clearskies, bluewater

Insights, reflections and creative imaginings for our awakening world


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The Power and Irony of Words in the Age of Technology

Words have power. This statement is known to be true by every person who has ever read, written or studied language, including stories, poetry, song lyrics and rhetoric. Words shape our world, our societies, our institutions. Words have power to destroy worlds, and they conversely have power to heal ourselves and our world. When you think about it, what an amazing superpower is the word.

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While what I just wrote is true, it is also true that words are everywhere, as ubiquitous as grass, as sand, as leaves, as stars. We talk or hear others talking in a constant stream (or river or even ocean) every minute of every day of our waking lives. Out of all those uncountable words that we take in and give out, only a few have real power in our lives– the kind of power to change, heal or save us. What makes those particular words special, and all the others just so much static on our consciousness’ radio?

 

The internet and mobile devices have exponentially increased our global ability to use words (and images) for communication and persuasion. Here are some statistics for you (from hostingfacts.com):

Internet Statistics 2017

  1. There are now 3.74 billion Internet users in the world as at March 2017.
    This is compared to 3.26 billion Internet users in 2016.
  2. Asia is the continent with the most Internet users. Asia now accounts for 50.1 percent, or more than half, of all Internet users in the world. The runner up is Europe, with 17 percent of all Internet users.
  3. China has the most Internet users of all countries. At over 731 million Internet users at the time of writing this, China currently accounts for more than 25 percent of Internet users worldwide.
  4. As at January 2017, the United Arab Emirates is the country with the highest Internet penetration in the world — with an impressive 99 percent of its citizens, or about 9.2 million people, using the Internet.
  5. The internet influenced sales to the tune of $2.1 trillion in 2016.
  6. Over 5.5 billion Google searches are made every day.
  1. Over 2 million blog posts are published on the Internet every day. (this figure is a low estimate, and according to http://www.worldometers.info/blogs/, today there were over 4,500,000 blog posts uploaded to the internet!!

As you can see, usage of Google, blogs, social media and the internet generally is literally increasing daily. Over a third of the world’s population is online at any given moment, and undoubtedly this figure will increase exponentially in years and decades to come. This brings up many questions, such as, what are people reading on their devices? What kinds of images are they viewing?  How much of it has actual content beyond a momentary flash or the briefest acknowledgment? Out of the millions of words and images one might glance at (or even consume) in a day or a week, how much of it actually touches the human heart and mind? What influences one’s behavior, and why?

Clearly, these questions are being studied by researchers worldwide. The times we are living through now are seminal for the decades ahead. Through our ongoing fascination (addiction?) with virtual reality, we are forging a new world of partial realities:  partially flesh-and-blood, brick-and-mortar, 3-d reality, and partially a new kind of sensory reality that has nothing to do with three dimensions. This is simply what is occurring; there is no stopping this new world, it is here and will only gain in speed and intensity during this century.

Technology is the new power of the word in our world. Rhetoric, that art with its roots in antiquity, is alive and growing in the Age of Technology. But I think the fundamental questions of humanity remain and demand to be addressed, now more than ever:  What is Truth? How do we live good lives and care for all other living beings? How do we live with moral integrity, and give all people the dignity and respect they deserve?  Is it even possible in the present times? How shall we create the future world so that our planet, Gaia, upon whom we still depend for our very lives, stays intact and protected from further destruction?

We can argue about getting down on one knee in an act of rebellion towards the power-elite, spend all our money on trivialities via our cellphones, squabble all night long with strangers through facebook, and otherwise waste enormous amounts of energy and time on things that ultimately do not matter in the big picture of our lives and collective world. So, I ask again, which words have real power, and how do we find them? How shall we share them in this age? And how will we use them to create a future world that is based upon respect, love and light? How can we best use this incredible power of the word we have been given?

When I first began this blog back in 2012, I used it as creative therapy for my loneliness and sense of isolation, due to living in a foreign country where I felt completely out of sync with the people around me. For a time, I dedicated my creative efforts to writing every day, connecting with other’s blogs and finding a very small community of like-minded folks to connect with virtually. snoopy-writer1

Now, nearly six years later, I very much feel that my small, nearly inaudible voice through Clearskies, Bluewater blog is utterly inconsequential (although it’s been fun!) For the small handful of readers who have followed this blog and encouraged me through its lifetime, I am grateful for your support and readership. I feel that it’s time has come to give it up. With two to four million blog posts every single day, there is an inconceivably vast amount of words out there to explore.  And judging from my WordPress statistics page, the irony is that an old blogpost I wrote years ago, entitled “Tits and ass, cocks and bosoms, etc.” still gets the most hits from searches across the world.  I wrote that one-off as an experiment to see what kind of response I’d get: Ha! Just as I suspected, people are still caught up in that low vibrational place, looking for some kind of momentary titillation I guess.

Dear Readers, whoever of you decided to read this post, I would love it if you would also take a moment to hit the like button. And if you have found value in this blog over the past years, please comment and tell me what you found most interesting or valuable.  I’ll keep the blog alive for a few more weeks to give folks time to comment or like.  And I’ll write a final post before I shut it down.  So, if you’ve felt shy in the past, here is your opportunity to open up and tell me anything you’d like me to know!

 

 

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Blood red sun, pink moon

Today was a day out of time, if such a thing is possible. In a similar way to the day of the solar eclipse, the sun appeared very unusual throughout this day, due to the thick haze that hung over the city. Smoke and ash from the many fires burning across the western United States and British Columbia was carried by the winds here to our fair city, obscuring the sun and creating a reddish golden veil across its light.

