The Lives of the Dead

Some of the most interesting people I meet are dead…

Archive for the tag “ghosts”

Yoo-Hoo! Lou! ‘Zat you?

 

Update to my readers:

I’ve finally finished editing the book. Woo-hoo! Above is my first concept for a cover.  I rather like the vintage book look, to convey a little mystery but perhaps this isn’t the way to go.  Anyone have any other suggestions?  Ideas? Comments?  What about the description line, “Wisdom from the Other Side”?  Too hokey? Too woo? Maybe just “Stories from the Other Side”?   Input much appreciated!

The next steps are mostly about design (size, shape, font, etc.)  I’m hoping to have this ready for purchase by my birthday in June, my gift to me.

As for my astral experimentations,  I think I’m finally getting somewhere. Maybe literally. While I still don’t feel as if I’m leaving my body and walking around outside of it , there are some new developments.  First, when I go into my meditative state, I’m feeling a sensation that I would describe as a  slight shift of my energy which sort of “flickers” away from me and then snaps back. It’s like one of those lenticular “winky” pictures that you’d get in a box of Cracker Jack. Or that slight difference in perspective when you put your glasses on, then take them off, then put them on, then take them off.  I guess you could call it a vibration in that it’s cyclical energy, but it’s not the tingly feeling along my nerves which I’ve experienced before. It’s less a physical sensation than a perceptive one.

Also, the vivid hypnogogic images are coming almost as soon as I close my eyes, and they keep coming fast as long they remain closed. The other night, I was finding it difficult to fall asleep because they were so intense and frequent. As always, they are not particular interesting by themselves. For example, the other Saturday evening after yoga, during my shavasana, I saw clearly a stand of high and bushy grasses with white feathery tops in a narrow patch along the side of a road. They were being sprayed,  possibly with water so it would the area would not be dry and flammable, or maybe with insecticide or herbicide.  I could not see who or what was doing the spraying.  If I were going to imagine something,  it sure wouldn’t have been that.  Yet it was as if I were standing right there, looking at it.

So I wonder,  are these some kind of “brain regurgitation” or is it distance viewing?  I have no idea.

Also,  the other evening, while in this state, I saw flashes of light with my eyes closed.  It wasn’t actual light (i.e. not lightning or a car outside) but rather a kind of explosion of light in my head.  Very intense. Very brief.

I am just reporting my experiences.  I am truly not sure if they are “woo” or if there is a physiological explanation.

If I am, indeed, distant viewing, I have no control over what I’m looking at so once again, as superpowers go, it’s a lame one.  (I seem to be the Queen of Lame Superpowers.)

But here’s a nifty little thing that happened on Mother’s Day:  somebody I follow on Twitter mentioned that he set his music system on random and asked for a message via music from his mother. The song that came on had specific meaning for him. I mentioned that I think Lou Reed spoke to me in the same way,  and i posted the link to the story.  The moment I posted it,  Lou’s New York Conversation immediately came on MY randomized music system!  “I am calling, yes I’m calling, just to speak to you…”  That’s twice.  I suppose it could be a coincidence but hey, maybe Lou IS trying to communicate with me, if only because I am open to listening.  Perhaps I should talk back?  (Now I have this image of Maureen Stapleton in the original movie version of  Bye-Bye Birdie trying to communicate with her dead husband, Lou, by shouting at the ceiling.  “Ya hear me, Lou?”)

I suppose it’s also possible that I’m losing my mind.  But given our current political situation,  it’s not so bad to let go of reality for a couple of hours now and then. It might, in fact, be the only thing that’s keeping me sane.

 

 

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Living in Limbo

First published March 2, 2015


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Wir

The turning point of my life came when I was thirty one. Until then,  most of my moderate expectations had been met.  I fell in love, got married,  gave birth to a beautiful, clever little girl we both adored.   We were financially comfortable and happy together. My mind was uncluttered by much introspective thought or intense emotion.

When my daughter was 7, she disappeared. She’d been playing in the park with friends, and then, they called for her and she wasn’t there. Nobody had noticed anyone or anything. She’d simply vanished.

