly anyone who understood me even a little.  I mean, of course, they THOUGHT they understood me.  This understanding  mostly consisted of an assumption that I would, given a range of possible behaviors, always pick the worst one.  It was pretty much a constant no confidence vote.  Bullying occurred.  Physical harm occurred.  If I was sick, the doctor always assumed it was “in my head”- which, as it turns out? Not the case. (Of course all of this DID create things “in my head”, but that was probably Creator going, hah, let’s make this interesting. We know she’s dyslexic, so let’s make this bassackwards to begin with!)  I took this, as do many, to mean that *I* was unworthy, had something wrong with me.  Understanding the psychological underpinnings of it all has been a life long quest.

This morning I understood something, at long last, and as a result of all of the above.  We know people are often hesitant to ask for any kind of help, lest they be judged.  And who judges someone who needs help? Someone who doesn’t understand, doesn’t WANT to understand, just doesn’t get the necessity of understanding.  Sometimes because of an attitude that those asking for help are less than, not good, and an endless string of words I’m sure you can conjure for yourselves. Or, alternatively, there are people who put their shingles out as “helping” – more often than not, they do not, and often project the things they actually don’t understand or need to know or evolve through on to you, expressing their personal situation as containing some kind of  found Absolute Truth, and yours fairly regularly as being entirely lacking in truth of any sort.  Of course as you go along through life it becomes more apparent that the old adage is true: those who know, don’t say (or at least they’re not SELLING it to you), and those who say, don’t know (because they often are kind of selling it to you).   We all often go along with this sort of thing. You think this person knows more than you do. (Or, in more political contexts, they have more “power” than you, which means they can exert that in potentially unpleasant ways.) Yet you know they’re not really paying attention to what’s happening in front of them- so there’s this kind of unpeaceful icky feeling that arises when you think…uh oh.  This might not be right.  What do I do NOW?

So, then, knowing.  What the heck is that? And how do you come to it?

The simple version is, shut up and pay attention.  Breathe.  Direct your attention to what things FEEL like.  You already have the equipment you need, even if it has been allowed to rust and fall apart a bit.  The mind is a wonderful tool, but it needs guidance.  The heart and soul reveal that guidance in the form of FEELING.  The brain then can do its job of sorting through those feelings, presenting the findings (probably to the gut, the third brain in TCM- and after all the stomach is quite a reliable indicator of how you FEEL) and moving on.  The tricky part is how much old habituation gets in the way.  If you were raised to be a blackbelt level co-dependent (thank you Ann Lamott!) this means that the brain actually has to step in and say, hey wait a minute.  That pull you feel toward that person or thing and the overwhelming urge to Do Something For/With Them/It? What is that exactly? Then you start thinking about what help really is, after all.  And who really needs it.  Often after the zillionth hair raising situation where it’s 24/7 drama, you realize it’s you who needs the help.  And you can’t be afraid to ask for it- but you do needs some tools to find the right source.

Which then gets you to what I think of as the crux.  Understanding.  Until you begin to move in the world with understanding, with the intention to understand what the other person is experiencing, you’ll never really know what to DO.  Real understanding doesn’t involve control, or power, or any kind of manipulation to a “desired” outcome, or any rule other than do no harm. More like simply turning the lights on,  it’s ultimately an expanded version of: if it’s on fire, don’t stick your hand into it without a damn good reason and don’t get an attitude about it, either. Understanding gives you a map, a picture, a way to move.  Following your feelings to understanding lets you not pick that THING that really isn’t good for you, whatever it may be and whatever anyone else says about it.  It can lead you to see so much more than you used to.

While none of this may be particularly rewarded by the culture at large? it makes life a lot more- a lot more everything.  More enjoyable, deeper, more beautiful.  The pain is still there because pain just exists.  But it is finite, and that may be the biggest thing understanding gives you.  The negative really IS finite, a piece of a bigger whole.  That bigger whole contains everything along with the negatives, and my view is, we’re here now.  We might as well look around and experience it, and say thank you, while we’re at it.

