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Archive for the ‘soul searching’ Category

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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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)

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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.

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I really hate ever being forced to give in to collapse, even in the most difficult times. I’m one who usually sees a glass 2/3 full in any challenged situation no matter how bleak it may seem but sometimes God proves like this week, that I also have human limitations on seeing the gifts in the throes of enough obstacles and illness.

I have tried to remember when I feel really bad and in bad pain or sickness or when smacking a brick wall that by stepping back, resting truly resting, recouping my strength, I can see that my rules for tough times are still truth–>facts, and the rest, the negations I feel and express are fiction stories that only express what I am feeling now, and that the best thing I can do, no matter how necessary it seems to me or pressure from others to try to force myself to try to fix it right then, it is the worst thing to do 99% of the time, and if I push too far, I will fail, one way or the other, and make things worse for myself, maybe others too. It is a bad habit that, like many adaptations, began of necessity and enabled me to survive, and do extraordinary things, that seemed impossible to do, because someone’s safety or well-being, or my desire to do the right thing to help others who were counting on me, and little time to find easier solution, or fundamental justice demanded I stand up and ignore pain, fear, weakness whatever, to make the impossible happen.

And with a clear mind now, I know that a price must be and was paid for all of those choices to force myself to keep pushing on, not heeding the signs that I was risking damage/harm if I didn’t slow down. But when there is a higher cause, something greater than myself that requires it, duty, responsibility, honor, truth, dignity, needs of others, the emotional negative fear doubt expression is blocked out entirely, as is pain for that time. The gifts that I tapp in those circumstances don’t yield to the flesh only to my driven imperatives, never without cost–some immediately felt, others greater in the fullness of time yet to be written and experienced. Some bills have now come due, yet if it was for a greater good, I hear my mental stories as good and right and see the price as reminder of the good that it did, though I am truly now paying.

Though I know certain things about balance and letting go of unhealthy imperatives even temporarily, as necessarily true, or that clearing my head will enable me to find my way through problems no matter how forever things feel at the time, recognizing that I’m depleting myself but if it’s my need or plight that needs super-human strength, perseverance, and letting go, when that has time consequences, or would cost too much and not likely to succeed, I can’t accept, acknowledge or apply these rules that I know are always true for me, whether I wish I could or not.

For a few days recently, I could mouth those truths like mantras, over and over, yet they still felt false and pointless, meaningless and no longer applicable, and so couldn’t see through my fog or believe there was a healthier way that would yield better results myself that would alleviate my despair, which is quite rare.

So now, after sleeping for all fr 5 hours (marathon for me), I now remember the other thing that is maybe the most important self-talk truth, that I’m supposed to hold fast to, in the very worst of those/these times, enabling me to accept the truth that all of it still holds true and is a greater imperative which is:

A) your survival and function IS for a cause greater than yourself. If you fail to persist how can you create a grater good? What is happening right now, can fall apart and the world will turn and you will,still be better able to turn it around best if you get distance and rest from it, even if that means things fall apart more before,they get better.

B)when I feel really the worst, I might not believe that these things are the Truth, but that is not the meaning of what I think and believe really. It is just a form of expressing my pain and fear, yet to my literal mind, I am holding to,the literal meaning because that is intuitive therefore easier for a lazy brain to think. Non-intuitive things are much harder for a brain, take more energy and effort, and when depleted, it is effortless and easiest to fall back on habits, and then the brain renders maladaptive what was, in some situations, adaptive and effective at the time. To think actively of accepting and following the imperatives for self-preservation is a very difficult task, and not intuitive. despite kmowing intellectually that sometimes to solve a problem you have to leave it, the stakes and pressures from without and within that push me in the opposite direction, and there are consequences for letting go and backing off a problem at times, perhaps dire, if I don’t push forward, yet the alternative is more likely that options to mitigate I can’t see in the fog.

Yet internal imperatives must take priority over pulling on beyond capacity, even when there are consequences to setting aside when needed. If I am consumed now, in this moment, engulfed in fog, pain and despair, and the problem must be solved but cannot be solved just now, I must make available to me a message, generic, that can be perhaps be shared with others, like a beacon from a stranded vessel,, that I am still here, but in this state, have a problem, and imperative,there is some necessity that is demanded of me, but it is beyond my control to act as required, and ask for either a postponement for emergent reasons, or defer to others to do their best to step into my shoes in taking on certain tasks, leave what tools and info I can to enable them, and letting it go until I am more capable of taking up my sword again.