The police looked for her. My husband and I, our friends and family, we all looked for her. But we didn’t find her. Not alive. Not dead.

And so I lived the rest of my days in a limbo.   I was filled with the kind of intense emotions I’d never felt before, and did not know how to process. I cycled through grief, despair, guilt, anger, sorrow and the occasional scintilla of hope, which was always quickly extinguished and replaced by fresh grief.

Sometimes I heard stories of children returning to their parents after many years.   Somehow, they’d remembered and found their way back.  Naturally,  I hoped for such an outcome,  but after a time, I would have been relieved to know for certain that she was dead. If I could have given her a proper funeral, I might have been able to move on.  If I knew what had happened to her, I might have been able to forgive.   As it was, however, I never could settle on a single emotion, and so this was the cycle which spun the wheel which turned my life.

My husband and I stayed together, but it was never the same. We both felt a similar range of emotions, but our moods were infrequently aligned. We rarely connected, except on her birthday when we both seemed to feel the same.  For many years, we’d get a small cake with a single candle. We’d bring out the old photo albums. But then it became too awful. It made us feel helpless and hopeless.   We each tried to make our way through our pain in our own way, but neither of us had much success. Compounding our pain was that we were of no comfort to each other.  Even after many years, we both suffered alone.

Her being ripped from our lives so cruelly was for a reason; for the lessons on tragedy and mourning. At the time, however, it didn’t feel like any useful lesson. If anyone had suggested to me that it was part of a greater plan, I would have lost all control and attacked them ferociously. The pain was wrapped around me too tightly to loose its bonds. What mother can ever make sense of such a thing? To come to terms with it would have be tantamount to abandoning her; to losing her again.  She remained alive in my sorrow.

Now, however, I am afforded greater perspective. The unrelenting pain of that life is finally healed. She and I are together again, awaiting a next time.

 

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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).  Think of others who might enjoy it too,  and 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

 

Ipoism, Part 2

Originally posted February 2, 2015
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 (Continued from previous post. Still taking dictation from Ipo!)

The only truth that matters is the one found within.

A good guru teaches how to dig a thousand layers beneath the ego to find it.

First, you must calm your mind. It matters not whether you recite the rosary, practice transcendental meditation or yoga, or whirl like a Dervish.

Each philosophy, each movement, each religion prescribes its own method of ascent. Many insist their path is the only way.   This is not true.   Dogma is political. It is a way to control. Ritual for its own sake is not the path to spirituality. Ritual is only effective if it quiets the mind and turns thought both within and without.

Choose whatever works best for you. But choose! You must choose! If one method does not work, try another. And another. And another. Do not be lazy about this. It is essential to your spiritual growth.   Without this, nothing else can be learned. So this is the first thing to learn.

The only prayer you need is “Why?”   Then quiet your mind and listen for the answer.

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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! Feel free to post/ask/suggest/comment.
-Adrienne

 

Ipoism?

First published January 30, 2015

HelixNebula

(Ipo again, yes.   And this is not even the tip of the iceberg! He’s got me on full-time dictation duty!)

It is a human need to explain the things that cannot be seen; to understand the things which cannot be controlled.

For the answers, some turn to formal religion (ritual and dogma). Others look to the universe without ascribing any anthropomorphic qualities or identifying a single creator (philosophy). Others rely on the scientific method, waiting for incontrovertible proof before they believe (science).

None of these are mutually exclusive. All desires coalesce at the All Knowing Eye at the top of the pyramid.   Those at the bottom cannot see the other sides. They each believe theirs is the only path to the top. But the higher one ascends, the more apparent it becomes that everyone is on the same quest, albeit in different languages. Each human on every side, is just trying to achieve understanding.

God is not a being or entity. God is a place. It is the single vantage point from which every particle and law of the universe is visible. From this perspective, the entire pattern can be comprehended. It is the place where all who quest knowledge wish to stand.

