“We must be under no illusion that all soul mates are meant to last a lifetime. Some are only meant to last a moment. That brief soul gaze with a ‘stranger’ at the grocery store that reminded you of your own essence was just right. That unexpected weekend encounter that set your spirit to soar is perfect. That great love that walked away after cracking your heart open was just what the soul doctor ordered. Whatever you need to smooth the rough diamond of the soul. No matter how long they last, profound connections paint pictures of possibility in the sky, expanding our lens for all eternity.” – Jeff Brown
We stood there under stars
We made babies there
in the womb of our love,
we made grown-ups too
more we felt the moon
growing us up a-sway,
and more away from our time under the play and ply
of dreams not our own,
dreams others hoped we’d grow,
fill up the void, prove their best by our lives’ strain.
But we grew. And beyond the dreams,
beyond their slumber there the moon spread
precious seeds of inevitability,
relentless moonbeams awakening these children,
all of us, growing
unearthing raw real flow
breaking up all the dreams,
tearing us to pieces save,
save the wholeness,
the bridge between us,
birthing our lives beyond the stars,
past the zenith of schemes
into the soil of soul’s truth.
Piercing warmth, fleeting reach
penetrating briefly just enough and enough.
But maybe a little more enough here,
sinking, seeping lyrical ground.
Roots sighing somewhere down,
restricted, richness-steeped and stewing brew.
This redness roiling sounds and sounds
and eventually out a hum…
past green growth shining,
humming something future known,
pounding pulse of winter’s spring
‘til finally full blast bloom…
song of secret dances.
I’m licking wounds, growing stronger, settling into acceptance of who I am (a dynamic thing I must fight to keep up with and then give up on and then be visited by and then yes…this is life) and I can find few words for it. But. But the theme that keeps dogging me like a hound of Hades is this one issue – what to fight for.
I run to Thomas Moore’s Dark Eros, for whatever intuitive reason, and these are the pieces of synchronicity life speaks to me now, on this one issue:
“Life itself is both caring and hostile. We are born astride a grave, the hopeful swell of life an inevitable move toward death. Nature is lovely and vulnerable, and yet it is also cold-hearted and cruel, oblivious to human reasons for protection. To live this life with full participation in nature is to adopt its cruelty and vulnerability. Often it seems psychological problems center around this issue of participating in the Sadeian nature of reality. We back away from engaging in cruelty, but the harshness does not go away. We deny the victim our gift of power, and then we become the victims of that denied force. We cannot believe we are capable of the vulnerability a life episode asks for; we retreatk and then feel literally and utterly wounded.
If the individual human soul is torn between victimization and cruelty, the soul of culture also gets tangled in problems of power.
We have so humanized and rationalized the positive powers of life that only in pathology does the divine peek through.
..innocence split off from shadow is not innocence at all but only a posturing. Paradoxically, embracing Sade could ease conscience and guilt, and it could revivify social justice.
The shadow in human life cannot be brought home as long as we concretize it in some objectionable other. Like everything else, evil is assimilable by soul only after it has been subjected to a poetic alchemy, refined into fantasy and feeling instead of personality and emotion, and woven into the fine tapestry of imagined experience.
It’s fine to be imaginative in articulating the details of a sensitive life, but the real nub comes with the presence of aggression, vicitimization, and power. Will we ever cease reacting to victimization with increased violence? Will we ever realize that strength of heart is to be found only at the deep end of the well of vulnerability? Only the person or nation open to influence, dependent, relying, often disabled can know the deep muscle that grants effectiveness, creativity, confidence, and security. Only the allowance of failure breeds moments of success.”
I keep coming home to vulnerability. It doesn’t tell me what to fight for except those components in life that give room for vulnerability between peers and allow strength to grow and withstand the strengths of others, however lovely or not. We fight for the dynamics of power that give us room to be vulnerable with a peer without being destroyed or devoured by their shadows. We fight for the dynamics of power that give us room to grow, hopefully without destroying anyone else, without hindering their own progress. Those “dynamics of power” are simply the muscles we use to open ourselves up and be real in the moment, to push past the internal resistance, to push past a bit of the resistances in others. Those dynamics of power are the ones we utilize to retreat until a safer day, while the ones we long to be vulnerable with or open up to are still learning just how potently reactionary they are.
