Posts Tagged ‘Life of the Spirit’

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!


a long walk

And, it hasn’t been in the park, Gentle Reader.  This year has been a doozy all the way around.  Things I thought were “solid” disappeared like a drop of water on a hot stove.  The reality of reality has come into total question, but! in spite of how it appears, progress may still be made.

The election here has, of course, pretty much turned things ass over teakettle, with More to Come.  It’s an absolutely terrifying prospect but it is real- even if it is based  on lies and untruths and unkindness, and marketing.

Someone asked me recently if  I had any way of detaching from  the ego when things get heated in the process of trying to figure out if our fellow beings are actually Being Asshats on Purpose or By Accident.  And really.  What DO you do when someone next to you says and does things that seem not just out of character but actually dangerous for the well being of all?

I confess I stayed in my pajamas for a while this go round.  I hid, let’s just be honest.  Then, I baked, which always helps.  And I thought about what actually transpires when Things Go Sideways Between People, along with politically and philosophically streaking over the edge so fast you may forget what you were looking at.  It is, I think, that we become affixed to our ATTITUDES and EMOTIONS to the point that we think they are us.  At this point nothing can really be accomplished and it would be nice if there were some giant bell that rang and made us go back to our stools in the corner.  The thing of it is, then, to install that bell yourself.   You feel your temperature rising to a certain level, along with the sensation of whatever you’re dealing with being impossibly stupid and wrong.  Before you know it, you may find yourself doing something like…yelling.  Using profanity.  Etc.  THAT’S when you ring that bell, take a breath, and STOP.  What is it you really want here?   Vanquishing your “opponent” and being proved right? Usually not the most possible of options.  Besides which, then what?  So.  What you want is more than likely not to feel the discomfort you’re feeling about whatever it is.  A wish that is more than likely shared by the person you’re encountering.  Not to feel the fear and sense of being ignored.  Not, in an even bigger sense like say Standing Rock, to feel that the literal ground beneath your feet and the air you breathe is about to be rendered unrecognizable in its destruction.

Weirdly, or not, the answer is pretty consistently this.  After you STOP and BREATHE, you turn your focus to what would bring balance to the situation at hand in the now.  Detaching from the emotions is critical, especially since in heated situations, emotions tend to run together between people like molten lava and everyone is feeling all of it. This is not capitulation to something you believe is wrong, but a stance of allowing vision.  You may, in fact, not prevail.  You may even die depending on the circumstances.  However, without accepting abuse from someone, you can still rise above whatever emotional turmoil there is, and see what the middle way  of the moment may be.  This is in the direction of Positive Good.  Generally this involves seeing what everyone involved actually WANTS.   This is obviously difficult in a large setting but it isn’t impossible.  When concensus cannot be reached, it is important to remember that YOU can bring peace to a situation by your OWN peace, and you can work with the others you find on the edges of things to effect larger shift.  Yes, this can take a long time- but the more one can stay grounded in breathing and as much clarity as possible the more actual positive stuff can occur. On a personal level, I’ve found lately that looking someone in the eye, asking calmly what they’re FEELING and what they really want overall can be really helpful in moments where fisticuffs seem imminent.  It hasn’t changed my feeling of being surrounded by lizards in human suits altogether but it is allowing me to, at least, go outside.  I mean, I realize now that in many cases it’s just like pouring water on a rock.  The rock gets wet but nothing penetrates.  No communication, period.  It’s scary but allowing oneself to be overcome by fear and loathing makes it worse.  I’ve developed an almost reverse tactic of smiling at everyone now and it is a very interesting practice since, seemingly all of a sudden, a lot of people DO smile back, but many more do not and look downright suspicious: unauthorized smiling! What’s next?!?!

It turns out at this point that the “perennial wisdom” is still perennially wise.  In a world where greed seems to rule supreme, where narcissism is the order of the day and no crappy thing is left undone, it is still a good course to remember that one is not the absolute center of everything and many things have to be investigated and learned in order to have any kind of sensible concept of anything.  Feelings pass and what counts is what we do every day to improve our lives and those of our fellow beings by listening and doing what we all KNOW is the right thing: truly doing no harm.  Just because every thing and everybody else seems to have devolved doesn’t mean you have to as well- you can still tell the truth about how you feel and what you think, and lend your help to those who need it. Not overlooking the truth, but facing it.  Then things begin to rise.  Kind of like baking, when you think about it.  Thank you, Friends, as always.

change of season

The frogs were chatting outside this morning.  There was a lone rabbit sitting in the brush, and a veritable Parliament of Dogs at my friend’s house, who in an unprecedented move each sat down to be petted instead of leaving monster mud claw marks down my front side from jostling for first position.

