There is a certain loveliness in nothingness, in unencumbered stillness, in silent empty space. In this absence of something there is a void that aches to be filled. Therein lies potential and that potential is infinite.
At least I tell myself this as I sit at the back door watching the trees dance in the wind. It is early morning and I am in the process of appreciating some idle time.
I still wake up at 4:45 a.m. A feat that has taken this once proud night owl years of cultivation to achieve and I will get as much down time as I can get even if it is in the early morning. Nothing lasts forever and this extra time will not.
In order to appreciate this time that I have seized for myself in an act of desperation, I must engage myself in the art of doing nothing.
My last job was in itself a culture of stress. I worked in a very busy call center in the public safety sector. There was high expectations and a rigid adherence to numerous and various state laws and regulations that required me to make statements that made callers confused and upset, this made customer service difficult at best. My days were timed to the tenth of a second, over one minute late and you have an “occurrence” and points were given, points that added up very fast for some and there was/ is a high turnover rate. I did well though. My calls were listened to and graded. I was thought of as smart and competent , I took direction well and after a while I did start to sound like the others: A caller once told me I sounded like a robot.
I almost cried then.
There was a reason why I wasn’t the only one who had constant migraines there.
I felt I was drowning, gasping for air. I felt desperate. An anger rose up in me that was not me at all. This started to effect my relationships with my husband and family. I felt sick to my stomach and my energy was zapped. I felt like a zombie just trying to get to the next day, to the weekend where I would try to cram as much living as I could in 2 days.
I bet my former coworkers would have been surprised to know that I am on the Autism Spectrum, I have masked it pretty well my whole life but that takes its physical and emotional toll on me and that job was not the best for someone with sensory issues, it may be one of the worst. 47 hour weeks of this for nearly two years did me in and burned me out. The job that gave me and my family health insurance made me sick.
Before I gave my notice I obtained a part time temporary gig in retail. It pays the bills, just almost. In the two months I have been there I have been much happier and healthier. I am getting myself back.
To the mind that is still, the whole universe surrenders. Lao Tzu
Nothing gives birth to creation.
It provides the empty space for something to occur. Nothing is an empty cup waiting to be filled, it is up to us to fill it.
The only real commodity is time. We are selling hours of our lives for money. Money we need to survive. Most of us have no control over this and have to spend much of our lifetime devoted to that task.
There is no time for nothing. There is no blank canvas on which to create and on which to write the narrative of our lives. Some fortunate people have jobs that them happy, that happiness is reflected in their work and everyone around them can share in this happiness. They are excited to get up and start working for the day. I want to be one of those people.
I believe that I can contribute to society in a greater way than I am now, I should say in a better way. Whether I am baking bread, selling jewelry in a store or writing something that makes people laugh or cry or think.
This rat is so very tired of the race.
And so I sit here at the back door, feeding a few squirrels that have gathered. My mind has time to reflect, my writing voice is coming back, the one that has lain dormant for a few years. I hear it speaking in whispers, I can barely hear but I am listening.
“In the world I am Always a stranger I do not understand its language It does not understand my silence” ― Bei Dao
All I want for Christmas is some peace and quiet. I need a retreat. A retreat from noise, a retreat from interruption. A break from the outside world that interferes with my thinking and writing. I must do both of theses things and if I don’t for a while I become like a caged tiger. I pace the confines of my cell all stored up and ready to pounce, except that I don’t pounce–I suck it all in.
I am kind and patient. Seldom do I lose this demeanor but there are times that I feel as though I am a ticking time bomb ready to go off. The pressure builds and builds, I cannot flee–I cannot fight–I hold it all in. This can’t be good for my health.
There is no place where noise does not scream at me. I pretend that it doesn’t effect me like it does. I learned to fake nonchalance a long time ago but there is nothing nonchalant about me. I have prided myself in my outer coolness but I must confess and it feels damn good to confess that at times on the inside I can burn hot like a volcano.
I try to meditate in my own way. I seek out nature and I think good thoughts. I am earnest in my devotion to goodness, truth and beauty and all that. I believe I only lack one simple thing. Something that if granted to me would enable me to take on the world–whatever it takes. Silence, a wee bit of silence would save me. Time to listen to nothing would be utter bliss.
If you have ever listened to silence you know what I mean.
Silence allows the mind to wander freely. It gives us a chance to take a deep breath and relax. The world is a noisy place, most of us experience a great amount of it in our daily lives. These form the soundtrack to our lives. Most of it we cannot control.
I seldom mention this but I am on the Autism spectrum (Asperger’s) and sensitive to sound. I have always been this way. Certain noises are amplified in my head and at times this can be overwhelming. Echoing reverberating noises, kids screaming, crowds of people talking, generally loud and unpredictable noises, these sounds can unhinge me but also small and meaningless ones too can set me on edge. I have learned to control my urges and I can block a lot of it out but this is tiring and doesn’t allow me to ponder like I like to do.
Noise effects me in good ways as well as bad. There are good sounds. Music is exquisite rapture and so are the sounds of nature; songbirds, the breeze in the trees, crickets, the ocean. These sounds speak to my soul. They call to the restlessness and the calmness in me. They soothe, invigorate and inspire.
These sounds are big and open like waves, they do not mind sharing space with all the thoughts my mind. These sounds not only allow me to think, to contemplate, they allow my mind to simply wander freely without intent purely for the sake of wandering.
I feel at one with the universe. I feel at peace.
Sounds can transport one to another place. I have listened to recordings of birdsong and whales and other natures noises. I will close my eyes and imagine myself there; in the forest or by a lake or in a bird sanctuary wherever it be my mind can travel there.
Music is especially magical. Slack Key Guitar music instantly takes me to the Tropics and certain Heavy Metal songs from the 80’s take me back to my rebellious teens. Melodies paint colorful landscapes across the universe of my mind.