It’s funny how these “personal history” things feel so Big and Important (when in reality they’re more like gigantic, unsightly doorstops placed here and there, but almost never at an actual door they’re holding open).  I think that’s probably a function of where we were size-wise when we started looking at them.  It’s a long road, though, and really best and most enjoyably traveled without the baggage we THINK  we have to have.  Unencumbered is a good word, don’t you think?  Now that I think about this word, I remember that my teacher said that true healing is really unencumbered communication with Creator.  The feeling associated with that? is joy.  And we really can all have that.

Blessings and thanks!

 

another year older

We’ve been busy of late, Gentle Reader.  Mostly the Mental Hamster getting into Olympic condition, but still.  Things did happen.

It was, in fact, my birthday last week and I decided this year a different attitude was called for.  No shopping or thing coveting transpired (aside from an ill fated attempt to buy a copy of Moby Dick online), and the Partner baked me a cake this year- I decided not to do it for once.  I relaxed into it all and rigorously chucked expectations and preconceived notions.  And? it turned out great.

Our social landscape has changed drastically since we’ve been up here.  Some of it has hurt alot, and some of it has just happened. There are definitely fewer people in our world now, anyway.  Since this is the case, and birthdays are of course, like many holidays, times when we can go overboard into the past OR the future,  I did not allow myself that lapse this go round.

And what happened was that so many birthday wishes and lovely things came to me that I was absolutely overwhelmed, with surprise and gratitude.  The day itself was interesting, too.  After a year of, essentially, armed struggle, I FINALLY got a doctor appointment for the Partner.  On, as it happened, my birthday.  I’d thought about just taking a thermos of wine with me to quaff while waiting, but realized that the Dog would be with me so I’d be attending to him, and he DOES jostle in a most Tiggerish way, so it would not be cocktail time just yet. On the trek to the appointment we saw two amazing things which gave us both a jolt.  One, a peacock unfurling his splendid tail and vocalizing in that unearthly way they have, in a horse pasture.  The other was by the creek, an actual bald eagle.  Those birds are HUGE.  I figured those were both really good signs.  Anyway we duly arrived at the appointment and I experienced a fair amount of unease because I really didn’t want to leave the Dog, by himself, in the car for over an hour.  Nor did I want to be unavailable for questions during the appointment, as I would’ve been outside with the Dog.  And you know what? They let me bring the Dog into the waiting room! (Is he small? they asked. Er, NOOOOO, I said. Is he a service dog? nodding their heads? YESSSS!) Where he was, for him, exceptionally good and brought a noticeable calm.  Maybe people were just stunned by his Handsomeness, but anyway. That was one of the most interesting things, really, because I could actually SEE people relax just looking at him- elderly, kids, and everybody.  So when the Partner came out and I said, did the doc tell you what the plan is? and he said yes and I said, do you remember any of it? and he said no….I just rolled with the calm.  SO MUCH EASIER, really than what I might’ve done before which would have been the usual balloon shrieking up into the corner and quietly deflating in irritated futility.

The appointment itself went very well, all the paperwork got wrestled to the ground and worked, which in and of itself is almost shocking.  All my plant seeds came in the mail that day, I got a few Big Things accomplished thanks to my friend and New York Marketing Guru and Cab Driver Extraordinaire, and learned something.  Which is this.

Not that it’s altogether easy at first, but.  If you really make an effort and focus, cast out the what-ifs and shouldn’t-I-be’s and all the things you know are lurking under your mental bed waiting to leap out and scare the daylights out of you? and just say, this particular endeavor will go well, the highest good for everyone in the situation is what we want, and you smile? It actually moves in the proper direction without any of the normal pushing and pulling.  The challenges are temporary, like everything is, even if there are as many of them as grains of sand, but the moment to moment beauty and rewards are somehow nonetheless quite indelible.  It’s possible to feel complete joy no matter what.  And when you feel that it somehow affects everyone around you.  It’s magic.  And that, Gentle Reader, is what I got for my birthday.  Best ever, really.

And here’s the cake- His first, I believe,  a caramelized pear/peach upside down gingerbread cake.  The sky’s the limit!

