The Fulcrum of Compliance

Today several things came together in my field of attention. First a very conventionally beautiful woman put a post up on facebook and I wondered about the idea of complying to the cultural concept of beauty.

When a woman chooses to have procedures, selects ultra feminine clothing, tilts her head seductively what motivates her? I wondered.

It is exactly what I am working through in my life right now. My mother conditioned me to “be pretty”. I had perms at 4 and 5 and back then the chemicals were beastial. My eyes stung. I could barely breathe. The curlers lifted up my scalp because they were so tight. The concern was that it “would take.”

As my mother made me dresses that restricted my muscular shoulders and shoved unforgiving mary jane plastic shoes on my feet, she reminded me of where my ultimate power lay. “Women must suffer for beauty,” she said to me during these ritual attempts to mold me into a feminine form.

mind prison

The idea of fitting in to a high school that was full of the richest people in my town was entrained in me. We lived on “the heights” where doctors’ houses perched, lawyers’ abodes were custom designed over-looking the lower levels of the town where chicken farmer, mechanics and factory workers lived. Their children went to the “other” high school.

I walked the hallways through groups of girls wearing cashmere sweaters with matching socks; with boys who got a TR3 for graduation. But I was a fraud.

My parents worked four jobs between them to build a house. I was a fraud. I was not interested in being pretty and remaining passive.

At home, I was beaten and molested. At school, I was mocked and strange.

The question of how one goes into the world as a woman is on the table right now. Posts in media are asking the question, “Why have women stayed silent.”

We have stayed silent for the same reason we had ribs removed in Victorian times: in order to fit in. We have stayed silent for the same reason we walk in shoes that destroy our feet. We have stayed silent for the same reason we refuse to speak up for equal pay.

We bleach our hair blonde. We look to our fellow captives to see how they accumulate attention and power and what we see is compliance.

A few woman break out and body build, or fight like hell for the dysenfranchised, or are brave enough to say #metoo.

It is a time of transition. Since the time of the Elysian Mysteries when women held the societal power, we have been ruled by men. Throughout the history since the Mysteries collapsed, we have looked around us to see how other women embrace their own slavery. What gives them attention from men? They move up the ladder because they are not a threat. They are available to be sexual presences in the work place because of the way they dress and present themselves.

We see through our own shadow.

Men do not have these restrictions on them. And it is time that women, each individual woman, sit down and have a conversation with herself. Who am I when I am not trying to fit into a persona? Who am I as a free spirited being moving through life?

From that point, things will change. It moves from being a fulcrum of compliance to a fulcrum of authenticity. I have faith that is where we are headed.

For me, I sit with the question… how was I conditioned? What choices are truly my own? I am curious. And not knowing is the beginning.

A failure of imagination

I have been puzzled when I see those who purport to be on the spiritual path post fear based responses to the “diseases” that immigrants carry. The dis ease comes from their fear of the unknown. The dis ease comes from the anxiety the individual carries about their place in the world. And the question is how do we get beyond Stranger Danger Mindset?

What people don’t understand, even good people, is that when you post a fearful response to refugees you are denying them their humanity. They did not ask for an invading army to come into their village and kill their parents. They did not ask for the drought that wiped out their supply of food. They did not ask for an earthquake to slide their village off of the face of the earth.

To spread the rumour they are dangerous to us MEANS we are sentencing them to homelessness, to starvation, to watching their children die of unclean water. When people post fearful things about refugees, we are denying them their humanity and their right to live.

The way out of this mental trap is to be able to see yourself in others.

our wounding makes us fearful

People who read copiously, are shown to have greater empathy. They time travel, inhabit different countries with different customs and learn to identify with people unlike themselves. The other is just another form of me.

The way out of the Stranger Danger mindset which is allowing us to turn our backs on people who will die without our help is to use the imagination.

Please put yourself in their place. It is what the empathetic person does. Look at that child from another culture and ask the question, would I let a child die? Face your own fearful attitude about life, and open your heart.

DNA is Not Destiny Continued.

The author uses the acronym WEIRD to underline how marginal a group that runs North American society is in actuality. Western Educated, Industrialized, Rich and Democratic peoples see themselves as some how select and justifiably holding power.
Much of the mythology of this group’s beliefs are not upheld by actual scientific studies. There are more and more details emerging about the complexity of DNA. For instance, It is necessary to examine 500,000 SNPs on a gene chip to predict 1/2 of the individual’s variation in I.Q. (A single-nucleotide polymorphism, or SNP is a variation in a single nucleotide that occurs at a specific position in the genome, where each variation is present to some appreciable degree within a population ). The more research is done, the more incredibly vast the structure of DNA shows itself to be.

