disillusionment

Let’s be honest: disillusionment is the way of the world, especially these days. And there’s nothing like being surrendered to confront another round of it. And let’s face it: you don’t just experience disillusion once, like chicken pox, and then you’re over it. Well, not if you’re a dreamer, a person of vision, one with a Calling. It doesn’t work that way; the wiring is such that you mull through the muck until you transcend the situation and find a new thread to surf, one you can put your weight behind. Talk about lessons in attachment: the heartache of letting go can be devastating.

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Sumac infested jungle-joke of a backyard: we had our work cut out for us… (future site of greens garden)

Welcome to the hard work of the new paradigm: finding center in an ever-turbulent sea, conspiring towards your un-seating. Oh, i’d love to get all 2LR (light, love + rapture) on ya and share some stuff about the Universe holding you and everything being perfect in this moment, but i’ll spare you that sentiment for now; it’s not that i don’t ultimately have faith in these notions, it’s just a hard pill to swallow when the rug gets pulled out from under you and you’re faced with the concrete pragmatism of salvaging what’s left. And as our slumlord suddenly and dramatically raises the rent to unsustainable levels, to cash in on the current renters-boom and line his miserly pockets, my partner and i are faced with a tough decision: abandon ship on everything we’ve invested, at this specific location, in the urban food revolution that we’ve been working to architect, or… ? Well, we don’t know. This all went down yesterday…

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Oh, the early tantalizing view from above… so much potential in our blank canvas…

i am reminded of a prayer i was taught in my youth: lord, give me the strength to accept the things i cannot change, the courage to change the things i can, and the wisdom to know the difference. This is will likely be my mantra for the days to come. Because it’s planting season, and we’re in the middle of breaking ground on a major expansion of our vision to bring food and a culture shift to our blighted (yet gentrifying) neighborhood (yes, with the three fix-n-flips on our street alone, in the last six months, the writing is on the wall), and now Old Man Potter, sitting amidst his piles of money, is about to take it away.

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Sweet score on a job site: 19th/early 20th century period reclaimed bricks from the old Denver public service tunnels: :: the key to transforming the back lot…

Or, is he? i guess it depends on how much power we give him, over us, over our hearts which i *guarantee* are more soundly aligned that his. But it’s hard not to give that bastard power: after all, he’s got the cash and we’re scraping month-to-month-to-month, convinced of our vision for doing our Work. God, the temptation to seek external validation of our Path is so… indescribably palpable. But now is not the time for that. It’s defcon 4.5 and the firewalls have fallen: we need to take care of ourselves, in the most radical ways possible, to protect the vision of Calling. i won’t let that son-of-a-bitch take that away from us.

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Our first garden: greens, planted on the eve of the Spring Equinox, 2012, all in the not-knowing if we would/should stay…

In times like these, you need a mantra. This isn’t sitting neatly and cleanly on your plum-colored meditation cushion, fingertips in mudra, breathing in the salty sea breeze. This is about sitting in your own blood with a triage bandage around your aorta, to stop the hemorrhaging. This is when shit gets real, this is where the line is, this is where your will and your heart’s desire are tested.

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The fruits of my inner-mason: :: (lifted & laid @ 3 months pregnant)

Give me the strength to accept the things i cannot change. i cannot change the fact that old paradigm continues to reign the shriveled, buried souls of many. Steve Smith is not an evil dude, most likely; but he is one who behaves deeply out-of-alignment to the values that i believe come from a new paradigm definition of village. He doesn’t give two damns about the work we are doing or how much of ourselves we have put into the transformation of what is essentially a decrepit piece of property, a poster child for urban decay. He isn’t moved by the fight for food sovereignty. He isn’t even willing to invest in his own property (hello, eight-dozen crazy sumacs vying to uproot the foundation!); he’s sitting on this crumbling dump until the market pops and he can cash in. He owns over 600 properties around the city and employs four inept property managers to keep the wheels limping along. He doesn’t even have the decency to respond to our offer to try and buy this place. None of my heart-centered and carefully meditated-upon asks have made any impact. i cannot change any of these things. And so i need to walk away and look at this situation from another angle…

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a pile of kittens born in our hay:

The courage to change the things i can… well, besides the whole discernment of how i spend my energies part (more in a minute), the courage to keep moving through the mire, through the fog, is nothing less than an act of faith. Old paradigm is bent on systematic oppression, and when the rug is pulled and pulled and pulled out from underneath, it can be so. hard. to get back on your tattered, soiled magic carpet. Believe me: from the depths of my most profound depressions, it can feel so impossible and futile to get back on. How to relight the flame? How to believe that the penetrating and paralyzing cold can give way again to warmth and comfort? How not to succumb to the next wave with it’s seductive annihilation? The turbulence is debilitating and in the darkest hours, you would give anything to make it stop. So, why persevere? Why summon the courage to keep going?

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s e e d l i n g s !

Well, if you’re feeling turbulence, it means you’re experiencing the dissonance of your new paradigm-seeking soul meeting squarely against an old paradigm structure that’s designed to continue to suck your blood-essence. If you were content to stay plugged into The Matrix, you wouldn’t be so bothered. And if you’d mastered the captaining of your vessel in our perennial state of storms, you wouldn’t be so up-rootable. The turbulence is an indicator of transition. Of figuring out how to fly in these times, to know our own centers, to find and act on the authority from within. To succumb to the wave is to be swallowed by the sea… and that’s a pretty big decision to make (yes, you *do* choose to let go). You either get swept off the map — for good in this life, or blown way off course — or you dig into the tiniest pearl of light within yourself and puff and puff and puff until that flame gets a little bigger, a little brighter, until you create a bubble around yourself, a bubble of knowing and trusting who you are and what you’re here to do. This is one of the prime skill sets for new paradigm living: breathing life into that flame-bubble. Because you will likely need to do it over and over and over… i am, in truth, doing it right now, as i type these very words…

i don’t say this to discourage, i truly do not. But we need to be honest about the challenges our time/space reality are presenting: loads and loads and loads of disillusionment. If we’re going to come back from it, if we’re going to find thrive in this crazy world, we need to get real damn good at cultivating self-resiliency and metabolizing our experiences so we can keep moving. Disillusionment provides answers about what isn’t true for you. Those answers afford the opportunity to reconnect to what is. The Way forward is to remember what you’re about. Discipline keeps you connected to this truth. And on it goes. This is the cycle of our life in these times. The more we practice, the easier it is to keep the ship steady.

