Headed Home

I’m headed home on Friday. Yet despite spending most of my time here in this beautiful place in pain, I would love to stay longer.

The quiet, the peace, the bay with the boats going by, the cedar woods that guard the driveway and suddenly spring  open to the sunlight, the lawn, the cool color of water, have been a balm for my soul.

Who knows why things happen? I could make up a dozen stories and still not have a clue. But if I needed to be patient and heal, this was the place, and the folks who helped me out along the way were kind and amazing.

I had thought I would complete my book here. It didn’t happen. Does the universe or anyone in it besides me care? Probably not.

How long will it take to recover?  I try not to look too far ahead. A day is already too much.

Perhaps I will return next summer.  Maybe I could even live here. Why not? What a mysterious adventure life is. I love the idea of it going wherever it goes and not caring what will happen, with me just being inside it along for the journey. . .

So onward to who knows what and God knows where. I sense it will all be revealed soon enough.

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You may choose to experiment with the following imagery exercise to heal and rejuvenate yourself from any physical or emotional ailment that debilitates you.

 Become Your Own Hero

Intention: The Hero is an image we usually attribute to another. Here you get the chance to tap into your own natural heroic energy. Use this to heal yourself in any and every way as you start the day.

Close your eyes and exhale through your mouth one time.

See and sense how it is to become your own hero. Know that you are connected to your Source.  Imagine this Source as coming from within, above and beyond you.

See and sense the blue-golden light of healing emanating from this Source and streaming through you, from the top of your head through every cell and bone in your body. See yourself filled with this light, as you become shining, luminous, gleaming, strong  and entirely rejuvenated.

Now see yourself overcoming the gremlins of fear and doubt, and doing what needs to be done. Breathe out and Celebrate your healing and the beginning of your new life. Then slowly open your eyes.

 

Havoc Plus Hate Equal “Stand Your Ground”

“Stand Your Ground” is a law that doesn’t work. Not for anyone who values justice and believes in a life of fairness, and respect. Mirrored by the murder of Trayvon Martin, and the Not Guilty verdict that released George Zimmerman (while still permitted to “carry”) back  into the world to wreak more havoc and spread more hate under the guise of some perverse personal justice system, this law, this philosophy, this transparent excuse for anarchy, so tightly wrapped in second amendment rights and narcissistic paranoia, is the place where the river meets the road and spills over into the swamp of fear and self- righteousness with a vengeance.

A couple of weeks have passed since this verdict, yet for me, the mud hasn’t settled,* and I still find myself bereft over the unfairness, bigotry, and blind fervor of those who support Mr.Zimmerman and persist on seeing him as both victim and hero.

The last time I felt like this was two years ago, after reading Eric Larson’s “In the Garden of Beasts,” a novelistic history about William E. Dodd, a Chicago academic who, by default, wound up serving as U.S. ambassador to Germany in 1933, thinking, at first, that Germany might be a good place to hide out and work on his next book.

Turned out it was not. The cruel reality of the times, and the spark of decency in himself that Dodd was unable to ignore, overrode his passive, mid-western anti-semitism, and inevitably nudged him into a space where he needed to speak out, which despite the desire of the US State Department to have all involved conform to its code of gentleman’s prejudice by ignoring the violent and humiliating acts of terror flowing through the streets of daily German life, he eventually did.

There’s a lot of information in Larson’s book that I wasn’t aware of. Information so concrete and specific I was shocked not to have known it before. And by the end of his scarily brilliant exposé of the events, hearts, and minds of those well placed officers, ladies and gentlemen involved, I was in a state of despair, as though this had just happened last week. As though it could happen again. And from what I read in Larson’s Afterword, once he had finished writing it,  he felt the same way

So when this feeling came over me again, this time after the Zimmerman verdict, I stopped and asked myself how these two events, separated by over 80 years, and their hugely different cultures of time and place, might relate?

The analogy I’ve come up with is illustrated by the following words from Janet Maslin’s review of Larson’s book when she says:

Dodd, would eventually be transformed by what he saw coming in Germany. And it was his sense of history, not his morality, that made him savage the German vice chancellor who dared to profess ignorance at a party about why the United States had entered the First World War.

“I can tell you,” said Dodd, in one of his uncharacteristically dynamic moments. “It was through the sheer, consummate stupidity of German diplomats.”

