The Lives of the Dead

Some of the most interesting people I meet are dead…

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Happy Holidays, Everyone!

To my dear readers…

I’m taking my usual December hiatus — life gets busy for all of us this time of year and it’s a good time to focus on family and friends.  Normal posts will return on January 3.

Until then,  I wish you each joy and peace and all that good stuff,  and hopefully not too much stress.

I hope and pray that next year brings us far better political news, especially here in the USA, than what we’ve had so far.

Thank you all for following, for your continued support, and for your feedback and comments which are always welcome and appreciated.

With love,

Adrienne

 

           May your holidays always be filled with childlike wonder

 

 

 

 

artwork:  (c) Adrienne Gusoff   (one of my original greeting cards for Recycled Paper  Greetings,  circa mid 90’s)
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Another short hiatus from new posts…

To my faithful readers:

Things have been quite hectic here lately which is making it hard to find the necessary time to get into the deep meditative state I need in order to listen, let alone edit, post, find appropriate image, etc.

I am also working on a book version of this blog which I am HOPING to finish in time for the holidays, just in case anyone would like to buy a couple as a gift. (hint, hint.)  There’s a lot of editing involved because rather than being in the order in which I received/posted them,  I am attempting to put them in a sequence where each story informs, somewhat,  on the one before and after it.  (Like making a good mix tape! 🙂 )   As you might imagine, this is extremely time consuming.  (I must have re-read every story 15x already!)

Plus,  I am (probably unhealthily) addicted to/obsessed with political news, which is not exactly conducive to tranquil, meditative states.  I have been writing a blog on that this subject,  which I invite you to follow if the subject matter interests you: The Liberal Curmudgeon

So please forgive me if I am not able to post NEW stories as often as I have been.  (I will continue to post every three days, but instead of each third post being a fresh story,  it might be a week or so between new ones. )

I do have a few nearly finished stories almost ready to go.   I think you will really enjoy them, but they still need be edited (for the sake of coherence), posted,  added to the book in a place that makes sense.  (Each new story,  aside from the listening time,  takes about two additional hours to process.)

Please hang in there!   Once the book is finished, I will be able to devote more time to the actual listening and post new stories on a more regular basis.

Thank you all for your support, your positive feedback, and  your comments.  It is  MOST appreciated.

–Adrienne

Who You Callin’ Primitive?

Originally published Oct 12, 2014

 

 

…Continued from August 27

[note: When I go into my trance the next night, I look for Ipo again. This time, he shows me around his old forest home. We are sitting on the ground, under some trees, talking. I ask him what his prized possession was.]

That’s easy. My bow. It took me many, many days to make it; to find just the right materials and to shape it just so. It was a very good instrument and others admired the fine workmanship.

“And what is your favorite possession?” he asks in return.

 I couldn’t think of an answer, which I suppose is good. I guess it means I’m not that attached to material things. I thought about it for a long time afterward, and now I would say it’s my collection of journals, dating back to college.

 As we are sitting and talking, I am feeling a bit nervous. As beautiful as it is in this place which feels so alive, I recognize that it is also full of unseen dangers. Ipo reminds me that there is no danger to us here. We are merely astral forms.

With that, Ipo casually and reflexively grabs his slingshot, and in a single motion, loads a stone into it and brings down a snake inches from my head.

 “I thought you said there was no danger!?” I said, frightened and a bit annoyed.

“There isn’t,” he replied.

I just wanted to demonstrate something to you. Even if we were not in our astral bodies, but were in human form, you still would not have been in any danger. I would have seen that snake long before you were even aware of it; and it would have been dead before you’d even registered danger.

Notice, however, that when you realized what had just happened, what close a call you’d just had, you were terrified after the fact. If that had happened in your real life, that fear memory would have remained with you for a long, long time. Perhaps the rest of your life.   Even though the danger was only conceptual.

Now, imagine me as primitive man visiting you in New York. Our situation is reversed. My surroundings are completely unfamiliar and terrifying to me. There are unknown, unseen dangers all around. We are standing on the street corner, waiting to cross. I am about to step into the street without looking or thinking. You, however, are unconsciously aware of the traffic light and the flow of the cars. Before I can step off the curb, you instinctively put your arm out across my chest to prevent me from moving forward. At that very moment, a bus whooshes right past me.

To you, the act of reaching out and stopping me would be pure instinct, honed from your years of living in the city. It is a non-event for you. It’s the kind of thing you would forget almost immediately after it happened. I, on the other hand, would be terrified by what had almost happened to me. And that fear would likely remain with me for a long, long time. Perhaps the rest of my life. Even though the danger was only conceptual.

