Saturday, December 26, 2009

Hello Darkness, My Old Friend

Don't be dismayed by goodbyes.  A farewell is necessary before you can meet again. And meeting again after  moments or a lifetime is certain for those who are friends. Richard Bach

I thought of an old friend recently.  I was in an airport terminal on my way home from half a world away when they popped into my head.  I remember them the way they were the last time I saw them...years ago...smiling.  They were beautiful, I remembered, surprised that I hadn't thought of it or them in so long...and how I missed them.. I don't think they'd fit into my life now, but reflecting on them made me realize how muchhave changed and I wonder, not whether, but how they have changed as well. I parted ways with them because they made some decisions I couldn't agree with-couldn't see my friend making- and didn't want to see the result of that decision making. How could someone so charismatic make such choices? If they could make those kinds of choices, I felt, what chance did I have? I won't say their decisions were bad- that isn't my judgement to make, but certainly they were different from what I would have made.  My choices were safer- and now, years later, and thousands of miles apart, who can say which choices were better. They were in my life for a reason- an object lesson as it were. I made my choices and they made theirs and now my friend (still) lives a life that is completely a mystery to me- as is (still)  my own. I wanted  to imagine  as I traveled home that their life is better than I can imagine and that they are happy. And as  I traveled through the terminal, a physical embodiment of the paths we travel- our choices and decisions, the brief home of strangers whose paths cross intermittently, but not randomly-this place which made me think of them; as I travel I think of how glad I am that our paths crossed when they did as I follow my own decision and heart and fly away home. 

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

And so this is Christmas.....

And so this is Christmas

And what have you done? Another year over, and a new one just begun… John Lennon

Christmas is definitely a time of year when we reflect. On our shortcomings, our happiness (and how fragile it can be), our regrets. And because we are human, on our indomitable, resurgent hope that things will be better in the new year. Despite the voice of experience, we still truly believe in Christmas, in miracles, and in love. The definition of insanity is trying the same things over and over, while expecting different results. This year let’s not forget to give thanks for insanity. Thank God for hope, which beats the hell out of experience every time, and is the best part of being human.

Sure, people will be crazy at this time of year- the winter solstice just past, a full moon which always brings out the loonies (lunies?), people who will murder you for the latest Power Ranger toy. (No? What is the big thing this year? Hey, I’ve been out of the country, for cryin’ out loud!)

But it also brings out the child in all of us-a kindness that we don’t show at any other time of year- when we are gentle with children, the elderly and ourselves. And while, you may think you are too old to dream of sugarplums, (at my age just dreaming about them adds five pounds), it is still not inconceivable to dream about a white Christmas, or to believe that following a star can lead to redemption.

And what have you done this year? (Getting back to reflections.) I changed my perspective, my locale, and my modus operandi. I moved halfway across the world in hopes of becoming someone different and learned that the people who loved me most, liked me just the way I was…and so did I. I learned to see and make opportunities out of obstacles. I learned to speak another language, and remembered that the most important one, love- needs no translation. I accomplished old dreams, and am now dreaming new ones. I have made new friendships, and learned that the old ones will stretch to wherever I roam. I have (re)learned that I am what I was made to be, what I am (still) being made to be-not perfect, but striving, not wise but learning-one piece of God made manifest. And when joined by lovers, friends and family, made stronger through love. (Great presents Santa! I love ‘em! Now, next year could I get all that and a new truck? Please?)

I hope this year that you have found a piece (peace) of wisdom in my writing. I hope that you have felt my voice speaking to you as you struggled- as we both did. I hope that you have found here a friend that you will come back to again and again. I know I did.

I know when I write that I write not just for myself, but for all who need to hear one voice out of the babble say-“I know what you feel. I feel it too”. For everyone who needs a little empathy, a little irreverence- a little… ( I hesitate to say clarity- it makes me sound so… snooty), maybe just to hear your own thoughts reflected in someone else’s voice. I know that I don’t send my words into empty space- that somewhere, in someone’s heart, they are received. Thank you for sharing my journey so far and, if you’re up for it, continuing on with me. The new year is coming. I’ll see you there.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Behind the Magic 8 Ball or DIY: Choose your own adventure!

The risk of a wrong decision is preferable to the terror of indecision.