Towards sunset, the reddish tint turned nearly blood red as the sun grew closer to the western horizon. Then the crows came. They had already appeared on our street’s tall, old trees earlier in the day, cawing loudly and aggressively. One was found dead on the easement underneath one of the largest trees afterwards. When the sun turned red, however, the crows came back in full force, crying loudly and circling round and round the group of trees at the end of the block where I live. From my upstairs apartment window I watched and listened to them, striving to understand what they were telling each other and me.

Clearly, the red sun was bothering them; they knew it was unnatural and not as it should be at dusk. Perhaps they knew other things too; about the floods and fires happening across the vast landscape. They carried on for about ten or fifteen minutes, until the sun was virtually out of sight, then eventually quieted down.

After sunset, I walked the few blocks to our neighborhood park to see what I could see. Almost full tonight, I wished to catch a glimpse as it rose in the east. Walking in a large loop, I finally came to rest at the marble pavilion that marks the center of the park. Stepping inside, I quickly walked across to the marble pillars facing west, where one can still see some of the mountains that Denver is famous for. Of course, due to the haze, no mountains could be seen. The people who were gathered here and there around the pavilion were all silent, some on their cell phones, but others simply quiet, gazing out onto the park, and the eerily whitish grey sky of twilight. After a few minutes, I left and continued making my way around the loop of the park. I kept looking to the east, knowing that the moon would be there and hoping to catch a glimpse of it. Then I saw it, coming up between the dark shadows of trees. Sure enough, La Luna was there, round and completely pink, like a man’s sunburned bald head.

After communion with a very old hawthorn tree for grounding and strengthening, I slowly made my way through the park and back home. As I walked, I reflected on this past week’s extraordinary events. Flooding of biblical proportions in south Texas. Wildfires are burning due to extreme high temperatures and no rain along the west coast from Los Angeles all the way through Washington state, where the governor declared a state of emergency in all counties due to fires and threat of fires, and up into British Columbia. Fires are burning in Montana and Idaho, and southern Wyoming. As I googled this subject for an image to share here, I found out more: 2017 has been one of the worst fire seasons in years, that upwards of a hundred fires, both uncontained and contained, are currently burning, and over seven and a half million acres of forest have burned.

SatPhoto_MODIS_105pmMDT_9-4-2017

Wildfires currently burning across the US and Western Canada right now. http://wildfiretoday.com/

So much water, and so much fire. The fire needs water, and the water wouldn’t know what to do with all that fire. Except just keep raining down.

Prayer is not a refuge or shelter so much as it is an opening of arms, an acceptance of whatever storms exist in the world. You don’t really pray for your situation to change, you pray to be able to handle your situation. It’s not the world you want to change; it’s you that you want to change. –Kazim Ali

 Within a few days, most likely the haze will lessen, the sun will shine brightly again, and the people will carry on like nothing is amiss in the world. For many, to contemplate the enormity of what is occurring now in America, in Asia, and around the globe is simply too much, too overwhelming. So they simply choose to not think about it. We have forgotten how to listen to the wild, to hear the cacophony of a hundred crows overhead and be unable to hear what they are telling us. We glance at a blood red sun or a stunning pink moonrise, but most don’t give them a second glance. Many people in the cities no longer have the capacity to see nature, even when it is right in front of their eyes. This is the great tragedy of our times.

Red Sun

There is a Buddhist practice known as tonglen. The practice is described thus: “In tonglen practice, we visualize taking in the pain of others with every in-breath and sending out whatever will benefit them on the out-breath. In the process, we become liberated from age- old patterns of selfishness. We begin to feel love for both ourselves and others; we begin to take care of ourselves and others.” (https://www.lionsroar.com/how-to-practice-tonglen/)  Imagine if enough of us did this practice during times like this past week: breathing in the pain of all of those affected by floods and fires, including humans, animals, and all living beings (such as trees); and then breathing out compassion, healing, and love for them. I think it would make a huge difference to those who are suffering, if the rest of us, who are fortunate enough to not be in the middle of the unfolding tragedy, breathed in the pain, and breathed out relief.

Try tonglen, or use the power of your prayers and healing energy directed towards those who are suffering now. In this way, we can strive to heal and make sense of a world filled with chaos and unbelievably catastrophic acts of nature. We can use them as a catalyst for great, beneficial change for humanity. Just breathe with intention.

 


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Listening to your own wisdom

This month has brought a huge amount of energy to us Earthwalkers, both collectively and individually. For months now I have shared the collective experience on this blog. Tonight I would like to share a personal view.

Obviously Life isn’t always what it seems on the surface. It’s important, when given some breathing space, to take time to reflect on your life and relationships, in relation to how they brought you to Now. I have had opportunities to do this recently, and it has been helpful.

Dear Readers, perhaps some of you have also been looking back at events and periods of your life in order to understand how you have come to Now. What those experiences brought you, whether painful or joyful, were opportunities to grow and heal your soul. We often cannot understand it in the moment, and indeed some of those painful times hurt so much that all we really want is for them to be gone! Now! Forever! But, we still had to live through them, and coming out the other side we can again breathe, think, and gain understanding.

I think it’s very difficult not to have regrets about your life; what I might have chosen, had I not gone down that road, may have been much more wonderful and made me infinitely happier than the path I did choose. Then there’s the trap of guilt; had I chosen differently, I might have spared my loved ones a whole lot of pain and suffering. This is all speculation, and probably not a helpful way of thinking. After all, I chose what I chose, and my current life is the result of the cumulative effects.

I’ve had intense moments of sorrow lately about things that happened in my past. I believe they have come up again for review so I can heal and let go of them at ever deeper levels. We are really not consciously aware of how profoundly we hold our human experience: memory stored in our DNA from eons of time and vast experiences that we may only recall as a vague feeling of discomfort, anxiety, anger, or sorrow. As we continue to evolve into our multidimensional selves, we must let go of the old experiences of separation. How many times have we loved someone, only to be hurt by them? Or likewise, have hurt the very one we so passionately cared for?

