Reflections

“Blessing or Curse…?”

I have a vivid imagination.  I always have.  Sometimes it is a blessing in my life.  It aids me in all things creative, including my writing.  It enables me to construct whole worlds where I can spend my time; worlds so real to me that their lessons and experiences become part of my daily growth; worlds so real to me, they are often indistinguishable from the one my body inhabits…

Which is where the curse part begins.  Because sometimes, I cannot tell the difference between them.  Sometimes my imagination conjures images and lessons that begin (and belong) “elsewhere,” but they are so vibrantly alive that they begin to take root here, in mundania, in my daily life.  But my daily self is not so well equipped to deal with them, as is my visionary self.  So trouble often follows…

Sometimes I succeed in constructing a fantasy so real to me that I begin to see signs of its manifestation in the “real” world.  But luckily (maybe) I recognize it early enough to deflect it slightly, so that it manifests completely, but for someone else…  The earlier I notice, the better able I am to cast it off, the more likely it will touch someone unknown to me.  But it often returns to me in story form, told by someone else, every detail complete and recognizable.  And sometimes, I barely catch it at all, and must watch it unfold for someone close to me.  And sometimes that is hard to do…

Not because I wish harm on someone else, either, as you might assume from what I’m writing.  It’s not that at all.  My clearest, strongest fantasies are mostly what others fantasize about – comfort, security, love, recognition, success, etc…  And yet they still bring harm to those who “benefit” from them…

I don’t know if I am actually creating these scenarios, or if I merely sense them developing, and transcribe those sensations into a story line that flows and follows.  I don’t know if the impulses that birth these stories are mine or someone else’s.  I don’t know if I am truly casting them off to taint an Other’s journey, or if I merely release them in time to witness to whom they really belong.  And I don’t know if the “consequences” of such success stories are inherent in the stories themselves, or a reflection of my unwillingness to claim them…

What I do know, is that I have recently crossed paths with Others who are “living the Dream” I wanted for myself.  Different versions for different folks, but the details of each are telling.  And yet…

And yet, not one of them seems truly happy or content…

Was I wrong about the things I value?  Are they not the kinds of things that could bring happiness and contentment to me?  Or are they not working out because of some other, unforeseen, reason?

Is it prophecy or manipulation I’m experiencing now?  It’s hard to tell with all that has been happening.  Now that we’ve begun to see the levers and gears that operate behind the curtain of what we call reality.  Now that Time itself has become quite malleable…

What I also know is that this process, which used to work so well for me, no longer serves me, and I have yet to find a replacement.  I used to seek refuge in my fantasies, when the mundane world became too much.  I used to try out different possibilities there, before acting them out myself.  But now…

But now…  I’m never sure which thoughts will play out in the world around me.  Now, when I seek these other realms to explore what options I might have, I find my steps faltering, just as I cross that line…  Now I practice a rigid, impulsive self-control that stops such thoughts before they fully form.  Just in case, you know…

And it feels silly, really, to worry about such things.  I mean, who does that, anyway?  Why concern my self with what has not yet happened, when so much truly is happening now?  And why care if it manifests, especially if it’s happening to someone else?  Especially if it’s a “good” dream I’m making now?

I cannot be responsible for how an’Other lives.  I cannot be responsible for how they use these gifts.  I am not raining curses down upon them, so I have nothing to feel guilty about; all that I have wished for me, and (maybe) cast upon them, is for success, prosperity, comfort, and hope…

And yet the smell of burning flesh still haunts me, and follows me around…

Everywhere.  Every time.  Every day.  My senses reel under its omnipresence.  A memory, or prescience?  Damning either way.  And I am left outside my comfort zone, wondering yet again…

A blessing or a curse…?

 

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Poetry, Reflections

“The Glass Prison…”

Trapped in a prison of glass…

Free to see…

Free to feel…

But unable to touch those outside.

Watching as they self-destruct,

dragging along as many Others

as each can touch…

Only windows here,

but no doors I can find.

Bearing witness to the fury that consumes…

Nothing more.

Or less.

There are airholes high above me,

allowing me to breathe.

The stench of death and rotten things

nearly suffocating me…

“It’s only glass!,” you point out,

your tone a measured mix of disdain and disgust.

“If you feel trapped by it, you can only blame yourself!”

“True,” I think, knowing you are right.

“But if the only weapons I have are my hands, and feet and head…

“If I can only turn within this space, but not take a single step…

“Then how do I escape without also destroying my Self?”

And do I really want to?

***

Standing in a sanctuary made of glass…

Free to see…

Free to feel…

But unable to be touched by those outside.

