Whose idea is this, anyway?

My favorite TV ad features a big eyed, sad faced, muppet-like creature that nobody wants around. Ignored by all, left to sleep next to the trash bin in a dirty back alley, it wanders from place to place, dragging its scraggly tail behind it ,until one kind soul finally opens a door and invites it inside. As it walks out of the darkness and into the light its raggedness gradually transforms, until, behold! It is magically reborn, sporting luminous rainbow colored plumage, while an audience of admirers generously cheers it on.

This heart rending spot is about ideas 

How we fear, resist and ignore them, leaving them to find their way up through the cracks of our lives far too often., I’m surprised at how good we are at doing this. And how ignorant we are of what we’re doing, most, if not all of the time.

 I’m equally surprised at how easilly we get caught in this trap ,ignoring even a brilliant  idea whose time came, so many years ago, when we first opened our doors to people, from around the world, desperate  to escape horrendous conditions, seeking comfort upon our safe, un-war torn  shores.
In a comment in the November 9th edition of The New Yorker on line
George Packer reminds us that “In the Second World War, Congress passed legislation that made resettlement in the U.S. harder for Jewish victims of Nazism than for Germans uprooted by the war Hitler started. The chairman of the Senate’s immigration sub-committee presented the problem with a loathsome flourish,  stating, ‘Many of those who seek entrance into this country have little concept of our form of government. Many of them come from lands where Communism had its first growth and dominates the political thought and philosophy of the people.’  Does this sound familiar?  Why doesn’t he just say what he means. (Too many of them are Jews. We thought that problem was disposed of)
Only the angry persistence of President Harry S. Truman got Congress to expand the numbers and remove the discriminatory provisions. so they too could live and flourish.”
New and foreign people (like new and foreign ideas) scare us.
Who knows what beliefs they harbor. What harm they might do? Do they hate us or love us? Will they adapt, or will they flounder in the thick soup of “American exceptionalism?”
At first, I was torn. But after slogging through my future- based fears the choice became clear: its time for our compassion challenged* country, which gives such easy lip service to “freedom and liberty for all,”  to do what it was created to do, by honoring the highest of its ideas and ideals.
 I hope that’s not too much to ask. Or is it?
Here’s an image to move this idea along:
Coming Home
See before you the Statue of Liberty.
See her raising her lamp higher, and beckoning the lost and homeless to Freedom’s Shore.
Become as one with her, as you sense, feel and live how it is to walk the talk of liberty and, freedom for all.
Then breathe out and open your eyes, knowing all is well.
*The “Idea” ad is from GE.
* Compassion challenged is a term used by Washington Post columnist Petula Dvorak, in her November 3rd column on the plight of the homeless, as exacerbated by the law.

 

 

 

Smoke Screen

Last week, a train stopped dead, 800 feet outside the L’enfant Plaza Metro station in DC. As passengers dealt with the darkness and the conductor’s conflicting narratives, smoke began filling the cars. They were told to get down low. To stay where they were. Not to open the doors, or to get out of the train. Some panicked. Some lost consciousness. Some prayed and tried to comfort each other. Some closed their eyes and remained calm. Eighty-four wound up at area hospitals. One woman died. And two people chose not to obey orders.

Just Following Orders

I’ve always been, unnerved by machines that stop, get stuck, go dark. Whether they be elevators, cars, trains, whatever. I’ve been tested and have failed miserably several times. I don’t quite panic, but I don’t stay calm. Yet there’s one thing I know for certain: my fear of being locked in and my terror of not being able to breathe, trump my fear of the dark and the unknown. As for following orders, I stopped doing that by the time was six.

Had I been unfortunate enough to be on this train,  I would have stuck with the former navy guy who labeled it “a situation,” then opened the doors, and offered to lead people out. Yes, there was the third rail to worry about, but if you’ve ever found yourself unable to breathe you get the picture. There were several who followed this man, as he walked away from the smoke toward the light. But by the time he got to the grating that led to the street there was only one person behind him. The others had all turned back.  

Become Your Own Authority

The voices of authority are easily enamored of themselves. They love to give orders. They tell you what to do and how to do it. As Rudy Giuliani walked the streets of New York after 9/11, taking up his role as “Leader” of the city’s millions of terrified pehple, he neglected to disclose that he’d approved the decision to put the emergency command center on the 23rd floor of the World Trade Center. It must have slipped his mind.