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We may feel alone in the world, but in reality we are always connected with all life, both on Earth and in the starry realms.

Nothing we said or did can be taken back. The play has been performed, the actors all played their roles perfectly, and that show is done. More and more I see my life as a series of one acts, improvs and feature length films. I observe myself living my life a lot these days. Now I am riding the bus; now I am standing in the sun with these other people; now I am cooking; now I am dreaming about what happened years ago. It’s an odd feeling, like I am both in and out of my body, observing and being observed.

The events on the world stage this past month have caused great anxiety and also moments of great exhilaration within my soul. I’ve had moments of pure stillness, when I am certain that beneath all appearances to the contrary, we are fundamentally alright, we will be alright, and in fact, will enter a golden age at some point in the not too distant future. Then I have days when everything seems grey, dark and nearly hopeless, those moments when fear grips my soul so strongly that I have anxiety attacks. The fluctuations are crazy, like a lifeline; up and down, relentlessly.

Dear readers, I write these words to you all tonight in hopes that some of you may take them to heart. Those of you who are feeling similarly buoyant and despondent by turns, please know that you are not alone. Even if you feel like you must be going mad, or the only one who feels like that, you must know that there are far more of us walking upon the planet now than ever before. Together we are here to create a new world. It is time for the crumbling and destruction of the old paradigm for real: Here and Now, in all the countries and continents of Gaia. The old ways of controlling people, resources and economies no longer work. We are collectively awakening, en masse. So the struggle, or rather battle, for freedom is raging strongly at this time.

From this battleground, the fires are burning. Eventually they will smolder, and then there will be ashes. From those hard won ashes, the Phoenix will rise. It’s happened before, countless times throughout our planet’s history. And it will soon happen again. The battle of the human soul is both personal and collective. If you feel like you are in the middle of a battle of some kind or other, that is correct: You absolutely are. So take the time, as much as you can, to rest. To find stillness and peace within. The more peaceful and joyful our experience while in the midst of all the chaos, the more we can each contribute to the whole. I do not advocate drowning yourself in substances which make you oblivious, not at all. Rather, it’s all about becoming evermore conscious. But warriors need to step back from the battle, in order to replenish. Every day.

Thank you for all that you are doing to help the world, the animals, and nature. Everything counts; no matter how small, it matters not. What matters is that you are contributing to the good, the positive. Keep forgiving yourself and everyone else, and shining your light.


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On Judgement and Gratitude

Here it is, Thanksgiving Day in America again. This holiday, more than any other, has the beautiful quality of going beyond all borders, ethnicities, polarization and ideology, if one embraces the core of what this day represents. Giving Thanks. Put another way, it is the epitome of Gratitude. What are you grateful for? Who are you grateful to? When do you feel gratitude? And, most importantly, why?

These are difficult, confusing times to be alive on Earth. At this moment, after all that has taken place over the past year in regards to world events, it is so tempting to fall into despair, anger, and judgement. Not many are feeling truly and deeply satisfied with Life-On-Earth at the moment. And for good reason, anyone who isn’t living in a cave must be aware of what a bloody mess we have created for ourselves.

And yet. What strikes me as the very most basic, important and useful thing that each of us can do, is to resist the strong temptation to judge, blame and shame another (or all the others) for our current state of the world. It is the easiest thing to do, and actually the most harmful. Blaming another, no matter WHO it is or how much you may dislike or revile them, only perpetuates the cycle of hatred, anger and fear that humanity has been living in for millennia. Judgement, like anger and all its associated mental and emotional states, stems from Fear. Fear is the Big Hook for us humans: it keeps us on an endlessly painful and imprisoned state of consciousness, from which we can be manipulated, coerced and otherwise made to follow others’ ideology and morally corrupt strategic plans. You who are reading this blog know what I am saying: the fascist regimes and authoritarian schemes created by small minded, even smaller hearted beings who rise to power do so through these tactics.

What can be done, you may ask? How can we turn this monstrous machine of human misery and suffering around? What will the next four years and beyond look like, for America and for the world? How can we cope? Who is to blame? What will happen?

Dear Readers, from where I stand, it seems obvious that the only way forward towards a world that is peaceful, healthy, joyful and abundant for all, is by moving from a state of judgement based on fear, to a state of grace based on gratitude. It is so easy, so ridiculously easy to scoff at these words and blow them off as some kind of airy fluff, to blow them off and instead hold onto skepticism, pessimism, the idea of separation, and moral indignation. That is what has been going on here on this planet for centuries. And we can see the effects of this kind of thinking all around us. Is it working for you? For your neighbors, including the ones without homes, who are taking up space in your alleys, sidewalks, and parks?  I ask each one of you to take a hard, long look inside of yourselves, and ask: Is your way of thinking, feeling and acting helping to further the goal of health, peace, and justice in the world, or helping to keep this old, ugly and worn-out paradigm in place?

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If you say it cannot be done, then get out of the way and let those who are changing the world’s paradigm do their work unencumbered. Do you really think one more human and his or her new administration is going to magically fix all that is broken in our country or in our world for the rest of us?

It is high time to stop believing that someone (anyone) else is going to save the world for us. No government anywhere can or will do that. What is needed now, and going forward, is “the kind of transformative social movement that has altered the course of history in the past.”(Wen Stephensen)  All huge, world-changing social movements throughout time worked because everyday people got so tired of what they were living in that they banded together and gained people power, then they went ahead and changed their cities, states, countries and yes, their world, for the better.

