The Lives of the Dead

Some of the most interesting people I meet are dead…

Archive for the category “Life After Death”

A Prison of His Own Making

(continued from previous post, 11/24.   Please read it first.  This will make much more sense if you do!)
Originally posted  Nov 30, 2014

 

prison of his own making

Ru

There always came the day of reckoning when I’d be pushed to the wall and the truth squeezed out of me. There were tears and anger at my emotional treachery. My wrongdoings had to be discussed and dissected so the relationship could be closed with finality.

I would listen to the litany of all the ways I had disappointed and hurt her. I did not run from this. This was my penance. Once again, I had selfishly allowed an innocent person to fall victim to my toxic curse. Whatever vitriol and disgust she felt for me, I felt it exponentially more. She would get over me; but for me there was no escape from my worthlessness.

These final conversations, though painful and difficult, came as a relief.  I was weary from dancing around the truth. I welcomed the opportunity to relax my vigilance.

If I had withdrawn completely from sex and emotional relationships, I might have avoided most conflict. If I could have merely skimmed the surface of love with no deep or meaningful involvements, I would have taken fewer trips to the black depths of my soul.

I tried. I did enter into these emotional hibernations from time to time, but I could never withdraw completely. I could not forgo passion or the excitement of discovering a new woman. I loved the sensation of falling in love.

To hibernate forever would have been tantamount to abandoning any hope of overcoming my curse.  So I tottered on the razor’s edge between optimism and despair, my mood dependent upon which way the wind was blowing.

After every hibernation, came finally an awakening; a desire. The seeds of Hope. But before love flowered, it was strangled by the weeds of her expectations: Reciprocal love. Commitment. Proof of the depth of my feelings. Intimacy.  Trust.

None of these desires were unreasonable.  Other men seemed able to fulfill them,  but (so I believed) they were not as flawed as I was.  I, however,  always hurt my women in the end.

Believing this, I didn’t trust myself around them. I saw myself like the Frankenstein monster, destroying those who were good and kind to me because I couldn’t stop myself.

This cycle was repeated so many times, with so many women, it wore a deep groove into my psyche. I was exquisitely attuned to every nuance. Long before a woman noticed anything amiss between us, I sensed the moment when the balance shifted. As soon as she cared enough to be disappointed, I started to slowly back away, using the same techniques one might use if confronted by a wild bear: No quick movements; speak softly; do not become agitated lest you be perceived as a threat, and be attacked. Avoid eye contact and walk slowly in reverse, without turning your back. If confronted, play wounded or dead.

I continued this way, one woman after another, around and around, the shape of my life always drawn by someone else’s needs. I felt emotionally distant from my own relationships, and always on the wrong side of the cage.

Unable to understand the root of my problem, I thought of myself as tragically complex. I imagined my head filled with millions of tiny gears, levers, and switches,  each acting upon others in arcane ways. I had no hope that anyone would ever understand me, least of all, myself.

From here I see there was only one moving part in my head, and that was the axis of the hamster wheel I ran on.

Each lap, I`d notice something a bit different and I`d think I was making progress. In reality, I never went anywhere. To have gotten somewhere, I would have needed to step off the wheel.

Sometimes to go forward you first have to step sideways.

I spent my life fighting to control my guilt and shame and fear without success. I did not understand that mastery over human emotion is not possible.  I did not recognize that others were also caught in their own emotional struggles;  struggles which were going to plague them with me or without me.

Humans seek the emotional interactions which move them along their spiritual path. The victim seeks the abuser; the masochist seeks the sadist; the giver seeks the user.   Those who cannot bear the truth attach themselves to liars.   Those who cannot accept responsibility for their own feelings seek out those who burden themselves with responsibility for the feelings of others.  And vice versa.

Similarly, we can only give to others that which they are willing to accept from us. Kindness is not always met with appreciation.  Compassion is sometimes fosters anger or guilt;  trust can engender suspicion and fear. Love is not always received with love.

Humans radiate uncontainable emotion, broadcasting not only in words, but in body and face; by action and inaction;  attention and inattention;  fear and trust.  Others perceive these emotions instinctively, unconsciously.

So many signals! So much energy! All there for the taking. A boundless emotional bazaar! Find anything you’re looking for! Set out shopping for anger, and you can always find plenty to raise your ire.   Seek victimhood, and your ego will become bound by every slight and insult and disappointment. Search for love, and you will find it mirrored back to you everywhere.

In my case, I sought guilt and found it by the boatload.

