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.

Mind the Gap

Mind the space. Mind the transition step. Be mindful of the arrival, the new landing place, the change in height. Watch out for systems failing. Be ready for Cascadia slippage and the new flattened horizon of West Coast cities. Look carefully at the shifting values of money; of governments; of societal structure. The train ride we have been on has lulled us. As we slumped tiredly against the side of the car, the rhythm gently banged our heads. Moving. Moving. Moving. Moving.

We knew we were in arrival mode. But all of the murmuring of seismic specialist; all of the three part harmony singing of financial analysts was just muzak. We could feel we were in a tunnel… we could not see the future. It was all somehow shifting.

We knew it but we didn’t know it. We could repeat the lyrics occasionally. There was no sharp edged definition to the messages. It was just white noise. It was just the sound of the wheels on the track.

Japan suffered the loss of 25,000 people in the shocking blink of an eye. The names of far away nations, or unrecognized cities are repeated on the news as they sink into a new configuration on the earth.

The geologists standing in the debris of former quake areas take soil profiles and warn us the big one is coming. And we are lulled by the very repetition of the prophecy.

“Yeah. Yeah,” we say. “We have heard it before.”

Japan was careful. Japan built for a “little” earthquake. It prepared for a less intense tsunami. When it hit, the massive force of the water just slid easily over all the carefully engineered walls and barriers.

But North America has done none of the preparatory work.

North America is optimistic.

The debt load is the highest in history. In North America, Jim Rogers, a financial specialist, tells us we are spending on two things:

1. We are spending to keep enemies. 2. We are spending to purchase status.

In Asia, he reminds us people are focused on investing in education, making business partners out of other nations and finding technological advances that will solve problems.

structural problems

This year’s expedition of scientists who ship out to measure the icebergs could not set forth. It was too dangerous. The ice is melting too fast. The sheering face of the icebergs can no longer be approached. Too many ships are reporting distress who are in the seas where the icebergs are found so a secondary concern is that the ship built for studying icebergs cannot leave other ships to flounder and sink.

The water level is rising. Flooding is becoming a reality. People are learning what “ground water” means.

We say, “It is an incident.” We refuse to see it is a new reality.

Scientists have stood on the hillside wrapped in their print outs of papers, mumbling out to us their data like some Druid choir. And we have not listening. We heard it all before and we don’t believe any of it. Yet.

The train ride is hypnotic. We think we will just travel. We think that it will be the same as always. The warnings are just muzak and we cannot quite make out the words.

beach gone boy looks at raft.

But the train is coming into the station. We will leave our encasing structure of how it has been as long as we can remember. We will leave the sense of wheels turning over exactly as they have been.

The train will slow down and arrive at the station. We will have to get out, to get off, to step onto the new platform.

Somewhere a voice will call out, “Mind the gap.”

And everything will have changed.

Lessons Arising: We are always half baked

I am always interested to see how my ego works. If I am misunderstood, I feel confused and small. When my heart reaches out to someone to try to help them out of the illusion of a “trapped” place and they respond by fighting fiercely to hold onto victim… I feel stirred up in my chest.

Seeing oneself

The source of that was living with two adults who were emotionally corrupt and I needed to not believe the world they created. It would drag me under. It would destroy me. And so I learned to stand back while I was very young and simply watch how others operate. I needed to separate my reality from theirs. It is a gift that all those born into a chaotic environment are given. We question everything and discover our own truth.

But having them believe my words never happened. My perceptions were always wrong or crazy. They attempted to control my actions, not their own.

And then as time passes, I remember in my past when my reactions were exactly the same reactions ¬†as those I am currently trying to help: when I refused to listen and to learn. It is like planting something in the garden… a new understanding, a new sympathy for them and for my younger self that KNEW so much. And then I can see the entire lesson from all sides.

Being patient with how long it takes me to back off of the fear when I have been misunderstood is where I am right now. Yes. It is taking me time to “get it” and yes I am probably not “getting all of it” but being in submission to the process of learning is getting easier.

As I was making the beds today I thought of all of the messages those who were older, more experienced and wiser had given me. I remember the very instance when he or she reached out to me and held up a mirror. The scenes flashed before me.

Standing and watching riots across the United States in 1967 at a Professor’s house, I expressed fear. I said, “It is all being destroyed.” And a very tired looking, sage academic asked me, “Why do you fear the destruction?”


I was too young. I was too sure of my mental agility. I was too ego bound with being right. I rejected the wisdom because I was not ready. I did not hear the words but instead turned them into only that which I could see. I refused to understand that others who had suffered more, faced death more intimately, survived more humiliation were wiser. Because I was too ego bound I condemned myself to learn through pain and loss. I would not listen. I could not listen. I did not understand their words. My ego defence system kept them out of my fortress. And because of that I chose the more difficult path.

Something remarkable has happened to me in the last two years. The life of mindless spending out of time no longer calls me. The life of doing that which others decide is correct no longer satisfies me. There is a separation between who I was and who I have become. And I am more content. I am more curious. I no longer know what I will be. And it is glorious. And it is glorious.

Today I saw a video reminding me of Marcus Aurelius who hired a servant to following him every where repeating in his ear, “You are just a man. You are just a man.”

nothing remains static

And it by knowing that we are at the service of the lesson that we grow. Keeping focused on the truth that it is not the results that I seek. I do not want more power, or more recognition, or greater safety in the world. I want to be of service. And that means releasing the need to know what I am becoming. Thank you friend for allowing me to see my ego in action again.