Reflections

The How’s & Why’s

Last Sunday I spent time with my grandchildren, as I do every Sunday. My 2 year old grandaughter has entered the “why” phase of her development, engaging in rather lengthy conversations (for a 2 year old) where every “answer” prompts another “why?”… Personally, I love this phase, as I have spent a lifetime learning “why’s” and am always eager to share what I’ve learned. So I was happy to indulge her curiosity, remembering fondly her mother’s “why” time, and even much of mine…

My daughter, overhearing our conversation, thought to apologize. I laughed, telling her what I just told you, and she had a curious response. She pointed out that my grandson (now 7) never really went through that phase…

That got me thinking… (uh oh!)

And I realized that they are two very different kinds of people, my grandchildren. (Duh!) But, seriously, I think they may represent very different groups of people currently living in our society – the How’s and the Why’s…

How people are thinkers, builders, problem-solvers and creators; they want to know how things work, and then they use that information to create new things and ways of doing things. I’ve often said my grandson has an “engineering” bias, fascinated as he is by discovering how things work, and resistant to imaginative play. He wants to build things. And when I try to play make-believe with him, he always calls me out on fantasy projections, telling me how “that’s not real!” When I encourage him to pretend, the best he can do is take known facts and cobble them together into outlandish possibilities. Like he explained how he would build a time machine, not in terms of how it would actually traverse time or when he would travel to, but in terms of the door, the shape of the vessel, the materials needed, the types and numbers of dials and buttons. All very precise, while still being pure imagination…

He also happens to be exceptional at math, science, music and karate (having won first place at his tournament this week). And yes, that is a shameless plug…

My grandaughter, however, spends much of her awake time in imaginative play, happily conversing with her stuffed animals or the friends that only she can see. She also shares a love of nature with me (and her mother) that her brother does not feel in the same way. (The first time we took them on a walk through the forest to see the fairy houses, my grandaughter was entranced while my grandson was bored, except for when we got wondering if trolls were “real” or not.)

Why people seek purpose, meaning, understanding. They tend to be naturally empathic, as if carrying within themselves some basic concept of unity. (The first time she “met” a tree in person, she ran up to hug it with her baby arms. She also talks quite coherently now to plants and animals, with absolutely no fear of any animal she’s ever seen.) They look for ways to bridge problems and obstacles, seeking through similarity, metaphor and analogy another way around or over. They are the “big picture” people.

A couple decades ago, I would have classified them as left and right-brain biased, and I wouldn’t have been “wrong.” But those descriptions no longer seem adequate, as both children are exceptional problem-solvers (requiring both creativity and critical thinking), but each approaches those “problems” differently; my grandson wants to “fix” them, while my grandaughter wants to “understand” them. But together, they are pure genius! My grandaughter (the instigator) comes up with a purely “imaginative” goal, and my grandson immediately applies himself to creating the means to achieve it…

I suppose there are also Who and Which people, as well. The Who’s would be the community builders, the networkers, the connectors, figuring out who should be paired with whom to get the most productive results. And the Which’s then would be the decision makers, the organizers, the “leaders” if you will; their ability to rapidly compare and contrast multiple scenarios on the fly makes them ideal for that role…

And I think the When’s and Where’s are accounted for by the actual environment in which all of us have gathered. This is, after all, a 3 dimensional world of Time and Space…

Not sure why any of this is significant right now, except that it relates to a conversation I once had with my “teachers” about the different factors at play in “reality,” and their function in creating it. And since we clearly need a new perspective on reality (and by “we” I mean “all of me”), perhaps it’s time to revisit these concepts.

Hmm… Maybe my grandaughter will know why it’s important, and my grandson can figure out how to use this information. I’ll have to ask them this weekend… ;D

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Reflections

Random questions…

As a dying person, is it better to tell loved ones it’s coming, or allow them to be shocked when Death arrives?

As a loved one, is it better to know it is coming, or to be shocked when Death arrives?

