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From Oprah.com quotables:

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If almost 7 years of intense solitude have taught me anything, it has served to illuminate this one idea for me.

Ironically, in my younger years, I literally dreamed vividly (one of the benefits of lifelong narcolepsy) of a world where humanity was filled with passionate ambitions and striving toward making the lives of others and the world truly better, in a million ways that I couldn’t guess but saw realized, since I was very young. It was like all the very best fairy tales, but were not fictions from books, but a real world filled with everyday people, finding ordinary ways to do random acts of kindness, of true heroism–resulting in extraordinary benefit in the world–altruism on a global scale.

These were my beautiful good dreams, and they were as beautiful and wonderful as my bad dreams were horrible. They stood in sharp contrast to what I experienced in those years most of the time, and the brief memories of the good, and those dreams were what sustained me the rest of my waking time, and past the dark scary places of nightmares.

In these good dreams, there was nothing small about any way that giving and caring and sharing happened; however naive and immature the stories might have been in those childish dreams. We should all try to be a bit childish that way–it comes from the best, uncorrupted parts of ourselves, and beautiful and pure, a living part of ourselves that is never lost though we may abandon it for the expectation of necessity in “growing up”.

I guess I was lucky in many ways, to be autistic, and having some aspects of a major brain injury by age 5. I developed differently from other children of course, some ways not so good, but others were helpful. I lacked, among other things, the distorting filters that come with enculturation and typical social development. It made me seem odd and problematic as a child to others, but there gifts too.

It might have been nice to know that sooner, or perhaps I appreciate it more because of the challenges I grew up with, being more aware I was somehow quite different from others. In time after I learned about myself, I was finally able to put the pieces together and understand, and then I was appreciating those differences yet sensing connection at the same time, both essential for me to understand they were not mutually exclusive, but thst came much much later. I can’t say I regret that journey, at least not now. Perhaps I might not have become able to appreciate this as I can now, had I not been forced to struggle and fail, and get up again and again, to suffer profound hurt and loss and deprivation and abandonment more than most I’d known, but in my gut I knew there were many who needed more and were more fragile even than I was. Though frustrated and confused about the hardships, I was fortunate, unlike many, to not only survive, but to manage to grow from it. I got stronger and learned and adapted more than many whatever has been thrown at me, including disabilities that have been hardest after I turned 50, as some injuries became truly debilitating with more age, and at the time I didn’t know what was happening or why–losing vision, hearing, and mobility body wide, and an over-reactive immune system.

Dreams were my lifeline, and with narcolepsy since I was a preschooler, I was self-aware in my dreams, and I retained them after I was awake long term. By my 9th birthday, I dreamed an idea that so excited me, that I thought I’d burst, as I confided in my best friend from 4th grade, during a sleepover, sharing this idea I dreamed of adopting one child with no family or home from every country in the world, and making us all one big family. It sounded wonderful to me!! Now, I didn’t know how many countries there were or anything much about the rest of the people in the world yet, except what I was told often: that we had so much here and so many elsewhere had little or nothing, to eat, to wear, no place to sleep, to feel safe, to call home. My sense of home was more in my imagination than real world but I had a sense of beautiful home and family, even if fantasy, and that was better than many Jess. I didn’t know much more than that, but on that birthday, it was all I could think about in my private thoughts, and I was so excited to have this beautiful idea, even later in life.

How much more obvious it was, in retrospect, that life journeys can be more like labyrinths, filled with distractions, diversions and fantastic or awful rabbit holes!!

But now, in my constant solitude, those beautiful memories of youthful fantasies and ideals are clearly the glowing embers that now breathe new life into ambitions for my future, that there is so much more yet for me to be and do, and that may yet be possible for me, each day that I am gifted with my life again. It is another chance to do something–anything–to give with love with my hands, and if that isn’t posdible, then with my words, and if that’s not possible either, then to do so with my heart and soul and thoughts of and for others, and if not that, with what and how I might leave something behind of myself that could lift up someone, somewhere in the world, somehow, even if in ways that I’ve never imagined, that make a difference for anyone, known or unknown, that gives even the chance for something better for them than without it.