Those who pray and think and meditate will surely ascend.  They will gain wisdom and understanding.  But no soul, living or dead, can ever reach the top. They will clamber up the sides in pursuit of it, but the mystery will never be unraveled.

Those who long for absolute scientific truth and knowledge, those who desire understanding of the spiritual universe and those who long to know God, they all pursue the same.

In the midst of this great clamoring for Truth, there are many gurus and teachers, counsellors and priests who call for attention. They offer promises of enlightenment. They flourish because people are lazy. They want others give them the answers.

(continued…)

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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

 

The Sliver of Light

originally published January 26, 2016

rocks piled

Ca

When I was about 45 years old, I gave up sex. Eventually, I went into religious seclusion so I might focus my full attention upon my studies and meditations of the wonders of the universe. I cut my ties to the secular world because none of it interested me.

I had spent half my life chasing money, career advancement, possessions, — empty goals, all of them. When I finally came to that understanding, I could no longer bear to live in that world.

It didn’t happen all at once. It began with a seed but the subject so fascinated me, it became an obsession.

It started with a drug that opened my mind just enough to let a sliver of light in. The first time there was no great epiphany. It was only different enough for me to say, “What was that!?” I’d seen only a glimpse but I knew I wanted to go back there.   So, I did it again. This time I looked for the opening, and when I found it, I moved into it. People call this a hallucination but many so-called hallucinations are more real and more true than what humans call reality.

I did it again and again. I couldn’t get enough of that place. The more I went there, the less I cared about chasing the middle class dream.   My family and my friends lamented.   They felt I was throwing my life away. They begged me to get help for my problem.

The problem was that I didn’t see it as a problem. I saw my family and friends as the ones with the problem. They chose to remain enslaved to the pursuit of meaninglessness.

Of course, as I started to care less about the shackles of modern civilization, the more strange I seemed to most everyone else. They saw me as kind of feeble-minded, my once-intelligent mind now addled by drugs.

There were names for people like me and they were all dismissive and condescending. Society as a whole needs to ostracize people like me, the way I was. If they didn’t, and others joined the search for Truth over Power, the situation could become dangerous.   If people are not kept in lock step with The Human Plan, the entire structure of power falls apart.   Humankind could not function if everyone had their heads in the clouds like me.   Who would run the factories? Who would wage the wars? Who would supply the food for all to eat? Who would produce the goods for all to wear?   Who would build the places for all to live? Who would create the scaffolding upon which the human ego hangs?

The human species advanced because of cooperation among people; the division of tasks.   When one person alone must hunt or gather all his own food, build his own shelter, gather his own fuel, haul his own water, make all his own tools — such a man has no time for philosophy.   But when humans live together in a group, each is able to specialize in their own particular task. The more they do it, the better they get at it, and thus, technology is born.   This co-dependent situation is to the benefit of everyone.

Modern society is built on this same structure, writ large, with each person far removed from most everything he or she eats or drinks or acquires.

So, if everybody followed my way, society would crumble, and humans would go back to having to do everything themselves, either way, leaving no time for philosophy.

But what would society be without a soul? Without a hand on the rudder to keep the human race from being set adrift?

Even primitive man understood this, and designated one person in each group, to remain in touch with the Spiritual.   By so channeling, this person maintained the group’s balance between the quotidian and the heavenly.

This basic dynamic carried forward from small primitive groups to large cities teeming with millions. There are those who have the gift, the purity, and the charisma to remind humankind of its spiritual destiny.

But I was not one of them.   I did not have the ability to make others understand what I saw or how I was feeling.   If I told them what I knew, they would have thought me a lunatic and locked me away.   Instead, I went away from them.

I retreated to a place where I could exist with the minimal. The less I possessed, the less I needed to worry about holding on to it.   Without that concern, I no longer had to work long hours, putting my mind to things that ultimately made no difference.

Work is work, regardless of whether one is digging ditches or communing with the universe.   All work is noble, as long as it gratifies the soul.   Find meaning in your work, and it will show you the path.

My path led me to this new kind of work even though, to those I left behind, it did not appear to be work at all.   I depended on the kindness, generosity and favors of others —   friends and strangers alike.

