Posts Tagged ‘violence’

on sleeping

The arms of Morpheus, Gentle Reader.  Those were arms I never really knew until, oddly, we moved here.  I was a bad influence in pre-school for the dual crimes of blowing bubbles in my milk carton (allergic but they gave it to me anyway and INSISTED I drink it.  After the Bubble Imbroglio, straws were never again presented to me.) and also for never, ever, being able to go to sleep at nap time.   This badness persisted into kindergarden.  Why did they care if I was being quiet? Always a mystery, that was.  After that it morphed into an overall sports inability and general misfit-ness, enhancing the insomniac tendencies until they ruled all.  I stayed up all night more often than not, painting or dying clothes or making complicated recipes.

A lifetime of insomnia, then.  But for some reason, since we’ve been where we are, I’ve been SLEEPING.  Ten hours a day is an average and I could, if allowed, do more.  It’s downright weird to wake up now and realize that the last time my eyes were open, it was another day altogether.  I like it though.  Even though at times I feel like I’ll never be “rested”.

The point of it is, however, that things really do get better.  We really do heal.  It would help if we could be a bit more careful about the injuries we inflict on ourselves in our travels, but on the whole things can be balanced.  The Partner sometimes has a rather avuncular approach to this sort of topic with me, like yesterday morning.  He was complimenting me on sleeping, especially since he’s had a front row seat to the other thing.  I was pushing hair out of my face and clutching my coffee, mumbling incoherently since I’d just got up after he angelically made breakfast.  Then he said, after I answered his question about whether or not I remembered a possible fall that created the eternally sore place in my back, which I did- all several of them- that really, I am pretty crocked up.  I just don’t acknowledge it.  He worries about me, it turns out.  I understood in that moment that…that time? when I fell down? and he screamed and clapped his hands over his eyes? it was because he was afraid for me and I am such a poster child for accidents will happen that it can be all too much for someone with a delicate constitution. And there I was, taking it personally.  Besides, it wasn’t nearly as bad as it looked.  I’m a very relaxed faller-down what with all the practice; if you don’t harden to things, they don’t hurt you so much, in that context anyway.

The thing that is interesting about this is:  The injuries, mishaps and cave-ins don’t have to dictate what happens forever.  You can change things in your own mind and the body will go along with reasonable proposals.  In fact, it really is possible to do a pretty thorough going restoration of self, no matter how scary the initial insult may be.   The big thing is recognizing that it needs to be done.  Then, things appear when they’re needed and if you can just get yourself to be quiet and do what you tell yourself, things change.

As I was reviewing all this in my mind, I thought of course about the state of the world.  For a change.  The same thought struck both of us at the same time, which was this whole business of the Caliphate Bringers, all of them.  What they are? Is a bunch of furious young men with nothing to do and no prospects.  A ghastly present and a non-future in a game that is rigged to the gills.  So they’re playing another sort of game where everyone seems likely to die but before that happens things will get the daylights torn out of them, and doing pretty well at it.  What would it take to shed some light in those raging corners?   How can you get someone to be still for the moment it might take to reach a hand out, with cogent tasks and self respect offered?  It’s the same way we have to talk to ourselves in order to heal, is what I think.   But in order to want to heal you have to recognize there is a wound.  And really, only you know what that is even though it is something we all share.   Then, you have to decide that you really don’t want to continue with that wound, it stinks, and where’s the iodine?

It seems ridiculous to me at times, but more and more it seems as though there might, just might, be a tipping point of sorts.  As grim as it seems out there in the world, as scared and angry and confused as things are and as stupid as the direction seems to be (as in, Polar Bears really are going to be extinct in the not too distant future because of what humans are doing), I still believe that if enough of us simply connect to the light inside us, the darkness will recede.  I know that happened for me, so it has got to be possible for anyone.  Sleep is a great thing.

the learning precipice

Things have been, Gentle Reader, more than usually challenging and difficult and I am facing October hoping it isn’t like September was.  Because September was AWFUL.

However.  There is a smattering of snow on Mt. Shasta at last.  The lady down the road who has geese sets out small blue plastic swimming pools for them and it is a joy to watch them paddling around.  We have literal parliaments of birds in the garden in the mornings, taking dew baths and eating bugs.   I figured out an easier way to make spaghetti sauce.

