The Lives of the Dead

Some of the most interesting people I meet are dead…

Archive for the month “July, 2017”

A Collection of Moments

First published November 21, 2015

Dungeness River, Sequim, WA - Magdalena Bassett

Jek

I can remember the screeching of the sea birds as they descended on the harbor to feed on the offal of the fishermen’s catch. At the time, I thought of them as a nuisance. But I remember them now with affection. They were so purely alive, exploding in a storm of biological imperative.

There are a lot of things I remember now that I didn’t take the time to notice then: The way the air on the skin changes from season to season – a floral caress in the spring; in winter. A slap on the cheek from an angry lover. The way a certain scent, not smelled since childhood, catapults you back to the nursery.  The quiet breathing of a lover, in the place beside, and the warmth left behind when they are gone.

Plodding along, one foot in front of the other, I never took my eyes from my path; I never noticed the small miracles lining the way.

Only later, perhaps too late, does it become clear: there is no prize or grand finale. What you have in the end is only the joy you’ve collected along the way.

______

If you are enjoying this blog,  please click the link above to subscribe and receive posts via email (new posts every three days).  When you think of others who might enjoy it too,  it’s easy enough to help spread the word! Post your favorite stories to social media.   Email a particularly apt link to a friend.   Even better,  talk about the concepts with others (whether you agree or disagree. )
Also,  I have started a discussion group on Facebook,  for conversations about any of the concepts/issues in the posts.  Honestly, these are things in here which I don’t fully understand myself.  I would love  get your thoughts on this…even if you think this is all a bunch of hooey.
 

 

Photo by my pal, the very talented Magdalena Bassett. Image: The Dungeness River on a rainy day in Sequim, WA
Advertisements

Via Dolorosa

NEW!

Faj

I was grateful for every moment,  every hour, without pain.  An accident in my 20’s left me in near constant agony.  My damage was not obvious to the outside world,  so people often thought me weak,  a malingerer,  unmotivated.  None of them could understand how such a condition rules and ruins a life.

I was only able to sleep a few hours at a time, before the throbbing and aching and burning awakened me.  I tried to calm myself as best I could, so I might sleep again.  Sometimes, I was too exhausted even to eat.  I could not work and was forced to depend on others to survive.  Although I did not particularly enjoy alcohol,  I often drank,  simply to calm my jagged nerve endings.  All of this wore on the health of my body and my mind.

My tolerance for physical suffering increased over the years, but the pain always managed to outpace it. Such torment was my constant companion.  I could see no permanent escape from this except death.

Those who lived in physical comfort and ease could not understand.

An old woman lived nearby.  She had suffered with a painful affliction for many years, and then, miraculously,  her pain ceased.  She understood. Often, she would feed me,  care for me out of compassion.  We prayed together that I would someday experience the same kind of miracle.  It never came.

Pain feels different to everyone, but for each, it is real. Pain is there to make us grateful for ease, over an hour or over many lifetimes.

 

______

If you are enjoying this blog,  please click the link above to subscribe and receive posts via email (new posts every three days).  When you think of others who might enjoy it too,  it’s easy enough to help spread the word! Post your favorite stories to social media.   Email a particularly apt link to a friend.   Even better,  talk about the concepts with others (whether you agree or disagree. )
Also,  I have started a discussion group on Facebook,  for conversations about any of the concepts/issues in the posts.  Honestly, these are things in here which I don’t fully understand myself.  I would love  get your thoughts on this…even if you think this is all a bunch of hooey.

The Wisdom of the Shepherd

Ib

While I was channeling The Liar, (the previous post), a different fellow came into my head as clear and powerful a picture. (Most often, stories come to me in words or as feelings).

He is an adult man, a poor shepherd in ragged clothes, tending his flock. He sits on a rock, with his rifle close at hand. The terrain is bleak and mountainous. I know we are in the foothills of the Hindu Kush… Afghanistan or Pakistan perhaps.]

“I grew up with it,” he said, showing me his gun. “It was an extension of myself. It never left my side.  I learned to shoot as a child and so I was an excellent marksman. When I was out with my herd, I was always scanning the horizon and the skies for predators – wolves, jackals. Even a hawk could take away a small lamb.”

“I also watched the narrow paths leading into our valley, keeping my rifle trained on anyone I didn’t recognize until it was known whether they were friend or enemy. In this way, I, like everyone else, helped guard the safety of our village.”

All well and good, I thought “aloud” to him, but this is not really a story. It’s just an image, and I might just be remembering that image from a photograph.   I need more.

He then “showed” me his small house – a typical low mud and brick hut. He told me he had four children, two boys and two girls. The girls were married and living with their husbands’ families.

