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.

wordshavepower

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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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.


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Beyond unbelievably bad news for Earth

It is nearly the middle of the year 2015. In fact, today’s number date, written in European style, is 15-05-15. An auspicious date. In a telling year, in the early years of the 21st century, planet Earth.

The news across the world is bad. There seems to be no other way to express it: the news is bad and getting worse by the day. For anyone who is even vaguely following the reports about the environment, things really seem to be going from one unbelievably bad idea to the next. Today I read this article, regarding plans for a giganticly huge coal mining operation to begin in Queensland, Australia in 2017. The article, which ran in the Guardian, states,

“Massive mining operations are looking to plunder a gigantic new coal frontier in the Galilee Basin. There are 247,000 sq km (95,400 sq miles) of coal: a land mass the size of Britain….if the complex is fully developed, greenhouse gas emissions from the burned coal would top 700m tonnes a year, bringing irreversible climate change ever closer.

Were the Galilee Basin a country, it would be the seventh largest contributor of carbon dioxide in the world, just behind Germany.

“”This level of mining would devastate this land beyond recognition. It would destroy any sense of connection to the land. We are afraid of being wiped out completely.” Adrian Burragubba (http://www.theguardian.com/environment/ng-interactive/2015/may/15/carbon-bomb-australia-the-new-coal-frontier)

And this story is just the latest in a huge series of connected stories from around the planet; connected in their common denominator of yet more, huger, uglier and more devastating environmental pillage. The Obama administration approved Shell Oil’s plans to drill for oil in the Arctic this summer, with utter disregard for the hundreds of thousands, if not millions of human beings’ absolute opposition to this atrocity. Tonight I barely have words to describe the degree of incredulousness I feel regarding what is happening to our precious home, Earth. It is inconceivable that human beings living here could be so very eager and willing to destroy our planet. Completely. The amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, once these plans by the fossil fuel companies are in full swing, will simply destroy life on Earth, and probably sooner than later.

 

How can we, The People of Earth, allow this to happen? I ask myself this question frequently. And yet. Looking around me on any given day, anywhere that people are gathered, (say on the bus or at the botanic gardens or walking downtown, or sitting in a restaurant, or…) I get the distinct impression that the vast majority of humans in modern, urban society simply do not really even consider what is actually happening to their world, nor, sadly, do most of them care enough to do most anything to stop it. Many people more eloquent than me have written extensively on this subject, and the reasons why people seemingly do not care. This is from a short article from The Guardian, where the writer states,

“They seem to think there is some critical mass that, through the weight of belief alone, will get us where we want to go. As if when the numbers aren’t high enough, we can’t achieve anything. As if when the numbers are high enough, beautiful transformation will magically happen all by itself or people will vote for wonderful politicians who do the right thing. Too many of us seem far too fond of narratives of our powerlessness, maybe because powerlessness lets us off the hook. As we head into that most dismal of situations, another unbearably long electoral cycle, many who care about climate change will say that we need an elected official who will represent us or a great majority who agree with us. But we don’t need everyone on board; we don’t need one magic person in office; we need ourselves. To act.” –Rebecca Solnit, http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/may/15/one-magical-politician-wont-stop-climate-change-its-up-us?CMP=share_btn_fb
Act-Now-Guardian-15may2015

I remember distinctly how I felt after I watched, with horror and fascination, Al Gore’s movie An Inconvenient Truth in the movie theatre years ago. The movie ended, and all of us in the audience filed out silently, in shock and awe at what we had just seen: Gore had essentially spelled out for all of us non-scientist citizens, what would be occuring during the years ahead if we stayed collectively asleep and did nothing to stop global warming. That was in 2007. Now it is eight years later, and it is coming to pass. Sadly, most of us are still doing very little or less to affect any positive change, i.e., raising our voices as often and loudly as possible to anyone and everyone who might hear.

Honestly, I just feel so incredibly SAD about the fact that the humans of the not-very-distant future (people like our children and their children) are going to have problems we cannot even fathom, to deal with on a daily basis. Right now we are shaking our heads at the crazy weather this spring, or feeling sorry for the people of Nepal….. then getting into our gasoline-burning cars and forgetting about it. People think they are just one little person, and their actions don’t matter so much to the whole…. but that is the whole point!!! Each little individual person, combined into a city, a region, a state, a country, adds up exponentially into a power, a HUGE power for good, positive change, or else for stagnation, decay, entropy and eventually destruction. The choice is ALWAYS ours, each one of us, every minute of every day. Not choosing to change or to speak up or to act is also a choice, it’s a choice to condemn the Earth to devastation.