I earned no money but even still, I had to do physical toil. No good comes from idleness, either.

And that’s where I spent the rest of my days, leading a simple life so I might spend more time in contemplation.

Those from my past believed I was turning my back on life. They pitied me. I, in turn, pitied them. So much wasted time and energy on empty things. The answers were beyond myself and I wanted to spend my life looking,  even if I never found them.

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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

 

 

The Great Architect

earth from space

Ipo (yes, again!)

Ipo keeps coming back. He’s become my new “imaginary friend.” When I go off to meditate, my husband says, “Say hi to Ipo!” I would seriously worry about this except that my imaginary pal says such interesting things! I’ve heard about “spirit guides.”   Perhaps he is mine. This particular time, I found myself strolling through the forest with him. He was back on the subject of reality.

Absolute reality is an illusion. Reality is dependent upon position and perspective. Each human lives within his own version which differs, even if only slightly, from everyone else’s. Two people witnessing or experiencing the same event or relationship will each perceive it differently, each one believing their version is The Truth. In fact, no earthly being is high enough to have a completely clear perspective. Yet with distance, the emotion is lost, and so, that is not absolute reality either.

Human beings have many delusions about the universe but what they are most deluded about is themselves. Each human has an ego. The ego does not exist on the spiritual plane but it is necessary while alive to propel and pull them through the course they need to travel. Lessons learned along this course contribute to the development of the soul.

Living conscious humans can never completely separate themselves from their ego, regardless of how spiritually aware they may be. This is as it should be, for without ego, there is no motivation, no action, no movement, no goals, no emotion, no thought.  Yet  ego is the source of all delusion. Humans fabricate their own illusions in order to satisfy, to placate, to uplift, to defend, to justify, to support and even to deny the ego.

Ironically, the humans who are most deluded are the ones who appear to have the most control over the world around them; the kind of people other humans usually refer to as “great” – powerful rulers, captains of industry, leaders of armies.   They live under the delusion that they are the authors of their fate; that they are shaping the history of man.

In fact, they are merely tools of the Great Architect of the Universe.

The Architect alone designs and weaves the tapestry. Only the Architect sees the entire pattern — past, present and future – and spins the threads necessary to create the motifs, both large and small. The Architect knows when and where there must be shadow and light. Just as a human artist understands how a single point of white can bring alive a dark eye, so the Architect knows that goodness brings clarity to evil, and evil to goodness.   (From here on, for brevity’s sake, I shall refer to The Architect as TA. Pronouns, such as He or She imply human gender, which TA does not possess.) TA paints human history using a brush of enlightenment and darkness, war and peace, good and evil, tragedy and joy.

In so doing TA uses humans to affect these desired outcomes. Thus the conquered are as integral as the conqueror; the blind as important as the visionaries; the ignorant as important as the wise.

Ego is like an individual stitch believing itself to be the most important aspect of the tapestry.  To put aside the ego is to recognize, in humility, that we are each merely a single point in a larger design.  Only when taken together can there be a pattern.

 

 

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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

Friendly Fire

First published January 8, 2014

cowboy2

Pon

From the earliest time I can recall, I hated my father.  He was a mean drunk who sometimes got physically abusive.  I remember him hitting my mother once or twice when I was very young,  but soon my older brother put himself between the two of them and voluntarily took the brunt of the blows upon himself.   I watched that sick theater from the sidelines, rarely finding myself in the middle of it, but hating him all the same.

When I was in my mid-teens, I quit school and started working as a ranch hand on local farms. Whenever possible, I’d sleep in the bunk house to avoid going home.

There were all sorts of men in there, mostly itinerant, rootless farmhands. Some were good men – kind, generous, funny; some were as miserable and ornery as my father. Many were from far away; some from other countries. It was the kind of life which made having a stable romantic relationship or family life impractical, unsustainable. And so, a subculture of homosexuality arose. These men were “homosexuals of convenience” not because of any innate proclivity. They wanted sexual satisfaction, and other men happened to be most proximate. Man-on-man sexual trysts were not discussed openly, but they were alluded to; joked about, judged as nonchalantly as masturbation.   This might have been what they did but it wasn’t who they were, or how they defined themselves.