CAKE

As always, blessings and thanks!

the dog with no sense of time

Whenever I ‘m in the kitchen,  I can usually time pretty precisely just when I’ll hear the patter of ever bigger paws, rising from whatever reclining position He and They may have been in, trotting around to INSPECT.  Looking, licking his lips, and pretty much saying, I don’t care what it is, I want some and when will it be ready?  Not yet, is my general response. Unless it’s coffee or something and then he gets told it’s Not For Dogs.  He’s getting better, in that he usually only comes back once more to assess just HOW MUCH LONGER????!!?? and I remind myself, every time, that this Dog does not know how to cook and thus has no idea about anything other than that stuff he likes comes from this area and he….must…..patrol…..not…..miss…..anyofit…..so he’s engaged and curious. Yes.  Good things!

I also try to cultivate in myself his for the most part consistent joy in things that are pretty much always the same and he greets with OH BOY! MY FAVORITE! YIPPEE!…notwithstanding the times he has to be Very Parliamentary and look just a tiny bit like a dog George Clooney, with his paws crossed in front of him.  Ball, stummy rub, cooking shows where they’re making hummus (a favorite), the morning routine, the afternoon routine, the evening routine, checking out the kitchen, switching seats on the couch, the morning kiss, hippopotami, the paw hold when he gets hiccups….everything, in short.  Except baths which he has recently developed an aversion to- he either retreats to his bed, snoring ostentatiously, or most recently, tries to fake us into letting him outside right before he’s to be put into the soapy drink.  He loves baths, actually, and closes his eyes in bliss as the Partner soaps him up, rinses him,  helps him out of the tub and whatnot.

Anyway, I’ve been thinking, which may or may not be a good thing.  The being in the now is the joy thing with him.  It’s all good to him, for the most part.  He doesn’t have a lot of preconceived notions or opinions although he does have some ever lessening remaining trauma from his challenging early weeks.  Really, he doesn’t have fear or trepidation either.  He just assumes, correctly as it happens, that everyone is going to like him.  So far, he’s been right except for two times which is an average one might profitably take to Vegas.  Clearly, there’s something to the way in which he assesses things.

The thinking struggle I’ve been engaged in, however, ranges farther afield from NOW and covers the knottier topic of knowing who to listen to.  The Dog ignores us at times but for the most part, KNOWS he benefits from listening to us.  Would that I had that kind of clarity myself, let’s just say.  I try to take his happy appraisal as a model and implement it in my own day.  It was going really well for a while. But as usual my ongoing issue of listening to the wrong station at the wrong time reared its head.  I realized that I had almost lost faith in myself.  I put too much emphasis on what I was hearing, in essence, without keeping the housekeeping detail in action.

I think about faith a lot.  I am not religious but I do have faith.  This faith tells me that love is the truth, do unto others as you would have them do unto you is the rule.  Hard as hell, but true and rule, nonetheless. While most of the things our cultures deems “wrong” appear on reflection to be nothing more than exertion of social control and an extension of the separation between us and everything else that seems to have happened about 5000 years ago, the things that really ARE wrong get no attention and it is quite common to hear people, in a variety of settings, say that there is no right and wrong.  But, there is.  It is wrong to hurt people or condone it when others do it. (Even though we hurt people all the time just by being alive; we step on bugs unwittingly, our housing tracts kill animals, everything our society is based on just about causes some harm. So already we’ve got cognitive dissonance up the wazoo.) It is wrong to damage the earth. It is, in fact, wrong to think that you are better than anyone else- or than any animal, plant, rock, or body of water, on some level, as well.  In a way the discourse about there being no right or wrong has morphed into an acceptance of awful behavior as long as you agree with it yourself. It’s almost a bit doctrinal, when you listen to religious people talk about the world now- and with SEVEN “god channels” on the tv here, it’s unavoidable. The religious texts, it seems, tell you so.  Yes, there ARE a million ways to stack dishes after you wash them, a million ways to clip your fingernails, all those things we so often let drive us bananas- tuneless humming, et al.  None of those things are wrong although they are often cast as so.  But I happen to think it is wrong to discriminate against people or situations or things simply because you want it all to be more like YOU. It’s wrong to make others suffer because you refuse to do the proper thing in a situation.  It is wrong to accept shoddy thinking and behavior as accepted and installed wisdom just because it benefits you, or so you think.  Given that we are all one, we have some responsibility to each other not to be total idiots. Even though, of course, THAT HAPPENS.