I know now, so very acutely, that it is not great wealth, or people of terrifying presence and power, or great powerful armies with the best weapons, that make the most profoundly positive and lasting change in the world; those small and random acts of courage, kindness, acceptance, and compassion, by ordinary everyday people, who do what they can, make efforts perhaps more than they even believe they have ability to do–these are what make the world better, and redeem us as a species, and defeat indifference, arrogance, and apathy that would otherwise destroy life and hope.

I do not believe that the human race as a whole will change; there will always be destructive forces pulling the world down among and by humans, those misguided, twisted, lost and sick in their souls humans, hellbent on destroying goodness around them, and indifferent or blind to the consequences. But I also believe that we can each, as ordinary individuals, become better and good humans, however humble or tragic or disadvantaged our beginnings. Despite even any destructive and empty paths we may have once chosen or followed, any individual CAN make a different choice, and that choice to be a better human, on that day, in that way, can change the world for the better.

The older I get, and as my eyesight increasingly deteriorates, I see the truth of this more clearly than ever before. Beauty, wealth, health, and social status may come and go for us all including myself, but what lasts is what comes from our hearts, souls, spirit of our intentions and use we make of our minds and what we have, being our best authentic selves possible, in good times or hard, despite being brought low, whether stripped of all the superficial and material markers of success, in spirit or in fact, either brought down or denied this since birth, each day of life is a gift of choice, a chance for us to start over, and we each can choose something, wherever we are, whatever our circumstances that day, that may well change the world for the better.

I thought that the inevitable tunnel vision of isolation away from other people would either obstruct or even destroy my spirit, and lose any clarity of purpose. It has instead cleared away the clutter of superficialities, creating space for me to discover and nourish deeper things that, to me, are the truly valuable and important facets of at least my human potential, very surprising. Ambition for goodness, unlike other ambitions, has infinite facets and potential, as we each one of us have within us some kind of greatness, though it may be waiting to be realized and expressed. Greatness doesn’t just come to the rich and beautiful people, nor when one believes they are most successful. Greatness may arise, like the Phoenix, from the ashes of our own destruction. It may take a crucible to achieve. It may be possible when we least expect it, or when others have written us off, or given up on us or never believed it of us.

Keep dreaming, and rediscover your childish self! It’s precious and pure and may open the door to the best opportunities of your life to do something good for the world and by extension, for yourself!

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From a Facebook site: https://m.facebook.com/2travelingdogs/photos/a.107764925964382.13451.106802709393937/638346789572857/?type=1&source=48

While I agree wholeheartedly with the message, they need to have this same message with old people on the picture, too. Westernized cultures are almost phobic about aging populations, and too often the elderly, a rich source of oral history, perspectives, wisdom and spiritual balance, are shut out, shut away, and categorically dismissed and devalued. Most are warehoused away from families and community, as very few can afford high end retirement communities, and shortage of quality assisted living housing, and even then, they are still segregated from family, seen and heard rarely. Non-elderly adult disabled usually fare even worse on the “throwaway” spectrum.

I say this without judgment or condemnation, just an observation and supported by extensive expert docs.

By way of contrast to western trends, cultures that typically retain and integrate elderly inclusively with younger generations are much more balanced and stable overall.

Even those with familial caregivers with best intentions and dedication struggle with issues of isolation for elderly and their own with longterm burden of care. The young have least appreciation, very often, for benefits of connection, perhaps because they are swept up in the expansive “doingness” of early life, and less focused on the being element, which the older people increasingly focus on, key to internal balance and vigor….

Food for thought….

“WHEN YOU PARENT, IT’S CRUCIAL TO REALIZE THAT YOU AREN’T RAISING A MINI-ME…BUT A SPIRIT THROBBING WITH ITS OWN SIGNATURE.”

This is one of the most profound statements I’ve heard, perhaps in a very long time, from a book that in many very timely ways, resonated with me and opened my eyes to more than much I’ve ever read or heard, and gave me the most balanced and realistic perspective on myself as child, adult, parent, adult child and grandchild and part of a generation of its time and places.