Sorry, but this is still not particularly interesting. Yet he was coming to me so strongly,  I felt he must have more to say.

Don’t you have a story, I asked. A lesson?

And then he started to wax philosophical…

===

Living in such a small, isolated village, it is impossible to comprehend the life of a person who works in an office in a big city in another country. And the person who lives and works in a big modern city cannot fully imagine the life of a person who lives in a small village.

It is difficult enough to understand the feelings and the suffering and the pain and even the joy of your own neighbor. Sometimes, not even your own family member. Each human being is at the center of his or her own reality. The reality of others is completely abstract. You might as well be on completely different planets.

When the feelings and hopes and dreams and pain of others are abstract, and when their needs and desires conflict with your own, it becomes easy to vilify and hate.

To push aside your own limitations in order to see beyond the limitations of others is the path to compassion. But this takes a tremendous amount of work and energy, more than most humans are willing or able to expend.

It takes far less energy to hate.

Humans like to believe they are compassionate but they make so many exceptions, that they are not compassionate at all.   There are always others — a group or a class or an ethnicity or a nation — for whom they make exceptions.   “Yes,” they say, “compassion is good BUT those people….” are this way or do that.  They are somehow unworthy of compassion.

And how many humans can feel compassion for their enemy, especially if they are trying to kill them? But without compassion enemies are always plentiful.

People claim to want peace in the world as if it is the responsibility of nations or governments. But peace begins with compassion within ourselves. Each time we vilify others, even a neighbor or an old friend or a family member – even if we feel justified because they have done us grievous harm — we move the world one step further from peace.

====

Addendum:  Well, I have to admit, by these standards,  I’m not very compassionate at all!  Guess I have something to work on!

______

If you are enjoying this blog,  please click the link above to subscribe and receive posts via email (new posts every three days).  When you think of others who might enjoy it too,  it’s easy enough to help spread the word! Post your favorite stories to social media.   Email a particularly apt link to a friend.   Even better,  talk about the concepts with others (whether you agree or disagree. )
Also,  I have started a discussion group on Facebook,  for conversations about any of the concepts/issues in the posts.  Honestly, these are things in here which I don’t fully understand myself.  I would love  get your thoughts on this…even if you think this is all a bunch of hooey.

 

The Liar

originally published September 24, 2014

Pinocchio by Caralo Collodi

 

Laq

I started lying almost as soon as I was able to talk. My first true memory of this was as a child, maybe 3 or 4. I was alone, happily entertaining myself. My mother called to me to ask what I was doing. I was playing with some toys, perfectly innocent and acceptable behavior. But something compelled me to tell her I was coloring and drawing.

It wasn’t much of a lie. My mother didn’t care what I was doing, as long as I wasn’t getting into trouble or making a mess. But for me, it was the point when everything changed; the moment when I asserted my independence; took a stand of defiance.

My play time was my domain. What was it her business how I spent it? (As long as I wasn’t getting into trouble or making a mess, of course.) I felt the first frisson of rebellion; of claiming something which was mine and mine alone. I liked how it felt. And so I continued.

At that age, my lies were small and meaningless. I didn’t do bad things, such as steal then blame it others or deny my own complicity. I simply lied as a way of keeping a private space around myself; keeping out the prying, controlling eyes of my mother.

Sometimes, I’d set things up just so I could tell a fib. For example, I’d put a toy in my pocket and take it outside, but tell her I was going out to play with something else. There was no real point to this. It wouldn’t have mattered to her one way or the other, but it was secretly thrilling to me to have this way of keeping a part of me out of her reach; to have her not know everything about me; to carve out a tiny corner of privacy for myself in my childhood life where I had so little control.

This continued and soon became a habit. When I got to school, I lied to my teachers and others in authority.   They were the same kind of small white lies that meant nothing in the larger scheme of things, but it was already an addiction. It was my identity. To me, the lying created a bubble around me which nobody could permeate.   It was a way of protecting myself from others, most especially those in authority.

When I finished university, I worked at some really bad, low-paying, worthless jobs for a couple of years. I was lazy and didn’t care much about anything. I partied a lot with friends and was often hung over at work. I got fired often. (And I lied to my bosses all the time!)

Eventually, I realized I had to grow up and put my life in order. I put together a resume and began searching for an adult job.

I knew it would go against me to list all those pathetic jobs I’d had; to say honestly what I’d been doing for the past few years. There wasn’t a single employer who would have given me a decent reference. And I couldn’t very well leave that period blank on my resume.   Instead, I created a fiction that I’d been traveling though India and Asia; teaching in small villages here and there. There were not enough details for anyone to check up on me. Besides, it had nothing to do with the job I was applying for. Not as if they were going to attempt to locate some fictional grade school in India.

