The Lives of the Dead

Some of the most interesting people I meet are dead…

Archive for the category “actor monologue”

Gen

Originally published  April 18, 2014

 Woke up this morning with a “story” in my head, demanding to get out. I “wasn’t allowed” to eat or get dressed or turn on my computer until I’d written this down, long-hand, in the notebook beside my bed.  I’m still not sure if I’m “writing” or “channeling” them. Either way, I have decided to keep a journal as they come to me.

The nature of the stories is changing. Previously,  I was shown a scene and was imparted with information about how the person died.   Now, I am getting feelings and translating them into words.

Most of these “narrators” do not tell me their names, and I don’t ask.  I like the idea that they could have lived almost anywhere in the worldThis makes their stories more universal.  However,  going forward,  in order to be able to distinguish  one narrator from another,   I have given each a one or two syllable name.  I have made the names purposefully vague and cryptic so they do not imply any geography or ethnicity.   They are indicative of nothing.  Please do not read anything into them.

From time to time, however, I am given a name or other identifying information. In those cases,  I include that with their story.

*******

argueing couple

Gen 

I debated writing down my feelings when he finally left me and the boys, but by that point, I had no feelings left.

I suppose if I felt anything, it was relief. I was exhausted from trying to make it work. Years and years of forgiveness and sacrificing my own needs to the needs of the relationship. I knew it was going to be a long, hard slog, raising two young boys on my own, but at least we’d all be pulling as one unit, in the same direction,   instead of working against each other, draining each other of happiness, sucking each other dry.

In the long run, the boys would be happier, too.  Br was an angry and selfish man. The boys saw him in the clear pure way that children always see the obvious truth. Their dad was an insecure bully and though the kids had no respect for him, he was their father and he still had the power to hurt them. He wasn’t worthy of their respect, but they still wanted his. They thought, in their innocent way, that if he could just stop the anger in his head long enough to really see them for the terrific little people they were, he’d realize what he stood to lose. Then he’d change and everything would be OK.

Maybe I hoped for that, too.

Br  was very good with words. He was a real poet when it came to asking for forgiveness. An irresistible force. But no matter how many times he promised to do better for us, no matter how many times I reached deeper into my soul to find a little more love for him, he would invariably disappoint us and hurt us again.

It was better apart. He would no longer have to face, on a daily basis, what an utter failure he was as a husband, as a father, as a functional human being. He just didn’t have the energy any more to try and be someone better.  I thought my love, our love, would be enough to change him,  but none of it did any good.

The kindest, most loving thing he ever did was to leave us so we could forge the bonds of love, stronger, among the three of us.

And so we did. We were bound in a way that I suppose many single-parent families are.

I could now devote my full emotional attention to my boys. They’d always craved more of me. They were happy and relieved to finally have it. They healed me, they did, with their humor and insight and childlike wisdom that so often brought things into perspective when I felt as if I were spinning out of control.

When my youngest was in the second grade, I forgot to attend his school play.  I knew it was coming up, but forgot about it the day of.  I was overwhelmed at work. I’d been working 12 hr days for the previous few weeks and had barely gotten to see the kids. My mom sometimes watched them. Some nights, they went home with friends. Sometimes I paid for a babysitter — a girl who lived down the street.

When I came home that evening and realized what I’d done, I was horrified, sick and full of shame. I could barely look at myself in the mirror.

The play was on a Friday afternoon. Saturday morning, I came down to breakfast, eyes swollen from crying at the mess I was making raising my kids; feeling sorry for myself because of all the pressure on me.

I sat my baby down with the intention of begging forgiveness, as his daddy had done of me so many times. It was a scene that my kids had witnessed too often in their short lives.

“I’m soooo sorry, baby…” I began.

And in the sweetest, most loving voice, that little boy said to me, “It’s OK, Mommy. I know you feel bad about my play. I know you are worried that I think you don’t love me, but I do know how much you love us because I can see how hard you work to take care of us. A school play is just one day but a job is every day.”

I can barely describe the relief and love I felt at that moment! Just seven years old and he already had more love, more understanding, more wisdom than most adults.