Is it about considering the source? I wonder.  Real Source is, after all, ineffable.  We get glimmers and hints and outright blatant messages but it is still all so much bigger than we are, as we get carried along with the cosmic parade.  Current source, not so much.  In fact one of the main things to be said about it now is that it constantly contradicts itself.  (Which may be better than say in the mid-20th century when essentially untruth was the message for the most part)  Researching a simple thing like is dog saliva a good thing for dog owies gives you a zillion answers that all refute each other. Information pretty much equals propaganda unless you’re the type to spend a lot of time in the real or metaphorical library.  Perhaps it is more about the fact that since we don’t know, it really is better to greet each moment with the joy it deserves rather than trying to figure out how to get it to do or be something other than what it is.  Which we don’t know anyway.  The information we REALLY need is, for the most part, available to us, right there in front of us.  It’s a question of who we listen to- who tells us what we’re seeing.  And that person we listen to should really be US- as long as we are willing to put in the work every day, pay attention, learn how to truly think for ourselves, greet the day with joy, and hope for the best.  Then it kind of doesn’t matter, or at least not as much, who’s talking because you can listen, think, trust YOUR source, and make better decisions.

So far, having crawled out of the Hole of Seemingly Complete Across the Board Powerlessness of last month, I’m equilibrating myself one day at a time. Traversing the hills and valleys of taxes, delicate but crucial negotiations, County Inspectors, health insurance weirdness,  memories and current time attitudinal snafus, I’m Remembering that I CAN trust myself, so I’ve cooked, the usual fallback after breakdown.  Butternut squash/olive/white bean pizza (initially looked at askance, liked very much later), homemade green Thai curry (did not send myself the memo about the part where I decided I’d make all this stuff from scratch so there was a good half hour snipe hunt in the refrigerator for the non-existent jarred stuff)  soup with more of That Squash, homemade garam masala dusted over roast chicken for the luxury portion of the trip, and variations on our new old favorite, tetrazinni.   Not to mention the Achiote-on-the-brain extravaganza, more of which to come later. Since so much, including whether or not we have basic services or any income whatsoever, seems beyond my ability to effect OR affect, I’m finding that preparation of every successful dinner has a very salutary impact on my quivering brain.  Marx said that people do things like crafts and knitting and complex cooking I suppose as an antidote to alienation.  I think he was right about that.  As for what comes next? I’m trying to cultivate the Dog’s approach and see the good in it.  While reserving my right to bark and give a good nip if the good turns out not to be there.  And I think, Gentle Reader, you know what I mean.

Blessings and thanks!

running on fumes

And, you know what happens when you do that, Gentle Reader.   Eventually you hit a wall of some sort.

It finally came to my attention that ongoing crying jags mean I Need A Nap.

I mean: after the mammoth power clusterfuck, after the serious Dog injury, after spending literally my last dime on the clusterfuck thus having to Fix Dog Ourselves (and may I say? YAY SUPER GLUE!), and after the Partner got ill again? I found myself at the sink with tears literally squirting out of my eyes.  More than once. The fact that I made absolutely zero money in the last six weeks is not a happifying thing, either.

So.  I said, SELF? ARE YOU IN THERE? to which the response was a muffled whowantstoknow? YOU DO, I said.  Let’s just walk ourselves through this spot we’re in, whaddaya say? Gurgling sounds happened, which I took as an OK to proceed.  As we all know, I said, getting my selves gathered round the inner podium, it’s been way, way above standard high soul destroying impact lately.  We’ve all done really well.  Especially considering we’re doing some fairly heavy lifting on the healing and rebuilding frontier of ourselves while contending with rampaging Godzillas everywhere else.  What have we learned?  Speak UP! and, it turns out that a big thing we learned is not to take things personally.  Please sir, may I NOT have some more? if you will.