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it’s finally A L I V E back here: !!

As i come to the last part of my mantra, the wisdom to know the difference, i realize how far i’ve come in the last few years — the last few months, even. The more i expand the awareness of my being, the quicker my recovery from disillusionment it seems. Wisdom is, in large part, discernment. For me, that is the discernment of where to invest my energies, recognizing energy leaks when i allow them to engage me for too long, and not beating myself up for investigating a road i couldn’t see down. That’s part of being an adventurer — and we are all going to have to become our own inner-adventurer in these times — roadblocks aren’t evidence of a fool’s errand necessarily; they’re part of the landscape. They’re only for naught if you don’t take the lessons that are offered and transmogrify the circumstances into something that can work for you. Every circumstance is an opportunity for learning. There’s another mantra for darkness, BTW: What can i learn from this moment? Oh, and: This, too, shall pass. i survive with these mantras.

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Our oasis of urban-decay, fully fruited and amazing for one season’s work: :: sooo much more in-store for next year: :: ::: now, *busted*…

✪ i know i can change my attitude about what’s happened. i know i can see Potter-Smith’s abrupt and inhumane jacking-up of our rent as a crystal clear answer that we will never find the foothold of roots to do our work via this particular piece of property. We’ve been asking this guy for over a year to work with us, to give us some indication that we can stay. In the vacuum of his non-response, we’ve chosen to go punk rock and live from where we’ve been, which is here. We didn’t ask for permission, we just acted. And so this is where we started our first garden together. Where we’ve patched our brokenness and hatched dreams and schemes and learned the backroads of our partnership. This is where we gestated the life of our beautiful child. Created a magical home, against the tide of not-knowing, against the suspicions of non-support. We didn’t know how things would go, but we chose not to let the uncertainty paralyze us. All things considered, we’ve blossomed here. We’ve zeroed in on the energetic essence of our life’s work; we know our collective center. And nothing Steve Smith can do can take this away from us. So after i calm down, and wipe the tears of fury from my face, i listen for the stillness, the place that will tell me what to do next. Right now i don’t know what that is, but if i get quiet, i’ll hear the signs, beckoning us to follow…

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✪ the flavor of Descent

Thanks, Ziggy. i know. If only my swings could feel this *super.duper.cute*...

 i lose myself, i find myself; i lose myself, i find myself. 10,000 times a week i play this game of hide-n-seek — this was my hiking mantra, the other day. Aside from being slightly appalled at the rhyming (i’m not really much of a rhymer), the truth of this oscillating reality bore through to my heart with every pounding step up-and-down that mountain. How can i feel so alive and connected one moment, then utterly rootless, alienated, and without sight the next?

Do i even want to know what's under there?

Welcome to the flavor of Descent, a process of peeling back our onion layers; crying hysterically as they burn our retinas; feeling the relief and satisfaction of knowing each one, as you put it to rest, gratefully, in the compost pile; and then readying yourself to dig some more. It can feel a whole lot more like battle than surrender, although methinks the goal is the other way ’round…

A curiously personal phenomenon has been shaping up, lately, as i consider the difference between theory and practice — two totally.different.things, might i add. i have long self-identified as a lover of the Theory Camp. i *love* The Plan, the planning, the elegant grouping of themes, and Naming observable phenomena into pre-packaged boxes that can be neatly woven into a pithy summary that can be hung on the wall, with medals, as though proof of a hard-earned understanding of life. Ha!

Ain't no highlighter gonna sort out this mess...

The truth is that, for most of us, understanding begins with theory. Everything else meaningful gains traction through practice. And readjustment. And then more practice — for a lifetime. As one who has all but given vows to her highlighters and note-taking and journals, it has been a shocking realization of how utterly useless a theory can be when faced with the chaos and turmoil of TheNOW, those moments when the rushing, torrential river-of-life comes barreling down the canyon to either see what you’re made of — or take you out. Some days i’m left standing, even thriving. Other days… i’m awash down the river, my head dashed against the rocks. Like i said: i lose myself, i find myself… 10,000 times a week.

This is when the ride gets real: puttin' down the pen and pickin' up the paddle...

So, i’ve mentioned this wilderness-soul-immersion that i’ve contracted with for 2012: and a big part of the work is about poking around and making friends with that which has been traditionally shrouded in shadow, those elements of yourself, or your behavior, or your life that aren’t readily seen — yet do a lot of the driving (hence, the Descent, as in down, as in the underworld). We all have some auto-pilot goin’-on: these ideas, seemingly set-in-stone, that dictate which parts of the river are treacherous, insurmountable, to be avoided-at-all-costs. Probably a loyal soldier protecting you from a particularly nasty encounter when you were very, very young. But see, the river’s threats… they change as you do… except, often we don’t stop viewing the river as we did when we were very young. And so we look for dangers based on our three-year-old vantage point… and consequently fail to acknowledge and engage the very real ones that are presenting themselves right now. This is the nature of blind spots…

Welcome to the white wash i didn't see coming...

