Reflections

Charlie Lucky…

Many years ago (back in the mid-90’s) I lived in an apartment with my husband and daughter. It was located in a small village set neatly in the middle of farm country. I loved the pastoral setting, the slow, diligent pace of country folk, and the peace of rural living. It was a time of great creativity for me, during which most of my current belief systems were discovered and explored, as well as the time when all of the full length books I’ve written (published or not) were authored. It was, in essence, the time that I evolved into me…

I have since refined that sense of self, of course, expanding my understanding and scope, while simultaneously letting go of all that does not fit anymore. But it was during that crucial time in my life that I learned to re-label my delusions (hallucinations?) as visions, that I gave myself permission to speak my “truth” rather than hide it, that I first started wrestling with Time and time magic. That I dedicated all of my resources toward understanding the “true” nature of reality…

And it was then that I first met Charlie Lucky. He was both teacher and test for me. He brought both unbelievable joy and unfathomable sorrow. He was every contradiction I’ve ever encountered, and yet he was as stable a presence as I’ve ever met. He opened my eyes to so many possibilities I might not have had the courage to consider on my own. And he shattered my heart when he left me. I learned what real heartache felt like. I learned I could survive it. But I could never close my heart to love again. No matter how much it hurt, I would never again be able to close off that secret inner place, to protect myself by hiding behind walls and masks, to block what might not feel right…

Without my realizing it, Charlie Lucky had cracked open my inner core and left it exposed to the world. Shielding techniques would no longer serve me. And so, the empath that I am today was forged, and would only progress from there…

Charlie Lucky was a cat…

To be fair, he was a very special cat, but he was still a cat. When I first met Charlie Lucky he was a ghost cat, a blurry white shape that crossed my peripheral vision from time to time. I wasn’t the only one to “see” him, thank goodness, which is one of the reasons I started to suspect that not all my delusions were false. His presence visited our apartment quite often, seen by both family members and guests who would often remark, “I didn’t know you had a white cat!”

To which we could only respond, “we don’t.”

Then one day I opened the back door to get something, and there he was. Mostly white with gray around both ears, and a fluffy gray tail stuck on his butt that appeared to be stolen from some other cat, for he was neither fluffy nor gray as a rule. But what really stood out was the large gray diamond on either side which marked him as both recognizable and unique.

When I opened the door that day, he was just laying there in that enclosed space (we never knew how he got in), looking sleepy eyed and comfortable, as though he’d always been. He rose when he saw me, stretched lazily, walked the few steps to the door, then sat and meowed softly, greeting me. I was instantly in love! I asked him, “are you waiting for an invitation, or do you need something else?”

He just stared at me, willing me to do something.

I stepped aside, spread my arm in welcome, and said, “come on in if you like. Of course you are welcome here.”

He blinked slowly at me, then pranced into the apartment as if he owned it…

Charlie was unique in many ways that we would discover in the short time we knew him. For example, he never required proper transitioning or introduction to our other cats; they accepted him without rancor, jealousy, or need to test him for his rank in the hierarchy. Charlie Lucky was in his own world mostly, and the other cats greeted him as a long lost friend, instantly cuddling with and grooming him. It was odd. But then, everything about Charlie was odd… Wonderfully, memorably, heartwarmingly (and wrenchingly) odd…

We soon discovered that Charlie had been born with a congenital heart defect, and a very poor prognosis. The vet warned us he wouldn’t stay with us long. And while it might of been wise to withhold a bit in preparation for the inevitable, it turned out to be impossible. He was too lovable, and too loving and wise to ignore. In the end we had about three years together. Three years that would change my life. Three years during which ghost kitty was not to be seen. Three years when every flash of white seen from the corner of my eye transformed into warm, furry, purring joy…

And then he was gone…

And ghost kitty returned… Only this time we knew his name.

When I left my husband in 2000, I found leaving my cats behind the hardest. But they were a family unit, and I knew my husband would care for them. Leaving Charlie’s ghost behind was a whole different level of heartache for me. But I packed up my courage and set out to begin the next phase of my life, leaving behind the peace and pace of country living to embrace a whole new set of unknowns in an unforgiving city. It was necessary, but terrifying and exhilarating all at once. And when I would think back on those transformative years in the country, I would remember them fondly.