Just thinking of all this is good for the spirit. Already I am calmed. It’s through expressing myself I’ll find the peace I seek. I know that I create my own reality and I know that if something is important enough I will make time for it.
Writing and putting this post together has certainly worked it’s magic on me. And I hope it will for you too. Please take a listen to the wonderful sounds by clicking on the following links that will transport you to the mythical land called Youtube where the music of nature will play for you. Enjoy and have a nice day!
There’s much to be said for the way we look at things. Our vision is tempered by what we expect to see. Look for ugliness and you’ll find it, the same goes for beauty for both can be found in everything. It is the way we look at things which control what we see and how we see it.
We create our own reality. I know how that sounds; like some metaphysical mumbo~jumbo that seems profound and wise but an idea that some of us may find difficult to grasp, myself included. Real life is the reality we live with every day. It can be cold and hard and can smack one right in the face.
If I had control of all reality…seriously…I would eradicate war, hunger and poverty, mean people and bad hair days too..all that stuff. Most of us would but that does not make it so. We can see the state of the world. Who wants that? It’s so overwhelming and beyond anyone’s power and control but we can control some things.
And that is where the magic comes in…
Yes…back on the magic. I realize you are sophisticated and have a certain sense of the world that is pretty much on target. I like to think of myself as an open-minded sort who is tempered with a fair amount of skepticism. I want to believe in Santa Claus and in unicorns and elves and giant talking trees. Do I really, truly believe? Perhaps not, but am I certain? Can I be 100%certain of anything?
Any minute now my knight in shining armor will pop up riding a unicorn and whisk me away from my life of drudgery.
Not likely…but I do contend there is magic. This I know for sure.
Magic exists! I know for I have seen it. It is all around us.
“It’s all a matter of paying attention, being awake in the present moment, and not expecting a huge payoff. The magic in this world seems to work in whispers and small kindnesses.” ― Charles de Lint
LOVEis magic…so is gratitude.
Attitude is everything: We choose how we feel; happiness is a choice and so is dissatisfaction. Pretty much we are as happy as we make up our minds to be. I have found this to be true after much trial and error. There was a point in my life a few years back when I very much needed this to be true…
..and so on blind faith born of desperation I believed. I willed myself to believe and I didn’t stop despite all my wishes not coming true. I learned that my happiness cannot be based on outside forces. I had to stop reacting to life and start acting. My challenges gave me an insight I wouldn’t have had before; an appreciation for perseverance. A willingness to go the extra mile without a promise of reward, the strength to carry on despite it all….and through all this I believed.
I am learning that the most direct way we create our own reality is by our own actions. Action powers everything we do, everything we create, we are responsible for the kind of world we live in–all of us.
We can have a world where magic exists, we just need to create it.
Ifound happiness in gratitude and in taking pleasure in tiny things. Oh what a joy this has given me! It is a gift granted to me by circumstance.
We can embrace these wonderfully human and magical traits like love and compassion, generosity, altruism and understanding. We can reach out to each other in friendship, our minds and hearts open. We need to stop paying attention to what we are told to think and believe and learn to trust in our own hearts and our own souls again.
These are natural inclinations. Bring these into your life and miracles happen…
Magic happens…and it’s contagious.
Have a magical day!
“When you’re touched by magic, nothing’s ever quite the same again. What really makes me sad is all those people who never have the chance to know that touch. They’re too busy, or they just don’t hold with make-believe, so they shut the door without really knowing it was there to be opened in the first place.” ― Charles de Lint
Andy Warhol was famous for saying that in the future we will all have our 15 minutes of fame. Well my friends the future is now and many people are already famous inside their own heads.
I am talking about that phenomena that’s sweeping the globe:
A photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone, digital camera or webcam and uploaded to a social media website.
I see more and more people doing this… MM calls it “selfing”.
And not just adorable little blondes with cutesy pink phones…people from all walks of life, actors, artists, men on the street, ladies of the evening, cats, babies and even presidents and leaders of people.
How did we get so obsessed with our own image?
The first selfies; born out of “necessity” for most of us. Since the advent of social media and as more and more of us are becoming social online we need a profile pic. It’s not something anyone really planned, it sort of just happened. We could blame Mark Zuckerberg, the creator of Facebook who thought of the world as one big yearbook with a sea of faces with which one could compare against each other and judge. The selfie does predate Facebook and MySpace, where the term was first generally used. Taking a photograph of oneself started with the invention of photography. It has only been lately that it has become an obsession for some, a joke to others. Whatever it is–it has become a part of our social landscape and our common global culture.
Speaking for myself; I took my first one in the Autumn of 2012. I “needed” an updated Gravatar for this very same blog. I was hesitant to ask anyone to take my picture because it sounded so weird and self-indulgent. ( Of course I am not one of those people.) I snapped a few shots myself with my webcam, it was so easy. We are humans and social media is a place of social interaction between us. Our faces convey so much to each other, so much emotion, feeling. Many of our electronic communications are littered with emoticons. Mere words cannot give the entire picture.
We have a need for each other. A need to meet others to express thoughts and ideas. To be understood. To reach out and make that connection. To share ourselves with others. Running the gambit of emotions; happiness to sadness and back again… from the amazing to the mundane. We have a need to belong and to be looked upon favorably by our peers. Selfies can be fun. Some are very inventive and creative. I don’t think they are necessarily a bad thing or a sign of the moral decay of our civilization and subsequent doom. I think they can be empowering for people and a way to boost self esteem. There are groups that embrace the idea of the selfie and encourage people to submit their own self portraits 365 days a year. I have explored some of the submitted images. Some of it is quite artistic; there are talented photographers out there snapping pics of themselves every day.