My point is that all danger is conceptual, and thus, so is fear.

We fear what we believe we cannot control.

But we cannot overcome fear by controlling everything, because that is impossible. If that is the goal, it can never be achieved, and thus fear can never be conquered.

Fear can only be overcome by relinquishing the need to control; by understanding that life is going to unspool in exactly the way it was wound up – by you, when you were here, before you breathed into life.

What do you have to fear? All obstacles have been put in your path by your very self, to help you understand and ascend. Vanquish fear by searching for the lessons in the very situations which you, yourself, have provided to yourself. Use the unknown to learn something new – about yourself, about others, about the universe – and fear evaporates. Accept that it will be as it should be.

People with understanding and faith in this truth are peaceful.

But blind faith can be worse than no faith at all.

You must work, always, for your own enlightenment. You must not accept facile answers. Everything you need to know is within you, if you look deep enough.

And if you go down far enough into your soul, you will find a door. That door opens into the universe.

 

[There is much more from Ipo. He’s quite the philosophical and chatty fellow! And I’m finding him very interesting.  But in the interest of the blog,  to keep it from becoming too “one note”,  I’ll be posting some narratives by others who’ve come to me during the same period.   I will get back to Ipo’s wisdom and insights soon enough.

I find it difficult to understand his concepts sometimes — it’s a lot to process — so I imagine it would be even more difficult for many readers.  I think we can all use some time to digest.)

______

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 Choice of No Choice

first published 7/29/15

 

drought-cow

Ka

When you’re poor you do not have a lot of choices. The poorer you are, the fewer choices you have. We were so poor, I had only one choice.

I had seven to care for…my wife, my five children and myself. I had no work. The soil was so barren, nothing grew. We were starving to death.  We had already lost two little ones, but we didn’t have the luxury of mourning. Poor people living in such dire conditions know better than to become too attached to infants until it’s clear they have the strength and will of spirit to survive. Life for us was difficult and precarious. Chances of living to an age of self-sufficiency were not high.  This is not to say we did not do our best for our children, but we were philosophical when they did not survive. So many died young. That was just the way of life.

Of course, as they got older, as their personalities developed, they became more precious to us. My oldest daughter was 14, born during better times, when we had some hope. She was quite lovely and graceful, a very sweet child.  She was strong and smart. To look at her made me happy and proud, and yet sad and ashamed that she had been born to me — I who could do nothing for her. I wished I could have offered her more.

One day, I was approached by a man from the city who offered to give me money for her. He promised to take her to a place where she could have a better life – lots of food to eat, pretty clothes. My wife wanted to do it. She knew the promises were hollow but she would have sacrificed her for the benefit of the rest of us.   But I was not naïve. I had heard about what they did to the girls from the small, poor villages. Stories came back, in bits and pieces. They were horrific. I  had heard of the kinds of things they made the girls do. I knew the kind of lives they were forced into. It was said these girls were usually dead of drugs or beatings or suicide in just a few years.

I couldn’t do it. I could not sell my daughter like a goat, to be slaughtered. I could not condemn her to a life – such that it was — of slavery and abuse. It was not her fault she was born to such a useless father.   As desperate as I was, I knew it was immoral to sell my child. I could not bear the guilt, even if it meant saving my other children, at least for a while.

So, I did what I had to do. This was discussed with my wife who finally agreed that my plan was the only way.

I knew of some plants that would put us all to sleep so we would never awaken. We fed them first to the youngest, then the older ones, then my wife and I took ours.

There was no pain and at least we died together, in our own hut, as a family. It was more loving and peaceful and compassionate than watching each other die, one by one, from disease and starvation, counting the days until finally Death came for us, too.

————–

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!

 

Death of a Child

first posted June 23, 2014

momento mori child

Tre

I didn’t live long. I was not even three when I died. Plagued by health problem from before I was born, my time on Earth was full of doctors and hospitals and surgeries which only prolonged my suffering and postponed the inevitable.

I took it in stride. I didn’t know any better. Life, for me, was pain and discomfort.

It was worse for my parents. They worried constantly. They felt guilty and scared and depressed. My older brother suffered from neglect while my parents hovered over me, taking care of my every need; trying to give me as much joy and comfort as they could in what they knew would be my very short life.

It was a life I chose, but not for myself, for what lessons could a child of three learn about life except that it was full of pain and suffering? But this is hardly a unique lesson. Most humans learn it, in one form or another, in every lifetime.