For a young man my age, with few heterosexual outlets, this kind of easy sexual satisfaction had its appeal.  I felt no shame about it. I had no reason so. Within the limited micro-culture in which I existed, it was perfectly acceptable behavior.

Normalcy is always relative. What feels normal to us is simply what is familiar.  Whether one grows up in a family of straight-laced missionaries or a tribe of flesh-eating zombies,  with little outside reference, this is going to seem perfectly normal.  And so,  touching men and having them touch me felt completely natural.

My brother remained at home,  standing guard over my mother.  By the time he was 22, however, he’d had enough.   He joined the army. It was a time of relative national peace and it provided an easy and expedient remedy for his unhappy and stifling situation. Before he left, he sat me down and told me that I would now have to sleep at home every night and take over the responsibility for my mother’s protection.

I did this with mixed feelings.  Certainly, I wanted my mother protected from my father’s drunken furies. Since she refused to leave him,  the duty fell to me.  By then,  I was big and strong; my physical presence was enough of a deterrent.   He knew he raised his hand to me at his own peril.  I wasn’t worried that I’d ever have to fight him.  I just didn’t want to live under the same roof as him; didn’t want to breath the same air;  didn’t want to be subject to his angry tirades or sullen moods.

I’d been living at home for a year or so, hating every minute, when we got the news. My brother had been killed in a training exercise. We didn’t get many details but it didn’t much matter. He was gone and never coming back.

My mother was inconsolable.   She blamed herself for not standing up to my father,  thus forcing my brother to take the only option he felt he had available to him.  She blamed herself for not having chosen a better father for her children.  She was consumed with grief and guilt and pain until it literally ate her up inside.  She died of cancer within the year.

I stuck around until after the funeral, but had little reason to remain anywhere near my home town. I drifted for a while,  working on ranches, here and there.  It was a comfortable way of life for me.  I was good at what I did and I enjoyed the work and the camaraderie.

Eventually, however, the smallness of my world became claustrophobic. The wide open spaces closed in. I became fascinated with the notion of getting lost in a crowd; of becoming anonymous in a human crush; of leaving my baggage behind and reinventing myself.

I took a bus to the big city, ready to start a new life.

I hadn’t considered that I had no idea how to survive in this alien environment, nor did I know anyone there who could teach me.   I was such an outsider, it was impossible for me to blend in, to vanish inconspicuously into a crowd. I didn’t understand the pace,  the lingo,  the urban mentality. I had a limited education and no practical business skills. I was a naïf in place that chewed up people like me and spit them out.

I had only one marketable skill: I knew how to give a man sexual pleasure.

Fortunately (so it seemed at the time), there were plenty of men who were willing to pay for this and I quickly I learned where to find them.  For many, an authentic cowboy held a certain appeal. My skill with a rope was in demand and offered an introduction to a more discriminating and higher- paying crowd.

I had arrived just in time for the heyday of gay nightlife. Discos and bathhouses were teeming with horny men.  There was a never-ending supply of drugs which kept us up all night or melted our muscles or enhanced our orgasms or cured the diseases we passed back and forth to each other.

I cultivated some wealthy men friends who were happy to pay for my skill set but I never deluded myself into thinking I was anything more than a toy to them.  They were educated and refined. They read books,  went to the theater,  discussed politics,  understood the nuances of business.  They felt comfortable in expensive restaurants and knew how to order fine wine. They knew where to shop and how to dress.  I did pick up some refinement from them but mostly, these things remained foreign to me.

I didn’t care. I was in it for the fun. For the freedom. For the money. I was grateful to be half a continent away from my father, and having a great time of it, too!