How to get around them? (Here’s where we come to that personal phenomenon i mentioned.) Descent is a funny thing, if you allow it to be. And by funny i mean: wipe yourself of expectations and, yes, surrender. As i surrender to this process, i find myself wandering through empty ghost towns of my life’s experience, visiting some of them for the first time in years. Or, rather, seeing them — they’ve actually been here the whole time, but with la-la-la-i-can’t-hear-you-goggles across my face, like a shield. Like one day the streets are orderly, expected, and colored neatly in-the-lines (all treacherous threats in day-glo orange, of course) — and now a whitewash of ash has been flung over everything, as far as i can see, and i can’t tell the difference between a turnip and a volleyball. This is how i am relating to my experience of Descent, this time around. And with this white wash, i wonder how i can understand my world if i can’t navigate even the most simple discernment as the difference between a turnip and a volleyball… plus, beyond that, there’s this whole wound-business; the personal narrative of wounding that i’ve played for myself, like a broken-record… and it’s starting to sound like gibberish. That old story isn’t making sense anymore, and i’m beginning to suspect that my wound-story *isn’t* actually me. i mean it is me, the inside-out part of me… but i’m not identifying with the narrative that i’ve been telling myself for so many years. Could it be that bits of the wound are healing, integrating? That i’ve shifted to a different vantage point and so thus relate to TheWound in an emergingly novel way? What is this new perspective? How do i orient myself without this long-held story to propel me along? Who am i, if not this wounded creature?

A favorite pastime of mine. Block it out, sister, block it out...

Well, still wounded. i mean, we don’t ever get rid of that. And we shouldn’t, b/c that’s where all the gold lies, underneath and within. But the stories we tell ourselves, that we subscribe to without really examining them for authentic resonance… they can be rather limiting; suffocating even. Especially when it comes to how we attach, how we identify and rely on our wound-story to inform us of “who” we are… it’s… mesmerizing. Addictive. Cut-in-stone. Or, is it? Just b/c the river has always flowed this way, over that rock, does it mean it has to be like this, forever? Well, not necessarily (as i’ve mentioned in a previous post about samskara)

TheNOW. And me: dropping everything to meet it.

Here’s the interesting thing about this specter-place that i find myself: everything has now been equalized, neutralized, in this coating of ash. All my old narratives of how i understand my life and relate to my place in the world aren’t sticking. i’m not getting emotional about the things i’m used to getting emotional about; i’m getting frighteningly emotional about things that weren’t ever on my radar. When i look at a water fountain, i think, ketchup bottle? Beehive? Cat whiskers? It’s like my glasses have been crushed under-boot, the wires in my brain unplugged and re-patched, as i tumbled down this hole, and i see my world as a mole would. i’m not, frankly, liking this blindness very much at all. And, it seems, i’ve traded one set of sensibilities, for another, as though payment of passage through this underworld wilderness: my memory, my ability to recall conversations, details of what i’ve read or watched or seen… evaporated. Like, 60-seconds-later evaporated. BUT. In this vacuum of memory loss, i’m also finding myself more in TheNOW: staying present, feeling the implications of what’s happening, meeting what’s before me. So… i guess i’ll take more notes than usual. B/c i’m pretty excited about feeling this in-TheNOW-concept; i’ve never really felt it this sustained before! This Descent, i’m sensing, is actually more an opportunity for apprenticeship than trial-through-ordeal…

Facets: cutely, miraculously floating, in the plastic dream dessert of our 20th century fears ~

✪ As i consider the 10,000 facets of my life, they all feel suspended in jello, in this ashy underworld, seemingly weightless, and i am moving through them with less fear and more curiosity, like an astronaut in a max museum. There are, for example, questions that i wouldn’t have even dared utter before, for fear of the Pandora’s box i’d unleash: What if my life’s vocation isn’t what i thought it should be? Then, there are those unconsidered thoughts i wouldn’t have dared entertain, for fear of dismantling the identity i’ve worked so hard to fortify: Perhaps there *is* a streak of victimhood here. Perhaps i’m not as destroyed as i thought i was. Sometimes, as these thoughts come across my mind, i am stricken with that familiar anxiety that suffocates my chest… but then i consider my facets, all floating in this ashen jello-world, and i give myself permission to walk around them just a little bit longer — to sense them, to really feel them — before i decide how they relate to this evolving me. And there’s a shift. Everyday there is a shift in this apprenticeship, and i am choosing to engage… differently. Could this be what letting go feels like? i believe that it is… and this flavor of Descent is not something so fearful, after all — even if it is a little like onion-juiced jello pie.

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✪ the idea of my life

i haven’t written here in awhile and there are a number of reasons for this, some of which are legitimate. And it isn’t that i don’t have ideas or haven’t tried or even that i have writer’s block per se: you’da loved the one i had rolling around about my theories on 2012, or Take Back Love Day (Feb 14)or my wrathful scorn at being issued topless water bottles at several January concerts i attended. Tried — but couldn’t get ’em committed to paper, as-it-were. And since my last entry, i’ve stepped into a whole new life-changing endeavor whose long-term impact is a complete and total Mystery, which, in the wake of this enormity, has left me sort of speechless in the blog-realm, as if my life didn’t really have that much meaningful say these days…

Can i, with innocence, dare to open those boxes which i'm pretty sure contain monsters? Then again, maybe they don't... be brave little solider, be brave...

But wait. That isn’t true. That’s just a loyal solider talking. The whole reason i started this blog-thing was to explore what it is to break out of the confines of conventional programming and discover a more authentic way of being and moving through the world. This isn’t about being “done” (like a turkey in the oven), or having some precise, pithy saying that neatly instructs for those hard times we all inevitably encounter. This about being real and being honest with myself when that isn’t happening. Self-deception is… well, it’s the antithesis of being real, being authentic. And if i wish to live more authentically… i’m gonna have to start digging into those boxes that stay conveniently, dustily shelved…

TheWork doesn't have to be like this... so i'm told. Wonder when my heart will get the memo...