Yes, no maybe so,
Yes, no, maybe so. (House on Mango Street- Sandra Cisneros)

Indecision is the bane of a rational mind. Logically, we all know how the world should progress. Our way- or the highway.  If everyone did exactly what I told them the world would be a better place- kittens and puffy clouds would abound, war would be abolished, flowers would bloom…..etc.  But the truth is, even if I had such power, I wouldn’t really know what to do with it. I don’t really know what to do with the phenomenal power I already have over my own life. Hence, my indecision-which inevitably leads to stagnation.  They say indecision is, in and of itself a decision. A decision to neither move forward or back, but to stay stuck in fear and ambivalence. They say even a bad decision is better than no decision at all. I don’t know who “they” are, but I hate them- stuck up know-it-alls! But “they” are right. It’s better to move than not on the highway of life. Lately, I’ve been feeling a little too much like potential road-kill. 

Did you ever read those “Choose Your Own Adventure” books when you were a kid?- you know, the kind that every few pages gave you a choice- face the monster, or run away. Go down the hidden tunnel  or run away.  Face the pirates or….(you know).  Not many options. Life isn’t really like a book. The ending isn’t one we can peek at at the end of the book, and the choices really aren’t life or death.  Not actual death- more like “living” death- stultification. Then again, for some of us close to the edge… Actually, for every one of us who truly understands that this life is all we have….hmm, maybe life really is kind of like those CYOA books after all-times a million.  But you can only run away for so long before decisions are forced on you – and when decisions are forced on you, often, so is regret.

Making meaningful choices takes logic, analysis, and whimsy. Yes, whimsy. Because if we cannot imagine how things can be better, than we have no choice but to accept things the way they are.  Whimsy and risk are just as important to decisions as logic- because they take into effect what cannot be seen- but only felt and intuited. Taking the “road less traveled” is not a promise of better things, only things that are different.  But Frost is definitely right, in that, sometimes, “that [makes] all the difference.” 

Take a look into your future- gaze into a crystal ball, gaze at your naval (ewww!) , do whatever it takes- but make a choice today.  Feel the power in deciding your own future-for good or bad, it’s yours to make.  Take a step towards a dream, take a step out of a bad relationship-with others or with yourself. Take a step toward love, and a step out of fear.  Be a man (or woman!), not a mouse- captain of your own ship, your own fate and sail beyond the sunset (Heinlein). Choose your own adventure, write your own chapter, and make a happy ending that’s all your own. *

Today’s mantra:
Universe I will trust you, knowing that you are contained within me, to fulfill my wishes, to help me live my best life and to be my highest self. I know that my greatest power is my ability to love and that my compassion draws others to me so that I may be loved in return. So today, I choose to trust that you will send me what and who I need-that they are already here and I have only to receive them. For this, I give thanks.

*Failing all that- you can of, of course, always retreat back to the Magic 8 Ball- give it a try below!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

So, Live Your Life or DIY:Serenity Prayer

God grant me the serenity to accept the people I cannot change
courage to change the one I can change,
and the wisdom to know it’s me.
– Author unknown

What is serenity?
Serenity is...coming home to a warm house.
Serenity is...knowing where your children are.
Serenity is...a warm bath, a cup of cocoa, and a good book.

Ummm, no. I don’t think so. That might be happiness. It might even be smugness. But it’s not serenity. Serenity is inner peace- a calm in our personal storm, that cannot be shaken by outside things. That warm house- how serene are you when you come home to a cold one? Knowing where your children are? In these days, that’s a matter of faith. They might be in school….and they might not. A warm bath, a cup of cocoa, and a good book? Sounds good. But if either of those fall in the tub, tell me you won’t scream bloody murder!
Lately I have been in need of some serenity. A solid knowing of where and who I am, and where I’m going in life. It is not a bad thing to be thrown off guard- to be forced to question and adjust, because serenity is not the same as contentment- being okay (note- not necessarily happy) with where you are. Serenity can be had only inside you, and it moves with you and through you to accomplish great things. Contentment happens in your “happy” little rut. For years I was “content” to work in a job that had ceased to inspire me, to live a quiet life, achieving little, but not hurting anything either. I was “content”, in other words, to live the life of the common house plant. Not even the common house cat- whom, even the fattest and laziest of which, is at least, beautiful, graceful and deadly (beware mousies!) I was content to be unnoticed, because it meant I didn’t have to be responsible for my own greatness. If the world didn’t notice me- maybe I didn’t deserve to be noticed- then I wouldn’t have to work so hard. I wouldn’t have to accomplish anything. I could be emotionally lazy. I didn’t have to be great at anything- and risk failure, defeat or humiliation. I didn’t have to risk people not liking me, people being jealous of me, and my accomplishments. In case you missed it, by the way- the irony here is that I assumed that I could do something great- something worthy which people might not like me for doing. So I believed without thinking about it that I could be amazing- I just gave it up…..for comfort. I actively worked to not stand out-to be ignored and derided. And it worked. How brilliant is that!? And how brilliantly must we all shine naturally, when so many of us have to work so hard to seem ordinary?