We are past the tipping point. We are now on course to change our world, the whole of humanity in the days ahead. This is no longer an isolated fight here or there, it is about ALL of Us Humans awakening to the realization that there is no savior, no ship coming down from the heavens, and no being great enough to save us all and our planet from ourselves. There is only us, each and all, every single day living and breathing upon this fragile and utterly strong planet that is our home. So what remains, on this day of Thanksgiving, is a choice: Will we continue to support fear and aggression towards each other? Or will we finally see ALL others as simply another small but powerful bit of the Whole, nothing to be afraid of, and find compassion, both for others and for ourselves?

Happy Thanksgiving to All.


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Election Eve musings

As I write this tonight, the United States presidential election is only a few short hours from being decided. By the time most of you read this post, we will know who will be taking the reins of this country’s government for the next four to eight years. This election cycle, begun by presidential hopefuls over a year ago, has been particularly painful to watch unfold. Painful for its lack of authenticity, and for the lack of any human whom could be considered a true leader to the end. It has been bitterly contentious to the extreme, and very tiresome.

Whoever wins the coveted title of Supreme Leader of the United States of America come 2017, I wish them much inner strength, fortitude and integrity for the difficult road ahead. Our country has seen bitter opposing sides on issues before, but never before have the problems that we face been so enormous and global in scope. Never before have the People of Earth been facing the possibility of world-wide catastrophe on the scale that we are now going forward into the future. The problems that we face, as Americans and as world citizens, are in fact so large and dangerous, that no one single human could possibly have the skill, courage, heart and intelligence to navigate them. So in essence, the person who next sits in the Oval office, although with considerable power, will not have the last say in regards to most of the situations they will be facing very soon.

Which leaves the rest of us, dear Readers. If you haven’t come to it quite yet, I am confident that you eventually will realize that the fate of Earth, our beloved home planet, and everything upon Her, including the humans, rests quite literally in our hands. All and each of us. Every single day, the decisions that we make, the thoughts we think, and the feelings in our hearts and souls determine what goes on in our world. This has always been true, but never more so than now. You don’t like what’s happening ‘out there’ in the world? Tired of people destroying the environment, of killing and hating one another? Tired of seeing people sleeping on the sidewalk as you pass by, like so much rubbish? Sick of animals being abused and slaughterd by the millions so humans can buy cheap hamburgers? Fed up with people lying, cheating, torturing, abusing and violating each other? The list goes on and on.

What can we do about it? First, it should be obvious to all but the most naïve, that electing yet another political pundit is NOT going to change the world for the better. That said, what can you do to change this world, to make it friendlier, cleaner, more sustainable, more safe? To reduce hatred, greed, power-grabbing, ignorance, ugliness? How can we make this world more equitable and fair for all people who live here, not just the ones with money and supposed power?

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The answers are perennial wisdom of the ages. We end hunger by feeding those who need to be fed. We end lying and greed with truth and generosity. We end war by becoming peaceful. We end disparity and smallness with equity and largess of spirit. We end hatred and fear, by finding love and peace inside ourselves, and sharing it with everyone we meet during the day. We recognize our common humanity rather than turning away in fear, shame, or disgust. We open our hearts in all the thousands of ways we can, and we embrace the simple fact that we are very fortunate to be alive, to simply breathe in air, to feel the sun. We become grateful for every single good thing in our lives, without exception.  This is how we change this world. We take full responsibility for our part in creating it, every single day. We care. We are kind.

The world will go on, without a doubt. Whether Clinton, Trump or Tinkerbell is sitting in the White House matters not nearly as much as what you, yes small, insignificant you, are thinking, feeling, and doing each day that you live. As you realize your true worth, your actual significance, and how much each and every human being matters, you will begin to grow up and become the person whom you aspire to be, no matter how old you are. It isn’t and never was, outside of you. The others are merely reflections of your soul. I am you and you are me and we really are all together, as John Lennon once wrote. We are in this together, and it is time to really, deeply understand this fact.

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So no matter who wins the presidential election on November 8th, rest assured that our work continues. Becoming truly Human is the real work of being alive. I see the Light that you are, whether you can see it or not, and I honor it.


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Late summer musings

Hello again dear Readers!  Facebook let me know that it has been 189 days since my last post, which is incorrect, but still, it feels like a good time for a post.

Joni Mitchell once wrote a popular song with the words, “everything comes and goes, like old lovers and styles of clothes.” I am feeling the truth of her words often these days, when it seems that so much of life flows along the stream of days and nights with barely a backward glance. Time has taken on a whole new dimension: certain moments feel large and profound, and many other times I can barely believe that ‘whatever it was’ happened only a short 24 hours ago. Although linear time is still a construct we collectively agree to, it feels like it is certainly going out of fashion quickly.

Summer is fading fast, as it always seems to do in late August. Some of us are sad to see it go, while others (myself included) are happy at the thought of sweater weather and cool mornings, temperate days, and the beauty of autumn. September brings new projects, school days, and a good supply of vegetable and fruit harvests to us. This summer has been the hottest ever recorded, according to global climate scientists. It has brought catastrophe and deathly heat to parts of our planet. I am extremely fortunate to live in a part of the United States that has been free from these scenarios, yet I feel deeply for those affected by floods, drought, fires and extreme temperatures.

I am in the middle of an extraordinary and important book for our times, The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know is Possible, by Charles Eisenstein. He wrote it in 2013. Eisenstein is not only a brilliant scholar, but a real humanitarian and important thinker for our present times. His words throughout this book resonate with deep chords in my soul, as he strives to explain the unique space we are collectively in at this point in history. He writes that we are essentially walking the land of the in-between: no longer is the old story of separation and power over our overriding philosophy on Earth (although there is still plenty of evidence of the old, crumbling story of civilization everywhere one looks), while the new Story of Interbeing is still being formed. He writes,

The more we share with each other this kind of knowledge, the stronger we are in it, the less alone. It needn’t depend on the denial of science, because science is undergoing parallel paradigm shifts. It needn’t endure the denial of livelihood, because from a trust in gift we find unexpected sources of sustenance. It needn’t withstand rejection by everyone around us, because more and more people are living from the new story, each in his or her own way, inducing a feeling of camaraderie. Nor is it a turning away from the world that is still mired in Separation, because from the New Story we access new and powerful ways to effect change.  (Eisenstein, 16.)