This isn’t to say that i Tazmania-tornado my deepdaarkCloset and overturn everything inside, all at once. That kind of rapid deconstruction can wreck a girl’s sanity, maybe even for life. Maybe even nip that life in the bud, if the findings are unsettling enough. i’m not talking about that. i’m talking about not glazing over the sticky incongruencies that arise as we work towards personal liberation, those moments when we are out of integrity with ourselves (no matter how the rest of the outside world may perceive us). Many of us, i believe, have developed very sophisticated ways of evading “the problem.” On the surface level i’m referring to escapist & addictive behaviors, which, when you dive below, the iceberg of TheWound sits like an endless expanse of suffering. So, of course we pour another glass of wine, watch another episode, eat another cookie, go for another run, buy another thing. Whatever. We all have our ways. Run away. Numb it out. Two classic evasion tactics of a soul-in-sickness.

... stop following me, stop following me, stop following me -- !! ARGH! How do i get this wretched creature off-my-soul? (Answer: turn and face it. Make friends. Love it. For real, yo.)

Not that i sit here in judgement. Hell, it’s enough that i don’t judge myself, let alone other people. But as i return from phase I of this yearlong wilderness-based soul-immersion (that “life-changing endeavor” i referred to earlier), i see, really and truly, that you can’t run from yourself — which is a great theory i do occasionally engage. i mean, you can make a good go of it, sure, playing this hide-n-seek… but the specters of TheWound-suffering will tag along & pursue you like a bad rash until the grave — and beyond, if necessary. Haven’t you heard: TheWound passes through the generations if not mended? For those inclined towards soul-liberation, soul-actualization, engaging TheWound is essential business. Engaging the strategies we employ to keep ourselves wounded is work beyond measure. And for me, right this very moment, i am very much struck by just how much i engage, not so-much with my actual life, but the idea of it.

CAUTION: EXTREME CONFUSION HERE: is this my actual life or the idea of it?! When can i let go of the idea?? How can i embrace what's right in front of me and see that it's totally perfect, exactly as it should be?

If there is one cliche that has long-encapsulated my everyday M.O. (as i’ve mentioned before), it’s that the grass is greener… over there. The jewel, the prize, the happiness: it’s there, outside myself, somewhere else, NOT HERE. And thus, i don’t easily engage with TheNOW, that perennial favorite of Eckart Tolle and yoga/meditation teachers everywhere. TheNOW is a lovely intellectual construct that i embrace in a fake-it-til-you-make kind of way, and i’ve had… modest success — but not without a great deal of supplemental support; living in TheNOW doesn’t flow easily for me, even after gaining a whole big toolbox worth of tools to help me out. And now, after sowing packages and packages of seeds over the last year or so, i find a garden is rising before me and… i’m staring like a deer about to smashed by headlights. The life-sabbatical is officially over, ladies & gentlemen… and i have a choice: rise to meet what’s before me — or trip over my own feet, taken out by the wave i’m attempting to ride.

i don’t have any answers right now, about why the idea of my life is seemingly more attractive than the real one in front of me (which is, actually, pretty damn attractive). But i do know that this is the edge, the most immediately relevant edge that i’m bumping up against in my journey right now — and all those “outcomes” of soul-liberation/happiness/destiny etc. depend on how i respond to this conscious acknowledgement that i’m having on this day. i could go ahead and choose willful ignorance or self-deception or continued self-sabotage — but i’ve been doing that, and now that i’m staring this issue in the face with more clarity than i’ve ever had before, it feels like it would be a capital crime to shove this dusty box back into the closet. The ball is already rolling… and i can go with it, or be flattened.

Into the Oneness; into Ourselves; seeing & feeling clearly... © gOOseling

 We all unravel in our own good time. i don’t remember if that was my thought or that of the group i was with, last week, in the wilderness of FourCorners, Colorado — but it’s something that resonated deeply so i wrote it down. And by unravel, i mean TheWound, that rat’s nest of suffering we each inherit. Hopefully, as we unravel, we also integrate and become more whole. But i’d also like to think that even if the unraveling renders us inert (temporarily or otherwise), that just this act of giving TheWound air, is a step towards easing this energetic burden in the future. Ideally, we find compassionate guides to help us navigate these dicey waters, starting, in part, with the impacts that escape and addiction have in our day-to-day world. Myself: i’m either escaping into my non-life or running away from my actual one… i can’t totally yet tell — it’s probably a bit of both. But i’m working on it. We all unravel in our own good time. Even if it takes another lifetime. Or several. i take comfort in this. B/c as Dr. Gabor Mate says in his book about addiction, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts, no human soul is beyond redemption, no matter how far from center it may find itself. And to this end, each of us, to the conscious extent that we are able, does what we can while there is still breath left in our bodies.

This could be all of us, at any time. Keep breathing... source: Piotrek Starchild

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✪ hypnotized (by poverty & sickness)

Oh, Liz-darling, i know those jewels are divine but momma here can surely find *some* way they could be better...

i am conditioned to find the flaw inside the diamond, and i’m about as much of a fan of this as you are, which is to say: i feel very mixed about this particular, erm, talent. i could be standing atop Mt. Everest and fussing about how long i stayed at base camp, weeks ago, acclimating like some sort of dummy. Or, perhaps i’m fixating on getting our hineys off this cliff face before that menacing storm rolls in. Always in the past, in the future; never the now. Eventually i feel the sun shine –but– it takes awhile… and it often isn’t my first observation.

Over the years, it’s been difficult for me to step outside and take in the wonder of the world with my first breath, or even ten. i don’t FEEL glass-half-empty inside, but that’s often what comes out. Like tourette’s, whenever somebody asks what i’m up to, i give an uncertain status of cloudy-skies, followed by a chance of hail. In my heart, i don’t actually believe these things, yet this is what i faithfully report. For years and years and years. It’s truly baffling. And unbecoming. And utterly false to who i am. Yet i am hypnotized…

Historical-me, gunnin' for what was surely the sweetspot, juuust on the other side of that one thing, yeah, over there...