And what of environment? Americans from the Southern United States respond more aggressively to insults than do those who dwell in the Northern part of the country.

What about the issue of cultural conditioning? Why do Japanese people look more at the background of photographs than other nationalities? Why is it that Russians are less likely to get depressed?

One thing that has been clearly established is that I.Q. emerges from what we are able to learn about our environment. It is the result of intention and curiosity.

The focus on Eugenics is a recurrent theme in the history of attitude toward human kind. The extreme was the Nazi intention to “cleanse” certain undesirables from the breeding pool. However, the idea was already present in the world at large. It was not a new thought.

In 1924 at the Kansas Free Fair there were displays of desirable qualities that should exist in a human being. People were encourage to complete questionnaires. Fair attendees allowed measurements of their bodies; medical inspections, physical challenge tests and I.Q. tests. Were they and their family fit to reproduce?

In 1927 the state of Virginia systematically sterilized institutionalized individuals who were denied the right to procreate.

Many great writers and thinkers of the day touted Eugenics.

Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr:
It is better for all the world if, instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime, or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind. Three generations of imbecils is enough.”

At this time 60,000 Americans were sterilized and more minority races bore the brunt of this institutional selection. Similar mandatory sterilization regimes emerged in Canada, Sweden, Japan and Latin America well into the 1970’s.

Alexander Graham Bell was the chair of the board of scientific advisors to the Eugenics Record Office. H.G. Wells, George Bernard Shaw, the Rockefeller family, Carnegie, Guggenheim, Eastman, Kellog and Vanderbilt all touted the necessity for selective breeding which resulted in neutering individuals.
In the year 1928 it was possible to take a eugenics course to study the necessity for systematic sterilization on the campus of 376 universities.
Teddy Roosevelt said in his speeches, “The right kind of people need to have children for their country.”

W.E. Dubois spoke to the need that only “fit” blacks be allowed to reproduce.
In Canada. Tommy Douglas in 1933 wrote his master’s thesis about the necessity of addressing a country’s social ills with biological solutions.

Margaret Sanger, the Sierra Club and Save the Redwoods organizations spoke out for the necessity of selective breeding for a perfect race. The redwood became the symbol for a “great race of humans.”
Where is Western thinking at the current time? We have invented methodologies to check on the rightness of a child’s DNA before birth or in some cases before implantation.

Amniocentesis; cell free DNA fetal screening, PGD pre-implantation genetic diagnosis and cloning are the result. And now CRISP can tag DNA for the purpose of “swopping out” certain traits. The world has entered a genetic engineering arms race. The desirability of sperm has lead to California cryobanks wherein “mate value” is catalogued in files.
At the present time, 20% of Americans like the concept of genetically engineering a child. These people fit the profile of those who are “maximizers”. These individuals always want the very best deal they can find. Another group which are delineated as the “satisfiers” want only to achieve a level of satisfaction with their choice.
Heine asks the question, “Would our efforts to engineer our children leave society without the mental illnesses that have spurred some of humanities greatest creations?’

With the intense focus on the gene and genetic imprinting in decades of experimentation science has arrived at a point of knowing what we are not able to engineer with our biological customizations: intelligence, attractiveness, personality traits and height.

The conclusion that the book underlines is that science has become obsessed with finding a simple answer to the questions of human kind. The National Institute of Health has spent four times the money on genomics research than it ever has on the study of behavior and social science combined. We want simple stories. We want simple answers.

For all of our searching we have only found that “All humans on the face of the earth are related within 79 generations of each other.” We are the same race.

Our concepts of racial separation are no more than social constructs and do not exist in biology. We have over estimated the effect of a gene’s influence on an individual human being. And we have underestimated the dynamic of behavior and social conditioning.
The questions are just beginning. But when we see groups of people chanting hatred of another group that they wish to extinquish… we are back to uneducated and unaware thinking. We are all the same family. That is proven by DNA studies.