We choose what we seek. Mastery comes in recognizing when we’ve found it.

 
artwork and photo: (c) 2014 Adrienne Gusoff

 

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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 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.
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The Curse that Was Me

First published Nov 29, 2014

my voodoo vignette

Ru

My father was always angry at the world. To his mind, no one – not the people he worked with, not his own family, not complete strangers – gave him the respect he believed he deserved.   At home, he was a sullen bully. The rest of us responded each in our own way, based on our own character.

My mother was passive and docile. She accepted his emotional coldness and frequent verbal abuse, cowering but never daring to talk back to him or demand anything for herself.   My sister found her comfort and support elsewhere. She spent as much time away from home as possible. Whatever positive things she learned about family was from the parents of her friends. My brother, the oldest, hated my father. They got into frequent screaming matches, which often ended with my brother storming out of the house.

Me? I took on all the emotional weight upon myself.

No matter who was upset, I always felt I was to blame. If my mother cried, surely it was because of something I’d done. If my father was in a particularly foul mood, somehow I knew I was at the root of it. The voice in my head said, “See what you did?! This is all your fault!”

I felt perpetually guilty. Even if I couldn’t see it, certainly I was responsible for the suffering of someone, somewhere. It was irrational, of course, but this was hard-wired into my brain when I was very young.

Everything I became followed from that.

Since any drama triggered a cascade of guilt and self-loathing, I developed a lifelong distaste for confrontation. I cut as wide a swath as possible around anything emotionally fraught. By the time I was a young man, I’d become quite adept at avoiding conflict.

I cultivated the persona of an affable, agreeable, easy-going gent; polite and courtly in my manners so as not to cause offense.  I made myself small and innocuous to diminish my emotional footprint on the world.

Avoidance of confrontation served me well enough in my twenties. Nobody expects too much maturity from a man at that age. As I got older, however, this behavior became habit, and soon it became my character.

Since I internalized any unpleasantness (hurt feelings, tears, anger) as being my fault, from my perspective it seemed I always left a wake of tears. I felt cursed. Anyone who got too close would inevitably fall victim to this poisonous spell. I would disappoint and hurt them. I was dangerous; not worthy of anyone’s trust, love or affection

All my romantic liaisons followed the same basic script and always ended the same way.

Generally, to avoid conflict, I acceded to as many of her superficial and material demands as I could without actually giving anything significant of myself. I did this to keep her quietly satisfied and emotionally calm. When she asked for more than I was willing to give, I had an unassailable excuse at the ready, one with which she could not argue. Like Houdini, I could make myself vanish.

In this way, I found myself always stuck between a rock and a hard place. I was either submitting to her will or fretting about finding ways to painlessly avoid such acquiescence.   I felt cornered, trapped by my inability to say “No! This is not what I want! I want to do it my way.” Although this cage was of my own making, I resented her for putting me there.

This resentment harkened the beginning of the downward spiral.

I approached each finale with mixed feelings. On one side, I hated to let go. I took great comfort in the love and touch of a woman. Their emotional essence which so confounded me, was the very thing which drew me to them. (What was the point of being with a woman if I felt nothing?) If only we could have remained in the passion phase! But the seed of romance quickly become overgrown with duty and obligation and expectations which I could not fulfill.

How could I be responsible for someone else’s happiness when I could not even nourish my own?

Her emotional demands piled up. The pressure built as she required more of what I could not give.

I avoided and evaded and let her believe whatever she wanted. Honesty and assertiveness were not options. They would have occasioned drama, which would inevitably precipitate cascades of guilt. Rather than revealing my true feelings (or lack of them), I held up a mirror and reflected back what she wanted to see. Direct questions were met with silence or evasion or misdirection, leaving her to fill in the blanks. When pressured, I lied.

But one can only avoid confrontation for so long.

(continued in next post)

 

photo/styling:  Adrienne Gusoff

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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 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.
 

Ruined Innocence

NEW!

Artist: Utagawa Kunisada (歌川国貞) / Toyokuni III (三代豊国) Print: Night rape double-page illustration from volume 1 In Praise of Love in the Four Seasons (Shunka shūtō, Shiki no nagame – 春夏秋冬 – 色の詠)

Lir

I was still a child myself when I had a child of my own.

I was taken by a man – my father’s cousin – only a year after my first blood.