Sometimes it is stronger to give into frailty of body and mind to restore myself first. It is necessary to find solutions that will be more accessible to me, if I just STOP and let it go–through me and me through it–, and accept that my inner guide message is telling me true and still points me away from the wrong path so that I can see the right path after the fog clears.

The other messages are just a sideways way to express pain, fatigue, insecurity, fear and sickness–no more–it is deceptive, and blocks my vision, makes me disbelieve what I know is truth. The expression is not literal truth, but it is telling a different truth; it is just my body saying “I hurt, I’m sick, so I can’t think or see problems well enough to feel comforted or see that things will and always do change and get better, worse, better, come and go, like the tide.

Remember that I still tend to say, like a child, “I hate you/this/everybody,” but that’s not literally true either. I’m expressing by that, merely “I’m really upset about something so much that I can’t think of how to express that well in words. ” im a picture thinker, and under enough pressure or exhaustion or fear or pain, words fall away or fall apart. A little pain and fear can refine one’s focus, but when they are severe, they distort expression and perception. This is your absolute signal to STOP!!! Rest recoup restore regroup reconsider, then act!

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This falls under “wish I’d said that!”

Life in These United States

“The truth is, unless you let go, unless you forgive yourself, unless you forgive the situation, unless you realize that that situation is over, you cannot move forward.” ―Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free
 
All of us have this bad habit of looking over our shoulder…waiting for past mistakes to creep up on us…take us by surprise.  We are our own worst enemies, critical of everything we have done….even if we accomplish the greatest of feats there is still this nagging doubt that “I could’ve done better.”
 
“If people refuse to look at you in a new light and they can only see you for what you were, only see you for the mistakes you’ve made, if they don’t realize that you are not your mistakes, then they have to go.” ― Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free
 
And then…

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    Every Child Has Known God

Every child has known God,
Not the God of names,
Not the God of don’ts,
Not the God who ever does Anything weird,
But the God who knows only 4 words.
And keeps repeating them, saying:
“Come Dance with Me , come dance.”

—“The Gift: Poems by Hafiz the great Sufi Master” translated by
Daniel Ladinsky

This was how I knew God since always, and how my heart still feels God’s presence, calling my heavy heart away from its burden and calling, “come dance.” The rest that is attributed to God, the names, don’ts, weirdness, confiscation –should it be in conflict with that perfect connection and bond, must be prepared to wait at the door, until they’ve reconciled themselves with the only unconditional acceptance and love that I have ever experienced and Who has never once abandoned me, then or now. This is the nature of my creation and my lifelong bond with my creator, and I trust that God does not err, though humans invariably do.

I have never needed a church or temple or mosque or any institution or any state or political power deified spokesperson to teach me that. My heart knew that before I had language. It was all I knew, and it was enough….simple and authentic. I yearn to clear away the clutter in my mind, be still, so I can hear, feel that connection, and dance again……

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That’s What Love Is. Thoughts . . ..

I get this…do you? Love thoughts….inaction or contradictory or worse betrayal….how do you make sense out of that? I may come to analyze it and understand intellectually, to a point, but relate? I try to bridge the gap, but don’t want to be touched by someone who is not authentic and love thought expressed with only symbolic acts would creep me out and drive me away.

Like hit and run visitors who do not relate to you, just do these gestures. I don’t carry that with me. I do. Put in my hands a task to do and I show love. I feel loved similarly. A hug and run with no substantive act is more like assault, a grope, an invasion. Internal states must be matched to gestures to have meaning. I feel internal states, and hurts when they don’t line up. And make me anxious, wondering what it means, if I’ve done something, missed cues, unforeseen consequences, villagers with pitchforks and torches storming the castle, or not about me at all.

Exhausting to have to catch the symbolic expressions, interpret behaviors on the fly, so much detail to sort out, too little time and people lie!!!

Hence I find children and simple people less stressful and “developmentally disabled” much easier to understand and more comfortable. If not, then give me the woods, the country, a farm, where life makes sense.,

 

 

 

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