Thursday, March 18, 2021

The March of Memories

 


Your name is here! You are not (entirely) overlooked, forgotten, or uncared about.  We each process through so many people. And some of us move, relocate, and move again. We meet so very many persons; we can be forgiven for not remembering all. Affection aside, it still can be difficult to recall when, or where? After all, a face changes in the intervening years. Like impermeable mental membranes, walls among memories make much of a miasma of the past.

Robert Frost had it right: ‘Something there is that does not love a wall.’ Yet still, ‘good fences make good neighbours.’ We do not necessarily call across our familial boundaries. We do not easily write. We do not share personal information. We do not persist with contact. Yet still, feelings of ‘connection’ can be continual. Fondness, love, care, and interest can again be engendered. But often we then do needs move on; there are so very many others to meet.

Oh, yes, your name. It is A...; B...; C...; D…; E...; F...; G...; H...; I...; J...; K...; L...; M...; N...; O...; P...; Q...; R...; S...; T...; U...; V...; W...; X...; Y...; Z....

Found it? Yes, you are recalled. (For every letter, we may know others too.)

Sometimes, a letter about the past arrives, most unexpectedly, and it can revive an almost forgotten time, giving yet more wealth to the dimming memories.

But is it our sharing intimate details that makes for ongoing friendship? Is it only due to our past? Can a chemistry of accord once between us survive all the years? Do the present details of our lives make that much of a matter? Or can we delve into ideas? Wait, you are now married. You have children. You have a cat. Another has a dog. You are successful. At some time or other you were not fortunate. And so, the details about what, when, who, how, and even the why may enliven our reconnection. Certainly, they are interesting. We share. For a while. And then?

Perhaps hardest of all is receiving a letter that declares a difference of direction so strong that it disavows the friendship, terminates it with harsh phrases, cuts the cord. (Certainly, of all the people I have known in over six decades of living, such a letter has resonated in my sad feelings far longer than had that person simply gone away, and effectively merely lost contact.)

Family members can give one feelings of guilt. Particularly with very large families. Just how many nieces and nephews does one have? And just how is one to be expected to keep up with all the events in each child’s life? Especially if one is geographically remote. And especially if the years and years go by, without effort on either part, their parents, or oneself, or themselves, to foster a relationship. Still, guilt goes with being the adult. Connecting is up to the one with the most responsibility for showing an interest.

I stand guilty. My nieces and nephews, when you are adult, I shall entertain sharing time with you, should you care to. Ideas. Interests. Queries. Should you not reciprocate, well, there shall be no love lost, in any case. Yet I do surmise that we both are the poorer for it.

So too for the very many friends and acquaintances made along the pathways of life. We may no longer be in touch. We may be under too many constraints. But certainly, there are multiples of memories. And central to such memories are feelings of warmth, and blessings to you. Always.



Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Peace In The Present

 


Mayhap the old ways were better. Yet our history certainly does not show it to be so. The struggle to get here, now, for each of us, through the long lineage of our ancestry, is replete with hardship and strife. But there was also love. And there was happiness. All of it was felt, somehow, in however small a measure. Still, it is, however, the now, for now, that is at issue.

Sunlight. Rain. A bird. A deer. An insect. A dust bunny. A dry leaf. A blossom. Each little thing can be fascinating. If catharsis be a release from the self, as well as a connection with a greater whole, then our focus on each little thing, now for now, is a release from the very struggle of chronic pain, chronic worry, chronic unfairness, chronic grief. We might else but smudge every precious remaining moment of life into dearth and despair, were we not to practice this little delight of finding pleasure, release, gratitude, or joy in the daily diurnal of our very existence.

Existing everywhere, holons are micro and macro realizations of matter, concept, and recognition. Not seeing atoms, we yet are given to understand their existence. So too for molecules. So too for quarks and quirks. So too for fractals. (And yet, once fractals are noticed, like someone pointing out a particular beetle, they are everywhere). So too for the life-gleaned theories of others that delineate our existence, that hold fascination: A rubric; a pentacle of virtues; a theory of positive disintegration; a theory of spiral dynamics; a theory of four agreements; an eight-part template of moral choices; an enneagram of personality and character; and one has choice. In a comprehensive integral theory, we comprise parts of all and everything; at issue is what our differentiating degree of habituations are. What are our small meme choices, let alone our Large Meme cohesions? In this last measure, we do indeed curtail or advance our enlightenment. It can take much courage and conviction afore one can readily commit to a new paradigm. For some, a conversion can be virtually instantaneous; a rebirth, as it were. But given that we are purported to be parts of the whole, we might deny our own entirety at the risk of misunderstanding our own role of become progressively integrative, altogether.