I’d read enough to be able to invent a few convincing stories should anyone inquire. This made me appear interesting and exotic instead of the lazy screw-up that I’d been.

It worked. I got a good job.

I didn’t speak about my “travels”.  It wasn’t as if I’d been trying to impress my potential co-workers with my tales of adventure. Still, word got around, and from time to time I was called upon to answer a question or settle a bet. If I didn’t know the answer, I just made something up. Nobody seemed to notice or care. Back then, there weren’t too many ways of checking up on these things.

When I started dating, there were more lies…where I’d been last night, who I was with. Mostly the lies were about how I felt and what I wanted.

I mostly lied in response to direct questions, as a means of deflecting curiosity.

I didn’t make up stories for the purposes of self-aggrandizement, but rather as a way of keeping others off balance; to prevent them from knowing me too deeply; to keep them from stealing my soul.

I pretended to like the same music and books and films as others, not because I didn’t have opinions of my own, but rather because I preferred to keep those opinions private. It was more expedient to simply agree and go along than to tell the truth and risk revealing too much.

I let them see me as they wished to see me. I let them project their own thoughts, desires, and expectations on me and didn’t correct them. I was happy to remain safe from their prying eyes. I was content to live inside my own head, with my own thoughts, in a domain that nobody could enter.

I was such a facile liar, I had no tells – no give-away twitch or inappropriate smile. Perhaps that was because, for the most part, my lies were not particularly egregious. At least, that’s how they felt to me at the time. Nobody seemed to really care what I thought, anyway.

Ultimately, of course, my lies isolated me. There was not a single person with whom I was completely honest. Nobody ever knew me as I really was. What began as defiance ended up a lifelong habit that made intimacy impossible.

 

===

Addendum: This entity (male energy, I think) told me this story over the course of two days. As happens with some of these, I get images and emotions in drips and drabs during my everyday life. I can “feel” the story coming, wanting to get out, but it’s only when I sit down in a meditative state that they really come through in all their detail.     Tonight I was meditating and he came to me again, but this time telling me his stories in greater detail.   I could literally feel him as a small child in his room.

 In the middle of this meditation and channeling, however, I became distracted by other images which were also calling me strongly (more on this later). And when I came back to The Liar, he scolded me! “Pay attention,” he said. “I’m trying to tell you my story!”

 Each time my attention drifted to this other powerful image, he would reprimand me and call me back.

 The meditation was very deep tonight. I was in a relaxed and open state. As The Liar was narrating to me, I saw another figure – the outline of a human form comprised of white light. It was standing at the end of a long corridor. Behind it, a doorway – also filled with white light. I didn’t want to go there yet. I was trying to focus on The Liar’s story since he was being so insistent.

 The light figure said, “OK, come whenever you are ready. We will be here.”

 So, I went back to The Liar. And while he was talking, another unrelated spirit came into my head, with his own story. (which I will tell in the next post) The two of them battled for my attention, until I finally heard them both out to the end.

And then I was ready to go toward that room filled with light. I felt my body elongating; my arms and legs stretching off into infinity.

When I crossed the threshold, I saw it was filled with thousands (millions?) of other white light entities.   I thought, “Wow! So many stories here! Each one, with something different to tell!”   I felt like the Barbara Walters of the afterlife, interviewing and writing about between-life spirits!  

I felt very welcome there. Again I was told, come back any time.   I felt a lot of souls wanting to reveal their lessons.

I was not sleeping. I was not tripping. I was not hallucinating. Granted, I might have been “merely imagining” but then, who knows how “communicating with the other side” really works?  Or if it’s even real.

I am not making any claims.  I am merely reporting my experiences, and how the process feels to me. Make of it what you will.

______

If you are enjoying this blog,  please click the link above to subscribe and receive posts via email (new posts every three days).  When you think of others who might enjoy it too,  it’s easy enough to help spread the word! Post your favorite stories to social media.   Email a particularly apt link to a friend.   Even better,  talk about the concepts with others (whether you agree or disagree. )
Also,  I have started a discussion group on Facebook,  for conversations about any of the concepts/issues in the posts.  Honestly, these are things in here which I don’t fully understand myself.  I would love  get your thoughts on this…even if you think this is all a bunch of hooey!

 

 

A Bottle In Front of Me

originally published September 21, 2014

Pel

I had my first drink when I was around ten. My parents were having a party and I sneaked out of my room and watched them through the banister on the upstairs landing. The adults all seemed so much more sophisticated than they did during the day.  The women, in their little black dresses and high-heeled shoes. The bursts of laughter from various corners as people told jokes or funny stories or made a clever remark. I watched a neighbor slip a kiss to a man who wasn’t her husband. There was music playing, and the sound of ice clinking in glasses. People danced and snuggled on the couch. They were happy. I couldn’t wait to grow up and be part of that sophisticated world.