The internet has put so much of our lives on display for one another. This puts the viewer of such display in the judges seat. It is tempting for anyone to judge given some of what we see and it’s easy to assume some find themselves on the short end of the comparison. People’s opinions of each other unfortunately are swayed by appearance; the appearance of wealth, youth and good looks…the appearance of happiness….no one wants to look like a loser, or old or fat or bald or whatever. Simply put, we care what other think about us and this very human truism is being played out on a grand scale throughout the digital world.
We call them selfies, we take them of ourselves but do they truly reflect our real selves? I have seen quite a few of them and rarely are they realistic.
The selfie is a way for many to become the self they have always wanted to be. I googled “selfie fails” and found a plethora of examples of Photoshop gone wrong. Men and women with obviously unrealistic bodies and faces, freakishly thin waists, bulging chests and completely unlined faces. The pull is strong to want to doctor ones photos. I myself I am guilty of erasing a line or two here and there. Who doesn’t want to be younger; to look 25 again? Who doesn’t want the perfect body and the perfect life? We see them all the time…these people with the perfect everything.
The perfection hype we buy into is sold to us by the media. The Joneses we are struggling to keeping up with don’t even exist.
The perfect job, mate and kids, the perfect parties and friends. These people go on exciting and exotic vacations with all the other beautiful people living perfect lives. We know this because we see it in their selfies. The ones they are nice enough to share with us so we can “like” them and comment; tell them how wonderful they are and how young they really do look. All accompanied by smiley faces and hearts.
Isn’t life a series of images that change as they repeat themselves?
And we like them every time they put up a new one, every week even if it’s every day. Some people change theirs constantly; living a life in front of the tiny screen. Every minor event documented and accompanied by the same needy almost pleading stare. Just like anything else selfies can be addictive and perhaps that in itself is a sign of trouble–a cry for help.
I also saw some other types of selfies on my googling adventure into this odd and narcissistic world. There were the funny ones, the amazing ones, the clever and cute ones, the silly duck faces and the ones with the bizarre backgrounds. But there were some sad ones as well. I was stricken by the number of photos taken by women, apparently mothers in bathrooms and other places with big mirrors posing for suggestive selfies in front of their small children.
I am a bit naive but this shocked me. It came off as desperate, so sad and lonely. And then I began to look at all the selfies in a different light. Maybe they are not just a sign of our collective narcissism and self-obsession, maybe there is something deeper; an underlying anxiety of separation, a feeling we are losing ourselves, the dissolution of the family unit. We are spending longer hours in the office, on the road, increasingly we are spending more and more time apart from each other.
We need to be accepted and understood. We need to be connected and have others think well of us. Unfortunately this need to be liked and accepted maybe envied or idolized has become an obsession for some.
And maybe…just maybe, if we can have the perfect selfie we can get a little piece of that perfect life too…
As with everything else; nothing is all black or white…
…points to ponder…
Have yourself a wonderful day!
“Wanting to be someone else is a waste of the person you are.”
Haha….got you with the title didn’t I? I’d like to think I fooled you but I know you are too smart for that, but it did get your attention did it not? I’m not above cheap theatrics; I’ll freely admit, but I do have a bit to say on this subject because there are many who do fall for this sort of nonsense all the time.
The quick and the easy
People want big results with little or no work. It’s an American thing, this instant gratification. Pair it with another very American thing; our fixation on looks, endless youth and vitality. We are talking some serious stars and stripes here.
We are a nation obsessed with health or at the least the appearance of health. People want others to think they are really healthier and more together than they really are. We have this desperate need to show others what a full life we are leading, jam packed with triumph, success and over-the-top uniquely unique experiences.
What trumps being perfect is at least looking perfect….and we are a self loathing society. 33.3 % of Americans are overweight and 35.9% percent are considered obese. Our ideal of beauty does not configure to the perfection that most of us can never live up to.
This is not to say that being overweight is not a health hazard, it is, but there are a number of other factors that contribute to good health and beauty for that matter than just what is considered the ideal weight and shape.
I have spent most of my life hung up on my weight. Starting with my first diet at the age of 9, continuing on through my teenage years and then onward into my adulthood. I was caught up in the angst of weight worry and denial. Following one crazy dieting idea after another. Denying myself and denying in general that the way I was going about it was well, stupid and all so wrong. I once spent two years of my life, two years..denying myself ice cream, yes ice cream!
Like so many others my self-worth was hung up on body image. I would compare myself to the ideal airbrushed “perfection” the media feeds us all. Of course I could never come close. No one can.
There are a million promises from a million sources who will tell you they are the ones with the secret to slim perfection. Just promise to pay the shipping and handling and it will be sent out immediately. One thing these empty promises provide is at the most, false hope with none of the hard work or willpower that accompanies eating a sensible diet, getting regular moderate exercise, time and patience. Nothing is easy and nothing is free. (except for love)
Sometimes there is temporary success but these fad diets and insensible lifestyles are difficult to keep up. It is easy to feel like a failure. It is also quite common for let-down people to comfort themselves with food and overindulging,…the very activity that is a major culprit in weight gain.
It’s big business; The health and weight loss industry. Add the beauty and fashion industry and you have a powerful bloc of economic players and reapers of piles and piles of big money. These companies get richer while we get more unhealthy.
They play on our fears and insecurities; pointing out what we “lack” and selling us a bottle of the stuff. Let’s stop buying it.
Tell them to keep it and let it rot on the shelves until they see that there is nothing lacking in us– it is they who lack. They lack the obvious; they cannot see the beauty that is inside us all. What a shame is that. Let us not be manipulated any longer…
We are all beautiful. Damn what they say, that media which feeds us stale perfection for us to consume.
YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL!
YOU are a beautiful being. Believe this. Know it.
Some people have a spark; a special something that transcends the physical. It is the belief in oneself.
What matters is one’s inside. It is the light of the soul and the love in the heart.
Beauty has a way of shining through.
