I am Sure- revisited 2018

We are struggling out of a dark time.

The Age of Aquarius has dawned. There will be peace and prosperity for all. There will be no hunger or hatred.   Love will prevail. The only snag in this Opus de Optimist is the pesky detail of responsibility. Who will recognize love, hold the light and pass it on? Certainly we can’t expect some dusty saints and oft-misquoted prophets to mould the whole ball of wax. This is our time, and our planet, and we are responsible for what we put in our minds and how we live our lives.

Whose job is it to hold the frequency of love and respect?

This morning it was my task to take a few bags of “camping” dirty clothes to the modern day riverside flat rock. Laundromat USA has taken the place of pounding stones and water to clear the sweat from garments of labor. I have never understood how beating anything with rocks would cleanse, but it certainly makes a rich metaphor for so many misguided efforts.

The narrow storefront held two aisles of machines in cramped space, ringed by tall-unadorned white walls and high ceilings. With two other Washers present, we did the bob and weave, avoiding all but the most rudimentary contact. “Excuse me,” and “Is this your sock?” was the only exchange. There is something a bit too intimate about seeing your delicates pirouetting about in the dryer face to hold any face-to-face conversation with strangers.

In these places of public necessity; the intersections of life travelers, I have often found pithy notes in strategic places. Direction and guidance from an invisible overseer of the laundry, thumb tacked, wrinkled missives written by hand in block print.

                                                    It’s OK to open the door

                                                   As long as you close it

A meter long TV was mounted from the ceiling, volume loud enough to be heard over dryers and humming front loaders. I initially ignored the Beelzebub over my head until I heard the sound of piteous whimpers, screams for help, pleas for mercy. Over my head glared the image of a young girl being tortured and sexually assaulted in High Def clarity. Gut churning horror reached out to wrap cold fingers of “what if” around my neck. Without warning the shadow side of humanity loomed dark and large. The media gods laughed at my shock, demanded my attention and manipulated my nervous system. Right there in the pleasant mid morning of small town USA I was played. I wanted to vomit.

Some might say “Not to worry, it was TV, nothing real here. “

Except to my nervous system, the fear was palpable, her pretend agony; visceral. Hands fisted, my heart pounding: I was having the appropriate human response to danger. Out of the three preset mammalian programs for danger: flight, fight, or freeze. I was experiencing freeze. Thankfully I have an intact cerebral cortex and I thawed fast enough to experience the next rush of emotion with all its colors.

It was anger. How could something so evil as torture be used for entertainment? I was enraged that images of such horror, evoking a fearful response are sent mindfully into the ethers, infecting innocents with violence. I felt repulsion that this cruelty to psyches is a vehicle for creating wealth for some, at the expense of all. I felt profound disappointment, realizing that some still watch the pain and terror of others for pleasure. Worse, these images go into our homes by choice, our choice.

I felt shame in our culture.

I felt the eyes of real people upon us.  People who live in places where torture is a real and daily event, an inescapable part of their lives. Human to human violence is served up here in our living rooms on a big screen over the fireplace with a Crucifix on the wall.

I imagined a “tyrant of terror” tossing daily doses of fear to the masses through the TV. Hyperaroused newsrooms searching for the worst of humanity. As tame ducks on a pond, the viewers snap at the easy garbage, ignoring the riches just beneath the surface. Their wild relatives know better. Fear is the most potent weapon of controlling mammals. Too bad the tyrant is us, no one to blame but ourselves for continuing this charade of good and evil. Evil isn’t just “out there,” it exists with our permission.

Is it possible to pollute your mind? Is it possible to hold love and light in the same consciousness that contains these images? Why eat poison when there is nectar available?

I asked the other Washer the name of this atrocity.

“Criminal Minds” she said.

Her eyes moved  quickly back to the screen.

“It’s terrible! How can that be on TV?!” I asked.

She appeared not to hear, the heroes were about to solve the murder with comic book dialog in flat intonation. Lost in her adrenalin nirvana, she leaned in closer to the screen, gaze unflinching. Her hands clenched and released around the hard plastic handles of her laundry basket filled to the top with neatly folded children’s clothing. Her body was trying to regulate her nervous system; but the images just kept coming.