I knew, as I knew my own name, that he never thought of me again.  I was a convenient receptacle for his momentary arousal and release.  To him, I had no face, no name.  He was drunk, and I could see in his eyes that he was not anywhere near with me.   It was not gentle. It was not slow or kind.  He grabbed me, threw me down, pulled up my skirt and put his thing inside me.  I thought I was being torn apart. He made noise like an animal.  His hot yeasty breath filled my nostrils,  causing me to retch.  He didn’t notice.  He was finished quickly, wiping himself on my skirt.  The only words he said to me were to let me know that if I told anyone about what had just transpired, he would find me and murder me in my sleep.

When my belly started to grow full, and my mother understood that I was with child,  she beat me almost senseless.  How I had been made pregnant was not the issue.  All that mattered in that moment was that I was pregnant. It happened, and as a girl, it was my fault, my sin.

She demanded to know who. I dared not tell her the truth so I said it was the son of a farmer who had come to town for market day; that he kissed me, and I found him pleasing, and we lay together in a field.  (I knew enough about how babies were made to lie convincingly.)

Truth or lies, the outcome would be the same for me, I knew. There would be no justice.  My violator would never suffer any punishment.  To speak his name would only give me reason to fear.

The shame to the family was more than they could bear.  They sent me away to a place where I would not be known, and where my sins would not be reflected back on them, even though the fault lay not with me but with the very men who took their pleasures without responsibility or remorse.

I was sent to a sad and lonely place which kept fallen girls like me away from respectable citizens.

My father took me in the middle of one cold night, to a place far away, and left me at the gate of an imposing building. The old bricks struck in me both respect and fear.  I was pulled inside and before I could turn to wave goodbye, my father was gone.

 I waited, like the others, for the day of my labor to arrive.  The ones in charge kept us busy with as much work as our swollen bodies could bear.

A few months later, I had my child there, and she suckled at my breast when she needed to be fed, but other than that, she was kept away from me.  I knew they would some day take her away. They did not want me to love her too much;  to cry and protest when they pulled her from my arms for the last time.  I understood this and did not let myself love her.

While the other girls wore their guilt like a sack of stones slung around their necks, my own burden was anger.  I raged at the unfairness of it. Why should I have felt guilty when I had done nothing wrong? I was not a bad girl.  I did not offer my body to men for money or food or for shiny baubles, nor even for love. My maidenhood was stolen from me, violently and cruelly, despite my tears and shouts and pleading. Nobody else heard me. He made certain of that.   I had become a prisoner of my circumstances and of my own body.

In the meanwhile, I earned my keep cleaning and working in the kitchen,  as most of the other girls did.  I remained there until the child was weaned, and then I was sent out into the world with a few small coins to make my way as best I could.  I had no family, no friends.  There was nobody to watch out for me, no one to rock me when the sadness overtook me. This was supposed to be my punishment, but for what I never understood.  I was not the one who should have been punished, and yet, my life was a ruin because of that man.

I was far from my family and even if I had the means to return to their town again, they would not want me.  And I didn’t really want them.  I did not want to be with people who would treat me so unjustly,  who thought of me so ill.

I was fortunate to find some work in a respectable house as a scullery maid. I was grateful they have me work without a proper letter, and they did not treat me unkindly.  They paid me rarely, and only a few small coins, here and there.  Why did I need money?  They gave me food and shelter,  a uniform and some cast-off clothing.

After time, it became my job to go to the square on market day.  The kitchen maid knew exactly how much each item cost and only gave me just enough money for what we needed, but I was quite clever at bargaining, and was able to pocket a little bit here and there, and the maid was never the wiser.

Some days, I was told to hurry home. But other times, when she was feeling generous in spirit or if the family was away and there were no meals to prepare, I was allowed a few glorious hours for myself.  On such a day, especially when the weather was fine,  I felt truly alive.

One day, on my way to market, I picked some wildflowers and braided myself a beautiful floral crown.  A pretty young girl admired it.  After a quick negotiation,  I sold it to her for a few small coins.  Her friends, in turn,  admired it on her head.  Each week, from then on, I would make a few flower halos and sell them to those girls whose parents had given them a tiny allowance to spend on whatever they wished.

One of these girls was the daughter of the mushroom seller.  We made each other laugh and so we became friends. I taught her how to braid flowers and she took me with her into the woods to search for mushrooms.  We were both surprised to discover I had an instinct for it.  I understood which fungi liked which conditions, and where we were likely to find such conditions.  I could sense where they hid.  There was not much time for me to search. Conditions had to be just so on a day when I was free, but whatever I found, I sold to my friend’s father, for him to sell to others.

And in these ways, in this way and that, slowly, over the years, I saved enough for what I had been dreaming about for more than a decade.

