Monday, November 9, 2020

Relevant Relocations


We move at our peril. Or do we? Peril denotes danger. Yet not all movement is ‘bad’ for us. Still, to move from the known to the unknown takes a certain curiosity, a desire to go yet further, and a preparation to leave the already known. People may be left too. We more easily move with our things than we do people. We package and haul and unpack and again lay out our treasures. But people that we do not regularly see, especially, can seem so very forgotten in the paradigm shift from a there, to a here. (You, yes you, who knows me, do I seem to have forgotten you?)

Paradigm shifts denote a journey to the larger; they connote an awakening. Yes, one might move horizontally, and thereby grow larger in the knowing of the country, but do we necessarily change? Do we not unpack our belongings, make new friends, and tell our same old stories? Or might we realize new depths, soar to new heights, and examine more intuitively the awareness of the moment-by-moment? Are we not creatures given to making things yet more relevant?

Relevant relocations have us conscious of the amalgamation of our past, the accretion of our present, and the integration of our future. We may more and more realize that we move for ourselves, yes, but not so much with selfishness as, with insight, to be in service to the health of the whole. And though we might materially obtain more; get famous; be perceived as wealthy; is it not in the collective zeitgeist that each individual perhaps aims to give more toward others, to make contributions toward the health of the whole, and to put others at ease? No?

From childhood through youth through adulthood to second childishness, the stage upon which we walk and play is littered with our misspoken lines, our forgotten cues, our yearnings for the limelight, or even the desperation of stage fright. And accolades too! Thing is, those coloured memes of spiral dynamics prevail, endemic and integral to our being, like it or not. As such there are swaths of humanity predominantly persevering in the meme of survival, or familial, or competitive, or cultural-isms, or ambitious, or egalitarian proclivities. And to make the paradigm shift, sufficiently, from one meme to another takes more than curiosity. It takes the courage of one’s convictions. So too for becoming more and more integrative. So too for getting beyond the insecurities of self-doubt and allowing for the self to walk one’s talk. We integrate. We can make our relocations relevant, or we can merely move from one place, to another, and stay the same.

At which point does the fulcrum allow for the tipping point? When do we slide into the pool of the unknown and relax sufficient to float with the splash and waves of our own making, let alone ride the tides and weathers of the very nature of things around us? Integration will have us accepting our own (and others’) mistakes along with the outtakes and the retakes and the smooth delivery too. We are creatures connected to each other, and to everything. We are collections. We are individuals. We are common and special and unique. And the relevance we each give our lives, ultimately, must needs sustain us through the long years, the lean years, the growing years, and the forever learning years of our very being.

Indeed, some forget. Indeed, some slip into dotage. Indeed, some struggle to cling to the facts and the data and the truth and the history. Indeed, some no longer perform on the stage, but rather like Shakespeare’s slippered years, sans teeth, sans eyes, sans ears, and even sans taste, do but become the hollow men, the straw men, with but little relevance to intersections at the still point of their lives.* Can we avoid that much? Can we make sufficient choices to evade what to others appeared inevitable? Can we live fully and completely and as wholly as possible within the natural parameters of our aging? And can we make our relocations relevant, from paradigm shift to yet another paradigm shift, or must we but keep spinning our wheels?

I shall arise now, and go to Innisfree. And peace shall keep come winging on its way, slow, but sure. And no, throughout it all, I have not forgotten thee. I hold thine heart in mine, indelibly.


*The Hollow Men (by T.S Elliot)

Mistah Kurtz-he dead
            A penny for the Old Guy


    We are the hollow men
    We are the stuffed men
    Leaning together
    Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
    Our dried voices, when
    We whisper together
    Are quiet and meaningless
    As wind in dry grass
    Or rats' feet over broken glass
    In our dry cellar
    Shape without form, shade without colour,
    Paralysed force, gesture without motion;
    Those who have crossed
    With direct eyes, to death's other Kingdom
    Remember us-if at all-not as lost
    Violent souls, but only
    As the hollow men
    The stuffed men.
….[four more sections]
    This is the way the world ends
    This is the way the world ends
    This is the way the world ends
    Not with a bang but a whimper.


1. Mistah Kurtz: a character in Joseph Conrad's "Heart of Darkness."
2. A...Old Guy: a cry of English children on the streets on Guy Fawkes Day, November 5, when they carry straw effigies of Guy Fawkes and beg for money for fireworks to celebrate the day. Fawkes was a traitor who attempted with conspirators to blow up both houses of Parliament in 1605; the "gunpowder plot" failed.
3. Those...Kingdom: Those who have represented something positive and direct are blessed in Paradise. The reference is to Dante's "Paradiso".