More recently I would view them with a sense of wonder and awe, as so many of the things I “discovered” back then began revealing themselves in real time and space; not only had I evolved my self in that country haven, but much had been revealed to me that only needed a proper context in time to become relevant. That time has come. The threads that caught my eye in the tapestry of reality are only just now becoming visible again to my naked eye. And it is both welcomed and resisted, all at the same time…

I have grown more stable in my sense of self over the intervening years, and less vulnerable to the influence of others’ points of view. I have also become more capable of embracing others more completely as they are, without unduly trying to influence them. I have learned to love more, to hate less, to hurt more and blame less. I have more compassion and less expectation for others. I own my space, real and imagined, and grant it all the same level of authority to change my point of view. I genuinely like me today, in spite of flaws, shortcomings, mistakes, failures and lost hopes. I accept me. And so I am in a much better frame of mind to accept you…

So why this long eulogy for a cat two decades dead? Good question…

I’ve had other cats since Charlie Lucky, cats I’ve raised from near-birth to death. And while my relationships with each were unique and special, none have ever had the same impact on me, save one perhaps. That would be Shilo, my all black current partner with whom I share much of the “connectedness” I felt with Charlie. It was also love at first sight when I met Shilo, and though it would be a year or so before we could be together (he belonged to someone else at the time), our relationship has shared much of the same magic. We are empathically bonded, responding to each others’ needs without speaking, sharing dreams, and growing old together.

Shilo often comes outside with me when I smoke, exploring the back yard, checking for scent markers to see who’s been by to visit, hanging out with me like a loyal hound. But he is a cat, so more accurate perhaps to think of him as a peer, a companion, a friend. Last night, late, I went out back, and he joined me as is our routine. He explored, while I looked around, both of us seeking first around the area of our shed, where many visitors appear. There was no one there last night, so he came up to sit calmly beside me, waiting as only cats can do.

Suddenly he panicked and raced for the back door! As is our way, I was reaching for the door to let him in before my conscious mind could even grasp the change. Once he was safe inside I caught my breath, and started looking around for what might have startled him. It was then I noticed the pool of white by the shed. I stared, knowing it hadn’t been there before, and trying to identify it. It was too big to be my possum friend, and too white to be our skunk. It wasn’t the all grey tabby or the orange and white tom cat that often visit. As I stared, the animal turned to look me squarely in the eyes.

Sleepy eyed and comfortable, there sat a mostly white cat, with grey around his ears, and a fluffy grey tail wrapped around his loaf-like body. Watching him, I would have sworn that he was home, perfectly content, like he had always lived in that exact spot. My mind immediately ran through a picture list of all the neighborhood cats I’ve seen over the 4+ years I’ve lived here, but I couldn’t recall ever encountering this cat before. Then I thought of Charlie Lucky…

I called out his name softly. “Charlie, is that you?”

Two slow blinks and nothing else…

I thought of approaching him, but I was afraid I’d scare him off. So I stared. And remembered. And felt. A familiar mixture of joy and sorrow washed through me. And then I left…

When I got upstairs, I instantly fell asleep with Shilo in my lap. And I dreamed…

I dreamed of traveling with a group of co-workers, all around the world. I don’t remember now what we were doing, but it was a purposeful tour. I remember packing for it and thinking I should grab one or two more things; nothing I strictly needed for the trip, but rather sentimental and irreplaceable. I chastised myself, not wanting to over pack, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that I wouldn’t be coming back. In the end I left them behind, focusing on the more immediate needs of what lay ahead rather than behind.

Months later, we returned to this house, our tour completed successfully. But I soon discovered it was infested with ants and other insects, and completely unlivable. I knew we could probably bring out what we’d brought back with us, but nothing else, and I was angry at myself for not having grabbed those two small things I’d wanted to bring. But it was too late… I left, single suitcase in hand, wondering where I should hole up while planning out the next phase of my existence…

Upon waking, my first thought was of Charlie Lucky. And as I write these words today I am sobbing as though my grief is new and raw still…

Was that Charlie who came to visit me last night? Why? And why now? For one who seems so comfortable in crossing that Rainbow Bridge, in both directions apparently, he could have come to me at any time since leaving that apartment in the country behind. But he never did. Until last night…

And to show up now, when my life seems to be transitioning into something I do not fully recognize, seems significant somehow. On the surface I expect change; I am, in fact, looking forward to it. However, there is within me an almost certainty that, in spite of appearances, that change is not what I anticipated. Something is off. Not wrong, just off. Different. Unexpected. Unknown…

And I am motivated to record it here. And so I have…

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Poetry

Defiance…

When the Earth erupts in flame and fire

I shall stand and burn.