Her book: The Conscious Parent by Dr. Shefali Tsabary–I would say is a real page-turner for anyone who has considered having a child, has a child, has raised a child, or has been a child, for perspective. It’s a WOW! book that turns parenting & children upside down, inside out, and makes sense of the most complex and triggering relationships humans have in their lives, from all the many facets, cultural beliefs about the paradigm, throws a lifeline to parents and children alike. In fact, she asserts that children are called forth in a way to raise the parent by showing them where they, though adults, have yet to grow! I love that!

It has been a well known and much bemoaned fact that babies don’t exactly come into this world with a manual for us to know how to be great parents to them, or successful ones, or how to do and not do, be and not be, and this book makes sense out of why it feels so difficult and uncertain, and offers alternatives that may ease that burden, looking backwards, forwards, and most importantly, in the present.

Consider the cliches of parenting that permeate most cultures in some form of wanting for our children lives better then we had, to be selves that are better than we are,as a measure of our success as parents. But while the intention may seem on its face a noble one, from the heart, effectively we are coming at them from a place of inadequacy and scarcity. She says that it’s no surprise that we fail to tune into our own children’s essence, if so many of,us barely know how to listen to ourselves, as,our own individual pure spirits, while not trying to be some idealized version that of our own parents.

If we believe, and our parents believed that they were incomplete, should/could/might have been better or more, therefore inadequate, what a burden we pass on to the children, to be what we ourselves did not become! In so doing, seeking in them an idealized version of ourselves, while we over emphasize doing versus being, we judge them and ourselves successful when they move toward our idealized view, and when they don’t, we feel disappointment, our failure, and project it onto them as well.
Though we may get them to “conform” or else self-destruct trying to conform to meet that perfect vision of who they “were supposed to become”, in doing so, we may actually divorce them from who they are actually meant to be, quite different from us, yet unique, and special and a wondrous being in themselves, with their own destiny that we can’t even imagine, very often ultimately the ideal that we as onetime pure spirits dreamed of for ourselves and our children someday, but we got lost from ourselves. Then we could end up crushing their spirits in turn, leaving them, too, divided and diverted from becoming their authentic selves, depriving the world of those spirits and who they were actually meant to be. It gives me much pause to reconsider my entire perspective on parenting!

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At last, the first glimpses of a return of life from its beautiful but inaccessible wintry slumber, reviving hope to reconnect soon with much of my much-loved natural world!!

With my aching and relentless desire to be reconnected with the earth, my life force , the essence and source of all that connects me to the world and makes me feel deeply and truly alive, for even brief moments, now gift me with revived hope and renewed spirit and confidence, feeding my soul, soothing pain, promising a lengthier reprieve from protracted confinement in this erstwhile shelter from nature’s less wheelchair-friendly elements that would put mobility and access to that life sustaining force at risk altogether.

So for today, at least, I have this beautiful glimmering potential of things to come, that is enough to trigger my eager anticipation that opportunities to escape this cage soon, and returning to my natural world are in my near future ! Yay!!

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http://www2.macleans.ca/2013/08/29/the-making-of-a-child-prodigy/

Looking different or functioning counter to cultural expectations, even those that trigger biased expectations says nothing about potential of the one labelled, nor of whether the mainstream or majority has a clue about any if it. Not that they can’t , but the eyes see what the mind seeks to believe things mean for most people and while biased superficial expectations may align with reality sometimes, they are more often lazy brain muscle shortcuts that have little to do with reality and more damaging than helpful, though typical humans may never look back and reconsider a previously invested opinion, revising to take into account accurate information.

They are the same ones that sit on their hands and predict failure and other negative outcomes when they don’t know enough to even have an opinion, AND don’t know enough to know that they don’t know enough to have an informed opinion.