DNA is Not Destiny Steven Heine

New blog about Dr. Heine’s book on DNA. Really timely.
In a new book, DNA Is Not Destiny: The remarkable, completely misunderstood relationship between you and your genes, UBC Psychology Professor Steven Heine debunks the hype surrounding DNA testing and puts to rest our mistaken anxieties about our genes. He explores how our psychological biases make us fatalistic about genetics, and how these biases intersect with such hot-button topics as race, sexual orientation, crime, disease, eugenics, and genetic engineering.
While I was reading this book I felt as if somebody had removed my dark shadow glasses. How relevant is Heine’s study at this time in cultural history: Transformative.
I wish to share with you the information that he studied carefully and at length.
There have been shifts in attitude towards groups of people based on the science of genetics that have driven entire cultures in their choices.
The first stage of DNA study was to invest DNA with some sort of magical, fated imprint that individuals were confined within. Epigenetics became the following field of study. But basically the Nature or Nurture pendulum choices have driven hundreds of years of scientific study.
New experiments have demonstrated that mice who are trained to fear the smell of cherry blossoms will pass the phobia on to proceeding generations.

“A specific phobia learned by one generation was passed in the sperm to the next generations.”
Sir Francis Galton in 1869 became interested in the shared script of twins. He studied 35 sets of identical twins and 20 sets of fraternal twins. His discoveries created an opening in the structures of belief that were shocking to scientists of his day.
One set of twins developed identical tooth aches at the same time in the same tooth. Both needed to undergo extraction. Identical twins who lived apart reported the same dream at the same time. Identical twins selected the same jobs, bought each other the same gifts.
What Galton found in his studies and what more recent experiments have found is that the following things were inherited by individuals who share identical DNA even if they are apart.
belief in a God
belief in racism
love or hatred of jazz
amount and type of passive watching of entertainment.
belief in euthanasia
being a bully
being a hoarder
volunteering to give blood
how happy or content
love of science fiction
likelihood of being mugged (yep true story)
Eric Turkeheimer discovered the “First law of behavioral genetics” which is to assume by default that a trait is inherited until proven otherwise.
However, studies also indicated the environment can contribute to an individual growing to be 11 inches taller than relatives simply by living in a culture that offers more nutrition in childhood.
One definite proof is that contemporary Americans are no longer growing taller each generation simply because of the prevalence of fast food. Their eating is making them less healthy.
People who share the same inherited DNA also respond to the environment in terms of skin color. Descendents of the same family will have lighter skin in Seattle and following generations will have darker skin living in Los Angeles.
An additionally inherited trait is what has been labelled “Cognitive Misers.” These are families that have the trait that causes fear of making an effort. When an individual is caught up in this web he or she needs to work to consciously adopt heuristic methodology. Being aware of how a particular event or opportunity fits into our over existing belief about the nature of reality, allows an individual to move out of past patterning.
In ancient time Hippocrates in 5 BCE structured his belief pattern on the cosmology of the four elements: Phlegm; blood; yellow bile; black bile. This was in the school of thought of essence or essentialism: Things are as they are because of their underlying essence.
Essentialism lead to the craniometrists in the 19th century stating that criminal faces such as “jug ears” demonstrated without need for further evidence that the individual was not to be trusted.
The Japanese belief in blood types is another example of essentialism which reverberates through out our contemporary culture.
The following beliefs are or have been shared in cultures:
deep down and within the body are aspects that cannot be changed.
what a person is is entirely visible on the surface.
“You are what you eat,” belief lead to cannibalism of individuals that were admired in enemy tribes.
essence is perceived to be “natural” or correct in nature.
1/3 of heart transplant recipients felt that they had taken on an aspect of the donor… been transfused with the donor’s essence.
wealthy people, the uber rich and corporate heads belief more completely in essence based thinking. Some people have power essence. Some people have “slave” essence.
So throughout the cycles of exploration of the individual in society there have been shifts in focus from a complete belief in the imprint of nature. The questions of is it a life sentence, or of individual choice keep arising.
(essence) and nurture (environment). The four elements; the idea of soul personality; blood types are all space holders for the concept of essence.
Historically the gene has come to take the place of essence. James Watson declared that, “Our fate is in our genes.” And it has lead to what the author calls the “switched on theory.”
A gene is either switched on or switched off. Genes are “natural” and from God. This line of thinking is what has lead to recent socially held beliefs such as there is an infidelity gene; that divorce is heritable: that I.Q is attached to race.
The difficulty with essence thinking is that it becomes attached to social topics. Gender for instance is imbued with essence thinking.
To be male is inborn, clear, an action driven preordained path.
To be female is to lack power, to be internalized (as their sexual organs are internalized).
The countries in the world which are the most gender neutral and egalitarian are the Netherlands, Finland and Germany. Nigeria and Pakistan have an over arching essence based thinking. And in some of the most economically developed countries in the world, women are still restricted from access to power.
In today’s world 47% of those who are transgendered are fired. The commonly held belief is that they cannot be trusted because they do not accept their fate.
Many political analysts see that George Bush was re-elected primarily because of the same sex issue. The belief in the “un-naturalness” of some people. It was a stereotyped threat to the beliefs of a particular segment of society.
It was also discovered in test studies that those who were lead to believe that homo-sexuality was in the DNA were less likely to condemn individuals. Those who believed that the subjects were making an “un-natural” choice were condemnatory.
So social attitudes towards homo-sexuality depends on the concept of essence. The switch is on. Or the switch is off. It is simplistic thinking at best.
Men with a lot of older brothers are more like to be gay. Is there something in the environment of the mother’s womb that is at work? There are more questions than answers.
In the legal system in Tennessee in 1910 one drop of black blood made you and your off spring black. Classifying people as of higher essence than other people based on their DNA inheritance has lead to eugenetics.
Eugenetics means “good at birth. Certain individuals have been born with a more perfect essence than others. One of the belief systems in North America that is still in place is that intelligence is an inherited “essence.”
Other nations such as Japan believe that skill, intelligence are qualities that a person can build through hard work.
In fact, the intelligence indicators in young children is only 5 points variant different in the entire tested group. This grows to 17 points in adult hood depending on a number of factors. The evidence is that intelligence is not a genetic gift; it is not a sign from God; it is not an essence; it is not a life sentence.
“Intelligence emerges from what we learn about our environment, ” the author reminds us.
The information in this book is absolutely relevant in today’s world where the uber rich see themselves as somehow genetically superior. Those who believe that essence is the divide between people need to know that the switch is not “turned on” for white people, powerful people, successful people. The study of DNA and environment is much more complex. I will go on to present the studies about Eugenics and the horror of cruelty that was enacted in societies across the world based on simplistic construct. Next time!!

