Archive | March, 2013

Broken Open

11 Mar

A couple of years ago, each step I took felt like a plunge from all that I had known, into the dark, irresponsible mist of the unknown.  The loving flow that was supporting me (unseen) gave me little shiny pebble clues to let me know I was walking my path–and these winks gave me enough steady strength to keep taking each, shaky step.

I had an awkward 10 minutes (as often happens during my main gig as chauffeur) as this huge transition was occurring, and I wandered into a library in a city I was leaving behind, had already left behind, and I allowed a book to fall open in my hands.  Here are the words gifted to me that day.  A few days later, my friend used a gift card gifted to her to gift me my own copy of this book.  (thank you, m:)


from Broken Open: How Difficult Times Can Help us Grow by Elizabeth Lesser

“…you can use anything–everything–as a wake-up call; you can find a treasure trove of information about yourself and the world in the big and the little annoyances of daily life.  If you turn around and face YOURSELF in times of loss and pain, you will be given the key to a more truthful–and therefore a more joyful–life.

Adversity is a natural part of being human.  It is the height of arrogance to prescribe a moral code or health regime or spiritual practice as an amulet to keep things from falling apart.  Things DO fall apart.  It is in their nature to do so.  When we try to protect ourselves from the inevitability of change, we are not listening to the soul.  We are listening to our fear of life and death, our lack of faith, our smaller ego’s will to prevail.  To listen to the soul is to stop fighting with life–to stop fighting when things fall apart; when they don’t go our way, when we get sick, when we are betrayed or mistreated or misunderstood.  To listen to the soul is to slow down, to feel deeply, to see ourselves clearly, to surrender to discomfort and uncertainty, and to wait.

It is in times of brokenness that the soul sings its most wise and eternal song.  I cannot hum you the tune or tell you the lyrics; each person’s soul has its own cadence.  You will recognize its music, though, by the way you feel when you are listening: awake, calm, you’ll sigh and say to yourself, “It’s okay.  Everything’s okay.”  You’ll unfold your arms and lean back, and say to the soul, “Just sing me your song.  Teach me your words.  Tell me what you know”  (270).

out of my hands

9 Mar


At many points along the journey, there seem to be no answers. (through the myopic lens)  The mind wants to ask the same question over and over.  The doer wants to create some action to fix something, move something forward, make something happen.  The sufferer wants to bang its head against a hard surface to physically represent the inner looping frustration of an impasse.

I have a quirk that has served to get things out of my hands and into the hands of something larger than myself.

I make lists.

I often list my worries, as they occur; the biggest unsolvables that are layered deep in my heart make it on to the lists in notebooks,  on receipts, napkins…anything I can find in moments of worry.  As this transfer occurs from inner to outer,  I find myself releasing the tight gripping fingers of control and the delusion of fixing.

I don’t remember when it first happened, but the day when I first found a forgotten list was BIG because:

Every damn thing on that list had been resolved – some magically and some methodically.   I had at once absolute validation of a force much larger than I – at work;  I had PROOF.  That isn’t always true; some people/items/dilemmas on my list remain for years unresolved, but at least they are symbolically out of my hands and on the lists.

Many times I struggle with the steering wheel, trying to be the one driving, feeling alone, feeling overwhelmed!   When I remember to make the list, I can still be helpful to the solution, I’m just not grasping.    ALL is out of my hands – always – in all ways.  Tangibly marking this to be true has been helpful to me along the way.

pine forest sway

6 Mar


I drive to the bus stop every morning at 7.  Now the sun is coming up earlier and earlier, blinding us all on harbor view road.  One has to stay alert to see the road, to not veer off into the marsh on either side,  to avoid driving into the sun itself.

I was sitting at a stop light after the girls had gone off to their day. Lost in my thoughts I was,  creating a conversation in my head with a person I have to meet with next week, when suddenly my eyes focused ahead of me to the small pine forest across the street.  Everything STOPS.  Those trees were swaying in a choreography so compelling and alive, I was ashamed for a micro moment, then grateful, then just a pair of eyes watching the dance.

Dropped was the conversation, the story.  Trees were dancing for me.

Every moment is this!  Every moment.

There is nothing in this running commentary in my head.  No preparation is needed for a conversation; in fact, having thoughts of our exchange in my head, ahead of time, kills the conversation when it comes, kills a moment to come before it gets here, stops a dialogue from being a jazz riff, a dance, an improv scene.  Life is improv, if i let it.

Shadow Dance

3 Mar

We don’t know who we are.

We don’t know what we can do.

We don’t know why we are here.