By what? Why, a mindset of poverty & sickness; its lexicon, its response-patterns. Lack. Want. Need. Not enough. Something to fix. To solve. Always more to do, to heal, to improve. Grass is greener over there. One foot out-the-door, b/c what’s the point in laying down roots in ground that wouldn’t have me anyway? These are the stories i’ve told myself; this is my wound speaking through my actions, poisoning my entire foundation, convincing me that it’s true. And the more i indulge these auto-pilot responses, the more deeply i’m reinforcing the very pattern that keeps me stuck — but where does this pattern come from, anyway?? Here is a thread i’ve been making friends with lately, in this very regard…

If only TankGirl had been my trusty Loyal Solider growin' up... god.only.knows where i would be...

The Cautious Response: After being told, “Reign it in, reign it in…” nearly all of my entire life, my naturally enthusiastic nature has taken a thorough beating. i see that, in order to protect myself, i learned the grumbling art of DownPlaying Everything. i did it b/c it hurt when my high expectations didn’t match the reality i was experiencing. i did it b/c it seemed to satisfy the people around me if i played the same cautious game they were. i did it b/c i was tired of my ideas being shot down or ripped apart. i think it’s actually an empirical fact that sensitive souls have a hard way in this world that can be so callous and unforgiving… and when their fledgling beam of light is threatened at an early age, the Loyal Soldier within (a Bill Plotkinism) fashions a defensive strategy to keep that lil’ beam safe. Hence: the pattern continues, born out of the limbic brain’s desire to survive a perceived & perpetual battleground. Haven’t we all experienced this internal war at one time or another?

Now, of course, the equation of this “wartime” patterning is multifaceted and at this point in my life there is no value in laying blame… but it does help to see how this has played out in my life. While these sentiments of poverty and sickness are deeply ingrained, i ultimately (in my core) don’t believe in these doubts, these shadows i cast over myself. Yet i’ve indulged them. i, in fact, have made them true by saying the words, by thinking the thoughts… and they have shaped the shackles which have long-bound my flightless soul. They’ve rendered me cynical and suspicious and on the defensive. i consequently struggle with trusting my intuition; i have trouble standing in my truth without the two-step shuffle of justifying my every move. Like a leaky gas tank, i lose my vitality in this way of moving through the world, and it is exhausting. *But now i’m seeing this*… and awareness is the beginning of every conscious change…

Sometimes *change* can feel this immense... and... it is.

In the vedic tradition, there is an ancient concept of SamskaraSamskara are the patterns we form & reinforce within ourselves, over the course of a lifetime: like a river that flows over the same section of earth, for many-many years, until a canyon is carved away. Eventually the water level drops below the surface and is sometimes so0O.deep that we believe this is the only path it will ever take. But we can re-route: first by cultivating awareness around what the negative pattern is & how it impacts our lives. Then, with awareness, we can begin to live a more authentic present, making way for an alternate future. Seeing the dynamics of how The Cautious Response has played out in my own life has done much to help me recognize when i slip back into that old grumbly, borderline-Eeyore mode-of-operation. And when i match this behavior up against the scaffold of the life that i’m consciously building & cultivating, i feel how it doesn’t fit. Poverty & sickness is just a mindset that i’m prone to, but i can choose to *be* differently. i can create a new canyon of patterns that support my lil’ light within.

Yes, one day, life will feel like this... (© Alex Grey)

✪ Re-patterning samskara, like all soul work, doesn’t happen with a quick swipe of the credit card, a one-time prayer & crossing your fingers. It takes time to create the canyon in the first place; it will take time to see how that canyon’s been made and, further, time to redirect the water. This is the work of a lifetime… but, please, don’t let that stop you! Awareness-cultivation is a very immediate and powerful ally. Once you acknowledge the pattern, you start seeing it everywhere, in all sorts of places you wouldn’t think of. And, upon recognition, you have the opportunity to act: to witness what is happening & how it affects you/others, to reflect on how you could do things differently the next time, to catch the old pattern in-the-act and to choose or try a different approach/behavior. Think of it as an experiment for living a better life, one that’s more satisfying and truer to who you really are. Each step in this direction brings your heart closer to the resonance it seeks. And each step and each step… that’s how we move towards who we want to be.

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✪ lost, in an 8-bit world

You want me to work with what... this? Are you joking? Go "transition" in your own time... we've got more important work to do...

Transition. It’s almost a dirty word, isn’t it? Undesirable, it’s the activity of vagrants and losers who can’t get themselves settled into a nice, “stable” situation. A state-of-being to moved away from as quickly as possible. A frame of mind that should, over the span of one’s life, take up as little real estate as can possibly be managed. To say that something’s “in transition” is to not take it wholly serious, to dismiss it’s gelatinous goo until it sensibly assumes some sort of structure we can recognize & understand. To say someone is in transition is to wait on the sidelines whilst they flail about, alone, to find the ground beneath in some kind of miracle. Transitions are relegated to the shadows, while the rest of us look embarrassedly the other way, nervously tapping our feet that the awkwardness will pass without asking too much of our attention or involvement. We hope they will be short and quietly worked through. And if they go on for longer than what we’ve projected for, there’s something wrong. This is one way of putting it, anyway.

Atari Pong: transitions at their most neanderthal...

Transitioning, also & however, is more than a circumstance-of-the-moment, more than some disease you’ve caught, without timeline. Transitions make up the connective tissue of our lives — but we often gloss over these micro-level adjustments in our pursuit of the bigger picture, for results, outcomes and destinations. In my case, being inclined towards a buzz-a-bout way of moving through the world, my concept of transitioning was about as refined as an 8-bit Atari Pong game, paddles-n-ball herkily-jerkily moving as white against black. The goal (aka “destination”) was to make contact, sending the ball across space to connect on the other side; everything in-between was just… waiting around. The better you got at ping-ing your pong, the faster the 8-bit ramped up. Soon: the in-between was about game-planning how to make your next connection. Eventually: ole 8-bit was zingin’ around the screen and it was all i could do to keep up, to keep from dying. Transitions? What transitions? It’s about staying alive; it’s about winning, yo. Who cares what happens in the in-between?