The Myth of “Races” is a social construct.

In a new book, DNA Is Not Destiny: The remarkable, completely misunderstood relationship between you and your genes, UBC Psychology Professor Steven Heine debunks the hype surrounding DNA testing and puts to rest our mistaken anxieties about our genes. He explores how our psychological biases make us fatalistic about genetics, and how these biases intersect with such hot-button topics as race, sexual orientation, crime, disease, eugenics, and genetic engineering.

While I was reading this book I felt as if somebody had removed my dark shadow glasses. How relevant is Heine’s study at this time in cultural history: Transformative.

I wish to share with you the information that he studied carefully and at length.

There have been shifts in attitude towards groups of people based on the science of genetics that have driven entire cultures in their choices.

The first stage of DNA study was to invest DNA with some sort of magical, fated imprint that individuals were confined within. Epigenetics became the following field of study. But basically the Nature or Nurture pendulum choices have drives hundreds of years of scientific study.

New experiments have demonstrated that mice who are trained to fear the smell of cherry blossoms will pass the phobia on to proceeding generations. “A specific phobia learned by one generation was passed in the sperm to the next generations.”

Sir Francis Galton in 1869 became interested in the shared script of twins. He studied 35 sets of identical twins and 20 sets of fraternal twins. His discoveries created an opening in the structures of belief that were shocking to scientists of his day.

One set of twins developed identical tooth aches at the same time in the same tooth. Both needed to under go extraction. Identical twins who lived apart reported the same dream at the same time. Identical twins selected the same jobs, bought each other the same gifts.

What Galton found in his studies that the following things were inherited by individuals who share identical DNA even if they are apart.

  1. belief in a God
  2. belief in racism
  3. love or hatred of jazz
  4. amount and type of TV watched
  5. belief in euthenasia
  6. being a bully
  7. being a hoarder
  8. volunteering to give blood
  9. how happy or content
  10. love of science fiction
  11. likelihood of being mugged

Eric Turkeheimer discovered the “First law of behavioral genetics” which is to assume by default that a trait is inherited until proven otherwise.

However, studies also indicated the environment can contribute to an individual growing to be 11 inches taller than relatives simply by living in a culture that offers more nutrition in childhood.

One example of this is that contemporary Americans are no longer growing taller each generation simply because of the prevalence of fast food.