When the Earth is washed with deep flood waters

I shall stand and drown.

When the Earth is shaken to its core,

a trap of stone and rubble,

I shall stand and dance.

When the Earth is cleansed with winds of change,

cyclonic storms that rupture and rend,

I shall stand and breathe.

When all that I have ever known is gone and lost forever,

then…

and only then…

to the flow of Time I shall at last surrender

and still be Me…

whenever!

** Offered in response to the poetry challenge from Cafe Philos…

http://cafephilos.blog/2019/03/31/the-cafe-philos-poetry-prompt-for-them-that-be-wild-things-march-31-2019/

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Reflections

I’m Already Gone…

There is a mockingbird calling outside my window today… (not really)… To be honest, I have no idea what a mockingbird sounds like, or if they even live in my part of the world. I suppose there could be one, but I wouldn’t know it if there was. I just like the name, and felt the connection, and the intrigue drew me on…

There is an icy wind slicing through the warmth of the strong spring sun… (true enough)…

There is a sense of expectation welling up inside me, spilling over, spreading out… tainting everything it touches today.

There is an image haunting me – a single line that branches into many separate ones – repeating over and over again. It’s in the bare tree branches only just beginning to bud, and in the broken ones so callously discarded by the wind. It’s there in the pavement cracks created by the spring thaw and freeze phenomenon. It’s there upon my very skin, where age and dryness intersect. And in the movement of the clouds so far above my head.

There is a phrase that’s taunting me, as my mind touches lightly upon discomfort of any kind… it plays itself, distracting me from every other thought… Don’t like what that person has said or done? Doesn’t matter anymore; move on. Got too much to do today? Doesn’t matter anymore; just get to it. Not feeling up to meeting your obligations today? Doesn’t matter; you do what you can. Feeling sorry for yourself today? Ha ha, hee hee, you’re too funny… damn!

And then the simple, all pervasive, perspective shifting thought…

I’m… already… gone!

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#BlogBattles, Stories..., Uncategorized

Ashes to Ashes…

“Ashes to ashes, dusk to dusk…,” began the pastor at the graveside service.

“Umm… excuse me,” interrupted one of the mourners (the only one there, in fact). “Don’t you mean ‘dust to dust’?”

The pastor looked confused for a moment, before understanding smoothed out the lines of his expression. He smiled warmly at his only living guest.

No, no, no…,” he chuckled quietly. “Why would I wish that fate on anyone?”

“Because that’s the way the service goes…?,” answered the mourner, a touch of snarky in the implied question.

The pastor waved off the comment, his usually placid expression fully restored. “A simple misunderstanding is all. Easy to see why it might happen, though, isn’t it? They sound so similar!…”. He paused for a moment, thinking.

Have you ever played that game where you try passing a word around a circle of people to see how it transforms? I think it’s called Telephone, or something similar. This is kind of like that; someone heard ‘dust to dust’ instead of ‘dusk to dusk,’ and others kind of ran with it.” He smiled again. “A silly game, a silly mistake, but enlightening in the end.”

The lone mourner looked confused now… “Are you serious, pastor?!… No! You can’t be.” His tone sharpened as his sensibilities rebelled against the offense. “A person is dead here! This is no time for jokes or games! How dare you dishonor my great aunt this way!”

Dishonor your aunt?!… Oh my, never!,” he reacted automatically, the mere thought of such completely disorienting the usually serene pastor. “I adored Agnes! She was a wonderful woman, who lived an extraordinary life, right here in this little town! Did you know she never left this place?…” He paused, but no answer came on the warm spring breeze…

I thought not,” added the pastor, smugly. “Well, Agnes, dear soul that she is, believed that this little town was enough. Always. When others grew up and moved away, she stayed. When the man she loved moved to the big city to make a name for himself, she stayed behind, promising to be here if he ever came back… Of course, he never did…” An almost sad sigh slid past the pastor’s lips…

And yet, in spite of all that, I never once heard her complain. She was content here, keeping her parents’ farm going after all the others left. It was a struggle, of course, especially after her parents were gone, but she carried on. That was her way. And if she lost most of the farm over the years, who could blame her? She was alone, and aging, and really… what more could she do?”