Reading Eisenstein’s book is an act of hope and of affirmation. He is wide awake to the world, where we have come from, and where we aspire to go. He is under no illusions about the difficulty of this journey. He is wonderfully honest. He acknowledges our cynicism, despair, and denial within the process. He also is a champion for vulnerability, naiveté, and courageousness. He advocates for both spirituality and activism as complementing each other. According to Eisenstein, “If everything has consciousness, then what we had believed possible, practical and realistic is far too limiting. We are on the cusp of an epochal breakthrough, coming into touch with the mind of nature. What can we achieve when we are in harmony with it?”

Dear Readers, this year has been transformative for many of us, myself included. We have worked very hard to let go of much of our old, third dimensional thinking and baggage. We have been clearing out what no longer serves us on all levels: physical, emotional, mental, soul and spirit. Many of us are coming into better alignment with the natural world, the unseen realms of nature spirits, beings from other worlds, the angelic and devic. We are growing and evolving exponentially right now, and feeling the various effects of that growth. I teeter between feeling fabulous one hour, to needing major sleep and contemplative time alone. No matter what your patterns or symptoms, the fact is that we Humans are changing, and it is not only necessary, but so very good, healthy and promising for the future.

It is easy to look at the world and become alarmed, frightened, angry, self-righteous, indignant, and generally anxious. We see before us a world that is crumbling, the dying paradigm of polarity and separation tearing apart as we watch. It is easy to get drawn into the fray, and give energy to that dying world. And yet. Even as all that is happening, there is, as Eisenstein so eloquently reminds us, a new world that is coming into being. It is not fully here yet, and yes there will surely be much more disintegration and crumbling of the old system before the new is firmly anchored. We are living through tumultuous times. These are times that call for all of the courage, grounding, sanity and resilience we can muster. If you haven’t already, make friends with your neighbors. Join a group and do some volunteering in your city or town. Grow a garden, or help in a community space. Give away everything you no longer use or need, and simplify your life. Most of all, consider the value of service. The next time someone pushes your buttons and you want to rip his or her head off, ask instead, How may I serve you?  Anger, frustration, judgement and bitterness are the old story. It is time to stop adding anymore of that old energy into the world, and instead to add your positive energy, enthusiasm, sanity and wisdom. How may you serve the new world that is wanting to grow?

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I wish everyone who may read my blog a blessed and productive, happy and peaceful autumn. I see the light and the love within each of you, and I am honored by it.

(from Amazon.com review of The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible: “God damn this is good! This version of the big story by Charles Eisenstein is one of the best I have ever heard. Charles, you are speaking for millions of us and we so know what you are saying to be true. We will absolutely tell the whole fucking world about it.”
—Brad Blanton, author of Radical Honesty)

 


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The Cruelest Holiday

There is a waning crescent moon outside my window tonight, reminding me that there is still a sliver of light within even the darkest night. Tonight is the eve of the rather ubiquitous Valentine’s day, a holiday that, more than any other which falls within the calendar year, serves to remind one of the folly and pain of love for those who are not currently in a hot relationship or happy with their partner.

Working inside my local and very mainstream American grocery store today, everywhere was decorated with products emblazoned with pink and red, while roses, chocolate covered strawberries, hearts, flowers, and every other kind of kitch imaginable to sell shoppers this holiday of love is on offer. Ugh. The whole thing made me want to run screaming away (as I do so often while working, but especially so today.) Another marketing extravaganza for the great American consumer society to lap up. And lap they do. In the cheese shop section of the store where I work, many slices of creamy, sexy (?) brie cheese were bought by couples, as well as many other delicacies for their lovemaking weekend of bliss. Now, before you, dear Readers, think I am just an old sourpuss for not thinking it is sweet or fun, please know that I understand all too well just how sensual and wonderous food and wine can be, especially in concert with other kinds of sex and romance on just such an occasion. Back to my original point, which is the pain and folly of romantic love for some of us humans walking around the planet this weekend.

For the handful of you who read this blog, a few may remember that when I started writing, I was living with my Danish love in the country of Denmark, a bit lonely for my homeland and friends, but in love nevertheless. That was back in 2012, which feels like ancient history by now. Fast forward four years, and here I am on Valentine’s day eve, with no lover to dip strawberries into whipped cream and drink champagne with, among other delights that I won’t go into but instead will leave up to your imagination. It has been a long time since I have written honestly about my personal life on this blog, since I decided that it seems more important to write about what is happening in the larger picture of Earth and humanity than my own small life and problems. But. Tonight I am indulging myself in a bit of emotional processing for my own sanity, and you are invited to either read along, or delete this blog post. Your choice, as always.

Love Day, once a year?

This evening at work, I heard a couple of co-workers’ stories in short form. One, a woman about my age and a New Yorker through and through, described her life as a series of interesting jobs, a failed marriage, leading to her life completely coming apart, a brief stay with her father in southern Florida, meeting a nice man, working with, then moving in with him, and one day about a year ago, getting on a plane with him and coming here to Denver, where they remain to this day. There was a lot in between the lines of her story that I intuited, which involved pain and suffering. Then I heard another story, by a man who started the same week as I, who told me that ten years ago he was on track to finish his degree for becoming a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant), when suddenly out of nowhere, the financial aid woman told him he’d borrowed his limit of money for school, and cut him off. He had only 4 courses to go to finish his degree. Zap, just like that, there he was with a big debt, no degree and no CNA career ahead.

