Force of Will and Endurance Optimism

I had the joy of hosting the Firestarter’s Group at my house last night. It began with six members and a maybe I will come seventh person. But last night as the ice and snow outside was melting in abysmal rain, there were three of us.

February is not an $18 super sundae delight time for anyone. But with the combination of the political climate, the blanket of anxiety which is falling upon Canada and the United States and the lack of skills to handle tough times, it is seemingly a deeper gloom at the present time.

 

beginning is always within

I remarked last night that part of the difficulty is that there is no longer a close, supportive social connection between people. Women at the well bashing their clothing upon the stone could share. And there was no guarantee. Women from past times did not expect all of their children to survive. They did not expect things to improve appreciably.

Villagers faced death and moved the sick or dying person into the middle of the household. Starvation was a distinct possibility if the weather turned.

 

We are elemental

Today, we have a thousand and one expectations. We work in groups to “manifest” more wealth, greater status, more dreams to become incorporated. But there is little instruction in handling the issues of mortality. The stamina that is necessary to live a long life that allows for greater wisdom is so rare, the few individuals who can speak to the ability to rise above are trotted out onto a stage and paid as inspirational speakers.

In my grandmother’s time, every woman had lived through the depression; survived the 1918 flu the brought death to every family. It was what a person did. A person got on with it.

The difficulty with plenty; the problem with predictability; the reaction to ever increasing expectation is that the individual does not fully understand the power that he or she holds.

Disconnecting from the body, children are entranced by screens. Disconnecting from their children, parents are numbed by screens. Unaware of the innate strength of the body; the burning passion of the spirit; and the latent gifts of the mind, we get caught up into a disconnecting trance.

Something is missing and that something is the ability to be challenged, to go beyond limits and to gain confidence in ones self. Peak experiences fade when we are not called to act. Our connection with our mortality fades when we no longer understand that death is inevitable.

What is happening now is frightening people. Some are swinging viciously at anything that moves; shooting from the hip.

But it is my belief that we have gone as far as we can in the cocoon illusion of entitled improvement. We have run out of options, sit idling in a dead end alley. It is now that we can choose to become awakened and find out who we are.

Being lost can sometimes make us more capable of seeing the landscape and finding out where we are.

Everything is about the lesson. Everything is about growth and when the cup is full of poison, stop drinking from it.

Patterns and Pauses

Slowly the ice fort that the snow plow and I have built around my car is disappearing. At times, I take my square sharp shovel and chip away. When it warms up, I slide the snow shovel underneath and open up the passage ways. I am creating a path for easier movement.

The resolve to sit and write, to take time to work through the blocks that have arisen is renewed in me lately. Chipping away at a frustration; building my skills without a particular end game in mind will lead me where I need to go.

The enemy is contentment. I have enough money… if I am careful and don’t stretch my neck out into Middle Class acquisitiveness. I have familiar comfort. But the black out curtain of boredom restricts my light.

At times I yearn for a new environment, one in which I cannot anticipate the path. Exploration, adventure, serendipity are somewhere else.

The well worn path I had trodden is the polished stone walkway of discipline. The habits are the groves I have made. I am working now to get myself down in a chair and develop my focus on creating the adventure in my exploration of language. The time, which has for so many years been a burden upon me, the time of “it doesn’t matter” and “there is nothing you have to do” has been marked with no hands, no click movement of minutes.

I don’t seek struggle but rather just to deepen my commitment to developing myself. And distraction, entertainment, diversion have been the central pond of my day. I have soaked in it for hours.

I tell myself I am learning as I watch movies. I tell myself I am connecting as I lurk a voyeur to friends on face book. I tell myself I am being careful with my money as I go to three stores to buy one item.

But really, what is it that I wish to discover in my life? That is the question. How can I patiently sit and work through my thoughts, honing ideas, reaching out to new possibilities of internal connection? It is by once again connecting to the clock and going back to work.

It is time.

February Blizzards and Expectations

This morning I drove to the Lakeland Gallery where I sometimes volunteer a shift in the Gift Shop. Because my weight is up three pounds (which may or may not be greater muscle mass) I restrained myself from buying banana bread. Instead I just headed home, chipped away at the ice fort surrounding my car and had a nap.

Perhaps it was triggered by watching a Spanish series about Nuns in the 16th century, or perhaps it was the being day after day alone in the house but a nightmare visited me about a seemingly friendly yet strange man plotting to drag me into an underground cement enclosed cell. I was prepared to fight, to die even before he could isolate me there.