People who share the same inherited DNA also respond to the environment in terms of skin color. Descendents of the same family will have lighter skin in Seattle and following generations will have darker skin living in Los Angeles.

An additionally inherited trait is what has been labelled “Cognitive Misers.” These are families that have the trait that causes fear of making an effort. When an individual is caught up in this web he or she needs to work to consciously adopt heuristic methodology. Being aware of how a particular event or opportunity fits into our over existing belief about the nature of reality, allows an individual to move out of past patterning.

In ancient time Hippocrates in the 5 BCE structured his belief pattern on the cosmology of the four elements: Phlegm; blood; yellow bile; black bile. This was in the school of thought of essence or essentialism: Things are as they are because of their underlying essence.

Essentialism lead to the craniometrists in the 19th century stating that criminal faces such as “jug ears” demonstrated without need for further evidence that the individual was not to be trusted.

The Japanese belief in blood types is another example of essentialism which reverberates through out our contemporary culture.

  1. deep down and within the body are aspects that cannot be changed.
  2. what a person is entirely visible on the surface.
  3. “You are what you eat,” belief lead to cannibalism of individuals that were admired in enemy tribes.
  4. essence is perceived to be “natural” or correct in nature.
  5. 1/3 of heart transplant5 recipients felt that they had taken on an aspect of the donor… been transfused with the donor’s essence.
  6. wealthy people, the uber rich and corporate heads belief more completely in essence based thinking. Some people have power essence. Some people have “slave” essence.

So throughout the cycles of exploration if the individual in society there have been shifts in focus from nature (essence) and nurture (environment). The four elements; the idea of soul personality; blood types are all space holders for the concept of essence.

Historically the gene has come to take the place of essence. James Watson declared that, “Our fate is in our genes.” And it has lead to what the author calls the “switched on theory.”

A gene is either switched on or switched off. Genes are “natural” and from God. This line of thinking is what has lead to recent socially held beliefs such as there is an infidelity gene; that divorce is heritable.

The difficulty with essence thinking is that it becomes attached to social topics. Gender for instance is imbued with essence thinking.

To be male is inborn, clear, an action driven preordained path.

To be female is to lack power, to be internalized (as their sexual organs are internalized). The countries in the world which are the most gender neutral and egalitarian are the Netherlands, Finland and Germany. Nigeria and Pakistan have an over arching essence based thinking.

In today’s world 47% of those who are transgendered are fired. They cannot be trusted because the do not accept their fate.

Many political analysts see that George Bush was re-elected primarily because of the same sex issue. The belief in the “un-naturalness” of some people. It was a stereotyped threat to the beliefs of a particular segment of society.

It was also discovered in test studies that those who were lead to believe that homo-sexuality was in the DNA were less likely to condemn individuals. Those who believed that the subjects were making an “un-natural” choice were condemnatory.

So social attitudes towards homo-sexuality depends on the concept of essence. The switch is on. Or the switch is off. It is simplistic thinking at best.

Men with a lot of older brothers are more like to be gay. Is there something in the environment of the mother’s womb that is at work?

In the legal system in Tennessee in 1910 one drop of black blood made you and your off spring black. Classifying people as of higher essence than other people based on their DNA inheritance has lead to eugenetics.

Eugenetics means “good at birth. Certain individuals have been born with a more perfect essence than others. One of the belief systems in North America that is still in place is that intelligence is an inherited “essence.”

Other nations such as Japan believe that skill, intelligence are qualities that a person can build through hard work.

In fact, the intelligence indicators in young children is only 5 points different in the entire tested group. This grows to 17 points in adult hood depending on a number of factors. The evidence is that intelligence is not a genetic gift; it is not a sign from God; it is not an essence; it is not a life sentence.

“Intelligence emerges from what we learn about our environment, ” the author reminds us.

The information in this book is absolutely relevant in today’s world where the uber rich see themselves as somehow genetically superior. Those who believe that essence is the divide between people need to know that the switch is not “turned on” for white people, powerful people, successful people. The study of DNA and environment is much more complex. I will go on to present the studies about Eugenics and the horror of cruelty that was enacted in societies across the world based on simplistic construct. Next time!!

 

Smoke and Heat: Finding A Path

I have had pneumonia four separate times in my life and the air around Kelowna sits at a 7 out of 10 for days on end. I am challenged. When I go outside my eyes, nose and throat sting. My chest feels as if it is being crushed.