I am guessing that, were I to interview others who work at that big, highly corporate grocery store, I would find many more variations of the same theme: people who have gambled with their lives and mostly lost. It is a kind of land of broken dreams that I now find myself in, and I admit that I fit right in with the other lost and broken dreamers. I too have gambled with my life and lost, many times. In fact, I could make the case that I have mostly lost everything that mattered to me at one time or other. Sometimes I get very down about this fact, and feel like a real loser in this game we call Western Contemporary Society. I see others who look like they are winners, and I feel badly in comparison. Now, some of you, dear Readers, may want to tell me to just change my attitude and raise my self esteem and everything will be just fine. Well, maybe. On the other hand, when I look around and hear fellow travelers’ stories, I have to shake my head. There are many of us who have not ‘won’ in this game we are forced to play. Very often I have only wanted to escape, and somehow find another way to live that doesn’t involve winning and success in order to be happy. I have had glimpses into these other worlds, alternative lifestyles, or ‘off-the-grid” living situations. They seem nearly ideal to me, and I have wanted to be able to stay there for the duration. But never was I able to do that, something or someone always pulled me back into mainstream life again. So here I am, summoning my will strongly each day I have to go into that job, putting a smile on and asking folks if they want to sample some cheese. I am a cheese pusher now.

Tonight before I left work, I caught the last five minutes of the Republican debate in South Carolina. I heard three of the candidate hopefuls give their last pitch to the good old conservatives of that state, to try to convince them to vote for him in the primary election. Each one of those men said very similar things, and the gist of it was as follows: “I will be the man to help get our great country back to being great again, to having its values restored of one man and one woman marriage, of having God be our authority and not the government, to getting rid of Obamacare, to abolishing the IRS (granted this is not a bad idea), to keeping our enemies afraid of us, and most of all, to once again being the most successful country in the world.” After each candidate spoke, there was a burst of applause as the audience obviously agreed and liked each man’s words. What I realized from hearing these speeches tonight, is that we are still very divided in the United States between the folks who want to keep things as they remember them being for much of their lives, and don’t like the idea of anything changing (this is obviously a very large topic), and the folks who are at the completely other end of the spectrum, like me, who are very much wanting things to change radically for the betterment of humankind, starting with better laws, much greater equality between classes, races and economic divides, more honest and progressive people making decisions for the rest of us, and of course, a lot greater protection for our environment and all the beings living here. For folks like me, the concept of “winning against our enemies” does not exist, it is about quite other issues entirely.

How can we humans possibly resolve the gaping split that divides us? How can we meet and agree upon the most pressing issues of our times, when half the population simply wants to pretend that we can keep doing business as usual, and even return to pre-catastrophic times here on planet Earth, just denying and not even being willing to see the state that the planet, the country, and many many many of the people are actually in? Just right now, on this rather depressing evening before Love Fest 2016, it is feeling slightly impossible. Then again, I recall my dear friend’s admonition to me: “We’ll do the possible today, and the Impossible tomorrow.” Tonight I can only say, We’ll see.


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Change, awe, disgust and disillusionment

(Warning: this post will be a rant, so if you are feeling light and happy and wish to stay that way, don’t bother reading this one. Thanks for your understanding, Leigh)

In the space of the past twelve hours, my emotional soulstate has run the gamut from peaceful, strong and grounded, to disappointed, bored, anxious, resentful, sad, angry, doubtful, curious, frustrated, and even nauseated, and now simply grounded and resigned. Quite a boatload for one day in the life. Are you feeling alright?

If I had a magic wand or superpowers to change this world, I would not hesitate. Everybody would be in for quite a surprise after my rework of this third dimensional world was complete. The first thing I would do, I think, is to obliterate television and all the industry that feeds it while being fed by it. What a disgusting monster it is. It works to portray the absolute basest and worst of human nature while also drawing people into its poison trap. But no, that is only a small sidebar of what I need to rant on tonight, dear Readers.

Paramahansa Yogananda, the great Indian guru who came to the United States during the early 20th century to help raise human consciousness, once said (I am paraphrasing), “This world is like a terrible horror movie. All the people sitting in the audience don’t know that it is only a movie, and so as they watch it they are believing it is real. But the best thing to do is to get to the beam. Get to the light, for it is only a play. What is Real is the light of God.” His words are absolutely true, and more important than ever.

What is real, and where is the beam in 2016? Nearly everywhere I look I see disillusionment, despair, disappointment, disaster and people trying in various ways to cope. Self medication is popular through the use of tobacco, recreational drugs and alcohol, gluttony, and caffeine. Many use electronic devices to distract. There are hundreds and thousands of ways to check out of this world for a minute or a lifetime. Yet for most of us, sooner or later we once again must come back to the basic nature of our life, and we find what? One of the great mysteries, ourselves.

It takes real audacity to live on this planet now, and to do it well, yes, superpowers. I mean this not metaphorically as much as literally. To stay sane and sober in the middle of it all takes creating some super powerful energy from within to develop ways to cope and smile and be compassionate.

Four weeks into my job as a cheese clerk at my local supermarket and I can barely stomach being there. It’s a Great American supermarket, full of just about every kind of food imaginable that’s available in this country. It’s bright, shiny, colorful and packed with foods and merchandise of every description. And it’s all on offer, every single day and night for one’s shopping convenience. All you need is money, honey.