Beauty is kindness and compassion. Beauty is strength and resilience. Beauty is devotion and gentleness. Beauty is quiet. It doesn’t declare itself it.
Silence is rich. It is dark and viscous and it flows on waves of nothingness. Silence begs to be filled and filled it must be. It is lonely and demanding and chill to the touch but it tastes smooth like the breeze. Silence is an opulent black pearl and one of the rarest gems on Earth.
There is a simple profoundness that can be found in the absence of sound. The emptiness that silence provides often gives rise to thought–the deep kind. The sort that give birth to leaps of logic and flights of the imagination. Silence is the canvas on which beautiful art can be created. It sits and waits patiently.
Silence isn’t in a hurry. It doesn’t need to explain itself or impress anyone or anything. It just is. It is the essence of cool.
I love silence. I crave it even. It is sorely needed in this noisy world that we have created. Life passes far too quickly for proper reflection but the quiet gives our minds time to relax and reflect.
Of course there is no true silence, even in nature far away from the influence of man, there is sound. And it is these sounds in the silence that I take time out to explore.
Being a city dweller, the sounds I pick up are a mix of city hum and the song of nature. I have learned to appreciate the sounds I hear for what they are. Which I would have to say mostly traffic and birds…well let’s just say I try to focus on the birds and not the traffic so much.
I will often go into the backyard, especially on days when I can find the smallest sliver of sunshine. I will sit in the golden light and close my eyes and listen. Listen to each and every individual sound I can possibly hear.
This is not only relaxing, it is mind expanding. It is as if I am floating…
Each day is different. Today it is the caws of crows. They fly from treetop to treetop calling to each other. I can hear one and then another and soon a chorus rings out. The sound comes from high in the sky in all directions. The atmosphere is alive and quick and I can feel their energy in my spirit and the warmth of the still-warm late October sun on my happy face.
Someday I will escape the city if only for a day and I will go to a random field or an empty beach or a hilltop among a grove of trees and listen and take it all in, keeping it with me always.
For today though, the caws of crows do quite nicely.
“I’ve begun to realize that you can listen to silence and learn from it. It has a quality and a dimension all its own.”
― Chaim Potok
It is a sunny afternoon in mid October. There is a slight breeze. I can hear the sound of birds and the occasional airplane overhead. I am engaging in one of my favorite activities; Gardening, It makes me happy, especially today–today I am doing one of my most favorite of favorite activities; digging…
…Oh how I love to dig…
It is primal, it is physical. It gets my blood pumping and pulse racing. It is natural and it penetrates my soul…it is almost akin to having sex. It is the mindless and mindful coexisting, together as one. It hovers on a higher plane and rewards in obvious and not so obvious ways. It is almost spiritual and definitely enlightening. I can do it for hours and become quite invigorated. In that token digging is sexy and so are the people that do it.
Yes, I’m still talking about digging.
Being a gardener, this thing for digging is a good thing. I am drawn to nature and to the very soil itself. I suppose that is the way with us gardeners. The soil plays such a vital role in our lives and in life in general. For there wouldn’t be life as we know it, without it.
I love the feel of the fresh good earth–it feels so alive. It is soft and luxurious, fertile as the day is long, this stuff is almost akin to magic.
Gardening is sexy–don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. All that fresh air and exercise, not to mention all the “naturalness” can really get the heart pumping.
Gardening is good for you. It is a unique form of exercise that allow you to do something calming, creative and fun while working various muscle groups….gardening can keep you fit.
Women in general can burn up to 300 calories with an hour of moderately strenuous gardening activities like digging, cultivating or using a spade. Men typically burn around 400 calories per hour while doing the same activities.
Being in shape can enhance sexiness…
And what about dirt? Can dirt be sexy too?
There have been studies as of late indicating how exposure to the bacteria found in healthy soil, whether it be from the food grown in it or just by working the soil can raise serotonin levels which boosts your immune system and elevates your mood. There has been numerous studies linking the act of just being out in nature to good health. These indicate a direct correlation between our health and happiness and the exposure to the soil itself. We all know that general happiness and satisfaction with oneself is the key to sexual attractiveness.
Come on, tell me dirt is not sexy.
I do feel more connected with the Earth out here and I am compelled to seek this connection. There is a force inside us that needs to express this somehow. There seems to be a theme behind all this random chaos. We are intertwined with all of creation in a symbiotic dance of existence on planet Earth. We are driven to spread forth and propagate. We share this drive with all other life. This too, is sexy…
“I celebrate myself, and sing myself, And what I assume you shall assume, For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.” ― Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass
It is mid afternoon. I am in a anticipatory mood. I have come to this place with one idea in mind. It doesn’t take long to get here and soon I am upon it. I wear a look of solid intent mixed with quiet determination on my face. It is obvious. I am obvious. I spy the object of my affection just out of the corner of my eye; tall, rugged and deeply handsome. I cannot contain myself any longer. I walk right up and just like that I wrap my arms around tight.
“This is good stuff”, I murmur. MM looks at me, at us, like I am out of my mind. I don’t care. Nothing can spoil this moment. I feel the energy pulsating through my body. This feels so damn good! “You should try this” I say to MM who shoots me one of those looks he gives from time to time that says: There she goes again.
I continue with my hugging. The tall Redwood seems to hug me back. I think it likes it. I call out to MM. I find he has wandered down the trail leaving me and the tree behind.
I am fortunate to live so close to this place, to such a specimen as this. Yes, as you probably have surmised I am tree-hugger and in the middle of a tree hugging session. I have heard the term tree hugger for most of my life. The image of aging hippies chaining themselves to old growth timber and militant activists may comes to mind when one hears that term.
It was several years ago when I first tried it. I was alone. I was walking in a park and then just out of the blue I got a notion, why not literally hug a tree? I thought, and then I did. It was just a quick one, I didn’t want anyone to see me and afterward I admit I felt somewhat foolish. That sort of thing was frowned upon back then. It was the 90’s and everyone was caught up in a sort of angry angst that did not translate well into nature-loving.