I had occasion to fight this week and I left it alone. And a noble fight it would have been. But I realized the message was deeper. I pulled back after much tremendously ugly and rabid frothing at the mouth with rage long tied to things I have still to redeem. It was, if you take it apart, pretty small. But not really. Not when you look at the dynamics of it. The messages. The energies. The powers. The victims. The perps.
My son’s locker was broken into at school. By. A. Teacher. But it’s their policy. But it’s not their policy to take, seize and possess personal items. But they did. He went to his locker to put his books away and the locker shelf his sister had given him was gone. He mentioned it to a friend and was overheard by a classmate. She informed him that the teachers regularly check to see if a student has left the locker on the last number of the combination (hence, unlocked). If so, they take a personal item without telling the student, put it in a closet and wait. So, he went to his teacher. She had broken it, his personal property, in the attempt to remove it. Her commentary, after volunteering to pay for the item: “I hope you see this as the lesson it is meant to be. Do not leave your locker unsecure.” [insert image of mocking, incredulous redhead saying “what kind of stupidly revealing statement is that?”]
Vulnerability is as much a right as is protection. And choice is something I find even just as valuable. If choice is something that needs to be submitted in lieu of greater gains, then hopefully that choice is submitted willfully and with full awareness of what will be gained, what will be lost, what will be required. Scenarios, environments, timing, situational “ethics” have their meaning. But when? And. What to fight for when? And how? And. When your heart is beating, head is pounding, hands are shaking and the voice is trembling, it’s time not to fight but to retreat and discern which fight you’re spoiling for at the time. Epic reactions mean epic past unfinished business. Usually. Especially. When. A. Locker. Is. Involved.
My son was not upset by it. We decided to leave it alone and keep it for later reference if the need should arise to show a trend (this does seem to happen). But I was wiped out. It hit on a deep wellspring of pain from my past, one I keep working to heal. An issue so perfectly symbolized by the locker and the teacher and. And the broken personal yes. Well, I have no recourse, no re-imbursement. Only one thing. The fight to keep myself vulnerable when it matters most. The fight to recognize that the beauty I experienced of the one involved, of the whole thing is not gone because of a betrayal. But must simply be accepted along with it. While I keep my safe distance and acknowledge my longing to do anything but that (and I don’t want to attack).
And I surf the internet, scan the news and find one is going to burn a book. In reaction. To fight for something. But he fights himself. He fights the very thing he treasures and has no idea of it. And nations toss words and it all swirls in frustration and stupidity supreme and all I can say is this: We are vulnerable. What will we make of it?
From Thomas Moore –
“Being attached to the soul, to life, to destiny, to others, to place, to family, or to talent is the kind of submission, limitation, and harnessing that allow desire to perfom its rituals of exploration and that invite effective power. Without this bondage, human effort is Promethean, godless, off-track and soulless…Sade is the theologian of hell, speaking for the red angels of the fiery inferno whose job it is to urge and to tempt toward the pleasures of binding and of being bound.”
Dark Eros – The Imagination of Sadism
This puts a whole new spin on “oppression ousting” in that it challenges us not to disturb the type of bondage that delivers us into discovery and fulfillment. So, it could be said that ousting oppression includes ousting fear of our desires. I love it.
Attachment issues…what are they? I can read the books. I can dissect Freudian and Jungian views (and the intense Melanie Klein) and. I can look at it without their help. What is this attachment story? Does it become our greed? Is it the big fat SUV? Is it the extra TV in the room adjacent? Is it something within? Something someone else possesses? Or is it that we perceive someone has a quality we covet or simply want? (Are we even aware?) Is it that the only way we can access parts needful for our growth is to project an internal source beyond self into another person or group or object? We can’t quite get it so we send it out into other and then we chase or grab and refuse to let go or sob when we’re losing out or drool over the shiny red number. Is it that simple? It is and it isn’t.