Maybe that’s a stereotype – kids of divorced parents growing up, emotionally, very quickly.  It’s a kind of Hollywood trope that such kids are preternaturally wise beyond their years. But it does seem to happen that way in real life quite a lot. Now I know the reason why.

They are literally old souls, or perhaps more accurately “more connected souls”,  born to people like me who need some spiritual guidance. They are the spiritual adult to their biological parent.

In those days, I had no time to think about spiritual matters. I was working long hours, topped off by parental responsibilities. In the very early days, there was the additional stress and nastiness of a messy divorce.

Br had started drinking again, in earnest now and without brakes. When we were together, he would fall off the wagon from time to time, and that was bad enough, but now he wasn’t even trying to stay sober. On several occasions, he didn’t make it to the lawyer’s office for meetings. When he did, he was usually at least partly drunk or hung over.

Whereas in the past, I might have tried to reach in and “save” him or at least make the effort to understand the psychic pain he was trying to self-medicate away, I no longer felt him as a part of me. He wasn’t my emotional responsibility anymore. If he drank himself to an early grave, I wasn’t even sure I’d feel sorry.  I simply had no emotional energy left for him. He’d frittered away all my concern and love for him.  If and when he ever needed it again, there would be nothing left in reserve.

Ironically, when I died years later, he was still alive, albeit not doing so well. The boys were already grown. My oldest was married with a new baby girl, who I was so happy to get to meet before I passed.

My husband came to my funeral and sat in the back. He was sober then, but years of alcoholism had taken their toll. He looked 87 not 57.

Our youngest child was the first to speak to him.  He was moved by his father’s genuine tears.

“Your mother was the best thing that ever happened to me,” he told him. “but I wasn’t good enough for her. I had to leave, otherwise I would have destroyed all of you.”

He was right of course, and I was glad that he understood it.   My boy nodded and gave his dad a hug, because he knew it, too.

 

Buy the book!

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 just 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!
-Adrienne

Two Fall to Their Death

Originally published April 15, 2014

 

 

It’s the late afternoon and I am so exhausted, I lay down for a nap but I do not fall asleep. I have the same experience as before – the sense of being in a place and being shown a story.

***

I am on a large outdoor dining patio, outside a restaurant near or at a national park or state monument. It’s not a fancy place; just a casual dining area where families come for lunch after seeing the sights. The patio is cantilevered out over the side of a deep ravine or chasm, and offers an incredible view of whatever monument people have come to see. I try to see what that is, exactly, but it never becomes clear to me.  My area of sight is limited to just the patio, the railing, the chasm below.

I kept trying to figure out where I am.  The railing and drop remind me of Snoqualmie Falls, WA.   The patio reminds me of Pena National Palace in Sintra, Portugal.  But it’s neither of those places. I sense it’s in the USA. Mentally I am running through the names of every park and national site I can think of, to see if I get a positive feeling about any of them.  It’s as if I’m mentally asking, “Is this it?  Is this it? What about this?”  But none of them return a strong “yes.”

Then I sense the presence of a woman.   She wants me to know something.  I know this entity is female but I have no sense what she looks like — not her age,  race, height, weight, hair color.   She “tells” me that many years ago, she was here on vacation with her family. They were taking photos. As  she leaned back against the railing, it gave way. She plummeted hundreds of feet to her death on the rocks below.

On her way down,  she explained,  she knew what was going to happen, so she astrally projected out of her body before she hit. She said she was  able to watch herself crash on the rocks, but she felt nothing. No pain and no sadness.

I asked what year it this was. I “felt” it was sometime in the 1970s but can’t be sure.   I asked her age. No response.  She’d said she was there with her family, so I asked if she was mother or daughter.  I asked her name. I tried to get some kind of visual on her.  I got no feedback on any of those questions.   And then she was gone.

*****

I’m still not sure where these stories are coming from.  If I were writing them myself,   I would have given her a name; described her and her surroundings, made up a year and a place, but the story  “resists” my input.  When I ask questions, it’s like trying to fit keys from a big pile, one by one, into a lock. Sometimes,  they click.  Usually not.

