We wish for the good old days when times were simple. Snapping green beans on the front porch or eating homemade ice cream. What I desire the most is the idle time to spend daydreaming.
I feel bad about the struggles on the other side of the world, but I’m limited to what I can do. I can listen to Beatles music. Maybe say a few lines of Rumi. It’s not by any means stopping the skirmishes of fighting tribes. I don’t wish for the old days, not really. They had their issues. Days were devoted to food preparation and lives cut short by disease. What I want is simplicity—living with this moment—making the most of what I have now. I don’t want to be always thinking about the fun of tomorrow or worrying about the issues that are not in my control.
This We Have Now
This we have now is not imagination.
This is not grief or joy.
Not a judging state, or an elation, or sadness.
Those come and go. This is the presence that doesn’t.
From Essential Rumi by Coleman Barks
The next time you’re watching the news and paying your bills while trying to phone your mom and pet your cat, stop. Do one thing. Only one. Choose your activity wisely and give it your full attention. Save your sanity and realize your limitations. It’s okay if you can’t fix everything. It’s okay if you can’t save the world. We can put on our tie dyed shirts and chant OM.
Helen Sinclair: No, no, don’t speak. Don’t speak. Please don’t speak. Please don’t speak. No. No. No. Go. Go, gentle Scorpio, go. Your Pisces wishes you every happy return. – From Bullets Over Broadway
It’s time to hunker down, to stay inside, to do the opposite of what Americans do best. We do not do idle. And even when we rest, it’s not a quiet thing. We fidget. We plan. We vacation.
Today was the first weekend after Oklahoma Governor Stitt ordered nonessential businesses closed and people to remain home.
KFOR News – As part of the new restrictions, Stitt said that all non-essential businesses located in the counties affected by COVID-19 are being ordered to close at 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday, March 25 until April 14.
So what happens when you’re home sheltering in place, and the electricity shuts off? No lights or television or computers. Netflix is unavailable. No binge-watching the latest show. Well, earlier, I swept the floor but couldn’t do the laundry. The WiFi was off, so I wasn’t able to edit, not even from my phone.
We took a walk. Thankfully the electricity was turned on by the time we had made the trek around the neighborhood. I had work to do: writing, laundry, and other busy stuff.
We mellow. Some of us do, at least. Learn some lessons and apply the knowledge, then over time, we seem smarter. That’s the plan.
In my youth I loved trying to move mountains, making situations change to fit my needs. Except I have grown tired as I’ve gotten older. Dodging fights. Hiding isn’t the answer either.
Yesterday, was a beautiful day for me. I finally let myself be as I wanted to be. All of last week I did actually. I chose actively to be in my own life. I’m choosing to enjoy the mountain scenery, you could say.
Not everyone will understand, but not showing up for life is a big epidemic lately. It’s easier to pretend that everything is fine, go to work, but inside you don’t give a damn.
Showing up in our personal life is more difficult than taking a shower and eating food. It’s choosing yourself over your job or the opinions of others.
Showing up requires effort in our thinking. We have to do the challenges life has placed in front of us.
“These spiritual window-shoppers,
who idly ask, ‘How much is that?’ Oh, I’m just looking.
They handle a hundred items and put them down,
shadows with no capital. What is spent is love and two eyes wet with weeping.
But these walk into a shop,
and their whole lives pass suddenly in that moment,
in that shop.
Where did you go? “Nowhere.”
What did you have to eat? “Nothing much. “
Even if you don’t know what you want,
buy _something,_ to be part of the exchanging flow.
Start a huge, foolish project,
It makes absolutely no difference
what people think of you.” – Rumi These Window Shoppers, taken from wegotthis.com
I have been embarrassed by my whiteness, my richness, my entitlement. Embarrassed, ashamed, repentant. Inside I was apologetic, not wanting anyone to think that I believed that I am better than another. Sometimes I wonder if I’m trying too hard to prove something. But who am I trying to prove this to? And why?
Check out this video:
We have no control over our birth. Where we are born, the family we are born into, the color of our skin, and the status of our household is decided for us. The religion of our culture is usually the one that we adopt. And yet we claim these things with such pride and place our hand over our hearts, pledging allegiance as if we chose them.