There’s love. There’s need. The two, as separate as they need to ultimately be, do tend to go hand-in-hand. Or maybe one just grabs the other’s leg and won’t let go. In any case, we attach. We want. We hoard/horde sometimes. We have a time of valid need (from birth to ___). But we don’t always get what we need. We grow fearful. We try to fill the void within. Oddly, the void is only created by a sense of not having, not having what we really actually do have. An internal rift begins…where? Who cares, just fill it! We scramble. Something must fill, seeking beyond for what is within all along. But. But. But…we find it through the resonating exchanges in those depth relationships, the ones that awaken us to the internal wellspring. Those enduring and generous ones who have decided we can grab the leg for a while. Somehow those attachment moments settle the inner craving. “I can cling. I can be received without being engulfed or devoured. My love for other is safe. My love for me is…safe.” Even if the other will challenge me painfully. Even if I must let go and grab the solid me within.
I’m thinking a lot about attachment these days, apparently. My eldest sister sobbed when I left, wouldn’t let go. It was the most emotional moment directed AT me in years. (Eldest sister is 51, has Downs’ Syndrome, is learning to let go of her parents and move on into a house where people not her mom and dad are caring for her beautifully. It’s landmark. It’s epic.) I wondered: “Is this me?” Am I unable to mourn her changes? My own (ha! I’ve mourned enough!)? Is she doing it for me? I couldn’t tell. I ached for her but knew she would move on after the long hug and tears. “I”ll be here in December, Biz.”
Leaves just let go, right? Or do they reach that maximum point of readiness and fall? Is it that simple in our relationships? It should be. But that leg grabbing frenzy that never got full play (into a transition of healthy self-reliance!) can make for some messy transformations. My oldest sister has watched her sisters (all younger) move on and into love and children and loss. She didn’t get her time. Does she know this? She sure does. But she has no words available to oust the frustration. She gobbles her food, piles it up. Packs bags full and wants to carry everything she possesses along with her wherever she goes. She yells at night, at 3am, at her imaginary friend. Dementia is not uncommon at this age for Downs’ adults. It’s daunting to have to go seek the raging one out to tell her (loudly, fiercely because gentle does not get through to her when she’s given to the anger) to stop the yelling. You have to reach across the divide, the shut-out and shock enough to arrest the process of delusion. She shudders. She peers into your eyes and for a split second is forced out of her imaginary world, the one that substitutes for all she couldn’t have. The one where she can call all the women who’ve left her “fat pig” and otherwise speak an eloquence uncommon to the retarded. It blows me away. She quiets down. She finds that someone has brought her back from the brink. Something solid has asserted itself, an anchor of “other” introducing her to something within. But her expression undergoes amazing transformation in rage. It is succinct. Insightful. Alive. Nothing typical of Downs’ Syndrome “articulation.” The genetic mutation bends, morphs into something miraculous. How many of us live just like this but with less obvious parameters of dementia? With less obvious “imaginary” relating? Do we reach each other or do we reach the edge of our projection?
We can…we can reach beyond the mind-numbing process of self-protection.
All of it, all the rage, all the agony is wrapped up in the attachment story. My sister cannot have access to parts of herself. She longs. We can tell her “it’s all there within you, dear!” But we all need the leg to grab. The tree from which to emerge, unfold and let go. To float down to ground, disintegrate and begin again. We need the place to rest our hearts in love, in practice of the resonance we have within. A place that can only be awakened by the beyond of other, of mother, of sun’s changing shine. Even of the striking lightning, the wind supreme reminding that we are not lost to our own powers. Something is bigger.