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Poetry, Reflections

“The Small Death…”

I am a tree

shedding golden leaves

one at a time

and then a multiplicity.

Standing stark and naked now

vulnerable

in the light of a full moon.

My glory laid about my roots

a blanket made of pieces.

Each leaf fallen but a memory

yet still a promise

of what might one day be…

Grieve not for me, my friends,

for this is just the “small” death.

And I shall live again, in spring

with the sun

reborn like the phoenix…

And take up a new mantle

revealing a truer Me…

 

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Reflections, Visions

“Field of Grass – A Partial Vision…”

The following represents what I believe to be a partial vision.  It began last night as I drove home from work, and continues to replay every time I stop moving for a minute or two.  I call it “partial” because it feels incomplete, but it has not yet progressed beyond this scene…

I share it now because it is coming this morning with greater frequency and clarity, containing just the seed of urgency that often accompanies such visions.  I do not yet know, or even suspect, its meaning, nor am I particularly inclined to look too hard for it.  I suspect it is only a partial anyway, so any attempt to “decode” it will be like trying to learn vocabulary words out of context…

Unless…  Unless “partial” itself is the essence of its context, possessing multiple meanings itself.  Hmm…

So…

I am walking in a field of tall grasses that grow as far as I can see,  like a green/brown ocean all around me.  The tips are dancing in a gentle breeze, creating waves upon this earthy sea…

To my left is a forest, all hazy and dark, a living presence I only acknowledge as I pass…

I am walking toward a setting or rising sun, though I have no sense of time to tell me which it is, for it appears only as a burning red disc behind a shelf of tall clouds.  All of the sky reflects that red, blending it seamlessly with oranges, and pinks, and hints of blue…

I am at peace.  And yet poignantly aware of the blurred outlines distorting everything I see.  It occurs to me it must be very hot or humid today, since the very air I breathe is sparkling with waves of heat, and water vapor…

I reach out my arms to either side, trailing my hands through the tall grasses, eager to feel their softness tickling my skin.  And it is then that I notice I’m not feeling anything…

I cannot feel the grass on my hands.  I do not feel the breeze that is playing with it.  I sense none of the sunlight upon my exposed skin…  In fact, I feel no-thing!

Startled, I come awake, wondering why this is?  I realize it is not peace that has been filling me, but an emptiness so full of nothing that I feel completely satisfied.  But now that I am aware, I know I have no physical needs, for I am neither cold nor hot, hungry nor thirsty; I am, but I am no-thing…

Confused, I ask myself, “Am I dreaming now?…  Or am I dead?”

***

And that, my friends, is as far as I have been able to travel down this road…

 

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Essay, Reflections

On Sickness and Health…

Today I want to talk about health and healing.  I want to talk about sickness and disease.  I want to talk about living and dying.  And to do that, I want to briefly tell the stories of two very dear friends of mine…

On the one hand is M.  A non-smoker for probably 30 years or so, she nonetheless contracted lung cancer.  Being among the 98% of us, she did not have access to cutting edge, experimental cancer treatments that target only cancer cells, and so had to settle for traditional chemo and radiation treatments, which made her feel a lot sicker.  But she was a fighter, kept an incredibly positive outlook most of the time, and relied on faith, prayer and strength of will to see her through the process.

And she defeated the cancer three times!

But then one day, feeling off, she returned to the doctors to find her “numbers were off.”  After running diagnostic tests, they determined she was having, or might have a heart attack, so they put in a stint to prevent it.  She developed sepsis (a systemic infection), which the doctors eventually got under control.  But while in hospital, she also contracted pneumonia.  The antibiotics they gave her did not touch it, because, as the doctors said, her immune system was so compromised by the cancer treatments, that she couldn’t fight off the infection.

The decision was made to not pursue any other treatment, and two days later, she died.  From pneumonia, though all official claims were that she died from “complications arising from the cancer.”  Though certainly we all understand it was complications from the treatment of said cancer, as the cancer was gone…

When I tell that story, people nod their understanding, almost everyone I know having known someone who experienced the same tale.  We accept that; it’s “how it is,” however sad that might be…

Then there is R.  She has died, or nearly died multiple times, yet she keeps coming back.  And she continues to smoke occasionally.  Most recently, she went off in an ambulance believing she was having another heart attack (she also has a stint in place from a former attack).  Turns out, according to xrays and countless other expensive diagnostic equipment, that she had a collapsed lung instead, though the doctors could not say for certain why.  They thought she had pneumonia, and so treated her for that.  They also discovered a mass in her lung they thought cancerous…

Three days later they released her from the hospital with a boatload of medications, the most important of which (that is, the one that would allow her to breathe with only one lung functioning) was not covered by her excellent insurance for some reason.  They put her on oxygen 24/7, and set up further testing and follow-up to address the likely lung cancer.  That was on Sunday.

