Sunday, August 20, 2017
This week I've been mulling over the kinds of stories we tell in our culture. I've noticed a trend, and I think it says a lot about us.
The classic tales of the past often see our hero (or heroine) begin in their home. They are then forced by circumstances to leave and travel out into the greater world. They encounter both allies and obstacles. At some point they find power either in an object, an ability, or a piece of knowledge. They then return home to set things right and settle back into their community. This is not all tales, but it is the template for many of them. The uniting factor is the return home.
Modern tales often concern people's struggle to get out and escape from their origins to make it big in the larger world. These tales don't focus on the return home or to community, only the exit strategy. The change here is of course the belief in the rugged individual, and exceptional qualities that our would be heroes possess. In the old stories the return revitalizes the community and lifts them up and the hero becomes enmeshed in the continuity of society.
As we look around our world the state of many of our communities are in disarray. No matter where we live there is always "that part of town" or county where you steer clear if you are smart. Every city has the place where the homeless gather, where the junkies hide out, where the working girls ply their trade, and the place where the gangs run the streets. It's no wonder that so many of our stories focus on making it out and making it big. I wonder though that in making that the focus of our stories if we haven't ensured that those dark places will continue to thrive and consume those of us not lucky enough to make it out. Some places are predatory, they feed on the hopes and dreams of people consuming them a bit day by day. It is natural to want to run from the lions, but not many will ever out run them.
In escaping we save ourselves, but lose our community. I wonder if the stories changed again back to themes of returning home to save it if our attitude would change. If the focus became less on our heroes and more on the relationships that drove them on and back to where they began would that change society? It is easy for me to write this, I've been blessed in my point of origin. Still I see the damage that occurs when the individual is taken out of community. That damage works both ways, the loss of emotional support to the individual, and the loss of skills, drive, and care taking to the community.
So why am I telling you this? Well there is so much pressure to be a personal success, to be an individual. There is quite a bit less on being a good community member. As I observe the events of the world I become more convinced that our tunnel vision concerning our lives as individuals is at the root of many problems. When our communities break down that affects our families, and when our families break down it affects each person. That effect is then recycled back into our community creating deeper fissures. Then the idea of being on your own becomes more than an idea, it becomes the shared reality. When people are on their own they are much easier to manage and control by larger societal forces. It is also easier to sell them on half truths, or to use scapegoats. If you don't have connections with the "other" it is easy to believe what you are told about them.
I don't have answers. I work with individuals or very small groups. I'm not a big social person. I tend to be wary of communities as I have been for most of my life a convenient scapegoat. I do however see the need for community, and the damage the lack of it creates. So I start small trying to build relationships a bit at a time. I try to create value where I am, because there is very little in this world that cannot be solved by people coming together. We may have to go out into the world and fight our dragons, but eventually we all long to come home. For you I wish that the road blesses you with good companions and that you find a way to bring what you have gained on your travels back to your point of origin to share. Communities outlive individuals, skills like stories can be passed down. So I hope your story brings you safely home.
Peace and Blessings,
Sunday, August 13, 2017
I hope you've had a blessed week. I'm still reintegrating into my life from the peak experiences on my travels. I'm doing my best to bring those insights into my daily existence and embody them. An old saying goes, "Enlightenment is not found on the mountaintop, but rather in the marketplace." Meaning, it is easy to be all grand and wise when you're all alone in your meditation hut, but society is where the test of your training will be.
Unlike many people on vacation I bought very little on my trip. The little figurine above was one of the exceptions. She was one of several in a gallery my friend Jodi and I walked into. For some reason when we're together we shop. We just find the coolest things when we go anywhere. The little statuette is titled 'Self Blessing'. I bought her as a reminder to be good to myself. Too often I am rushing about getting things done, using my talents to help others, while neglecting to channel my own energies in service to my needs. Taking time to renew my own resources has been viewed as selfish or indulgent. Time away from the rush and my normal environment has shown me that it is a necessity.