I also realized something pretty big about being human and how we actually change.  One of the weird things that happened last month was for the first time ever, I lost, spectacularly, my temper.  I banged a shovel on a metal gate until sparks flew.  In that moment I had a panoramic view of why people get angry, why they act out- all those things I thought I just couldn’t understand before.  On the one hand, such an exhibition produces desired results at times- and I suppose this particular time I was very lucky to live through it.  But I thought a lot about how things are now, how people can feel so alienated and disenfranchised and without recourse or alternative, and how desperate the situation is for so many in this world for things to be going as they are, so much violence and anger and frustration and basic WASTE.  At the same time I realized the enormity of the connection between all of us.  We all feel the same things whether we know it or not, and there is a huge movement between all of us:  of feelings, of thoughts. (It’s hard, of course, to think that anything resembling thought goes on in the minds of, say, the Koch brothers- those guys who pronounce their name like the beverage and not the body part they mostly behave like.  Still, it must be possible.)

Then, imagine my surprise when I realized that all these Opportunities for Growth that have surfaced lately?  I asked for that.  I had an opportunity a while ago to do some deep work.  I asked for help with a family issue, a personal relationship issue, and for help dealing with my many fears.  Of course I thought that the problematic elements would just sort of…float away.  I would be released from them.  Just as we all do, hope that our trials and tribulations will be taken from us.  BUT OF COURSE in order for that to happen, quite a bit of work must be done.   The first two concerns were, in fact, dealt with and they were two of the hardest, most painful things I’ve ever gone through.  Then, there’s the fear.  You can’t divest yourself of fear until you really know what it is, it turns out.  You can’t pretend you don’t feel it, can’t ignore it, also can’t let it run your life.  Just like in PTSD, the fears drive through your brain in horrible clockwork.  And just as in PTSD the way out is through, in noticing what comes up, what color that car in your head really is and also? it isn’t really a car.  Suddenly, after a lifetime of application, the fear reveals itself as what it is.  A thought in reaction to a circumstance.  Change your thoughts, the circumstance is changed as well.   Or more properly, its appearance is changed.  There is, as the Buddhists say, no cure for hot and cold.  And fear is like hot and cold- another experience, another sensation.  It may not be curable, but it IS explorable, and that is the key.

The thing of it now, though, is so many circumstances are so dire and intractable it might not seem like it matters at all how you think about them.  But I think it does.  How you perceive something dictates how you respond to it.  Take injustice.   The perpetrators of injustices are often not accessible, seen or even exactly known.  How do you combat something like that?  Things have taken such a direction in my life that I no longer have trust in any of the forms and infrastructures of society.  I also believe, still, shovel incident notwithstanding, that non-violence is the only lasting proper method for change.  This puts the responsibility squarely on one’s shoulders, then.  We ourselves have to shape our lives the way WE want them to be, regardless of tyranny, stupidity, poverty and greed.  There may be no basic services available to a person.  That person then has to forage, make connections, and create an alternative.  This means leaving a lot of things behind, but mostly things like materialism, complacency, disinterest.  It means you have to start actually thinking on your feet, being responsible.  Putting fear and conformity aside even in the most difficult situation really does allow space for movement and change.  It isn’t easy and I can’t imagine most people even want to touch this whole thing with a barge pole but nonetheless it is what is staring us all squarely in the face.   Or, me, anyway.  You gotta align self with Self and with the big picture.  Then? It isn’t easy or perhaps all that different but it is better without all the static.  And every day better gets better, and the strength and will to carry on grow, and great things can happen.  Great things aren’t always seemingly big things either.  All the small things everywhere add up to something though, and it is just starting to seem like there’s a reachable cohort working on peace, love, and happiness. So let’s introduce ourselves and carry on.


off to the races

I have to say, Gentle Reader, even by MY standards the past few days have been  like a combination of Survivor, Godzilla, and a stampede of bison during a large size hail storm with the gong section of a Chinese Opera Orchestra playing along.

On the positive side:  It was the Partner’s birthday.  I made a cake and arroz con leche and game hens and shrimp cocktail.  And cocktails, of course.  And some really fantastic purple potatoes from the garden.  We actually had a lot of fun AFTER we got past the non-positive sunrise wakeup call from the landlady’s dog.  During which wakeup exercise said dog killed all my chile plants, dug the crap out of one raised bed and our compost heap, and attempted to dig several large and important plants out of their containers.  I almost lost it altogether and may have murmured something about you won’t have to worry about who’s going to kill your dog if this happens again.  Since this was the, oh, say FOURTH TIME.   Each incursion has caused some significant damage and this dog does some very acrobatic things to get into our space.  Apparently there is some mystery about what happens when you let a large, untrained ratting dog out the door at 5 am and don’t bother to go with it or check on it or anything like that.   It’s a dicey proposition to let your dog out like that around here because everyone is fairly heavily armed.   Country living and second amendment rights, after all.   Just Friday night, for example, there was a long, REALLY long, volley of automatic weapons fire.  It may have had something to do with the visit of a sizeable portion of the Sheriff’s Department the prior Friday elsewhere in the neighborhood.  Or it may not have.  Anyway.  It seems, for better or worse, that no dogs were harmed in that incident.