I bought a fine dress.  I rode back to the town of my birth, which was many hours away. I had in my possession a knife borrowed from the kitchen.

I knew where he lived.  I knew how to find him.   If anyone was going to be murdered in their sleep, it would not be me.

When I arrived, I immediately set out to locate him.

But he was not in his field. He was not in his home. He was in none of the places where men gather.  I had arrived driven with revenge but finally I was worn out from the traveling, from searching, from burning anger.  I wanted to do my worst and be done with the deed. I could wait no longer. I needed to act while I still had my courage. I asked somebody where I might find him.

“In the graveyard,” I was told.  Many years before, he had been hurt by his plow and died weeks later from a creeping black infection.

My feelings were all a-jumble.  Disappointment.  A different taste of anger, now that my revenge had been stolen from me.  Relief, because I wasn’t even sure I could have carried through on my plan, even having dreamed about it for so long.  A sadness at my wasted life. And under it all, a sense of freedom;  a new beginning.  His accident had saved me from committing a mortal sin. Perhaps this was God’s gift to me.

For the rest of my life, and still,  I sifted through all those emotions,  trying to make more sense of them;  trying to come to a conclusion about what it was all supposed to mean.

 

(note on the artwork:  I did not have the impression that this narrator was Japanese, but the act itself as depicted here is as it was shown to me.)

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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 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.

Bacha Posh

first published Nov 26, 2014

bacha posh

 

Ba

I was born a girl but my parents thought better of it. A boy would be much more useful, so that’s what I became. They dressed me like a boy, called me by a boy ‘s name, and tasked me with boy’s work. I knew I wasn’t a boy but I liked the game. I had so much more freedom than the girls! I could go to school! I could learn to read! I could work and earn money to help my family.  I could play with my friends in the streets without adult supervision. I did not have to wear layers of hot clothing in the summer to hide myself.

I was happy and grateful to my parents that they were wise enough to choose this for me when I could not choose for myself.

I was a happy child living an uncomplicated existence.

And then I had my first blood.

My parents seemed to be expecting this but I had no suspicion that big changes were on the horizon for me. They informed me that it was time to give up my boyish ways and take my place in the world as a woman.

We would move to a new part of the city where we were not known, and I would present myself to all I met as a girl.

In a year or two, they would find me a husband. I would spend the rest of my life covered and subservient to men.

I wanted nothing to do with it!  I screamed and cried and argued but there was no moving them. They knew things which I was too young to understand.

For many days, I would not eat or leave the house. I was willful, something which was never repressed in me like other girls. I would not obey! It was my life!  I could not, would not, live under a veil!

Slowly, however, I began to realize that I could no longer hide my differences.  I could not play bare-chested with my friends any longer. The boys voices were growing deeper. They were sprouting hair on their faces. My changes were in the opposite direction. The very quality of my skin betrayed me, even covered as I often was, in dust and mud.

I didn’t know what to do. My parents were of no use. To them, hiding my gender was simply the practical thing to do at one time,  and now it was time to put those childish things aside.  If they had any idea of my deep emotional turmoil, of my sense of being lost without an identity, of my confusion and pain, they gave no clue. I was becoming an adult and I had to accept my responsibilities along with reality.

But they were still left with a problem that they had not foreseen and which was never going to go away.   I might be forced under the veil,  but I would never succeed at being subservient.

This was not merely a trait that would lead to an unhappy marriage, but a train which might get me killed.   I did not recognize this threat in the beginning. It was not until I watched a young woman, not much older than I was,  being stoned to death for an offense which hardly seemed like an offense to me.  I would have done the same in her position.  And that would have been me on the receiving end of those stones.

I allowed my mother to show me how to be more feminine.   She tried to teach me basic womanly chores, but honestly, I had no interest and I wasn’t very good at them.

Clearly, I was going to make a terrible wife.   What man would have me?

I was caught between one gender and another, and nothing could save me.

For the first time, I envied all the girls my own age.  They knew their place in the world.  They had never tasted freedom and so did not miss it.  Their world was much smaller than mine. They were, like goats in a pen.  They were happy in those confines with all the other goats.  I, however, could not stop longing for what lay beyond.

One day,  when I had long stopped worrying about being forced to marry (my parents hadn’t spoken of it in a long time and I thought they had given up on the notion,  as I had dearly wished),  my mother told me they had found me a young man from a good family.   They thought he would do fine.

I felt betrayed.  Terrified.   Angry.  How could they force me? I would rather live alone all my life!