Aside from our landlady’s dog flinging herself against the pole that holds the electrical box and dislodging the switch to our electricity thereby plunging us into stygian darkness, nothing has gone deeply sideways for a day or two.  That I know of.  ( Now that I’m in that legion of individuals who ignore the Check Engine light on their cars.)

It’s funny to have such seeming calm on the surface, and so much treacherous terrain just underneath.  Just yesterday, for example, The Partner presented me with yet another stunning revelation.  I knew he went to Catholic school (they asked him to leave which I think is quite an achievement) and as usual, it left a mark, so when first thing he started talking about what it took, technically, to get into heaven when you die, I put on my glasses and looked at him.  What the ##$$%!! bejeezus are you talking about?  After shushing me, he continued with an actually quite cogent enumeration of what the Catholic church deems necessary, over and above being a “good person”, to be assured of a Positive Eternity.  Of course it is all rather manufactured and contrived, as religion tends to be in my opinion.  And of course, every religion has a complete set of these contrivances.  And, every strict adherent to said religions thus feels on some level that everyone ELSE is going directly to hell because of course, they aren’t engaging in the contrivances.  More or less.

So this means that we live in a world where a sizeable percentage of people feel that everyone else is going to hell.  Steeped in badbadbad.  And they, of course, are good.  And going to heaven or paradise or whatever.  It just struck me as weird, but also clarifying.  If we’re all still so worried about what’s going to happen in the future, after we’re dead?  No wonder things are so ballsed up.  Anyway it made my neighbors make a lot more sense.  Additionally it confirmed my sense that whatever “it” may be in terms of afterlife, heaven, hell, wherever- it’s all right here, right now.  Somehow I found that encouraging.  Anything really IS possible, and the Dalai Lama really is right:  No reason for too much worry.

begin again, again

It’s been quite the few days, Gentle Reader.  I had to do something so difficult for me that I had real doubts as to whether or not I really could do it at all.  It involved looking very objectively at a situation, my part in it, and the bigger picture, making a decision and taking action.  All of which were challenging since they involved to some extent what Clarissa Pinkola Estes refers to as “the stinking wound”.  Funny how far down in you those things are, isn’t it?

So I did what I often do at such junctures: read the Dalai Lama, and Pema Chodron.  I realized I had never properly understood the slogan “Abandon all hope of fruition”- naturally being from a western culture I interpreted that, long ago,  in a drastic end of the world sort of  way.  The truth of it is that since everything really IS impermanent and shifting and temporary and AC/DC and all the rest of it, there really isn’t a fruition to be hoped for, beyond perhaps what happens naturally in one’s garden.  The concept of fruition is attached in a way to one’s sense of Self and Ego.  This really has to be let go of.  What is yours does come to you.  And then? It leaves.  And something else comes.  During all this you stay flexible and open.  Try not to be too predictable- which means not falling back on your neuroses for the most part.  See how easy, right?

I saw something else, too, which has a bit to do with my work.  I had been having pain, and a lot of it, in a place on my body that is pretty much smack in the middle of the gall bladder meridian- the hip.  Today, post action, there is no pain.  One thing the gall bladder meridian relates to is decision making.  Clearly, I was having a hard time and I had the pain to prove it.  Today, though? After making that decision at last, the pain is gone.  I guess you might say it was all a demonstration of what my teacher said long ago: every ailment relates to an attitude.  Our thinking and energy really do create and drive our physical reality.  You can, indeed, make yourself sick.  Or, well.  This whole experience allowed me to see that up close, and gave me a lot more insight in terms of assessment of my clients.  Since I do believe we are here to learn, I guess it means this was all worth it.

Now, we’ll see how tomorrow goes.  It has been over 110 at our house for over a week.  We can only keep relatively cool using an evaporative cooler.  Which uses water.  Tomorrow is a holiday here (4th of Jul Lies? anyone?) and our landlords are turning the water off.  To do plumbing.  Themselves.  ON A HOLIDAY.  Dear Gentle Readers, send Positive Plumbing Thoughts our way.  Or there may be mayhem.