I was intrigued and as I got older and discovered that I didn’t care much what others thought. It was much more fun to go with my eccentricities than just to fight them, but I didn’t speak of this tree hugging hobby much. It was a personal thing. It was between me and the trees.
I hear every so often tree hugger used as a derogatory term; something someone should be ashamed of. There is nothing wrong with loving nature, it is so, well…natural. Trees are part of the natural landscape. All this concrete and glass we surround ourselves is not.
I will proclaim right here, right now that:
I am a tree hugger and damned proud of it!
I wholeheartedly recommend this activity and if you haven’t tried it, you should. Don’t care what others think or if you get strange looks–do it anyway. Set an example. The tree will like it and you will too. I guarantee it! The more people hugging trees, the more it will become socially acceptable. We could start a movement!
So hug a tree today and don’t be surprised if it hugs you back!
Have a lovely day!
“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn.”
“All the world is made of faith, and trust, and pixie dust.”
I couldn’t believe my eyes, but there it was…rarely do I come across a sight that could come out of a movie but there it was and just one block away from my house. It was big and bold. It was yellow and white striped and the sign on the side proclaimed Miracle Healing tonight at 7 p.m.
MM insisted we go and he made me an offer I couldn’t refuse: tacos from Loco Taco afterward. Honestly, I was excited. I had never been to anything remotely like THAT and I had some definite ideas on what would transpire.
I imagined a slick snake oil salesman selling hope to some desperate people. I imagined a smooth talking preacher man who had stacked the seats with old sick people and little kids on crutches who would be instantly cured. Then before I got carried away I reminded myself that seldom in life is anything like I expect it will be and I vowed to approach this with an open mind.
It was a big tent. There was a stage with a drum set, some keyboards and a microphone. It looked like a typical set-up for a band. In the rest of the big tent lay rows upon rows of metal foldout chairs. I had already planned on sitting in the back where I could observe the whole scene but to my dismay others had already thought of that. We sat right smack dab in the middle.
I was excited. I was anticipating a spectacle. I was careful to wear something nondescript so I could blend in. Needless to say MM and I stood out like two sore thumbs. The place was packed with regulars of the “church” whose parking lot we were sitting in. A few of them promptly introduced themselves. They seemed very friendly and quite normal.
The place was full in no time; People of all shapes, colors and sizes. The all-female band (very cool) started to play. A heavy-set Hispanic man took to the stage and started singing. Everyone was clapping and singing along to a song they all knew except MM and I. It was pleasant enough. Everyone sang a few songs and I admit at this point my clappers were getting tired.
Just as abruptly as the music began it stopped and a tall man with glasses who resembled an accountant took the stage. He seemed nice enough but not what I expected. Let me explain that I was raised as a Catholic. If you have similar experience then you know this was a bit different from the sort of sedate service I had attended in my very young youth.
The accountant guy introduced another guy and this guy was a good-looking man in his 40’s. He was wearing gray pants, a gray vest and a yellow shirt that matched the stripes on the tent. He was all I expected; he was charismatic, he was charming and he apparently was the one who was going to heal people here tonight in this very tent, just off a busy street right behind the bus stop and only one block away from my house.
The crowd was ecstatic! This was the man they were waiting for! He started out slowly. He carried a well-worn bible and began to quote verses. It was Luke, this John that. I admit my Catholicism is what some call lapsed. I recognized much of what he was saying but not all. He told us God would be coming down to join us but first we had to show that we were worthy. A collection bowl soon appeared and was passed around. It was quickly filled and to his credit, it never showed up again.
All during this a fly was buzzing around. I couldn’t take my eyes off it and it couldn’t stop buzzing around the couple in front of us. I mean no disrespect to God or anything, but I imagined that fly was God flying around to see what the fuss was all about.
The guy, who I’ll call Barry, was personable. He obviously was an accomplished speaker. He used all the right hand gestures. He made sure to make eye contact with each and everyone in the audience. He cracked wholesome, corny jokes and he held our undivided attention while he spoke of God and Jesus and miracles. OK. I will tell you now; my beliefs are more on the naturalistic side. I am more spiritual than religious. I don’t make judgment calls, believe what you will. I believe God is everywhere. My “church” is the outdoors…and miracles, in my opinion; well… let’s just say that I do believe in the power of positive thinking and that what we believe tends to come true. I also think there are things out there that are in-explainable and I try not to discount anything.
The time had finally come! Barry was about to do some good old-fashioned healing. He asked for volunteers; anyone who needed saving, anyone in pain who needed to be healed. A smattering of people came to the front. Most looked expectant but wary. I had a quick notion fly through my mind to join them, but aside from minor gum disease, I am fortunate enough to be what MM would call a healthy rascal. I held myself in check and waited with the rest of the crowd to see what would happen next. He spoke briefly to all of the “contestants”, quietly and in soothing tones. He went to each one. I could see them explaining their ailments, pointing to this body part and that. Most of them seemed to be relieved to be telling someone about how they felt; A someone who didn’t roll his eyes or tune them out. Barry was intent on hearing it all.
This got me thinking about the power of prayer and the power of loving care and understanding between people. I thought perchance I could have prejudged this whole thing. Maybe there was more to it. He asked us all to pray for these poor souls in pain. I am a very empathetic person. I imagined how it would be to be sick and desperate for a cure. Facing one’s own mortality is a scary thing. It is isolating. I admit tears welled in my eyes. I sent out all the positive vibes I could to this poor inflicted group, whose numbers included some elderly folks and even a couple of children.