Of course, that wasn’t possible.  My parents were not rich.  When they died, I would have no one to take care of me.  I could not earn a living as a woman.  I would be alone and destitute, at the mercy of a cruel world.

So,  I met him.  And his family.   With mine,  we all sat down to a meal.

The boy was small and sweet and shy like a girl.  He moved his hands gracefully when he spoke.  He had gone to school, too,  and like me, liked to read. (That meant there would be books in the house – a good thing!) . He was not  aggressive in any way.  He seemed kind. And as confused by his feelings as I was by mine.

I liked him immediately. I recognized in him a kindred spirit — someone who didn’t fit.

Later I told my parents that if I had to marry, then let it be him.  He later told me that he’d told his parents the same.

Once again,  my parents chose best for me when I could not choose for myself.

We were married and remained so until we were both old.  We did not have children, which was satisfactory for both of us.  He enjoyed doing much of the womanly work.  He cooked better than I did.   He had a way of making the house a nice place to live.

Because he was so easy, and because he was soft in his dealings with me, I did not mind doing the things that wives are expected to do.   There was no point in rebelling against him.  We were both on the same side; in the same boat.

There was not much passion in our marriage, but we had an abundance of tenderness.  We had friendship and mutual respect.  We understood each other in a ways that others never had.

We put on our proper faces to the world,  but at home we could both be ourselves. There, we were equals.  The roles the world put upon us had no place there.

For both of us,  it was the best marriage we could have ever hoped for.  He died first, and I missed him terribly.  But, at least he left me with enough money to live comfortably as I grew old.

It’s funny how things work out. For many years, it seemed certain I’d ever wed. But in the end, compared to all the women I knew in my life, I had the happiest marriage.

 

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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 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 Stolen Life

First published 11/23/14

boy soldier

Ki

Looking back, it seems as though I went directly from suckling at my mother’s breast to being a soldier. Oh, I had a few years of what might be called childhood, but given the conditions, they were not happy or carefree. Violence and war and atrocity were all I knew. Fighting and killing came to me quite naturally.

Every male I knew over the age of 9 had been conscripted into the ragtag group of fighters known as The Army.   The older boys, the ones in their teens, were our leaders. None of us had ever had any real adult male supervision. Our fathers and grandfathers and uncles were long dead by the same violence we perpetuated. Some — bastards by rape — didn’t even know who their fathers were. There was no one to teach us how to be men so we followed our baser instincts. We were not much better than animals.

We had no genuine ideals or any concept of what we were fighting for. If there had once been  a noble cause at the root, we had long since forgotten what it was.  By the time I carried a gun, my only goal was self-gratification and self-preservation. None of us had any reason to believe we would live past twenty, so we thought only about what we wanted in the moment.

We were usually high on drugs and liquor. They were so easy to get, we considered them part of our rations. This, in conjunction with the raging hormones of young men, made a volatile combination.

We took what we wanted at gun point. There were few who could stop us. We raped as casually as smoking a cigarette. None of us had any idea how to be tender with a woman. Such behavior was simply not in our emotional vocabulary.

There were often deadly fights even among our own soldiers. What did it matter if you killed someone or someone killed you? Death was ubiquitous. We were inured.

When there is no meaning to life, death, too, is meaningless.

One day, out of our minds on various intoxicants including sniffing kerosene, we came upon an encampment — women and children and a few old or crippled men who had fled from their decimated villages. They were protected by some soldiers from the other side who were better armed than we were but far fewer in number. We killed many of them. The rest fled.

And then had our way with the women.

School girls were raped by boys no older than they were, and in many cases younger. A small group of soldiers found one girl whom they all seemed to favor, and each took his turn with her. She covered her face with her scarf in humiliation. They were cruel.  They were brutal. They treated her with less consideration than a wild dog.

And then it was my turn.

I unfastened my shorts. I was already excited from watching. I climbed on top of her. Her scarf fell away for a moment. Was this my sister?! I had not seen her in a few years but she looked like her. What had happened to our village that she was here? Was our mother still alive?

She seemed to recognize me too, and a pleading look passed across her face but she said nothing.

My thoughts on this matter were fleeting. It didn’t matter who she was. The fate of my birthplace or my mother or my family was not at all relevant in that moment.

I raped her in turn, same as the others, then moved aside to allow the next in line. I walked away, joking with my friends, and didn’t give her a second thought.