I ask these questions because of conversations I had yesterday at a family funeral. The now-deceased person had long been dealing with a chronic, eventually terminal, disease that everyone knew about. However, his condition was much improved, and his “terminal” prognosis appeared to be temporarily on hold. He went to the hospital for a “final” routine surgery, where “complications” occurred, leading to an antibiotic resistant infection, which led to his “untimely” death in a matter of a couple days. His surgery was so “routine” that most of the family wasn’t even aware he was going in for it (the patient having deemed it non-noteworthy in the greater scheme of things).

Everyone was shocked by his sudden and unexpected demise, in spite of his chronic health problems…

All except one, that is. A single family member who had been told by this patient last year that the doctors had predicted only 1-4 more years for him. The patient had sworn this family member to secrecy, choosing to live what remained of his life free of the “specter of dying” and all that it implied. The family member kept silence faithfully, even after the patient’s “unexpected” death, choosing only to share that info with me after the fact, and asking me to also keep that knowledge from the rest of the family. (I guess he needed to share the truth with someone, and that person needed to be removed from the inner circle so as not to taint the family view of the deceased one. My suspicions are that the family would be very upset that such info was kept from them.)

I asked these questions of some at the funeral, and unanimously they felt it would always be better to know than not know. Any feelings about this out there in blog-land?

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Reflections

Who is she…?

Who is this “mother” who gave birth to me, more than half a century ago?

She was more than just a conduit through which my spirit could connect with another physical body. Wasn’t she?

She had her own thoughts, her own feelings, her own needs, her own demons. Didn’t she?

She might be a faceless stranger to me, but someone must have known her, right?

I don’t actually know, as we never truly “met.” At least not here, in this timeline, while I’ve been Lisa. But, of course, we shared the same space. Even the same body. Some trace of her must remain within me. Somewhere… Right?

My conscious memories of this timeline don’t truly begin until I was almost 3 years old. Everything before that is hazy and vague, and by that time, she was long gone. But I never knew why…

My brother remembered her, and he loved her. So much so that he never stopped waiting for her to return. The few stories he told me merely emphasized her abuse, made me grateful I couldn’t remember her. But he never gave up on her. Ever… Why?

Was he simply another abandoned child, longing to be cared for? Or was there something special about my mother that he craved to connect with again, in spite of the abuse and abandonment?

Today is the anniversary of the day they discovered him dead. I remember that day, though the year escapes me now; sometime in the 90’s though… He’d been dead for days, and the smell drew his neighbor’s attention. He died alone. No cause of death was ever determined…

I remember him visiting me in my dreams on his first birthday after his death. He was happy. At last. Standing on the other side of a river with her at his side. In death he had gained what he’d always longed for in life – reunification with our mother.

So what made her so special that he never could let her go? Today I am wondering…

Science claims to have proven that much of our innate “intelligence” comes to us through our mother’s genes. Judging from the way my family has grown, I tend to believe that; my daughter is at least as “smart” as I am, and her children outshine us both… So, should I assume my mother was also highly intelligent? Maybe too much so to “fit” into the world as it was when I was born? She was a college graduate who made a living as a model, before being relegated to a lonely life as an army wife and mother… That would have made me crazy!

And she was “crazy,” every bit as much as I am, though my father tried to keep that from us kids. But we found out eventually. About her time in a lockdown facility, her “nervous” condition, the mysterious deaths of two of my siblings…

I am the only redhead in my family. I thought I was adopted. Turns out my mother was a redhead, too… Is that significant?

So many times through my childhood I remember my drunken father caressing my cheek, looking deep in my eyes, and murmuring about how much like her I was… Even my brother would echo those sentiments in his less guarded moments… Hmm…

So, who was she? This woman who gave birth to me more than half a century ago?

