Alan Watts weaves together many layers of the human experience in a liberating expression of truth. It’s one of those essential truths I wrestle with more often than I care to admit to myself. But. The more I admit it, the more it’s about the music and less about what I’ve accomplished, where it is I think I’m “going.” The way we’re set up, at such young ages, to look for the grand trophy, the major accomplishment, the big prize…it’s a defeating march. Chronic illness, or any recurring struggle, will either highlight the defeat or push us against that wall, the one we can stand and look at until it melts away and the music is the thing, once again. On with it…
There’s this incorrigible black kitten in my life now. Over the holidays, he pissed under the Christmas tree right on the tree skirt not once but twice and both times with me staring right at him. I. Dare. You. To. Freak. Out. Woman. I did, in fact, freak out, having no tolerance for turf wars or any pissy acting out. He’s had more timeouts than all three of my kids combined and he still thinks it’s super cool to jump on Eesa, evoking yowls and hisses the likes of which the cauldrons of hell would cherish. Eesa waddles through the house, fat female cat, black with white chest and a huge trunk full of squatting rights perfect for kittens to transgress. I had no idea she could make some of the noises she now makes on a regular basis. My mornings are even more full now. Sipping coffee, relaxing into the routine and Slam! YOWWWWWWWLLL, hiss, pounce, hiss, sounds of claws scrambling on hardwood floor like Tom and Jerry running in place before bursting out of the room. Then all goes quiet. Sighs. Dumb cat. Deep breath, sip coffee, SLAM…mwwwwwwwwwwwwwOWwwwwww! hissssssssssss, snarl, silence. Chuckle. He doesn’t learn. In a span of 8 minutes I get to hear the pounce, yowl, hiss, silence routine 4 different times. Only after I scold the monster and put him in another timeout (his little room) does peace ensue. He does need to respect his elders even just a little bit.
Tootsie is so brilliant and willful it renders him completely and utterly stupid, a slave to his impulses, every rustle a challenge, every nook and cranny of bookshelves, cabinets and buffet offerings an invitation to trouble. Just when I think I’ve reached ultimate transcendence, he comes along and conjures murderous outbursts of anger the likes of which I’d forgotten existed anywhere in the darker domains of my psyche. Apparently, I’m still a real human being. Very. Real.
The fact that his adorability ranking is higher than any other aspect of his wide range of traits is rather fortunate. And I’m a card-carrying member of the cat-lovers club.
For one thing, he has this sweet habit of putting his paw on your cheek right before rubbing his whiskers, nose/cheek silky fur wonder hard against your face and then burrowing under the chin, purr-motor on so full blast the windows rattle. Try to put him down when he’s in cuddle mode, do it. See if you succeed. He’s mastered the art of defying gravity while scrambling for the back of your shoulder and continuing to purr full blast. Didn’t know there was a “back” of the shoulder? There is. Tootsie finds it on all people he loves, no matter how thin they are!
I’ve become pretty handy with a kitten on one shoulder and a water bottle in the other, standing over my stove, pouring the water into a pot while begging the little demon to be still.
I’m not known as a pushover. But Tootsie’s managed to turn me into exactly that with random outbursts of complete raving redheaded lunatic. And it’s a good thing. There’s something about chronic illness that puts the spirit in slumber-mode. Two steps forward, 3 back. After a while, the thought of raging against anything is fantasy. Even cuddling is effort. I’m doing well to go shopping and come home and unload groceries without falling over at this point. (There’s an “AND” in-between every one of those points because it’s that difficult.) Depression can be inevitable sometimes. But only for about 2 minutes because this black monster cat comes pouncing. Even if all he does is make me angry, he’s roused me beyond the discouragement zone and into a more stirred, active flash of spirit. It shifts, transmuting into a force for change: “There has GOT to be something I can do to improve my stamina.” And that’s no small challenge since the normal channels for increasing stamina make this particular illness worse. But that determination to get what he wants, it’s infectious. Some faint stirring of remembrance of that imp-force within comes bubbling up. He’s a gift from the darker gods of mischief and resilience, demanding I not forget my animal self, the layer of soul that unabashedly unfolds into life without too much concern for consequences, grabbing the goodies of comfort and fun whenever I’m able, purring ’til the windows rattle and shake and yowling at restriction.