I could see the super hero underwear; toddler size, and the tiny jeans. I imagined the big TV and the small children listening to the victims cries for help as they pretended to sleep.  I asked again,

“How can that be on TV?”

She wiped sweaty palms on mechanically ripped jeans and ignored me.

Deny the bête noire his nightly meal of innocence and believe in yourself

The planets aligned, the earth shook and we all returned to center by gazing into our iPhone faces. Flood, drought, disease and miracle; we turn on the TV to monitor the catastrophe and never turn it off. The vapid and the violent have taken up residence in our homes, with our permission. They sell their fabulous elixir of emotions and hormonal highs for a high price. Are we selling our souls for a jolt of adrenalin, a fleeting feeling of being alive by witnessing the trauma of others?

I would sooner bathe in a sewer than then let that darkness in my soul.

Fight back, turn it off, and live free. Feel the real emotions: your own. In this glorious time, we all hold a piece of light; let’s shine it at each other and laugh at the pitiful darkness.

Addendum February 17, 2018

The darkness felt powerful this week. I thought of this blog written three years ago and wondered about the path we have traveled. Our constant connection to “electronic senses” mainlines a relentless stimuli of anger, fear, sorrow and even “warm fuzzy feelings.” We are emotion junkies living for our next fix, just “Tell me what to feel…”

The images from a school in Florida were real. Lives ended in senseless violence by a person whose mind was in disconnect. We could find a scapegoat.  Or we could ask what part did we each play in preventing this tragedy. How can we do it differently next time?

I came back to this; fight back. Fight back with love for everyone, no exceptions.  Fight back with exquisite attention to what we plant in the gardens of our mind, and the minds of our children.  Fight back with actions that neutralize; answer a fearful face with a smile, and a hunched stance with a handshake.  We are responsible for the way we wear the privilege of being a human being.

We all have the power to change everything.

The Muse

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New growth at Kilauea

January 18 2018   Clearwater Florida

I spilled coffee all over the blue sheets. I reached for the cup, but hand and spirit were not occupying the same space.  I had just that moment come from a place both far away and as close as my skin.  Such infinite dichotomies make it had to juggle coffee cups with unenlightened fingers.

I had sat with my mother in the dusty sand.  She squatted close to the ground with the flexibility of a small child.  Her soft white hair in curls hide her face but there was no mistake. It was her voice and mannerisms, and-her hurts. She easily dug a hole in the ground the size of my coffee cup with her hand.  I watched the sand and the small pebbles pour out of her hands with a movement not of our time and space. The pebbles rolled soundlessly across a frictionless surface.

“Does being here make you happy or sad, Mom?”

“Sad.” She scooped the earth a bit deeper.

It was a “deep dream.” The rules of time and matter, life and death, are needless partitions in this realm of psyche.  I replayed the dream in my mind.  A faulty bit of rewinding to be sure. Information from this level tarnishes instantly in the light of ego.

I sat at a long dark wood table, not unlike those in the furniture stores I had frequented yesterday.  This one was as long as it needed to be to seat all the family that assembled.  The longer the dream, the longer the table. I stood with a gaggle of relatives in a vast open space.

“How about here?”

I had said, pointing to a flat area beside a cliff with no obstructions to the scenery.

“That’s where Mom lives, let’s sit here.”

I said, pointing to the white mountains to the west.

The view was extraordinary.  Across miles of high desert vista were a trio of mountain edges.  The front row of hills lay low and rounded in a dark blue grey tone.  The back layer was all sharp edges. Ragged rocky peaks that would cut skin, all wrapped in mist and clouds sitting unreachable and unwavering in the background.

The soft white mountains rose up from behind the foreground and before the background.  These were higher than the front range and smoother than then rough crags behind. The white mountains had lived in the world.  Their sharpness had been polished by what had been given, and what had been given up. Pieces and chucks broken off and sanded down by experience, resilience and love.

Even from our far away perspective, I could see that light emanated from this mountain range. The high soft edges illuminated as a glow from a far-away window on a cold, dark night. The lofty elevations sought the sky.  These are ascents too high and too steep for human feet. I imagined it was the light of the spirits who dwelled here.  I imagined my Mother lived there too. Until, that is, I found her crouched right there by our family table in the ethers.