I honestly don’t know. But today I am on a mission to find out…

Today I choose to open my heart to that lost and closed chapter in my life. Today I invite her memory in, to meet with me, to speak with me. No judgment here. Just compassion. And an honest desire to know the spirit of the one who carried me into this place, sharing first her body, her genes, her home, and her madness…

I think it’s time we finally meet…

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Poetry, Reflections, Visions

“Convergence…” (From the Book of Other)

I offer this post to Sha’Tara, in explanation, as an example of, the kinds of entries I might discover in the Book of Other.  I found it in my draft folder here, where there are currently some 22 unpublished posts.  It was “dated” June of last year, a useful bit of information made possible by the medium itself…

But, like so many such entries, I don’t “remember” writing it, though I clearly recognize it as “mine.”  The word choice, metaphors, the rhythym itself, all sound like “me,” but the memory of writing it is gone.  The tone, itself – light-hearted and whimsical – sounds like a different “me” entirely, which it most likely was.  I was clearly reaching out across the timelines, attempting to communicate with my Others, and I was describing the same Center Space as in my previous post.  The Crossroads is another frequent metaphor for describing the place, one favored by a different version of self…

And it is encounters like this that explain why the “powers that be” chose to label me schizophrenic in the first place. Lol!  And perhaps they were not wrong, after all…

 

Standing at the crossroads

waiting…

not expecting or anticipating…

but waiting nonetheless.

And here they come, like happy children

skipping down the paths toward me…

ideas…

thoughts and feelings gathering here…

to be incorporated into the family tree.

They come in waves, and crowded rushes

and some arrive individually…

all related…

and connected to the Whole that is Me.

Are they merely thoughts and feelings?

Transitory and epheme?

Or something more compelling?

Real…

Comprising parts of me…?

The cells of my body

speaking to me…

of individuality…

of interconnectivity and healing…

Much work left to do here,

before we are free to leave.

Gathering the missing pieces

memories…

of things not yet in play…

Converging in this place of peace…

Emerging in every breath I take.

And so I speak, and pay no heed

to whether or not

anyone else is even listening.

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Reflections

Where has my compassion gone?

I’m standing on the deck this cold winter morn, reflecting on all that is around/within me.  I notice the waning moon, face brilliantly unexpressive, shining dispassionately against the perfectly blue morning sky.  The crows caw their morning greetings, but I can barely force myself to respond.  As the chill seeps through the layers of my human made winter wear, I cannot rouse an ounce of motivation to push it away.  It reminds me of something… something close enough to feel, if not yet to name.

My mind reaches for happier thoughts… connections to the world around me.  I recall the joy I felt yesterday at the first stirring of the trees.  They are nowhere near awake around here yet, but I felt the rootlets twitching slightly, and the sap begin to soften, as the trees baked in the strong midwinter sun.  Soon… soon enough, my dear friends will waken, and our work together will commence once more…

I listen, and can hear my grandchildren giggling at last night’s party; such carefree abandon always makes me smile.  I see my grandaughter’s impish grin as she watches me, looking for a reaction as she manipulates the adults surrounding her.  I think about how my 6 year old grandson put himself in a “timeout” (yes, he called it that as he sat down), for accidentally knocking over an empty bottle in his enthusiastic play.  He is always so hard on himself, but I cannot help but admire such self-discipline in one so young…

And then my thoughts drift to the others, those in pain, who crossed my path yesterday.  My focus, however, is not so much on the pain they expressed in countless known or unknown ways, but in my reaction to it.  Because everyone is in pain these days, and such pain must find release…

My concern is about how I felt about it, how I reacted.  The person who told me a dozen times over a 4 hour visit how tired they were became annoying.  The one who worked so hard overcoming sadness and grief that their faux happiness gained enough volume to become excruciating.  The injustices shared, to which I could only mildly respond, “such is life.”  The person whose physical pain mirrored my own, so much so that I was grateful when they finally left.  Even my own discomfort captured less than my full attention, as I crawled up stairs with hands and feet, involuntary groans escaping (in front of people, even!), without me caring what others (or my self) might think…