That’s why naysayers have always been interesting to me up to a point, but after that point I tend to think “blah blah blah “in my mind, as they are saying nothing useful or helpful or persuasive in a factual rational manner. Even when they are regurgitating some factual variation of “that’s just the way it is”, they fail to take into account other possibilities that they likely cannot even fathom. They think they either know the answers or rely on some other designated “expert” or “professional”, who likely is also not exploring alternatives that are not part of their usual pattern. They are simply mouthing and propagating intuitive biases. They don’t look outside of their respective boxes, and are not receptive to new information , and sometimes they exercise power over another persons/child’s life to their detriment, unless there’s someone who trusts the person or they’ve got someone that tells them relentlessly that they might be wrong, while staying open themselves to new information.

This may indeed be more labor intensive for people who aren’t compensated or enculturated to enable or motivate them to give that much effort to looking at what is outside of their own bias buckets, so I understand why they hold to standard labels, but thank God for those who question authority when authority is wrong, and are wiling/able to update their mental software with new information, open to seeing what is there vs what they expect!

I know myself and I know other things and I know there are gaps and new information that may prove that my perspective needs revising, and I have no ego invested in being right; I am invested in being right in my understanding by learning new things to get it right, but when I do know something is right or wrong, I trust my knowledge, when it IS superior to other views. If that applies to benefit only a minority of lives, it’s still worth it to me to stand up, as every single life is valuable , and equally worthy of getting it right.

This kid is all the proof that I could possibly need to reinforce my intrinsic commitment, even if it didn’t apply to myself also (which it does /did). Getting it right and adjusting with new information , making the effort for every human being possible is worth making any effort necessary, up to and including everything I have in me, to fight for that, no matter who the person is.

Why? Because that person may be the one that will change the world in a significant or great way, big or small, so long as they aren’t blocked by others’ negative bias or dug- in ignorance.

How many prodigies who gave their genius to improve the world for us all, maybe saved us from ourselves or might have been kept from turning that genius against the good, who might have been lost to the world if the popular views at the time and the experts were accepted without question?

How many people of letters in high positions in institutions of higher knowledge have effectively destroyed what might have been great contributors with their enormous egos and bias filters?? How may have those with authority and power killed off? It makes me shudder to imagine.

Not all great thinkers or doers have the fierce tenacity to fight on, adapt, keep trusting and believing in themselves, and keep swimming upstream while others keep trying to shoot them down, for whom it is enough to do it BECAUSE they KNOW they are doing the right, if unpopular, thing?? How many are willing to stay the course despite the isolation and rejection and even malicious efforts to keep them back where some majority thinks they belong?

If they are as tenacious as I am, the challenge is to stay open , but still stay the course if it is right and eventually it becomes less effortful for others, to allow for some new possibility or information if only to make me go away and not waste any more of their time. It becomes a test of whether one wants to live with the chronic and painful thorn in their paw that I will become when it’s important enough to me, or else choose to endure the lesser discomfort of coming to the table and waste no more pain on the thorn that I otherwise remain. I much more enjoy being a contributor to a team effort than a ball and chain on a bunch of stubborn but wrong “bucket people”.

There’s always a cost for fighting, though, so I wish that it wasn’t so difficult sometimes to penetrate the ignorance of lemming types and their clueless authorities upon which they rely and behind whom they hide from a problem , especially when the information is right in front of them, often in their own rules, published wisdom, and guidelines.

For now , at least, it’s easier to jump into the fray when I have the ability to seek respite in solitude, when needed, to recharge my batteries.

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Yesterday’s journal drawn in darkness with pencil…..

“I have not loved the world, nor the world me.
I have not flattered its rank breath,
Nor bowed to its idolatries a patient knee.
I stood among them, but not of them,
In a shroud of thoughts which were not their thoughts…

What is the worst of woes-that wait on age?
What stamps the wrinkle deeper on the brow?
To view each loved one blotted from (my) life’s page,
And be alone on Earth as I am now…

There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore;
There is society, where none intrudes
By the deep sea, and music in its roar.
I love not man the less, but Nature more.”

Excerpted from writings of Lord Byron (with apologies for my appropriative use and with gratitude)

Marianne Williamson recently posted in Facebook:

“Enlightenment doesn’t mean we were never wounded; it means we’ve found a way to evolve beyond our wounds. Enlightenment isn’t idealistic; it’s practical. What’s idealistic is thinking we can live from our wounds, stay in our weakness, and ever transform the world.”