Guilty-of-complicity

Dear Readers, I know you are each just one small human in a huge ocean of billiions of humans. But you matter, your voice matters, what you think about in a day MATTERS, and especially who you talk to and what you talk about, matters. We can choose to deliberately and consciously think about what is actually going on in our world, learn as much as possible so we are educated on the issues, and then speak about these things with people we know and people we don’t yet know, thereby educating them. Sometimes I fantasize about standing up in the middle of the commuter bus in the morning, and just yelling, “Hey, Denver!! Wake Up!! Do you know that Shell Oil is about to ruin the most pristine and fragile place on Earth this summer? And here’s why you should care.” I would probably get carted off to the city jail if I were to become so bold. But the way things are going, that may not be such a bad thing in the long run.

 


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Our lives are not our own

“This world spins from the same unseen forces that twist our hearts.” –Robert Frobisher, Cloud Atlas

It is once again the time of balance, at this Spring equinox. For a brief moment, the world seems to hover between day and night, dark and light, seen and unseen, known and unknown. We can only have glimpses into who we really are, so much greater than we can perceive through these small, fragile and often faulty bodies that house our souls. What is a human soul, if not a storehouse of experiences, emotions, ideas, memories, dreams and desires? We do not know our own immensity, our true divinity, nor our potential for harm or for good in the past, present and future. We are born, live and die to our flesh and blood countless times, for what end? Can any of us living on earth now give a definitive answer to the perennial questions that persist in our hearts and minds?

At this time of equinox, of balance, I once again ponder these thoughts. My life feels bigger, more enhanced these days. It is as if I am seeing through a larger, clearer lens, one that provides brighter colors and sharper intensity than before. Throughout the course of day and night I find myself running various film clips through my mind’s screen: from being a child to teenager, from standing in a forest somewhere in another country to walking with my children when they were no more than toddlers, to being in another world somewhere with people I do not know in this life. I often feel these days that I am walking through a waking dream more than anything I used to call reality. In point of fact, I no longer feel at all sure as to what constitutes ‘reality.’ And am realizing that I never knew what it was, I only believed that I did. As the lines between dreams and waking, this life and the former and the next continue to blur and the veil grows ever thinner, less and less of this matrix that passes for our real world seems real at all. We have all had collective amnesia for so long that most of us truly do not understand that all we see and experience around us is of the illusion, so powerfully do we believe in it.

During the past month, I have watched two films that I waited to see until I felt truly ready to experience them: The first Matrix movie, and Cloud Atlas. If you have seen them, you understand why they impacted me so deeply. If you haven’t, all I can really tell you is, these films deal with the human condition in profound ways, and touch nerves deep in the human psyche, heart and soul.

Your life can’t be measured in hours, you can’t measure the immeasurable. Your life is pure energy. You are endless, timeless. Every birth, every death is just a transaction of life forces. You are vast, you are the vastness of space. You are the beauty, you are the unknown.” Anita Krizzan

Mylifeextendsfarbeyondthelimitsofme
Dear Readers, this world we are living in has become extraordinarily difficult for me to take. Everywhere, it seems, is in a kind of chaos– extreme polarization, environmental catastrophe, political upheaval, social disasters of every description, global weather off all former records and charts, and insanity seems to be running the show. And, as many of us who read such posts already guess, things are bound to get even more so for the foreseeable future. The problems mankind faces are by now so vast and feel so unstoppable, they are a runaway train with no driver, heading straight for the cliffs of oblivion. There are good reasons why films like the ones I mentioned, along with myriad others, depict an apocalyptic world run by those who have enslaved and genetically changed human beings: because we know and understand on some level that this is precisely what IS happening to humanity, right now, today. The food we eat, the beverages we drink, the air we breathe, the jobs so many of us have, what we do for entertainment and relief from the relentlessness of this world, all of it has by now been tampered with, manipulated, artificially created and very deliberately designed to keep the human species at a very low level of consciousness, basically in a sort of sleepwalking state. It has been this way for many years by now, but only in more recent ones have some of us been waking up to the awful truth.

For a long time (years, really) I was unable to see or to admit that humanity is being controlled. I guess you could say I had been taking the blue pill that makes one forget about what is really happening. Now that I have awakened from that amnesiatic state, I can never return. Nor can anyone who awakens, which I realize is the whole point. Perhaps if enough of us awaken, we can begin to turn the train around and set it on another track before it goes over the edge into the abyss. It is a truly frightening thought that we humans have the power to destroy our planet to the point of utter desolation. Yet we not only have that power, but through our collective ignorance and denial, we are doing it. What will it be like in California once there is no water there for the people to freely use? Once the Megacities are in full swing, ten or twenty times larger than they are now? Once many coastal regions are underwater? Once the Arctic ice is completely gone? I do not have answers for any of this, I only know that it will be a very different world to live in than at this moment.