The pastor stopped talking. He looked at the young man standing at the grave site. He looked a long time, a thoughtful expression upon his face…

“What?!,” snapped the young mourner. “Why are you staring at me?!”

The pastor sighed deeply. “I was just looking for a trace of your Aunt Agnes in you, but…” He shook his head mournfully. “I’m afraid I just don’t see it. I’m sure she would, of course,” he hastily assured the young man, “but her gift of seeing the truth of others was always stronger than mine. I learned a lot from her over the many years we were friends, but never enough, I guess.”

“But then, isn’t that the point here?…” He waited patiently for a response that would never come. Sighing deeply, he continued…

It’s all about transitions, young man. Birth is a transition, a dawning of a new form. As is death. And it is in those twilight times, when shadow and light begin to balance out, that we see the truth of things. Outlines become stark in the growing and fading light, revealing the boundaries between…”

“Your aunt welcomed this transition, whatever changes it might bring. She was ready to move on into a new form of being. I will miss her, and our time together very much…” A single tear slipped down the pastor’s cheek…

Did you ever get to meet her?,” the pastor asked the mourner.

“Um… well… no, not exactly,” the young man began.

The pastor held up his hand to abruptly end the awkward explanation about to spill from the young man’s lips.

Never mind,” the pastor reassured him. “I understand. You’re here to liquidate what’s left of the farm, and you came to pay your respects. Enough said.” He turned back to the grave and lifted his arms, palms up, as if beginning to pray. The young man bowed his head.

The pastor, realizing this, turned to address the man once more. “It’s ok, son. You’ve done what you came to do; you don’t need to stay any longer. Agnes is still smiling, even if you can’t see her beyond the veil…”

“But if you’re looking for a quick sale, I’m sure the Jones’ will be happy to take the old homestead. That’s pretty much all Agnes had left, and Ned Jones, her neighbor, had bought most of the rest of the farm already. Probably pay a good price for it, too, if you push him. Some developer wants to come in here and build a resort for rich people – you know the type: big houses, a gated community, expensive coffee places, the works…”

The young man hesitated only a moment before nodding curtly and turning away. “Thanks for the tip, pastor. Please carry on…”

Resuming his prayerful stance, the pastor began his service again… “Ahhh, Agnes, you were right, as usual. Everything changes in Time…”

“Ashes to ashes, dusk to dusk…”

(933 words)

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Reflections

The Co-Dependency Crackdown. (i.e. Taking My Own Inventory)

Life is a challenge. A series of lessons. A chance to improve. A path to evolution. All of these things. And then some…

Right?

Maybe. Or maybe not. That is what I am discovering, anyway.

I mean, I have spent so much of my life in “school,” learning the hard way. Gaining wisdom, some might say. But all of that implies progress; slow, steady (sometimes regressive) steps forward. All of that implies time.

And if I look at the sum total of my nearly 55 years here (this time), and add to it the memories I have of other times and places, the “facts” (or experiences) would support that hypothesis.

Time heals all wounds. To everything there is a season. Slow and steady wins the race. One foot in front of the other. One day at a time. Keep on keeping on… Time wins every time!

But Time is a construct. A deception. A barrier. And a lie. At least for me…

The truth is, every major breakthrough I’ve had (in this life or any other) came as an epiphany. There might have been wallowing that preceded said epiphany. There might have been intention. There may even have been hints and clues strewn about the landscape of my current timespace. But the moment of change was always dramatic, instantaneous and complete.

I spent months pondering the pros and cons of sobriety before I actually embraced it, still using occasionally and making excuses. And then one day someone said the “wrong” thing to me, embarrassed me, and made me mad as hell. A week later, as my anger subsided, I stopped drinking. And I’ve never even been truly tempted to look back. Does that mean I’m not an alcoholic, after all? Doesn’t matter, because I’m not interested in drinking anymore…

I spent years in and out of therapy, on various medications, trying to “fix” what was broken in me. Then one day it occurred to me that broken or not, I enjoyed my kind of crazy. I’ve never needed meds since…

I have spent a lifetime feeling like I need to “earn” my place in the world, developing integrity, seeking reciprocity, taking responsibility for whatever crosses my path. And yet…

It finally occurs to me that I have a right to exist, simply because I do!