Oh how the realities of life can be so cruel, I thought. My humanity was radiating and my empathy was shooting out in all directions. He asked the first person who was an elderly Asian woman to take the stage. She was accompanied by her daughter, who helped her climb the steps. He asked her what was wrong. She proclaimed that her shoulder hurt. He touched her shoulder and started this God this, Jesus that routine. He implored us to pray for her which we did. He implored God to “heal this woman!” He touched her again and asked if the pain was gone. The crowd hushed. We all waited in suspense to hear her reply. She started to laugh and say yes she did feel better. Everyone clapped.
Then it was on to the next one; A man with a bad knee. We were prompted to pray as before and Barry did his spiel. He touched the man and asked if he still felt the pain. The man looked confused. He hemmed and hawed and sheepishly uttered, a faint; “a little”. Barry laid hands upon him again. The crowd rose to their feet, arms in the air and at this point the murmurs began.
I suppose I am being coy here; they were not just murmurs. This was something I had never heard in real life. They were what would be best described as the speaking of tongues. The man directly in back of me was a pro and I was impressed by the way he rolled his R’s. It sounded much like Arabic…or something?
To each is own. I honestly don’t get it, but if this sort of thing helps people who am I to judge? I must say it got a little getting used to. The sort of praying I do is quieter, more solitary. It is a personal thing that I don’t talk about. It’s mostly of the thanksgiving variety than asking for something per se.
Barry went to the next person; A pony-tailed woman who suffered headaches. He started with his praying and the crowd started with theirs. When he was finished and asked if the pain was gone, we all waited for her reply. She said she didn’t know; that she wasn’t sure. He did his thing over and over until she was “cured”. A pattern emerged. Barry would ask each person when they were “saved” and what church they attended. Barry would than pray, the crowd would pray. Each time this would get louder and louder. There seemed to be an enormous amount of social pressure for these people to proclaim they were out of pain. I could tell they wanted to please Barry and the crowd but they also were hesitant to tell an untruth. There was a dispassionate man with an expensive camera snapping shots of the whole scene. I could feel flashbulbs on my face time and time again. I really started to feel uncomfortable and I thought about leaving. I could see a few in the crowd do that very same thing. Even the elderly woman in the green dress, who seemed so into it before, appeared uncomfortable by this time. Each person who left incurred stares of daggers from the array of younger men who had formed a circle around the parameter. I kept gazing outside, the sun was setting and beautiful colors were streaking across the sky. I regretted missing such a beautiful sunset. When the service was finally over it was dark.
We couldn’t get out of there fast enough. I had no appetite and we went straight home. I felt strange. I remember a service I had attended at a universal church last New Year’s Eve. Afterward I felt so wonderful. I felt nothing like that now. Honestly, I was creeped out. I made a few jokes about it and put it out of my mind. The rest of the evening was uneventful. I decided that I would write about my experience but really didn’t know what my take on it would be.
“I believe in everything until it’s disproved. So I believe in fairies, the myths, dragons. It all exists, even if it’s in your mind. Who’s to say that dreams and nightmares aren’t as real as the here and now?”― John Lennon
That night I had a dream; a nightmare. I was being chased by cultists. I was being held prisoner in this gargantuan mansion. Every time I would escape and find someone who I thought would save me, they would turn out to be another; People on the street, workers, all kinds, everyone. Whoever it was would just calmly smile and promptly return me to the scary mansion. I escaped one last time. I figured out they could be tracking me through my cell phone. (shades of NSA) I threw my phone into an alleyway and made it to a group of homeless people where I was saved after all. The song Karma Police played over and over during this “adventure”. Yikes! I awoke in a cold sweat, my mouth dry. It was three in the morning. Obviously my experience had affected me more than I realized.
It’s been a few days since then and I have let the whole experience soak in…And I still don’t know what to think. Conflicting ideas cross my mind. I expected one thing and was presented with something different but not as different as I had hoped. I guess maybe I too was looking for a miracle and found others looking for the same thing. Did we find a miracle? Who’s to say? One could bring up the concept of faith and the power of belief. Conversely one could bring up the subject of the power of social pressure and giving false hope to desperate people. Sure, I personally was creeped out but maybe others were comforted by the very things that disturbed me. All I can say is; for me the search continues…
“The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease for ever to be able to do it.”
“Sometimes your only available transportation is a leap of faith.” ― Margaret Shepard
Come on in….the water’s fine…
Sometimes one must jump into the cold pool of uncertainty fully and with gusto. Realities of life rarely afford us the chance to dip a toe into the water and slowly emerge ourselves, gradually taking it all in…aware and ready for each step. No. Life is often sudden and in your face. Events can turn on a dime requiring you to act and right now. Often it takes a leap of faith. It is then we must put aside all fear and just do it! Jump in with both feet, eyes wide open ready for anything. You can never know what is just around the corner.
Life is what we make of it….and our lives consists of a series of choices, each one effecting the next….twisting and turning. The road is unpredictable….but variety is the spice of life. Who wants to be bland and tasteless in a world filled with wondrous and exotic tastes?
It is easy to allow the uneasiness of unknowing to overwhelm. Fear is formidable. It is engrained in us. Fear alerts us to danger….real danger. Fear can drive people to action. That same fear can also prompt inaction. These instincts have served us well in the distant past. But the world has changed. Old fears have been replaced with new ones. Most of us have no need to fear being eaten in the jungle by a tiger or bitten by a venomous snake. Modern fears may not be so immediate, they may be more complex and sometimes not everything is as it seems. Valid fears of homelessness, joblessness, bankruptcy, war or global warming, etc. These are real fears and the answers are not so obvious. Frequently there are no real answers. Sometimes it is not as easy to see where the danger lies exactly, and we are confused. This encourages inaction. “Look where you leap” is good advice but not if indecisiveness leads to doing nothing at all. Action is the key.
TAKE THE PLUNGE
Seize the day! The world awaits. Take control of your destiny. Lest destiny be in control of you.