No, I came for them, all of them. My parents, my brother, the sister who was born after I died and lived her life in my shadow and with my legacy; my grandparents whose pain was as acute as my parents’.

Their lessons were learned coming to grips with senseless loss and all its emotional manifestations.

I go to my mother sometimes and offer her my comfort. She seems to feel me, and finds peace in it. My father is more stoic. I know he sometimes (rarely) thinks about me and cries alone, away from everyone, but he composes himself quickly and continues to move through his day.

My brother was happy when I died but I don’t blame him. He was only five and needed love and attention that he wasn’t getting. There were so many, many nights when he went to sleep without seeing our mother and father because they were at my bedside in the hospital. With me gone, he was the full focus of their attention.

Initially, he was happy for that. To him, I was nothing more than a broken toy, to be discarded. But my parents became over-protective and that soon stifled him, and dogged him, as well as the new baby who came a couple of years later.

I know they all still suffer from the emotional aftermath of my death, each in their own way, but they have also learned a lot – about themselves, about their strengths (both personally and as a family.) They are more compassionate to the suffering and pain of others. My parents’ marriage went through some rough times but ended up stronger for it.

I am grateful they have taken many positive lessons from my death, but I suppose even if they hadn’t, even if they’d broken up and fallen apart, there would have been lessons in that as well, although perhaps not understood until they, too, had passed on.

One Hand Clapping

New!

sad-couple

Car

For many years — far longer than it should have — it mattered to me if he loved me. I gave a lot of thought and put much effort into pleasing him, into being a good and caring wife.  I believed my own success was measured by how happy I could make my husband.

It was difficult to know if he was happy.  He was not much for casual conversation. He hoarded his words the way a miser hoards his silver.  I looked for signs that he was satisfied. When other women complained that their husbands criticized or tried to control them,  I felt lucky to be married to a man who let me be; who never said harsh words or pointed out my faults.   However,  he never praised me, either.  He did not recoil from my touch, but neither did he seek it out.

When my father passed,  it was a time to take stock of my life, of my marriage.  I stopped acting out of habit and paid close attention to any change in our dynamic. I suppose I always suspected the truth, but it was at this time that I finally came to terms with it:  I was in our marriage alone.    He was physically present but emotionally absent.

He was never purposely cruel, but neither was he particularly loving, and there was a kind of cruelty in that.  He made few demands of me, but neither did he notice or appreciate my efforts for him.  Whether I made him his favorite dinner or let him fend for himself, it mattered to him not at all. He could be just as happy eating something small and simple, just enough to satisfy his hunger, as to eat a meal that took me hours to prepare.

If I attended to the small things for his comfort and convenience or if I was lazy and selfish, he cared not one whit.  If I made our home nice and cozy, or did not bother to clean or neaten up for days, he didn’t seem to notice. If he wanted to sit and read but there was something on his chair, he wordlessly moved it.  He asked for nothing and did not complain when he didn’t get it.  Sometimes, he’d say or do something to please me because it seemed expected of him.  Initially, I took these small scraps as appreciation but I came to understand he was simply making the minimum effort he felt he could get away with. We coexisted civilly, politely, but without intimacy.

In the early years, my duties as a wife and homemaker defined me, gave my life focus and purpose.  I played my role, day after day, putting one foot in front of the other, not paying much attention to where I was going. Or why.

But eventually I realized that he neither saw or understood my feelings, and that any effort on my part in that direction were for naught.  He moved through life without engaging.  He was quite happy to exist inside his own head.  Emotionally, I was superfluous.

It was then I began to consider if there weren’t more fulfilling ways to spend my life.

And that was the beginning of learning to love myself.

____

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!

Annual December Hiatus

Dear Readers,

As I have each year since I started writing this blog, I am taking the month of December off to focus on business (my busiest month) and the usual celebrations.

I have not discussed the election results here but I have been quite vocal in other places.

Initially, I was horrified which settled in to anger and depression.  But this blog has helped me understand current events in a broader perspective.  While I am not minimizing the disaster that I believe this administration will be not just for the US, but for the entire world,  I feel that somehow,  it was meant to be for reasons we cannot understand now.

I have felt for a long time (a couple of years) that the planet due for a MAJOR correction.  The human race cannot sustain as things are now.  Hatred is a by product of more and more people vying for fewer and fewer resources.  Over time,  automation,  robotics, and AI will take more jobs making the situation even worse.   Global climate change will precipitate droughts, flood, inhospitable conditions, new disease vectors,  famine and war.  (Hate to be a buzz kill, but I don’t see it any other way.)

