Reflections

Fight, Flight or Surrender…? (Or a Whole New “Level” of Empathy?)

I’m sitting here this morning, experiencing…  something.  Knowing words (even my vast and deep aquaintance-ship with them) will fail to adequately capture, yet compelled to express what I can…  Restless.  Unable to sit still long enough to seek comfort in meditation or other focused activities.  Too grounded in “what is” to escape, too flighty to “act” in any coherent or productive manner, too lost to feel secure, too beaten down to want to try, and yet…

And yet “I” still exist – empowered, connected, secure in my Self, certain of my ability to navigate and survive.  Questioning, but not truly seeking answers, for the rhetorical seems to suffice.  For behind the experience of everyday living is the echoing timbre, the consistent, measured heartbeat of single, simple words…  What?  Why?  Where?  Who?  When?  But not one of them sticks around long enough for a reply to form.  It’s as if the answers themselves are pointless, and the questions a habit carried over from some other time…

I used to play a game at times like these (I started very young, my earliest memories of it around three years of age).  I would sit quietly on the sidelines of life and watch others, then “make up” stories about their lives, based on what I “felt” when I looked at them.  The stories took on more nuance and advanced plots as I aged, but the process was always the same.  I would mostly never know if my “stories” reflected any truth about the people I observed, but the process itself helped me fine tune both my ability to identify and name feelings, and my understanding of people, relationships, and life in general.  It also taught me a great deal about compassion, about putting myself in someone else’s shoes, about real “needs” versus stated “wants,” and about my self, as every such experience was tainted by my own expectations and desires…

Over the past few weeks, I have delved deeper into my emotional cauldron than I have in recent years; there has not been the option of skating across the surface of things, simply naming, ruminating, and letting go.  I find myself immersed, drowning, yet easily able to breathe when the panic subsides.  I have known a rage so real (my own, no less), that the “beast” within me quivers with the need to lash out and devour all within range – friend, foe and stranger indistinguishable in the red haze.  I find myself commiserating with those who act out in seemingly senseless acts of violence, wishing that I, too, could find some relief that way.  But I cannot separate myself enough from the victims of such acts to make such an outcry possible for me…

I have felt so completely defeated that I wished for nothing more than to curl up in a ball and cease to exist in this present time and place.  But I cannot “give up” on my Self, or abandon those others with whom I have so deeply bonded (people, animals, and trees alike)…

So I walk through each day, head spinning, feet stumbling forward, simply trying to acknowledge each new wave or experience as it happens, reeling from the onslaught of sensory and emotional data.  Shielding does not appeal to me, as dulling the experience does not nullify it or erase it; it merely minimizes its intellectual impact, driving my thoughts ever further from my feelings about life.  Such distancing is not true detachment, after all, just a dilution of the poison that will allow me to “suffer” longer…

A few days ago my 17 month old granddaughter visited me in my dreams, just as we were both awakening.  She stood there as her baby self (not the spirit self with whom I have so far interacted), and babbled baby talk at me.  When I acknowledged her by name, and asked if she had come to visit Grandma Lisa, she smiled.  I told her I loved her, and she giggled.  And when I mentioned I needed to wake up, and waved good-bye to her, she waved back…

I found this encounter significant for a couple reasons.  One, it was the first time she projected into my dreams, and she did so as her current, chosen form; that seemed huge to me, that she now has such a strongly developed sense of self.  Two, it seems to take our bond to a whole new level.  If she is expressing such an ability in dreamwalking, at this age, I can only feel excitement about where it might lead…

Yesterday I attended a kids Halloween party with my daughter and grandchildren.  It was noisy, chaotic… frantic almost, as if the need to “celebrate” something, anything had long since overwhelmed the significance of form; it didn’t matter why we were all there, just that we were.  My granddaughter appeared shell-shocked through most of it, her usual curiosity and fearlessness swamped by the immensity of the experience.  I could relate, and yet I found myself eager to engage.