In a break from soccer we watched the news.  ALWAYS A MISTAKE if you want to keep your halfway decent mood intact.  And, even though things have been a bit tense at the round blue house, the Partner did offer up an interesting question, as is his custom.

We both pretty much feel that organized religion….well, is not a Helpful Force in the world.  (HE was actually disinvited from Catholic school at the critical high school juncture.  I find that surprising in a way because he can be more than a bit of a Jesuit.   Anyway, they lost their grasp on him.) (All to the good.)  Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote about “religion” being a force of authority, and not of spirit, and for the most part I think this is the case.  People use religion as a set of rules and paradigms for opinions, exertion of control- not awareness.  So when the Partner, after having expressed this opinion once again while looking at a film of the Hagia Sophia (a picture of which hangs on our refrigerator as it happens), said, Heck.  If there’s only one God, what difference does the Prophet make?  Incendiary to some no doubt, but I thought about it.  My thought is that when the Prophet assumes such importance, the focus is on authority held by the religion, not the possibility of ascension to a higher spiritual level through an actual personal practice.  Up to now this has not appeared to get us all very far, if I may say so.

There was another thing he’d seen too.  I have no idea where *I* was, but anyway there was a program about a Buddhist meditation center in Tennessee.  They are building a huge, huge space so that some incredibly large number of people can all meditate at the same time.    A monk was interviewed and said he thought this went counter to the concept of Buddhism, which of course in a way it does.  ON the other hand?  If many people were to meditate in concert, all present in the same space, some pretty astonishing things might happen.   And certainly we need some things that are astonishing in a good way to happen.  There are plenty of stories about what it’s like being in a room where one person consciously focuses on meditation and everyone else finds themselves much calmer- I’ve experienced this phenomenon myself more than once.

Then I woke up today with a rather odd thought.  Which was this:  Actually, truly, at any point in our lives, our days, whatever unit you choose, the options for actions are many.  We may feel constrained but in actual fact, if you change your thinking about things you do sooner or later change the results of your actions.  You can be at cause, as they say, and not always at effect.   This means that as long as one holds to some portion of clarity and big picture, things can be brought to safe harbor one by one.  All the potential roads before us, while they may not lead to a specific sameness of place or stereotypical “happy ending”, do all lead us where we need to go.  Perhaps this means that struggles with decision making and choices should be viewed a bit differently.  We’re not in charge but we have a level of ability to act in concert with what is, and we must do this or, essentially, perish.  Far from being a limiting pattern, such as what is installed in our heads by, say, Catholic school or a Madrassa or what somebody said when you were ten, this ability to connect with a larger flow is actually what sets us free to do what we need to be doing.   I guess this means something like aligning oneself with what moves forward, what breathes, rather than with what confines you in one place no matter where you are.  This means that no matter what your circumstance, you can in fact progress.  It’s hard, to be sure.  But progress really is not defined by what you own or how much money you have or how shiny the office building is.  It is defined by how functional you can be in your own life as it happens in all its messy grandeur.

Also? COLOMBIA WON THEIR MATCH TODAY!!!!!!!!!! Yeehaw, for sure.

Rising suns

If the sun comes up tomorrow, it’ll be a better day.  That’s what the man in the laundromat said to me.  The sun did come up, thank goodness, but it has taken the better day a minute to arrive.  HOWEVER.

It is, really, a much better day than it was, for example, on another day when the sun came up and I was in a cab on the Bay Bridge watching the light come over everything.  It was about 5 a.m. and the cab driver (who drove, as I recall, most excitingly) asked me if God had ever spoken to me and if so, what had been said.  (I could see he was on the evangelical path based on the dashboard adornments.)  It wasn’t my best morning given that my husband had just blown his head off with a shotgun, so perhaps I can be forgiven for saying, yes, He has, and He said YOU’RE FUCKED.  The cabdriver blenched at that a bit and seemed to remember from somewhere in the dim mists of his brain that he had indeed picked me up not twenty minutes before at a police station in pre-dawn pitch blackness.  A clue, if there ever was one.

That thought floated around for a while since the Thing that has made the recent weeks so challenging is also a death.  My friend.  Cancer.  Lots of pain.  And watching suns come up and set, marveling at how much the heart can endure and learn.  Realizing that it is the loss that pains us, and not much can be done about that.  What are we really here for, after all?

