Tag Archives: cave dweller

Rose-Colored Glasses

 Pink morning

A pink haze hangs over my day today. I awoke in darkness, too early really to get up and begin my day but too achy to stay in bed. I puttered around the house in the dark, making coffee, reminding the dogs not to bark as they scooted out the back door for a quick run along the fence to smell for visitors who’d come in the night. While I was in Scotland in July, an opossum found its way under the fence and was corned by a frightened and shaky Bella, a mid-sized black lab who was unprepared for a snarling, equally frightened wild animal. Both escaped unscathed, but Bella sniffs tentatively each morning, excited I think but still a little afraid of what she might find in her own backyard.

It’s been a week since my return from California. The red-eye flew me into Atlanta, arriving just at the break of dawn. After three and half hours on a small, cramped plane, I was tired and bleary-eyed, ready to get home, ready to sleep, already missing my family in California. There was a pink cast over Hartsfield Airport as I recall, a morning much like this one, early light in pinks and oranges hovering and then dissipating in a clear blue sky.

I feel bewitched by the pink haze that caught my attention earlier, as I shooed the dogs back into the house; I am besotted with the brilliant colors that, lasting only mere moments, seemed to permeate my house and my soul. I feel as though I’m wearing rose-colored glasses as I contemplate a new project, a new story and speculate on the potential and possibility of change.

There is joy in viewing the world through a prism of color, through rose-colored glasses that both soften and illuminate the moment. That moment is gone now.

The sun is shining, the sky is a deep blue and the world is as it should be on a warm October day in Florida. Contemplation continues.

Pink morning 02

Letting Go of the Outcome

Into the Vortex by Issi Noho

Into the Vortex by Issi Noho

One of the hardest lessons I’ve learned as a human being, regardless of how I identify myself at any given moment–mother, wife, employee, or writer–is learning to let go of outcomes. Any outcome. For me, my passion is always invested in whatever task I tackle, sometimes greatly and in large, blinding quantities and sometimes in a perfunctory way that may seem to carry just a smidge of caring light, a limn around the edges. I put my heart and soul in my work, my blood, sweat, and tears and pray that it is good enough, right enough, or just enough.

And then there’s that little voice in my head that says, “Finish what you start!” which means to me that I must follow through to the bitter end whatever task I begin and the finish has always been tied intimately with the outcome. How did the project turn out? Am I happy with the outcome? Does it fit the model of expectation? More importantly, does the outcome reflect well on me and my efforts and does everybody else like it?

Aha! There it is! My feelings about the outcome are tied directly to everybody else, to their ideas and thoughts and needs and expectations. We learn early on that every action makes an impact, every action must have a consequence, and so we do our thing, whatever our thing is, and wait for the response, for the vibrational impact, for the consequences, good or bad, relating to our action. We wait for the outcome in order to gauge where and how and when to take the next step. We are flummoxed if the response, in any form, never comes.

Writing is one of those endeavors that begs to be tied to an outcome. I am a writer, therefore, I write. The natural outcome should be that people read what I write and then make an informed decision based on a million tiny personal factors as to whether or not they like what I’ve written. This is how our society works. Create, display, sell, and repeat. The outcome comes at the end of the process when we are judged and deemed worthy or lacking by ourselves and others (mostly others) and despite our passion and joy, decide whether or not sales dictate a repeat of the process. Success is judged by the outcome of the effort, not by the joy, experience, education, and passion derived from the process itself.

I used to believe the fairy tale. I used to think that unless I got a book deal the first time around, I was a failure; unless I mimicked the efforts and the process of others that I was doing it wrong. And then one day I woke up and realized that it is the process of writing, of allowing those voices and images in my head to take control and tell their story that is my way of living–without tying myself forever and ever to some superficial gauge of success, to an outcome. I can do what I love to do and let go of the fantasy and expectation of what is supposed to happen next. Like a child, a story is born, shaped by life experience to the best of my ability, and then released into the world to make its own way.