It was inevitable that the shit had to hit the fan sometime.  I was hoping we had at least a couple more decades, but I fear that our new Fearless Leader will precipitate something sooner.

Whatever that “something” may be, I believe it is necessary on the spiritual level; that it’s part of the larger tapestry over which we do not have any control.  I am no longer freaked out.  (I’m not happy, mind you…)  I accept that the future will be what it will be.  I regard it as my duty to my spiritual self to take as much understanding from these unfolding events as I can.

I will work in every way I can to bring peace and understanding to the world,  while regarding whatever bad that may come as an opportunity for personal growth.   For me, it’s the only way to remain sane.

I wish all of you the very best of the holiday season.  The blog will resume the first week of January.

‘Til then,  stay strong; stay grounded; stay focused on the learning (and teaching) opportunities.

-Adrienne

Sorry for the multiple posts….

Sorry, readers…I was scheduling future posts and entered some dates incorrectly so several posted at once.  You can ignore the multiples…they will be reposted in proper sequence later on.

Carry on!

-Adrienne

Dress Up

originally posted June 8, 2014

closet-photo-730x285

Pa

I can still smell the sweet, musty scent of old perfume clinging to her elegant clothes; the tickley feeling of her long fur coat brushing against my face;  the smooth skin of her fine, leather high-heel shoes lined up neatly in the shoe rack.

My mother’s closet. It was the place I hid when I needed to feel safe.

When I was very young, and my parents fought, downstairs, I would run up to their room and slip into my secret fortress, pulling the door closed behind me.  I kept a flashlight hidden in the back. Sometimes, I turned it on. Sometimes, I sat in the dark. When I was in grade school, and the kids at school bullied me or called me names, when I felt myself weird and disconnected, that’s where I ran.   It was my secure, perfect little world, where every color,  smell, and texture was familiar and reminded me of unconditional love.

It was a finite place yet it contained infinite peace. The sounds of the world outside were muffled by tightly packed garments of silk, linen and wool. If my parents were shouting, I couldn’t make out the words. If I fell asleep, when I woke up, I couldn’t tell if it was day or night. I might have been sleeping for an hour or for years, and this too seemed mystical and magical to me, because there was always the possibility that I’d been asleep so long that when I emerged, everything would be completely different.

When I got a bit older that pleasure was no longer available to me. It was OK for a small boy to hide in the closet, but not at all appropriate for a thirteen year old. Which is not to say I outgrew the need or desire for it. I was just more afraid of being humiliated, especially by my father.

In order to recreate that feeling as best I could, I would sneak one of my mother’s silk shirts or casual dresses — something with her scent on it — or perhaps a pair of her shoes, and I would keep them near my bed. At night, I would pull them beside me, and they helped me fall asleep.

One day, when I was about 14, I put on her shirt, just to feel it against my skin, and I become sexually aroused.   This confused me and made me feel ashamed and yet, it excited me in such a primal way.

As I said, I never outgrew the need for the closet so I found another way to hide in it: by wearing women’s clothing.

There was so much shame involved in this practice, it colored everything else I did in my life. I hid this deep, important part of myself from everyone, including my wife. I lived in fear that my humiliation would be discovered. The mocking voices of my childhood classmates accusing me of being strange never left my head. I had to admit to myself,  they were obviously right. I was weird.

I tried so hard to control my need, but the more I resisted the more obsessed and stressed I became. The more stressed I became, the more I needed it. It was a cycle I could never break.   And every time I went back to it, after being “good” for a while, I was filled both with relief and a deep-sense of self-loathing.

This was the core of my life. The rest of it doesn’t matter. Not my job nor my family nor any hobby or interest. They existed outside of me. I played my roles well and nobody ever suspected — I hid myself that perfectly.

My entire life was all about what and how and when I could do it again; about balancing my need with my terror at being unmasked as a pervert. My entire life was a lie. I hid the most important part of myself from everyone and in doing so, sacrificed any hope that anyone would love me for who I truly was.

My life was a never-ending cycle of self-loathing, fear, determination to change, failure, collapse.   I suppose the only way to have broken that cycle was to accept myself as I was, for who I was.   It didn’t matter if nobody else loved me; more important, I needed to accept myself as the imperfect being I was. This is something, I never managed to do. Perhaps if I’d been brave enough to share my secret, I might have found acceptance, but I could not. The shame was too deep. It was a part of my DNA.

It was a secret I took to my grave.

____

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!

Show Me the Place

 

leonard

first published Sept 25, 2015
(And since it was Yom Kippur again this week,  I’m posting this one slightly out of chronological order….)