The Partner is actually a very wise man.  Originally overwhelmed with his witty handsomeness it has taken me a minute to appreciate the depths, out of which came his opinion that, really, what we are supposed to do right now? Is stop what we’re doing.  And what we’re doing so often is not attending to, abiding with, being at-one-ment with our fellow creatures.  So I thought about that.  Then for some reason I reread The Dark Night of the Soul (so cheery!) and finally understood it.

What I think now, which it turns out hasn’t changed, is that we are here to serve each other.  Be present and witness, however that happens. Search always for the truth. It means commitment and endurance but it is also very freeing.  There really isn’t anything to do except what is given us, what is before us, and we must do it with as much joy as we can muster.  The more you open up, of course the more you’re going to feel and that isn’t always the most fun you’ve ever had.  At the same time you feel your heart ripping open again, though, eventually you also find yourself seeing the world itself in all its beauty, grandeur, unknowableness and total order.

That’s where we are today, in any event.

But is it a unified theory?

The other day the Partner watched a program that discussed the concept of free will.  I asked him what he thought about it, and after some time he said it was fascinating.  But it wasn’t a unified theory.

I of course thought this was great.  I mean, he’s kind of a genius, but imagine! All that…stuff….one has been subjected to in western culture about “free will”.  It’s something I’ve wondered about because it so often seems to be quite limited, that free will.  And expensive, too. Animals supposedly don’t have it, either, which is moderately puzzling, to me anyway.  But the rich seem to, throughout history.

So seeing all that isn’t any more concrete than, say, string theory, not being unified and all,  I would MUCH rather whole heartedly believe in the beauty and eternity of string theory than in some idea that we have this free will but it comes with so many consequences and unintended results (often courtesy of other people, maybe even their free will!)  that we might as well just stay in our original sinful state.  Free will with a full set of barbells attached, sort of.  And with which we have more or less a snowball’s chance in hell.  Perhaps it is just all this stuff about the Pope that has made me think along these lines more even than usual.  Perhaps this is just me exercising my free will.

Anyway.  In the ongoing project of looking at the world I live in, this whole free will business is of interest.  I’ve always thought it related more to the authoritarian power structure of the patriarchy  (Yes I have!) than an individual becoming conscious and awake and seeing what it was they could actually do with their time in life.  Free willl, to me, is a concept that is part and parcel of the things of the past two millenia that have proven not to be all that workable.  We all have the power to open our minds and hearts.  We all have the power to understand.  We can make a choice about whether to do that our not but somehow that doesn’t quite make it to something that should be called “free will” in my book.  That’s just about how one chooses to survive.  So much of everything that contributes to how our world functions is based on fear.  How can that exist and accommodate free will?  Free will goes to the back of the bus and falls off.  I’m thinking now that the rest of the individuals on that bus, divided into two groups, one of which understands consequences and behaves accordingly (do unto others, as ever), and the other group for which laissez faire is the rule until they get, well, laissez’d themselves and then all hell breaks loose…well.  How are these two groups going to duke it out, so to speak?

I am, of course, always in hope that the group that cooperates and has empathy will prevail.  That may take a paradigm change of epic proportions, however.  I had to kill a very large spider the  other day, and found myself thinking about how connected we all are, nothing is insignificant in truth.  Everything is our mother and father and sister and brother.  And yet so many of us, human and animal and insect and mineral and all, don’t matter in this world.  Anything can happen to us, just as a bug can get squashed.   How do we proceed in that case?  Not, I think, with an assertion of individual Importance, which is to some extent where free will has led us.  Not with clinging to power and things and all the externalities.  More with an awareness of humility and a knowing that since we are all in the wind, paying attention to the lift and direction and scent of that may be more important than us pretending we are singular importances ourselves.  The question of what really IS important is often left unanswered in our haste to make it through a day.  Still.  Life is, as they say, a journey.  I’m beginning to feel it is much less directed by us than we’d like to think, and is more a matter of reducing our prejudices and automatic reactions to the point where what is, is visible to us.  Then in due course, some time on down the road, we’ll know what we’re seeing at long last.  What would make that wonderful is if we all do it more or less together.  Not a moment to waste, Gentle Reader.