Kids do not create the circumstances they are born into. Never apologize for who you are, unless who you are is an asshole. Privilege is what most parents want for their children. It’s what most people want for themselves. The problem is not privilege, and the goal is not equality of outcome. The goal is simple recognition that a lot of people are running the race of life with rocks in their pockets and combat boots on their feet. They are being forced to start a half mile back, and with bad maps. – Don’t Feel Guilty About Privilege
We may not be able to change another’s current privilege, but we can change the future generation. It’s not necessary for me to apologize anymore. I don’t have to hang my head. Really. I don’t know why I ever thought that I should.
No one wants to feel like the lost toy. Forgotten. We hate to be misunderstood. It hurts.
I called my doctor’s office this week. My neck was in a muscle spasm and my head was hurting. I’d actually left home from work early on Monday. So I called them in desperation. Could they help? The nurse called me back promptly, stating she’d get with the doctor then let me know. I waited. Monday evening I checked my phone. Tuesday morning, I took my time getting ready for work, dreading going in since I was still in pain, but I was still thinking the doctor’s office might call any minute. I checked my phone around noon and there was still no call. I don’t like being ignored. I’m not easily forgotten. Wednesday came, then Thursday, and finally Friday morning, which was when I spoke with the nurse. After all the waiting, I wondered if my doctor really reviewed my chart when she only upped my dosage of the same medication I’d already been taking.
There are misunderstandings.
Sometimes we don’t hear the full sentence. We often aren’t fully listening to the person talking, we just think we are. We hear the words, but we hear them with our perceptions. I’ve talked about this before in other posts. For more on this read, Flavors and Perspectives. I do this so much it embarrasses me. Note to self: Practice mindfulness. Recently I had an epiphany. When I was growing up, girls were becoming more independent, going to college and getting jobs. It was the beginning of the age of the working girl.
I graduated from high school in the early 80’s without any of these big plans. I’d had odd jobs. I wasn’t lazy and I never refused work if it was offered. What I had lacked was transportation. I don’t want to be down on my parents because everyone has their faults, as well as their charms. My parents are the steady type. They are there for you when you’re in need. You need new tires or your air conditioner is broken, they are the people who will help. There was always food on the table and a bed to sleep in. But I knew where I stood all of my life when it came time asking for the extra things. And I knew what those extra items consisted of. I didn’t ask to attend extra curricular activities in school. I didn’t do band or sports. I rode the bus home from school. I did my homework. I colored in the lines. No nonsense. No useless activities. Why? Have you ever been on a highway that has the bumps on the side for when you veered off the road? It’s like being pulled feet first down a flight of stairs. That’s what it felt like asking for more.
I didn’t realize until recently that I’d been guilty of not only misreading my parents’ values, but also of ignoring their values. Maybe I never saw them at all. At that time, they had disregarded my requests for a car. Ignored. Said No. However you wish to phrase it. When I asked to work, which I did temporarily, it was received with a lot of complaining on my parents part. Remember the bumps on the side of the road? The job lasted for a few months until I got tired of hearing the complaining. For years I’d thought of myself as lazy after high school. I should have went to college, I kept thinking. But how could I have went to college, since I didn’t have a car? I should have gotten a job. Small towns. No transportation. Guilt. Shame. Misunderstanding. The circle of life.
My brother had mentioned my parents’ different values to me a few years before and I had forgotten until recently. Dad is old-fashioned. Women don’t need educated. Men do. Men work. Women stay at home and raise children. There wasn’t a reason for me to go to college or have a car. I knew that I wasn’t lazy. I had just misunderstood. It’s just taken me a bit longer to get where I wanted to be. My generation, the edge of change, often misunderstood our parents. Just as they often misunderstood us and our need for independence and leaving their ways behind.
Strange abandoned house
I was watching some new videos on YouTube and found an entire channel devoted to urban exploration with abandoned houses. I’ve included one of the most interesting ones below. It’s short and quaint. WWI era house and supposedly left undisturbed. Check it out for yourself.