Not earth shaking news for many of you, I’m sure, but it was a life-changing revelation for me.

And I don’t need to save the world, after all. Because each of you is capable of making your own decisions, whether I approve of them or not. Each of you has the same right to exist as me…

And as this “truth” sinks in, “gravity” falls away. My back straightens as my load is lightened. My wings unfurl once more, and I am delighted to discover I can fly once again.

And my spirit soars…

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Reflections

Happy New Year…? Really?!

Am I the only one who feels reluctance to voice those words this year? Am I the only one who believes that uttering such sentiments is tantamount to inviting people to indulge in fantasy while abandoning reality?

I mean, it’s not that I don’t want good things to happen to people, because I certainly do. It’s more that I sense that such “good things” as health, prosperity and peace are unattainable at this time. And while it’s true that I said the obligatory greetings at midnight between December 31st and January 1st, even I could not miss the sarcasm or irony in my tone as I did so.

I have avoided posting (or responding to) Facebook greetings about the new year for the most part. And when I felt it was necessary, I have acknowledged them with “likes” rather than reciprocity; anything more would feel too insincere. It just doesn’t seem like a happy new year…

I don’t know. Maybe it’s just my innate honesty coming out. I’m not depressed, nor do I wish to trigger others’ anxieties, but all of my instincts rail against the false hope implied in that traditional greeting.

***. ***. ***

I avoid the news. I’ve cut myself off from anyone’s supposedly factual presentation of “what’s happening now.” I did so because… well, I guess if I have to explain why, then you likely would disagree with my reasoning, so never mind. The point is, when I feel compelled to investigate “what’s happening out there (as opposed to in here),” I tend to read opinion pieces instead. At least they’re honest about being opinions (mostly), and if I read enough opposing opinions, I can sometimes get a sense of what “facts” might have triggered them, somewhere in between their interpretations of events.

So today I got up early enough to read several such opposing opinions, and thought now might be a good time to catch up on the world my body is inhabiting.

I think that might have been a mistake…

Because I’m truly not sure what reality I tagged into. And I’m not convinced anyone else I read knows either, though they don’t seem at all concerned with their skewed points of view. I just couldn’t make sense of anything I read!

There were the Earth-friendly writers (usually liberal leaning, if not outright left wing extremists) touting Trump as the destroyer of the Cabal…?! Umm… is this the same Trump who’s been on a direct “destroy the environment to eke out a few more pennies of profit” kick for decades?

Or the self-declared leftist revolutionaries questioning why openly right wing conservatives are mysteriously dying, supporting the alt-right’s declaration of conspiracies against them…?! Umm… really?!

There are the Evangelicals finally admitting that their Bible prophesies a non-believer who would become king, restoring their patriarchal, authoritarian rule of law…?! “Of course Trump is a non-believer, but we wouldn’t want him any other way! Only a non-believer could support our [ridiculous, restrictive, murderous] agenda!”

There are high-ranking (former) military and government officials openly, and publicly, calling on our military to stage a coup, while our rank and file members turn out in droves (against military rules) in Trump supporting paraphernalia, appearing to be his greatest fans…! All while not getting paid?! Really?!

And then there’s the truly delusional ones. You know the hype. “We’ve finally turned the corner! So many people have evolved enough that true peace is right around the corner!” Really? Where?

Meanwhile, in my city, there were three murders already, before New Year’s Day was officially over – a shooting, a stabbing, and a home invasion resulting in a fatality (home dweller, not thief, of course). And these are all “poor on poor” crimes, regardless of color, religion, immigration status, or sexual orientation…

I don’t know… Maybe I am depressed after all. But “happy new year”?

Hardly…

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Poetry, Reflections

These are the reasons…

When I stop to question why I bother to survive

in a world hell-bent on destruction and dying

I realize…

I don’t have to travel far

to see the smiles or feel the scars

to ride the highs of excitement and joy

or wallow in the depths of disappointment and sorrow.

For all around me are excuses to be

whatever we want or expect to become:

the rich, the poor, the sickly and well

the humble, the prideful, the angry and lustful.

And whether or not I agree with their choices

I acknowledge their right to choose.

Soo…

Looking into the “eyes” that surround me

wherever the place, whatever the time

I accept

These are the reasons for all of the seasons

Life to be lived without rhyme or reason.

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