It was late when the last guest left. My parents ignored the mess and went up to bed, leaving the cleanup for morning. Once they were in their room, I tiptoed downstairs. I could still smell the mingle of perfume, cigarette smoke and human pheromones.

I picked up a glass that had an inch or so of some kind of liquor – I’m not sure what it was. I sat on a high stool near the small bar in the corner of the living room and in my pajamas,  imagined having a conversation with several sophisticated people at once. I imagined them all laughing at something witty I’d just said. I picked up the glass and had a sip.

The taste was awful but at the same time, it was as if a key had slipped into a lock and opened something inside my head. A rush of chemistry surged through my blood. I felt complete in a way I’d never felt before. It was as if I’d been missing this but only now just knew it.

This was a secret the adults were trying to keep from us kids! It was a rite of passage, an invitation into adulthood, to finally be legally old enough to drink sometime in my late teens.

I wasn’t going to wait nearly a decade to be able to feel that way again. I didn’t want to live without it.

From that point on, to drink was both an act of pleasure and of defiance. I wanted it and I was not going to let any  rules get in the way of my having it.  I wondered what other secrets the grownups were keeping from me.

It was around then that I stopped trusting what others told me about “good” and “bad.” Who decided which was which? Why did I have to go along with the rest of the world, anyway?

I started the way many alcoholics do:  I raided my parents’ liquor cabinet. I started at the back, with the weirder stuff that they rarely touched. By the time they got around to it,   they would never remember how much had been left in the bottle. So it was crème de menthe, peach schnapps. Pretty awful stuff, especially straight up.

From there, I moved up to the gin and vodka which I replaced by volume with water. If they noticed, I never found out. I was careful not to replace too much.

I did the same with my friends’ parents’ liquor cabinets. Some of them had bottles I’d never seen before in my parents’ bar. Foreign, unpronounceable names. Years and numbers, as if they were something special. They seemed exotic.

I had a French teacher when I was 15.  By the end of the first week, I knew she was an alcoholic.   I recognized the signs.   I’d see her around in the morning and she’d seem normal, but by the time I sat in her class in the afternoon,  she was already a bit drunk.  She’d slur her words;  lose track of her thoughts;  bob and weave a bit when she walked.   This meant she kept a bottle close at hand.

I watched her classroom, and when it was empty, I crept in in and searched her desk.  There it was,  in the lower left hand drawer — a small bottle of vodka.

I took it. I had no fear of being caught.  I knew she would never, could never, report it stolen.  Anyway, she was an adult. At worst, for her a missing bottle was an inconvenience and the loss of a some pocket money.  I told myself I was doing a service to my fellow students — she’d be sober for at least one afternoon class.

I knew she’d replace it; I knew she couldn’t be without.   Several days later, I stole it again.   It took her a week or so to realize someone was taking her desk bottle; that she hadn’t just misplaced it or finished it and forgotten to buy more.  When I went to look for it the next time, it wasn’t there.  I figured she’d hidden it somewhere else.  She needed a few shots to get through the afternoon, and she needed easy access to it.  It took me a couple of days to locate the new hiding place, and that was only because I didn’t have much time to search.

It became a game.  She would find a new spot, and I would look until I found it. (It rarely took me more than a week.)  I drank and entertained myself for the entire school year playing cat and mouse with that one teacher.

As I got older, I  became more creative about finding ways to drink.   I also started to know more people who were above legal drinking age. I was able to exchange favors – sexual and otherwise – for a bottle or two.

Beer would do in a pinch, but I’d developed a preference for vodka which had the benefit of not really smelling on the breath. I realized this was why my French teacher preferred it.

By the time I was of drinking age myself, I’d learned quite a few tricks about how to drink for free. Mainly, it helped to be funny and charming, to know a lot of good stories and jokes. That’s how one got invited to all the parties.  And when you’re the entertaining sort, people always want to ply you with liquor.

I was The Drunk at every party. Sometimes, I was the only drunk guest. But I never got sappy or obnoxious. Even in my alcoholic haze, I never lost control. I was still able to be funny. Sure, I slurred my words and occasionally knocked things over, but I never vomited on anyone’s rug (or in anyone’s bathroom, either, for that matter.) I never said or did anything that was hurtful. I would often get very affectionate. Liquor made me happy; it made me love the world and myself and all of mankind. Sometimes, I’d lose track of others’ conversation and became confused about what they were talking about. I’d make a comment about what I thought they were discussing when in fact I had missed the point entirely.  In turn, they were confused by my remarks because to them they made no sense.  Of course they made sense to me, based on what I believed they were talking about.   I developed a reputation for saying these crazy, off-topic things.   But they made people laugh, so they kept me around.