She struggled, reeling from the diagnosis, and the reality she might be on oxygen for the rest of her life.  She tried to stay mentally positive, but accepted she was physically helpless, unable to really care for herself.  She started considering end of life options.  She relied on others to “do” for her what she felt unable to do herself…

Tuesday she met with her primary doctor, discussing potential treatment options for the cancer, should it be confirmed as such.  Wednesday she had a follow-up xray in preparation for the scope and biopsy tests which would follow.  Thursday morning she told me something was terribly wrong; even with the oxygen, she couldn’t catch her breath.  She couldn’t decide if she should wait until her scheduled appointment at the hospital later that day, or call an ambulance to go in sooner.  She decided to wait…

When the doctor showed her the xray taken Wednesday, compared to the one taken when she’d first come in by ambulance, he was thrilled to tell her she was completely healed!  The lung was reinflated, the mass/spots on her lung were gone, and there was no pneumonia present.  He called it “spontaneous healing,” to which she responded, “we call it the power of prayer.”

These two women were only about 5 years apart in age.  Both dealt with cancer, heart attack, stint, and pneumonia.  Each dealt with it her own way; one fighting to the bitter end, one giving up with hardly a whimper.  Yet one died while the other lived.  These two cases intrigue me both in their similarities and in their differences.  I sense something for me to learn by looking at them side by side, since both women were important friends of mine, though neither knew the other…

My own experiences with the health care system have left me less than impressed.  I am appalled at their inability to diagnose even simple conditions, in spite of thousands of $’s spent on expensive equipment and tests.  My last encounter with them was in 2008-2009.  Almost two years of my life, and countless money wasted to get absolutely nowhere fast.  In summary, I went to the ER in 2008 when a stomach ache I’d had for weeks became unbearable.  Here’s what I was told:

  • Several doctors argued outside my ER cubicle over who should have the right to treat me first, as there were so many things wrong, requiring different specialists.
  • The surgeon told me I should already be dead, and likely soon would be, because he kept getting overridden in subsequent discussions.
  • I was released after 5 days, and a huge hospital bill with no medication, and a referral to my primary doctor.
  • I was able to work a day and a half, before I was back in the hospital for emergency surgery.  It was too late, as the damage was done.  I had peritonitis from a burst cyst.
  • I required 6 weeks for recovery from surgery that should only require 10 days.  When I informed my surgeon that green goop was leaking from my incisions, I was told that wasn’t right, but it could wait a few more days until my appointment.
  • When I told my endocrinologist, who happened to be director of a local diabetes clinic, that my pancreas was still inflamed, I was told that wasn’t his area of expertise.  For those who might not know, the pancreas is part of the endocrine system, and the primary producer of insulin in the body.  For this specialist to say it wasn’t his area of expertise was an insult to my intelligence, the medical profession, and his patients.  But when I fired him, no other endocrinologist would take up my case, claiming I was a difficult patient.
  • When the joint problems started, and the eye disease, and the medication they wanted to prescribe exacerbated other ongoing conditions, I was told I needed to get another job!  That was my prescription…

Needless to say, I haven’t been back since, and I am often criticized for that.  I am told that we must address the actual sicknesses within our bodies if we are to heal.  And that may be so.  But here’s my point:

My friend M acted as though she was well, because the doctors told her so, when the truth was that their treatments had made her very sick instead.  Meanwhile R acted sick even after she was healed, because the doctors told her so.  And today M is dead and R is trying to make peace with all she cannot do anymore.  And the doctors helped them how?

I have been wrestling with an earache for a couple days now; no doubt a simple infection.  But I refuse to seek treatment knowing that my earache will only give them permission to start labelling all my other health issues.  And I do not want to know.  I really don’t care these days about living forever; I would much rather die in peace.  And if I am truly as “sick” as doctors would have me believe, then sooner is likelier than later.

But I reason I can push my body, push myself, to live what time I have.  And when I cannot push it any farther, then my body itself will let me know.  So far that has not occurred, though it amazes me that I continue day after day, in spite of everything.

I’m sure the “proper” path winds somewhere between these three extremes, but moderation has never been my strong suit.  And today, anyway, I continue to breathe…

Though I might just shove a screwdriver in my ear if the buzzing and the pressure don’t relent soon!  😉

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Stories...