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With the greatest and most sincere respect to the expert here (that would not be me), I must disagree.  I just didn’t feel this rang quite true, or at least in conflict with itself in its articulation.  Sadly I’m not terribly concise, so my explanation may beg your patience.

I differ with Marianne on the idea that being wounded and weak are necessarily separate in the individual state from Enlightenment. I would suggest that they are all parts of all of us, and do not travel separately in our lifelines. To me, that is far too generalized, tidy a package to put upon a real human life, and is itself an idealized perspective on life. In fact what is idealistic is thinking that one is ever completely free of weakness, wounds, or failure, and if this were a condition of Enlightenment, then no one could ever transform the human experience of the world. Since people have done and are doing that, then they are accessing Enlightenment from their actively imperfect existence, which is always in flux, in degrees, and sometimes weaker than striping, or vice versa. Weakness and wounds are integrated into our being and integral to balance and action, none of which are static or distinct from potential. Living from wounds and weakness, sitting with that for as long as you’re not done with it, can be the impetus to develop means to transform the world. Acting on it may or may not best come from having already emerged stronger for it. In fact, sometimes it may be the better place to begin the bridge from one place to another.

I would say that Enlightenment is not only found in those who “have been” wounded and weak, hopeless and stuck in the past. Enlightenment is not a distinct state that waits out there beyond one’s wounds snd weakness, sitting apart for some point beyond one’s pain, suffering, despair, weakness, or feelings of the futility of it all that things–we–the world can’t change, or there’s nothing we can do, or wanting to just give up.

I speak only from the experience of just my own myriad experiences, when I say that at the very the darkest of dark points of one’s existence, in the worst imaginable Hell, with no possible chance of change perceivable, to experience life when one is the most helpless, abandoned and perpetually wounded and weak and diseased, inside and out, to be the most despised, attacked, trapped, and as yet fixated on bitterness and impossibility of change, Enlightenment is quite present somewhere already within us all. It is there from the first spark of life until the last spark is done with us. It persists in us, even in that worst of quagmires.

Though we are not healed, though we are weak and wounded, yet there is a part of us, whether we acknowledge it yet or not, that is thinking and acting, and holding us to life, and to something possible beyond weakness. And even if we aren’t consciously thinking it, the fact that we are yet alive at all, is the proof of it, though it may be all that we sense of it, it still acts, in that moment, and this is realistic and therefore must be enough for the moment, and enough to start building change. It may be the only sign to remind us that within us Enlightenment is in fact actively part of us, alive, and holding us yet.

If we can think any thought, even those that are keeping us weak and wounded, and stuck looking back, not yet moving beyond to healing, Enlightenment is also inextricably a part of that active process, somewhere in one’s being, even as the faintest whisper that “possible” can come to us in the next breath, or that there are important places that our minds are just not looking, cant yet see, or has yet to ripen.

Enlightenment persists despite everything, I believe, for reasons that I cannot yet, or may never totally fathom, reminding me like a beacon that has the power to cut through the cacophony screaming that all is pointless. Yet no matter how much one’s frailty, wounds, weakness and fear are pulling us down, back, or holding us where we don’t want to be, or that our paralysis, depression, and fear seem more like prophesy that we will remain imprisoned forever, looking only at all of our “had nots, have losts, will never haves, should haves or could have dones, if only”.still this tenacious even annoying, unrelenting thread of a whisper may yet pull us somewhere different and better.

Our souls know whether we listen or not in this moment, that somehow we can yet discover, either alone, or with unseen hands, that a quiet belief in “possible”, is in us somewhere, though weak. We may not imagine it yet, but if there is life, it already exists in us–there it is, in the core of our life, moment by moment, Enlightenment is a living process, not an after state, so long as life exists in us or even after us,, a tiny flame of “possible yet to happen”. The awareness of this is woven into our conscious path, just as much as a certitudevthat if nothingnchanges for the better, that we may surely perish–perhaps waxing and waning twixt them, like life’s currents tend to do, as we move through each moment. But they flow in life inseparably, just as surely as the fact that from birth, we also begin the process of death in an active sense. The processes are inseparable, whether we perceive both together or focuus on that or not.