“Belief, like fear or love, is a force to be understood as we understand the theory of relativity, and principles of uncertainty. Phenomena that determine the course of our lives. Yesterday, my life was headed in one direction. Today, it is headed in another. Yesterday, I believe I would never have done what I did today. These forces that often remake time and space, they can shape and alter who we imagine ourselves to be, begin long before we are born, and continue after we perish. Our lives and our choices, like quantum trajectories, are understood moment to moment, at each point of intersection, each encounter, suggest a new potential direction.” Isaac Sachs, Cloud Atlas

I used to believe that my life and my little problems and dramas mattered more than anything else. When you are in the middle of it, of course they do matter, terribly much. And yet. These days I am taking a higher perspective, as I realize more profoundly that it is not just my life anymore, and it never was. It is OUR life, our collective life as humanity upon Earth, that truly matters. If I go down, you go with me. If you perish, I too will die. We can no longer afford the illusion of separation under which we have been living for so very long. We are ONE body, ONE heart, ONE being, we are connected in ways we cannot fathom nor understand with our limited human capacities. It is only by growing new capacities, by evolving into greater beings than we have let ourselves be, that we will gain this understanding of the truth. It is a truth that has been taught by the Wise Ones of all eras and cultures, nothing new. Yet it is needed now in our times like never before. Love is the Great Truth and Reality. It is the only thing that actually matters, that gives meaning and purpose to our lives. The evidence of what a loveless world is like is all around us. The time for a world based on Love is NOW.

Ourlivesarenotourown


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Inquiry into the nature of pain

Hello again dear Readers. It has been some time since I have written a post here. Following is a partial reason why. Among all of the things Life has handed me lately, I have a fractured fifth metacarpal on my right hand. Translated, this means I am wearing a splint and bandage that covers my right hand and forearm. I still have use of three fingers, while my left, non-dominant hand has had to take over the reigns of doing the work of living. Shortly said, this situation sucks. It leaves me frequently tired and needing a lot of rest.

Being a curious sort of person, I have spent quite a bit of time inquiring into this situation from various perspectives. My mind has asked, “why me? Why now? What is the reason for this happening to me now, effectively stopping me in my tracks from the path I was on?” and on a bad day, the questions take on a more whiny tone, more like, “what the fuck?” Well, you can imagine.

Even heroes get the blues sometimes

Even heroes get the blues sometimes

Being mostly an existentialist nowadays, I realize that the significance of this unfortunate turn of events has the significance I assign it. Various things come to mind: I needed time for contemplating my new life path; there is something fabulous right around the bend, which I may have missed entirely had I kept going the direction I was headed; or perhaps it is yet another big life lesson in empathy and walking in another’s’ moccasins. Had I not broken my pinky finger, how would I know how difficult people have it when they cannot perform simple functions like opening a jar, a door, or tying their shoes? We able-bodied humans absolutely take for granted our manual dexterity and the ease with which we can do all those tasks we learned in early childhood. Now I realize just how tough it is when those capacities are suddenly taken away: Poof. Gone.

could be worse, I guess...

could be worse, I guess…

The pain body is a tough one. Chronic (or acute, for that matter) pain is such a crippling thing, shutting down one’s pleasure, will and desire for most things. Life becomes much smaller, closer, and time seems to drag to nearly a halt. These past weeks have been some of the longest I can recall. It seems there is so much I wish I could do and can barely manage, or not even. Cooking, one of my greatest loves, has shriveled in importance, along with my appetite. Keeping my personal space tidy has gone way down on the priority list, even showering has become less frequent. The amount of aches and pains around and in this body has grown exponentially. I feel suddenly quite old, and it is reflected in the mirror.

Dear Readers, I have no doubt that many of you can relate to what I am writing, and have been through similar situations. I have yet to find out how much longer I will have to keep the splint on my hand, how many more weeks I will be handicapped and unable to function normally. After the splint is off, there will be some period of strengthening and readjustment. Perhaps even some therapy. I feel like the sports player who is benched for the season, and frankly, just as unhappy about it. Now is the season for gardening, which I was looking forward to since wintertime. How unfair life is sometimes!

I realize I sound like a small child, complaining. I admit I have never been good at just ‘bucking up and taking it,” and suffering in silence. So this is also a lesson in maturity-through-adversity. On the positive side, I am learning to be ambidextrous, even cutting vegetables with my left hand. That hand, through perpetual disuse, is inelegant, clumsy, reminiscent of a three-year-old’s attempts with knife and fork. This time is also a biggie in learning Patience. I have to be patient with myself, and kind. I have no choice.