I am convinced that it is a cosmic joke- the ultimate expression of irony, that we work so hard to be part of the crowd, while looking up to the most bland of us- celebrities, movie stars, models- and all the while, we say, innocently, sincerely, “I wish I could be like them.” I swear the Devil laughs his ass off every time someone says that- the more wistfully, the better. It’s like every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings- in reverse. Every time someone says that, our little personal demons grow bigger-like a malignant cancer-they feed off our heart’s blood and grow stronger. Well, I believe in the power of positive prayer and “my strength is as the strength of ten because my heart is pure.”(Alfred, Lord Tennyson). [Okay, so maybe my heart is  still a little murky, so maybe my strength is only as the strength know.. one and a half. But still, you gotta start somewhere.]
I will put on the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18) and I will wrap myself in serenity- in the knowledge that in this place and time I was made to shine. I will not shirk my duty, or lower my standard(s) to abase myself in the dirt, because I was not made for low things, but being created by the Most High, my standing and stature are likewise elevated- not to be better than any man, but to be the equal of all.
(Whew!- self esteem talks really get me going!) knowing who you are and accepting it with good grace. I know that I am impatient, judgmental, sharp tongued and needling. And that’s with myself, let alone others. I also know, when I give myself leave to compliment myself, that I am patient, with children and friends, funny, and comforting- to the people I believe deserve it. Which, until recently, has been everyone other than myself.

“Know thyself”, (author unknown) and “to thine own self be true,”-(Shakespeare, Hamlet). Your higher self, that is, your better self. And let that knowledge be your “Guiding Light”, your immovable, fixed point “As the [rest of] the “World Turns” (okay no more soap opera mentions. I promise.)

I know that I was made to do great things- and like a child I have avoided doing them, to gain the acceptance of “friends” and “society”. But the only acceptance I have ever needed is my own. And I refuse to let my little demon feast in my heart and give me nothing but insecurity, and doubt in return. In one swell foop*, my demon has been evicted. I will no longer question whether I have a right to be great- I don’t. I have a duty. The only question from now on is how will I go about accomplishing my greatness and the greater good. Don’t pretend to be less than you are. For every child who truly believed that a costume could make them a superhero- let there be an adult who knows that inside they are one- invisible cape and all. Be your own hero- someone who stands up to not only speeding bullets, but the stinging envy and slights of other men- because you refuse to be less than you are- magnificent. Stand serenely, in the eye of the hurricane ( which is sure to come when you stop apologizing for being who you are.) Stand proudly, smile serenely, hold your ground...and live your life.

Live Your Life-Rihanna

within our darkness there is not one place for beauty...
The whole place is for beauty. -Rene Char

*Yes, I know it's one fell swoop- I just liked the way it sounds, dammit! When someone doesn't like your joke, it's best to just walk away. No explanations, no apologies!( well, except for this one time!)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Gates of Horn and Ivory