I haven’t figured it all out. That spills out my fingers with a bit of mockery. I don’t believe any mind out there can master this issue. We’re all different. But some things are basic. We need to be able to need in a safe space, to cling and internalize the resonance provided by people of solid stuff. To love, cling, let go and begin again. To go through the process in zones free of the unspent cries of our own parents attachment sorrows. Like those trees with roots sinking down deeply into the grit grime of earthiness, smiling up at moonlit night, attached to the cycles of life and death. Only to begin anew, to learn the release and grasp, melt and grow into the leg for another to grab, a branch of rest for those who need to connect with connection itself.
We get the very thing we give in these attachment scenes…and the sun shines truth into the layers.
My words are being used for classes drowning me in homework, essay preps and speeches down the road. Day two and I’ve spent an hour and a half running through the exercises for my Critical Thinking class.
I know it’s basic. But it takes time I had been using elsewhere. I find my creative flow is used up when I sit down to blog. Og og og… But I’m loving Fromm in my mini-breaks from homework (I love homework. Been doing it for over 2 decades but only within the constraints of my personal dictates.). He puts Freud in proper perspective and love in a place that is accessible, solid and without illusion. Not for the faint-hearted and a sure cure for narcissistic distortions.
So, since I’ve got to next focus on what I see unfolding for me in my Public Speaking class, Western World Lit – Advanced (omg, killing me after years of falling in love with the mind of the East) and Statistics, I’m tossing Fromm quotes on the table for “fun.” These are speaking to me lately since I tend to rant about love and quote greats on love and nowhere do I try to identify what it is (as if! cough…). I see, know and experience love on spiritual levels that play out on the solid physical planes of existence and my ability to put it into words that adequately conveys is lacking. I tend to go off on poetic rambles useful only to myself. Fromm, on the other hand, has mastered the best definition I have yet to find or create. To start with, he slices and dices at what love is NOT:
“Automatons cannot love; they can exchange their ‘personality packages’ and hope for a fair bargain.”
“Love is not the result of adequate sexual satisfaction, but sexual happiness–even the knowlede of the so-called sexual technique–is the result of love…The study of the most frequent sexual problems…shows that the cause does not lie in a lack of knowledge of the right technique, but in the inhibitions which make it impossible to love.”
“Love as mutual sexual satisfaction, and love as ‘teamwork’ and as a haven from aloneness, are the two ‘normal’ forms of the disintegration of love in modern Western society, the socially patterned pathology of love.”
“Another form of pseudo-love is what may be called ‘sentimental love.’ Its essence lies in the fact that love is experienced only in phantasy and not in the here-and-now relationship to another person who is real…As long as love is a daydream, they [lovers/partners] can participate; as soon as it comes down to the reality of the relationship between two real people–they are frozen.”
And here’s my favorite identification of what love IS:
“Love is possible only if two persons communicate with each other from the center of their existence, hence if each one of them experiences himself from the center of his existence. Only in this ‘central experience’ is human reality, only here is aliveness, only here is the basis for love.
Love, experienced thus, is a constant challenge; it is not a resting place[!!!], but a moving, growing, working together; even whether there is harmony or conflict, joy or sadness, is secondary to the fundamental fact that two people experience themselves from the essence of their existence, that they are one with each other by being one with themselves [emphasis mine], rather than by fleeing from themselves. There is only one proof for the presence of love: the depth of the relationship, and the aliveness and strength in each person concerned; this is the fruit by which love is recognized.”
These all come from Fromm’s awesome book, The Art of Loving. And I’ve likely already put it on this blog. Maybe not. But it’s worth embracing, revolutionizing a life intent on knowing and being known in love, as love, for love, by love…you get it.
When whiling away the summer days and plotting autumn’s revolution, there are moments to grab with my kids, moments that grab me. Pick Up Sticks, for all their simplicity, beat, hands-down (pun intended), the Wii, Rock Band, Halo nonsense revolution. The senses are used in actual space and time in your face and at your feet. And you laugh. Unless you’ve lost your sense of pleasure in simple things ( I recommend you go find it, if lost. ), you laugh. You relax. You remember the floor and the view of the room from dusty realms.