Which part of Everything, is not? It is an age-old question. And the societies of yore (even the smallest of groups before the Sumerians,) had slowly but surely to incorporate a larger and larger world as the inevitable amalgamation of the inclusion of others spread and spread across the globe. Yes, war and strife and opposition and genocide and horrors and travesties and mans’ inhumanity to man grew and grew. We do not easily give in to the usurper. We do not easily give in to the heretic. We do not easily give in to the despoiler. We do not easily change. We do not easily give up our gods. We do not easily go beyond our beliefs.

Yet in each moment of all that went before, there too was sunlight, rain, birds, beetles, creatures, and insects. And there was love. We best trust that our own lineage was not necessarily just the product of rape and despoilment and despair and devolution. We can conceive that there was passion and love and care and delight and hope and a sense of progress and purpose. It all brought us to this moment, this very now in which these words reach you. Yes, you. And as you look up from the page, or focus your eyes away from listening to this missive, might you not see even a dust mite, wafting in air, to be as integral a part of our universe as is some distant star?

Peace is in moments. Machines snarling; dogs barking; traffic; people arguing; worldly atrocities; and perpetual problems interfere. Censure hurts. Yet discord and distraction are but integral parts of the whole; our greater and larger sense of acceptance and inclusion can become an integration that will enlighten our days; give peace to our nights. And so, chronic despair, unrelenting pain, or great grief finds not necessarily a surcease, as much as a relevant particularization within a larger whole. And paradoxically, the smallest of things, even a bug, can indeed put one in the larger picture. Peace with the now, and our changing, or not, becomes us.



Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Opposing Forces

 


The screw would not budge. Four inches long, its counterpart had come out, twist by twist, grudgingly, giving up its deep grip on the wood. But this screw, now, despite all the force I could muster, came out only half an inch. Ironic; to pull something out one must push so forcefully. As well, it was necessary to have the correct tool, so that purchase in the grooves of the screw-head would not slip, or worse, would not strip the flanges of the thing, altogether. One pushes to pull. One turns to back out straight. One aches to gain. Had I not wished or needed to use the same screw hole over again, I might just have hack-sawed the thing. But one pays one’s price.

It is in opposition that we find our true metal. Cursing and acting out is not so much ‘out of character,’ as it can be in our character. Deep down. To get something, we can be like children, behaving with some atavistic variant of yelling with deep frustration to get what we want. One strives for significance. But not all efforts are equal. There is little equanimity of reward for struggle. We each must find our measure in all the doing, the undoing, as well as the re-doing that goes along with our progress, in life. The marriage of the right moment, the right tools, and the right energy needs all meet, serendipitously, for one to have easy success.

The 2021 USA inauguration, this January 20th, needed much counterforce to unscrew the incumbent from his cherished position. Unyielding, recalcitrant, the inevitability of circumstance and event, time, and date, had old POTUS meeting with forces beyond his control, and petulant as he was, a new order took place. At issue is the time it takes for things to change. Throughout history we have witnessed the great onslaught of revolutions and upsets and plagues and pestilences. We have endured. But in the collective ‘we’ of that endurance millions along the way have given their lives. At Capitol Hill, with its dire insurrection preceding the Presidential changeover, five people gave up theirs. Each was there for a reason.

Reason would have us working with something, rather than against it. Reason would have us negotiating, and influencing, and urging, and even manipulating the course of events to have the sensibility of our impetus recognized, and acted upon. But history proves that we do not easily or readily resort to reason. Brute force is the habitual recourse. The one with the biggest bark, the biggest following, the greatest amount of strength, tends to prevail, even if only for a while.

Peace. Ease. Such is the stuff dreams may give us. We can cry in our dream with the begging of forgiveness; we can meet with the circumstances of yore. And by facing into them, like facing into pain, or to fear, or to regret, we can gain purchase on the slippery grip of our contentions, and by dint of supreme effort, or care, or consideration, we might well find our surcease. But it takes pursuing our course of action with an intentionality borne not so much out of desperation, as of unswerving attention.

Opposing forces create pearls; the piston stroke of engines; sporting events; and dramatic action. Themes of conflict stretch most yarns to a climactic breaking point. Tension for too long, becomes humorous. In short bursts, tension becomes an irritant. But stretched just long enough, opposing forces can yield a product that demands our attentive measures of application to task. And our reward.

Eventually, the screw came out. Using the thinnest drill-bit down beside it gave it room. Yes, we do well with assistance. Words, love, care, smiles, hugs; these are the salve of our lives. Yet where the real work of life is done (if one is not always to be screwed up, ha!) is encountered alone; where having the right tools, the right templates, the right rubrics, and even the right stuff, becomes not so much a by-product of our experiences, as a way of pursuing life.

Facing into one’s reserves of resilience, fortitude, endurance, and going beyond one’s habits, that is the stuff of paradigm shifts. (Or is it just that one wants not, ineluctably, ‘to be screwed’?)



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



                       I

    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

http://www.dolorescannon.com/?fbclid=IwAR1dCfMzY0zawIhvgizJAu6B_01VZ9s94m0auGtOjgeLEGX84bCiwAc1d8w




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’ and comical; and harmless though he is, 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?