The mind is a lazy kind of muscle, arguably to conserve resources and energy and effort, and when facing the hardest or new things, it defaults to ingrained patterns, hard-wired in us. Past is the source of hard wiring; new ways have yet to take root, and require effort to act on new things. What my short 53 years of life have shown me–the one singular inseparable consistency–and what always has persisted when everything and everyone left me alone, helpless, wounded, weak, afraid, without comfort or protection or shred of security, and the only alternatives at the time were usually worse than what came before, and when I also lacked vision, skills, resources to effectively change things for the better, something always held onto me, though I struggled and denied it, and looked back, not forward, when to me there seemed to be no forward, and didn’t want to look ahead, believing it was just going o be even worse. This unseen force always held fast to me, though I screamed, inside and out, to just “Let me go! You’re not real! Go away, and let me let go!”

When one can see no other lifeline, no respite, yet there is still a kind of faith that you can’t explain, is too unbelievable to be true and you hate it, but forces periodically a listen, maybe in dreams, that, despite being wounded, weak, and subject to all the frailties of one’s human existence, past and potential future, and all that has happened or may happen, that whether it gets easier or not, whatever may come, despite all that has and may be shredded within us by our hand or others, or burdens borne or yet to be laid upon us, there are yet important possible paths ahead of us, known or unknown, seen or yet to be seen, doors, windows, footholds almost imperceptible yet sufficient, partings in life’s forest of brambles, yet to be discovered or even made by our own hands, our chin, a single toe, a single thought, and that can change much more than even what you think you want or need. Just not there yet. Though we cannot see it yet, and however dire things may seem, or pointless, or unjust, or seemingly at some unwanted end, an unmovable mountain or in-vanquishable and seen to be the most evil of evils we can imagine, those things seem to stand between us and a moment of Life worth living, worth trying, and doing, even just a glimmer that there is a chance to heal, to rise and move past the weakness, wounds, and being stuck bitterly looking always back, someday, whether the actual effort succeeds or not, as we intended, we experience Enlightenment in those fleeting moments that tipped us to choose to imagine, to try, and that alone is success. That is Enlightenment, not in an ideal world or life, but in the reality of one’s own imperfect, broken, wounded actively real state of life. It exists despite our lazy brains; we choose it one moment at a time.

I know life as moments this way because I am autistic, brain-injured and altered early in life, and everything I’ve acquired of life, in knowledge of my universe, of people, things, ideas, feelings, beliefs, potentials, systems, is a compilation of all of them in my life systems, “from the ground up” detailed, a multitude of moments, much like giant jigsaw puzzles, and patterns woven into an ever changing landscape of perspective, in all of my ongoing olearning.

Conversely, top down, quick grab, big picture perspectives have their efficiencies, to be sure, but they make people vulnerable to generalizations, distortions, cognitive biases of all kinds, personality “dis-orders”, lead to fixed and fixated thinking that is more often wrong than right, and to throwing things away in life before we are ready to appreciate, learn and grow stronger and better from them. Too much running, rejecting, blaming, regretting, shaming, knee-jerk journeys through life this way. And apathy. It is a lot of labeling and shorthand, broad brushstroke acceptance or rejection of things and people superficially.

Maybe this is why it is so hard for some people to see their own Enlightenment in whatever their state internally, to imagine there will be something they cannot imagine yet but maybe later, to maje possible their way from life that is wounding to a winding one–that theirs is a spark cannot be perceived or experienced through extrinsic means or generalized recipes from diy cookbooks. It comes from within, a process intrinsic to each person individually, and its form and connection evolves within and interconnected in our unique existence. When one is stuck and blocked from it, very often, they are stuck in top down generalization mode. In the stillness of moments –and moments –and more moments, that is where one can begin to see, in themselves, with more clarity, a way to connect with that spark that only they can really know, as it inseparably is a most personal facet of their own self-made mirror, and it can only be perceived by them in their own way and in their own time when one is ready, in that moment, to see.

That’s my understanding of Enlightenment anyway, for what it’s worth.