****

The next day, another quick story passes through my head:  I “feel” a Jewish man from my grandfather’s generation. He is  originally from Kiev. Came to New York with his wife, before the war. They settled in the Bronx, and opened a butcher shop.  (I can see the store — it’s old-style, with clean white display cases.)   He “tells me” he  died after a fall down the stairs into the basement of the store.   He hit his head and the next day, died of complications from a concussion (which was shocking and mysterious to his family, because he hadn’t mentioned the fall to them.)

****

Well, these stories are certainly more interesting than just  a bunch of names, thank you very much!   I open myself to the possibility that they are, indeed, some kind of  spiritual communication from Il Mondo Beyondo, and invite more in.  And boy, do they come!

M says, there probably are not too many people alive who are willing to listen to the dead, so when a channel opens up,  they line up to tell their stories.  So I’m like, what?  The podium at a town hall meeting in the afterlife?


Buy the book!

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 just 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!
-Adrienne

Imagine What I Could Save on Airfare!

First post of this blog, originally published August 23, 2014

Astral-Travel

 

About six months ago, I picked up working on a novel I’d started writing about ten years ago. In it, the main character has spontaneous Out of Body Experiences (OBEs).  In order to write about them in more depth and with greater understanding, I began to research the subject.

The notion of astral projection has long fascinated me. Imagine! Being able to leave your body at will and travel anywhere in the world you want to go!   Screw you, American Airlines, with your $25 per bag handling fee!

Over my lifetime, I’ve had several extremely detailed dreams in which I visited places which seemed and felt entirely real.   In a few cases, I later found myself in these places and recognized them from my dreams.  Had they been spontaneous OBEs?

Back in junior high, I dreamed about a lake in the mountains. Overhead,  was an impossibly clear, high,  cerulean sky. Lavender-colored mountains, ringed with mossy green,  spilled into the purest aqua water!  The colors were so vivid, they were surreal; I’d even say emotional.  When I awoke  I felt compelled to sketch it out, in full color pastel chalks (which didn’t at all do it  justice. No artist’s medium could have captured the intensity.)  My drawing remained in my desk drawer for years as a “snapshot” of my trip.  (It may even still be with my old papers.)  I felt I had absolutely been there and seen it with my own eyes, even though I didn’t believe such a perfectly beautiful, beautifully perfect place could actually exist on this planet.

After college, I traveled for eight months around Europe and lived for a while with a man in Athens.  When I got home, we remained in touch, sending letters back and forth across the Atlantic (this was long before email.)   Initially, the letters were weekly, then dwindled in frequency to monthly,  until finally, it had been nearly nine months since I’d heard from him.

One night, in a dream, I went to visit him in the tiny apartment in the Ano Ilisia section where we’d lived together.  I was “informed by neighbors”  he no longer lived there;  that he’d moved to a different neighborhood – an area where several of his friends lived and which we’d visited together on a couple of occasions.   I “flew” to the new neighb and tried to find him, without luck.

The very next day, I received a letter from him telling me he’d moved from Ano Ilisia to a new apartment, in the very area where I’d been looking for him in my dream!

In my mid-30’s, I traveled for a while in Tibet.   Most of the roads there are carved into the sides of mountains, with  a precipitous drop off the other  side.   One afternoon,  the bus I was traveling on came to a stop behind a long line of traffic. Way ahead of us, a truck had fallen halfway off the mountain. Other drivers (who seemed used to this kind of thing) had attached thick ropes to it, and were attempting to pull it back onto the road before it tumbled into the abyss.

Clearly, this was going to take several hours, so I (and others) got out of the bus to stretch our legs and have a little walk-about.  And there, just ahead, around a bend, was my lake, just as I’d pictured it!  In the thin air of the high altitude,  the colors shimmered with the same intense clarity they had in my dream! It was very literally, a mystical experience because of the dream, because of my own journey, because of where I was (in the Himalaya, for dog’s sake!!!) and because of the incredible intensity of the color.   The intensity was made even more jarring and poignant, by my having just spent half a week bouncing across the bleak, colorless landscape of the Tibetan plain. This lake was like a miraculous view of heaven; as if I’d been blind and suddenly was able to see again!

yamdrok-lake-tibet-scenery

I have always accepted these and other similar dreams as spontaneous OBEs but of course, I had no control over my itinerary.