Tears slip silently down my cheeks as I write these words, but no sobs accompany them.  They are the hopeless, unacknowledged grief of something lost, without the desire to even identify the cause.  But I suspect I know already, if the title of this piece carries any significance at all, for what I do NOT feel this morning is compassion.  Not for myself, nor for anyone (or perhaps any thing) at all.  I feel a void where it used to exist, an emptiness that holds only fading memory.  I remember caring.  I remember hurting.  I remember helping.  But all of that is in the past…

My eye is drawn back to that brilliant moon in a flawless cold midwinter sky…

Yes… dispassion is the right word for today, and it has crept in to every aspect of my awareness.  I guess that answers my question, doesn’t it?

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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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Dreams, NoBloPoMo, Reflections

Living “Debt Free”…

I had a dream almost a week ago in which my dream mentor told me, quite plainly, “all your debt is paid…

When the words were first spoken, shock set in, followed rapidly by disbelief, which morphed into thoughts of consequences and caveats…

“But what about the taxes?,” I asked.  “Has any provision been made for that?  I mean, if you write off that kind of debt, there are tax consequences…”

My mentor cocked his head and just looked at me, exasperated.

I didn’t say your debt has been forgiven; I said it has been paid…  You are now able to begin living debt-free.

As these words were spoken, I allowed my doubt to leave, watching as it burst into a tiny flame burning somewhere near my heart.  Slowly that flame grew into excitement, anticipation, and yes, even hope, spreading rapidly throughout my body.  The expanding warmth finally reached my head and toes, and with it came clarity…

Laughing, I said to him, “ohhh…  You’re talking about Karma, aren’t you?”

And then I awoke…

Ok, so maybe my financial debt remains, a holdover from when I believed I owed the world something, simply for taking up space here.  But still…  this “gift” is huge!!

Debt free, karmically speaking, what does that really mean?  How does it feel?  How does it translate into daily activity?  These are the questions driving my experiences today…

The first thing I noticed was a certain “lightness,” a lifting of an ever-present weight upon my shoulders.  I stood straighter, calmer, more confidently in my space.  I realized, with a growing sense of wonder, that I owed nobody anything (can’t figure out how to make that work, grammatically, but you get the idea…).  I understood that everything I do now truly is by choice, a choice freed of guilt and expectation.  What do I want to do, right now?

And the first thing I did was go to work.  Of course.  😉  Not because I felt I had to, but because I wanted to.  I looked forward to spending time with coworkers, to enjoying my work for its own sake, to doing something helpful and productive with my physical being…

Then I went for a walk in the woods, spending time with the trees and the animals who shelter and live there.  Only this time, I wasn’t there seeking messages, lessons, or learning, but simply enjoying the beauty of the moment, the sharing of time with Other beings, similar to, but so unlike my self.  It was quite gratifying…

And today…

Several days have passed, and slowly I revert to the “should’s” and “ought to’s” of life…

***

One of my “grandkitties” had to be euthanized two days ago, and I ached all over, for my daughter, her family, and the animal himself.  I know it was the “right” thing to do.  I struggled with what part I should play in that unfolding drama.  I offered myself to my daughter, whatever she needed.  But I understood that she was the “adult in charge,” and the decisions were hers to make.  I respected those boundaries, even when it became obvious she didn’t “need” me at all…  My baby is all grown up now, and I couldn’t be prouder of her, or the way she handled this unexpected tragedy…

But I had to catch myself, more than once, reminding my self that debt-free goes both ways; I may not owe anyone else, but neither do they owe me.  She didn’t need my “help” this time, and she did brilliantly!  There is absolutely nothing I could have said or done to improve that experience; she, quite literally, got the job done in the most compassionate, loving, and responsible way possible.  With no urging or guidance from me…

And it truly came home to me this morning, after two days of “grieving,” that this, also, is part of what it means to live “debt free”…

And being free just took on a whole new dimension for me…

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