So what are they? Pick Up Sticks are great little slices of color that can be scattered on the floor in a sometimes complicated spill of sound and bright sight. They are brilliantly useful for recovery from disconnection, particularly disconnection from the power of real action, of real person moving real hands through actual space in a work to create pleasure and sustenance. I call it Hand-Mind Realtime Recovery, a complicated jruthphrase meaning: restoration of the awareness of the power to create actual events, entities and objects in the here and now such that the person actually begins to leave a mark or significant influence of thriving love on his/her world in the form of pleasure, creativity and construction in actual space and time. Here. Now, as opposed to on a glowing screen capturing “realtime.”
I cough as I type on a glowing screen. Balance is a word that comes to mind. I adore the internet revolution, the games that glow on screens are fun (i love tetris and other games with guns and “nonsense”) but it’s easy to go for the easiest “results” in pleasure-seeking. It gets old, empty and meaningless. For some of us, anyway.
The dazed, vacant look dawns gray on their faces when my kids have contracted insta-grat overload. Zombies invade. Nothing satisfies. I try not to let it get to that point ever. But when it happens or even threatens to, boot-camp commences. Turn off all the glowing boxes. Listen for birds. Note the wind. Hello earth. Grate carrots for bread, sweep floors, pull weeds, gather stones from rivers, pick flowers, wash dishes, climb trees, assemble, draw, yo-yos, skateboards, bikes, long walks, river treks, guitar jamming, piano storming, dance, hug, cuddle…be more fully in your whole body in life. If I could control every detail of their lives, there’d be no xbox. But I can be extreme.
It comes down to doses. What’s your dosage of insta-grat? What’s your dosage of chopping wood? What does your organism require most? How much mindless “pleasure” turns you into a zombie? What level of hard labor deprives you of sensual fun?
Pick Up Sticks are timeless, reliable sources for getting back to basic fun. And they don’t require weekly rental cost. Besides, you can get the cat to chase a Pick Up Stick and watch her fat black body roll all over the carpet, biting at an elusive thin stick and putting all her feet in the air. Comedy, versatility and balance in a world rich with basic fun.
This little dissertation began with my son. Ev grabbed the sticks today when I told him I wanted to play a game. It amazed and pleased me. His mind has not been lost to the world of the glowing box. And he’s the one who renewed my interest in Chess. Chess – where you sit in silence or listening to quiet music (or loud noisy music, if you prefer) and plot the strategy to take the king (or is it the queen or…? I actually have to be reminded every time we play. But I love the game.). You think. You wait. You watch. You are not bombarded with non-stop stimulation. You learn something about the other person and you may even chat amiably between moves, similar to Pick Up Sticks where actual interaction takes place with ANOTHER LIVE HUMAN BEING.
But now I’m on a soapbox. Enough. Go get some Pick Up Sticks and remember the inner child while you enjoy the child whose presence life has graciously bestowed on you. Remember that it’s not about doing the right thing so as to guarantee any one thing to prove any wonderful thing but…it’s an opportunity – if only for a few minutes – to relate. And love happens when you relate. And that’s really all that matters.
What is personal growth anyway? Is it a process of losing immaturity and facing the facts of life? Is it a coming into peace? Is it the development of personal ideals into a vision of life? How can any of it begin to be possible without peace? Ever try to build a tent in a storm? Growth is like that tent-pitching adventure. We set up camp here and then there as we explore a terrain on a journey of wholeness, richness of living. How do we get there in turmoil?
The whole idea of feeling at peace with your self, with life, with others often – by its sheer contradiction to reality – lands on the mind with a comical mockery of all the chaos, internal agony and daily inundation of responsibility. Peace? Right! And the fairies leave me gold coins under the magnolia every evening! It can sound that ludicrous. Then we face the semantics of “finding” peace, even in a quiet home, sitting in “optimum” meditative pose (as if!). With all else clamoring within and around the next bend, it can feel like a gargantuan striving to be “at peace.” So many things in life scream out: “I am more real and more important!” The contrast of those screaming demands and issues pose the notion of peace as comical and the one contemplating it worthy of contempt or ridicule. The roof may cave in with the financial disaster. I might produce the same orphaning of my children though I’m technically more here than my parents were. There’s too much to do to even begin to imagine what it would be like to be a smooth-running overflowing river of peace in the middle of it all. Too much nips at the heels daily.