Sunday, October 25, 2020

A Canon of Conflictual Contentions?

 "I don’t care how spiritual you are. How long you can melt in the sweat lodge. How many peyote or ayahuasca journeys that have blown your mind, how many master plant diets you’ve done or how well you can hold crow pose. I don’t care what planets fall in what houses on your birth chart, or how “silent” your meditation is. I don’t care how many crystals you have or how long you’ve gone without sugar, salt, spices or sex or how vegan your diet is.

I want to know how human you are. Can you sit at the feet of the dying despite the discomfort? Can you be with your grief, or mine, without trying to advise, fix or maintain it? I want to know that you can show up at the table no matter how shiny, chakra- aligned or complete you are- or not. Can you hold loving space for your beloveds in the depths of your own healing without trying to be big?
It doesn’t flatter me how many online healing trainings you have, that you live in the desert, forest or in a log cabin, or that you’ve mastered the art of tantra.
What turns me on is busy hands. Planting roots. That despite how tired you are, you make that phone call, you board that plane, you love your children, you feed your family.
I have no interest in how well you can ascend to 5D, astral travel or have out of body sex. I want to see how beautifully you integrate into ordinary reality with your unique magic, how you find beauty and gratitude in what’s surrounding you, and how present you can be in your relationships. How do you hold the ones you love in the midst of conflict? How do you take responsibility for your part? How do you make amends?
I want to know that you can show up and do the hard and holy things on this gorgeously messy Earth. I want to see that you can be sincere, grounded and compassionate as equally as you are empowered, fiery and magnetic. I want to know that even during your achievements, you can step back and be humble enough to still be a student.
What’s beautiful and sexy and authentic is how well you can continue to celebrate others no matter how advanced you’ve become. What’s truly flattering is how much you can give despite how full you’ve made yourself. What’s honestly valuable is how f***ing better of a human you can be, in a world that is high off of spiritual materialism and jumping the next escape goat for “freedom.”
At the end of the day I don’t care how brave you are. How productive, how popular, how enlightened you are. At the end of the day, I want to know that you were kind. That you were real. I want to know that you can step down from the pedestal from time to time to kiss the earth and let your hair get dirty and your feet get muddy, and join the dance with us all."
~ Dolores Cannon

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Garnering The Grail


We search. Some know not what for. Some have a clear idea. A thing can preoccupy our energy. Be it a horse, or a buggy, or a book, or an 'other'. Something outside of oneself can represent The Grail, and our pursuit of such may become an obsession. We can discard communication, huddle into ourselves, and search seemingly without distraction for the object in mind. We want what we want. And as the saying goes, “Be careful what you want; you just might get it.”

Others may pay the price for our perseverance. Others can be left on the sidelines, kept in the dark, and be not privy to our peregrinations. The Grail takes on so many meanings. It becomes a symbol, a stand-in for the actuality of the ancient vessel (purported to be used by Jesus at the Last Supper.) Medieval knights made it an enduring relic, ephemeral, insubstantial, and ultimately unobtainable. No one person could own it; it became the stuff not only of 13th century legend, but of the present journey toward enlightenment. And as such, throughout history, it became an object in itself, without which we are bereft of fortune, destitute in our dissatisfactions, and incomplete in our journey. We forget that the present is the time warp of temporal disintegrations, in which an infinite present coalesces with the future, as well as the past, always. And whilst en route in our search for such a Grail we may too easily forget our friends, our companions, our family, and even our other interests  

Give me leave for digression. When directing for theatre I was at liberty to insert ‘the mystical object’ onto the stage. In Little Women, to give a reason for entering the room, I had Marmee come in with one slipper, tapping her free hand with it as she searched while dispensing advice: “I'm not patient by nature, but with nearly forty years of effort I'm learning to not let it get the better of me.” In Pirates of Penzance, I had 20-year-old Frederick come off the ship with his teddy bear, the which he protected, until he met Mable. In Camelot, I had Pellinore, the rusty knight in search of The Grail, emerge from the forest with his pet dog, a makeshift of rope and sticks; (not with a real dog, who stole the show in the professional production I once saw with the famous Richard Harris.) And in the Savoy Opera, Iolanthe, I again had a teddy bear, searched for and then lovingly found by Private Willis, the lone Sentry, as he sings: “When all night long a chap remains on sentry-go, to chase monotony he exercises of his brains, that is, assuming that he’s got any. Though never nurtured in the lap of luxury, yet I admonish you, I am an intellectual chap, and think of things that would astonish you.”