Change is inevitable. Be that change! Take ownership of it. Make that change work for you.
Typically when it is all said and done, it is that which you did not do which you will regret.
We can ride the waves of cliché as far as it takes… mere words only go so far.
Real progress and anything worth anything at all takes work.
and there is no better day to start than today!
“We should all start to live before we get too old. Fear is stupid. So are regrets.” ― Marilyn Monroe
A quirk of fate left me with no personal electronic devices whatsoever last Friday. I had no I Pad, no IPhones, no Google Google’s.. no Kindle or the like, I had nothing…not even my dumb phone which was at home. It was just me..my observations and my notebook. I must admit I don’t own any of the before mentioned list of gadgets, except the dumb phone-…I have that..a stupid phone.
So it wasn’t a big deal when I boarded the Max headed toward Beaverton without a gadget or prop.
I sat in a backward facing seat and braced myself for the long tunnel…
The Robertson Tunnel is the MAX Light Railtunnel that runs through the west hills of Portland, Oregon. There is one station within the tunnel at Washington Park, which at 79 meters deep is the deepest subway station in the United States and the fifth deepest in the world. It’s almost three miles long and takes five minutes pass through. It is cold, dark and loud…
As we travel faster and faster there erupts a high-pitched scream that echoes off the stone walls. This makes for an unnerving and uncomfortable ride for the passengers. Most try to sit there stoically and pretend nothing is going on while we ride it out. A few cover their ears. I am one of the larger stoic group. The unusually long five minutes pass and then it is over. We emerge out of the tunnel. The sky opens up and there is a collective sigh of relief…
…and then everyone is back at their screens. There are some books or newspapers and a few smallish laptops but mostly is what I once heard referred to of as “a bar of soap”; a personal electronic device that fits neatly into the human hand, becoming really an extension of it. A device that many of us seem to be transfixed on and obsessed with a good portion of our time.
According to edtechmagazine.com
84% of Cell phone owners report they could not go a single day without their device and 44% of them confess to having slept with their phone nearby because they didn’t want to miss a notification.
A bit extreme, but common. Becoming addicted to your phone has become such a real condition that experts have given it a name: “Nomophobia” (no-mobile-phone-phobia).
I know this is a world-wide phenomena. It is amazing how much things have changed in the last twenty years . I am old enough to remember what it was like before everyone was “plugged in” I suppose I use the term “plugged in” a bit sharply. I myself am writing this on a laptop and you are reading it on some sort of device.
It cannot be denied how electronic communications have changed the world for good and bad and that nebulous in-between region that we are unsure of until it passes and becomes history. Time will tell how this will effect the future world and how humanity reacts to and with itself.
Often we must give up something to gain something…and in this there is no exception.
In our modern connected world we are tuned in to the hum of the network and the buzz of the instantaneous all knowing all hearing web. We can converse and share with others all over the world in real-time. Never has the human race been so connected. Connected in a cerebral Ethernet. A system that has a collective “mind” of its own.
Of course nothing ever is all black or white..
Never have we as a species been so disconnected to our true nature, ourselves and each other….and to our planet.. Many immerse themselves exclusively in temperature controlled artificial environments, driving from one place to another in an air-conditioned fossil fuel burning car.
Why ever leave the “comfort” of the indoors?
Why strike up a conversation with a stranger on the train when you can stare at your screen and get those thumbs going. I’ve noticed and I can’t be the only one to see that people seem to use their electronic device as a social barrier,,as some sort of protection in a world where increasingly social intimacy with your fellow person isn’t as important anymore…..and isn’t too kosher. The world is a dangerous place. It is easier and sometimes safer to just keep to yourself and look as disinterested as can be.
I am reminded of the classic Science Fiction tales of the 50’s, 60’s where beings from outer space or some unknown alien force takes over humanity in subtle and not so subtle ways.
This whole thing reminds me of just that. The entity, that thing or phenomena…whatever you call it….be it the web, the internet , the screen. the hive mind or the collective or the big stupid distraction, whatever it is…..this THING is taking over.
Social realities are changing. People tune each other out almost to the point where they pretend each other isn’t there. It seems there is some unwritten law that you can completely ignore your fellow human. As long as you pretend you cannot see one another, as long as you don’t look at each other in the eye. Once you look at another person in the eye, is it is too late and now you are socially obligated to acknowledge each other. Perhaps to the point of greeting and maybe even.. gasp….conversation.
It makes me wonder what the future brings…
I suppose on occasion I will endeavor to put my dumb phone away. It fits nicely into the zippered pocket of my purse and maybe every once in a while I’ll just forget it all together…
Sometimes inspiration comes on like the flu; suddenly and seemingly from nowhere…you are overtaken by something and at first you don’t know quite what it is and then it hits you…whack and it’s there and it seems like it will never leave and then quietly it all dissipates into the thin air and you are left spent but happy.
Other times inspiration needs to be hunted down, beaten over the head with a club and dragged by its hair back to your cave where you can wear it down…but it seems to want to escape but then on rare occasions usually during the time of the full moon it decides it likes you and stays awhile…but just like anything; inspiration, it comes, it goes, like ebbs and flows.
Inspiration…where is it when you need it?…and where can I get some?
I admit it; I’m in a rut. I have a case of the blahs and I don’t care who knows it. It’s not like it’s the end of the world. (that was last year) It’s not so bad, really.
There is an art to being in a rut…a rut I think is an essential part of the life experience…being in a rut is kind of like purgatory, your neither here or there and it doesn’t feel very good at the time but it does provide an enlightening view…
Appreciation can be heightened by the deprivation of inspiration and being in a rut can serve as a springboard to the new and the untried wonderful possibilities that are out there just waiting for us.
At least I hope so…
Perhaps it’s the rain…it could be the lack of time or sleep? It could just be me….but really that doesn’t matter I have a date with a springboard.
