clearskies, bluewater

Insights, reflections and creative imaginings for our awakening world


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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.

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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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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.

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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.

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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.


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We are so connected

For the past 48 plus hours, I, along with many thousands of others across the world, have been reading of and seeing through the internet, the plight of those affected by Saturday morning’s devastating earthquake in Nepal. As I am sure you are all aware, it is an utter emergency situation, with many suffering humans and not nearly enough able-bodied ones to help them.

Gazing at the photos and reading the news stories today, my heart grew larger and heavier with compassion for these people. In an instant, their already fragile and overburdened world toppled, crumbled and was destroyed, leaving thousands dead and thousands more without electricity, no way to communicate outside of their immediate surroundings, no way to cook what food they do have, very little in the way of medical supplies and many are too afraid to sleep inside their homes for fear of another quake killing them and their loved ones.

Echoes of Japan’s tsunami in March of 2011 conjured in my mind and heart, as I vividly recall being glued to the internet and watching that catastrophe unfold over many days. Now, as then, we watch helplessly as many humans suffer in another part of the world. Nepal is halfway across the planet from where I sit and write this tonight, yet they are close because we are so connected. For a long time, many years in fact, I heard these words and although I knew they were true, I could not really feel their truth. But now that has all changed, and as I have been laying in bed for many hours during the past three days, wondering what is wrong with me and why I can hardly move or even get up to eat, I finally understand. Some of us have reached a level of consciousness now that no longer allows us to ignore when others are suffering, whether we wish to or not. My empathic capacities seem to have reached an all-time high, and part of my soul is there with the Nepali people–crying, grieving and in pain, in utter solidarity with their plight.

Nepal Earthquake

A day or so ago, I read a blog post by a woman I have followed for the past three years. She has written volumes about humanity’s ascension to higher dimensions, and a lot of what she has written had a lot of wisdom and what felt like truth in it. The post I read was her impressions of the perhaps ‘higher’ perspective of this earthquake, where she pointed out things like ‘the male-dominated culture of the world was for eons of time centered in this part of the world, and it is symbolic destroying of this old system,’ etc etc….whether or not any of that is the case seems to me to be utterly beside the point.

The degree of dispassion in her writing was not only disappointing, but in fact angered me quite a lot. How can a person who claims to be so enlightened and evolved write about people’s suffering in such a callous and unfeeling manner? I simply do not understand it.

This point brings up the larger picture of the current state of our human world: its serious lack of compassion generally. True, many people on earth today are genuinely concerned for the welfare of their family, friends, maybe even neighbors and co-workers. Perhaps they belong to a church or other community organization and give to it in various ways that shows they care. But what about people who are perceived as strangers, foreigners, or even worse, enemies of one kind or another? How many earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunamis, droughts, floods and other major disasters will it take before the collective that is US, ALL of US HUMANS, wake up to this obvious fact: WE ARE SO CONNECTED TO ONE ANOTHER. What happens in Nepal affects everyone else on the planet, whether we realize it or not. And that is just the human world. What about Nature?

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A destroyed temple in Kathmandu after the April 25 earthquake.

Dear Readers, I can well imagine that for most of you who read my blog, I am singing to the proverbial choir. You already know all of this, right? And yet. This seems to me to be the crux, the heart of what is so desperately needing to change upon our earth: the illusion that we are somehow separate from each other and everything else. This lie has been so insidiously pervasive, so cleverly buried within our psyches over the course of myriad lifetimes, that most of us simply cannot see our way out of it and understand that it is a lie. Again I return to the story of the hundredth monkey: at first, only one little monkey and it’s monkey child changed their behavior. Then a few more, and then even more…. and then, suddenly one day they ALL changed.

I believe this is the metamorphosis we are currently experiencing, right now in this time, right here on this planet we call home. Sure we can point to those few absurdly privileged humans who seem to own and control nearly all the planet’s wealth and have all the power in their grubby little hands, and say  “They are at fault!!” And in a way it is certainly true. Yet, when we do this, we give our own power over to them. Yes they have billions of dollars, and have bought every person, place and thing possible in order to keep their bottom lines flowing…. but We The People have something they do not yet have, nor understand: The Power of US. Together, as ONE people, we are seven billion strong, and if you multiply that times the power of LOVE, which is Infinity, well folks, that is an unbeatable power.

Here is a power that is stronger than we might realize.

Here is a power that is stronger than we might realize.