After all, better days are coming…
Or two? So many I know and cherish are living on the fine line between loss and hope, smiling, laughing and crying as they refuse a few demons scrambling to take even just an ounce of what’s precious. They refuse and sometimes precious things are taken anyway. They, and me. We can say we have limiting beliefs and if only we could believe bigger, deeper, broader then these demons would flee. I disagree. That concept is true on a few levels but if we can fling the curtains open wide and see clearly that there’s more to it than what we believe, some might actually grow outside their bigger playpen posing as arrival.
Life isn’t made of only butterflies floating around or only crocs waiting to grab and growl.
Not only that but butterflies float, are fleeting and seasonal. And crocs walk. They beat the streets posing in big suits and grins, waiting, beckoning, seducing. Hey, the percentage of interest is well worth the pay off now, right? Hey, no. And that butterfly moment with the uber sweet woman is gone and you can’t guarantee the next flicker of color will come along any time soon. But you can turn your face to the sun and laugh or weep if that’s where your heart is…
The common denominator in all of these realities is whoever is present, right? You, Ruth. You, Casey. You, Bam. You, Dan. You… It’s YOUR fault. Well, as one of those listed would say, Hell the F*&! no, it isn’t. It can take decades to realize the person you trusted was, in fact, a croc on the prowl and it may not be obvious to most folks even after the fact. Even when you’re missing a few limbs. People often see only what they want to see. Heaven help us if they’re standing on the edge watching you scramble with a fiend as they mutter under their breath… “she’s not a victim. She knew better.” (Really? How do you know that? What are you projecting?)
Doesn’t anybody else realize that this is an ancient agenda? Accusation posing as great enlightenment saying “You have the power.” Yeah? Hey, guess what? There is tremendously beautiful power in healthy dependence and reliable relating. How many folks get that? Actually, few. What then? There are some realllly obvious easy, no-brainer personal growth moments that can lend truth to the idea that we are our own worst enemies. You keep doing the same thing and getting the same injury, you either have no motivation to make it different, or like the drama but also like to pretend you hate it, or you’re too brilliant to see the simplicity of the solution or so into each moment that you can’t be objective enough to pull back and assess or are simply quite dumb. So, you wake up one day and see the pattern and change it and your life flourishes. Does that then mean everyone on the planet has the same need? Or everyone else is just as dumbo asleep as you were? No offense but it’s an offensive and much-repeated assumption. “Hey y’all! Stop bein’ stupid! You’ve got the POWER!” Duh. Really?
See, I sit here with an illness I can’t, for all my power, oust. Just when I think I have it figured out, it morphs into a different monster. Ah yea, I know. I have a limiting belief about my health. You know what? I have a huge belief in the preciousness of life and love and that alone keeps me trying to find a solution in spite of the unpredictable change in the game plans. I realize I might sound like a whiner (depending on the “ears”) on 1/5/2012 but I’m not. I’m angry. I feel this year is going to be hugely better than last year. But it’s starting with some much-needed pissy woman on the snarl.
Do I blame anyone for where I am? No. Not even me. Some lives begin in a whirlwind and are fortunate not to be smashed into bits by the 3rd decade. In fact, we can say that of many lives out there but we’d rather talk about how it’s all in your head as we take that pound of flesh in our greed for rightness. Ah yes, and as much as I have an inclination towards it, reincarnation takes that pound-go-round too with the whole “you chose it before you entered this life” mantra. The brilliance in that is only so far. See, if you choose something in order to learn and grow more towards that which you already fully are then, um, what’s the point? And if you chose it and then drank from the river of forgetting, what damn good is it doing you to remember? A lesson is purely learned when we dive in, period. This “hey I chose it” is another version of “God causes all things to work together for good for those that love him and…” More conditional unconditional dumbness. I know of lives who believed thus and things didn’t work together for good. Not in ways the human flesh can appreciate while living out the pounds of blood and bones pulsing what we have right NOW … LIFE.
