Posts Tagged ‘death’

brain, suspended

A huge thunderstorm just moved over us.  We’d been hearing the thunder for some time, and then the entire sky turned Payne’s Gray, making the leaves and needles on the trees look phosphorescent.  It rained for about two minutes and on it went.  I don’t know if it’s me, but things certainly seemed to take longer to happen…back in, uhm, the day.

We’ve been in this place for almost six years now, which is incredible when I think about it.  A total, complete, exhaustive and comprehensive life change, and we have survived it so far even though it seems more like we’ve been here for twenty years in terms of what’s happened.  In that time a lot has changed in this little area:  people have come and gone, several people have died, one got murdered and as of today it’s almost as thought none of that happened.  Actors on a stage, indeed.  A lot has changed for us, too, in fact so much so that nothing is really the same as it was before.  I think I always admired people who I thought were brave enough to do such a fool thing as take the leap when the calvary’s bearing down with sabres drawn, but for sure I didn’t think I was such an individual.

It has, in retrospect, taken this long for the Partner and I to even begin to be oriented in place and time.  We came here to a spot that had literally nothing on it except an RV hookup of sorts, in a place we’d never really been,  and built a home that has protected and sheltered us, and grown a lot of our own food.  I still have a shock of incomprehension when I drive to town, as though I’ve just woken up some place far, far away.  But we really are here, and we are starting, as well, to be here NOW.

And, NOW is such a time, isn’t it?  Clear and honest communication seems to be at a premium, the power structure is full of crooked, mindlessly selfish individuals, and yet in spite of the nightmares swirling around all over the world, things continue and it is hard to imagine that somehow that might end.  In spite of everything I find my optimism is unquenchable, if bloodied and muddied.  It’s clearer than ever to me that we all, really, could do almost anything we set our minds to if we would choose to do it.  So much of what we do is kind of on auto-pilot- the brain knows what it’s doing and you don’t need to be told it’s doing it.  The gist of mindfulness, in a way, is slowing ourselves down to the point where we actually pay attention in each moment instead of gliding along letting the brain do its thing.  This isn’t so we can micromanage how our skin heals or how we walk up stairs, but perhaps to NOTICE it and notice everything around all of what happens, and thus to see that there is a bigger order than we know or create.  That bigger order contains the proper questions.  And those proper questions lead us to actual answers.  The thing, I’m thinking now, is not to be afraid of that, not to be afraid of the silence or of the music, not to doubt that we may yet do what we ought to.  Not, in essence, to be afraid to relinquish our ego drives thinking that we will lose our “individuality” in so doing.  That fear keeps us from being what we are, doing what we really could do.  Not to mention SHOULD do.  It’s amazing how pervasive fear is, how powerful, and how once you commit to the work, how it recedes into the distance and goes away.  Anything is possible.

power or headache?

Knowledge, I mean, Gentle Reader.  Knowledge IS power, of course, which is why it is so zealously protected from us in school.  But I foolishly looked up yet another word from my recent medical record and it turns out that not only did my fine doctors make my heart stop, they also made a lung collapse.  NO WONDER I COULDN’T BREATHE FOR SIX WEEKS.  It certainly would have helped if they’d told me about this but then again, CYA is the order of the day, and medical records are at times written by spin doctors.

In any event I am finally feeling a great deal better and resorting to my own devices, more or less.

In other important news, a skink has moved in to the yurt and we still have an ever growing resident frog who has chosen a bag of almonds as command central.  We haven’t made much progress in the garden because it’s been over 100 degrees F every day for a while, but perhaps tomorrow.  All the seedlings are HUGE now.   I flirted with a tremendously handsome German Shepherd yesterday- an ex-military dog who was vigilantly ignoring me (Can’t you see I AM WORKING woman???)  until he and his human left the store we were in, and the dog sneaked a glance and a smile at me.

Still there is the perennial dilemma- the more chaotic things get the more one must slow down and concentrate.  Take yesterday, for example.  We went up to town to get groceries, it being really too hot to do anything else.  It was 107, the power went out in town and half my errands got cancelled as a result.  Some were important, but in a world where everything is controlled by computers? No power, no door opens, no cash register works.  Things grind to a halt.  So, okay.  Perhaps what I think is important really isn’t, I thought.  We got home barely in time to get indoors with, thankfully, groceries, before a torrential rainstorm with thunder and lightening happened.  *I* thought it was a stroke of good luck that our power was still on and the Partner put it squarely in the dodged a bullet category.