It’s foolish to work hard at something and not get paid much. If you get paid squat, you know everyone else is looking down at you. They despise you and make fun of you. If you work hard at something, like campaigning for public office and fail, you need to hide. You know everyone will call you a fool. You failed. How stupid of you to think you could win.
Abandon your project as soon as you notice it’s not going to work. It’s a stupid idea anyway. Don’t even wait that long. And if anyone doubts your abilities, bluster. Tell them you knew all along that the task was stupid, and that you usually finish what you start, unless they’re stupid. And more advice for the future, check often to make sure your future projects are worth finishing. You must always know where you’re going and what you’re doing. Never wander around aimlessly.
Don’t be foolish. Don’t be stupid.
Fools are ignorant. Stupid. Laughed at. Fools don’t deserve good things. I’m a fool. I’m a fool when I try and I’m a fool for waiting and not trying. A fool is never admired and doesn’t get the good seat. Well, sometimes he does, maybe. We all get a turn and even I have but I forget. Maybe I’ll just be a fool and not worry about it, then I’ll realize that we all are fools. Because it doesn’t matter.
Who said I should be in the 6 a.m. meditation group? Do I know what is holy? Can I decide for the future what I should do, where I should go, with whom I should be, and still remain open to what is needed now? Am I quite sure I should answer every question? EXTRA : Care for some extra superpowers, The Fluent Self
Who told me that?
Do I know the consequences of even one word I write?
Who told me it is kind to laugh at every joke, be on time for every appointment, get less sleep and not more, keep certain thoughts to myself, always do what I have agreed? How can I know what the situation calls for when it is clearly impossible for me to see the whole situation? Do I claim no distortion in my perception? Why then torture myself about fulfilling every unexamined claim of conscience? Why not consider the alternative? That there is something within me that does know and I can hear that something more clearly in comfort than in guilt. Maybe I should ease up and let things be.
“I sometimes react to making a mistake as if I have betrayed myself. My fear of making a mistake seems to be based on the hidden assumption that I am potentially perfect and that if I can just be very careful I will not fall from heaven. But a ‘mistake’ is a declaration of the way I am, a jolt to the way I intend, a reminder I am not dealing with the facts. When I have listened to my mistakes I have grown.”
― Hugh Prather
This is from a page I wrote in 2005. I was reading from some of my journals and ran across this little piece and thought that it is just as relevant for me today as it was then.
Get off your pedestal. You’re going to hurt yourself.
Some people seem like pebbles in my shoe. I’m walking along and all is fine. Dang it all, but there is something in my shoe. I pull off the shoe and brush out the offending pebble. With the shoe back on, I start walking, until another pebble gets in my shoe. Some days it seems as though life is a series of offensive pebbles.
There are telemarketers and pushy sales clerks wanting your money. Late fees and long lines. Broken shopping carts and flat tires. If you could make them all disappear. And what about the coworker who talks too loudly or the boss who misunderstands your jokes?
These are fly in my ointment, the devil in the details, and the speck on my black pants.
Have you ever noticed that the more you list the problems and label them as a nuisance, the more they tend to multiply like rabbits in the free-range? The snow that piles three feet high keeps you from driving to work or a sudden rain shower that spoils the ballgame, and we can’t control these.
From childhood, we dream of our life with all the good times planned out in our heads, but the path that we walk is our reality. The dream in our head is only a projected course. It’s all possibilities and potential realities.
There are people and events in your life that seem like obstacles. Somewhere between the time we’ve visualized where we wanted to go and when we made it, our path ends. How do we handle the pebbles? Get over them and keep walking? Or build a pebble wall of I can’t?
Instead of seeing obstacles as a pebble in your shoe, try seeing them as sand in the oyster. These inconveniences are your life. The people who annoy you the most are not your enemy. They don’t have to be anything to you. Release the emotional grip you have on those in your life. There is no need to demand they act the way you wish. The anger keeps you bound to your so-called enemy. It will only drain you of the energy you need to be productive.
Look at that annoyance. Can you feel the energy it takes? Let it go, and when you think it again, look at it and let it go back.
Things that happen to us are simply the thing that happened. The pebble didn’t ask to be in your shoe. It didn’t place itself there to jump as you walked along the road. Life is as it is.