At various times in my life, I’d made half-hearted attempts at astral projection without success, but finally, I felt I was spiritually mature enough to re-tackle my goal.

I read books and articles,  visited websites,  and I listened to recordings embedded with binaural tones at specific frequencies which were supposed to facilitate OBEs.  I spent many hours, over the course of a couple of months, attempting to fling my consciousness out of my corporeal form and into the ether.   I usually got as far as the pre-flight indicators — vibrations along my entire body; heart palpitations; a sense that my limbs were in different positions than they physically were —  but I don’t believe I ever achieved lift off.   Anything I saw or felt in that condition could easily have been explained as a fantasy or a dream or self-hypnosis.

On several occasions, while listening those recordings, it felt as if my conscious mind were separating from my body, but I could never get it to go anywhere.  Every time I tried to turn around and look back at myself on the bed, I still felt my consciousness inside my own head.   (No doubt I wasn’t separating at all but just in an hypnotic state.)

What I was expecting —  what I wanted –– was for my mind to travel at will, with control.  I wanted to visit a place far from home and witness things  which could later be verified (as had happened during my spontaneous travels).  Although I very much wanted to have a “real”  OBE,  my criterion for judging whether I’d actually had one was (and continues to be) very high.  If my experience  can be explained in a simple, logical, scientific or psychological way,  I am always inclined to accept this versus some mystical justification.  Still, I was always hoping for the mystical; hoping to have an experience which I could not explain in another way.

After a couple of months without lift-off, I gave up further attempts at OBE.  I assumed that would be the end of it.

But then some strange things began to happen…

 

_____

Buy the book!

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 just 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!
-Adrienne

Le Scandal

Originally published April 7, 2015

 

frenchscandals

Pila

I was on a trajectory to a perfectly normal life. I was mostly good, though sometimes a bit naughty. There were times I was full of certainty and promise and other times I was crippled by misgivings and frozen by doubt.   Sometimes, I felt myself to be invincible; other times, I felt vulnerable and bare. In other words, I was perfectly normal.

And then the scandal.  I was only a peripheral player. There was no reason for me to have been brought into it at all, but the silver ball of fate landed in my number. I was in the right place at the wrong time.

Soon, everyone had an opinion about me, most of them bad. Any why? I’d done nothing so different that many others did before and after me. Except others don’t get caught in such a spectacular way.

After that, my life was never the same. The press hounded me.  When that finally abated,  many still whispered about me. My name was synonymous with my shame, and I would never be free of the taint.

I tried my best to rise above it; to develop a philosophical attitude. I managed a fair degree of success in no longer caring what the strangers thought or said about me, but I never was able to get over that initial punch in the solar plexus when I’d be recognized in a social setting and the murmur  of whispers and surreptitious glances would begin afresh.

I went on with my life. What else could I do?  I would not hide. Pourquoi? I was not a criminal! More than one person suggested I change my name. I refused, on principle. None of those who threw hypothetical stones at me were without plenty of sins of their own.

I lived a much smaller life than I had before. My friends and family closed ranks and kept me sheltered from the gossip and petty ill will of others.

Eventually, the public forgot. My transgression was too far in the past for anyone to care about it. There were far more intriguing sinners to star in the morality plays of the self-righteous.

And slowly, I started to live again.  But those were decades I would never get back.

I won’t say those years were wasted but it took me a long time to appreciate all I learned from the derailing of my life.   I am learning, still.

 

_____
Buy the book!

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 just 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!
-Adrienne

Blown Away

Devastation after Hurricane Dorian, Bahamas, 2019

NEW!

Sama

It was going to be gigantic. Overwhelming. Massively destructive. They told us to seek safer ground.  Most people did. But I lived with my mother who was old and sick and infirm. She could not be moved.