It's too much! Make it stop! **SHHH** Need some quiet-time over here...

*Ahem* Having been in nothing but the in-between for quite some time, now, the relative stillness has made an impact that’s, um, (shall we say) refined my perspective. It would perhaps be too kind to say that it’s been pleasant: once you drop away from the noise outside yourself, there’s the noise within you still have to face. And even when you think that nothing is going on, there’s a layer of industry that keeps at-it, beneath the surface of things. This is the level on which life is *actually* lived, the space where every tiny decision adds up to form the outline of your life. Each decision creates a need for integration -and- integration happens in the still spaces, the transition from one-minute-decision-to-the-next.

And when you’re making a pretty significant adjustment in your overall compass-baring, the transition space, zoomed out, looms long and large and looks surprisingly 8-bit. i can see our temptation to characterize life in this way…

Who needs photographs or poetry when we have *this*: the almighty graph?

But the world is a wiggly place. That’s what philosopher Alan Watts has said. And we humans, we don’t like this… particularly since the dawn of our so-called scientific enlightenment. i’m not knockin’ science; i’m just pointing out that our systems of measurement are so.very 8-bit compared to the experience that we actually have as unpredictable, organic living matter in a natural world that thrives on a continuum. Yet we insist on building things in standardized, straight lines and plot our experience on graph paper to calculate and tabulate this 8-bit expectation of the world — and before 8-bit, there was binary, which we still have great affection for. Why? B/c it’s easier. And then we rationalize that it’s actually more accurate to measure the world as points, plotted on a line, simply b/c we can accumulate a historical record we can see with our eyes, file in digitized manilla envelopes, and make quicker clinch-decisions — *the big kind* that change the fabric of humanity.

When the world was a simpler place...

Oh, if only it were as simple as good v. evil, right/wrong, black/white. Gee, when i think of our perennial binary-favs, 8-bit looks like a pretty decent evolutionary jump, doesn’t it? Well, we can do better. In fact, we need to.

Think of how much “data” is being lost in the in-between of an 8-bit world-view… it’s like the difference between Pac Man arcade games and the CGI technology in James Cameron’s film, Avatar. That lost “data” is the nuanced, juicy detail that is life lived in the natural world. And yes, i know: we are, many of us, quite divorced from the natural world — it is one of the most commonly cited reasons why we’re in the predicament we’re in these days. And yes, technology is so pervasive that we cannot contemplate a world of solutions without it, in fact, we are arguably evolving more rapidly b/c of it. So. We have to work with what we’ve created… and begin to merge technology and nature in a way where nature does the guiding. But for those of us who’ve fallen away from our natural understanding of the world, how can we contribute?

i think it begins with acknowledging, honoring & cultivating awareness around the transition-space in our lives. Pema Chödrön, the preeminent American Buddhist nun, suggests that when we cling to a permanent concept of who we are / where we’re at / what the circumstances are, we experience a day-to-day feeling of intense frustration. In other words, when we forget that nothing stays the same, we are doomed to suffer the illusion that nothing will ever change. But this just simply isn’t the way of the Universe: we are *always* moving, changing, evolving in some way — even if you don’t want to admit it.

✪ As we start to see ourselves and our circumstances as dynamic experiences that are, at-once, dying and re-birthing, every.single.minute, the likelihood of change appears more possible. The power to shape the world rests in every tiny decision you make; as they accumulate and you look around, you’ll see your boat, indeed, has traveled far. By bringing mindfulness to those decisions — learning from mistakes, being thoughtful of impacts & consequences, taking the time to integrate in the in-between — you help promote decisions that are, ultimately, good for all of us. This isn’t about demanding better decisions from others; it’s about taking responsibility for the decisions we make ourselves and starting to see how each decision has a ripple out in the world: from the food you eat or the clothes you buy, the words you use, the smile you give or receive… they’re all choices. Your choices, your decisions. And each decision has a space, in-between, where it absorbs into your being, to form the pattern of your continuing life.

Life: as a haystack: view #1/infinity...

Zoomed-in, we are a Monet-painting with it’s dots-upon-dots that form haystacks or lily pads on the water. Zoomed-out, we are the walk we take, the wheeling of the shopping cart, the eating of an apple. Zoomed-out further: we are the road trip, the graduation-diploma, the partnership-vows. And beyond that: we are our lives, we are collective humanity and all it’s issues and problems and solutions. But we didn’t get here in a series of freeze-frame snap shots; we got here one choice, one breath at a time. And between each breath is a transition, a place to stop and listen. And it is through listening that we become less lost.

Posted in ✚ healing ✚, ©•llective-in§ani†y, L❂ST | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

✪ portal

If my weekend had an album cover...

˚°Θ) There are some experiences that cannot be spoken of.

They do not belong to anyone but you & they are sacred. To language them is to dilute your memory of a deep knowing or wisdom that is gained from that experience. You hold them in your heart and they become the fire that burns within you, always, but especially in the dark times.

Some of these experiences may also be communal: like stepping across a threshold with others — through a portal, cast with a spell of ritualistic intention — each to have their own adventure within the same container. The container is vast, maybe even infinite, but there are parameters that make it distinct and purposeful from the world you just walked away from. Most notably, there is a bend of the typical consciousness you live day-to-day: whether hellacious or rhapsodic or bizarre, your usual frame-of-reference has disappeared, enabling you to experience what’s happening with fresh senses. The usual conclusions are not possible. The very framework of the environment makes it easier to abandon hesitation and trepidation, to move currently, and mute-out the whispers of past & future…

… a portal is solely an experience of the NOW…

i just... can't... help myself... *must*... follow the pull...