That, I think, is the essential question around here most of the time, and has a bit to do with how level the playing field is.  The fewer resources you have, the more you have to actually contend with what happens around you, because YOU have to do it and you can’t just go shopping or get someone else to do it.  It’s all well and good to be resourceful and live simply- more people should be doing that.  At the same time it can be exhausting and hard to get a bead on.  Is the universe telling you to give up right this instant when for all your effort you still can’t quite get over the jump?  Is it sheer good luck you’ve made it this far or is fate just diddling you around til you get to the actual pit with the stakes and the live tiger to fall into? On the BBC news last night there was a segment on refugees from Africa who are being held in Libya, I think, having failed to launch a seaworthy escape.  These were all men- evidently the lagging European sympathies for such struggles extend very slightly to women and children, but not to men.  All these men seemed to be able to fluently speak more than one language, be astonishingly poised given the circumstance, and have a snowball’s chance in Hell of improving their lot.  A roomful of young able men, wanting to do the right thing and escape a life of being press-ganged into paramilitary service.  Or worse.  One man from Nigeria, when asked the intensely silly question of whether he’d try to do it again, took a deep breath, closed his eyes, then looked at the interviewer and said quite calmly that if he found the same thing there that made him leave his house before, yes he would do it again.

And that is true: yes, one WOULD do it again.  And then have the jump off into God knows what if the effort is successful, or the horrendous fall into the pit if it isn’t.  How can this be right?  Feeling lucky or dodging bullets is not good enough for a long term action plan.  But luck and bullets are determined by those in power for the most part, whatever propaganda one is inundated with to the contrary.  If luck is out of the question for you, then what?  I do firmly believe in what we might call the Great Mystery, and I know that death walks with us all the time, nothing is certain, blah blah BLAH.  I believe that things work out as they should whether we know what that is or not, and that something over and above human action makes things move along.  But riding such a tidal wave of insufficiency in this world makes you wonder.  And sometimes that can make you afraid.  Perhaps the thing of it in these times is to simply stay with the fact that you are alive, and something can be done in whatever circumstance you find yourself in, however small and even if it is only maintaining equilibrium of a sort in your own mind.  It is important to do what you have to do, and as Bruce Lee rightly said, we should pray for the strength to be able to just do that.  But in times where it seems the roar of implosion of everything you ever knew is all you can hear?  It can be a challenge to stay in that place inside.   At least I am finding it to be so, even as I feel ever more sure that all the people in this world who are moving toward something better and freer and kinder, however they can, must surely succeed.  Let it be so, please, and thank you.

failure & redemption

Indeed, Gentle Reader, life of late has been like HELLBOY meets Alice Starmore.  Without Hellboy’s help.  His hands really are way too big to knit with, I’d think, but I feel sure he’d understand Alice’s patterns, and one could always wind yarn on his horns.

Anyway.  It turns out that among other things, my hospital interlude left me with heart failure.  Which they knew at the time of my discharge and somehow omitted to mention.  Thus, I’ve had six weeks of that stuff where you wake up after being asleep for a while and feel you’re suffocating.  Among other things like not being able to pull weeds for five minutes without running out of breath and being totally at the bottom of the barrel moodwise.  Another six plus hour trip to the emergency room (ha!ha! that’s an oxymoron, G.R.) where I never did get seen but finally tottered out knowing I didn’t want to be there until midnight.  Instead? We went to a restaurant in town, where I always seem to be a bit tattered.  The first time, I had a black eye (beam from yurt roof fell on my forehead) and THIS time I was covered in bandages and hospital bracelets.  They take it in stride here, however, because EVERYONE looks more or less like a wreck, and after some shockingly good food (a REAL New York steak sandwich) and an Actual Cocktail (bourbon, thank you), survival seemed likely.  And whaddaya know- I’m still here and even perhaps improved.

In the meantime, things have been floating up in my mind.  The wound, as Rumi wrote, is indeed where the light enters you.  That light can reveal some things one might rather not examine, like how old patterns still form a big part of the operating system.  What’s my father doing in here? one might ask.  More pertinently, why have I been racing around my whole life thinking I had to do,do, do, do more, do more again- when really that isn’t it at all in life, and also? It’ll kill you.  Of course, there is a bit of a concerted effort to keep us all doing precisely that, rushing around and not thinking.  Just accepting it when it seems that you must work (for someone else) until you drop meanwhile saving some impossibly vast sum of money so that when you get cut loose by your benevolent corporate sponsor you don’t starve to death.  Using weed killer on the lawn, not thinking about what that’s doing to the ground and the water.  Letting your phone tell you what to do and where to go.  Believing them when they say that all the poison that got dumped/inadvertently mailed/put in your food poses no threat to public health.  Finding a place to stand in the midst of all this is indeed the work of a lifetime, and it’s a pity more of us don’t start earlier.  Or perhaps, more successfully- I THOUGHT I’d started but it turns out I was a foolish and deluded bear.