She begged me to leave her behind and seek safety.  She didn’t have much longer to live even under the best conditions. She knew she would not survive, but alone I might stand a chance. But I would not. I could not.  I could not bear the thought of her spending her last hours terrified and alone.  And to be honest, my decision to stay was not totally out of selflessness. I, myself, was terrified and I did not want to ride it out in unfamiliar surroundings among strangers. If I was going to die – and I was fairly certain we both would — we would go together. She was with me when I came in to the world and there was a certain poetry to her being there when I left it.

And so I prepared our small house as best I could for the coming onslaught. Together we prayed that God and Mother Nature would spare us.

We first felt the ominous change in the air. We’d been through hurricanes before and we knew how they went.  Soon the wind started.  Just gusts at first, which pounded at our shutters and against our door,  shaking and rattling them ferociously. Soon, the rainy gusts became a steady, howling force, beating our sturdy but old house. Our home had survived other storms over the years, but none as fierce as this one. It was not built for a barrage such as this.

The lights sputtered and died. This much was expected. I lit the kerosene lamp

My mother was not afraid, not for herself. She had already made peace with her Maker. She was ready to die and had been for months.  But I was more afraid than I’d ever been in my life.  I crawled into bed with her, and wrapped my arms around her, clinging to her now-frail body as I had when I was frightened or upset as a young child.  She held me in her arms, and soothed me as she did so many years before.

We lay like that for many hours.  Most of a day.  We talked about our lives.  We remembered my father, who had died many years before, and whom we both still missed terribly.  We remembered long past birthday parties.  We remembered Christmases and graduations and weddings. We remembered old friends, and family, and neighbors. We were grateful we had had so much joy and happiness.

After a time, exhausted from stress and fear, I drifted in and out of sleep, only to be startled awake by the sound of a tree being ripped from the ground or of detritus being flung by the wind against the outer walls of the house. I didn’t know if it sounded worse than it actually was or if it was worse than it sounded.  I dared not peek outside to check.

I was half awake/half asleep when with a roar and a groan, the wind ripped the roof clear off the house. I nearly jumped out of my skin. Suddenly, death was no longer hypothetical.  I knew at that moment we would not survive; that the end was very near.  I was shaking with terror but Mother was calm and at peace. She held me as tightly as her weak limbs would allow, and sang to me the songs she used to sing when I was a very young.  Her breath was weak, but she never stopped singing.  She stroked my hair, and sang.  She kissed my head, and sang.  She rocked me, and sang. She called me all the pet names she had called me as a girl, and sang.  She told me she loved me, and sang.

It wasn’t much longer before we were blown away. It happened fast and I don’t remember exactly the specific cause of our end, but it seemed that in the next instant, Mother and I were floating above the devastation, together, without fear.

Donate to Hurricane Dorian hurricane relief

 

——-

Buy the book!

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 just 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!
-Adrienne

A Gentle, Invisible Force

First published August 16, 2016

Vintage-Little-Girl

 

San

I first met her on my first day of school and she was there when I died, but I barely knew her.  Our lives crisscrossed each other like strands of DNA.  Though we rarely interacted in any deeply personal way,  we applied a kind of subtle gravitation force upon each other.

In school, she was the pretty one.  The smart one.  The one who never let her emotions get the better of her, even when, as puberty hit,  the rest of us were turning into mad witches.  She remained always cool and aloof.   Although popular with a select crowd, she was never mean or condescending to others.  She was naturally intimidating but she was never unkind.

I, for one, did not think of her as an individual.  To me, she was an icon.  The epitome of all I wanted to be, and which I knew I would never become.  I tried to emulate her style, her grace,  but she always did it better, easier.

When we were about nine, I developed a very secret crush on a boy in our class and carried a torch for him all through school.  I dared not share my feelings with anyone lest they laugh at me.  It was obvious he would never feel the same about me.  He barely noticed me.  I was beneath him in every way.