This was how I lived my life.

I had a decent career which enabled me to support myself.  Ultimately, however,  it was always about the next drink. I never loved anyone or anything as much as I loved the feeling I got from liquor.

I only dated other alcoholics because the sober ones always pushed me to quit.  Yes, I was an alcoholic, but quite a functional one.  I saw no need to stop something that gave me so much pleasure.

But just because my life was relatively functional, didn’t mean there wasn’t damage – to my body, to my brain to my resistance. I got old, fast.   The best thing that could have happened to me would have been a small car accident or a crazy drunken tirade in the wrong company or an arrest for some inebriated infraction.   Any one of those might have served as a wake-up call.

Instead I managed to live in the no-man’s land of functional alcoholism. I never fully acknowledged to myself how my craving for liquor was stronger than anything else inside me.   My entire life,  I chased chemical spirituality. I was beneath any true understanding or enlightenment.  And that was the tragedy of my life.

____

 addendum:  I should add that I, myself, do not drink nor have I ever.  None of the people I knew growing up were like this.  None of my adult friends are like this.   This is definitely not coming from me!!!

***

______

If you are enjoying this blog,  please click the link above to subscribe and receive posts via email (new posts every three days).  When you think of others who might enjoy it too,  it’s easy enough to help spread the word! Post your favorite stories to social media.   Email a particularly apt link to a friend.   Even better,  talk about the concepts with others (whether you agree or disagree. )
Also,  I have started a discussion group on Facebook,  for conversations about any of the concepts/issues in the posts.  Honestly, these are things in here which I don’t fully understand myself.  I would love  get your thoughts on this…even if you think this is all a bunch of hooey!

 

The Fix-it Man

NEW!

 

“Action Man” by Jeremy Richardson via Flickr

 

Gul

In my life, I had a special talent  – I could fix anything.  Anything except one important thing; and this came to define my existence.

In the crowded city slum in which I lived,  being adept at repair was very useful.  The people – my family, friends, neighbors – were among the poorest on earth.  Buying something new was an unimaginable luxury.  Everything we owned had been either been donated, discarded by others and repaired by us (for example, a broken umbrella, a worn pair of shoes), or it was it was an object of pure invention, cobbled together from other things.

Having nothing, needing everything forces one to be very creative, to find solutions in unexpected places.

I had a rudimentary education.  I was schooled only until age 10.  I did not have very much access to books, but I read everything I could find —  from old newspapers,  discarded magazines, flyers announcing elections or new rules or a statement from the government.  I was curious about everything and reading offered me windows into other worlds.

Even as a very young child, I was fascinated by how things worked. I observed the manifestations of physics in my everyday life – the way the wind blew scraps of paper in a certain way so it always collected in the same places; how the pitch of a roof might affect the average temperature inside the hut.  I was curious why objects or plants or animals behaved the way they did.

While in school, I started turning discards into functional items —  mainly junk into toys. I could often trade them for something I wanted or needed more.  By the time I was twenty, I was already known as the Fix-It Man, the creative problem solver in my section.  I was good with my hands and instinctively understood the alchemy and mechanics of things, the best uses for and the limitations of various materials. I would mull over a challenge, visualize the problem in all dimensions, and eventually the solution would appear in my brain, fully formed.

I was a marvel at repairing broken tools and household items using whatever was at hand. If I saw something in the street or in the garbage which might have some useful function in the future, I picked it up and took it home. A rusted piece of metal junk might still have useable screws or wires.  I let nothing go to waste.

By the time I was in my early twenties,  I made my living  by not only repairing people’s broken things, but by creating useful objects out of waste. Two large cans with a long tube made of smaller cans became a stove that vented outside.   I figured out a way to magnify the light of a candle by placing it inside a clear glass,  then placing that glass inside a larger jug filled with water.  When the only light you have in the evening is a candle, doubling the output means you can use one candle instead of two.   When you’re poor and living in a dark shack, light is a luxury.  It means twice as many hours of light.

Meanwhile, I never stopped reading whatever I could get my hands on – books when I could find them (usually cheap paperbacks, but occasionally a school book).   I particularly liked instructions for devices and appliances that I would never actually own.

I admit I was an odd fellow. I saw the world differently from others.  People appreciated my talents, but they found me strange and off-putting.  I wasn’t one for idle conversation.   I didn’t have a lot of friends. I was far too shy to approach a woman, and in my oddness, they did not approach me.