Perhaps it’s my impatience with myself, knowing I probably won’t live forever…I cannot wait around for the tide to turn.
What I’m trying to say is that this is one of the times I’m planning getting me a club and hunting down some of that inspiration.
So where does one look for this elusive inspiration? OR
Does the act of looking for inspiration cause it to disappear?
My stay in cubicleland is getting to me…the three gray walls and I and a computer and a phone…this is not the stuff that dreams are made of.
It feels like feisty and fun SBI is hiding somewhere in the recesses of my mind probably drinking a Margarita and having a smashing time while boring old Nancy has taken control of the wheel…Yuck!
See how serious this is?!
Lately as I am tapping away at my little white laptop the words come but in drip drops, no flood, certainly no passion or fire…I write away and after about 400 or 500 words I just sort of fizzle out and get to the point in the post where I am supposed to be getting to the point but I find by the time I get there, I have none; no point that is.
The unpublished fragments, in various stages of completion sit in the drafts section, there are more of them than I thought..they all lack the same thing; Inspiration and a point and there’s 32 of them. 32? really?
Perhaps I should go root around in there and see what I can come up with…wish me luck…and while I’m going through my old post bits like old socks in the sock drawer could you do me a favor?
Could you hand me a slice of inspiration or tell me where you got yours? You wear it well my friends and I’m at a loss.
What or who inspires you? What fills you full of creative energies and puts forth new and exciting ideas in your mind? Is it a sight? An action? A person? A feeling? Does music inspire you? Or love?
Airbrushed models stare back with empty looks as I thumb through one of today’s popular magazines. It is chock full of these empty-eyed ones selling this and that. Their long glossy hair and oh much too white neon teeth prompt me to remember to jot down Crest White Strips when I make out my weekly shopping list; something I have yet to try but am beginning to feel bad that I haven’t.
I don’t normally look at these types of magazines. I am more of a National Geographic type but my co-worker had it lying on her desk and I admit I was a bit curious so I asked to take a peek. I instantly felt bad; too short, too fat and definitely too old. A photo of a 71-year-old actress with no visible wrinkles tells me this. She looks on top of the world and I …well…I look dumpy.
I’m definitely not sporting the new “it” color which is emerald by the way and I haven’t spoken to my manicurist about this news flash. In fact, as shocking as this may be: I don’t even have a manicurist or an interior designer, who this magazine also says I should be speaking to about custom lighting and the new vivid countertops.
I do like the mega heeled bright fuchsia shoes on the following page, but I’d break my neck if I tried to walk in them. The shiny pants are nice, emerald by the way. I haven’t felt this inadequate since I was 19 and used to read this stuff. Back then I would compare myself to these models and even then, I didn’t stand a chance.
It never occurred to me at the time those models couldn’t compare with their own doctored up photos and that no one who appears in these things actually even resemble themselves.
I went on my first diet at age 9 and stayed on one or another until age 40 when I threw out my scale and gave up on that nonsense. (one of the smartest things I’ve ever done by the way)
It is a shame I felt so inadequate. It is a shame many other people do; women and men alike. We as a society base too much importance on appearance. It is superficial, shallow, so damn unnecessary and frankly, stupid. There are so many faces of beauty in different colors and hues. Like in a flower garden, variety of shape, form and color is what lends to the loveliness of a garden. Oh what a boring garden it would be if all the flowers were tall, slender and dainty, pristine white roses.
People, especially younger ones are put under so much pressure, so much scrutiny by themselves and their peers. This leads to so many bad feelings and heartache…not to mention health concerns and deaths from anorexia and bulimia.
I remember how bad I felt when my then 14-year-old daughter, who wears a size seven and is a willowy beauty with long wavy hair told me she was fat and didn’t like the shape of her face. I remember how I felt when was that age and used to starve myself to squeeze into impossibly tight jeans because I too felt fat. This cycle must stop. Of course I told her the truth; she is not fat, that she is wonderful, smart and artistic and it’s what inside that counts and how I am so very much proud of her. She didn’t buy it…”You have to say that, you are my mother.” she said…
I can’t compete with these magazines…not back when I was 19, not last summer when I tried to convince my daughter that she is beautiful and not now as I turn the pages of this all too glossy thick magazine jammed packed of examples of how I don’t measure up.
I know better, I’ve given up on ever being perfect, I am a short middle-aged woman without super whitened teeth and I have fine, straight hair. Although I am well-groomed and take pride in my appearance, I know I am no beauty queen but I am loved by my family and my heart is pure and my conscience clear. I know better and yet this still bothers me. Reading this magazine reminds me why I stopped looking at these things years ago…
We all say that it is what’s inside that counts. We say it’s someone’s heart and soul that is beautiful, many people pay great lip service to this truism…even the media will throw us “common” folk a bone every once in a while; making a big deal out of featuring “real people” in an ad and patting themselves on the back the whole time but how many “Dove women” are there compared to those perfect ones who really don’t exist?
It is said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and we the public; the masses, so to speak are the beholders. If we keep buying this hype, they’ll keep selling it.
I got I new National Geographic today and I’ll be taking it to work, perhaps I will pass it around a bit…and while all this was going on I ran across this quote…online, not in THAT magazine…
“Step Away from the Mean Girls… …and say bye-bye to feeling bad about your looks. Are you ready to stop colluding with a culture that makes so many of us feel physically inadequate? Say goodbye to your inner critic, and take this pledge to be kinder to yourself and others.
This is a call to arms. A call to be gentle, to be forgiving, to be generous with yourself. The next time you look into the mirror, try to let go of the story line that says you’re too fat or too sallow, too ashy or too old, your eyes are too small or your nose too big; just look into the mirror and see your face. When the criticism drops away, what you will see then is just you, without judgment, and that is the first step toward transforming your experience of the world.”
Perhaps I’ll print it up and give it to my daughter…