Sometimes when I am driving and the “gauge” sits at 8 I wear a filter mask. But mostly, I remain at home within the walls of my upstairs retreat. The air conditioning which I have installed upstairs keeps my body in an environment of 25 Celsius.

The major work I am doing is maintaining my bed and breakfast for my guests. No matter how often I dust, there is dust and ash on surfaces.

It is like trying to maintain a pristine environment during the last days of Pompeii. I have even resorted to explaining to guests that when the entire vista is obscured by smoke and ash… that will end up on everything.

I am busy from 8 am until at least 6 at night on my bed and breakfast. The spiritual/emotional work is to not push back against conditions.

At night, I catch myself saying,

“You didn’t do enough. Your garden is getting weedy. You have not submitted to any publishers in weeks. You are not writing/drawing/painting/tidying the art studio/painting the entryway/ working out hard enough.

When evening time arrives I invariably indulge in the orgy of self criticism.

One Sunday, I went to Bliss Bakery as a wild mustang, crazy break out from my necessity to clean and prepare. I had jumped the fences. I was loosened from my schedule. I was a strumpet focused only on pleasuring myself.

And I was pissed off. I was pissed off at the smoke and the heat and the 7 days a week of working non stop since April 1st. I was pissed off at being pissed off and not at peace for what ever current of the river was carrying me now. I was pissed off that I cared about time passing and the delusional sense of narrowing opportunities. I was watching a tag team wrestling match and all the athletes were me in various formations in two teams. There was no way to tap out of the conflict.

As I stood at the glass and saw my Morning Glory Muffin was gone, I lowered my head. And tears came into my eyes.

“Of course they are all gone, you came too late. You showed up too late. You started to look for the pleasure too late. You missed the last ferry to paradise.”

I decided instead to have a chocolate chip, gluten free gigantic cookie because God Help the Universe if I didn’t get something.

The clerk with the shining spirit plated it for me and smiled. She said, “This morning when we took these cookies out, we all wondered who would get the cookie with the chocolate heart in the centre.” Four young women in black aprons reading “BLISS” gathered and were now standing facing me behind the counter. They were so happy for me.

And once again my eyes filled with tears. All of them were so happy that it was my cookie.

Just at that moment, I felt how strongly I move through the world. No matter what is going on, my heart wants to love. No matter what crap talking Mafia gangster ego flailing is going on, I stop it at the gate and go into the world looking for a way to live in love.

I was so proud of my spirit. I did not drink from the cup of bitterness. I did not find people to blame. There were ten thousand choices I made away from victim hood in my life.

The lovely young women were presiding at a ritual. They stood in a row smiling at me and presented me with the chocolate heart cookie. And all the rest of the bull shit just disappeared.

What does “looking like a fool” mean?

The wrong turn, up the dead end alley, spinning in the round about, landing in a cul de sack subdivision bland designed homes pseudo village that has no relationships at all to offer let alone one to the past decades proximity intimacy of those who have spent generations side by side living out their lives can make you or me look like a fool.

We avoid the wrong thing:  the wrong choice; the wrong words; the wrong opinion; the wrong shade of blue not this season out of step ugly duckling with the too small purse or dangling gigantic bike messenger purse of anointed lack of status value.

We cannot be unlike. We cannot be unmatching. We cannot be the wrong “style” of person.

My father once said,”Everything is relative.” He explained to me when I was seven that being quiet in a hyperactive crowd would draw attention. He sat with me until I understood being studious in a group of merry go round fun seeking attendees in a classroom would mark me as the odd one out.

If I were still when they were moving, I would be the focus. If I were moving when all others are still, I would hold attention. There was no “me” other than my behavior in comparison to the behavior of others.

Last night I had a dream that I returned to the past to a red neck, farming community where life was brutal and serious. The blacksmith did not get his massively muscular structure in front of a mirror at some gym. No one was “performing” to try out an identity. The game was survival and survival of one’s children.

In the visit to this place back in time, or before my current life, or in an alternative life, I stood before the elders and I knew their expectation of me. I was required not to “make a fool” of myself.

To be sent to coventry would be to die. To be exiled from the source of food and shelter of the village was to perish.

And in my dream being one who was serious about “fitting in” was important, the elders instructed me.

To make a “fool of yourself” means that you lack intelligence; it means that you can never be a leader; it means that the cloak of dignity and respect of wisdom will never be thrown upon your shoulders.