So you see, the fact that I have been unable to get out of bed since the earthquake began affecting me actually makes a lot of sense. And my act of sending as much love, compassion and healing light to those suffering in Nepal tonight also does a lot of good. Words from an old song I love:

We can change…yes we can change…the world
Rearrange…rearrange the world
It’s dying…if you believe in justice
It’s dying…and if you believe in freedom
It’s dying…let a man live his own life
It’s dying…rules and regulations who needs them
Open up the door

(song Chicago by Crosby, Stills and Nash)

Related:  http://indianexpress.com/article/world/neighbours/nepal-earthquake-toll-over-4350-nepal-pm-says-rescue-ops-not-effective/


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Relics, artifacts and books

A new phenomenon has arrived on street corners here and there in the United States and England. You may have seen small, sometimes cleverly decorated boxes, much like an old-fashioned postbox, with a sign offering “Free Books, take one or leave one.” When I first discovered these in England last summer, I was sincerely charmed. What a gracious, lovely idea, to freely share books among the populace. By now, however, I have realized a darker (more sinister?) side to this free book giveaway.

Are book giveaways as innocent as they seem?

Are book giveaways as innocent as they seem?

Perhaps it is obvious to some of you already, dear Readers, that one probable reason for all these free book giveaways is, there are simply millions of books floating around in the hemisphere, and not enough people reading them. Books are starting to enter the classification of relics, artifacts from a time fast disappearing, when people loved and enjoyed them, carried them around, re-read them, passed them on to family and friends.

The age of technology has its merits and its drawbacks. In an extraordinarily short span of human time, computers have entrenched themselves in our collective psyche like a virus infecting a body, deeply and somehow irreversibly. The powers-that-make-technology in our world are working hard to make sure that everyone alive is signed up on the plan. That means every man, woman and child, no matter how young or old, is to be inextricably hooked into the beast of technology forever more. They are pushing to make sure babies are weaned from the breast to the computer screen, that no hand goes without a computerized phone-internet-camera-toaster-oven-what-have-you device, and the list just goes on ad infinitum and ad nauseam.

The death of bound books is nearly inevitable in our lifetimes, I lament. Not only is it a sad commentary on the state of our society, but just a sad thought altogether. When all the written words are available only on virtual screens or in your eyeglasses or whatever, how will that affect us as a people; our thinking, our motor skills, our ideas about life? The implications are truly enormous if one ponders them. What will become of libraries, our esteemed repository of the worlds’ wisdom, literature and knowledge? What will become of us?

The digital age we find ourselves in today has vast implications for our world. One of the most maddening is the inevitable loss of sensory perception and basic motor skills. Young children who most need to develop these skills as their bodies are growing and changing the most are at risk of not learning them, and that affects their brain development and basically their whole physiognomy. Using a keyboard or touch screen does not do the same job for developing bodies and minds as making sure a child can pick up a pencil or scissors and use them effectively. I shudder to think of how tomorrow’s children will manage in the physical world of which they are still a part. What will humans do when they have lost the ability to use their hands, their fingers, their bodies?

Will children in the future still know how to read bound books?

Will children in the future still know how to read bound books?

The world is changing so fast right now, society itself is spinning ever faster on its axis. I am watching it happen, even as I am turning into a relic of the past, along with bound books and dead philosophers. I admit that I do not wish to live in a world without books, sensory stimulus, physicality. I was born into physicality and I will remain within it for the rest of this lifetime. Probably I sound hideously old-fashioned, like those parents who frowned disapprovingly upon early rock and roll music and its proponents. And yet. This new technology age is profoundly disturbing. It seems we have been sold a bill of goods, yet what have we really purchased– if not the death of our souls?


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A sense of entitlement in an age of need

(Note: Dear Readers, as I looked for an image or quote for this post, I found out that the word ‘entitlement” is fraught with conservative political opinions that I admittedly do NOT share.  Therefore, this post has been a mini education in itself!  please feel free to share your opinions with me, and apologies if this word gave you a different impression than what I meant to say.–Leigh)

When I was young, in the 1960’s and 70’s, my family, and those of my friends and schoolmates, were solidly middle-class Americans. This meant that nobody in my little world ever experienced poverty, homelessness, or lack of necessities. Ever. As a child and adolescent, I was sheltered from knowledge of such things by my loving parents, who thought they were doing the right thing by protecting me from the sad truths of this world. They themselves, along with most of their generation, had grown up during the Depression and experienced Life Without. Being the good, kind and loving people they were, they (being my dad) worked hard every day of his life to provide plenty of the Good Life for his family, and he succeeded. We had Plenty of Everything.