So, sit and rest into a sense of wholeness, peace? RIGHT! Besides, the attempt can, by its own efforts, destroy any suggestion of peace. So, it seems impossible. But it’s not.
There are layers to tend to first.
1) Focus on the body’s language
2) Acknowledge and work through (lifetime work) the injuries of the past that continue to visit today.
3) Establish a vision that will make possible the management of now’s needs and desires in conjunction with the repair work needful to relieve pain from past injuries. E.g. A person needs to feel capable of being present on certain levels with those s/he cherishes without the paralysis and inhibition created in fear of repeating history. There are ways to work through both needs. The importance of now and the critical drain of concern about the effects of the past on a life – these are both vital concerns. One does not negate the other. Your power is now. Sure. But that does not diminish how the past still needs a measure of your regard and attention. Development is essential in making the most of the power of your now. But…development is facilitated by recognition of what is NOT developed because of past influences. We can run. We can hide. But it profits us little in terms of depth change, the type of transformation that brings a person into a place of full presence, making the life a feast for self and for loved ones.
4) Recognize the path of peace is a process of increasing awareness, allowance, integration and release built on a foundation of self-acceptance and sobriety. All while making sure to grow and hold loosely to your dynamic vision of life as you, you as life.
5) Grow a sense of unity with all in an ever-increasing expansion of wholeness within, shedding perspectives of isolation and judgement.
Stay tuned… for a glimpse into the first layer mentioned above. Find a place today, a soothing place, sit with yourself and call every part of you that has been scattered back home. Visualization, as much as it cannot be proven, measured or otherwise grasped with anything tangible, is still a highly powerful tool of self-restoration, especially when feelings are allowed to have their full play without fear.
“If I must cross every skyline to find out what is beyond, I shall never appreciate the true depth of sky seen between trees upon the ridge of a hill. If I must map the canyons and count the trees, I shall never enter the sound of a hidden waterfall. If I must explore and investigate every trail, that path which vanishes into the forest far up on the mountainside will be found at last to lead merely back to the suburbs. To the mind which pursues every road to its end, every road leads nowhere. To abstain is not to postpone the cold disillusionment of the true facts but to see that one arrives by staying rather than by going, that to be forever looking beyond is to remain blind to what is here.
To know nature, the Tao, and the ‘substance’ of things, we must know it as, in the archaic sense, a man “knows” a woman–in the warm vagueness of immediate contact. As the Cloud of Unknowing says of God, ‘By love he may be gotten and holden, but by thought never.’ This implies, too, that it is also mistaken to think of it as actually vague, like mist or diffused light or tapioca pudding. The image of vagueness implies that to know nature, outside ourselves as within, we must abandon every idea, every thought and opinion, of what it is–and look. If we must have some idea of it, it must be the most vague imaginable, which is why, even for Westerners, such formless conceptions as the Tao are to be preferred to the idea of God, with its all too definite associations.”
Alan Watts – Nature, Man and Woman
Lose your mind, stop your go, find a place central within and unfold. It’s not bliss-ninny ohmmful denial of life’s demands or all those great plans. It’s a presence-centered way of being, always-the-lover-on-the-verge but mentally sharp in response to life’s provocation, always deeply looking. Not so much the frenzied, grab-it-all-fast and figure and finagle and fret. But respond from the soil of your life’s lessons. Define what matters here and now and cultivate the awareness of how alive and beautiful is that one glimpse of sky you reach. And watch, look, breathe it all in as you realize that the craving quest finds it all within.
Then from there, from that fullness the going, grabbing, exploring times hum with one who is always right here now, drinking deeply in love’s peace.
Is this where we end the addictive processes, in the feast of here, now, opening heart in love not because we’ll get a prize but because being is the prize?