As I lay drifting away from my body, I saw myself turn away from the elders and find a wide open place to stand. I held out the skirt of my dress and took a deep curtsey toward them. And then I began to dance.

I danced with an invisible partner a wide ranging waltz with dips and spins. I moved to unshared music that only my dream partner and I could hear. Free flowing energy carried us beyond the boundaries of everything I had been told was real.

The joy was the dress I wore, the braids in my hair with white daisies stuck in them, the patent leather shoes I tapped upon the ground.

The joy was the ground, the sky, the trees, the softening of all dimensions to choreograph my own way of being in the world. The joy flooded in beyond any possibility of fear. My body was without boundaries, limitations. It was beyond the skeletal touch of death or the sharply structured nails of artificial beauty.

Somewhere last night I found a way to disappear into the place beyond restrictions and judgement. I was simply dancing.

 

Getting Lost in Control Mode

As I was pulling weeds this morning, it hit me. It was a special effects, explosion of color energy, transportation to the centre of observer seeing so clearly how I operate moment.
When I see me, I know it is a true “vision” when it is not a harsh, judgemental, OCD perfectionism, adult watching rebellious teenagerish tinted vision.

We see through our own shadow.

I tried to pull the invasive plant from the hardened soil and it broke off in my hands. And then I stood careful not to crush a “real” flower. I was barefoot in the dress a bed and breakfast guest left for me.

I walk around with it on, lately, most of the day. I put on no bra, do not brush my hair and get up straight out of bed to do my work. I have over a 100 guests a month to prepare for.

And so I stood in the silky, modest dress without any attempt to seem like anything.

“I use the walls as a defence.”

As a child having a dangerous father who let me know at any time he could kill me if I was not compliant; having a dangerous father whose body was inhabited by a kaleidoscope of six rotating personalities had left me wary.
The one thing I could do once I left home was to refuse.

At home, I could never refuse. It would cost me my life.

living in the structure

It left me singularly alone. The nine years I spent in University were spent by and large in a library.

The orderly books were my defensive structures. There was quiet. No one could suddenly begin screaming in anger or pain in a library. There were no games. A book was checked out, checked in and read within certain parameters.

My safety, my sanity, my ability to grow depended on my controlling the gates of my existence.

I went through four roommates my first year of college because I refused to engage. The head of the dormitory called me in to see why they kept leaving me.

Trust was a foreign concept to me. Withdrawing into silence, into long midnight walks on a deserted campus, into ideas and books and biographies of others’ lives served me well.

Added to the taint of trauma was the fact that I was an empath which meant that just walking into a room filled with people would be strenuous. That woman over there bend over her drink has been battered. The loud, heavy man is carrying so much grief it almost dissolves my own body.

And so I controlled any contact that I had with others. I had to go to work. I had to make money and function in the world but I was an actress.

I had learned early on that crying at my desk in second grade would only lead to the bully gang finding me at lunch time and circling me to beat me. They would turn the zippers of their jackets outward and strike me with them until the zippers left welts.
One does not cry when one is beaten at home because there is no room for solace in the school.

Chickens see the spot of blood and will go after the weak one. This is what I learned in primary school.

For three months of the year I could not go to school because the bruises were too telling. Someone would know. I must not betray the family.

I was taught that when I was the most injured, I must hide it.

I became an actress. My shining intelligence, my feigned self confidence, and my carefully built muscular body made the struggle invisible to those around me.

creating a strong body image.

And I could always control who was around me.

I could always refuse to answer the phone; refuse to go to the party; refuse to join a group. It was how I survived.

I will be 73 years old in August. As I stood in the garden in the silky dress without having undergone any morning rituals of artificiality, I saw that my way of dealing with my experiences was neither mistaken nor unnecessary.

Bare feet on the ground, a broken off weed in my hand, I said to myself, “This is where you are now.”

There was no need to grade my “performance.”

I am just here to learn. And maybe it is time to stop hiding who I am.

That thought felt good.

Reconciliation with Self

On CBC Ideas program I heard an expert talk about his survey of mental institutions. He had visited facilities, interviewed those who were now living in an alternative reality either in their minds or because of that in an institution. The analysis of all data presented a single result.

People are driven “insane” when they cannot reconcile with themselves.

Recently I read a short statement that threw a brilliant light onto so much that had been crawling around in my contemplation attic place. The problem begins, “when we compare our insides to others’ outsides.”