As much as I need to lose some pounds right now, I’m not losing another ounce to the wave of dumbness posing expertise as it looks at life through a crack in the curtain. The cost of some huge and beautiful changes can sometimes eclipse the gain, folks. For years and sometimes, forever. Why is that? Because nature is brutal, as well as gentle, seasonal, random, ordered. And we are in it, of it, rolling with the tide and making the most of it as we remember to turn our faces to the sun.
Happy crocs and butterflies, y’all! May we all realize that the innocent can be seen as guilty if you wear the right shades. Emphasis: RIGHT. May we all realize that the guilty started out without any power and now feel entitled to take it. And some of them started out with so much they’ve no idea how precious it all is. May we all realize that life. is. a. mystery. Nobody. gots. THE. answers. And good people, positive, hard-working people with huge belief in good things happening to them personally STILL. GET. KICKED. to the ground. Why? Are you kidding me? Because. Period. All done. Ain’t. Always. A. Why. We. Can. Make. Peace. With.
But we can smile into the sun…shake off the energy of loss and hold to how it’s taught us of the wonder… Besides, what if we’re here for one reason? One. One repeatedly. But ONE. And like the butterfly, fleeting, beautiful, brilliant, drinking up earth through the feet. ONE. Purpose….
LOVE. Love in the moment as we look up at the next person. Love in the moment we can comfort another human being. Love in the moment before the baby you just birthed takes his last breath. Brutal but. Love. Gentle. But. Love. All true at once. And more than we can fathom. Just. Love. If we look for the happy lil reason for it all after it’s all said and done we’ll miss the moment we can love and as soon as we define why something happened, we diminish the million and one other possible whys and wherefores and we actually think we can put a price tag on immeasurable value. Tell you what, if you like a pound of flesh, go ahead. But not here. I’ll lose mine by sheer melt. All other takers, be gone!
(Thanks for riding the ruth-wave… believe it or not, I’m believing bigger this year and more specifically than this post might suggest. I’m just wow. Yeah. Amazed.)
Check out the song that helped me hurl this particular post…
“Time is old age, time is sorrow, time doesn’t heed. There is chronological time by the watch. That must exist, otherwise you won’t be able to catch your bus… But there is another kind of time, which we have accepted. That is, ‘Tomorrow I will be, tomorrow I will change, tomorrow I will become’; psychologically we have created time–tomorrow. Is there a tomorrow, psychologically? That question fills us with dread to ask seriously. Because we want tomorrow: ‘I shall have the pleasure of meeting you tomorrow, I am going to understand tomorrow, my life will be different tomorrow, I will realise enlightenment tomorrow.’ Therefore tomorrow becomes the most important thing in our life. You have had sex yesterday, all the pleasures, all the agonies–whatever it is–and you want it tomorrow, because you want the same pleasure repeated.
Put that question […could you go into psychological time?] to yourself and find out the truth of it. ‘Is there a tomorrow at all?’ –except in thought which projects tomorrow. So tomorrow is the invention of thought as time, and if there is no tomorrow psychologically, what happens in life today? Then there is a tremendous revolution, isn’t there? Then your whole action undergoes a radical change, doesn’t it?” J. Krishnamurti – The Awakening of Intelligence
Not all words and concepts from Krishnamurti reach me. He goes on to say in this quote that we are whole now. In some lives, this is only true in theory, conceptually. Much like the body’s processes of healing, our souls must go through the same thing. We don’t just suddenly step over, depending on the level of injury. Broken foot “you are whole now!” and ha, take a step. See what you get. Same is true for some injuries to the development of person, the freedom of the soul. So, is it the passage of time that heals such wounds? No. Not really. “Time” passes, if you believe time is something other than just a human measurement construct but it doesn’t mean “time” is healing anything or affecting anything at all. Based on the logic behind “time heals all wounds,” we could say the sun heals all wounds and might be closer to the truth. But. Time. Let’s toss it for this post, shall we?