One afternoon, I was delivering a repaired bedframe to a customer in the next section.  It was large and awkward, and it blocked my view making it hard to see where I was going.  I nearly ran into a young woman, about my age. I avoided catastrophe only as the last moment when I managed to swing the frame out of the way.  I was instantly dumbstruck by her beauty.  She was fancier than any other girl I had seen.  She wore a clean dress and nice shoes that both seemed new.  Her black hair was smooth and shiny, pulled back with a comb that sparkled in the sunlight.   I fell instantly in love.

She found it curious that I was carrying a bed frame. She laughed and she commented on it.  Although my heart was pounding and I was flustered, I managed to tell her that I was the Fix-It Man, and if she ever needed anything repaired, she should seek me out.

Later, I asked others about her.  Her father held a bit of power in very local politics.  While they were hardly wealthy, her family was far higher than mine on the social scale.  I gave up all hope that I would ever see her again.

Then,  one day, she came to me to have her shoe repaired. It was as if heaven had opened its gates right into my shop.

I did my most artful, meticulous work, in the hopes that she would return again some day.

And she did, from time to time.  In addition to bringing me things to repair, she sometimes bought me things she was discarding which she thought I might find useful.  I would sometimes make her small gifts – works of art made from scrap —  which she seemed to appreciate.

I believed she liked me.  I felt that she respected my talent. She found me curious and intriguing.  But there was nothing more. She was willing to be my friend in this very limited way, on her terms.  I don’t know if she knew how much I loved her.  I never dared tell her.  I knew there was no possibility of anything more between us, and I didn’t want to frighten her away with my desire or make her feel uncomfortable.

Eventually she married, to a man with even a bit more status than her father.  She had children.  But still, she brought me her broken items for repair.  When her children were old enough, even they brought me their possessions to be repaired or commissioned new things built especially for their needs.

I watched her life from the sidelines.  It was as if I had just a torn corner of a magazine page and had to imagine the rest.  In my mind, her life was pure happiness and joy.  That is how I preferred to think of her.   I lived in a state of perpetual longing and sadness for what I could never have.

I went on, until I was quite old, repairing lanterns and chairs and cooking pots.  I was, to all who knew me, The Fix It Man.   The irony was lost on them: Inside, my heart was irreparably broken.

 

______

If you are enjoying this blog,  please click the link above to subscribe and receive posts via email (new posts every three days).  When you think of others who might enjoy it too,  it’s easy enough to help spread the word! Post your favorite stories to social media.   Email a particularly apt link to a friend.   Even better,  talk about the concepts with others (whether you agree or disagree. )
Also,  I have started a discussion group on Facebook,  for conversations about any of the concepts/issues in the posts.  Honestly, these are things in here which I don’t fully understand myself.  I would love  get your thoughts on this…even if you think this is all a bunch of hooey.

 

A Rose Blossoms

First published November 12, 2015

child adult holding hands

Kif

I met her when she was very young, a perfect rose among the wilting asters. Even as a child she was poised and full of grace; wise beyond her years. Her natural talent was unmistakable, but it was more than that. She shone, as if a pure light passed through her, magnified.

Children such as this are gifts to the world. It is a rare privilege to teach one.

I did not normally take on students so young, but she needed to be trained properly. To be taught bad habits as a girl might destroy any hope of future perfection. She needed the best. I was the best. It was my duty.

Her parents recognized this. They considered it fortunate that their child had caught the attention of someone such as myself; someone both of deep knowledge and high influence. They believed she never would have been born with such remarkable abilities if they were not meant to be fully developed. And so, because they truly loved her and understood the needs of her soul, they abdicated their obligation and entrusted me to mold and shape her as I felt best.

Our dynamics were complex. One part parent-child, another part ego. Some of it was about legacy. A certain a measure was about need. One share was about wiping clean a tablet full of regrets. We had a mutual fear of abandonment and also shared the fear of being too needy. In this churning stew of high emotion, there was jealousy and suspicion of betrayal; there was anger and frustration; envy and longing. Sometimes, the teacher became the student. We fell in and out of love with each other but never mutually at the same time, and never for the right reasons.

Such a relationship offered many opportunities for furthering my spiritual wisdom and deepening my self-knowledge – if I’d only looked deep enough. But even a dedicated seeker of Truth cannot possibly understand the lessons whilst in the thick of it. The emotions come spilling out in a jumble, too confused and fleeting to analyze.

From here, I am no longer lost in the minutia. From this height, I can see the broad strokes, the course of our individual paths on a map that was drawn before we were born.   They ran parallel, then diverged, crossed and forked, rose and fell, once again ran parallel only to diverge yet again.

It will take me a long time to understand this journey.