Bridge between worlds

It seems we’re running back and forth on it as fast as our little legs will carry us.  Having been occupied with a bit of a research project regarding work I was able to see first hand just what it’s like to have your head in the clouds and your feet in the grocery store, staring unseeingly at a simple grocery list and forgetting the major, and necessary, item thereon.  The Partner has not been happy of late, let’s just say.  Apparently we have been Beyond Head in Clouds.  But I can explain.

There’s always the question of how much information, detail, explanation, general blahblah one wishes to put into a piece of writing.  Or anything, as far as that goes.  Things have to link up to make sense, Gentle Reader.  And often the most sense is made by describing what is actually going on.  As I continue to ponder the impenetrabilities of Plot it becomes ever more obvious that Plot is somehow inextricably linked to one’s own…what? sense of purpose, what just has to be done, what is more important in the end than anything else. Because of course we all write about ourselves since that’s what we know.  Or not.   Part of the problem for me is that I have long felt that my REALlife plot must be disguised.  Which I didn’t exactly realize.  So.  What it all has to do with is realizing the bravery it takes for anyone to really move forward in their lives and assume responsibility for themselves in whatever arena is presented.  Often this deep breath sucking it up and moving forward causes one to lose track of say, whether they’ve brushed their teeth or whether there really IS a need for more baking chocolate.  The people who live with you while you’re, to their eyes, in orbit probably experience more tile loss on capsule reentry than expected- after all, YOU”RE the one who’s out there, right?  As it turns out, not so much and not alone, either.

So that’s where we’ve been.  Me, out in orbit investigating how energy swirls through us.  Partner, wishing my brain would come back home.  I made coffee ice cream in a placatory effort, which actually turned out really well if I do say so.  Other than that, what has been Revealed Thus Far is that really we all have what we need, if we look.  Circumstances impinge and hurt and $#!^ happens but still the baseline connectedness of everything is the trump card, the basis of everything.  From stars to diatoms to simple joy to realizing you can, too, not lose your temper, or resolve your back pain,  or whatever it is, there is a huge energy all around us that will support us in our efforts to wake up and change and heal.  The nature of this energy is intimately connected to at least a part of the work I do, in those moments when I’ve got the big jar off my head, and the realization of late has been that…..whether or not we survive all our individual jousts in the forest, there really is, as the Dalai Lama has said, no reason for too much worry.  So as we kind of fly, all of us, between the poles of WORRY and DON’T WORRY, it helps to remember that a sense of humor is a paramount companion.  Observing everything in its own radiance (and it all does have radiance, even the dark stuff.  Which is weird but there it is.) we can come to see that our own sense of Importance maybe is not…so important.  The bigger question of underlying motive, why we do what we do, how we got where we are….that perhaps gets revealed as we divest ourselves of Storyline and enter into Mystery.  Now.  How to describe THAT?  One has one’s work cut out for one, for sure.

Morning, with fire drill

Time, of late, has had a strange aspect, largely able to be described accurately by today’s blog title.  Each day goes by like a carousel on steroids with mirrors and light bulbs whizzing off the structure at each revolution, each week seems not to start so much as end before one knows it, and yet.  A week ago seems like decades past.  Given that each day seems to include its own high impact and large magnification occurrences Requiring Heroic Endeavor, it’s easy to feel as though you’ve been in-country too long.

So.  Aside from having every waking moment taken up with must-do tasks, I’ve been thinking a lot.  Which may or may not be a good thing.  Something must be going on since I’ve been cooking even though there really isn’t time for it: Moroccan tomato stews, Chinese one dish  extravaganzas (who knew? Kung Pao is doable at home and simple!), vegetable soups and tarts.  During all this I THINK I’m trying to figure out…just what happened to create the point in time that seems to be the here and now. Not just for me personally (although: YE GODS.  What a year so far….).  Even as I see how really different my thinking is from, let’s say? the average?, it’s also ever clearer to me how completely one we all are.  The past may be prologue but it doesn’t look like it helped anybody figure anything out much so far, so what the heck.  Time for some plot analysis.

There may be some of that shortly, at least I’m hoping so because this wandering in the wilderness of WTF gets tiring.  However, there was the Giants winning the World Series (!), and, after the rains here, small flocks of bluebirds and yellow finches sharing the top of a silver tarp filled with raindrops outside our front door.  The little deer are still eating the greens outside the bedroom area, even though some person sunk in unconsciousness shot their mother.  They seem to be doing OK though, growing and losing their spots, sticking together.  There seems to be a continuing pattern to things (Sheldrake’s habitual nature?) that if we could but keep in mind, might reveal still more vistas, and maybe, just maybe, provide some fresh air- enough to propel us out of the Field of Opposites that threatens to ensnare everything, endlessly and invisibly.   Anyway.  Just checking in.  And sending blessings to all.  If I figure anything out, Gentle Reader, you’ll be the first to know.