I dreamed a dream in times gone by…… Les Miserables

Ever had the falling dream? Or the naked dream? (you know the one I mean- when you walk into class and everyone stares and you suddenly realize they’re all naked and you’re not and you start screaming, because really, some people ought not to be naked…ever? Oh. I guess I’m the only who has that one. Okay, then. Ahem)
Well, lately I have been having a lot of dreams. Dreams of my future, dreams of my past. Dreams that were never made real. (I know that sounds weird when you read it- but you know what I mean.) And dreams that will, maybe, never come true. To be fair some of my dreams were really fantasies, which are completely different. Fantasies are made up completely, having nothing to do with the real world and your real issues. They’re the ones where you dream about harem boys (or girls- your choice) or rolling in huge piles of money (again with said harem.) But dreams really can reflect what is going on in your heart right this minute. The problem is interpretation. It’s all in the (closed) eyes of the beholder.
While certain dreams generally have the same meaning for all of us- the naked dream for example, generally means a fear of being vulnerable- some dreams are so twisty (twisted?) that no outside source can unravel their meaning. You have to tread the path of dreams yourself. And dreams, as we all know, can very quickly turn in to nightmares without warning. I have had dreams of terror, and woken lunging from my bed. I have dreams from my childhood that have never quite abated, no matter that I know there is no bogeyman under the bed- now I know they are in the streets. I have dreamed of love and longing, and having woken up in the morning, with tears in my eyes, couldn’t remember what they were about- only that they broke my heart. So many dreams are like snowflakes- the very first of the season- so delicate they melt away.
And then there are Dreams- with a capital D. The dreams I have of starting a business, having a child, finding a love. The ones that are even scarier than little “d” dreams- because they could be real, if only I will strive for them. If only. A dream deferred, as Langston said- can so easily explode, leaving sharp fragments which cut us as reminders of what we could have, should have done, but didn't.
Only I can tell which dreams will come true for me- which have true messages for me to hear and which are merely deception. Self or otherwise. It is said that the gate of horn is the gate through which true dreaming comes- while the gate of ivory is the portal to phantasms. Only I know which one I will walk through- which dreams I will fight for, and which I will lay aside. The importance of dreams has always been that our subconscious can open thoughts to us then, that we don’t allow in otherwise- keeping them out of the “real” world, until we lay unconscious and defenseless against ourselves. We rest our brains in pleasant sleep, and wrestle demons in nightmares, and none of it hurts us….mostly. Medical science says that when we don’t sleep, we do irreparable harm to our bodies, minds and psyche, becoming paranoid and sometimes, insane. We study lucid dreaming to learn how to manipulate the images in our head- to actively participate in our dreams, in ways that we can’t in real life, but often wish to or need to. To sleep too much is often a sign of depression, that you wish to be away from the world and its pressure- the pressure of living, performing, or miming being alive. “To sleep perchance to dream,” -but hopefully, not forever as in Hamlet’s case (Shakespeare, Hamlet Act II, sc i).
I don’t wish to waste my time in sleep. I need to be awake making my dreams come true. I need to be planning the next step on my journey. I need to be moving, and striving to make my dreams real- because dreams are only a starting point. They last through the night, but fade away. The day is for living, for making the fantastical concrete-for defeating my monsters, and conquering my mountains.(All together now- “Cliiiiimb every mountaaaain! Foooord every seaaaaa!- oh, not a Julie Andrews fan, huh? “The Sound of Music”)

In the push and pull between reality and dream lies the human condition- the ability to dream and the skill to change reality. So spend your nights in pleasant rest, and dream. But when day comes, don't [just] follow your dreams. Chase them like they’re running from you. (JB)

Anais Nin:
The dream was always running ahead of me.
To catch up, to live for a moment in unison with it,
that was the miracle

Saturday, December 5, 2009

I Love You Because I Know No Other Way....

I have been stumbling awkwardly to find my purpose in this life for quite some time. And if one more person says “All you need is love”, they will die. Because they’re right- but nobody likes a know-it-all.
 “All you need is love.”
Our purpose here is clear. And so, too, our path to achieve our purpose-as clear as mud. If love is the end all, be all, how can you measure if you have achieved your goal? Love is all encompassing- and that means that it includes the types of love that would make even the most liberal of us a tad…uncomfortable. And if it can include all of that- and you still can’t find love- what does that mean? I wish I knew the answer to all things-life, the universe and everything.*

(Ed. Note-the answer is… 42. Thanks Douglas Adams!)

But if I know nothing else, I know this-the question is often its own answer. If you are trying to love and be loving- then you are on the right path. That doesn’t mean that everything we call love is love. And some things you do lovingly have negative effects. And some things people call loving are just plain inappropriate. But who am I to judge? I don’t have memorized the paths of the human heart. And I can’t read your heart’s intentions. But we all know love when we see it. And we know how good it feels when we’re in it- in love that is. (And not the sappy cupid kind either!) Being truly in love and truly loving others-getting in touch with the “big vibration”, being a part of it all- whatever “it” turns out to be. Call it home- because Home is that place where all things begin (began) and love has no end. Call it love, God, call it what you will- we all just want to go home again.