 

______

If you are enjoying this blog,  please click the link above to subscribe and receive posts via email (new posts every three days).  When you think of others who might enjoy it too,  it’s easy enough to help spread the word! Post your favorite stories to social media.   Email a particularly apt link to a friend.   Even better,  talk about the concepts with others (whether you agree or disagree. )
Also,  I have started a discussion group on Facebook,  for conversations about any of the concepts/issues in the posts.  Honestly, these are things in here which I don’t fully understand myself.  I would love  get your thoughts on this…even if you think this is all a bunch of hooey!

 

Love is the Way to the Truth

First published Sept 18, 2014

 Aya (a new voice)

I believe in the redemptive power of love. It is the prism through which everything passes. It is the path along which the most important lessons are learned. Love turns you inward; directs you to where the most important answers are.

When two people make a commitment to each other in love, that commitment is as much to themselves as to each other. It is a promise to grow and change; to bend to fit with an open heart; to see clearly both the good and bad in oneself;  to continually reevaluate beliefs; to rethink behaviors and view them from different perspectives; to see the world through another’s eyes.

To love is to commit to working on everything that prevents us from becoming our best self. We commit to knowing our own true self, and when we have discovered it, all things become clear. The result is true intimacy — with ourselves, with each other, with the universe.

In loving fully, we make ourselves whole.

[more from Aya later]

 

______

If you are enjoying this blog,  please click the link above to subscribe and receive posts via email (new posts every three days).  When you think of others who might enjoy it too,  it’s easy enough to help spread the word! Post your favorite stories to social media.   Email a particularly apt link to a friend.   Even better,  talk about the concepts with others (whether you agree or disagree. )
Also,  I have started a discussion group on Facebook,  for conversations about any of the concepts/issues in the posts.  Honestly, these are things in here which I don’t fully understand myself.  I would love  get your thoughts on this…even if you think this is all a bunch of hooey!

Asch in Ashes

NEW!

 

Mir

I was thirteen, and my brother sixteen, when we left our family home and set out for the New World.   It was a great adventure – both exciting and terrifying – but as long as I had my brother to care for me, I felt safe.

He and my parents had been saving money to send us both together.  The plan was, they would continue to save and my brother would find work and send money home, until eventually they would join us.

My mother had a younger cousin who had been living in New York for several years. She was, by our standards, a “real American” already,  settled with a husband, an apartment, and a job.  They had agreed to sponsor us and take us in until we could make our own way.

My brother was a big strong boy, tall for his age.  He quickly found work ferrying packages from suppliers to manufacturers, from manufacturers to the showrooms and shops.  It had been agreed by all before we left that I was to continue my education for at least two years.  My parents wanted me to also become a “real American”. They made my brother promise to keep me in school.

Our cousins were very welcoming and kind.  They gave us a corner of their small apartment.  There was just one cot, and my brother and I took turns sleeping in it while the other slept on a pile of folded blankets on the floor.  I often let him have the bed, even when it was my turn because he worked so hard during the day and was so physically exhausted.  I didn’t have the heart to make him sleep on the hard wooden floor.  It was by the grace of his hard work that I was able to remain in school. Since I didn’t have money to contribute,  I made myself as helpful as possible – cleaning,  washing, cooking some simple meals,  doing marketing and errands, mending clothing as I’d been taught by my mother.

When I was 14, and my English passable, my cousin found me a job at a small restaurant owned by her friend and her husband.  The husband cooked and the friend waited tables, but they had a young daughter who needed attention after school while they prepared for the dinner customers.

It didn’t pay much but it was the perfect situation for me.  I started in the afternoon, so I didn’t miss any classes.  I would sit with the girl while she did her schoolwork, and my own English skills improved.  Sometimes if they needed extra hands, I cleared tables or swept the floor or even chopped vegetables.  Occasionally, they’d send me out for an errand.

They were good to me and I was determined to justify their faith in me.  I worked hard and they came to rely on me more and more.  For this, they raised my pay as much as they could afford. It wasn’t much, but it enabled me to contribute a bit to the rent and to my parents’ travel fund.

I had been working there for just over a year when we received terrible news.  My father had become ill and within a very short time had passed away.   My brother and I would not, could not, let my mother remain alone in the Old World.   My brother took on extra shifts and I found additional work minding other children in the evenings.  Within the year, there was enough in the fund to bring her to us.

In the days before her expected arrival, I was so excited I could barely eat or sleep. When we met her at the boat, we all burst into tears at the sight of each other, touching each others’ faces and stroking each other’s hair, reassuring ourselves that we were all real.

We went back the apartment and my mother and her cousin caught up on the family news, remembering old times, laughing and crying.