Although I traveled with that crowd, I never thought of myself as gay.  I didn’t love men.  I didn’t have any feelings for them.  I never looked at a man with sexual desire.  To me,  they were merely a means of making a living. If a woman wanted to have sex with me, I was OK with that too.   They would suffice if I were drunk or stoned enough,  but women never wanted to pay for sex (at least not the ones I met)  so ultimately, they were of no use to me. The few times I did sleep with a woman,  things always got complicated in ways I didn’t understand. They weren’t like men.  I could have sex with ten men in a night without knowing any of their names, never see any of them again, and none of them would care.  I preferred it that way.

I suppose eventually I would have found emptiness in this lifestyle too but before then, the sickness came.  At first,  it was mysterious, disturbing. But soon it became terrifying in the way it spread, in its quickness and mercilessness. Friends and acquaintances became ill and died. If I didn’t run into someone for a while, I always suspected the worst and was often right. There was a pall on the scene. The bathhouses were closed.  We were shunned.  People said horrible things about us and perhaps some of them were even a bit true.  For the older men, this was far worse than the early years when they had to live in secret.

And then it was my turn.  When the night sweats started, I knew what was coming.  I’d seen it all too often.

I had no one.  Those older rich men — the ones who were still healthy — wanted no part of someone like me.  I had never been their friend and now I was a pariah.  The sick ones, rich and poor, had their own problems.  I had nobody, no place to go, no money, no way to make a living.

And so,  because I didn’t want to die on the street,  I did the only thing I could.

I went home.

In the years since I’d left, my father had found God.  He’d stopped drinking and, to his credit,  had developed compassion.  He wanted to make amends, to pay penance for the deaths of my brother and mother.  He accepted responsibility for the broken mess my family had become.  He felt it was his duty to take care of me during my final months.

The irony wasn’t lost on me.  I’d come full circle.   In the end,  the most significant relationship I had, the only  person I’d ever shown any vulnerability to, was the one person I spent my whole life avoiding.  I couldn’t get far enough away from and yet, in the end, I traveled halfway across a continent to die in his arms.

 

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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.

 

To the Bone

first published Jan 5, 2015

 

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Se

I had  lived through many a freezing winter but none of them prepared me for the killing cold of that place. It sucked the heat from every cell causing the body to shiver and give up precious energy.  It was a place which, by all reason, should have been uninhabitable by humans.

And yet,  there we were.  Sent far from home for dubious crimes against the state.  I had made a joke to the wrong person.  My off-hand remark was reported.  No trial. No words of defense.  Just a guilty verdict and a train ride to hell.

They are wrong who say hell is an inferno. My hell was a frozen wasteland.

Escape was impossible. In the winter,  nothing but blinding whiteness for a thousand miles. Even in the all-too-brief summer, when the snow bled back into the earth and the yellow moss peaked through, we were hemmed in by dense confounding forests, impassable mountains, rapid rivers rushing with melt, and mosquitoes which attacked in thick, monstrous clouds. The guards, who were not much better off than we were, barely made an effort to keep us from running.  Why waste any more of their precious energy chasing us? Where could we go?   To stay was almost surely to die, but to escape guaranteed it.

From where I am now and from where you sit reading,  the wretched conditions seem abstract,  but in that place,  in that time, they were as real a misery as any human being can suffer.

We were forced to work, sometimes on so little food and so little sleep,  we were little more than walking dead, our souls tethered to our bodies by the most tenuous of threads.  We swung our pick axes at rock and frozen ground,  barely marring the surface, yet forced to keep on. We were left to sleep a few hours,  then awakened to do it again.

We lived in huts made of wood, which did little to keep out the bitter, bone-biting wind.   We huddled in tight clusters, taking comfort in the body heat generated by others,  inured to the stench of other filthy unwashed men,  all of us decaying from the inside out.

Food was as scarce as warmth.  We suffered from all the plagues of starvation.  Our teeth fell out,  which made eating difficult, compounding our malnourishment.  A downward spiral of organ failure.

Our pleasures were few.  Some made vodka from potatoes,  or wine from anything that would ferment. We drank to forget,  but in the long term,  it made everything worse. It destroyed our health,  our resistance,  and the harmony among fellow prisoners.