The idea of time is especially big for me today for a fairly significant reason and it struck me how important the releasing of time as a force, as a consideration. When I step into the vibe, the awareness, the energy of there being no tomorrow (not literally but in terms of projecting from this point, this NOW, this moment), many actions and needs melt into a recognition of realities that they will inevitably unfold beyond anything I can see at this time. I can trust. But then, something else happens to other aspects of life, of the moment…they come due NOW.
In the MOMENT. Not in a hectic way. But in peaceful acceptance that without the construct of tomorrow, it is good to assert my will along these lines Right Now. The thought that tomorrow is the day for me to do things for myself is a pretty typical occurrence in this brain of mine. And there are so many needs and wants clamouring loudly. But erase tomorrow and suddenly those things I want to do for me, that are actually possible, are done. I’ve stepped out of time and step back into an awareness of time and the “move” from point A to point B reveals that I was motivated between those two alleged points and did something I’ve been wanting to do for what I recognize as weeks (and weeks!). So what really happened? An acceptance takes place that otherwise languishes on hold as time is vaporized in the awareness of eternal now. Forces ready to respond to the sun are no longer held back and life bursts forth from a seed, “accomplishing” many “things.”
Paradoxically, those things that seem past due in other areas of life, areas I cannot control, processes of growth and healing in myself and in others that I cannot rush, morph into a canvas of love and acceptance. It is seed now. And as seed responds to soil, rain and sun, so will seed shed the initial husk and unfold, reach, grasp for the sun. The sun.
And all the while there is no time…
“…our clothes, our skins, our personalities, our virtues and our vices are as transparent as space. We cannot lay claim to them, and there is no one to lay the claim, since the self is as transparent as its garments.
Empty and nihilistic as it may sound, this recognition of total nakedness and transparency is a joy beyond all telling, for what is empty is not reality itself but all that seems to block its light.” Alan Watts – Nature, Man and Woman
I have precious little else to contribute after the miscarriage of justice yesterday in Georgia. Alan Watts reminds me why I feel so alienated from this culture.
My youngest son kept me up last night past midnight, expressing his feelings and pouring out his heart about life and particularly about the question of life after death. I knew we were coming ’round to a place of renewed peace and joy when the emotions had been spent thoroughly and these words came out of his mouth and the sun rose a smile as he spoke: “When I ride my bike, it’s like I’m not me, I’m the bike. I’m one with the bike…” We’d discussed the failure of language and how it suggests reality as only what the mind can conjure through words. And how inadequate the comprehension of life itself when relying on concepts created by minds not our own. Actually, he’d brought that little factoid up himself. Wow, what a scramble for “reality” and totems and “truth.” He knows what his mom believes about life and the divine. In the process of sifting through the turmoil, I endeavored to open his mind to now, to letting go of fear while cherishing the fleeting and yet precious reality of life. This is a boy who can poke holes in every belief system out there and yet he wants something to believe in. I aksed him: When you were in the womb, did you stop and ask and wonder about the beyond? Did you fret about losing the rhythmic sound of heart and world around you? Did you even “know?” For some reason, this particular line of gentle questioning kept bringing him to peace. The sense of being released into all the best rest and humor finally came flooding into our dialogue. He wouldn’t stop gabbing on and on about life, about connection, about nature, about the earth and how it is we don’t fall off of it as it turns and. And, I suggested he study physics. The will had quickly, resiliently found comfort and was off on that bike flying down the hill fast with a smooth grace. The will…so vital…
Healing The Will
The heart of every human holds
The feelings and the dreams
Of deepest aspirations,
Freewill’s creative esteem.
The urge toward higher purpose,
The drive to create from grace,
Unlimited power of expression,
The potential of the human race.