It was therefore mysterious, and disturbing, to my family that as soon as I could possibly manage it, I left home and plunged myself into poverty. I won’t bore you with the long details of my life, dear Readers, but suffice to say, I have never been as well off as an adult as I was as a child. It was as though I somehow, unconsciously, understood that I had been entitled to good education and a clean, orderly and financially stable life without ever knowing why or having a clue as to how lucky I was.

After plunging myself willingly into poverty at the age of seventeen, I began to learn about the other side of life on planet earth. The hard way. Over the course of the next thirty years, I received a fairly comprehensive education about the school of hard knocks, and what life is like when one is not living under the illusion of entitlement.

Now it is 2014, and I find myself living again in Denver, Colorado, ironically enough. Fortunately I am not in the suburbs where I grew up, but in the heart of the city. I have written about what it is like to be here and the people whom I meet and see each day. Obviously, there are many classes of people living in this metropolis of nearly three million, from the richest to the very poorest. My current part-time work is as a reading tutor for some kids at an inner city school. Today I attended a meeting at this school, where the principal and his colleagues spoke about what it is like to teach there. 60% of the students are “English language learners,” meaning that English is their second language and more likely than not, not spoken much at home. This school contains mostly working class families, and many are at or below the poverty line. Through the meeting, I found out that the single biggest challenge the teachers face is concerning parental involvement in their children’s education. As the principal said, many of the parents themselves had a hard time in school, didn’t like it, didn’t do well, perhaps did not finish their education, and they pass those values (or lack thereof) onto their children.

What is a sense of entitlement, and where does it come from? Many of you might have quick, short answers to these questions, and to some degree, you would be correct. And yet. What are we humans really entitled to in this world? Is it having a basic human right to something, like clean air to breathe, clean water to drink? Or does it go deeper, into our constitutional rights to free speech, to the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness? Or does it have more to do with fundamental rights to a good education, a clean and warm home, loving family and friends, healthy and plentiful food to eat, etc?

Or does entitlement have more to do with the idea of not having to work or struggle for what you receive in life, in having things handed to you simply because you are alive and born into a particular family or societal strata, and think that you deserve and have the right to all of it and way more? Perhaps in the way of landed families of old, that the younger generations inherited the wealth and land from their forefathers from antiquity, giving hardly a thought to the poor who had no inheritance, who simply had the privilege of being able to work on the lord’s land, and had nothing in the end to show or pass onto their own children.

Tonight I am simply pondering these questions, dear Readers. My idealistic self would like to change the structure of society towards a more equitable direction, so that it is not only the rich white kids in the suburbs (or the private and charter schools) who receive the best education, but somehow create a society that everyone can thrive in, become truly educated and contribute their gifts to the whole. Where the concept of entitlement becomes something for all people, involving health on all levels, both personally and socially. Dear intelligent friends and readers, your thoughts please!

Related articles
http://privilegeofparenting.com/2009/11/25/the-secret-pain-of-the-entitled-child/


8 Comments

The thin rope between emotional states

Balancing between the old life and the new is big work, dear Readers. I don’t know how many of you are feeling somewhat the same, but if you are, I have total empathy for you. There are several things I could choose to write about this evening, as my life now is full of so many impressions and thoughts and ideas within the course of a day. But tonight I find myself wavering yet again, even as I am walking along that dangerously thin rope bridge which hangs so high above the vast, bottomless abyss of the unknown below me.

Denmark pulls at my heartstrings again tonight, calling me to remember moments there when I was happy, when Danish was in my ears, all around me, and even though it nearly constantly frustrated me with its difficult intonation and impossible pronunciation, I grew to love it in some strange sort of love-hate-love relationship. Three years and more of living in any foreign country has got to rub off on a person, after all, and those Danes got under my skin in a particularly fond way, I admit. I miss my friends there, and the kids that I taught at the little school. Of course you all know that I miss that man who remains there,even as I am now thousands of miles away on another continent. The other night I wrote that I was ‘way beyond self-help books by now,’ — well, I guess that was not entirely the truth.