Never in my short life did I feel a moment’s remorse for that incident. I never felt a moment of remorse about anything I did — not about the innocents I tortured or killed for reason or simply for laughs; not about the destruction and devastation I’d help wreak on my country. I did not mourn the theft of my youth or my family or my humanity. I regretted nothing because I knew no other way. There was only the most immediate future.

When I was about 15, there was an explosion in our weapons store.  Many were injured or killed.  There was blood everywhere — my own and others.   I looked down to see my legs had been blown off.   I lay there immobile,  my life flowing out of me, my blood mixing with the dirt. I knew I was dying but what did it matter?  If it weren’t from this,   it would have soon been from something else,  something just as gruesome.

I see that without spiritual guidance, without a voice of morality, it does not take more than a single generation for civilization to fall away; for humans to turn back into animals.

Vigilance is the backbone of humanity.

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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 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.

 

 

 

What Money Can’t Buy

first published Nov 20, 2014

rich kid silver spoon

Cha

What a waste of a life!

It took me until my 40s before I started to feel as if something were missing from my life. I made a few of attempts to find ways to fill the void but I was useless at anything practical. I failed at each attempt — spectacularly and embarrassingly. So I gave up and went back to my former louche, superficial and self-indulgent ways, but now with much less pleasure.

When I was young, I never questioned that I could have anything I wanted. I could buy whatever I wished. I could pick up at a moment’s notice and travel halfway around the world on a whim.  There were always lots of people willing to laugh at my jokes,  to revel in my company, to sleep in my bed. It never occurred to me to feel bad or ashamed that everything I had had been bought…including, in their fashion, the laughter, the reveling and the sex. There was nothing beyond that which I wanted.  I had all that I desired and desired all I had.

Eventually, however, as I got older, the people I met in my circle tended to be wealthy because they had accomplished something.  Even those born rich, seemed to have achieved success in their chosen pursuits.   And while there was a fair share of marriages of convenience, there were many who genuinely loved their spouses.

This started to nag at a corner of my psyche.

The thought started small but I soon began to feel that people only saw me as an extension of my money.

Of course that should have been ridiculously obvious. But for decades it was completely opaque to me.  I’d been content in my shallow world and had seen no reason to think too deeply about matters which might sow seeds of dissatisfaction.

But as this realization grew, I got the notion that I wanted to possess something money could not buy: The pride of accomplishment.   Self-respect.   Someone who loved me for myself.

This was the first good impulse I had in my life.

Unfortunately, it came too late.  I had no idea how to be loved for myself or what that even meant. I did not possess the emotional skills needed to truly love or be loved. My values were too warped. I had no instincts. I tried to express love but other than buying material gifts, I had no idea how to give of myself. I sought love but was too naive to know when I was being taken advantage of. I paid a heavy price for that, both emotionally and financially.

I tried my hand at business and even local politics. Once again, my instincts (or rather lack of them) failed me. I had no understanding of how the world functioned outside my rarefied milieu.

After several years of failures, I was, for the first time in my life, dissatisfied. I still played my social role. Still traveled in the right circles.  Ate and drank in the right places. I was now aware, however, of the subtle mocking disdain of others. Or perhaps that was self-disdain. I honestly don’t know.

There came a time when I withdrew from that circle and surrounded myself with those who admired me…for the same superficial reasons I’d once admired myself.  It was a vain and shallow and unexamined life. Pickled in gin.

I ran away from those who I felt judged me negatively. Ironically, if I hadn’t cared about their respect, they’d have respected me more. Or, again, perhaps I only would have believed they did. I imagine, either way, the same number of people would have liked me perfectly well (or disliked me) exactly as I was (and had always been).

The issue, I understand how, was not how they perceived me, but how I perceived their perception of me.

So, I surrounded myself with those even more needy and self-loathing than I. This allowed me to feel better about myself. My positive delusions about myself were reinforced by my coterie of hangers-on.

I told myself I didn’t need my old circle.  I talked myself into believing that I was lucky not to have been caught in that prison of strict mores and expectations. I convinced myself I was better off and freer where I was.

On those rare occasions when I was took a good, hard, honest look at myself,  I granted that I had run away from them. This notion made me feel bad enough not to want to examine it any more deeply.

What I never understood was that I was not running away from them.  I was running from the image of myself which I projected on upon them.

 

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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 Failure

First published November 28, 2014

Mother-and-Child-reading

Ye

I died while giving birth to my second child. This was how we arranged it before any of us were born. They needed to experience life without a mother.