When I woke up, I lay looking out the window at the still, forever gray low brow sky. The unbroken similarity of one day blending into another impressed itself on me. Before the nap, after the nap, today or tomorrow. It has all been of a piece.

Internet addiction is the only distraction and relief. I follow others’ lives while lurking in the background watching them get engaged; take parents to the hospital; finally say good bye to the companion pet that has been by their side for over a decade.

The thought of going out to a movie appears and I walk to the window to see the roads are still not trustworthy. And it is cold. It is cold early and late.

There are things on my list. There are things that are ideas or events but I have no excitement around them. I think what if? What if I simply ignore them?Nothing then. Nothing.

Last year I had guests coming and going. Money was coming in. But I was recovering from a long illness.

This year I am healthy if three pounds heavier. But the scourge of boredom and unbroken dependability is upon me.

I roll over and read my latest book. Knowing that now is not always now helps. I keep myself focused on that which I cannot see as yet; on that which I cannot feel as yet and release the need for specific assurances.

It warmed up enough so I could make a landing platform for my car in the ice fort next to the sidewalk. I bought pink lilies that will release their sweet perfume in my house.

I am no Marky Mark singing Good Vibrations at this point. But one thing for sure… something is always coming in life. The fruition of my thoughts and actions is ripening. And I hold on to the thought, “Something wonderful comes when you least expect it.” Because now is when I least expect almost anything.

History Teaches Us How to Live

I felt the calm that came over me when I was listening to CBC interview Eric Foner on CBC today. He is considered the pre-eminent American historian of his generation. His careful historical analysis and many books allow for the long view of the history of the United States. He brings a keen intellect, a wealth of accumulated information and a careful confidence to his analysis of the process of Democracy in the United States.

 

Liberty is won and maintained through actions

He began by saying, “When you are president you want to exert power”. The type of individual that runs for office is motivated by the attractions of the office.

Foner reassures his listening audience that the appetite for control is not new. He points to the structuring of the USA so that no single branch of government could voraciously consume human rights. However, there is a difficulty with the system that is evidencing at the present time with President Trump: The checks and balances can be “run around”.

Foner points out that the problem is that currently the US has the same party controlling all three branches of the government. Therefore the checks to the usurpation of rights are not fully operative.

But to those who scream out in terror that this has never happened before and only Trump has created this kind of threat, Foner responds with historical fact.

Grave threats from within have always happened in the White House. In the aftermath of WWI suppression of free speech was the law of the day. And more recently, many alive today can remember the televised live hearings conducted by Eugene MacCarthy as he destroyed citizens lives.

Professor Foner points out that power without compassion is not a one nation issue. Le Pain, Trump, Brexit are people who are aggrieved… these are not populists at all.

He vehemently objects to calling this swing to authoritarianism, right wing reactionism populism.

The original populists were not the 1%. Trump’s government is the government of billionaires. Populists movements were about protecting services to the population not removing care for the citizens.

A movement is growing up around the world out of fear. Around the world there is an appetite for the “strong man on the horse”. It goes back to the tension between belief in democracy and desire for authoritarianism.

He uses the long view of history to state his belief that the more authoritarian Trump becomes, the more likely for push back from the population. He reminds the listener of Maccarthy, George Wallace, Ross Perot…These were other versions of right wing demagogs.

Where is this desire coming from for inclusion, compassion, equality within US history?

Foner reminds the listener that in the 1920’s the US tried to block Italians ( I also thought of black slavery; exclusions of the Chinese; imprisonment of the Japanese as other examples)…

This movement of reacting to Muslims, to those that are not “like us” has happened throughout US history. The dangers are always there. The people mobilized against immigration restriction. Mobilization IS an action that is not new or unexpected within American history.

The price of Democracy is eternal vigilance Foner reminds his audience.

He points out the illogicality of holding two contradictory beliefs at once: ” We are exceptional and everybody should be just like us is what America is saying.”

John Quincy Adams had written, “We don’t go abroad to change other people into ourselves.” America as a policeman was not the vision of the founders of the country.

Chickens have come home to roost from our lack of Democracy. We have a self image which is not a completely accurate portrait. Trump has damaged the moral authority of the United States in the eyes of other nationsl

Tom Paine said clearly, “The US is an asylum for the world.”

People are more aware of the deficit state of contemporary democracy. Political democracy has not been able to solve many problems. There is a serious democracy problem in the world today.

Some times reloading is necessary

The system was set up by James Madison in order to have a self correcting mechanism. Slavery was abolished at the cost of 3/4 of a million lives. It was not government that changed slavery, it was individual people.