We’ve also been preparing legal documents and digging out tax returns and all kinds of awful stuff like that.  Sometimes I feel as though, really, no more.  NOT ONE MORE THING.  I get over that when I see the little wrens taking baths in the water seeping down into the plants as we water them in the mornings, flipping their wings and sending sprays of water into the air.  We also have a gang of hummingbirds now who have been chasing each other around every morning with incredible feats of derring do, sneak attacks, and nyah nyah nyahs.

But then I see something like the picture of people waiting for food in a Syrian refugee camp.  Thousands of people, as far as you can see, standing between ruined buildings about ten abreast.  Even hummingbirds can’t quite get me past that.   I find I’m at a point now where everything that gets said about what’s going on in the world sounds like a big, fat, lie.  We abandoned the gold standard as the value base for our money, yes, and now use what? OIL.   Yes indeedy.  In fact, the same stuff that seems to be funding the Caliphate Bringers.  Someone explain to me, please, just why it is we don’t have a huge effort moving to get things solar and methane energied, among other things, just to move us along and out of this gigantic sink hole filled with $#!^ that we appear to be jumping right back into the middle of.   Still it is somewhat interesting to see such a funding source being used by opponents in a struggle.  Or whatever it is.  Then there was the young girl on Bill Moyers who spent several minutes saying that it was really OK and a good thing to use selfishness as a reason to be concerned with climate change.  I must say things seem pretty extreme now, the lines are drawn and while there are many people, young and old, trying to do the right thing, there seem to be many, many more doing the wrong thing.  Over and over.  Unthinkingly.  Selfishly.  I find myself feeling real, actual fear about the future, and not just because my own situation is so weird, precarious, and somehow wonderful when I can keep breathing.

It really is important to stay with the awe we feel in life, but sometimes it is so hard to pick oneself up and carry on.  Today’s motivation may just be cake.

in the wilderness

It really is the wild, wild west where we live.  An unincorporated area with a town split between two counties, there isn’t much law to be found here and what there is? Highly questionable. The other night when we heard strange noises- probably a mountain lion but could have been a human- and concomittant ATV noise and gunfire, I found myself hoping earnestly for nothing more than it to completely pass us by.  I actually buried my head under a pillow. If there were a fire up here, we’d be in trouble too because all that Cal Fire would do is establish a perimeter and let the interior burn- because there are so many marijuana growers in this area.  There’s also only one way out of here.

It’s hard to get a fix on how one lives in a place like this, but aside from the political and meteorological vagaries of it all, there is really a magic and wonder to it that’s quite extraordinary.   I think, actually, that this is a place that was used for ceremonial purposes by the original inhabitants, not lived in.  The energies here are intense and the ecosystem is fragile.  But in the mornings as we have coffee, the quail family walks down the hill, the rabbits walk up, the finches and titmice and hummingbirds do an incredible dance with each other, and the woodpeckers and magpies swoop through the trees.  We have dragonfly swarms around the yurt, and when the geese are moving up and down the coast there are huge V’s moving through the sky.  Butterflies and resplendent lizards, electrifying skinks.  You feel completely held by the beauty and it is as though everything is in perfect order throughout all time.

Which, of course, is why there is so much cognitive dissonance the minute one’s attention is turned to other humans and the world at large.   Yet another Thing Happened that left me reeling and unmoored.  Having to do with seeing the distinction between appearance and reality, or more properly what I thought was happening vs. what was happening.  Misplaced trust, actually.   This was on top of two rather horrible realizations about world events: One, the drought is even worse in Central and parts of South America than it is here.  So, apart from having to flee from deported-from-U.S. gang members who ply violence and extortion with gusto in their now-home countries, the refugees coming across the southern borders of the U.S. are also fleeing starvation.  I noticed at first how nicely dressed many of the kids were, and just now realized that they had been dressed with the hope of finding success.  Food and relief from threats of death- that’s success.  Thing the second was that there are indeed people from the U.S. fighting with the Caliphate Bringers.  Essentially we’ve got the mirror poison here to what exists in Iraq and Syria.  Always with the duality, eh?  What happens when we finally catch our own tails?