Previously, we had also been mother and children. In that lifetime, I was very controlling. I lived a long life so neither of them ever learned to be fully independent. By the time I died as an old woman, my children were old themselves, with children and grandchildren of their own.

By then, they were fearful of everything, full of self-doubt and lacking all natural instinct. I recognize now how deeply I crippled them but at the time, in that life, I was only pleased and made secure by their need of me.

It seemed to be accepted by us all that I alone, knew what was best for them. They deferred to me on almost all their life decisions, from who they married to what kind of work they did to what they believed about the world.

Of course I always had their best interests at heart and usually chose well for them, based on their personalities, their abilities and their nature. They understood this and so deferred to me on everything.   But in doing this, I never allowed them to find the way on their own

They brought me all their problems and ceded to my advice. They were usually satisfied with the results, if only because they were content and secure in knowing the best decisions had been made for them. They trusted that I would always direct them to the best possible outcome, given the circumstances.

They valued me for my wisdom, and it is true that I was wise in many ways. I did provide well-considered solutions to their problems. But in the most important way, I was not wise at all. I kept them passive and obedient, willing to accept the wisdom of another, never motivated to search for wisdom on their own.

This time, they have no choice.

 

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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 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 Space Between the Galaxies

first published November 14, 2014

immense Andromeda galaxy

Ze

There is an ether separating this world from yours; a vast ocean of energy. To access the other side,  you must be willing to embark on a great journey, even knowing you will likely be tossed back upon the shore. But if you persevere, eventually you will catch the right current. It will carry you out and give you new perspective. If you are willing to go where it takes you, if you stay awake and aware, you will see Truth in new ways.

Circumstances are not always within your control. As with fishing, you must wait patiently, hoping for the right conditions.

Push aside all self-generated thoughts — certainly all the worry, fear, doubt, sorrow, anger, guilt and recriminations — but also pride and any sense of your personal importance. Let go of the egotistical belief that your feelings, challenges and achievements are uniquely important. This is what is meant by “abandoning the ego.”

Focus on the void; the empty space between your thoughts, like the darkness between galaxies. Concentrate your mind there until it becomes real. Then step into it.

Let whatever comes come. No need to force it. It is whatever it is. Allow yourself to be pulled in and carried along.  Dedicate yourself to the practice of quieting the mind; to tune in to what lies beyond. Let go of everything you thought you knew. Accept what you did not believe was possible.  Climb to dizzying heights so you may see life from a more objective perspective, then realign your thinking.

Watching the Earth from the moon, it is easy to recognize how small and insignificant you are.  The higher up you go, the more distant your view, and the wider your perspective.

Even If you can just get above your personal relationships, you’ve gone a respectable distance.

There is no shortcut.

Shed your skin. Step into the void naked and trusting.

The answers are there.

 

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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 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 Reality of False Realities

Originally published Oct 27, 2014
M.C. Escher: Relativity

M.C. Escher: Relativity

 

Ipo (again)

All humans are looking for The Truth. They seek one practical unified theory which will miraculously make sense of their lives. They believe that when they find it, they will be happy.

But no such Truth is knowable to living man. He may understand enough to give him peace in his life, but he will not, cannot, know everything.

Imagine the soul as a vast, deep cave, and at the bottom is the Door to the Universe.   Many of the answers to important questions are to be found through that door, but to reach it requires difficult and terrifying navigation, a lifetime of work and complete commitment to the quest.

The main room, itself, is filled with much perceived danger (notice I said perceived because in fact, nothing can hurt you here) and it is with riddled with side shafts leading to other rooms of various sizes.   It is difficult not to become lost in this labyrinth.

These tunnels and hallways lead to rooms of various sizes. Once you find yourself within such a room, your mind perceives what you are experiencing as absolute truth even though this sense of reality is actually illusion.

These are Rooms of False Reality, which are countless in their number.

Some False Realities are shared by millions, all unified by the same delusion. The sense of “living in truth” is reinforced and reflected back by the shared false beliefs of others.

Some False Realities are perceived by only one.   This may take the form of a single delusion, paranoia, insanity, euphoria, monomania, self-aggrandizement, even depression, low self-esteem, self-loathing.

By definition, it is impossible to know when one is inside a Room of False Reality because all experience is perceived as real. The worst kind of trap is one that is not recognized as a trap because one then one remains caught, with no reason to attempt escape. Escape to what? They already believe they are living in reality. From where their perspective, it is other realities which are false. Those so obliviously imprisoned don’t look for an exit. (And there is always an exit. If there is a way in, there is a way out.)