And finally, I am learning that sometimes one just has no control over what happens to them. What we always have, though, is the choice as to how we handle it. I have the opportunity, many times a day, to choose how to react to my hand being incapacitated. When I find myself really down in the mouth about it all, I recall my friend Mokasiya’s words: I can have all my feelings about it, and then I can make another choice. Slowly I am learning that he is absolutely right.


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Pushing through phantom walls of rock

You be the master: make yourself fierce, break in:
then your great transforming will happen to me,
and my great grief cry will happen to you. —
Rainer Maria Rilke

Talk about pushing through what feels like solid rock. On this blustery Saint Patrick’s day, the winds of change are blowing through my soul and I feel like roaring. To all the demons whirling round my head, laughing, jeering, pointing out all the faults, imperfections, and reasons why things are supposedly impossible and cannot be done: I roar, as loudly as I can, FUCK YOU!! (apologies for offending some of my more sensitive readers.) There are simply no other words that seem quite as appropriate at this moment, dear Readers. It takes the strongest energy embodied in those oh-so-american words to send those mocking brutes back from whence they came. Anger, today. It takes anger.

What weapons do you use to fight these guys?

What weapons do you use to fight these guys?

My demons have been more than just brutal, they have been full of guile and subtle trickery. All this winter I have been fighting in the shadowlands of the psyche, sometimes in full armour, sometimes with tatters and bare feet, but I have been fighting. I don’t even know how many days I have wanted to raise the white flag and beg them to stop this cruel and unfair attack. I try to understand why they so wish to destroy me, why won’t they just let me be. It does not matter why, what matters most is simply that I prevail, not them. This is an existential battle of the soul, dear Readers, of epic proportions. The humans embody all their various roles, but the play is one of cosmic proportions.

On the street today, I passed a man whom I have spoken with before. He sells a newspaper, The Voice, that deals with homelessness and its manifestations in Denver. When I asked him how it was going, he shook his head. ‘Don’t ask me that today, man,” he replied. “Today is a terrible day.” Then he went on with his rant for awhile, how it was just one bad news after another. Then he threw down his phone, then his jacket and his papers, and just said, “I am just tired of it. All of it. I can’t do it anymore.” I looked at him, then told him, “I know just how you feel. But the sun is still shining on us. Tomorrow will be a better day, we have to keep believing that.” But he just shook his head. It was an existential moment and I knew exactly how he felt.

When life squeezes you so hard that you feel you don’t have any juice left, that you are as dried up and sour as an old used up lemon that someone forgot to throw in the garbage, what then? How do we make any sense out of any of this senselessness? How can I infuse my life with meaning when I am on my knees from the struggle of existence? Over the weekend I went to a catholic mass on Saturday evening. It was in a beautiful old church where the Holy Mother reigns supreme. There was not a sculpture of Jesus suffering on the cross at the pinnacle of the altar, but a large, beautiful statue of Mother Mary, Queen of Heaven. I am not a catholic, yet I adore the Divine Feminine, which Mary embodies. The priest gave a powerful sermon in his royal purple robe, reminding us that as long as we are living for ‘me and me alone, or me and mine” we are not living in the spirit of Christ. To live in and for Christ means to give of ourselves in the most loving ways we know how, not in words only, but every day from our deepest hearts. He basically called us on our bullshit in a really direct way.

It takes the right weapon to wield inner power.

It takes the right weapon to wield inner power.

Salvation and redemption are not one-time deals. They are not just Christian concepts. The work of saving one’s soul, of redeeming one’s faults and failures and being made new in the sight of God or Creator of the Continuum or the Void or whatever terms you want to put on it, is the work of humanity now. IT is our collective work. If I fall and no one comes to pick me up off the ground, we all stay down. If I see someone hurt and fallen, and I do nothing to help save that person, we all lose. Your salvation is my salvation. We are all in this ride together, aren’t we?

A very real part of this ride is to call people out on their crap, just as the priest did at Saturday’s mass. Someone who meant a lot to me gave me some crap today, and I called them on it. I did become angry because their words hurt me. I let them know it. Just as those who love me will tell me when I have hurt them, so I can know it. We have to know when we are falling short, or else we cannot change and do better. Anger is sometimes the medicine we need, the fire that lights up the psyche so we can pick up the sword and battle anew. I know I am not done fighting my demons, as much as I would like to be. But as long as I stay passively stuck in fear, incapacitated and unable to push through it, they keep winning. Rilke demands of his god, Break in! Come into my stuck place between rock and rock and feel what it is like. Then your transforming will happen to me. Then my grief cry will happen to you. Then we will become one, human and God, united being. And that, I believe, is the whole point.


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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/