The Importance of Looking at the Sky

I remember hearing a statistic some time ago about how little time people actually spend looking at the sky.  I thought about how many people work in buildings where all the light is artificial and the ceilings are drab-  being inside for  entire days, weeks, years,  in a building, away from sun and sky and clouds.  At night people are inside too, not looking at the stars and night sky.  Not to mention people in prison and hospitals.

What made me think about this was the fact that since everything has been on fire around here all summer, we’ve barely seen the sky all day for weeks, the sunsets were inferno-like, and the night skies were smudged.   This produced a spate of problems on our little hill.  There were supposed heart attacks that turned out to be stress, strange behavior all the way around,  arguments, missing animals, way  worse driving than usual- just an incredible influx of negative energy which was also combined with unrelenting heat. Last night almost seemed like a miracle, when the sun set as normal in a deep blue sky with fabulous clouds, many mountains being visible.

It made me think about how we suffer when we separate ourselves from what is natural and real.  When we don’t look at the sky our entire horizon closes down, and ultimately we lose perspective.  We stop being able to see ourselves in context and the daily materialism of it all seems to be more real than it is.  Things feel closed in, and it starts to seem like we must DO SOMETHING, force movement, function out of a belief that it is WE who DO things, and that we can make things do what we want, regardless of consequence.   Politics, anyone?

So, okay.  When we could finally see the sky last night, things felt completely different.  This made me think about just how many things impinge on us, how many things we’re moving through all the time to make sense of things, to live, to function.   When the Partner commented that I seemed to be able to wade through the tsunami of inner chatter, inner thought, and stay reasonably centered and happy for the most part, and how did I do that?  Well, Gentle Reader, the mental floodgates creaked open. I don’t, certainly, ALWAYS do it.  Hoo boy.  No.  But as we talked about how so often happiness appears to depend on external influences, I started to think about what a different path it is when one decides to make mindfulness a central focus.  It is, indeed, the practice of a lifetime and it is a matter of constantly turning the attention to, simply, what IS in the moment.  (Which at bottom, is spaciousness, eventually.) Over and over and over.  Happiness really is an internal condition.  I think it is possible to have, if not happiness, at least calm and presence, even in the worst situations.  Facing the ruination of everything one holds dear in whatever way that ruination decides to appear in the moment is frightening and debilitating. Listening to a news story about Syrian refugees in the Palestinian camps in Lebanon, I was struck by how similarly, and perhaps fatally, we humans can respond to trauma, regardless of cultural or religious affiliation (which in today’s parlance are often put forth as unbridgeable divisions).  It is a humiliation of the worst sort to be poor, needy, in trouble in the Arab world- bringing shame to the family.  On some level that is true everywhere, and people whose lives have changed financial direction often find themselves feeling shame and withdrawing.  In fact of course that is the very time one has to take yet another deep breath, look up at the sky, and say- OK.  Let me think in silence, reach where I am right now, and see when a decision can be made.    The difference between that ascribing of import and impact exclusively to things outside of us, and the path of developing one’s own inner authority, is huge.  Things happen all the time, and we may or may not prevail in the situation.  We may live, we may die.  But the important thing is the quality of how we do these things.   As long as we depend on the outer world to “feed” us, we will always be hungry.  The inner resources, once developed, cannot be taken away from us.  Sometimes that’s all we have for a time.

This is why I propose the following.  A new rule, as it were.  Look at the sky.  Every day.  Several times.  Remember that we’re all part of something very, very big.  The way things have been getting done in our world is showing itself to be not practical, or practicable.   Especially in times of turmoil it is easy to get knocked off balance and then any forward movement can be seemingly impossible.  Knowing, perhaps, that the smoke WILL go away, and fastening one’s gaze on a deeper spot in the sky each day, it helps.   It helps a person realize that problems are not solved by continuing to do the same things, and it helps a person realize that if you listen, the answers really are out there- in you.  We cannot avoid pain, but we can avoid suffering, and this is one key to it, in my mind.   Onward stargazers!