Dan Baumbach, a software engineer from Merrick, was stunned to find that building officials in One World Trade Center were telling workers not to evacuate, even after the first jet struck. “You can try it, but it’s at your own risk,” he quoted one official as warning a hundred people on the 75th floor. Many went with his advice; Baumbach continued his descent and survived.

“The reason we got out,” Brumbach said,  ”was because we didn’t listen.

Imagine yourself on a smoke filled train, or in a high rise that has just been hit by a jet. Imagine how you’d feel. Imagine what you would do. How about choosing to Become your own authority.To listen to your first voice. For me, that’s the voice that says: What are you waiting for? Take your chances. Do it! Go. Get out! 

Yes. It’s that simple. There are no guarantees. No one knows any better than you do what may happen.So don’t analyze your choices. Just make them and move on.

Here’s an image to empower you to do this:  

Choose You Can’t Lose

 This is best done by having someone read it to you. Make your choices quickly. And go from the gut.

Close your eyes, breathe out and Choose:

 

Left or Right.

Day or Night.

Dark or Light.

Fast or Slow.

High or Low.

Yes or No.

Stay or Go.

 

 

 

 

The real and present Danger of Retail Therapy

Thursday is Moving Day. My life in New York is almost done. So is my affair with Retail Therapy. I need a desk-chair and a cocktail table. Perhaps a stand for my oriental vase. That’s it. Over and out.

I know.Time is up. It’s getting boring. But it’s more fun than writing. Or than worrying about how much money I’m spending, or obsessing over the fact that the forbissen*  woman at a certain silversmiths on East 45th street conned me out of more than a thousand on my sterling flatware while I acted as her unwitting accomplice. You’d think I might have suspected something as soon as she positioned the face of  the scale so it was visible only to her. Or when I questioned her motive and she told me she was no “Fishmonger.” Not walking out meant the die was cast.

I took the money she offered (I was tired and overwhelmed, but hey, no excuses), slid into the limo waiting outside to ferry me home from what I had hoped would be my big killing (why else would I take a limo?). Then told the story several times over to those willing to listen. In the past I have walked away from bigger and better. But this time I caved. Or I surrendered to the process. I prefer option #2.  It’s the way to save face.

Onward! It’s all part of the master plan. It must be: it happened. And the lesson is as usual:

* Practice the art of non-attachment. Both to your silver and the money you think you’ll get for it.

* Stop futzing around..Say Yes or No to whatever choices arise. Then, move on. Fast!

* And if your selling silver, learn the difference between Troy ounces and regular ounces, so you know what you’re dealing with.

 Even when retail therapy has gone out the window, and you’ve been bowed by the most  trying circumstances, you may use this imagery exercise to become more resilient.

 Falling Free

Close your eyes and exhale through your mouth one time. See sense and feel how you’ve become a cat falling out of a tree. Let go and be completely relaxed, as you land lightly on the ground below.
Breathe out. Know how you are falling out of a tree at every moment of your life. And that there’s no need to resist, or to think about it.
 Breathe out. Know and live how by clinging to the promises of material life you create a state of tension and anxiety.  Seeing clearly, know how there is nothing to cling to. And that you’re falling together with the whole world. Notice what happens and how you feel.
.

*Forbissen means forbidding, bitter, mean spirited in Yiddish. .I.E. She had a forbissen look on her face.

The Rx of Letting Go

I  was once a Journalista. I wrote about the “important” things in my life. Mostly, the things that made me feel angry, sad, sorry for myself, alone. The stuff of disappointments, yearnings, and loss. Yes there was good stuff too. But not so much. The scales of my journals tipped downward. And I never thought to rebalance them.

My journals had beautiful covers. Technicolor dreams of the good life. Days of sunlight, golden meadows, and bright blue skies. Nights of stars, moonlight, and mystery. But on the inside they held a lot more darkness than light. A lot more regret than celebration.

I noticed this last week, as I looked through them to prepare for my move. I skimmed the pages, asking myself which to keep. Which to toss. They surprised me with so much of the same. In an instant I knew. It was time to let  go. I kept none. So no one will learn from my errors. No one will weep at my mistakes. No one will read what I wrote in moments of despair, nor were they meant to. I  never knew it would be that easy.