We wandered around, aimlessly, while my grandson played, and I found the “stories” seeking me, rather than the other way around.  I saw smiles and laughter, intense enjoyment, plastered on faces beneath vacant eyes, as though the masks on everyday faces had long since lost touch with the reality of individual lives.  I saw surprise, and glimpses of presence, when I reached out to acknowledge individual beings, complimenting costumes, praising performances, or thanking them for being there.  That first moment of shock in those vacant eyes when they realized I was speaking to them was… I don’t know…  heartwarming and heartbreaking, all at the same time…

There was a young boy who no doubt practiced for weeks to get on that stage and sing for a crowd that never even looked his way.  He and his father walked away dejectedly from the stage.  When I caught up to them to shake the boy’s hand, and tell him I thought his performance was amazing and to thank him for performing, neither he nor his father knew how to respond…

Then there was the man I was suspicious of.  No reason, no overt acts that appeared irregular, inappropriate, or threatening, and still…  I actually warned my daughter to be aware of him.  I found myself stalking his presence through the crowd.  I even had my daughter pose for a picture so I could capture his image in the background, just in case…  In case of what?  I have no idea.  But my feelings were real.  And whenever my eyes crossed paths with him, I felt this tension, this certainty that a breaking point was near, and that certainty triggered fear…  More than once he locked eyes with me, and though I “felt” calm, nonjudgmental peace toward him, I could not deny the desperation that shone back at me.  His eyes were not vacant, and he was clearly in pain…

A friend recently suggested that perhaps this is just the way things are now.  The past is no longer an adequate map for navigating the present, because its rules no longer apply.  The future can no longer guide us because our goals cannot align with the way things are developing; it is too unpredictable, unstable and unstoppable to shift.  There is only now – fight or flight in each moment, and radical “surrender” to what is, forfeiting all hope of wants being met, and most cases of need…

But I cannot help but wonder if this is all just a reflection of a whole new level of empathy…  Which would actually represent “progress” would it not?

Hmm…

 

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self-discovery, Stories..., Visions

The Embrace…

I am walking down a forest path, at peace, contemplating all that has been happening near me.  Something moves in front of me, though what it is at first eludes me.  Gradually my eyes focus enough to “discover” a being hiding in the gloom behind a tree…

I stop walking, not wanting to intrude on or frighten this stranger before me…

“It’s ok,” I softly say.  “I’m not here to harm you or disturb you in any way.  I’m just passing through…  Would you mind if I passed by, or would you prefer me to turn around and leave?  After all, you were here first, weren’t you?”  I smile to reinforce my words…

The being leans forward a bit, looking up and down the path.  I see now its humanoid form.  I notice also its wariness, its vigilence.  I sense no fear coming from the being, just profound awareness, and caution…  And strength, unlike anything I have encountered before!  This being is in its element, and knows it; if anyone should be afraid, it should be me…

But I am not afraid…

I wait, patiently, wondering if (and how) this being may communicate with me.  After several minutes, the sense of threat, of possible dire consequence, begins to fade.  The being checks the path once more, before stepping out to face me…

At first I am bewildered by what I see, questioning if it’s a trick of light, or some sort of mirrored shield being held up in front of me; for standing on the path ahead is a younger, darker version of me.  She is cloaked and hooded in forest greens, well camouflaged in this environment.  Her posture is alert, but relaxed, raw power emanating from every pore of her being.  She simply looks at me, expectantly, waiting for my reaction…

It is then I realize it is my Shadow facing me, the one who’s call has been leading me for days.  And slowly, the odd dynamics of our current status begin revealing themselves to me…

For clearly, she has the power for now; her strength, purpose, presence are palpable.  But I am in control; my consciousness must decide what happens next…  I stand there, rooted like the trees surrounding me, held in this timeless moment by the sense of import, the sheer significance of this encounter!  Finally, I take a small, almost involuntary, stumbling step forward.  She stands straighter, somehow creating a less threatening posture in spite of growing taller…

“May I approach?,” I think to ask, falling back on familiar civilities, while seeking to convey respect.

She nods, but says nothing…

I approach slowly, soaking up every detail, mesmerized by all I see…  “You are truly magnificent!,” I breathe aloud as I get close enough to truly see her.  And she is!  All the things that I am not – confident, secure, balanced – and so, so, so much more; I have difficulty grasping that she is me, given how different we appear.