The point is, The Grail, for each of us, has a different value. And given the now for now of our lives, we obtain, grow used to, take for granted, and even discard the many grails of our passage as we grow in years, yet not necessarily in wisdom.

Symbolical, intuitively unobtainable, The Grail is understood not so much as an object, but as that quality of being ‘happy’ with what one has found; or even better yet, at peace with where one is at. It is as the poet, Robert Browning, puts it: “Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp, or what's a heaven for?”

Still, the contention is, one would be better off not entirely to be fixated.  The solo journey of a Pellinore of Camelot renders him a little ‘mad’,  comical, and harmless though he is, but he becomes unsure of Arthur's new ideas for a new order of chivalry, being against "... any new ideas" on principle. No, one is best to keep moving, rather than resting on one’s laurels, indeed.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Eye for an 'I'


Signs of the self are everywhere. Each time we use an ‘I’ statement, I aver, we subtly surrender objectivity for subjectivity. Difficult not to, since every observation, sensation, feeling, touch, taste, and smell arises directly from our apprehension of particularities. (Even when most empathetic, we are hardly able entirely to see another’s point of view.) Yet, as I know, an ego preserves boundaries; we have a lifetime of experience, at whatever age. We live in terms of a relationship to persons, to things, and even to our geography. Our entelechy, or degrees of inquisitive energy, propels us. We assimilate, at once selfless and selfish, subordinating our selfhood to desires, proclivities, preferences, and wants. Yes, I know, “But, I am me.”

Yet if I begin and end here, and you are there, how can we really be ‘One’? What’s with the ‘third eye’? What’s with the Collective Consciousness, an Ubermensch? How can we be an admixture of individual souls as interdependent as the molecules of the sea, each subject to the vicissitudes of tide and time? How can my energy, like all energy, not actually die, but simply become transmuted into the collective whole? Surely, I shall retain my own identity! Still be me? Yes, belief, assurances, and inexactitudes are yoked in streams of traditionalisms that define groups, sub-groups, and the individual: I believe. (Closely aligned with ‘me,’ can also be a ‘we.’)

Where the subtleties of ‘self’ arises (and here I do not speak of narcissism,) there is the propensity to project onto others the subjective sensations of the self in our given moments, in thought, feelings, attitudes, or even beliefs. Because you do not appear to feel the same, we are not kismet. Because you do not think the same, we are not compatible. Because you have so much passion about this, or that, and I don’t, we are not commensurate. And because you believe in this, or that, politically, religiously, or even traditionally, we cannot easily share, or even communicate. I am different from you. You are different from me. Let’s leave it that. The one who is rightest gets to feel like the winner. The other, being less right, more wrong, or decidedly put out to left field, simply is not to be included into my oeuvre of connections. I do not wish to abide with him, or her. I cannot share. I cannot easily communicate. And my time is precious; I do not choose to waste it. “I feel that...” and so on. Indeed, our disinclinations, we honour.

Peace comes dripping slow. Enlightenment would have one become more and more accepting of every moment, of every person, of every thought, of every contention, of every philosophy, of every... well, of everything. (And which part of Everything is not?) But ‘I’ can get in the way. I am irritated. I am disgruntled. I am discombobulated. I am inaccurate. I am guilty, shallow, avaricious, greedy, and impatient. As the song goes: “Let’s talk about me!” Yet narcissism aside, the subtlety of our self-involvement perpetuates as we bring reference to everything around ourselves from our own point of view. It naturally is so. But at issue here is that the degree of compassion we most can exhibit, resonate with, feel at core, is dependent on our instinctive and intuitive connection to others. We are relational. We are ‘the family of man.’ Still, self-preservation, self-sufficiency, selfishness, self-interest, selfhood, and self-indulgence pervades.

“Do not take anything personally,” (according to The Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz.) Paradoxically, an integrity of self-hood allows for not needing, seeking, wanting, or caring about the approbation, approval, applause, reciprocity, or flattery of others.  It is a sufficiency unto one-self. My spirituality. My progress. My health. My worth. My interests. My self. Still, as Morrie (on a given Tuesday) asks, I do wonder if I can settle for being ‘fully human.’ Ha! All are but components in a universal whole, I think. Now then, as for you? What do you say, eh?

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

The Rock in the River


Some rocks are called just that, rocks. The one I slept the night on, alone in the middle of a gurgling river, was really a boulder. While all boulders are rocks, but not all rocks are boulders, I certainly begged to sleep atop the giant rock. And Rev Moore, back in circa 1968, or was it 9 (?), was hesitant from the outset about giving me permission. He oversaw about 20 of us, boys of varying ages, all from Pretoria Boys High. We had bicycled to the Hartebeest Dam, and some tributary river near to it, to camp for the night. Rev Moore had followed us in a rented white van. Perhaps it was the Outdoors Club outing. Perhaps it was the Cycle Club outing. Whichever, we were there, all of us in the woods, beside a stream, around a campfire, and I, being obstinate, adventuresome, or plain selfish, wanted not to sleep in a tent with others, but by myself, alone, atop a rock, surrounded by water. It would feel like an island of solitude. It would feel as though I was protected by a moat. And it would feel special.