My son at sixteen understood letting go of the outcome. When I expressed disappointment at the choices he was making for his life, he reminded me that it would be impossible for him to live up to the dream of him that I carried in my head. He could never live up to my expectations but he could live up to his own and his own were pretty daunting.

For me, letting go of the outcome means living in the moment–every moment. My life in this moment is full and rich and exciting and calm, peaceful and good and blessed. To continue along this path, I have only to embrace the next moment and the next in its turn, and forget about the outcome because there’s never an end. Moment by moment our lives unfold and we are simply riding the current to our next passionate surprise.

I also believe in Karma. But that’s a discussion for another day.

Beneath the Mask

My soon-to-be-daughter-in-law Amy is a very smart woman. She and my son have embarked on a new journey, a new life out in California and I am constantly thrilled and surprised by the changes and revelations they are experiencing. Whether it’s the climate, the people, the culture, or the vortex that vibrates along the fault lines beneath the earth, the potential for enlightenment seems to shimmer like a mist of potential on the west coast. I’ve felt it; I’ve dreamed about it. And I envy them the transformative essence in which they have immersed themselves.

Transformation is a sneaky little bugger, accumulating layer by layer until a new idea saturates and dissolves an old idea. It also springs forth in one epiphanic moment, changing the way you think and feel about life. Amy had one such moment yesterday:

“People think they know someone. . . everyone isn’t privy to a person’s heart and does not know exactly who someone is and does not honestly know that the person they think is so honest and moral and true would cut their throat or stab them in the back and it does not matter how long you actually do [know them], they may not be who you think, that smile could be fake and they could be dark on the inside.”

A thought provoking idea to say the least. Then, the following quote was shared on my timeline by another friend this morning:

 “The heart of a human being is no different from the soul of heaven and earth. In your practice always keep in your thoughts the interaction of heaven and earth, water and fire, yin and yang.” Morihei Ueshiba

So, the idea of dark and light and duality seems to be theme of the day which is appropriate and timely for me.  I’ve been reading The Four Agreements Companion Book. I don’t know which rock I was under when The Four Agreements originally came out, but I missed its debut.  (I just checked the publication date–July 1997–so that particular rock was located in Santa Fe and is better known as the Eastern Classics master’s program at St. John’s College.) It’s only been in the past couple of weeks that the book revealed itself to me. (And I do mean revealed. I believe that messages come to you when you’re ready and obviously, I must be ready.) I saw the author, Don Miguel Ruiz being interviewed on TV over the weekend and became intrigued. And then I found his next book, The Four Agreements Companion Book published in 2000, quietly waiting for me as I browsed the shelves at Goodwill a couple of days ago.

Part 1, Chapter 1:

Human suffering begins with domestication.

During the process of domestication, we form an image of perfection in order to try to be good enough. We create an image of how we should be in order to be accepted by everybody, but we don’t fit that image.

(He had me at hello.)

We create an image of ourselves in our own minds and then we fashion from the raw clay that is our being a mask that represents that image. We look and act and feel to meet the needs of our own expectations of perfection. We hide who we are. We get comfortable with the mask and learn to manipulate it according to circumstance, situation, and comfort level. But our masks are not who we are or what we are or even what we would truly like to be. Our masks are our perfect or imperfect representations of what and who we think we should be.

Amy’s timely revelation becomes a profoundly intuitive truism as we go along our merry way trying to understand ourselves and others. Even with the underlying idea that we are one, we are not able to discern the heart of the individual, hiding behind a mask of civility and perfection that has been fashioned to cultural and societal standards. I would like to see the world work together not to get to the heart of the individual but to create a safe space where masks aren’t necessary, where everyone is free to be who and what we are in all of our glorious spiritual humanity.

Amy responded to a comment I made regarding the light and dark in each of us. She referred to the unknowable in all of us: “. . . they put on a false face to everyone and sometimes even to themselves.”

See? I told you Amy is a very smart woman!

My Wish for You Today!