“I have been looking for you,” I explain to her.  “Everywhere.  In the forests mostly, but also in the lakes and oceans, in the sunlight that warms my skin, and the moonlight that guides my dreams.  I have searched for you in my sanctuary spaces, and travelled to the crossroads hoping to encounter you.  I have even dipped into the river of time seeking just a moment with you…”

“I have been waiting for you,” she finally speaks.  “And now you have come…”

I chuckle nervously, unsure about what to do next, so I ask…  “Now what?  We have met.  What happens next?”

“That’s up to you,” she softly answers.  I am captivated by her calm, her lack of urgency, anxiety, or need…  “What do you want?,” she whispers…

Echoes of that question reverberate in my mind, remembering other places, other times this question was asked of me.  But this time, I know immediately what I want!

“I want to embrace you, to hug you, to hold you close to me,” I answer, before shyness can prevent the words from escaping…

She smiles fully, holding open her arms wide, offering herself in perfect trust.  I step forward eagerly, carefully placing my left arm above her shoulder, and my right arm beneath hers.  Leaning slightly right, I hug her tightly, heart to heart, and let myself go completely in this moment…

I become aware of our heartbeats, separate, but the same.  I feel them merging into one resounding, rhythmic, beat.  I sense the boundary between us dissolving, with neither absorbing the other, but each becoming One…  Each cell that defines us, each strand of energy, every memory, experience, hope, doubt and triumph merges smoothly, leaving us distinctly present while still being Whole…

I (we) breathe deeply, the scents of the forest accompanied now with a deeper understanding, identifying “what’s” and “who’s” in a way I could not do just moments before.  As my mind automatically begins to process the significance of each scent identified, I feel my own (other’s) surprise at how efficiently it does so.

There is bliss in this experience of union, and excitement of what we can learn, do and create together!  I (we) are complete, and the whole Universe is our home…  And playground…

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Reflections, Visions

“Emma May and Other Stray… Thoughts?”

So…  I’m waking up this morning, knowing that I dreamt, though not having any memory of what that might have been.  It happens that way sometimes – a sense of activity, a stimulated mind, an awareness of thoughts that have failed to stay…

I’m sipping my first cup of coffee, not really focused on anything at all.  And I feel myself slipping into that sacred place, between realms, between worlds, where realities collide and embrace…

I find myself having a conversation, though I have no idea with whom; doesn’t really matter, I guess, or their identity would show through.  I hear myself saying, “Emma May has gotten sooo huge!…”

Yes, I hear that ellipsis ringing in my head; “dot, dot, dot,” like a bell tolling someplace…  It tells me that everything important has been said; everything else in the conversation is extraneous.  Great!  Focus.  Except…

I have no idea who Emma May might be…

“Interesting…,” I think, out loud, maybe.  “But why,” I can’t help wondering?

“Why would that intrigue me at all?”

Because that’s my brain these days, in quiet moments anyway.  Skipping off to who knows where to engage in pointless, mundane conversations with people I don’t know, about topics I’m completely unfamiliar with…  And yet…  It feels so normal!

The trees speak to me as well, when I pass by them on the trail.  Sometimes, lately, they come to me, bringing pictures of a typical day… for them.  I love those visits, when they occur, because they’re less demanding than the human ones.  Yes, it’s true, the trees want something from me, but often it amounts to nothing more than company; I “hear” them, and so they “speak” to me.  Simple, straightforward, honest, and real…

Ahh…  “real”!  I knew there was a point here somewhere.  And now I know…

And a picture drifts across my slowly enlightening mind, while early morning sunshine begins brightening the world outside.  I see a title, complete with quotes…

“Emma May and Other Stray… Thoughts?”

Ahhh, yes.  There you are!  Welcome to my… Reality?  Insanity?  Awareness?  Inanity?

Let me be your bridge today, to that sacred place between.  Where anything can happen.  And very often does.  Where none of it may mean a thing, or All of it may mean something…

You decide…

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Poetry, Reflections

“The Surface of ‘Things’…”

I find my self upon the ocean

far, far from land;

I cannot sense a hint of it,

even far, far beyond.