“I keep doing this.”

She said, as she dropped an effigy of herself and another of a divine being into the hole,  covering it with dirt. Moments later as I watched, the sand and pebbles moved back and the statues were once again in her hand, and untouched by their journey into the ground.  I watched this three times before I had to turn away.  I was so profoundly sad that she would spend her days this way.

The trouble with light is that everything is illuminated and it is easy to lose focus on what is important. Suddenly, I was seated at the table with my siblings and other family members too numerous to be counted. It was a long table.  I can tell you it was a walnut table with rustic finish because looking for furniture is “up” in my life right now. Maintaining focus is tenuous.

A drama was unfolding in subtle hues around the “dream table.” Some people seated there were actors in this life scene, others spectators, some critics. We were all quickly consumed by Act II of Human Behavior and Group Dynamics. The beautiful white mountain was glowing a harmonious pink shade of possibility and here at our table, we are hunkered down making big judgements about small points.

I was observer and actor in a vignette of my own life. It was an algorithm of souls dancing with constant variables.  The date changes, the generations mix different equations but the product is the same.  I witnessed the scene with an omniscient perspective.  It was daunting.  It was an invitation to destroy inherited and created coveted constructs of “life’s purpose.” It was a plea to create a life of freedom and creativity, while I can.

Is my Mother really stuck in that enactment of repeating bygones?

bygone /ˈbaɪˌɡɒn/
adjective

1. (usually prenominal) past; former noun
2. (often pl) a past occurrence
3. (often pl) an artefact, implement, etc, of former domestic or industrial use, now often collected for interest
4. let bygones be bygones, to agree to forget past quarrels
Collins English Dictionary – Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

The constant burying and unearthing of people and events that should be dead, gone and composted. Is that her holy grail? I hope not.  If so that is hers to sort out and she is more than up for the challenge. After writing this I am sure she came to remind me and I am grateful.

“To thine own self be true”-William Shakespeare

Today, these words of Polonius are pearls of wisdom by Shakespeare on living a good and balanced life.
Meaning of To Thine Own Self Be True
The Elizabethan era audience of Shakespeare was well aware of the meaning of his words, though in modern age, words like “Self” and “True” have different. In fact, this phrase implies multiplicity of meanings. The first meaning is that someone can better judge himself if he has done what he should or could have done. The second meaning is that one must be honest in his ways and relations. The third meaning is that one must always do the right thing. Finally, keeping in view the character of Polonius in the play, many scholars are of the opinion that ‘True’ meant beneficial; therefore, his advice to his son meant that he must think of his own benefit first

https://literarydevices.net/to-thine-own-self-be-true/To thine own self be true

Photo Credit: Carol Martell, Kilauea Hawaii

 

Master Yourself

Mastering others is strength. Mastering yourself is true power. Lao Tzu


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Gordon Beach, Tel Aviv Israel

Relaxing in the fine deep white sand, I watched as the last light of this day eased into the Mediterranean. The glowing sun reflected off the clouds, staining the edges of an unexpected thunderhead, to the color of pomegranates. I had just caught site of a stab of lightening in the dark cloud.

“Must be Zeus!” I thought.

The hot “land air” of the day rushed between the buildings. It blew my hair into my face, moving past me to collide with the cool air sliding along the top of the sea. Squinting against the last streaks of red, I saw a silhouette of a tall young man appear over the top of the jetty. He was frenetically paddling some kind of craft still hidden behind the rocks.

Even at this distance I could see his broad shoulders were hunched with the tension of his great effort. The paddle looked meager against the size of the surf. The fast choppy sweep of his arms propelled his unseen vessel amazingly fast against the moving currents. His head rose above the jetty with each wave, dropping from view as the swells crashed against the rocks. The cusp of sunset is tricky, evening time calls out the darkness. Sea air and land air change places, creating circular winds that move water into rolling underwater cyclones. And what about this strange cloud overhead? Here in the cradle of great myths and even greater divinities: anything is possible.

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Had an ancient canoe come around that rocky point, it would not be unexpected.