Let Peace Begin with Me

“We Have to Project a Positive Future”

Yesterday, I felt inundated by questions and dark thoughts about why the world is the way it is. My stock answer, the one I tell myself over and over is, “It is what it is,” whatever it is. This is a dichotomy of thought on my part as I also tell myself that it is possible to change my own situation, circumstances, feelings and thoughts just by thinking positively, by not letting the shadows of what might be overtake the light of what is. I can make the shift from negative to positive. I can bring positive love and light into my life by being love and light, by sharing the good and putting less focus on the not-so-good.

I also believe that when we have questions, even those internal little niggling thoughts, answers present themselves. It’s up to us to look and listen, to be still. If we ask (even silently), we shall receive.

So, with the thoughts of yesterday still whirling around in my mind, questions about how we can possibly make the world a better, safer, lighter, more loving place bouncing and pinging, I found this video on my Facebook news feed. It’s from a site called The Master Shift.

John Lennon was not my favorite Beetle. In fact, he lost me when he slipped into what I called his “Give Peace a Chance” phase. I was young and silly and had no idea what that was all about. I’ve changed since then. I’ve grown a little in my thinking and I realize that Lennon, like so many others who were able to hone in on something real and tangible while the rest of us were in denial, while presenting an image of a hippy-dippy lifestyle that was suspect in my eyes, was looking and listening and finding answers that make sense for all of us.

This video is long by today’s standards of seven second bytes but it’s worth a look and a listen. You may have heard it all before; it may not bring instantaneous meaning to you or answer your questions, but it was there for me this morning to shine a little light on my own questions and I want to share it with you.

Lennon 02Click here to view the video on YouTube.

Just for Fun!

You make a difference

 

 

 

Speechless

LaManchaColorweb

This morning, while floundering for something to write about, swallowing my desire to rant about the negativity that seems to be spreading like an unchecked virus around me, a song came to mind: The Impossible Dream. I have fond memories of Man of LaMancha. My brother went to see the musical in high school and came home inspired. He gathered our friends, handed out roles, taught us the words, and we re-enacted various scenes from the play. That memory of my brother standing in our backyard belting out this song is still my go-to when it feels like negativity is winning.

As to the negativity? When this is the best advice a woman can offer young girls in finding their place in the world, I am profoundly saddened: “The world we live in is a twisted and broken place.” I have no words to describe how wrong this feels to me.

So, I offer you this little bit of nostalgia and hope. You can find it on YouTube but it won’t compare to the wonderful memory I have in my head.

The Impossible Dream

Music by Mitch Leigh and Lyrics by Joe Darion

To dream the impossible dream
To fight the unbeatable foe
To bear with unbearable sorrow
To run where the brave dare not go
To right the unrightable wrong
To love pure and chaste from afar
To try when your arms are too weary
To reach the unreachable star

This is my quest, to follow that star
No matter how hopeless, no matter how far
To fight for the right, without question or pause
To be willing to march into Hell, for a Heavenly cause

And I know if I’ll only be true, to this glorious quest
That my heart will lie will lie peaceful and calm,
when I’m laid to my rest.
And the world will be better for this
That one man, scorned and covered with scars,
Still strove, with his last ounce of courage,
To reach the unreachable star.

One last thought for today:

Stars

The Thing Under the Shed

The Girls 02

My dogs have been going crazy the past couple of days. They woke me up at five o’clock yesterday morning, whining and whimpering, anxious and scared. As I opened the back door, I heard thunder far off in the distance, rolling in waves. I laughed as the rain started to come down giving everything, including my dogs, a much-needed and long-awaited soak. 

My girls are trained for hurricane/tornado weather. When the skies turn dark and the wind begins to howl, my dogs head to the guest bathroom–the only room in the house without windows–with or without me. It’s not unusual for me to look up from my computer (usually when the power has flickered or gone out completely) to find I am alone in my office, the dogs having made their way to the bathroom to settle in until the storm passes. By the time I join them, Elektra has usually pulled the mat off the rim of the tub and made a nice little bed for herself and her sister. Bella sits like Snoopy on his doghouse, head hanging, looking sheepish and afraid. I usually light a candle and sit down on the toilet lid to wait out the thunder. It’s not often that I’m afraid, but there is comfort even for me in the sharing of solace and companionship.