So we see the monsters of rage and envy. We hear the whining of the spoiled child who wants everything. NOW. We are alone with the ego voice that insists that the only pleasure is in indulging in our ability to remain a victim.

I see on social media a veritable earthquake upheaval of the fort building defences. So many are in some musical martyrdom playing out of the French Revolution (their own Les Miserable), or holed up for a cause in a re-enactment of the U.S. Civil War.

The urge to be “right” is screaming out of people and they are clinging to one another’s status page yelling in anger.

“The world is as I perceive it. You are an idiot. You don’t understand me because I am sick, somebody hurt me in the past and I hate you for it now.”

We are armed with fear and ready to fire.

So we have the memories of our past crawling along the stone stairs in the fort. We cannot see clearly where the path leads. Where is the way out?

The only thing we can see is the picture of the highly glossed, white enamelled smiling teeth of somebody who is getting an award. They are always in the dead center of every photograph.

Or he or she has a car that was somehow removed from the Universe and now we can no longer own.

Somebody had my baby and I can’t conceive. That family has their heads all leaning in toward one another and there is no game of stabbing the knife in between fingers in their clan.

And so we are caught in a sense of turbulence which we cannot even admit to or own up to.

There is nothing wrong with his life or her life or their lives. I, alone, sit with anxiety about the climate, a sense of an implosion in the financial system, a knowing the emperor has no clothes and is insanely dancing. Oh please, God, make him stop.

Each of us thinks..They are not only in a state of greater reward but they are idiots who don’t understand.

The resulting emotional reaction to this psychedelic hell like confusion is that we are at odds with our own spirits.

If what I feel is in error, then I am the one out of the parade.

If what I feel is a connection to truth then I can only be in a state of confused defensiveness.

What helps to keep focused is to know that everyone is busily comparing themselves as they know themselves to the image of status others are displaying.

To put Buddhist philosophy in simple terms: Everyone has to clean the oven, or change a diaper, or suffer a broken arm. We are all in the same status. We were born into a body. The social upheavals have an energy that is effecting all of us.

Reconciliation with self is how to stay out of crazy. The studies of those who are locked away show that had that individual  simply been able to see that their confusion, inward turning anger and emotional pain were exactly the correct response to their own history, they would be allowed into the world.

The monsters we try to hide are just natural and normal. No one gets out of life without the ogres within dancing around the fire when things go wrong.

A woman once told me, “I want to kill my mother.”

I answered, “Of course you wanted to kill her. It is okay.”

She will not act on it but she is torturing herself because she has angry thoughts.

We are torturing one another because we have angry thoughts.

We see through our own shadow.

What would happen if we could clearly see that to be in a body; to walk through a life is the ultimate challenge that we all share.

We always have the ability to choose not to be victims. We always have the ability to sit with our own very human imperfections and learn to love ourselves.

And then…. and then we will stop shooting sniper fire at anyone we think is a potential threat on social media. We will be so very sympathetic to just how difficult walking the earth is for all of us.

The ultimate goal is to stay out of crazy.

First Day of Summer

The sun is hot on my back and the deck boards burn my feet as I hang the laundry. Overhead the Maple Giant tree is caught in a wind dance and the neon colored plastic clothes pins are insufficient for the task they are called upon. They move the laundry like a trickster hand surrendering up the idea of stillness.
The deep blue sheet slides along the line caught by the confused wind. It hisses its presence through the trees and bushes from first one direction and then another.
The flooding has occupied our minds for weeks. The lake and the springs were creeping up onto the land, swallowing septic fields, and seeping into basements.
We watched the news, packed our escape backpacks or plastic storage containers. Everyone created their own “survival minimalist” story.

Coral Rose

But now, on the first day of summer the garden is lush. There has been water feeding from under the surface. The columbine were five feet tall and richly trumpeting their presence.
The roses cluster on the rose bushes. In past years, they presented buds to only have them burned a brown on the petal edges. Even the rose that I stood over with my two gardening neighbours and received the triple diagnosis of “dead, dig it out,” has come back in profusion.
The breeze is cool. The clouds in the sky over Kelowna are uncharacteristically flat like boccoccini slices. Their brilliant white is pushed against a mediterranean blue sky.
While everything lyrically dances in the garden, the tree twists its long flexible branches, there is color bursting everywhere.

nature alive

At certain times, the Kelowna presence is a coming together of picture perfect natural beauty. And today is one of those days; the first day of summer.