When we were 12,  they discovered each other and became inseparable. I wasn’t jealous.  It made sense that the perfect girl would end up with the perfect boy.  Rather than envy, I felt curiosity.  What would it be like to be that confident?  To be the kind of woman who could attract a fine man?

After graduation, we all went our separate ways and I didn’t think about her much, except still, perhaps as a standard by which to judge myself.

Many years later, coincidentally, our children went to school together.  We would nod a polite hello to each other, or perhaps converse casually about upcoming events. I hated to admit it to myself, but I was still intimidated by her.  I always felt bad about myself when I saw her.  She reminded me, through no fault of her own, that I was “less than.”  Still, I felt no animosity for her. It wasn’t her fault that I felt as I did. She wasn’t doing anything wrong. She was just living her life, being perfect.

Her house was nicer than ours.  Her children, better behaved.  Her husband, more successful.   But she never noticed the envy of others.  She did not act superior.  She simply was,  by any measure I could think of, superior

I never sought her friendship nor she, mine.

Eventually, our children moved to different schools and once again, she was out of my life.  Another decade passed,  and then we met again,  this time working for an organization.  She had all the right social connections and so rose quickly to the top.  I remained firmly in the middle.  We ran into each other from time to time, and as always,  chatted politely though never vapidly.  Short, intelligent conversations about current events or organizational issues.  I felt flattered that she took me as her equal.

After a few years,  I moved on from that organization, while she remained and rose higher still.  Meanwhile, I occupied myself with other things.

Many years later,  we met again at the home of some old school friends.  Her position in the organization had been terminated. Her husband had left her for a younger woman.  She was forced to sell her beautiful home.  She revealed these turns of event matter-of-factly, still hiding behind her impenetrable facade, emotionally aloof as always.

That night,  when I went home,  I looked at my life and I felt grateful.  I was happy and I was loved, and those were the most important things.  Why should I be jealous of her when I had everything I needed right here?

After that,  I removed her from her high pedestal and placed her on a lower shelf.  I no longer compared myself to her version of perfection.  I realized I was perfect in my own way, and I was OK with that.   We are all good at something.  I didn’t have to be good at her thing. I only had to be the best I could be at my own.  This was the beginning of my self-acceptance.

In and out,  again and again, over the years,  we would encounter each other in casual ways.  Never friends but eventually friendly enough by virtue of our long history, to catch up on the essentials of our lives –  for example, the deaths of our parents, the births of our grandchildren,  her eventual happy remarriage.

I came to know her better, although never well. I began to understand that the woman I thought she was had existed only in my imagination.  She wasn’t aloof.  She was painfully shy.  She cultivated her friends carefully and so didn’t have many. She curated her facade meticulously but she was far more fragile than she ever appeared.  With these realizations, I stopped judging my perceived faults and the perceived faults of others, by a false standard of perfection.  I began to notice what was right about people instead of what was wrong with them. These lessons informed my life and my relationships.

Many years passed without us crossing paths.  I hadn’t given her more than a fleeting thought in years.  But then, in our late years, we found ourselves in the same home for the aged, both widowed, both great-grandmothers. Only we, of all those others in that place, shared a history that went back to childhood. Only we, remembered all those places and people, long gone. And what we didn’t remember, the other often filled in.   And so we talked.  And talked.  And talked.  The separation that had always been between us fell away.  We were too old to care about hiding our feelings, protecting our faces to each other.

One day, I told her how I’d envious I’d been of her in school, and for many years after; how I’d judged myself against her, and finally, eventually,  I felt myself perfectly equal.  Better in some ways, worse in others.

And what she confessed to me made me rethink my entire life.

She told me she’d always been envious of me!  (Even in my dotage, I was shocked!)  She was envious that I did not live in fear of the judgment of others.  Even as children, she admired my ability to make friends easily.  She felt compelled to always behave in a certain way – quiet, dignified.  She admired my willingness to make a joke at my own expense. She felt constrained by having to pay attention to detail.  She admired my ability to roll with the waves, make the best of whatever came along.  Her shyness was crippling. She recognized that many took this for aloofness, but still, she could never overcome it.   She admired my ability to easily engage others in conversation.  She rarely felt as if people saw her as she was.  She did not feel known.  She wished she could be casual and easy with people, let down her guard, and not be afraid to let them see her.  She thought I was brave, not caring about perfection.