“I have to see it,” Rev Moore demurred. And he accompanied me there. I remember him not electing to follow me as I goat-leaped the rocks across the rushing stream, scrambled up the big boulder (in my memory about as big as a modern-day SUV,) and demonstrated the flat-top. “Alright,” he shouted across at me. “But if you get too cold you know where we are!”

Thing is, it grew very cold, lying there, all alone. I recall the brilliance of the stars. And mostly, I recall the perseverative gurgle and trickle and cacophony of the forever rushing current. While no real threat was expected, I knew at least that I was alone, on my own island, and as hard and cold as the rock itself was, I would be safe.

The next morning, having spent a very restless night, I came to the camp fireplace a mite downcast, huddled into myself. I remember him looking across at me, this gentle Reverend Moore, and he said something like: “No man is an island. A poet wrote that. But you had to experience it for yourself, even if for just one night. Right?”


“Well then,” he went on, “since we really are surrounded by others, the very water of life, we are better off to share ourselves with them, than just to be an isolate. Do you think?”

I smiled. (I think.)

Somehow, in the manufacturing of the images and words from memory, we may be guilty of inaccuracy. We are creative beings, after all. But the essence of the man, our revered master, Reverend Michael Moore, remains. More than fifty years later, we still see him as a fulcrum in our lives, a man who served us by example. A man who was compassionate, caring, understanding, insightful, and gentle.

He may not have been an island ‘just for me’, but certainly he was the rock of safety and integrity and kindness for so very many of us. And sometimes, in the stream of consciousness that is one’s memory, he rises to anchor me in the security of knowing I was seen, cared for, appreciated, respected, and honoured, just for 'being'. Rev Moore. Some souls among us are boulders of integrity, indeed.

                                         *Rev. Michael Moore, circa 1968, and again in 2011. 
                                                                         [Photos provided by Justin Neway]

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Such Sweet Sorrow

A wailing escapes me. Raw, unchecked, I am surprised by the sound. It is a wallowing cord of connection to an alien universe, in which my moaning grief is transported to my conjecture of an ethereal other, a ghostly you, there, just simply no longer present in my small world. It comes wuthering out of me, uninhibited. Still, I am conscious that I am alone whenever this freedom from the self, this almost startling catharsis, occurs. I choose not to contain my grief when in privacy; at last, alone, the release of it can gush from me. Yet still, it does not empty my pain. Years and years may pass, decades even, and still the tears at some sudden memory of you will, unbidden, leak from me. I am watered by my grief. The garden of my consciousness is made richer for having known you, and though you do become but a memory, I am sustained by the sweet sorrow of having shared your essence. Such is love. It does not die, not as long as I feel it.

Such sweet sweet sorrow. Perhaps that is why we cling to the memories? Perhaps the sense of keeping our loved ones with us is carried in the groundswell of grief irrigating our containment of them. Photos. Stories. Recollections. Places. Experiences. Smells. Tastes. And sounds. Have I left something out? Yes, even texture will have one recall an ‘Other’. And a sad tear, a tug on the heartstring, a catching of breath will give pause to the immediacy of activity engaging me, and I then feel, however differentiated, my connection to you, You, who is no longer available to me. You who cannot write. Who cannot speak. Who cannot touch. Who is beyond any reach other than that which I so very subjectively choose to conjure. Such sweet sorrow, indeed.

Does it really matter that I tell someone else, particularly those that never knew you, that I have lost you? That you are dead.

We each can relate: Pet; Granny; Grandpa; Mother; Dad; Child; Sibling; Aunt; Uncle; Cousin. Whom have I left out? Oh, yes, Lover. Withal, what actual names shall I recount? Will someone else identify? Will they send condolences? Will their words really succor me? Will they assuage my pain? Will they give me support when what I really want right now is the privacy of my grief to cry for my loss to the real-life connection to you. All else of you now becomes conjecture. You become ethereal. You become a memory. Yet you sustain me in my sense of appreciation for your contribution to the very value of my experience. In my gratitude lies the sweet sensation of thankfulness, and the sorrow that you are no longer there to reciprocate. Shall you be named?