When I left on my trip I was in pain. I was exhausted. I was pretty much done with people. I had nothing left to give. This was entirely my fault. I let myself get pushed into that pattern. Now that I have returned I am pushing back. So even if it is just a minute I am taking the time to bless myself. I am putting myself first in prayers for that moment. I had forgotten there was a difference between being of service and being a servant. So now I am committed to giving myself a good turn when I can. If I don't treat myself well how can I expect anyone else to?
Why am I telling you this? Well, self care can be hard to come by in our society of productivity and the competing demands of multitasking. A quiet moment has been made into a luxury that we best not take because we've been told we're replaceable. I say fuck that. Yes we have obligations, and we should honor them. However, never confuse another person's comfort with their needs. We cannot live up to everyone's expectations, and shortchanging our health and sanity to try is foolish. So I suggest you begin blessing yourself each day, maybe more than once. Say no to what you have to in order to really take care of yourself. Will you always be able to do that, probably not, but I am quite sure you don't avail yourself of your personal veto power anywhere near often enough. In the meantime, bless yourself before you wreck yourself on the rack of societal expectations.
Peace and Blessings,
Sunday, August 6, 2017
The best laid plans and so on and so forth. All my plans used to share one trait, they never worked. As I reintegrate into my daily life I'm having to let go once more of how I thought things should run. Still I have come back to a more centered view of plans laid or unlaid.
For many years I made plans, and then life came through and destroyed them all. The one piece that I needed as a linchpin all of the sudden would evaporate so I'd go on to Plan B. Plan C and D were shortly to follow. I got through most of the alphabet when I decided to stop making plans. I drifted. There was much less disappointment, but I also didn't really get anywhere. I would say I almost became afraid to hope for anything that I wanted since all my plans to move towards it always fell apart. I mostly spent my time learning during the plan free era. In some respects it was a very useful time. If my plans had worked out I never would have learned all the skills I employ now, both in my day to day life and in my chosen professions.
Eventually you have to choose a direction or have it chosen for you. I've learned it is better to choose consciously whenever possible. At least that way you have a vote (even if Fate overrules you). So I tried making more flexible plans, and they were less abysmal failures. They weren't total successes, but some strides were made, they just seemed to be at a glacial pace. Two steps forward, and one step back is a dance I have become familiar with.
In the past year or two, my style has shifted yet again. Plans, even flexible ones, seem to be too structured for the chaotic happenstance in which the world operates. Now I don't make plans, I plant seeds. I have goals, I take an action here and there. Planting the intent wherever I find myself. Some of those seeds will never germinate, some won't germinate for a long time. Some shockingly planted years ago will all sprout up at once. Rather than trying to be a king over my life I have attempted instead to be a gardener. I tend the seeds of possibilities as they sprout. With this approach I can be more flexible and responsive to the world around me, partnering with opportunities when they appear rather than trying to find that one perfect set of circumstances to move forward. It is a strategy that involves a lot of letting go, and a lot of trust. I'm not saying it is a perfect strategy, but in the past few months I have seen amazing things happen with very small efforts. Rather than pouring enormous amounts of energy into bending the world, I am simply cultivating the bit of earth where I find myself.
So why am I telling you this? Well many of you are in the process of manifesting the life of your dreams. That's all well and good, but ask yourself if are you approaching it with a rigidity of mind. Are you waiting for the perfect variables to make your move? I'm all for picking your moment, but any time we find ourselves in will have both challenges and opportunities. Plans fail when they don't take into account the changing tides of life around us. What if instead of trying to control the world we planted the seeds of what we love where we are? What if we concentrated on tending the seeds that sprouted? What if we paid attention to which seeds sprouted and under what conditions, so that we became better cultivators of the gardens of our life? When we plant a seed we don't keep digging it back up to see if it is growing, we have to let go and trust that life will unfold. So I would ask that in the coming months you plant a few seeds and trust that some of them will germinate in their own time.
Peace and Blessings,