Death was not mourned. Clothes, shoes, coats were immediately stripped from corpses, grabbed as additional layers for personal use.  An old professor, whose only crime had been telling the truth,  didn’t last there more than a month.  He reminded me of my grandfather. I sat beside him as he died.  His cashmere scarf was already around my own neck as his soul left his body.

Some could not wait for their natural ends. They committed suicide by escape.  They wandered out into a frozen landscape, where the snow-covered tundra was indistinguishable from the silver sky.  A colorless, disorienting,  horizonless void.  But at least they died in freedom, a choice to be admired.

I did my time of eight years.  I was 24 when I went in.  I was 124 when I came out;  sick,  half-toothless,  mostly crippled and in constant pain from a broken leg which was not attended to properly and healed badly.   There was nobody waiting for me when I returned to the world.  My situation was not much better at home. I was dead within the year  but at least I saw one more springtime.

In my final hour, I sat on a bench in a park,  so tired,  so hungry, in so much pain, knowing I wouldn’t last much longer,  But I did not mind any of that. I was at peace; content to feel the warmth of the sun on my face; to smell the living green of the grass and the budding flowers; to see the girls with their hair loose and free.

And I was free, too.

 photo: http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2013/10/01/article-2440732-00329A4100000190-682_634x385.jpg

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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.

 

 

Stranger in a Strange Land

Originally published November 11, 2014

indiginous

Je

I was born among my people on land we had lived upon since the beginning of time. I was bound to that land through my soul.  I lived many, many lives there.

I knew all the trees by name. The paths through the woods had been worn deeper into the earth by my feet, over thousands of years.

I knew the place in the river where it curves around a sharp bend.  The fish got trapped there.  They were easy to catch. I knew the warrens of the rabbits  — the entrance hidden between the roots of a large tree or under a large, moss-covered rock. I knew where to set my traps. I never went hungry.  I knew every plant, nut and berry and which of them were edible, medicinal, intoxicating.

I knew every landmark; the way the silhouette of the hills cleaved the sky from every angle. I always knew how far I was from home.  I could walk for days and never get lost.

Everything I had ever seen or tasted or touched or heard or smelled had been of that land.   My parents were born there.  My grandparents were both there,  and theirs, and theirs, and theirs.   I was married there.  I had children there.  And everything they had ever seen or tasted or touched or heard or smelled had been of that land.

It was not a paradise.  Life was hard.  But it was our life.  We were characters in the same story as the land.  Inseparable.  Our histories, intertwined. To take one from the other would be to destroy both.

And then, eventually,  the Strangers came.  I was a grown child before I ever saw one with my own eyes.  But slowly,  like stalking a deer,  they drew closer in increments so small we barely noticed.

Soon there were borders which were not allowed to cross; where we were not allowed to hunt.   They would not bother us as long as we stayed on our side.  But they kept pressing forward,  encircling us,  drawing the noose tighter.  We were being strangled but we were too small a group to put up much of a fight.

Eventually,   they took us all to a place far, far away. There were many different people there, speaking languages I did not understand.  It seemed there were many who did not understand each other.

I did not understand this land.  It was dry and dusty.  There were no forests.  There were no streams or rivers anywhere.  There were no hills.   Just ugly, flat, colorless dust for as far as my eyes could see. I hated it instantly.  I was resentful and angry.  I had been forcibly removed from my past.  I no longer felt whole. I knew as long as I lived there I never would.

Some tried to live outside our forced settlement,  but it was nearly impossible to survive.  It was a world so different, so strange from the ones we had known. We had no skills; did not understand their customs or their ways.   At least within the settlement,  we were with others in the same predicament.  For the benefit of all, each People tried to put aside their ancestral differences with others,  so we might all work as one.

The elders knew immediately this would be the end of all of us.  In order to survive, it would be necessary to give up some of our past identity and forge a new identity.   If we were unwilling to do that, if we insisted on clinging to the old ways,  if we wasted our energy to getting back to the old lands which no longer existed as we once knew them, we would have been too divided and too weak to survive in the face of the Strangers.  We needed a single, strong, united voice.