An alphabet of names here can follow. Certainly, for you, reading this, hearing this, too; we each have lost and loved and lost and loved and keep on loving. We each have variously experienced others in differing degrees of intimacy, accord, and relevance. As such, our grief, sweet grief, can even attend our projection of love toward those we actually never knew, or could know; at least, not know personally. Funerals for kings, for queens, for presidents and politicians, for movie stars, rock stars, and troubadours; they are the stuff of the collective. Let us share our sorrow that we lost Leonard Cohen. A single star in the firmament brightens up the dark. Yet who can possibly name every star surrounding us? And surely my sorrow for Doris Day’s demise is felt too, unless you knew her not, and her actual name no longer provokes your consciousness as she flits from scene to scene. There are too many to cry over. Yet loss is continuous. Shaka Zulu decreed a year of mourning Nandi. But who now still cries over that?

I miss you. Revered master. Teacher. Mentor. Friend.
I love you. And in that much, I feel so very deeply for your passing. Always.

Monday, July 6, 2020

Raising Reciprocity

After the initial excitement, what? We make contact in the instant, and check in with whatever story attenuates our daily struggle, and then, naturally, drift apart. Yet though our pathways are expected to diverge, the feeling of having reconnected leaves one pleased. It is good to know that friendly accord persists, despite the years that do separate us. We can honour the past. We can recollect the memories. We can communicate with some, especially nowadays, thanks to the many mediums at our disposal. Yet in the bullseye metaphor of a dart board there are comparatively few persons in one’s inner circle who are obliged, or feel compelled, to reciprocate frequently. Some maintain contact, intimately by degrees. A special friend. But very many persons we know, naturally, prick into one’s consciousness, but stay on the periphery. (Surely there are none that "doesn't matter," or, "never did," surely?)

Outer circle relationships can know little of the facts of our life. The pleasantries with the familiar receptionist, the clerk, the secretary, the milk man may all slip away. We forget their names. We enjoyed their presence, their energy, their helpfulness, and even our chatter. But eventually, we, or they, move on; (that is, even those with whom we share intellectual intimacy.)

Closer circle relationships evoke more touchstones. People with whom we’ve worked. People on whom we’ve depended. People with whom we’ve shared stories. Old school classmates. Old office colleagues. Old neighbourhood camaraderies. Then there are present day persons circling the immediate apex of shared interests. Ongoing reciprocity is in the instant. We give, they give back. And all the care and empathy and sympathy and assistance and generosity can be heartfelt, sincere, and treasured. We learn personal things about them, and they know our stories too. But then way leads on to way, and we move away, or they do so too. Yet always, we recall that we had a relationship of some sort, however peripheral that may have been. Coming back into consciousness, an itch begins. We need to make contact. To reconnect.

But let’s face it. Some relationships, like watching a drifting leaf in the streams of life, bob and glide and pass on, away. Each person we meet, have met, are yet to meet, appears interesting to us, depending on the degree to which we give them focus. And yes, then too, it can depend on the degree to which they give focus back to us too. How often do we stay communicating?

Thing is, within the dissection of memes of continuing behaviours, preferences, proclivities, habits, and interests, three arteries appear: Conversations dwell on a predominant interest in things; or delve much into an interest in others; and some explore amongst ideas. All three, generally, engage us. The first is easy. Things can preoccupy. The second is more subtle. We talk about people with care and love and compassion, or some talk can be mean-spirited and poisonous. And if overtly preoccupied by ideas, that too can be too political, contentious, self-righteous, or too abstract easily to integrate. So, yes, we are an admixture of all three, and by degrees are swirling in the very chemistry that makes for the recipes of our individuality. It is the kismet soul that invigorates us most. Especially in the moment. (Hello there, fellow traveler!)

Well, who amongst our friends maintains a steady and loving contact? Who among our family? Some of us have old colleagues, old neighbours, old school chums, and old relationships that continue to dip into our lives (and we in theirs) as the years turn to decades. Such is the nature of an unconditional reciprocity. Yet still, how deep do either of us really, truly, delve?

To provoke a sustained contact, now there’s the rub. Personally, I find Penelope and Percy to have reached out, to have shared their story of the journey from a then to a now, and then to disappear again into ‘the new now’, full of the circumstances and involvements and interests and preoccupations that naturally absorb each of us, individually. “Anon,” and, “Toodle-do!”

Recounting catch-ups goes only so far. The ball is in your court. Or is it in mine? And friendly as our interaction may be, when do we again meet? Or must all relationships, except the ones in an ongoing comfort of reciprocity, circle and cycle around the circumstances of living one’s life as it evolves? When will you write, or respond, or reciprocate, or reach out, yet again? Hm?