I’m floating on the surface of things

riding a raft of my own creation,

made up of pieces and parts –

tokens of my own broken past…

know there mustn’t be solid ground near

for no birds fly here,

not even the albatross who often follows me

with his self-destructive tendencies.

But the water is calm today, as am I,

the waves gently rocking…

I lay back, stare at the clear blue sky

and gently drift to sleep…

I dream…

Glancing over the edge of my make-shift raft

I see many glistening beings

swimming just below the surface –

a hint about those “things.”

My thoughts reach deeper still

to where the currents flow,

sensing potential danger (or enlightenment)

in the power of the undertow…

“Is this where tides begin?”

“And change?,” I’m wondering…

“Or merely the point of no return,

when whatever IS just drags you in?”

Deeper still the shadows grow

as even Light begins to hesitate;

“things” there are larger still

and frightening, perhaps, to contemplate…

Beneath them in the ocean’s depth

where Light completely fails,

blindness is a gift, protecting me

from what might be revealed.

But there…

Far, far from the surface,

where the greatest mysteries dwell…

That is where true Power lives…

and breathes…

in the most haunting “things” of All.

But floating on my make-shift raft

upon the surface of things

such power seems much too remote

to ever even touch me.

Until I wake…

To see those blue skies overrun

with storm clouds tall and threatening.

To hear the rumbling thunder

and watch the distant lightning.

To feel the swells begin to rise

as chaos stirs the surface.

To sense the instability

of my raft of broken memories.

Surprisingly, it is not Fear who comes to judge my progress…

Nor a desperate need to act.

Rather, the calm of the ocean I slept on

has strengthened its hold upon me.

And as the storm approaches,

I find my self… wondering…

just what I’ll choose to do

when this fragile raft I’m riding on

dumps me into the surrounding turmoil?…

Will I struggle to remain afloat?

Grabbing pieces of my broken raft,

renewing my commitment here and now

to staying on the surface?

Or will I let my little self go?

Sinking beneath the things

past the glistening beings

to the power far below?

Or maybe…

Perhaps, even…

If I trust my self enough…

You think?

One of those behemoths living in the deep…

Will slowly rise to meet (and greet) me.

And slipping gracefully beneath my feet,

will lift me up, just high enough…

for me to find my wings!

Freeing me at last

from the ocean’s clinging grasp

to fly far, far above

the ever present surface of…

things…

 

 

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Essay, Reflections

A Question of Competence… or is it Commitment?

I notice these days that there are a lot of people out there “selling” belief.  I get inundated every day with emails and ads, suggestions for how to improve every aspect of my life through holistic healing, energy work, prayer, divination, spirit guidance, contemplation practices and fitness regimes.  Everyone has an angle that they guarantee will work for me.

But I’m not sure I agree…  Why?

Why can’t I embrace any of these techniques?  Why can’t I even bring myself to try them out?  Clearly my life needs healing in so many ways, and I’ve always been open to both mainstream and alternative means.  Non-judgmental.  Yep, that’s me…

Or is it?  Because I find myself discounting these believers and teachers without even attempting to test their theories.  I find myself hitting “delete” without even listening to their spiel.  Is it just a question of competency?

To be sure, times have definitely changed.  I remember, not so long ago, when “experts” in any field were judged by the length of time they had invested in an area of study, as well as by the efficacy of their results.  Anyone new to a particular field had to “earn” their stripes, so to speak.

But in this digital era of instant gratification, and You Tube, everyone becomes an “expert” by saying they are, and by earning a “following.”  An interested party does an internet search on their topic, then chooses what site(s) to visit, or what videos to watch, not so much by researching qualifications, but by the number of “hits” or “followers” that “teacher” has.  “Mob rules” defined and practiced…

But I’ve never really been a follower type, preferring to take someone’s idea or theory and research it on my own.  Always looking for flaws in reasoning or data, critical in my assessments, judging what part(s) appear to work, or not, for me.  Self-defined reality…