 Stand Your Ground, the Florida law, that provided George Zimmerman with popular  justification for acting out the ignorance and prejudice that led to Trayvon Martin’s murder, and to his being rewarded for it by the support of half this country’s people who believe him to be right, reflects the same  ”Consummate stupidity” referred to by Ambassador Dodd  regarding Germans and Germany in the 1930′s.

If we stopped to confront and consider our bias and  paranoia for what it really is we would see that had Trayvon Martin been white this never would have happened.  Just as if had the Jews not  been Jewish, Hitler would have left them alone. Think I’ve gone too far? Think again. After all, its It’s only a hair’s- breadth between good and evil, light  and dark. life and death.Those who fail to acknowledge this are the ones we need to worry about. And to watch.

In Larson’s book he quotes Rabbi Stephen S. Wise of New York, who told a friend, “the frontiers of civilization have been crossed.”

And indeed, so they have. But how many have noticed? How many really care?

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* “Till the mud settles” is from Chapter 15 , of The Tao Tse Ching, Stephen Mitchell translation

Talk Therapy

I’m not a big talk therapy fan. I find it self- indulgent, too left brained and too dependent on blame and angst. But that was then, this is now and there are all kinds of “Talk Therapy” that have nothing to do with any of the above, and slip quite nicely into the cracks that need filling, without attachment, or “transference” or 50 minute “sessions” that end with “Your time is up. I’ll see you again next week.”

Out here in sunny Sequim on the Olympic Peninsula, although the weather is exceptional and the place beautiful, it’s not easy to find a doctor of any kind, mind, body, or otherwise. They are either off on vacation, or all full up with a waiting list that goes for the next two years, at least. Yet after falling from my deck last week I needed to “see someone” so I went to the walk-in clinic in town where the nurse-practitioer told me to rest, take some ibuprofen and wait to get better. Eventually!

For me this wasn’t enough. I needed more, and the “More” that I needed was to not be alone in this beautiful place where initially I had intended to  write and relax. But that was (BF) “before the fall,” after which, my world got much smaller and tighter and my “aloneness” was suddenly accompanied by pain, and thus quickly morphed  into loneliness, and was no longer such a convenient or pleasant fit.

So after seven years of paying for Long Term Health Care Insurance, I decided to call in my chips, expecting no more than some practical assistance with the care and feeding of my damaged self, which could barely lift a plate, get up out of chair, or in or out of a car, without many groans and grimaces, and yes, even tears.  To my surprise and delight, what I got went way beyond the practical stuff, the stuff the health aides check off on the company time sheet, and involved a variety of care givers  with golden skills of communication and compassion, that included generous life experience and wonderful stories to share, which took my mind far from my pain to a place of healing and hope where I felt connected, supported, and unconditionally loved.

Now that’s  real “Talk Therapy,  a synthesis of heart, head, and personal wisdom, all the better for it being a gift (freely given), not part of the package. Unexpectedly filled with light.

If you asked me what it was that made these conversations notable, I’d say you had to be here to get it ─ that this humane and harmonious vibration cannot be described, at least not by me. In brief, it’s the kind of exchange that heals, supports and has the magical power to dis-create physical pain as well as the mental anguish, that goes along with it. And to even begin to comprehend it you need to experience it.

At the end of the day, as at the beginning, most of us want to feel connected, whether to another person,  to our work and our gifts, to family, friends, and to spirit, which, of course, is the uber connector, the vibration that makes life eminently more liveable

To experience pain and discomfort without disparaging it, or ourselves, as useless, stupid, or unworthy is a genuine challenge. Until this moment I’ve made no effort to bring meaning to this “accidental” event, or to spin a story that justifies it, except to be here while I have this conversation with myself, with you, and with God, while allowing the feelings and thoughts  that come my way to  remain un-judged. And perhaps to even discover something uplifting and wise amongst the ashes of my discontent..

Today my healthcare aide was from Rio. There was no language barrier, just considerate conversation and gentle service. The massage therapist was a Mormon. The first one I have ever (knowingly) met. And though I am only vaguely familiar with her religion, and have never really “gotten” it.  I could feel the power of her faith, and her personal connection to spirit, which was as healing to me as her gentle touch.

Call this whatever you like.  Do we need to “talk” about it? Probably not. The talk may be the messenger, but it’s certainly not the message. I am still trying to find out what that message is, and to honor it no matter what.