Each shift that I work provides me with yet another opportunity to see how much food gets thrown out for the flimsiest of reasons. To be fair, my store donates a considerable amount of unsellable food to the food pantries, and so helps people to get a myriad of free groceries when they go for their allotment. But. So much more perfectly good food gets tossed into the garbage compactor or industrial compost bin even as people are sleeping on the streets of this town, cold, hungry and about as low as one can get in their station in life. Why can’t any of this food be given to the homeless?

As I am sure many of you know, Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign is gathering a lot of momentum now. Following the trail on facebook each day, it is obvious that the Occupy Wall Street movement has devoted itself to getting Bernie into the White House this autumn. He is the Everyman’s Hero, a regular guy who is honest, cannot be bought, has been playing the game of Washington politics for a very long time, and he’s rallying the troops big time. He’s calling out Wall Street and the “billionaire class” for their crimes against humanity, he’s taking names and he’s intent upon dealing with the criminals in the way that so many of us would like: throwing them the hell out of their cushy seats of power and sending them to jail with no bond. Bernie is making all kinds of promises about what he will do to right all the wrongs done to Americans by those evil billionaires when elected. And it sounds so good, and I want to believe it could happen so very much.

Then I catch myself. Our American political system is at the point of being so corrupted, so full of arrogance, greed, self-interest, blasphemy and idiocy, that I honestly do not know how it can really be fixed. It really needs a complete and real dismantling and starting over again. Ben Franklin said it: About every 200 years, governments need a revolution and a new plan. That is where we are now.

Thomas Jefferson engraving after painting by Rembrandt Peale.

Today I saw a video made by a couple of scientists who were in the Arctic in November and filmed a gigantic chunk of glacier ice calving, or splitting apart and crashing into the sea. They said the size of the piece that broke off was around the size of lower Manhattan, except the walls of ice were more than twice as high as the skyscrapers. Watching the short clip was utterly awe-inspiring. Before my eyes, the ice that has made up the top of our earth for thousands of years was deconstructing itself. I do not doubt that it won’t be too much longer before all of the Arctic has melted completely. Then our world will look considerably different than it does today.

http://www.upworthy.com/the-longest-and-probably-largest-proof-of-our-current-climate-catastrophe-ever-caught-on-camera

The buds on some of the big trees in the park near my home are getting fat. It is the last day of January, I am writing from Denver, Colorado. What we used to think was normal, for example, trees budding in late April and blooming beginning of May, is quickly becoming a history lesson for the young. So much of nature is having to adapt to new patterns of growth and decay, or else will probably not make it into the earth’s future. Animals and humans as well. I envision a future where it will be virtually impossible to tell if the creature next to you on the street or in the commuter train is natural or a human constructed android of some kind or other. The science fiction authors are closer to the truth than we can really know.

I admit it freely: this future is not one that I want to live in. Not At All. I know I am an old-fashioned person with peculiar ideas, but living on a world that no longer differentiates between what is natural (meaning not messed with by man) and what has been created in a laboratory somewhere, where no one understands much of anything about the substances they ingest, including what passes for food, and where people are so disconnected from each other and themselves that they can no longer acknowledge another’s presence, is a world that I refuse to be a part of any longer. Sorry, but the game is over for me at that point. And it seems like it is fast approaching, already here.

Send me the map, give me the plan, help me to find the way. The way out of this madness that passes for our world, our common life, and into some nice bubble world where the people are kind, where society doesn’t undermine one’s efforts to simply live in peace, and where things are still Real. Does such a place exist in time and space? I don’t know the answer to that. But I surely want to believe that it does. Over the rainbow, perhaps. On another world. Maybe in another universe even. Tonight, I am ready to have them beam me aboard.

Here’s a quote I found by Clarissa Pinkola Estes. Thanks for the encouragement! Pinkola_Estes_discouragequote

 


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Tell It Like It Is

At the start of this new year, 2016, the world is looking messier and more chaotic than ever before.

In nearly every arena, from political to economic to cultural to environmental, people are behaving badly, with cruel and barbaric actions the norm for far too many humans on Earth. How much longer will we collectively tolerate such inhumanity on this planet? Why do we keep allowing it to play out this way? What can we do to turn this boat around, if anything?

As I look around at the industrialized world (both in the larger world via various internet sites and my own small, personal world), a few things feel crystal clear. One, the vast majority of people remain committed first and foremost to their own small world of themselves, their families, friends, pets, and work. This accounts for (I am guessing) about 90% of their thoughts, feelings and actions in the world. The other 9% seems to be divided into leisure activities such as drinking and eating, sex, shopping, and entertainment. For those few humans who have 1% of their thoughts, feelings and time free, the ideas of charity, do-gooding and saving the world belong here. Hence the state of our planet currently.

Perhaps this completely unscientific analysis seems rather harsh or unfair to you, dear Readers. After all, the people who read this blog are those few and rare individuals who probably spend considerably more than the average person’s amount of time and resources on doing good in and for this world. For that, I can only simply say, Thank You. But tonight, after seeing too much news, mainstream television (about 5 minutes is too much for me), and listening to ‘regular folks’ talking during the past week at my new job (as cheesemonger for my local grocery store), this is what I have surmised: few, if any, care about anything other than themselves and their own lives.

This is not the first time I have felt discouraged about the state of humanity, obviously. But at this moment at the beginning of this new year, this knowledge saddens me more than I can express. Even the simplest actions, such as recycling metal cans or glass bottles, fails to register as even mildly possible to do for far, far too many people. Sometimes I feel pretty hopeful about the future of this planet and its humans, even contemplating the idea that one fine day we will wake up as a collective and realize that killing each other and destroying our home, Gaia, is senseless and an utter waste, and we will stop it. Then I remember. People can’t even figure out how to set a can in a recycle bin, how are they possibly going to find out how to live with each other and the planet in a non-harmful way?