And I can’t honestly state which path is “better” or makes more sense in the end, because both ways have their pros and cons.  Self-definition provides flexibility and adaptability to any path or belief system, but it also prevents any commitment or benefits of dedicated practice; you basically believe or do what you want, while discarding the rest, and that rarely leads to deep knowledge or wisdom.  But mob rule, while clearly directing your practice and belief, without requiring deep contemplation, also requires you to accept a whole lot of stuff you might not normally agree with; much harm has been perpetrated by those following a path too strictly, without regard for how it may affect the lives of others…

Hmm…

I know that in these tumultuous times people are desperate for something hopeful to believe in.  I know everyone wants to feel empowered, capable and competent.  We no longer believe in the “system” to provide for our needs consistently and competently, and we are correct in questioning it; the society we knew and trusted is collapsing around us.  So spirituality has become big business, and gurus are hawking every corner.  And many are providing (and feeling) some relief.  That’s good, right?

Too bad it doesn’t feel that way.  At least to me…

I have been asked twice in the last week or so, to offer my advice/guidance in a public setting; to “teach” on topics I used to be well versed in and confident to teach.  I have refused both opportunities, claiming “incompetence” as my excuse.  I no longer feel “qualified” to offer advice, even on those topics in which I was formerly an “expert,” recognized by both “time in” and “results of.”  And I find the whole situation rather amusing; but then, I’ve always had a twisted perception of reality, and a great appreciation for irony.

The bottom line for me today is that I no longer know what is “real” or not, or what is worthy of believing anymore.  My daily life is so overrun with time inconsistencies, and “bleed-through” from other realities, that I feel like it’s one continuous, unsubstantial, channel surfing adventure.  It’s like being on one of those rides at Disney World, where you sit in a little car that takes you through different scenes, changing rapidly, each trying to capture your imagination and “feel” real, while a part of you remains focused on the hard plastic seat you’re sitting on, and the wealth of darkness framing every scene.  You want to throw yourself into it, to wholly embrace the vision before you, but that seat is so uncomfortable, and the people behind you won’t stop talking, and your stomach is growling (oh, did I forget to eat again today?), and…  well, you get the drift.

I had a dream recently…

In the dream I was one of a half dozen people or so invited to attend a special retreat.  At that retreat we were to be trained on how to “pray” for others, and to teach them how to pray for themselves.  In this case, though, “prayer” referred to the actual practice of miracles; in other words, we would be taught how to manifest real change in the world, and how to pass that skill to others.

At first, I was excited, but then the doubt set in.  I knew that these prayers (this technique) came from a tradition I was familiar with, but not a follower of.  I began questioning whether I had a “right” to attend, coming as I was from curiosity rather than belief.  I found myself speaking about my concerns to a friend I know in real life.  We do not “believe” the same, but we share a mutual respect for each other that often allows us to discuss ethical or moral concerns, and actually learn from each others’ perspective.  When I finished explaining the situation to him (in the dream), he grew very stern, pointed his finger at me accusingly, and said, quite seriously, “you better make damn sure you can commit to this, Lisa, before you go; otherwise, don’t go!”  His whole demeanor spoke of dire warning, as though this were not some trifling matter, which is very unlike him in real life.  I woke, telling myself I’d better test my commitment to this path before attending the retreat…

When I shared this dream with him in real life, he pointed out my use of present tense in the waking world (as in “I’d better be sure before attending…”).  I started to say that it was just a grammar/language error, then stopped myself.  He laughed, quick to catch that, as we both know how careful I am with words in the real world.  I believe our language affects our reality, so I am meticulous about saying what I mean, and meaning what I say.  So there is no room for such a “slip of the tongue” in my world, especially when speaking to him; he will call me on any bullshit he hears…

So…

It’s not really a question of competency plaguing me, I think, but one of commitment.  I know I could learn these “techniques,” whatever they are; I’m basically intelligent, well studied, and own a long tradition of learning and practicing competently.  I am a born teacher.  But I am hesitating, even knowing that such “techniques” may bring actual relief…  Why?

Because I am reluctant to commit to any particular path these days.  I am thoroughly enjoying the free flowing nature of my reality these days.  Because I do not want to be restricted by rules or expectations if something new and more appealing reveals itself to me.  Because I do not want to accept responsibility…

Ahh…  That’s it, then, isn’t it?