Oh, the irony of that!

She sat at my bedside the day I died.  I’d been unconscious for nearly a week, and she sat with me every afternoon for a few hours after lunch, in silence, just thinking about all the things that had happened to both of us over the years; how our lives had been so different. Yet here we were at the end,  in the same place, in the same situation.

I understand now that there are people who remain on the periphery of our lives, but who nevertheless affect us deeply, and whom we affect in return, often unawares.  They may meet us upon our journey as merely a pebble in the shoe or a jug of water when we are thirsty.  They might be the shade of the trees overhead, which we barely consider until we walk must through a desert with the sun beating down upon our head. They may be a vulture in that desert. They may be an oasis.  Or they may be the shepherd dog who nudges us back onto the path. They may be the fruit of wisdom, which we come upon at the moment of peak ripeness.

—-

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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 just 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!
-Adrienne

Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin

originally published April 3, 2015

 

(Although written several years ago,  the moral of this story is excruciatingly apt for what’s going on now.)

alexmankiewicz.com-ostrich2

 

Ha

The writing was on the wall, plain enough to see for anyone who looked. I saw it, myself, but I could not believe what was written. All the signs were there. Danger increased every day. Mistrust festered. Hatred boiled just below the surface. You couldn’t help but feel it, but many of us were hoping it would burn itself out.  We could not believe it would get worse. Surely people would come to their senses!   After all, we were living in modern times, in a civilized place. So we thought. But then, doesn’t everyone believe they are living in a civilized place in modern times?

The lucky ones, the smart ones, they left while they still could. The earlier they heeded the signs, the more they were able to salvage of their lives. Others, like me, simply couldn’t believe it could get bad enough to warrant picking up our entire lives and fleeing; leaving behind everyone and everything we knew. Leaving behind our homes, our businesses, our jobs, our schools, our places of worship, our sense of belonging.

By the time things became desperate, there was no escaping. The slaughter had begun and there was no one and nothing to protect us. In that time of fear, what was most terrifying of all was seeing how quickly men become animals; how uncivilized they can be the defense of their civilization.

It’s natural to look at violence and war and cruelty that takes place far away or happened long before we were born, and think, “That was a different time; those were different people. It can’t happen here. We are better than that.”

I learned in the most cruel way, it is always dangerous to underestimate the brutality of humans.

Too many are of them are voids, easily raised to ire and led to violence by those who can fill their hearts with meaning.

artwork: http://www.alexmankiewicz.com

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Buy the book!

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 just 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!
-Adrienne

The Demons Inside

First published Aug 7, 2016

voices in head

Dor

Even as a child, I could not bear the weight of my own emotions.  I bore the brunt of everything with maximum intensity. It was both a gift and a curse. My attachments were obsessive. My pain, unbearable.  But my soul went deep.

I’d be angry then sad then joyful then angry and sad again, sometimes in the course of an hour. I had no control, and nobody ever taught me how just be.

Over time, I developed my own coping skills. Not all of them proved successful in the long term.

For example, I discovered that if I hurt myself physically, I could temporarily relocate the pain outside my head to a place where I could attend to it. To me, that felt like control.

My feelings clanged against the bars of my internal prison. When I immersed myself in loud noise,  when I  filled my head with sound (sometimes it was my own screaming), it drowned the sound of my own noisy emotions.

By the time I became an adult, there were treatments. While they helped dull the clatter,  they offered their own problems. My choice was:  anguish and fear (which were feelings at least),  or numbness.

Initially, the numbness was welcome. Imagine being pulled from a crazy, loud, verbally abusive family and dropped solo on a deserted island.  Oh, to have peace and quiet in my own head for the first time!  But it became quickly clear that this was a bargain with the devil. I missed my own mind,  as damaged as it was. I felt isolated, even from myself.  All my life, because of how I was, I’d interacted with the world in a certain way, and from that experience I’d learned all my lessons.  And then I wasn’t that person anymore and none of my lessons applied. I had no idea how to be in the world,  how to exist inside my own body.