Yet, the side roads are many,
Blighted by denial and fear,
Refusal to express the feelings,
Until numbness blocks our tears.
Lost in our machinations,
Yet craving release from pain,
Surrender may not come sweetly,
But the will can be regained.
The sacredness of being lies
In feeling all that appears,
Without applying judgments
To the joys or to the fears.
Trusting every emotion as
Something we created to feel,
Then expressing every feeling,
Allows the will to heal.
So…it was a long day and it had begun with my focus on writing about the will and particularly about healing the will as a foundational work of personal growth. My 8 year old son’s post bedtime struggles highlighted the importance of expression in safeguarding true will, of working through the turmoil we all face when questioning life, when trying to give freewill the freedom needful to infuse our lives with vibrance. So often belief systems and programs are tossed at us in honest endeavors to provide comfort but how much ownership of truly personal peace is possible when this occurs? Then again, how much of that future ownership of personal peace is inspired by those very attempts to bring comfort? It’s sometimes a tightrope walk across a divide we cannot truly fathom. But we are drawn to it regardless. If we can find peace in what life is, in what life can be, we can find something no lack of proof can shake or otherwise unhinge. But we don’t get there by running away from the expressions of doubt, of fear, of appreciation for how fleeting life truly is. And this is what had sparked my son’s turmoil, his own sudden comprehension of the transitory nature of the moment itself. And up to that point, it had been a feast.
We, as children and as adults, need a place from which we can reach into the beyond, a place of security where we can say “I don’t know how to believe that when…” … where we can express our doubts and still find sure footing. Stability. I kept wanting to tell my son, “It’s ok. Trust me. There’s a God. We’ll all be together after life. I promise.” But it struck me as a violation of his will, an abortion of his own processes of comprehension and growth. He was too focused on the fact that there’s no proof. And I admitted that I cannot know what will be or if there is a beyond. But neither could I deny a sense of the mother and father heart of God or all the possible projections that very sense may be. And yet, it still is and I can live with it in appreciation of the wealth it provides but not in denial of all that is truly uncontrollable in life, the vast unknown. I can still sense and know that within is a depth of the divine untapped and eternal.
We discussed different attitudes about life after death, some philosophies and religion. He had suggested that to call a tree a tree is to lose or even just shut out what that particular expression of creation is. I grinned at the Tao of his articulation. Where did he finally land? With a question… “how do we know we aren’t God?”
The will needs to run free, to live with the courage to say what is rumbling in the heart, to fly with intention beyond the programs that give us ideas and the words that seek to grasp what could never be fully grasped. On and into life being lived and becoming one with what we can never truly name, pedalling fast free, knowing self as feeling in motion, feltness supreme.
“There is something that is overt and
That exists beyond heaven and earth.
It stands alone, forever, it does not change,
It exists in every place, it never tires.
It can be called ‘Mother of the universe,’
Because I don’t know its name.
If I am compelled to call it by a name,
I will call it Tao, ‘all-embracing.’
‘All-embracing’ exists forever,
‘All-embracing’ is far-reaching,
‘All-embracing’ returns to every beginning.
Therefore Tao is ‘all-embracing,’
Heaven is ‘all-embracing,’
Earth is ‘all-embracing,’
Man is ‘all-embracing,’
In the universe, four things are ‘all-
And man is one of them.
Man adheres to the laws of earth,
Earth adheres to the laws of heaven,
Heaven adheres to the laws of Tao,
Tao adheres to the laws of its nature.”
Lao Tzu – Tao Te Ching
“The great Tao is everything, both on
the left and on the right.
Through it, all things come into being, and
it does not abandon them.
When its work is completed, it does not
It loves and nurtures all things,
But does not rule them.
It never exists, so it can be called small,
All things return home to it,
And it does not claim to own them,
So it can be called great, apparently,
It never aspires to greatness,
And therefore it accomplishes greatness.”
Lao Tzu – Tao Te Ching