In yoga, movements are measured by breath. Breathe in as you raise your arms, breathe out as you fold forward. Yoga is not about bending your body into a pretzel so you can impress someone. Yoga is feeling the flow and the rhythm of life. It brings rhythm to your thoughts, emotions, and body. The tide flows in and the tide flows out. The sun rises then sets. This rhythm changes the perspective of life if you let it.
This flow of life contrasts starkly against the rush of life around me. Yesterday, I watched a young motorcyclist weave in and out of traffic on a busy highway going at least 85 mph. No helmet. No protective gear. Just his ball cap shoved on backwards, young and careless. I’m sounding old now, but from my perspective, life is short enough. As I waited for my traffic light to turn green earlier today, the traffic rushed by me. I wanted to get out of everyone’s way and hole up in my home. I used to shop late at night. Groceries are so much easier to buy when no one else is around. Late at night life is quiet and life slows down. Here’s a couple of verses from a favorite song,
And when my mind is free
You know your melody can move me
And when I’m feelin’ blue
The guitars come through to soothe me
Thanks for the joy you’ve given me
I want you to know that I believe in your song
And rhythm, and rhyme, and harmony
You helped me along, you’re makin’ me strong – lyrics “Drift Away” Uncle Kracker
I think we sometimes miss the point of why we do things. For example, I write for the pleasure as I’ve before stated. I love the sound of words and the process of stating something clearly. It’s a thrill to say it just the way you mean it. It’s the process. Writing fiction is daunting, but the pleasure of watching your characters come to life is worth the push through. Inch by inch and row by row.
It’s not always the fastest who wins the race, or the strongest who wins the war, so slow down.
I’m not sure if it’s truth or just sometimes true, but I’ve heard the saying, It’s always darkest before the dawn. When I was younger, my favorite time of the day was right before the sunrise. Especially when you can see Venus rising. It always seemed unique like I’m the only one awake. Private showing for me. I love the night sky, and the sunrise is even better.
September marks a very strange time for me.
It’s my birthday month, but beyond that, it was a spiritually dark month for me in 2001. Not because of the Twin Towers destruction on 9/11, although that hit all of us in America pretty hard. But, I had a major depressive episode or nervous breakdown the week of Labor Day in 2001, the week before THE Bad Day of Sept 11. Tuesday, September 4th I sat on my bedroom floor in the middle of a panic attack. My body and mind shut down almost entirely. My husband was out of town, my kids were playing, and our church pastor had left. I finally reached a friend by phone. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know what was wrong. My spiritual life didn’t prepare me for this. I felt as if I were Sampson standing between the two pillars, without the strength that I was used to. Before this, I knew what God wanted. I knew the answers. And suddenly I couldn’t even pray.
It took years to climb out.
There’s no easy answer or 10 step program when you meet the devil at the crossroads, and he runs over you with a Mack truck. The formula that ensured success didn’t work. It worked before, but nope, not this time. When your illusions are shattered, there’s nothing you can do but sit. Sit and let it all fall down. Wait for the pillars to fall. Wait for the dust to settle.
A lot of people say it happens for a reason. Well, everything does. Sometimes the reason is as simple as tripping over your own idealism. It’s not a master plan. There’s no design for our lives. We’re born, we live, and we learn. We could pretend. Name a cause just to make everything seem predictable and safe, but I don’t want to do that. I know why it happened. What I thought was a reliable formula for success was only plaster and paint.
If you imagine the growth of divine consciousness as being like the growth of a rose, then a cutting from the original rose would have to be placed in the earth. It has to be watered by prayer and by devotion and by meditation. It comes up out of the ground, it has to be protected. Then it grows thorns — the thorns of discrimination and wisdom. An Interview With Andrew Harvey – Colleen O’Connor
If you’ve recently been hit by a Mack truck and your world is falling apart, just let it happen. Get help. Talk to friends. You can make it through. It may not be part of a master plan of divine origins, but it happened. This is life in all of its beauty and horror. Clean up time will come. I know because I made it through and I’m rebuilding. And the sun is rising in the east.
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