Perhaps there are vortices that draw your attention without reason and you obey the urge to investigate b/c you are in a different place — a different plane, really — where your well-worn fears have less currency. Perhaps you find yourself asking fewer questions b/c the experience is so full and happening so completely all around you that it would diminish things by stopping for an inquisition. This is a time for an experience, not answers; answers come later. Here, you feel more immediately; make decisions by instinct and experiment with the boundaries of your boundaries. Prejudices are dwarfed by preferences. Magic overrides reason. Your soul is transported and does all the driving — not the mind or the body, which only activate and move b/c your soul wills it. What transpires cannot really be spoken of yet it changes the fabric of your core, like permanently switching eyeglasses and thus moving through the world in a different color, at another vibration. You may not yet know the impact it has on you, long-term, but something feels fundamentally altered. This is the effect of a portal, and it is difficult to describe. (Θ°˚

Perhaps you'd like to open door #1?

So, why all this “portal” business, you ask? Perhaps you’re wondering if i’ve gone all new-age-nut job on ya (you have noticed our passage through 11.11.11, right?)? Well, (1) i think it’s important to understand their function as i’m seeing them happen for people all around me and (2) no, i haven’t, thank-you-very-much; they’re totally real — maybe not in the Buffy-the-Vampire-Slayer-open-sesame-hell-dimension kinda way, but they are most definitely real enough… and totally worth bringing out into the open.

Or #2?

**Disclaimer** i am not a quantum physicist and couldn’t possibly explain portals in any technical space-n-time-bending sort of way. i am also not a web-developer who can discuss the finer points of programming vaults of virtual information, nor am i a Hollywood script writer, spinning romantic tales of sci-fi fantasies for hungry fans. i’m just a wee adventurer of the push towards what some might call the unfolding of the Divine Human. And i’d like to keep this process moving along at a clipping pace, and so embrace just about any mechanism that helps boost consciousness in a way that facilitates periodic, accelerated growth (which doesn’t burn us out or do harm). Just thought i’d throw this out there, in case anyone has notions of rushing forth with pitchforks & fire…

In my experience, portals can make an enormous contribution to personal evolution: the magical and terrifying kind of ramping-forward that helps prepare us for the next stage-to-come. They are a full-sensory, unrelenting experience, facilitated by an environment that has a particular vibe that is conducive for a very focused investigation of, well, whatever’s on your plate, frankly. i suppose they could crop up anywhere, but i’ve personally encountered them at Burning Man, on dance floors, in hospitals & during recovery, amid the deep wild-places, at intentional gatherings & meditation retreats, and within the dark cave-depths of my own depressive episodes.

Me, casting spells on a friend, dancefloor-style -- while a skeptically-amused on-looker contemplates this awesome ridiculousness

✪ The thing about portals is that they provide an opening for growth, insight and understanding: sometimes they beckon, sometimes they suck you in… but, ultimately, it’s up to you on how that experience transpires and how far you take the journey. While in one, there’s not much good in logic-ing your way out or sortin’-n-filin’ for the purpose/meaning behind them. They can, however, facilitate revelations of your soul: accelerated, concentrated, slowed-to-an-inert-trudge, painted in the grip of a super-saturated hue that will let you go once the dose is right. They are an opportunity for intense reflection, experimentation, and adventure. Portals whisk you away from your “regular” life: a plane where it really is *rather difficult* to listen beyond the static of daily chores and stumble upon — and retain — any insight that will change the direction of your inner compass. Some measure of magical or fated quarantine is necessary to get us to drop within the inner truth that’s trying to get out & get known by our conscious mind.

Soul-portaling is mechanism for personal evolution, but it is not a logical or willful process. Rather, it occurs on the mystical plane, in the midst of facing the intense joy of living or despairing possibility of dying. It is perhaps one of the most intriguing ways to get your adventure-on as an regular-Joe human in the early 21st century, and habituating them is a practice we might all consider if we’d like to make the progress we’re hoping for…

Okay, yay! We found one! ... now what do we do with it?

‘Course, there is an integration challenge that comes with all this. Peak highs/troughs may reveal dazzling puzzle pieces, but they will need to be unpacked for their consequences and implications… and this takes time and support. i wouldn’t recommend too many solo outings without some kind of community and/or guide to help you make sense of the aftermath.

And what if you don’t feel you have the sort of support you’re longing for? Well, that takes time, too. i myself have had to adventure a little; and reel-back. Look around, reach out; and reel-back. Probe the strength of budding relationships; and reel-back. Each portal container, particularly the community-sponsored varieties, has led me to more and more folks who have the skills and compassion to hold space for me in the way i need and desire — and given me the opportunity to expand and refine my own abilities to hold space for others.

Yes, i know, sometimes diving in can feel like this... but trust me, schmoopie, you'll make it through if you hang in there and keep your eye on the center of things...

As i wrap up this modest primer on Portals 101, i’ll leave you with an invitation: the next time you feel the mysterious pull of a portal — if the timing is right — perhaps you’ll consider diving in? i promise there’s a treasure chest inside, if you’re willing to overcome the lectures and fear from your mind and surrender to what the experience has to show you. Let your heart lead the way. Shelve your preconceptions, at least for a bit, and keep breathing once you’re inside… you’ll come out the other end, i know you will. And if you didn’t surrender the way you wish you could have, know that each portal you engage makes it easier to dive deeper. Take it easy, at first: let yourself be carried to the degree that pushes your boundaries just enough. And in just that effort, you’ll grow to the extent that you need, in that moment.

You won’t be the same and it may not be what you expect… but isn’t that the point?

i'll take mine a little rough-around-the-edges this time, cap'n...

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✪ white flag on stage 6

The direction of one’s life has been on my mind a great deal, lately, particularly b/c it’s proving to be such a challenge to pick up my destiny-baton and run with it. But then i started reading Michael Meade and realized there’s this whole other part of the equation that i wasn’t factoring in: Fate. It’s what needs to be surrendered to before destiny can begin to unfurl; the seed of pre-existing conditions that will always be there and must be faced, head-on, if destiny’s got any shot at maturation. Hmmm… seems like i’ve been putting the cart-before-the-horse; no wonder my forehead’s sore from all this brick-wall banging. And: i’m starting to suspect that surrender is no easy skill of mine, judging by the scar-tissue on my pre-frontal cortex…

... and as with every good dream-turned-nightmare, isn't a handsome youth at the source of the trouble?