In the end, I know that in order to go “home” I will need a partner, someone to rely on, to trust, who will defend me and whom I will defend- because these are the ultimate lessons of love and I won’t be ready to go back until I have learned them all.

To trust-knowing that not everyone can be trusted.

To rely on someone else- when you would rather do for yourself, even when you know that you are not the most reliable yourself.

To defend- yourself and those you care about. And to widen your definition of who you care about.

I know that in the end I will find the answers I’m looking for- in this lifetime or another. I have decided that I am tired of playing the martyr- of taking on burdens that are not my own-instead of the one that is-the burden of learning to love. I know that I am not alone and I will not be alone forever, because my partners and friends are out there. To them I write this brief letter of introduction, knowing that when we meet (if we have not already)  we will already truly know and love one another and that in them I will achieve my purpose- I will find my home.

Dear loved one,

You may not remember me. But I have always known you were out there. I have lived my life in the hopes of meeting you –re-meeting you. Because this is not the first time we have known and loved one another. Before all things began, we were one. I have journeyed to find you, because you are my other half. I have been awkward no matter where I go, because I was missing you and your presence. I have struggled to keep the faith and find my purpose, believing that I was failing in some greater destiny without realizing that my only destiny was to find you. There will never be anything greater than the connecting of our souls once again. My purpose is surely to find you. To love you. To journey with you. And I don’t know where we’ll go. Only that it matters that I go there with you, at my side- at my back and in my heart. I have loved you and love you still- in this life and every other. And in every turn of the wheel to come, I will continue to love you. Because you are a part of me. Until me meet again, and for the first time, I remain

Sincerely yours,

Friday, December 4, 2009

Regrets, I've Had A Few

Regrets are one of those things, which like sand fleas in your swim trunks, can keep you up at night, scratching. And sometimes, you draw blood. I don’t just mean having regrets about deeds undone, but those that you have done too. How many times have you berated yourself for not being brave enough to say what was on your mind? And how many times have you chastised yourself for ruining a good thing? And what if you ruin something through no intention of your own (I won’t say no fault- we all have those, and they interfere in our lives in inconceivable ways) but what if you just….weren’t enough, didn’t know enough, didn’t say enough? Obliviousness can lead to regret…and hell, just as surely as good intentions.

There are few things that are really worth regretting, but it is always the little things that stick around the longest. I regret never telling that boy in high school how much I liked him. I regret having ruined someone’s New Year (don’t ask, I won’t tell), I regret spending so much of my life with no purpose- or not journeying to find that purpose before now. I regret not telling someone that I loved them…and then proving it. I regret never being overtly grateful to those who loved me, (not much for PDA, me, but it takes so little…). I regret being to self involved and not self involved enough- and each, always, at the wrong time.

I have tried over the years to take the words “I wish” out of my vocabulary. To say I wish is to take on an awesome responsibility…and at the same time to put on a awesome display of insecurity. Imagine that saying “I wish” worked. That every time you had a regret you could say “I wish I had never done that” or “I wish I had” and it would come true. The power, the power! But really, if it did work like that, (and it never does- or at least, it never has for me. You seen any magic lamps lately?) you would have to give up an inordinate amount of control over your own decisions to let some power, higher or otherwise, like whiteout, make over your life. Our regrets are ours as surely as any of our accomplishments, and often more poignant. They are the reason you wake up from dreams with an uncontrollable feeling of grief….or purpose. They are our motivation, like cow-switches, that flick us and torment us until we do better. Until we say never again. Or next time, for sure…and mean it. (and I’m sorry for the cow simile. Next time, I’ll do better. For sure.)

Regrets are things that can overshadow our lives or force us to shine. I don’t want to regret anymore that any part of my life was unlived, that any of my dreams were unfulfilled, that any person in my life was unloved (including me). Fight off your regrets with actions. Take a stand (or a seat. It’s all good) and draw a line in the sand. Let your regrets fuel you. Let them fill you up, like a battery in a flashlight. Then turn on your light….and shine.

Watch Judith Owen - Shine on 
P.S. Skip the first two minutes to get to a great song!


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