Posts Tagged ‘the middle way’

At the Not-OK Corral

Dear o dear, Gentle Reader.  Things are Quite Gnarly right now and the cavalry does not appear to be anywhere in the vicinity.  I guess we are going to get to be our own cavalry this go round, and for the foreseeable future.

Naturally along with many others, I have been wondering just How we are all going to talk to each other about what IS and what to do and all the rest of it….the polarization is like being a walking pair of sunglasses at this point.  I found myself having the thought that it might not be possible at all to get through to some people, no way to talk to or reach them, and how can that be?? Not to mention how truly scary the overarching situation is, COVID-19 aside.

AS usual, Universe to the forefront.  Pondering this question ad…well, too far…I recently found myself actually dealing with it in person.  Admittedly it took me a minute to realize I was in the process of investigating something complex.  But! There I was, in the farm supply store, innocently minding my own business and getting food for the dog. (That part of it, at least, was a success. I got a different flavor this time, turkey and pumpkin and Somebody has been poncing around grinning ever since.) It took a moment to realize that not only was I the only person in a fairly full store wearing a mask, but that some of the other patrons, and employees, were standing at the cash registers, literally glaring at me.  You’re wearing a mask! someone said in a stern tone.  Yes, I said, I am. We don’t wear masks around here! I do, I said.  I was starting to be a bit not happy about this.  But I stood there with the dog food and treats, quietly.  WHY are you wearing a mask came from the glaring section.  Because, I said, it is the right thing to do.  It keeps us all from catching this virus which, despite what you might want to believe, IS real, IS around and by the way, we went from zero cases to over 100 in less than a month, in a somewhat underpopulated area to boot.  So it’s just common courtesy and common sense.  Basic hygeine and infectious disease prevention.  Just what  you’d do for your cows if they had something wrong with them.  The glarers, while having to admit the correctness of the words, stood a bit taller and glared even more.

Fortunately at that moment the man who works at this place, loves the Dog and is friendly to us, came in and came to my rescue.  The glarers scattered as he briskly told me how much his wife had loved the sourdough bread we brought him (well, it was the DOG’s idea, being his favorite thing and all, and he wanted to share it with a friend), and she wanted to know how I did it and what not.  I told him she could call me anytime, and once you get a good starter going it’s mostly about the flour.  A path cleared around me as he lifted the purchases up and took them to my car.  Given that this was the next day after I’d spent three hours getting a wheel fixed on the car, and found myself retreating to a far corner of the place since it was full and nobody was wearing a mask and there was a lot of loud conversation about “these rotten protesters”  “what kind of idiot wears a mask?” and the usual I’ll do whatever I want sort of thing, it is probably not all  that surprising that once I was safe in the vehicle, the shaking began.  (The fun folks at the car place even made the woman working the front desk burst into tears after they’d all trooped out, so it isn’t just Me.)

And, yes.  That kicked off a few days of bleak thinking.  There appeared to be no hope at all, from the perspective of the hole I was in.  It seemed like dialogue and moving forward was impossible and even though I know that under anger is pain,  I found no interest in myself in toddling one of these individuals along to a clear place in the woods. Then of course the realization dawned that, no, you don’t even have to go there.  Just embody what you know to be true, which of course is coming from the heart, coming from being grounded in the reality that nature shows you every second if you look.   Maybe I am getting the hang of this by now, never having lived in a place like this before  for this length of time.  Probably a good thing since it looks like this is the place, for a while.  Do no harm, and take no shit seems like a good model in the moment.  Set aside the loneliness and put observation in that space instead.  Also I remembered in a flash something that had happened a couple of weeks before, right after the Governor said everybody had to mask up period and there was A LOT of complaint, let’s just say.  Several errands, some of which had the testiness described above, and the last one, which was like a visit from an angel.  There is a panaderia in this town that the Partner really likes and I must say, their conchas and raspberry coconut things are extraordinary.  So, I go in and the young latin woman at the counter is sporting a beautiful mask, embroidered with flowers.  Mine is a terrific silk/wool number a friend of mine created in shimmering colors.  We looked at each other, pointed at each other’s masks, and said, que belleza!  Then, out of nowhere, the song “Happy” by Pharrell Williams came on the radio and…we just danced with each other, twirling around the floor.  A moment of joy.

So THAT is how we do it.  One moment at a time, and it’s OK if the time outs in between have to be a little longer than usual.  There really is no room for  darkness in one’s soul now, and if the opening to the light must be done as gently as possible, especially given that we’re being hurtled pretty brutally toward an unknown target, that’s OK too.  The thing is to show up.  As always, blessings and thanks to all.

a happy anniversary

It was on this day two years ago that the Dog moved in with us.getPart-1It’s hard to tell just how small he was here (this isn’t a big chair)…not of course as small as that first evening when he rushed out from under the yurt, famished and throwing himself on our mercy, and later after having eaten and shaken paws with us,  falling asleep on the deck and snoring.  All 16 inches of him, bowlegged and eight weeks old, barely old enough to be away from his mother.  How such a tiny creature survived the rigors of this place- how he even GOT to us- remains a mystery.  But get here he did, and for about a week (we surmised) he sized us up whilst eating strawberries and flowers on the quiet, revealing his presence in the nipped off potato flowers and overturned saucers we use for bird baths.  I guess we passed muster, and also he was STARVING.  Then came toys, food, a bed which was greeted with his first smile, a leash, car rides and pratfall filled walks.  A heretofore undiscovered world of dog life.  And now?

lord:master

This is HIS house.  Even if it is over 90f in here right now and he’s a bit pink as a result, augmented by the red light from all the smoke in the air (which is just the teensiest bit creepy and unnerving).  He has a smile that captures even the hardest heart (even if he teases me by getting all serious the minute I have my phone pointed at him), and his arrival has been, and is, one of the best things that ever happened to this bear.

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!