Friday, October 23, 2015

a most honored state...

"Doing the human (emotional/spiritual) work is the most honored state."
                                                                                                            an ancient friend

My grands are back in school. At five and seven a new world of learning and challenges begin for them. They move from one grade to the next until they supposedly "finish" their education. Yet, having lived a life or three, I discover, there is no "finish". Human experience can be dense and hard and yet wildly liberating. This earthy-school room is packed with soul-lessons which offer me constant invitations to become more than I was yesterday.

However, in order to move from one grade to the next I do need larger containers of understanding and compassion to rescue me from myself.  Where are my blind spots, my insecure places and my judgments? What battered world or sacred wound is their source? What inner-parts are hidden which must be identified and healed if I am to live authentically? New ways of seeing, feeling and doing allow the emotional clutches that feel prison-like today, open to be freedom's path tomorrow.

And, here, is my school room -- where living into and answering such questions are my "home work." As my ancient friend informed me when I was overwhelmed by my own density, " Human work is the most honored state."  Yet, isn't it rather ironic, these are the places one never wants to expose to the light. In fact, this denial, this hiding from ourselves keeps the gates to our healing, freedom and expansion locked shut.

Generally I "hang on" when the kids go back to school.  Lessons are in the air. And, one would think a person who is aging like rather "passable-wine" would have said good-bye to home-work. However, not so and September didn't let me down. I got my (confidence) "feathers ruffled", again. Several days ago, I went to a near-by community to play piano. I had great fun. After, I was informed I had played too loudly and missed some downbeats. And that is probably true. The person may have wanted to help but it had the potential of feeling like an old "put down".

Yet, surprisingly, I had no emotional reaction, no gut-punch and no hurt feelings. I was still in my music glow.  Feeling around for some reaction, I could fine none! Quite frankly, I felt around all the way home and still no reaction. I was elated. Past "homework" (struggling with the questions above) had paid off.  I was detached from the old, confidence-taking messages. Congratulations were due. I probably had done as well or as worst as any of the other "wanna-be" musicians.

An hour later, while taking a solitary walk and mulling over the event, an old voice from a damaged past crept in. "I am not good enough. I don't know enough. Maybe, I'd better not go back and play, again." A confidence wipe-out, hurt feelings and a dose of self-pity attacked. By the time I came back from the walk I, me alone, had wrecked my still, very tender-shoot of a budding, music "career".

During the night, a dream told me, a self-criticizing part of myself was deceiving me. On waking, I instantly knew, in allowing those old, eroding messages a space to re-run, I had actually, betrayed myself!

This morning, reclaiming the soul-work I had accomplished in dismantling those old voices, I am alive and free again. My head has dropped down into my heart's understanding. Tonight, I am off again to dance those eighty-eight keys with joyful purpose and a hard earned confidence.

We have a rendezvous -- our soul's lessons. Where are the "blind spots" and what betrays the inner voice? The hard work is asking the hard questions -- "our reply to the soul's urgent query: 'Do you value what I am showing to you? Shall I show you more.'"*

And indeed, my answer is, let the angels come in their disguise...

photo source:
*Susan Shaughnessy from the book, Walking on Alligators

Friday, October 2, 2015

the will-full wind...

a playful wind

"We stayed around the house all day on account of the 'wind'. Don Juan explained that we had disturbed the wind deliberately and that it was better not to fool around with it. A sudden gust of wind made don Juan get up in one incredible agile jump.
“Damn it,” he said. “The wind is looking for you.”
I can’t buy that, don Juan,” I said, laughing. “I really can’t.”
I was not being stubborn, I just found it impossible to endorse the idea that the wind had its own volition and was looking for me, or that it had actually spotted us and rushed to us on top of the hill. I said that the idea of a “willful wind” was a view of the world that was rather simplistic.
“What is the wind then?” he asked in a challenging tone.
I patiently explained to him that ... different pressures ... made the masses of air move vertically and horizontally. It took me a long while to explain all the details of basic meteorology.
“You mean that all there is to the wind is hot and cold air?” He asked in a tone of bafflement.
“I’m afraid so.” I said and silently enjoyed my triumph.
Don Juan seemed to be dumbfounded. But then he looked at me and began to laugh uproariously."
                                                                                           Journey to Ixtlan by Carlos Castaneda

A number of us stand huddled together in the still, cold, fall air, surrounding the casket. Our friend, a master schooner builder and winner of many  international schooner races, died suddenly a few days ago. He was a remarkable man and had won many honors in his eighty-plus years. In spite of his many accomplishments, he still lived in his old farm house by the sea and was always up at four milking his cows. His daughter now tells me no matter who has milked them in the past few days, from the barn comes a continuous, mournful dirge.

My husband,* who worked some week-ends on the schooners with him, has spent the last few days, since we heard of his passing, creating a three and half foot, sail-high schooner model. Other boat models line the grave site as well. A scripture is read, several people offer remembrances. The ocean can be heard in the distance. I look up at the tall cathedral pines amidst several white birches. The air is so still not a needle or a leaf flickers.

To my left a woman moves to the grave side. She reads about the intimate knowledge and  partnership this schooner captain has had with the wind. I am amazed at how she has captured the detail of this wonderful man. Her paper flutters. She continues pointing out how his relationship with the wind has helped him win many international racing cups for Nova Scotia.  A loud whooshing sound makes me jump.  Looking up, the trees tops are suddenly churning in all directions. The reader raises her voice. 

The ship models cannot resist. down goes one, then another.  In seconds, the only schooner model left upright is my husband’s -- probably because the sails are made of  chicken wire filled with flowers.  The gusts reach a crescendo. Now even the chicken wire gives way. All the models lay flat. My daughter, husband and I look at each other. Others are glancing around with disbelief on their faces, as well.  I catch my breath. The wind subsides.

At the reception and like Carlos, I know that “all there is to the wind is hot and cold air.”  However, people cautiously bring up what happened. His daughter brings it up again on the phone several days later. The wind's entrance was perfectly synchronized with the words being read. Not one boat model was left standing, even the one with lead in its keel. And, then the wind left as quickly as it came.

Dare I wonder, was this another honor bestowed on our friend or was this merely coincidence and a remarkable example of synchronicity? Or could it be, don Juan is still laughing?

* now, my lovely ex of some years...

Note: don Juan was a Yaqui shaman whom Carlos Castaneda (allegedly) apprenticed with in the art of shamanism in the 1960's