Anyway.  When the curtain gets pulled, there is a lot more to look at than I ever expected, is all.

once again, with feeling

The ten thousand things can really trip you up, Gentle Reader.  It often seems to me that calm is an ever more elusive state of being, and I have to wonder at such times what is actually going on.

The instability of daily life sometimes comes at you and suddenly, whammo, there’s anxiety and wondering and you’re not exactly in the present moment any more.  Perhaps it is that in order to move through one’s day, an elegant flexibility is required.  Like repeating a World Series title twice in a row, it can’t always be done.  Sometimes there is no elegance to be found and flexibility is a word you have to look up in the dictionary.  There is help for it, however.

We finally watched “Dallas Buyers Club” over the weekend.  I knew it would be a bit of emotional tough sledding, but it turned into a mammoth snow free ski jump, completely unexpectedly.   I worked in the AIDS clinic at S.F. General in those days, and later on one of my closest friends succumbed to the disease’s awful ravages.  I saw a lot and thought that, perhaps, I had some perspective.  OH, YOU ARE SO FUNNY SOMETIMES.  Somehow, in watching that film, the emotional truth of those days rose up intact in my chest and it hurt like hell.

Still reading Pema Chodron, one thing recently struck me- the thing that happens when you meditate and suddenly become aware of the pain we all feel, the suffering we all endure.  That moment of connecting to and experiencing directly what others feel makes you weep at times. So, watching that film, I realized the pain I felt was really the pain of others.  I also realized how incredibly fortunate I’ve been in having my heart opened to love, the giving and receiving of it.  Even with the losses and hardness of it all, being able to experience love and walk with another living being through it all- that is really the core experience for us as human beings.  Spirit doesn’t urge us to love and refrain from harming only a select group.  We must love all.  And, for extra fun, we get to park our egos at the door.

Anyway, I thought of my friend so long ago, and realized that in fact even with all the horrors of those days, the good is what I remember, and that goodness of heart and greatness of spirit of my friend is what endures and will never be destroyed.

Then? We saw a documentary about the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon.  Another instance of feeling another’s torment, and this time my sense of it was a bit different.  This particular pain is something that as a world we must not be tolerating- this pain isn’t about empathy, it is about the necessity of change.  It is time to put our feet down and say, OK, enough of this unrestrained cancerous political and economic strangulation.   I suppose this is the other place all my roads lead to- the place where I feel we simply must pull ourselves together RIGHT NOW.  There isn’t time to continue behaving like spoiled brats.  There really should not, can not, be acceptance of people having such degraded states forced upon them from without that they, basically, lose their minds.   This happens everywhere in a lot of different ways. There also, really, should not be rivers that can’t flow because they’re dammed up, and animals that can’t live because their space is gone, and people who starve because the food supply has been tinkered with to a vanishing point.  Why is it so hard for us to feel the spaciousness in our hearts and let that guide our behavior?  When I look at the level of military materiel US police departments are getting- and the amount of money all that stuff represents?  I just wonder what kind of madness is possessing these people.  Children are going hungry, and you, Mr. Small Town Uptight Policeman, need a tank to drive that’d feed everybody in your town if sold for cash.  Why is that?  Perhaps it is because that one special ingredient, love, is missing.  The subject/object relationship is skewed almost beyond redemption it would appear.  I propose their immediate reunification- now, for a plan.  I’m sure there’s one floating around- my kingdom for a butterfly net!

creatures and habit

Well.  Monday really WAS a pretty uphill, perhaps even truly awful, day, wasn’t it?

Getting in touch with the reality of how we all suffer and experience pain is probably not anybody’s first choice of what to do today, but there it is.  The feelings we have, what we think about things- all such a mystery in terms of Other People.  So when someone, Another Person, does something we find unexpected and shocking, everything gets thrown up into the air.  It’s amazing that it takes the pain of experiencing that to show us that we really are all deeply connected.  Obviously I am referring to the death of Robin Williams and the rolling heartbreak that has followed. A brave soul, continuing a journey that we can no longer see.  It’s not hard to understand.  It’s just hard to live with.