And so I ran away from the treatments and the doctors and good-intentioned family members who wanted the best for me, but also for themselves.  As myself,  I disrupted all their lives.  As not myself,  I had no life.

I suffered,  not because of the voices or the feelings,  but because I didn’t know how to co-exist with them.  I never learned to make peace with them. It took enormous energy, which I didn’t often have, not to let them dictate my mood.  I would command them to stop, and sometimes,  for a while, they would.  Eventually however, I lost the strength and will to fight them.

I could have continued the treatments and lived what would have seemed,  from the outside, a normal life but I believed that was the cowardly way.  These were my demons to tame,  and if I lost the fight, at least I stood up to them.

In the end,  the demons did me in,  but I fought nobly and remained in possession of my soul to the end.


Buy the book!

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 just 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!
-Adrienne

 

image: http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/image/5117230-1×1-700×700.jpg

The Definition of Us

first published March 29, 2015


hands

Aya

Love is defined not only by the emotions we feel for others but by how others feel about us.

We each make our choices about who we want to be. Shall we be the kind of person whom others feel joy to keep close to their hearts, even after we long are out of their lives? Will we be entirely forgettable, leaving little impression on those whose lives we’ve crossed? Will we be the person who causes others anticipate the relief of no longer feeling anything for us?   Do we uplift those around us or prop ourselves up at the expense of others?

And it is from these basic choices that our actions flow.  And from these actions, grow our character.

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Buy the book!

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 just 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!
-Adrienne

Equilibrium and the Bell Curve

First published March 23, 2014

bigstock__d_gold_balance_the_scales_of_61236361

Mok

As a child, I never had much use for school. Perhaps I lacked the interest or the attention span. Or maybe I just wasn’t smart enough. Or maybe a little of each. I dropped out of school before high school and felt like a big, important man because I worked and had spending money, while my friends still suffered in class.

When I was older, those same friends became more successful than I was because they had more resources, more knowledge, more information. But I had my own small business and earned a good living – enough to support my family in a comfortable way. To be sure, I did some things that weren’t one hundred percent legal in order to stay above water, but I was smart enough never to get caught.

I would never admit it to anyone – I couldn’t even acknowledge it to myself — but I was insecure about my lack of education. Rather than consider myself less than those who had degrees, I mocked them – to myself and to others. I took the position that highly educated people had no idea about real life; that all their knowledge was theoretical. Their so-called facts had no relation to my world. The academics in government made policy based on statistics and theory. I, however, had real-life experience. My opinions were at least as valuable as their facts and theories; maybe more so. I had no use for them.

I resisted change. My position was that the old way was good enough. It wasn’t so much that changes in the world did not benefit me (although they generally did not) but rather I did not have the ability, knowledge or flexibility to evolve with the times. I couldn’t keep up with technology. I didn’t have the intellectual capacity to read about or comprehend new concepts. I didn’t have the energy or focus to navigate cultural shifts. Society grows ever more complicated, and I preferred the comfortable familiarity of what I already knew. I simply wasn’t up to the challenge of constant change. I voted for people who thought as I did, even though they were as unqualified as I was to run the country.

The older I got, the more conservative I became in my thinking. I became bitter and angry that the world was moving forward without me, regardless of how much I kicked and screamed. By the time I died, I was so fed up with the world and how (I believed) it had changed for the worse, I wasn’t sorry to leave it behind.

Human culture is continuum of those who remain grounded in the past and those who are willing to leap off a cliff into the unknown. Sometimes a leap into unknown produces great advances forward. Sometimes, it brings disaster. Those who resist change function as an anchor. They assure that when those who jump off the cliffs leave a big stain, someone is left to run things. On the other hand, if nobody is willing to take the leap, there is no progress; humankind would stagnate and die. Those at the extremes balance each other, keeping the equilibrium.

 

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Buy the book!

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 just 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!
-Adrienne

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