Ordinary people have a right to make judgements about their own government. And ordinary people will show up to adjust the vision of what the national identity is in the world. Democracy is alive because of constant re-visioning and corrections when the ideals of the founding fathers have been forgotten. The nation has done it before and Foner believes the people will speak out and protect the country that was formed to be a sanctuary.

Interview with Eric Foner on CBC today.

Doing Whatever Harder, Does That Work?

The sun shines and I have, once again, hidden my phone from myself. Perhaps it was a few days ago I received the revelation that I need to get off of public media for three days. But I didn’t.
The posts on social media are exploding in sprays of colored strings of fire fear, anxiety, anger. They are too charged to be contained, too large to be directed like a land mine waiting for anyone unselected, unprotect, unvetted to have his or her standing destroyed percussively.
It is like trying to golf on an erupting volcano. People put their heads down and focus on knowing just exactly which club will be perfect for the next shot to reach the target hole. We just ignore the pregnant with the destruction of earth burning beneath the crust of skin.
The nit pickers are out patrolling for the wrong words, the slightly incorrect detail, the wrong source, the tiny flaw.

“Tell me it isn’t true,” they are calling out.

They want to criticize the type of pitchforks at the siege of Paris.

The born-agains or never-borns or reborn forevers are all selecting a reality corridor to patrol.

Somehow being correct has become the antidote to incipient chaos. And then the Neverland people are standing in their firmly denying closed windows with the curtains draw while they work at being nicely nice.

Devil for tea.

They hold a magic wand in the hand while coughing from the cloying air clotted with fervently thrown pixie dust.

The deeply angered early childhood or recently war wounded traumatized are ready to react. The undereducated are full of the knowing what is not truth.

It is a time when a person’s default setting is being triggered. And I too, find I am talking louder, becoming more emphatic calling for gentleness and calm. It is really quite amusing to watch all of it. Especially observing myself provides me hours of comedic revelation.

What is happening??? We can all agree that it seems like dinner theatre in Hell.

Why Do We Monitor Ourselves?

Checking in to where I am checking out always takes courage for me. I would far rather drift in some limbo of not bad, not workaholic, not cortisol, super mediocre than really look into the face the place I now claim as now.

sun set or dawn watch the light

Last night, I had a long, drawn up multi -phase dream about the disengagement that my family chooses as it default setting modus operandi as I spun out a narrative of failure to protect, fear of connect.

When I have these vivid dreams, I am also very grateful. It is like watching my computer “repair a link” and the bar slowly fills up with the message of mending.

To see clearly is not something that comes easily in this human state. We are all clumpish, physical, and inefficient at making change.

I think about the old mimeographs I had to make when I was teaching. I would crank the handle and the room would fill up with the chemical smell, the paper would be coated in a bath of oil like residue and the original master would slowly degrade.

 

The reward for walking: view

Where I am now is not much beyond that mechanical turning of the print. I can see where I am stuck. I can see where I am handicapped. But my dreams……

My dreams give me the bigger view. They show me exactly where the monitoring is failing to make a clear, total imprint.

The very fact that I am surprised that I have put on weight and 1/2 an inch on my waist when I have been systematically working toward that goal.

The very fact that I have not finished editing my book Walking the Streets of Blood for the 5th edit when I made that promise to myself is obvious if I look at it.

I go to the calendar and see the stickers I have put on for exercise, meditation, writing and I argue with what I see. NO!

“NO!,” I say. “I meditated every day. I wrote many blogs. I worked out I am sure of it. I remember being sore.”

The ego is such a child that when I have lost focus and gone into distraction mode, I refuse to admit to it. I deny it.

So while I was hiding from myself and making excuses, the days have kept coming. And as a result,  my goals have slipped past me in January.

I have even gone into loss land. Oh, I can argue until the flying pigs come back to roost, but there it is.

What I do at these times where the monitoring is revealing a truth, is I attempt to buck myself up. A depressed person does not achieve a lot of growth.

So I look at how much social contact I have had over the past month; I look at how many Oracle Readings I have done; I look at the food I have been eating which is organic and wholesome.

These things exist at the same time: the growth actions and the self sabotage. And the real gift of self monitoring is to simply see the whole picture and to know that resetting, beginning again, renewing the vows that I made to myself are simply an organic part of the process.

I stood on Knox Mountain today and looked at the vibrant blues and saturated whites of the land and lake below me and I patted my inner child self and said, “Good job.”