A great general leads legions to death based on his reality. The murderous dictator believes he is the hand of God; that is his reality and he will not be swayed from it. Dogma, too, is False Reality, catching believers in its insidious net. Those who believe they are incapable or unworthy or unlovable cannot conceive of alternate realities, and so remain in their own prison.

Plumbing the depths of one’s own soul is so difficult, only a very few are able to keep to the path. Only those with enough commitment and faith in themselves to give up blindly following the rules or beliefs set out by others, will ever find the Door. The only Truth is found within.

Sometimes, while searching with all good intentions, people simply get lost, and end up in a Room of False Reality. Others, lacking the courage to face the perceived dangers, duck into the first available passage to take cover in the imagined safety and ready answers of a Room of False Reality. Some simply lack the required emotional fortitude for such a journey.

Once a human mind is trapped in a Room of False Reality (which most are), in order to escape, it would first be necessary to recognize that it is perceiving a false reality. This is nearly impossible for the human mind to comprehend. And if one could recognizes a false reality, the moment they did, they would be propelled into a new reality, which is also likely to be false.

But there is always the choice: Do you remain in your current false reality? Or do you continue to seek and question, accepting as a matter of faith, that you have not yet found the Truth, and will likely never know it in your human lifetime?

This paradox is the prison into which humans are born, but without it, there would be no reason for human life.

 

(There was much more on this subject, channeled over a couple of weeks – and still coming. It’s very complex and honestly, I don’t really understand all of it, myself.   It’s making my head spin! I am going to parse it out because I’m sure readers will need just as much time as I do to digest it.

An aside here: Those who know me personally would agree that I tend to think about things in deep ways and see things from a unique perspective.

My thought processes usually work like this: I am faced with a question/issue/problem/dilemma/situation. I start to mull it over. I try to consider it from as many angles as my mind can embrace.   It begins with the initial question, which leads to HOW and WHY and WHAT IF. If I’m lucky, the answers [at least MY answers] eventually come to me –sometimes in weeks, sometimes not for years, sometimes not for decades. And some answers haven’t come yet.

These conversations with Ipo (or, if you believe I’m making this all up, my own thoughts) are coming to me whole. I did not inquire. I did not ponder a Big Question. In fact, for the most part, these are subjects I have given much thought to – some not ever. And yet answers and solutions and explanations – at least what seem to be answers, solutions and explanations – are filling my head.

To my rational mind, these “truths” do not seem insane or illogical.   If Ipo spoke of a race of Frogmen from the Planet X7hkn who colonized earth 10 million years ago, I would agree I was losing my mind. At least I HOPE I’d still retain enough sanity to agree!

But then, let’s assume that this post DOES contain Truth. Let’s say that most of us CANNOT perceive True Reality. How, then, could we know that we’re not perceiving false reality in believing this post contains The Truth?

 

Aghghgh! My head is going to explode!)

 

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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 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.

Your Golem

NEW

 

Ipo

This man you call your leader is not a damaged human being.  He is a perfect Golem. A thing without a soul;  a roaring, infinite black hole pulling everything in its path into its center.  It is an insatiable, mindless monster tearing off greater and greater chunks of the world, shoving it two-fisted into its ravenous maw without consideration except to its own hunger.

He is not human yet you persist in believing that he will behave in human ways.

You apply human terms to him to try to make sense of his behavior. You are shocked when he shows no empathy or compassion or remorse.  But he was not created for this.  You cannot apply human morality to him.  He is as amoral as a tornado or a hurricane, destroying without discretion.

He is not human  He is a golem,  created by you, from  all your fears and neglect, while you slept. And  now he has slipped his bonds.

His power commands your regard.  Your focus feeds him, yet you are unable to turn away. He is a gale force wind rending the house in two.  He is flood waters drowning all reason. He is fire,  setting forests aflame and blackening the wilderness. He is a mass murderer, set wild in the town.  He is all these things at once and you cannot ignore him, even knowing that he thrives and grows stronger by your attention.

Just as the problems, worries, concerns, failures, disappointments which arise in the lives of individual humans are the result of their emotional, mental and psychological conditions, and their unwillingness or inability to confront them,  so this Golem has been created by the collective consciousness in the same manner.  You have birthed this monster with your hatred and fear. He will continue to devour you until you confront these issues which give him power.

You are at a crossroads.  Your choices now,  made together, will define the future of the human race.

human. This is not about him.

It is about you.

________

Me:   I’m thinking this is not the end of the world; just the the end of the world as I want to live in it.

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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 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.

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