Best that these stories of my life become as Native American sand paintings. Created, then erased, no matter how beautiful. Gone forever. As if they never happened. Einstein told us, “We can’t solve our problems with the same kind of thinking with which we created them.” What a smarty pants he was.

Out with the regret, the what ifs, the doubt, the complaining. In with gratitude, instead. To be grateful for a freely drawn breath  For the light of day.  For a kind word, or deed, or look, whether given or received. If that’s all that I learn from the events of my past, I am well ahead of the game, If the game even exists.

So dear friend (you know who you are) — sorry. But when I’m gone, there will be just memories and vibrations. No journals to remind you. No stories of old victories and defeats. Of love lost and found.That’s more than enough, don’t you think?.

You can use this imagery exercise to let it all go. Whether that “it” is a journal, a memory, a relationship, or a resentment. Whether it’s.inside or out.

Silence Is Golden

Close your eye 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. Give thanks for this moment. Then breathe out and open your eyes.

 

 

Lost In the Wicked World of Compliance

I go to sleep late most nights, and wind up watching some pretty strange stuff on TV. Among the strangest and most unsettling was a movie I happened in on a few days ago called “Compliance.” I should have known better. I’ve hated this word since before I even knew what it meant. Its mean-spirited vibration speaks loud and clear: No questions asked. No back talk permitted. Thinking for oneself not allowed. Ever.

Its history is dark. When used in the lingo of medicine it’s particularly chilling, insisting that we abdicate being in charge of ourselves and our choices when our lives are at stake and we’re at our most vulnerable. It’s the path to self-betrayal, to compromised integrity, to weakness, and fear. If you’ve been there, you know what I mean.

“Compliance,” is based on a true event that shows how workers at a fast food restaurant turned on their own and bowed down to the scare tactics of a bogus police officer, who used a phone card to disguise himself and his whereabouts and successfully coerced the employees into strip searching, sexually humiliating, and raping a young woman for a theft she never committed, a crime which had never occurred. So cowed were they by the man’s manner and tone that all of them complied with his outrageous directives, which ended only when one person finally said “No,” and had another employee call the home office to check him out. No one else balked. Even though some of the workers had doubts, they remained hypnotized, keeping their heads down and their mouths shut as they shoveled fries into bubbling pots of oil and greasy burgers onto the grill.

We’ve seen this tendency in ourselves and others, waiting in the dark corners of our minds, anxious to rear it’s ugly head and remind us who’s boss. I remember it well, from the time I was a child, when I felt compelled to stand up for myself and saw the cost of not falling into line. Of not doing what I was told to do, even when it made no sense to do it. None!

In a New Yorker piece this past week on “Duke Ellington, the Beatles, and the Mysteries of Modern Creativity,” Adam Gopnik writes that swing, jazz and rock wasn’t just about “creating a new sound; it was about the sound of self-discovery.” That American music in those days was “the soundtrack of self-emancipation.” The opposite of compliance!

He tells us that “few jazz fans didn’t hate the Nazis.” That this music “immunized its listeners against fascism.” It made them crave freedom, feel it in their bones and their bloodstream.

Compliance is the antithesis of jazz.  The enemy of swing. The saboteur of rock. It withholds. It limits. It belittles and disallows the creative.  Whenever we have a choice, we had best choose freedom. Our lives depend on it. To thrive and survive we must encode this message in our hearts, and live it out each day, even when the experts and authorities tell us not to.

“It’s a Free Country” is something kids said and believed in my youth — a way of saying  ”I can do what I want”  Maybe we can. Maybe not. But for now, let’s act as if it still applies.

Use the following imagery exercise to assist you in your quest to become free of restricting beliefs and habits.To live your life as your true self. Not in compliance but in freedom and truth.

Breaking The Idols

Close your eyes and breathe out three times. See yourself in the museum of your life. See there all the statues and artifacts that you bow down to. Sense and know how these creations prevent you from living freely and wholly in the present.

Breathe out one time. Walk through this museum and in any way you choose, destroy these constructions. Once you have done this clear away the debris and get rid of it. See what happens and how you feel. Then breathe out, open your eyes and return.