Part of not taking things personally is not coming from a place of fear.  It’s realizing that that pounding in your chest is composed of many things, and the only one you can do anything about is your own concept of what that pounding is.  Undifferentiated anger permeating the atmosphere isn’t necessarily directed at you.  Even if it is, you actually don’t have to pick it up.  When people do things that cause you difficulties, you can say what that is, and let them carry their own trash out.  This takes a lot of practice and I am far from mastery of the technique.  But just realizing it as a possibility, dawning into a reality and a Thing, has been huge.  In a situation involving a lot of manipulation? You do what martial artists do.  Use that energy against itself by deflecting it back from you.  Calmly and with intent.  And love of course.  No, you say, thank you but no.  It’s this way.  Of course you have your training to fall back on in case more incoming shows up, bob, weave, shoot arrows.  But it has at least partly to do with not feeding whatever it is that’s eating you. So to speak.  We’ll see how this works in upcoming discussions with….well, the people lobbing the incoming at the moment.

I’ve had several occasions in my life that have shown me that once someone realizes you are not afraid, unless they’re totally crazy or wearing battle dress they back off.  For me of course this is a tricky balance because I have huge fear in me.  But as I go on, the fears rise up and reveal themselves and mostly? They go.  Of course we all must have food and shelter and warmth and the getting of these things seems to get more difficult exponentially.  That’s scary.  But the reality is we don’t always see things the way they actually are, and the good thing about that if indeed there is one is that the very mis-seeing creates what we might think of as wiggle room.  It’s not cast in some indestructible substance, this thing we’re viewing.   Anyway.  Not taking things personally actually frees up space in the cranium, and once you calm down, it’s possible to progress.  Anyway I shall entertain that as a possibility.  Loser of the Popular Vote notwithstanding.

In the meantime, as we proceed further into what really does appear to be the end of time as we have known it….the challenge is to balance the necessity of a future, in the sense of yes I’ll plant this garden and feed myself and others, with the collapse of the present and all of the things of the past that seem no longer to persist- like money, and infrastructure, and common courtesy.  How can I plant my garden when I don’t know where I’ll be?  Or, in ever more evil frequency, if I can’t use seeds that aren’t fake? This leads you into the metaphorical winding paths of,  plant it wherever you are, blahblahblah, which while of course being true is also a bit sophistic leaning as it does on various concepts of what that garden might actually be.  Other than a physical squash or bean plant.   Even the Dalai Lama says it’s tough to have equanimity when your physical survival is challenged.

Still.  What I think now is this.  So much of the fear we all experience is literally fomented by the powers that be. It comes from outside us, actually.  If we are not afraid and off balance, we’re not as gullible and liable to abdicate our own authority.  The “resources” like money, fuel, water, food are controlled by the tip of a hierarchy.  They’re held at the top and in some very important ways none of us lower down have any of them.   This means that we need not fear not having them, actually.  Since we kind of don’t.  We can make our own structure, however humble it may be.  A structure that relies on energies and beliefs from a time way before ours.  This is true of more personal emotional issues too, naturally.  So what if your family didn’t support you in any way? That was THEM, not YOU- it isn’t a measure of your actual worth, altho the lack of support and resources to be magnetized to may mean your social position is more or less non-existent.  Still. That is not YOU.  Admittedly it takes some stern stuff to forge ahead in the midst of such things.

When we get it reasonably and consistently warm in here again, I’ll be baking bread.  Lately, however, it being cold and all,  I found myself immersed in the mysteries of whipped cream.  We had blood oranges that needed to be used, and I found a recipe for a gingerbread upside down cake with caramelized blood oranges.  Spectacular if I say so myself.  The Partner requested whipped cream.  Not something I think of much since I’m lactose intolerant, still I always have at least one of those sterile paper packaged long life whipping creams on hand for emergencies.  Thank you, Trader Joe’s.  So I made the whipped cream, and, as with the fried chicken episode, a whole new world opened.  It is in fact fantastic stuff.  So I am focusing on the amazing properties of cream instead of the still present, looming large challenges strewn hither and yon.  What is important, after all? You gotta keep your strength up to keep going on.  And now is most definitely not the time to give up however much one may wish to.

Blessings and thanks.