“Ascension…”

The following is a parable I wrote to memorialize a dear friend who passed this week.  She was an avid supporter of my writing, encouraging me to embrace my voice anew last year when I started this blog.  She was also one of my most persistent “encouragers” to finish the story “Nemesis,” messaging me every once in a while to remind me how eagerly she waited for its resumption.  I regret that I did not complete it before she died, though I suspect she will be reading it over my shoulder as I write it, should I ever pick it up again…

I was asked by her daughter to speak at her service tomorrow, and I struggled with what memories most needed to be shared.  It was then that I decided to write this story.  I could not imagine a more fitting way to honor our friendship and what she meant to me, than to write her her own story.  

Perhaps I will read this tomorrow at her funeral.  Any thoughts or comments?

***     ***     ***

“Ascension…”

Once upon a time…  A girl child was born.  She was birthed into a world devoid of color and light, and her heart grew heavy because of it.  A dense fog enveloped her village at all times, stealing all the colors away, leaving only shades of grey to consider.

Disappointed with this world she knew, she turned to the villagers and asked: “where are all the colors in this world?  They must be around somewhere…”

“No, child,” she was told.  “There are no colors here.  Best accept it like we have.”

“But…  What about beyond our village?,” she persisted.  “Are there colors out there?”

“No, child,” the villagers responded.  “Everything beyond our village is the same.  Best settle down and accept your place among us…”

But the little girl was not satisfied with that response.  She wanted more.  She wanted light, and color, and fun!  “One day,” she promised herself, “I will leave this place.  And when I do, I will search the whole world until I find the colors I imagine!”

So it was that when she came of age, the young woman left the place of her birth and set out to explore the world.  Armed with nothing but stubbornness and a conviction built on dreams, she stepped outside her village for the first time…

Initially, she was disappointed to discover that the villagers were right; everything outside her home was cast by the fog into the same drab shades of grey.  But unable to accept she might be wrong, she pushed onward, still convinced there must be something more enjoyable to see, somewhere…

She had many adventures as she wandered the world beyond, but none led her where she wanted to be.  Finally, exhausted and disheartened, she sat down upon the cold, damp earth and cried.  She cried until there were no tears left within her.  She cried until there were no ambitions left within her.  And when all was silent and empty within, she surrendered completely, accepting her failure…

But in that very moment, a miracle occurred, when a single shaft of sunlight broke through the perpetual fog, and lit the area around her.  She might have missed it in her grief had there not been a tiny pebble beside her that caught the sun’s light and reflected it in a spectrum of color.  So startled was she by that flash of light and color, that she hardly noticed the warmth flooding her heart, filling the emptiness within.  But that warmth was enough to get her on her feet again, and moving forward, armed this time with a tiny pebble she would name Faith…

And so her journey continued, day after day, step after step…

Until one day she noticed, by the tiredness in her limbs and the shortness of her breath, that the ground had begun to rise.  Eagerly now, she moved on, certain at least of the direction she must travel – up…

She clambered and climbed.  Some days were easier than others.  Some were nearly impossible to bear.  The slope shifted between gentle and steady, to steep and impassible.  But she faced every obstacle.  She continued to grow.  And when she lost her footing and slid back down the slope a ways, she would rest, take out her pebble Faith, and renew her commitment to this journey…

Until one day she became aware that the fog was less dense here, and the light somewhat brighter.  She rushed on, convinced that something remarkable lie just ahead!  And so it did…

For without warning, or prelude, or commentary at all, the woman broke through the last wisps of fog, to find herself standing near the apex of a mountain.  And here the sun was shining brightly!  She turned around to see where she had come from, and realized she had been born in a deep valley, steeped in clouds, and hidden from the world above.

But here on the mountain top the trees and grass were green…  So many shades of green, she could not begin to name them all, though she certainly tried, laughing all the while.  The rocks were shades of brown and grey, but there was not a dull or drab one to be found, as they all sparkled in the sun.  The sky was a blue so vivid that it simply took her breath away….

Mesmerized by the color and light surrounding her, the woman sighed deeply, releasing all of the doubt, frustration and disappointments her life had been riddled with.  And by doing so, her heart became light at last, light enough that she drifted up off the mountain, spreading newfound wings to catch the gentle breeze.  And allowing the Joy to carry her away, she set off to explore what lay beyond this hidden valley…

And as she drifted off, a small pebble fell down upon the earth, to settle neatly beside so many other sparkling rocks; a testimonial for all who followed, marking this moment, this life, this beautiful soul…

Rest in peace, Marsha…

 

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