My big fascination right now is following all the folks who are grassroots organizing for Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign. In the past month, thousands of people across the United States have sprung into action to help get him the Democratic nomination. It has been very inspiring for me to see what seems like many people actually rally around this humble man, as he bravely and tirelessly tells us all where it is really at in this country, and why it seriously needs changing. The word he and his followers is using is one that is at the heart of what the United States was founded upon: REVOLUTION. It is a word that some people (the ones who have had an iron grip on this country for far too long) are deathly afraid of, and will probably stop at nothing to prevent from happening. And yet:

Stop it they cannot, for the time has come, things have coalesced to the point in time and space where The People (at least some of them) are standing up and shouting, with Bernie Sanders as their leader: NO MORE BULLSHIT. WE WANT CHANGE IN OUR GOVERNMENT THIS YEAR. EQUALITY. LIBERTY. JUSTICE. INTEGRITY. HONESTY. WE WANT OUR ELECTED GOVERNMENT TO WORK FOR US, HERE AND NOW. WE ARE MAD AS HELL AND WE ARE NOT GOING TO TAKE IT ANYMORE.

SANDERS_Bostonrally

Americans are pinning their hopes on Bernie for president in this year’s election.

Words and rants similar to these were used during the American Revolutionary War. Those were also some dark and painful days in the history of the United States, and hope seemed dim against huge, nearly insurmountable odds. Yet the Americans eventually won that war against the English king and government. Some of the most beautiful words ever written were used as the foundation of the new constitution. And now, 240 years later, it is time to declare them again, just as vehemently: Give Us Liberty or Give Us Death!

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, Bernie-WEderiving their just powers from the consent of the governed, —That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.” The United States Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776

 


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Negotiating the Rapids of Our Times

Today is a holiday in the United States, a day for remembrance of those who have gone before those of us who walk the Earth now. Some remember the soldiers who fought in wars, others remember people they have loved who have passed back to the spiritual world. Remembrance is a two-edged sword; it brings up many feelings that can bring us pain and sorrow, as well as joy and warmth.

Today I walked along the river again. The water level is high, due to all the rain we have been receiving this month. It is gorgeous there now, as green as it ever gets in the prairielands of Colorado. I stood and watched the water gracefully flowing around a group of old willow trees, taking in the simple, wild beauty of nature all around me. A little ways above where I stood, there is a waterfall that flows under a foot-bicycle bridge. As has been the case for many weeks, the water was mightily and majestically falling from the higher to lower section of the river. Above it, the water was smoothly and calmly flowing, then suddenly rapids, with foam and spray and swirling, and then the river again became calm and smoothly flowing downstream to where I stood.

How do you navigate the rapids when they appear?

How do you navigate the rapids when they appear?

This spectacle seems like a perfect metaphor for our lives now! There is so much energy flowing and swirling all around us throughout the course of a day or a year, it often feels that we get caught up in the rapids and must do whatever we can to simply negotiate them until we can again find a calm place to flow. No matter who we are, our station in life, or where we happen to be standing upon Earth, there are cycles of smoothly flowing and periods of rapid change. It seems completely unavoidable.

Franz Kafka reminds us, “You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.”
( http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/f/franzkafka134853.html#E5CZPUs2jwwHbPQf.99)

Given this unavoidable conundrum, the question then becomes, How do we navigate the rapids when we arrive at them? Again, there are no simple answers for this (although some may feel they have THE answer to it), but there are certainly choices we can make that will determine the kind of experience we will have there. If we take the metaphor of the river, then it becomes clear that there are a few ways to traverse the rapids. One, if you see or know that they are coming up soon, you can try to  get to shore, and simply walk or climb alongside the rapids until you pass them and return to a calmer place to get back into the water. Two, you can make sure your life jacket is strapped on tight, take a deep breath, say a prayer, and go screaming down the rapids. Or three, you can just get out of the water before they hit, and sit on the shore indefinitely, refusing to continue. Are there other choices to navigate the waters of our life? Probably many, but you get the idea. Perhaps a key to navigation is reflection and planning ahead for what you will choose to do when the time comes. Or perhaps you are the sort of person who just takes it all as it comes, and can strategize on the fly. In any case, what we know for sure is that you will face those moments, with varying degrees of grace.

As I was watching the water falling over the rocks a few days ago, I was delighted to observe a friend on the other side. Mister Heron was standing on the edge of a large rock, watching the cascading water with his keen eyes, contemplating the fish he was sure to catch. I sat on my side of the river and watched him for a long time as he patiently watched the water, and waited. Sure enough, eventually he stretched out his neck very far and peered closely into the white water, then in one sure and quick movement, snapped his needle-like beak around a silvery fish. He stood erect and quickly swallowed the fish whole. He seemed very happy then, and after a few moments, flew up to a nearby cottonwood tree to rest and digest. Delighted for him, I stood up and clapped my hands, congratulating him on his expert fisher prowess. It was an inspiring moment.

NightHeron-763816

If I could choose what creature to be on Earth, it would surely be a heron. I have long admired these beautiful and graceful water birds, that can stand for so long, waiting so patiently for the perfect opportunity to catch their fish dinner. They are magnificent to watch flying low over rivers, and have such a spirit of grace and harmony about them. And they love to stand near white water, enjoying the rush of the spray and the force of water around them, utterly fearless. To me, the heron represents a kind of ultimate freedom while living on Earth, a creature of air and water and land: The best of all worlds.

Dear Readers, I wish you all a peaceful and happy time as you find your own ways of traversing both the calm and the rapids of your individual journeys. I honor each one of you for your contribution to the whole of humanity’s slow but sure rise in evolution. Each one of you is precious and important, and I thank you for being here. I see the Light and Love within you, and I honor it.