✶ *˚Last night, i had a dream — as i often do — and this one had me deliciously and somewhat awkwardly in the embrace of an impossibly Adonis-like creature, on the upstage left floor of the deck of a loomingly-expectant ampitheatre, behind the drum kit. As we came up for air and i my eyes began to focus on where i was — and what i was doing — i was appalled to discover that 3,000 pairs of eyes were tuned into the show. And the band wasn’t even playing. Somehow the Adonis picked himself up, with an infuriating grace, and said, “See you out here, babe, when it’s your turn.” He sauntered to his lead instrument to begin the concert, while i was left to slither away in humiliation.

The majority of the dream, thereafter, involved a panicky quest to find a way out of this labyrinth, attached to the ampitheatre, which was utterly cavernous and filled with refuges of every age. It became quickly clear that i wasn’t going to find a way out and, in fact, every being i met conspired upon my staying — including the fellow who insisted, rather viciously, that i was his garbage-monkey. *At last* i found myself on the stage right side (the proper side to enter, apparently) and as i stared out from the wings, i saw the ampitheatre give rise to a much larger domed grassy-area, filled with circles of rabid souls, all furiously fighting and protesting for the right to sovereignty. The furthest from the stage bore dark and anguished faces; the closer ones seemed more… focused and serene, almost… their eyes shining with a dawning light of… hope? (if i may use an overused and thoroughly co-opted word). Apparently this Adonis was making impact on more than just myself…

Probably *not* the leap Scott Bakula had in mind... well: he better just *go-with-it* if he's knows what's good for him...

Well, i now knew why i was there at any rate — much to my chagrin — having concluded i was some sort of novice Quantum Leaper, here to live out a particular thread of fate or destiny before jumping away to another body. As the time got nearer (b/c somehow i knew when it was time), a youngish, gaunt and terrified lad implored to me, “What are we gonna do??”

And i responded with the only thing i could: We will do what we have to, what we must do. We will step onto that stage, go to the instrument that calls us, and we will take our position. Then: we will wait for the beginning. And we will play what needs to be played. And we will sing when we are meant to sing. And we will trust that we are doing what’s right. Don’t worry. i have faith…˚* ✶

And that was the end of that. i don’t actually know if i succeeded in my hunch. For all i know, the lad and i could have been thrown to the lions at the first off-note. But it got me thinking… is this what it’s like to surrender?

Me, sing? *gulp* Ok...

If so, i found the whole experience to be a rather uncomfortable and dangerous scenario, and: ridiculously dramatic — maybe b/c i was fighting so hard (or, maybe it’s b/c i’ve been on a Battlestar Galactica trip lately, and the Hollywoodiness of it is seeping into my brain-mush). In any case, there was very little peace and a whole lot of scrabbling and dodging and ducking in my surrender. Plus, a ton of fear. It got to the point where the fear overwhelmed such that i had little choice but accept the pirate-plank before me, put on what little dignity i felt i had left, and walk to what surely would end in (a) certain death or (b) salvation from this nightmare. Clever scheming disappeared and the fate of my life became a binary imperative: sing and die -or- sing and live. Either way, *not* singing was never an option.

✪ It has become evident to me that surrender is the order of the day: it’s what i need to do — what i must do — if i’m to live the way i dream of living. But i’m telling you, the disconnect i’m experiencing between dreaming and living has become maddening — obsessive, even. i’m trying so hard, fighting *so.hard* to get-going with my destiny journey… but what i’m not doing so well is finding acceptance for the challenging circumstances that have precipitated since my departure from The Matrix, which are surely turns of fate yet-to-be-faced. i still believe that i can force the timeline of the direction of my life, for cryin’-out-loud! Heck, i may even still believe i can force the direction of my life — though that’s been increasingly less of an issue as i zero-in on personal resonance. It apparently isn’t enough to have a sense of where you think you’re headed; the whole how of getting there seems to be contingent on dealing with, neutralizing, and integrating the troubles (fate) you face along the way, the energetic troubles you are meant to face before earning your destiny wings.

Welcome to *me* vs. *me*... sure to be a brutal nail-bitter, folks...

Michael Meade, as a storyteller, tells of the great charge that is each of our lives, that upon the deathbed — the threshold before “judgment” — only one question matters: Were you yourself in this life? In fact, he argues, that’s really the only point of living, to be as much of yourself for as long as you can — a gift found only through the vocation of destiny. But getting there, as a modern culture and the individuals within, is a perilous journey:

“If we can each find a part of our individual destiny, that begins to alter the situation. I don’t think we’re going to “vote” the answer in; I don’t think it’s going to come that way. I should mention that where I find people picking up their threads of destiny and getting these senses of self-revelation is in all the dark parts of the culture: in hospice work, in youth work, in all the places where people are homeless, the places where other people don’t want to go. No one ever became themselves while they were comfortable. It always happens under stress and distress. One of the old ideas is that you look around and whatever looks darkest, go in that direction. Because there you are bound to find something that can challenge your soul.” 

Looks like i don't have a choice... may as well accept this...

Well, there’s certainly been plenty of challenge lately — and darkness. And it’s been a helluva struggle to make any sense of it, especially when i feel that i’m sensing my destiny, just on the other side of that mirror that continues to elude me. i’ve been grasping for all sorts of explanations, mostly the self-deprecating kind, but what i really needed was a story to help me understand what it is that i’m going through… and thanks to Michael Meade i’m starting to see the myth of my own continued descent. It isn’t over — i know it isn’t over — but i feel emboldened to get out on that stage and sing… whatever the consequence.

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