He jabbed at the water with the paddle designed for a gentle drift along the surface. The paddle board glided through the water between the great piles of rough boulders built to keep beach, and swimmers, safe from the powerful undertow. The wind was strongest, just above the water. He was pitched off his board many times, he leapt back up to paddling, as if spit out of the sea by Amphitrite herself. I felt a maternal “swipe of the brow” as he finally reached the beach. He ran by me headed towards the hotels at the edge of the sand. After witnessing his efforts in the water, I marveled at his effortless sprint through the deep sand.

I heaved a sigh of relaxation from where I was planted. I settled into a yoga-esque “easy pose,” seated comfortably in the still warm sand. I had come out to attend the setting of the sun. The movements of the sun are always sacred. In this place, people order their lives around this daily, pivitol event. Mine was a “sit in the sand, commune with the water, and thanks for the day “sun salutation” of my own design. I was feeling gratitude for the opportunity to be in this place.

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In another place, for another athlete, that workout would have been enough. But this is Israel, and that was just a warm-up.

Looking like the perfect powerful figures from a 3,000-year-old Greek pot, he thundered by me in the opposite direction. He reached the water in three strides. Three more times he paddled out against the wind, circumnavigating the long jetties, charging top speed out into the open water, amidst the crashing waves. Falling into the water, leaping back out in half a breath’s time, he ran his board aground to sprint at top speed, up the beach, circle the palms and back to the water, three more times.

I ground my own feet a bit deeper in the sand, listened for the voices of the present day volleyball players behind me. It was getting dark. There was only one other observer, meditating on a damp towel. Had I been dropped into some ancient arena? Was this a Perseus polishing up his Andromeda rescue skills? That is after all, Jaffa, or Joppa just down the beach. “Is Everyone seeing this??”

On the fourth circuit, I thought, “Certainly he must be done?”

He dropped to the beach, and performed  gut wrenching, core building isometrics. It was these maneuvers that seemed to finally blast out any remaining remnants of being a “mere human.” Then and only then did he stop, to face the dying sun and quietly paddle his board back to the marina. I have never witnessed such endurance. Maybe it’s the water, or maybe the hummus.

There is great strength here.

 

 

Autumn

It was the Autumn Equinox 2002.  We lived on New York’s Long Island, a 20-mile-wide swath of sand and rocks dropped by a glacier a few eons ago. “The Island” radiates west to east, beginning at the grimy industrial edge of Queens and Brooklyn. The land flows 100 miles to the East, separating the open waters of the Atlantic Ocean, from Long Island Sound to the north. The sand surrenders to the water once again at the rough rocks and windy cliffs of Montauk Point. Long Island’s flexible, mutable geography supports little elevation, other than a few hills and some sand dunes in continuous flux.

From the pebbles of the north shore, or the southern sandy coastline, you can turn your back on the millions of people, the tangle of highways, and the hundreds of square miles of overstuffed suburbia. From that position, there is open sky; a celestial amphitheater in the reflection of the open water.  On that day in 2002, I stood in that locus and witnessed the zenith of a short lifetime. Autumn happened in the momentary pause between the exhale of Summer and the inhale of Fall.

Madonna, child, and a cat

Leonardo da Vinci, Study for a Madonna with a Cat, about 1478-80

 

I was a Hospice volunteer then.  I sat vigils, and ran errands for those who couldn’t get out anymore.  Mostly the need was for family respite; a planned visit that allowed family caregivers a few hours of personal space. Just a short breather for sanity’s sake. Tending a family member at the end of life is hard. It extracts the very best, and the absolute worst of us; all at the same time. In the sacred atmosphere around the end of life, all of our well-guarded facades are ripped away. We find our long-denied emotions dropped there on the carpet, at the end of the bed.  Sometimes that “short time left,” is achingly long.  For others, the longest life will never be long enough. I had some “regulars.” They are the best teachers and they were generous with their lessons.

There was Rose, feisty 80 lb., 90-year old, who arranged for her own discharge from a substandard nursing home. From her wheelchair, via front lobby pay phone, she reported her own neglect case to the Adult Protective Services Elder Abuse hot line. When they came to investigate, she convinced them she was put there against her will, and she was returned to her home. Her victory, was much to the chagrin of her concerned; but unavailable, adult kids. She admonished her children for their attack on her independence with a promise, “If you put me in a nursing home again, I will just have to die.”  After six months of hard fought freedom, supported by tenacious Hospice folk, they did, and she did. She remains a personal hero of mine.