Later, the three of us squeezed into our corner, with my brother and I insisting my mother take the cot. It was obvious we could not remain in this situation for much longer.  Fortunately, my mother was an experienced tailor and seamstress, and she was able to find work quickly.  Within a couple of months we were able to move to our own small room on Hester Street.  It was tiny, and the bathroom, down the hall, was shared by others, but to us it felt like paradise, an unimaginable luxury to be living with just our own family in our own room.

I finished school in my sixteenth year, and my mother got me a job at the factory where she worked, making ladies’ blouses.  Initially I was thrilled to have a real job; to get a regular paycheck; to be an adult among other women like myself and my mother — new immigrants, filled with hopes and dreams for a better future – but the novelty wore off quickly.

We worked long hours, six long days a week in very unpleasant conditions. The supervisors treated us more like slaves than workers. But, with the three of us bringing home a salary each week, we were able to save money.  The dream was for my mother to buy a sewing machine and have her own tailor shop so we could get out of that awful factory which seemed to suck more life out of us every day.

And then,  one Saturday afternoon,  there was chaos!  A fire!  There were so many flammable scraps and pieces around that it didn’t take long for the fire to be raging.  The doors were locked as they always were.  There was no escape.

I pressed to the window with my mother and the other women, barely able to breathe, terrified of being burned alive and equally afraid of jumping onto the unforgiving pavement below.

In the end, I jumped.  My mother stayed.  It didn’t make a difference.  We, along with dozens of our friends and coworkers, all died that day.

My brother,  alone and lonely,  soon took a wife.  They named their children after me and my mother, so our story would not be lost – a story of two women with dreams, unfulfilled.

 

______

If you are enjoying this blog,  please click the link above to subscribe and receive posts via email (new posts every three days).  When you think of others who might enjoy it too,  it’s easy enough to help spread the word! Post your favorite stories to social media.   Email a particularly apt link to a friend.   Even better,  talk about the concepts with others (whether you agree or disagree. )
Also,  I have started a discussion group on Facebook,  for conversations about any of the concepts/issues in the posts.  Honestly, these are things in here which I don’t fully understand myself.  I would love  get your thoughts on this…even if you think this is all a bunch of hooey!

The Perfectionist

first published September 15, 2014

Perfektionist | Metapher

Win

I was a precocious child, adorable and smart as a whip. Things came easily to me. I mastered whatever was put before me quickly and perfectly. I could not understand why others struggled with things that came to me so naturally. I always aimed for perfection (and usually achieved it) because I loved being praised for my cleverness. It made me feel special and more important than everyone else.

As I grew up, I become more and more accomplished at various things. I could do more in a day than anyone else I knew. I looked down upon those who could not complete tasks which to me were simple; or solve problems when the solutions seemed obvious to me. I felt pity and contempt for the lazy, the ineffectual, those who did not have the capacity to do what needed to be done. I assumed that anyone who claimed not to be capable of these things was just being lazy or purposely obtuse. I had no patience or compassion for those who struggled with what (to my mind at least) should have been straight-forward tasks and easy-to-attain goals.

I entered the business world and was extremely successful. It never occurred to me that I would be otherwise.   I went over and above what others expected of me, always working hard to top what I’d done before. I was driven, but the rewards were great.

That was the upside.

The downside was that I pushed others relentlessly.   I expected them to value perfection as I did. If I asked someone to do something and the result did not meet my high standards, I would get angry or dismissive or even cruel. I had no use for imperfect people. Those who wanted to work with me and for me, knew what was expected of them. Failure, laziness, mistakes, miscalculations were not options.

I was not well-liked.

There was no place for laziness in a relationship. How difficult was it to get things right? All they had to do was pay close attention, watch how I did it, and learn the right way. Wasn’t it better to do things the correctly than to make mistakes? Wasn’t it better to be industrious than to be lazy? My motto was “Properly not sloppily.”

How convinced I was about this! How sure I was right; that my way was the best and only way. I worked myself relentlessly towards perfection in everything.

Ironically, this was my greatest flaw.

I had no respect for the journeys of others. No compassion for their challenges. No empathy. No understanding of different values. And worst, no ability to feel or give unconditional love.

I was successful in life, but in death I see I was an utter failure as a human being

 

______

If you are enjoying this blog,  please click the link above to subscribe and receive posts via email (new posts every three days).  When you think of others who might enjoy it too,  it’s easy enough to help spread the word! Post your favorite stories to social media.   Email a particularly apt link to a friend.   Even better,  talk about the concepts with others (whether you agree or disagree. )
Also,  I have started a discussion group on Facebook,  for conversations about any of the concepts/issues in the posts.  Honestly, these are things in here which I don’t fully understand myself.  I would love  get your thoughts on this…even if you think this is all a bunch of hooey!

 

 

 

 

 

Post Navigation

%d bloggers like this: