clearskies, bluewater

Insights, reflections and creative imaginings for our awakening world


4 Comments

Towards a year of real change for the Good

Happy new year, Dear Readers. Here we are again, standing at the precipice of what has been and what is yet to be. How are you feeling? If you are awake and breathing deeply, most likely you experience a whole gamut of emotions as we are about to embark on 2017.  2016 was one heck of a year: turbulent, uncertain, roller-coaster, full of surprises, with big doses of angst thrown in regularly. What will the new year bring to us earthlings?

Perhaps, more than ever before, we need to cultivate our imaginations. After all, the realm of imagination is one where anything can happen, where we create entire worlds, universes, and all manner of stories. We have all grown up in this world of ‘facts and reality’ that is called The Truth. We have been taught since childhood that our imaginations aren’t real, that fantasy is simply that, and often been told, quite harshly, to ‘grow up and get over it.’ But what if the greater truth is actually that what we imagine, particularly if many hold a similar imagination idea and picture, is what manifests as our common ‘reality’?  If this were true, then life could be very different for us earth walkers than the one we currently agree to be in, couldn’t it?

Dear Readers, I have written many times in this blog about the power of the imagination, and the power of Love in creating a world that is healthy, whole, and healed. A handful of those who have read these words over the past years agree with me. But when I look around at the majority of humans, I do not see this world.  Instead, I see a world that is still ruled by fear, anger, intimidation, sorrow, injustice, extreme violence, and darkness. I wonder what it will take for the majority to awaken and realize that there is another, infinitely better, more beautiful and kind world that is also right here, living parallel to the fear based one.

It is easy to be discouraged, feel small, insignificant, fearful of what may lie ahead. It is so very easy to give one’s human power away to others, to cling to the idea that you are just one tiny, powerless human being swimming in a vast ocean of humans, and that your voice, your presence, and your ideas do not matter, cannot possibly matter within the huge forces at play in this world. The majority of people seem to believe this scenario, and play it out day after day. So the world goes on, and nothing much seems to change or improve, in fact things are looking pretty bleak for the future of Earth and all of us. This is the old story, and frankly, a pretty boring one at that. Aren’t you all getting quite sick of dystopian near future worlds yet?

On the other hand, it is not so easy to stand in your nobility as a human being, to stand for strength, courage, moral high ground, integrity, dignity, compassion. These are the eternal qualities of the ones who have led humanity out of darkness since prehistory. Name your most favorite heroes, the humans who embodied qualities that spoke of divinity, of superhuman strength, of love unbound. We all know these ones, they are the saints, gods, and enlightened beings of both the ancient and modern worlds.

LightBeing-1

Our superpowers reside within us, waiting patiently for us to acknowledge and use them.

I am suggesting that it is high time, now, for the rest of us ‘ordinary’ folk to realize that we too have the very same qualities within ourselves of these our heroes and gods. That we do, in fact, receive divine help and assistance every time we ask. That the days of the old fear-based paradigm are past. That humans full of petty ego desires and maniacal schemes to rule the world and all of the people are no one to fear or even pay attention to; that by withdrawing your energy from those ones their puffed up, negatively driven speeches and threats will blow up in their faces, will be exposed for the smoke and mirror show that they truly are. We can see the Man behind the curtain so clearly now, and he is but a small, insignificant bleep on the radar screen of this world. That is, if we use our collective imagination to envisage another kind of earth, one that is held and designed with the highest moral and ethical principles kept uppermost in mind. And why, dear Readers, would we not choose to do so?

Peter Gabriel once wrote a song with the refrain, DIY. Do it yourself. Now is the time to take up this refrain in a stronger way than ever before. Our governments have failed us and will continue to do so. In 2017, let’s make a more concerted effort than ever before to Do It Ourselves: work in your neighborhoods, communities, with your local elected officials, grassroots organizing to create the new Earth. If you are already doing it, then continue and do even more. Grow your networks, create regional organizations. Lead by your good example, for many others could use your wisdom and expertise as they learn skills and hone their talents. Let the young people show the way; they have a lot of unbridled enthusiasm and energy. Teach the children what is important, real and true, and encourage their imaginations. They are the ones who will inherit this earth, and it is so very important to listen, respect and support them.

I give blessings of peace, joy and strength to everyone who reads these words. May 2017 be the year of real change towards the Good, True and Beautiful on Earth.

 

 

Advertisements


6 Comments

Can stories save us?

‘Read any good books lately?’ was one of those popular conversation starters when I was young. Certainly more interesting than making small talk about the weather, and if someone was reading a good book and felt like telling about it, the conversation would quickly become quite stimulating.

There are some who believe that in our ultra-fast, iphone-in-every-pocket society, real books and their loyal readers are quickly becoming a thing relegated to some quaint history book, but I beg to differ. Despite seemingly all efforts to the contrary, the pasttime of reading books remains popular among all sorts of people from all walks of life upon the earth. Have you ever really stopped and asked yourself why this is so?

Dear Readers, I sense you are a clever bunch, and most likely are also of the opinion that Reading Books is one of life’s great necessities, as well as pleasures. Books are one of my great weaknesses, and upon finding a used bookstore in any town, any place, I cannot help myself: I enter, and become quickly engrossed. It is the story and the poetry within books which captures my imagination; the mystery and mayhem of our lives, the common sorrows and joys which we share, our horrors, deepest fears, highest aspirations. All of life lives within the pages of our stories, all which is known and much which is yet unknown and only surmised or intuited– or imagined.

Can stories save us? I think they can, and they in fact must. I am reading a couple of books from the library right now which speak to how stories read in childhood affect one’s adult life, shape life-changing decisions, impart knowledge which can steer one in another direction entirely, inspire one to greatness. One book, called Everything I need to know I learned from a children’s book, is comprised of notable people’s vignettes concerning the one (as if there is only one!) book which, read as a child, affected their lives the most. Interestingly, many of the people said they were around ten years old when they read it. Think back for a moment to the books you read when you were about ten. What kind of books were they? What type of stories did they tell? What did you learn from them? Which ones stand out the most in your memory and why?

“Perhaps it is only in childhood that books have any deep influence on our lives… In childhood, all books are books of divination, telling us the future.” –Graham Greene

When I was ten years old, the stories I read and loved the very most were about magic. They usually involved ordinary children who by one way or another, became involved somehow with something magical. Then they usually had some type or series of adventures in which they figured out how to use the magical abilities they had stumbled upon. The overall theme was of an ordinary person finding the power to do something extraordinary. When I look back over the course of my life, I can see that I have lived in such a way as to welcome extraordinary experiences into an otherwise rather ordinary life. In other words, I have done what I could, in my own small and unique way, to create some magic in my life. For many years I went on a meandering path, one could say, sometimes wandering, sometimes very strongly directed, but always searching for what was unusual, interesting, fun, lively, new, as well as what was very old but being tried again in a new way. I have been a non-conformist to the degree that I have been safely able; never too extremely radical, yet always on the edge of society’s approval. And the stories and books I read as I made my way along were a reflection of my soul’s landscape. I can basically map out, through the books I was reading, what I was thinking and feeling about life at any particular moment in time.

Here is an anecdote by one of the notables in the Everything I need to know book, named Laura Miller. She sums up the experience of discovering the magic of books as a second grader thus:

“A teacher I idolized handed me a slim hardcover bound in grey fabric with the image of a little stag stamped on the front and said, “I think you’ll like this one.” It was her copy of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. When I returned it to her, I told her that I didn’t know there were other people who had the kind of imagination that I had. It was this book that made a reader out of me. It showed me how I could tumble through a hole in the world I knew and into another, better one, a world fresher, more brightly colored, more exhilarating, more fully felt than my own.”

Zoom to present time. As some of you may know, I am currently fascinated by Ben Okri, a writer who is difficult to pin down in a few words. He is a rare combination of poet, storyteller, prophet, clairvoyant, mystic and visionary. His books are, for me, a bit like being ten years old again and feeling that sense of wonder and possibility which live in the heart and imagination and come alive through magical storytelling. I feel he is one of the Master storytellers alive on the planet today. Now I am engrossed in his latest novel, if you can call it that, called Starbook: A magical tale of love and regeneration. And it truly is a magical and timeless tale. In the beginning of the book, he writes,

“There is an ancient saying in the village that my mother used to tell me. They say it is not who you are that makes the world respect you, but what power it is that stands behind you. It is not you that the world sees, but that power.” He then goes on to write,

“Destiny conceals strange illuminations in the suffering life visits on us. The tale of fate is entangled with mysteries. Dare one say such and such shouldn’t have happened? History is replete with monstrosities that shouldn’t have happened. But they did. And we are what we are because they did. And history’s bizarre seeding has not yet yielded all of its harvest. Who knows what events will mean in the fullness of time? … In the presence of great things glimpsed in the book of life one can only be silent and humble. The ultimate meaning of history is beyond the mortal mind.”

From my recent investigations into the world of children’s literature one thing is strikingly clear. Story after story describe people embroiled in conflict, sometimes violence, life and death struggles, and grappling with sorrow and angst. Children, though young, are not only not immune to the realities of life on earth and beyond, but actually have a need and desire to understand the painful, as well as joyful, aspects of being alive, just as adults do. This may be obvious to many of you, but as a parent who raised three daughters, for years I had an overwhelming desire to shelter those tender young offshoots of mine from any and all tragedies of this world, and did so to the extent that I could. They themselves, however, sought after stories which told them of the more difficult aspects of life, of human and animal suffering, of anguish, of courage in the face of enormous odds against the hero or heroine. A year ago in the summer, my youngest daughter, who was eleven at the time, was absorbed by the Hunger Games series of books. We spent many hours on the phone together as she told me, bit by bit, what those stories are about, and especially about the main character, the girl who becomes the heroine as she goes to those horrific games in order to save not only her own family, but her entire community. To me, the story sounded gruesome and altogether violent and not something I fancied my eleven-year-old daughter to be reading. Yet she was fascinated, because she found something deeper and of real value in the story which she was able to take into her soul.