The thing of it was that I didn’t really accept the way things actually are.  It was just too depressing to acknowledge the evil and harm in the world, and I had a rather large set of matched emotional baggage to cart around as well.  It’s taken a long time to get even the bit of clarity I have now, and one thing seems clear at least.  One must remain calm.  It sounds silly but when you think about all the times you get stressed and disoriented, just in the course of a day or a stroll down the grocery store aisle, it illuminates the fog we (yes, I) walk around in far too often.  Calmness isn’t a matter of repressing what you feel, either.  It’s more a matter of feeling what you feel, looking to the source and putting it in perspective.  Like, that was then, this is now.  What can really be done at any given point?  WHERE THE HELL AM I? If I am in fact in the grocery store there’s no need to panic, seriously.  The other big part of it is acknowledging the World around you.  Look at and speak to your fellow humans and animals.  Look at the sky.  This alone goes a long way toward clarity because it eventually does show you you are NOT alone- others are slogging through all this stuff too and the odds are that one of you will actually make it and be able to deliver a cogent report about the lay of the land.

Last evening we looked at storm clouds on the horizon.  (And we could do this because we had on our handy dandy mosquito and bug repelling bracelets! Yay!)  They were an incredible slate blue, behind the varying shades of grey and olive green of the trees, and there was a strange kind of alertness to it all- a soundless sound.  The finches and titmice and woodpeckers and hummingbirds were  busily eating their dinners and taking baths, the lizards and frogs were bustling around (we have BABY frogs at present, and they’re PINK).  We’d spent the workable part of the day (the non-broiler setting on the temperature that is) weeding and digging our raised beds up, the Partner and I (albeit slowly in my case).  Everything was quiet and the soil seemed to be thanking us for our work as it laid there tilled and breathing, happy with its new rock dust and peat and seaweed.  Our seedlings have sprung up luxuriantly and of course, even though I did a drawing of what seed was where….naturally, it is now all a mish mosh and it will be a revelation to see which tomatoes are the giant yellow Ukrainians and which are the San Marzanos.  Will it be cayenne or bell pepper?  We’re clear on which melons are which but that is about as far as it goes right now.

Anyway, as everything breathed in unison it seemed to me that the truth is, redemption is always possible, and always happening.  There’s a wonderful line in a poem by Robinson Jeffers about how the heartbreaking beauty of the world is there, whether or not there is a heart there to break.  Our hearts generally do break, of course….but perhaps that is what they are made to do.  If they don’t break they don’t open, and we never grow and flower.

Real Life Plus Coincidence

Here’s the coincidence.  On NPR’s Fresh Air today, a stuntman is being interviewed and talking about horses and the time he had to shoot one because the leg was broken.  He said he cried, which was normally not something he ever did.

Early this morning, in the dark, Harley the horse left this plane of existence.  The Partner saw a huge shooting star  shortly afterward arcing up higher and higher into the sky, and I’m pretty sure that was him.    Having worked on him for a few days I came to understand that when I touched him, he allowed me to enter his being in such a way as to connect and communicate.  It felt like swimming in an ocean of Love.  I felt deeply honored and deeply disturbed because there was really nothing, as it turned out, that anyone could do for him in the final analysis.  But that, in fact, is real life.  We all die, and life in a body involves many things, some of which are intensely difficult.  Especially out here in the country, things can get serious pretty quickly.  Animals and humans have their differences, to be sure, but to me they are equals in all the important ways.  This horse gave so much in return for his keep, taught so much, and lived in Love.  He was skittish but trusting.  Aloof but affectionate.  One of the many beings living on this earth containing so much miraculous stuff it was mind boggling to think about it.  Heart, brain, feelings, feet, eyes…..He showed us all some powerful lessons this past week and although it hurts so much, it is also inspiring.  Because this was a manifestation of real spirit, real energy, real life- not made-up, vertical ego based smoke and mirrors.  His passing is, in a way, a tremendous sacrifice which we here must honor with a renewed purpose in love and gratitude.  After it stops hurting so much.  Perhaps we all tend to shy away from really feeling things precisely because some serious pain can be involved.  But if you don’t feel you’re not really alive, and you certainly can’t experience the beauty and grandeur life offers; there is a bit of a trade off, it seems.  If you actually show up for life, you’ll see miracles and perhaps no one will understand you when you talk about them and one does get a bit banged up.  But if you don’t? You’re missing experiencing your own lifetime,and more than that, you’re missing experiencing the flow of the whole huge thing we’re part of.  That seems like a shame.