A post from me:

Wednesday was Yom Kippur. Although it’s been many decades since I observed the Day of Atonement in any traditional sense,  this year I spent all day listening  Leonard Cohen, who is, after all, a great rabbi.  Actually,  I listened to one song in particular  again…and again…and again, each time hearing it anew. The song, “Show Me The Place” is from the Old Ideas album.   I found myself moved more deeply than  any synagogue service or rabbi ever could.

LISTEN

The song addresses the struggle shared by so many of us; of trying to remain “in the light” while dealing with the necessary mundanities of real life – earning a living, having to interact with those who test our ability to forgive, to curb our anger at life’s indignities and injustices.

Most of Leonard Cohen’s work deals with his own quest for peace through love and spirituality; his struggle to overcome the depression, self-loathing, fear, cowardice, shame and sense of unworthiness which have plagued his entire life. His songs have always been filled with imagery of submission and slavery and supplication.

“Oh, take this longing from my tongue; whatever useless things these hands have done.”

        –Take This Longing  

I asked my father I said, ‘Father change my name’. The one I’m using now it’s covered up with fear and filth and cowardice and shame.”

     Lover, Lover, Lover.

In the 90s, he spent five years in a Buddhist monastery, where he eventually became an ordained monk. He credits this time of study and the Buddhist philosophy as having helped him greatly to understand his own pain and to ameliorate some of his emotional suffering.

By the late 90s, he was in a good place.  Then in his 60s, he had ample income from his music, and was able to devote his time to writing and recording, living a peaceful life of meditation and introspection  writing about the things that moved him without financial worry, insulated from many real world distractions.

In 2004, he discovered that his long-time manager, a trusted family friend, had embezzled millions of dollars, draining even his retirement account. There were lawsuits and counter-suits aplenty. One  can imagine his state of mind at this time. Ripped from a life of relative peace,   and thrust into nasty legal battles and heavy financial obligations to others. He had to go back on tour; back to working for others, relinquishing his well-deserved freedom.  (“There were chains, so I hastened to behave.”)   It’s easy to imagine him overcome with very un-Buddhist-like feelings of anger, betrayal, frustration, even hatred which must have been difficult to assuage. He may well have lost the ability to keep his depression at bay.

All those years of living in the light, of letting go of ego,  and suddenly, all the lessons feel lost to him. He tries to hold on as best he can, but can only salvage a shred of light – “a particle, a wave.”

In this song of supplication, he is entreating God to tell him where to stand so he can regain the old perspective, so he may once again live in a state of grace.

It is a song of supreme sadness and pain. It put me in a tender, weepy state. Nevertheless, I’ve been listening to it on repeat for two days straight.

For me (and I know many of you readers), it’s a constant struggle to forgive those who need forgiveness most; to open my heart to those who hate or who have hurt me. I work every day to separate the needs of my ego from the path of my higher self.   Although I would be most content spending my days in spiritual contemplation, I must work to make a living, often forced to deal with people who fill me with some very UN-spiritual thoughts.

This song is a hymn to that struggle in all of us – to hold on to the Light in the face of darkness;  to truly live in the light and not just pay it lip service. I don’t always win that battle, and the losses are always filled with pain.

Show me the place, where you want your slave to go
Show me the place, I’ve forgotten I don’t know
Show me the place where my head is bending low
Show me the place, where you want your slave to go

Show me the place, help me roll away the stone
Show me the place, I can’t move this thing alone
Show me the place where the word became a man
Show me the place where the suffering began

The troubles came I saved what I could save
A shred of light, a particle a wave
But there were chains so I hastened to behave
There were chains so I loved you like a slave

Show me the place, where you want your slave to go
Show me the place, I’ve forgotten I don’t know
Show me the place, where my head is bending low
Show me the place, where you want your slave to go

The troubles came I saved what I could save
A shred of light, a particle a wave
But there were chains so I hastened to behave
There were chains so I loved you like a slave

Show me the place
Show me the place
Show me the place

Show me the place, help me roll away the stone
Show me the place, I can’t move this thing alone
Show me the place where the word became a man
Show me the place where the suffering began

 

yom-kippur-prayer


FYI,  Leonard has a new album out next week.  Click to order.

Thank you for visiting.  If you enjoyed this post, please follow the blog and/or sign up to receive email posts. New posts every three days, and they are getting more and more interesting. I promise! Comments are welcome here or at https://www.facebook.com/livesofthedead.   If you know anyone who would enjoy or relate to this,  please forward and/or share on Facebook or Twitter.  Thanks!

 

 

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