Positions of power went to those from warrior Peoples.  My People were small in number and not known for their bravery against the Strangers. It was natural that we all put our faith in the mightiest warriors of all.

But,  in the end,  none of it did any good. Our weapons and tactics were ultimately useless against them.

The old ways are gone.  Some rituals and stories remain of course, but now, disconnected from the land, they no longer make sense. The food and methods of cooking are lost, because we could not find what we needed in our new land.  We lost our cures, our intoxicants, our aphrodisiacs.

We survived, but we did not thrive.

It had always been the duty of all elders to teach the young ones their People’s history, traditions, language,  culture and skills.   But now,  what did it matter?  Many elders realized this knowledge was not useful for the new world.  We needed to learn a common language so we could communicate with other People.  We needed to learn new skills for new land with new rules. What was the point of passing on valuable information such as the best place in the river to catch fish,  or the best place to set a trap for rabbit,  when that river and that mossy rock were half a continent away? (Nobody knew exactly how far,  but certainly a walk of many moons.)

There was no going back.  The elders were without hope.  Most,  like myself, who remembered the land eventually died lost and heartbroken,  with wounds to our souls that never healed.

The younger ones took to changes more readily,  more willingly.  For them, it was an adventure.  They didn’t have such long memories.

They had fewer psychic wounds but they also grew up without traditions and stories that bound them to their spiritual past, without the reassuring knowledge that they stood upon the land upon which they were born and to which they belonged.

They had no ambition for anything for what could they aspire to?

Some took on the ways of the Strangers.  I did not blame them.  They needed something to fill the huge gaping voids inside themselves.

If the old stories don’t work, find new ones.  So they discovered Jesus. They learned to read and write and count many things.  They learned the ways of the Strangers so they could interact with them and perhaps find some advantage.

But even with this, they were not accepted outside.

And so, all the Peoples are not really People at all anymore. They are the children of People and Strangers. It is impossible to be anything else.   They live in two worlds and will never again be whole.

I am grateful that many still have pride in who they are, in who we were.  It is good to know that the People still endure.

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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 Selfish Cad

First published October 18, 2014

selfish

 

Na

I was not a good person in my lifetime. I cheated and took advantage of people. I always chose was what best for myself and never fully chose for anyone else. Even when I behaved in an apparently magnanimous way, it was only because it furthered my own needs.   This was true even in my marriage, even with my own children.

But these were not my worst sins. The tragedy of my life was that I was completely oblivious to what a selfish, unenlightened human being, in fact, I was.  I never had a moment’s doubt that my behavior wasn’t righteous and justified.   After all, if I didn’t choose in favor of myself, who would? Others could not be trusted to watch out for my best interests.

There is absolute truth in that. It’s an important lesson; something I’d learned before and brought with me to this last life. But that is only half the lesson. Without the corollary, the real lesson has not been learned.

There is no question that the point of life is to learn to love. All goodness and enlightenment of the spirit spring from accepting this as the absolute truth.   All routes to all lessons pass through love – not only by understanding how best to achieve it, but by confronting all the reasons we run from it; and by examining the ways we comfort ourselves when we don’t have it.

But one cannot love if one cannot trust. Those who cannot trust themselves, cannot love themselves. Of all the kinds of human love, self-love is most important. Without self-love, it is impossible to accept love from others. Without this, one cannot love.

The more we truly love and accept ourselves exactly as we are, the more we are able to love and accept others exactly as they are, and thus, the more loveable we become.

Always behave in ways that foster self-respect. Take the high road not for the sake of others, but for your own benefit.  Release anger and forgive. Expect the best of others thus giving them the opportunity to live up to those expectations still recognizing that if they do not, that is their burden to carry. The misdeeds of others taint us and attach to us only when we respond in kind.

I only know this now, too late to have benefitted anyone in my past life. My punishment, if you want to call it that, for being such a shallow, selfish cad, is to know how much I hurt the ones closest to me, and how much better it would have been for all of us, if I’d be able to see then what I see now.

 

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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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