Here’s an image that may help you connect in a new and valuable way

Silence Is Golden 

Intention: To become still and calm, inside and out To cultivate true connection with self and spirit.

Close your eyes and exhale one time. See and feel how words and stories are covering you up and weighing you down. See and sense how by separating from this mental chatter your troubles disappear. Feel how it is to live your life in the silence that goes beyond all words. Be in the middle of this silence and know that it is golden. Breathe this golden silence into every cell of your body. Then breathe out and open your eyes.

 

 

 

The Art (and craft) of Attention

Have you heard the Zen story about the man who goes to see the Zen Master and asks her to tell him the secret of life?

There are three things, she says.

The first is Pay Attention.

The second is Pay Attention.

The third (you guessed it) is Pay Attention.

This man got less than he thought he should get, but far more than he could digest. Not as simple as one might think. Indeed, not simple at all. And last Sunday I was given a chance to remember how easy it is to forget.

Okay. So here I am in the Great Pacific Northwest. The Cascade Mountains loom in the distance, Sequim Bay is at the foot of my lush green lawn. The sun is shining, the sky is a luminous blue, my dear friends with whom I haven’t had a good solid visit in the past twenty years are here from nearby Seattle, and I decide to record the moment by taking their picture with my iPod.

Good idea. Or, so I thought.

Then comes Mistake #1:

I walk across my deck holding up my  iPod, smack in front of my face, trying to get the best shot — bay in the background, stand of perfectly poised and positioned trees jutting out from the marina, defining the frame — I need it to be “just right. “The ever elusive “ideal” photo.

Mistake #2:

Instead of looking at where I am going (i.e., Paying Attention) my search for the so called “best shot,” walks me right off my deck. Suddenly, there I am, aloft —  soaring for a moment above the lovely green lawn below, like a cartoon character taking flight.

Mistake #3:

I think I am dreaming. That this cannot be happening. But it is. And, of course I am not dreaming. Just playing the fool.

Fortunately, I am in shock and have no time to tense up. More fortunately, the ground here is composed of Mollisols,  spongy and forgiving, so I make a fairly soft landing, and wind up with no broken bones,no head injury. just a big fat, painful bruise, back of my hip.

Today, four days after this unkind event, I limp around my house with the snazzy cane my realtor just dropped off, and keep reminding myself to be grateful for my body’s resilience, for my guardian angel watching over me,  even for my pain, and that I am alive to feel it. And above all, I choose with respect and reverence to: Pay Attention. Pay Attention. Pay Attention.

So please, everyone, forget the ideal picture, experience, pose, yadda, yadda, yadda. And as my dear old dad used to say: “Watch where you are going!”

Not exactly a Zen saying, but close enough to do the job.

Let Freedom Ring*

It’s the week of weeks. The day of days. The time when we celebrate freedom. Independence, and Liberty. When we wave the Red, White, and Blue. We go see the parades. We set off the fireworks. We sing the songs, barbecue the hot dogs, eat the ice cream and get the feeling that something Joyful and important is going on, and we are part of it.

Fine and good. Hooray for us. And why not?

Yet, just as important for us to know is that the freedom we celebrate, the independence we seek, the liberty we value, can’t exist out there in the world without it surviving and thriving inside us as well. For that’s where the real sparks ignite, where the true colors live, and where self-sovereignty ─ the golden forerunner of genuine freedom, liberty, and independence, both in this nation, and in the world─ begins.

We don’t usually think of “The Fourth” this way. Many of us don’t think much about it at all. This might be a good time to start. Try using these Six Suggestions as your own Personal Declaration of Independence and see what happens:

  1. Be vigilant: take 100% responsibility for what you do, say, think and feel.
  2. Be just, and truthful, first with yourself, then with others.
  3. Let go of needing to be “right.” It’s the cornerstone of vanity. The pathway to self-deception and hubris.
  4. Forgive yourself.
  5. Forgive others
  6. Forgive those whom you believe do not “deserve” to be forgiven.

You may find the following imagery exercise helpful in doing this.

Bell of Freedom

Close your eyes, exhale through your mouth one time, and:

See before you the Bell of Freedom. Ring this bell three times, both for yourself and others. As you do this, feel, sense, live, and know how it is to be clear of your past, and free to live out your life in a new, healthy, and liberated way.

* * *

*Note: The title of this post is derived from the song America,” and has no connection  to the conservative pac that labels itself with these words to perpetuate its political agenda.