What I meant by saying that is, that reading books and hearing phrases and even listening to others telling the ways to overcome one’s neuroses and issues and stuckness is all well and good, but until I take the words and make them my own reality and truth, they remain just nice words on the page.

walking_alone_by_pix_cel-d4pky45In other words, I can tell myself that Today is a New Day! Be in the present moment, don’t live in the past or the future. Be mindful. Remember to breathe. Let go of the past. Focus on what I want now for my life. Go beyond the little me, embrace the Divine Me! And so on and so forth, til the cows come home. But. What I am learning, every single day, in a hundred small ways, and a few big ones, is that I simply HAVE to honor where I am at NOW: in Each Moment of my life. Some moments I am really so fine, smiling, embracing the divine me, walking along, even singing a tune for no particular reason other than I feel glad. And then, at other moments, some trigger will get tripped, and the next thing I know, I am in pieces again. This is not the same as wallowing in self-pity for long periods of time, or anything like that. Perhaps I am finally comprehending the Buddhist exhortation to simply Be what you are Now. Whatever that is. If you feel angry, Be the anger. If you feel sad, Be the sadness. Don’t push away the emotions as they rise up, instead allow them to come, feel them completely, and then let them dissipate again. I am finding that this is the most useful method for dealing with all these emotional states I find myself in. Those old masters definitely knew their stuff.

Recently I read a highly enjoyable and wise novel, called The Humans, by Matt Haig. It is the story of a being from a faraway planet, which is based purely on mathematics and logic, who comes to Earth to fulfill a certain mission. This book is screamingly funny, and also poignant and very, well, human. Haig is a master at showing ourselves our human frailties and absurdities. One thing that has stuck with me from it, is that he (the otherworldly being) makes the observation that on Earth, everything is apparently a Test of one kind or another. The being cannot go anywhere or do anything or meet anyone, without being tested in some strange way. I really am in agreement with him about this. In some very real ways, Life on Earth truly is a whole series of tests and quizzes, designed to see if a person can jump through enough hoops and perform enough tricks well enough to ‘pass’ and so go on to the next level. Kind of like one of those computer games that are so popular, where the player must go through all sorts of dangers and enemies, in order to proceed to the next level. Trouble is, we really have no idea what actually exists on the next level, although it is a good bet there will be more of the same, only even trickier, once we get there.What a tiring game this thing called human existence is, all too often.

I watched a fascinating Youtube video the other night, by a man named Matt Kahn. Regardless of what you might think of him, he certainly made some salient points about human nature and the reason for being alive. At one point, he told the audience, so calmly and clearly, that our lives are really all about learning How To Live. That we actually do not really know how to live, and so we are here to learn how to do it. I have pondered this statement, and I agree with him. Our overall mission here is to learn How to Live as a human being. After so many lifetimes, you would think that we would have figured it out by now. But no. For I believe that if we had, life would not be nearly so difficult. Or confusing. Or painful. Or would it?

Related:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3kSnt5n4ADw  (the Divine Plan by Matt Kahn, worth watching!)


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Turning despair into amazement

“But there will come a time, you’ll see, with no more tears. And love will not break your heart, but dismiss your fears. Get over your hill and see what you find there, with grace in your heart and flowers in your hair.” –Mumford and Sons

These days, the dinner hour is the cruelest time of day. On the fortunate days when I happen to be with others (read my sweet family members), then preparing, serving and eating dinner is alright, it is really fine. But on those other days when I find myself alone and faced with cooking and eating dinner with only me for company, that is when those lonesome blues sneak around, filling the cracks and crevices of my soul with an unshakable melancholy. After years of cooking dinner for two each evening, and then sitting down to feast after feast, served with candlelight and wine, my new habit of cooking and eating alone, sometimes with a book and othertimes just me and the plate, is the nightly reminder of my newly acquired single status. Quite frankly, I do not enjoy it.

Just in the past couple of days, I have begun to feel a little hopeful again. After plummeting to the very depths during the twelve holy nights of Christmas, this week brings me some glimmerings of possibilities, of a future that could be filled with meaning, where I am living for a larger purpose and making a positive difference in others’ lives. I can nearly see this future me, happily busy at the work of creating good here in the place I find myself now. Perhaps there is hope for me yet, a small voice quietly tells me, where I can serve others in positive ways, where my voice and my actions will actually improve lives and consequently the world. Where I matter. Where I help a suffering humanity in the ways that I can, that I invent and am inspired to create. A future where self-centeredness gives way to working for the Greater Good. Where I can finally realize my long-held dreams of doing something for the world.