Commitment comes with responsibility, and I do not want that in my life.  I do not want to be responsible for others, to be held accountable for what they do with any knowledge (complete or not) they may gain from our interaction.  And that’s what’s missing in the wealth of big business based spirituality, too.  No one wants to be responsible.  No one wants to be held accountable for the “wrongs” committed by their beliefs and believers.  And while I have always believed that people should be held accountable for their own actions, rather than blaming their past or their preacher/teacher, I recognize that there is a line marking where such independence becomes hypocrisy. Because some people truly do influence others who want to be influenced, and we do become at least partially responsible for anything they do “in our name”…

Could I actually learn to change the world?  Could I make it a better place? Could I then competently teach others to do the same?

Can I wholeheartedly commit to finding out?

That is the question, isn’t it?

 

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Dreams, Reflections, Visions

“If you want to lead…”

Interesting dreams and experiences this week, summed up by my dreams last night.  I don’t remember details so much, but the message was clear…

“If you want to lead… lead.

If you want to teach… teach.

If you want to heal… heal.

If you want to speak… speak.”

***

For months now, the messages I’ve gotten have been consistently about stepping back and allowing Others the space they need to decide their own course of development.  I’ve actually become quite proficient at minding my own business.  Not perfect, by any means, as there are always times and situations that create a compelling urge to react, but much better than I previously did.

And now that energy has shifted.  Now, I’m told, we may begin act-ing again, though perhaps not in the traditional sense.  For example, if we envisioned our selves as leaders in this “new” world we wish to co-create, we will not achieve that end by handing down orders or controlling others, as leaders did in the old world; rather, we shall lead by example only.  Get your hands dirty, or get out of the garden!

Likewise, if we fancied our selves as teachers, then we must live our truths rather than preach them.  Words mean nothing today without action.

If we imagined our selves as healers, then the work must begin within.  It is not enough to use words like “should” and “ought to” to describe the path to wholeness.  We must become whole ourselves, and guide others by those actions…

And if we have something to say, we must take responsibility for both the words and the tone of our messages.  Communication is a two-way street, and while we cannot take responsibility for how another interprets our words, we must endeavor at all times to say what we mean, and mean what we say.  Freedom of speech is not a free-for-all arena anymore, by which anyone can justify and legitimize whatever stray thoughts may leak out; consequences will occur…

That being said, I feel lighter and more energized than I have in months.  Obviously, these have always been goals, but now they are imperatives.  And with that comfort of certainty, that awareness that rightful action can once again lead to just outcomes, I feel relief as well as a tightening of the reins of self-discipline.

We are, as always, who we choose to be, and we are free now to reclaim the power of becoming who we’ve always wanted to be.  Be brave.  Be wise.  Be responsible, my friends.  And be free!

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Dreams, Reflections

“Listen… And Learn.”

(This post is a follow up to one I wrote on another site.  It stands alone.  But if you wanted to know what prompted it, that answer can be found here… maybe):

http://bayart.org/shhh/

***

So, my dreams were very clear this morning, the message precise and to the point: Don’t waste time looking for causes or assigning blame these days; just deal with the consequences and move on

* ceremoniously donning my cloak of hypocrisy *

So I wake up on this glorious Easter morn with this message running through my mind, and the first thing I hear is an adult exclaiming loudly “what a ripoff!”

Three times I hear the message repeat, as it slowly dawns on me that they are referring to a commercially prepared “gift.”

Finally a child speaks up.  “I am so disappointed,” he admits…

“Are you going to complain about it?,” the adult asks.

“Yes,” he responds, hesitantly.  Then with more certainty, “yes I am!”

And suddenly I see myself, sitting with a group of adults, discussing the state of the world.  And we are complaining about how ungrateful and materialistic the youth of today seem to be.  We share stories about how “kids today” do not appreciate the act of giving, focusing solely upon the perceived value of what is given.  We shake our heads sadly as we lament the deplorable state of society today…

* shifting my shoulders under the uncomfortable weight of my hypocritic cloak *

Yeah…  Been there.  Done that.

Sigh…

Happy Easter to those of you who celebrate it!

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