Today, the alarm whimpers began again around five o’clock. I haven’t slept well since breaking my foot on Sunday so I listened to the quiet around me and hushed the dogs. By six, there was no sense in trying to sleep. Bella had rattled the blinds on the back door sufficiently to incite a riot in the little ones. I hobbled to the kitchen and began my day, letting the dogs out while I scanned the backyard with a flashlight, looking for nocturnal visitors: armadillos, opossums, or the neighbors’ cats. The girls sniffed every inch of the patio and then made a beeline for the shed.

There is no barking in the morning regardless of what the dogs find lurking in our yard. My girls know the rule: barking = no treat. They quietly nosed around and under the edge of the shed, dancing excitedly. My mind always runs shrieking to the worst possible scenario: python, rattlesnake, or alligator. (It could happen!) My flashlight revealed nothing. I headed back to the house and the girls followed, the little ones jumping through the dewy grass like black-and-tan dolphins. I dried their bellies and feet, gave Bella a quick pat-down with the towel, and filled their food bowls. All three dogs stood nose-to-glass at the back door, watching the shed, ignoring breakfast, ignoring me.

The little ones are napping now, stretched out on their pillows at my feet. Only Bella stands guard at the back door, waiting for the thing under the shed to show its face. I know that at some point today, I’ll have to cram my sore foot into a hiking boot, arm myself with a long stick, and poke around under the shed. There are better and worse things to do on a gray day. Coffee first, though, and maybe a pill for the pain. Then I’ll gird my loins for battle and hope for the best. I wonder how fast a black racer can slither? Wait, don’t tell me! I don’t wanna know!

I hope you have a happy, sunny day today wherever you are!

Merrily Down the Garden Path

Withered Rose 02

Is it just me or is the bloom off the rose of social media? Maybe I’m preaching to the choir here, but it seems to me that as the focus of Facebook and Twitter has changed from, “Look at me and all of the interesting things I’m doing!” to “Buy this!” the social aspect of connecting with friends and family has slowly been leached out of the media.

I’ve never been a big fan of Facebook. I just don’t have enough friends online or off to require a repository to keep up with them. And besides my writing, I don’t have enough interesting happenings going on in my life to require instant status updates. I have to admit, it is much easier to share photos and quick messages with family and my few far-flung friends, but if the news is big enough, we still call each other or text or send an email.

As for Twitter, for me the platform has devolved into 140 character commercials. When I first joined a little over a year ago, the art of the mini conversation–enticing people to connect with you through short bursts of witty banter–was becoming a valid art form. I liked the give and take, matching wits and quotes with like-minded people. The fun of Twitter, however, quickly faded as my posts and follows were greeted with stock replies of, “Thanks for following. Now, please check out my website/blog/author page and buy my book!” I can honestly say that throughout my Twitter adventure, not one long and involved conversation ended without a plea for a book purchase. In some cases, I bought the books; in other cases, I felt manipulated.

Now I know it’s all about the numbers. We’ve been convinced that the more likes and followers we have, the more successful we will be as authors or salespeople or entrepreneurs. (Maybe that’s really one job description: it seems impossible nowadays to be a writer without also being head of sales as well as the leader of our own one-(wo)man band/corporation/organization.) Long gone are the days of hole-ing up to write “The Great American Novel.” Now you have to be “out there” building a presence, developing a fandom with followers. And then you have to write four or five or six more books just like that while you hawk your work on Facebook and Twitter and every new platform that comes along. Forget about writing good books or building relationships or maintaining the ones you have. It’s all about the advertising. Sell, sell, sell! is the new mantra of the upwardly social.

As for me, I’m stepping off the garden path and letting the crowd pass me by. Social interaction makes me uncomfortable hence my comfort in being a cave dweller. As for the internet and life in the social matrix? There has to be a better way.

So, today I’ll leave you with this:

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may, Old Time is still a-flying: And this same flower that smiles today, To-morrow will be dying. Robert Herrick (1591 – 1674)

(I wonder how many will remember this from lit class and how many will think of HBO’s Newsroom?)