Mary Oliver once wrote that when death comes, she wants to be able to say that all her life she was a bride married to amazement. I think she always knew that she had it in her to do amazing, incredible things with her life, and so she went ahead and did them, through poetry and teaching and observing life and nature. For me, she embodies a life well lived, a beautiful marriage of giving oneself to the world and at the same time, making sure she always had enough time for herself, for solitude and contemplation. She has had the great fortune of a grace-filled life. She can rest in the knowledge that through her efforts, she has touched and inspired millions of people across the world. In my own humble way, I would love to be able to say, at the end of my life, that I too have been a bride married to amazement. That I too did something artistic and wonderful and giving which made a difference to others’ lives. That people grew for having known me, that they found a creative part of themselves which they hadn’t quite been able to access before. That knowing me inspired them in some way, and made their lives richer than it would have otherwise been. I don’t think this is purely an ego-desire on my part, but rather a sincere desire to share my gifts, to fulfill the purpose I was born to fulfill. I have spent the vast majority of my life not having much of a clue of what I was put on this earth to do. Finally, at mid-life, past my prime, my physical self going to the other side of that hill we all must eventually descend, I am beginning to see, starting to know why I am here, and what it is that I wish to do with my remaining time.

It is not difficult to waste one’s life on trivialities and petty dramas. People do it all the time. We humans are masters of making mountains out of molehills, and conversely, denying and covering up our actual pain and suffering so that we don’t have to deal with them. We are all grappling with being in these human forms, and the difficulties of embodiment on earth at this time. We are all aware of the consequences of this life: addictions, violence, separation, depression, suicide, dissolution, despair, desperation. What can we do, how can we deal with our anxieties and fears?

life-quotes-inspirational-life-quotes-appreciate-life

Everybody has a story to tell here. The biggest favor we can do for each other is to listen to another tell their story. Not with judgment or condemnation, but simply for the fact that they will heal by telling it, eventually. Many of us love to read stories, whether fiction or factual matters not. We love certain characters in a novel, play or movie because he seems all too familiar, because we see ourselves in her. My story is a little bit yours too. Okay, now I don’t feel quite so alone out here on the high seas of life. Your story has given me a lifeline, something I can hold onto, a way to help me get back to shore. When I am feeling low and alone, and like no one else in the universe cares or remembers that I exist, when eating alone the tenth night in a row is making me feel completely miserable, or when the demons come in the middle of night and attack me with their punishing thoughts, what can I do? Give in, lay down in a puddle on the floor and want to end it all? No. I will not give into fear and thoughts of hopelessness. Somehow I must find strength within myself to climb out of the hole, to hold on until the morning, to find hope that I will again one day be cooking for two or twenty. Because I am not only doing this work for myself, but for every other lonely and afraid human out there also. My struggle, my battle with the darkness of my soul is everyone’s battle. The single most important work that any of us can do now, is to embrace the love and light within ourselves, while acknowledging the darkness and pain there too, and work to find all the ways, big and small, to shine it upon the world. Every single day.

By now, I am way beyond self-help books and pep talks (even though I sometimes still read and listen to them.) Life is about more than that, and is much, much more complex. Good advice is all well and good, but the times are calling for something far deeper and greater. Our world needs compassion like never before. It can be the smallest gesture, a smile or a friendly greeting to another human as we walk down the street. It can also be simply noticing others, from people to the birds in the tree above your head. Every gesture counts. Every thought also.

I am working on marrying amazement now. When I learn how to truly love what is in my own heart, it will automatically free me to love everyone and everything else which appears to be outside of me. The illusion is that there is any separation. I love you.


5 Comments

Singing to the choir, crying in the wilderness

Hello again dear Readers. Today’s post is my personal rant on ‘things as they stand now,’ concerning the world and people’s consciousness. Make of it what you will. Or skip it if you are in a really upbeat mood.

Shortly said, I am pretty discouraged and disgusted about now. For all that I read about humanity’s collective ascension into a higher consciousness (i.e., 5th dimensionality and beyond), as I look out upon the world at large, to be honest, I see only a small fraction of folk who are even interested in raising themselves higher than basic survival, higher than hero and villain, us and them, fear and fearlessness.

Politics aside, I will take a small but significant example: popular literature, especially geared for younger readers. Today I received an email from Amazon, with their ‘best picks of 2013 so far” list I randomly selected a few to find out what they considered “best.” Here is one of their choices, The Fifth Wave  by Rick Yancey.

“After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.
Now, it’s the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth’s last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie’s only hope for rescuing her brother–or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.”

The reviewers wrote,

Yancey’s heartfelt, violent, paranoid epic, filled with big heroics and bigger surprises, is part War of the Worlds, part Starship Troopers, part Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and part The Stand . . a sure thing for reviewers and readers alike.”