Then we have Missouri.  Jesus God, people.  How long is it going to be before people finally wake up and smell the coffee in this country?  We have a militarized police force which, in many areas, doesn’t  even do things like respond to burglary calls or do basic protect and serve stuff.  I watched apologists on PBS saying things like, well, smaller municipalities don’t have this issue (of police beating and shooting unarmed civilians).  Clearly, they haven’t been HERE, because if they had been they’d know that the police in these parts often shoot first and forget about taking the names.  A former mayor of Ferguson said in what seemed almost word for word lockstep with George Wallace that they really had tried to recruit African Americans for the police department but those people just wouldn’t come to the Academy- it was hauntingly familiar language to what we’ve heard forever about why inequality (which is an inadequate word for this stuff) persists.   There was some talk about how surprised people were at seeing the tear gas and shooting and unrecognizable authority figures in battle dress taking aim.   Again, I just had to wonder where they’ve been for the past fifty years.

Another opportunity to take a deep breath.  The only thing for it is to keep trying, I decided.  Keep putting love first, and understanding.  When I’m thinking in the old way, it’s frightening looking out at the world.  When I come from a place of letting go and taking in to let go again, it’s still frightening but at the same time the possibilities are visible.  Dimly, yes, but visible.  Non-violence takes a long time, as the Dalai Lama remarked.  A good bit of non-violence resides in not adding more fuel in the form of one’s own negativity, fear, and opinions to whatever is swirling around us.  Fuses are short all around, which means we need even more to make the effort to see the common threads in things and try not to set them on fire.  Today’s challenge.

dominion and caliphate

Jeeeeeez, Gentle Reader.  It’s hard not to wonder which is going to happen first:  Armageddon, Apocalypse, or Return of Common Sense to Small Portions of the Planet Which We Hope Will Continue to Arise and Also? Happen Really Soon.  The common sense, I mean.

We have here what looks to be like the shaping up of another religiously inspired world catastrophe.  The Inquisition, the Crusades, the wars between Shia and Sunni and Catholic vs Protestant- none of those, apparently, have been enough. Not to mention the joy bringing aspects of colonialism and imperialism on older spiritual traditions.  No, ISIL, or ISIS, or whatever they call themselves to distract you from the fact they never show their faces, aim to re-install the Caliphate now.  We’ll be whizzed, in that event, back to the 7th century.   Here in the U.S., the Supreme Court seems to be a sub fusc organization whose only purpose is promoting the Dominion, which is the Caliphate spelled with a Christian syllabary.  Again, whizzed back to the 7th century- if we’re lucky.   It might be even further back than that, given the propensities of the Dominion’s advocates to support positions that were probably felt to be retarded in the stone age.

I have really just about had enough of this crap. Money is not the Ultimate Reality.  Corporations are not people.  Women ARE people. Children and elders are people.  People need food and water that isn’t poisoned simply so someone at the top can make money (research Tyson Foods and Unilever if you think I’m even kidding.) People need work that sustains them.  Capitalist values degrade everything they contact and establish a world view that if you aren’t “rich”, you aren’t successful, it’s all your fault and besides, you’re probably not a good person anyway.  Inequality is the actual name of the game. ( Unfortunately Communism did not cut the mustard at all, and the drawing board seems lost as far as such organizational matters go.)  Religion is about external authority and being told what to do in a maintained posture of fear.  In the 21st century it seems to me that it’s way past time for people to sit up and get their heads out of the paper bag.  Then again, when they do that it’ll probably be just in time to throw up into it.

But on to a more important topic: futbol.  We’re pretty convinced at our house that somebody just might have put a curse on the Brazilian team.  They had been behaving rather badly up to the game with Colombia which was execrably officiated for the most part in Brazil’s favor.  Just at that point, about say, 60 minutes into the match? we’re thinking somebody strangled a black chicken.  Because after that game? Brazil couldn’t do doodly.  Karma is an interesting thing, really.  It would be nice if it could catch up to our  C and D friends mentioned above before they do any more damage.

Here is part of a poem by a woman named Kate Compston, which I read this morning while trying to shove the roaring dinosaur head back outside my brain,  where it belonged:

“… me the movement I must take

toward a wealth not dependent on possessions

toward a wisdom not based on books (Ed note: books are still good things!)

toward a strength not bolstered by might

toward a God not confined to heaven

but scandalously earthed, poor, unrecognized…..

help me to find myself

as I walk in others’ shoes…..”

We live in hope, of course, even when we are out of sorts.