Watching us in this life…

this experiment?    this game of hide and seek?     this Sick joke, haha?     this paradise?

is a bit like watching babies with blowtorches and chainsaws.

Our attention is a powerful force.  We have no idea.

Our connection to source is combustable.  We have no idea.

Turn that laser  on something like jealousy, feed it full on human attention and watch a dangerous garden grow up (at stop action film speed) around you, flowers dripping with poison, fruits with the ability to down, vines with thorns to encage one’s heart  while baby shoots of hatred, self loathing, bitterness and stink are crowding out the birds of paradise and sturdy green plants of love and appreciation from getting some sun or food.  This whole journey to show us our power?  Perhaps lessons are more powerful outside the sort of simulators we can detect.


Turn that laser attention inside into an internal nuclear reactor, and we walk around like a sun.  We can grow a garden on our face.

glowing heart


Isn’t it all so remarkable?  Seeing those trapped in vines, and not being able to release them from their own creations?  Inside, these souls are imagining something has trapped them there, but they have the power of the sun to burn down the poison garden.  Then others in the circumstances of seeming despair, are alit from within, shining on all with equanimity.

But all this sounds rather polar, light and dark, good and bad.  It only sounds that way because I have trouble articulating the middle path.  The combustable heart does not come about by denying the dark forest, but by walking through the underbelly, bravely – by incorporating all, by eating that heart of darkness whole, by allowing the chin to drip a bit bloody, and incorporating the totality – dancing with the shadow until you spin yourself into the vortex of this:


We live years with no idea.

And an interesting aside to recognizing this immense power within is also recognizing who gains when we don’t know our own power.  Who is watching the destruction?  Who is watching the creation in any moment?  Who can syphon off this power from the baby creators for its own use?  Who likes us clueless?


Sounds all very science fictiony.  But at the end of the show, the predator is revealed to be of our creation as well,  a wolf to make the fairy tale exciting.

Watching the show…keeping all open…igniting the heart from within.

Following the Trail of Cognitive Dissonance

1 Mar

Forgive my anecdotes, please.  I teach composition.  I tell my student that telling stories helps others to connect to their writing, to feel what they are saying. But I always hesitate to tell a story because I bask in emptiness at times; I love stepping away from stories of me, and wonder if fishing out memories is only adding to the “Story of Self.”

Stories to tell/no stories to tell, a polarity and a paradox.

These paradoxes present themselves all day long if we are awake and seeing.  The world is full of nothing but paradox.  An empty vessel is a worthless person/an empty vessel is enlightened.  I know I know nothing.  We learn from history that we do not learn from History. 🙂  These paradoxes are the whispers of spirit, the pull to zoom out beyond the duality.  The field that Rumi talks about calls to us.

“Out beyond ideas of right doing and wrong doing there is a field. I’ll meet you there.”

― Rumi

The first call to look beyond is the discomfort we feel with Cognitive Dissonance, holding two contrary ideas at once that contradict.  This feeling of discomfort can at first make you want to take a comfort pill and go back to bed.  But if we are brave, Cognitive Dissonance invites growth beyond duality.

So here is a story of a bit of cognitive dissonance in my path a while ago.

I didn’t have access to computers or the internet right off because I was busy with my kids.  There was a marked time when all of the sudden, I was exposed to the myriad of information out there.

So right as this transition was occurring, I hastily printed out some information for my daughter whose teacher had requested she come in with some information about the Mayans.

She goes off to school and the page stayed opened on the computer and we all know how one peek leads to another to another, and suddenly I am down one of  my first rabbit holes.

I stumbled upon an Ian Lungold lecture about the Mayan Calander, 4 hours long.  I fell in.  It was rather academic for 3 hours plus, discussing the Mayan concept of time in contrast to the Gregorian Calendar and the Western measure of time.  I sat bolt upright when he suddenly began talking about aliens.   Aliens?  I sat her for 3 hours to listen to someone who was leading up to Aliens?   I was so disgusted with myself because this topic suddenly seemed so bizarre, outrageous, and unverifiable that I felt low and cheap for having wasted my time.  I had cognitive dissonance, and tried to shut it down by disregarding the entirety of the information.

But I could not dismiss how intelligent and lucid the 3 hours had been up until that point.  I couldn’t flush it all away.

Needless to say, I then spent years falling down many rabbit holes, learning to read, watch, and observe with a certain distance and an openness all at the same time – continuing with what seemed to interest and respectfully leaving what seemed out of line.

One of the voices that spoke to the process of this unfolding through so many avenues was Neil Kramer.

Here is an amazing presentation that offers up some of his teachings with visual and graphic representations so rich and illuminating, the  40 minutes gives one much in the exchange.

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