“Breathtakingly fast-paced and original, The 5th Wave is a reading tsunami that grabs hold and won’t let go. A postapocalyptic alien invasion story with a smart, vulnerable heroine.”

 (note: as I was posting this blog, there were 10 different blog posts about this novel, so far. ahem….)

Vulnerable heroines are all well and fine, but what gets to me about this kind of fiction is the push to sell novels on the recommendation that it is a ‘violent and paranoid postapocalyptic alien invasion story.’ I suppose I am a naïve human in many ways, but it is truly beyond me as to what is charming about envisioning this kind of world to live in. Are people really so bored with their regular lives that they feel the need to fill their free time with visions of horror, violence, greed, and fascist supremacist dictators controlling the poor, wretched last humans to survive on the wasted earth? I mean, is that really fun reading? If yes, I want to understand WHY.

Today was my last day with my class of Danish 8th graders before the summer holidays begin. At the request of one of them, we watched the film The Hunger Games together. For those of you who don’t know the story, it takes place in a not-too-distant future where the United States had an uprising, and the result was that it became split into twelve districts. The rebellion was squashed, and as a kind of punishment (forever more, apparently) there are yearly ‘games’ held with one teenager from each district, in a survival of the fittest style, where they kill one another until there is one sole survivor, who ‘wins.’ Yeah, nice story line. To me it was a strange, surrealistic combination of The Olympics, Roman gladiator games and reality TV show with a futuristic slant. Yes, it had good suspense, and it held their attention. The question for me is, why do the kids accept these super-depressing futuristic world stories so easily, and enjoy watching people finding clever ways to kill each other, while working to survive themselves? We talked a little about the film after they watched it. None of them seemed very affected by it, and it was obvious that none felt it could ever be real.

big+brother+watching+you

When I was in high school, one of the novels that was required reading in English literature class was, of course, 1984 by George Orwell. I remember that I did not enjoy reading that book, and how depressing was the world he had created. We joked with each other, even then, that ‘Big Brother is watching YOU!” Well, Orwell might have gotten the date wrong, but not the premise. The latest news bomb about the United States’ NSA spying on, well, anyone and everyone, brings it home very clearly. It makes a good case for ‘creating one’s own reality’ in a mass consciousness way. It is not a very far leap to the next level of this, where the earth becomes a real apocalyptic atrocity. Again I ask you all, WHY would the collective humanity WANT to create this kind of a reality? I am not speaking about the evil cabal, those shadowy rulers who are behind the scenes, running the show. No, I am referring to ALL of us, all those who are spending their cash on this form of ‘entertainment’ and thereby perpetuating it. Don’t people understand that the law of creation is pretty simple: you get what you focus on. Focus on death, destruction, fascist dictatorships, death games long enough, and presto: our brave new world.

No thanks. Dear Readers, those of you who have followed my blog and thoughts and heart for some time now know that I would like to live in a world that is the polar opposite of an apocalyptic hell, and have tried in various ways, to bring you all stories of hope, upliftment and inspiration. But today, I feel I am just singing to the choir. To the handful of you who faithfully read these words, I am very grateful for your virtual friendship and especially for your agreement that we must not give up our efforts to build a world based on Peace, Love, Beauty, Truth, Goodness and Freedom. I will always believe in these as the goal of humanity, until my dying breath. But taking a realistic look around, I can also see that we seem to be not much more than a candle in the wind at this point in time.

Why can't the 'others' be benevolent and good, instead of malicious and evil?

Why can’t the ‘others’ be benevolent and good, instead of malicious and evil?

As to the whole question of Aliens, I simply ask, why must it only be entertaining or interesting to imagine that they exist as malevolent creatures bent on our destruction? When actually, the total opposite is much more likely to be the truth: that there are Beings from other worlds who are utterly and benignly helping us lowly humans to wake up and find out who we actually are: beings of light and love, just like they are, and capable of miracles far greater than we can conceive of at this moment in our evolution. And what if, instead of being afraid and ready to use all of our puny human-made weapons to destroy them once they arrive to our world, we welcomed them with open arms, and felt glad that someone had come to help us out of this self-created mess of a world we now find ourselves in…. why won’t someone write a best-selling novel about that for a change? Why does fear sell so many books and movies and games, instead of love? Dear Readers, have you any theories about this phenomenon? Your ideas are always welcome here.

Related articles

http://www.malaysian-ghost-research.org/paranormal-library-and-references/articles/unlocking-the-mystery-of-parallel-universes.html#.Ucmnv9j_GVo