So yes, stories can save us, by educating us as to life’s problems and pains, its cruel realities and wonderous fantasies, its sweet revenge and just desserts, its peak moments of elucidation, its tenderest and most vulnerable places. All of us, young and old and in the middle, can and do benefit from the wisdom hard won through the main characters’ toils and troubles, their overcoming catastrophes, their explorations of unknown territories, their learning to love and become ever-more humane. Stories are powerful medicine in every age, every epoch, every culture. Without stories, humanity would quickly lose its very soul, the part of us which makes us feel, understand and love life and one another. Dear Readers, I hope you who are parents or have young children in your lives, encourage the young ones to read the best books, the timeless classics as well as the contemporary. You owe it to your children to instill in them a love of literature– the future of our world depends on it.


5 Comments

Astonishing the gods– and ourselves

I have been reading, and savoring, a most amazing book, called Astonishing the Gods, by Ben Okri. It is the story of one man’s journey through worlds, in his search for truth, wisdom, and meaning. This book is highly evocative and lyrical, and can be read on many levels. Tonight I would like to share some of these pages with you, dear Readers, to inspire and nourish your souls and imagination.

Cover of "Astonishing the Gods"

What a better, more enlightened world would actually look like, one has to wonder. Ben Okri gives us his wonderful imagination’s version:

As if in a mist, he saw whole peoples rising from the depths of a great ocean, rising from forgetful waters. Then, with a fixed and mystic gaze in their eyes, he saw them walking to an island of dreams. There they began building a great city of stone, and within it mighty pyramids and universities and churches and libraries and palaces and all the new unseen wonders of the world. He saw them building a great new future in an invisible space. They built quietly for a thousand years. They built a new world of beauty and wisdom and protection and joy to compensate for their five hundred years of suffering and oblivion below the ocean.

He was filled with wonder at the great and enduring beauty of the new civilization they had built for themselves in their invisible spaces. They had built it as their sanctuary. They had built a fabulous civilization of stone and marble, of diamond and gold. They had constructed palaces of wisdom, libraries of the infinite, cathedrals of joy, courts of divine laws, streets of bliss, cupolas of nobility, pyramids of light. They had fashioned a civic society in which the highest possibilities of the inhabitants could be realized. They had invented mystery schools and rituals of illumination. They had created an educational system in which the most ordinary goal was living the fullest life, in which creativity of all spheres of endeavour was the basic alphabet, and in which the most sublime lessons possible were always learned and relearned from the unforgettable suffering which was the bedrock of their great new civilization.

He was stunned by the beauty of their eternal sculptings. Their paintings were glorious: they seemed to have reached such heights of development that the works imparted the psychic luminosity of their artistry in mysterious colours, concealed forms, and even more concealed subjects.

His guide said: “When you stop inventing reality then you see things as they really are.”
He said: “But I can’t seem to stop.” His guide said: “There is a time for inventing reality, and there is a time for being still. At the gate of every new reality you must be still, or you won’t be able to  enter properly.”
“How do I learn to be still?”
“No one can teach you such things. You have to learn for yourself.”

(a bit further on in his journey, he experiences the following:)

A delighted mood blossomed in him as he passed the glittering arcades and marketplaces where the Invisibles from all over the world came to buy and sell ideas. Here they traded in philosophies, inspirations, intuitions, prophesies, paradoxes, riddles, enigmas, visions, and dreams. Enigmas were their trinkets, philosophies their jewelleries, paradoxes their silver, clarity their measure, inspiration their gold, prophecy their language, vision their play, and dreams their standard.

At this moment, I am about halfway through Okri’s mystical, dreamy world along with his main character, who narrates his own story but has no name: perhaps he is the Universal Human, or simply, in the tradition of the best storytellers, does not need to name himself since he is the one imparting the story to us. In a sense, this story is our collective human story, told in a very beautiful and deceptively simple way. This is the kind of book that stays with the reader long after the story is told.

In light of the times and what we are collectively experiencing, no matter how your personal world is unfolding from day to day, it behooves us all to take some time, daily, to dream into our future world. Envision the kind of world you would LIKE to see, to live in, to give to the world’s future children. Imagine it at the highest possible level. It is not enough to simply say that we want a better world, one cleansed of greed, violence, and fascists of every stripe. It will serve humanity well to envision this new world as vividly as possible. What will our government be like? Our educational system, health system, living quarters, worklife, family and home life, communities? How will different cultures interact with one another in our new world? What will the natural world be like? As you can see, envisioning the new is Big Work. Of course there are many fine people in the world today who are doing just this work of envisioning the future, and I for one am indebted to them for all their efforts and striving towards the new, improved, more evolved version of humanity. A thousand years, as Okri imagines in his book, is a long time to dream into. We may not be able to dream as deftly as he, but every step we take is a step towards the light. Towards a better world.

 Related articles