Ellen, was another petite powerhouse. The top of her head reached my shoulder.  She spoke with the quiet, polite lilt of her Killarney childhood. Despite her bone warping rheumatoid arthritis, she displayed the personal pluck of the new bride, just “off the boat.” She had come through New York harbor, emigrating to the US in the 1960’s to join her brand new, US Army husband.  It was the drugs prescribed in large doses to help the pain of the arthritis that caused her kidney cancer; a “potential side effect.”  I brought her groceries, and she made us Irish tea that could melt rust.

On this Equinox, September 21, 2001, this request for assistance was very different. The woman from the Hospice office sounded frantic.

“Everyone is out on calls, there is no one can get there now, will you do this?”

“This” was pick up morphine from the Pharmacy in Ronkonkoma and drive west at rush hour to Oyster Bay on the north shore.  There was a baby there dying at home, 2 days old. Her parents had asked only for some morphine to ease her labored breathing in her final hours.

I used the shortcuts to avoid the Long Island Expressway, snaking through the side roads and finally onto the Oyster Bay Expressway to where it nearly ends on the sand. Turning off the final exit, I found the gateposts of the community. This was a grand old North Shore neighborhood built when Wall Street folk began to wander off Park Avenue and onto Long Island fairways. Green islands of manicured grass swept upward to meet sculptured shrubbery, leading the eye, and the invited foot to the imposing front entries.

I found the address and pulled into the wide driveway.  Holding the medicine in my hand, I said a prayer for this family, for this baby, for myself to be helpful, and as unobtrusive as possible.  My heart was beating in my ears as I walked up to the dark wood door.  I looked for the name on the bag.  Her name was Autumn. Her birthday was yesterday. I rang the bell and kept my tears in check.

An older man, the grandfather I thought, threw open the door.  He greeted me with practiced affability and a hearty laugh, his words somehow tumbling through a clenched jaw.

“Come in, Come in please!”

I stared at the man, perplexed by the manic hospitality.

“Have I had come to the wrong door?” I thought.

The ice hit the side of his glass, the crystal jingled like the ringing of a tiny bell. I wondered if I was being mistaken for a cocktail party guest.  Sensing my confusion, and taking no chances that I would abandon his doorway, he reached out to pull me into the foyer. The quick movement spilled his neat Scotch down his wrinkled suit pants, and onto the marble floor.  He watched somberly as the amber liquid sought equilibrium. He seemed so grateful to have an alternate place for his attention.

“Come in, come in! Would you like a drink?”

I thought then, “Certainly I am in the wrong house.”

I looked beyond him, across the foyer, up the single marble step and into the living room. The expansive space ran across the front of the house facing north to Long Island Sound. Early evening light radiated through the long windows lending a warm late September glow to the pale carpeting. The shadows were lengthening; daylight was waning, and no one had thought to turn on a lamp. Tossed on the long green sectional were hastily discarded jackets, and a new diaper bag.  Mother and baby sat in a wingchair covered in mauve brocade. Dad stood behind the chair with one hand on his wife’s shoulder and his eyes on his daughter.

I imagined the other woman in the room was the grandmother. She sat in a matching wingchair, heels together and hands folded in her lap. She was so still, I wondered if she was saving the air in the room for her granddaughter.  Her eyes couldn’t leave that tiny body.

I understood now the terror of this Grandfather. The grief in that room was vast and raw. He couldn’t find his way into the room. The intimacy was too much. I could hear her strained breathing from where we stood in the entry and I remembered my task. I reached out and gave him the medicine. He stared into my face, unseeing, frozen in place.

“What is her name?” I asked the Grandfather.

“Autumn, her name is Autumn.” He said.  His face relaxed, his eyes filled with tears.

“Is there anything else you need?” I asked quietly.

The Mom looked up then, softly she said with a smile, “No, we are fine.”

48a97514de0710e707c34ad992dd96eeIn the young woman’s face, I caught a glimpse a 15th century painting of Madonna and child. She smiled at her daughter, talked to her, held her.  This was her child’s life, and she would not miss a second. Whatever would come later, she was here for her, now. By the time the Grandfather had reached the top of the marble step, I was quietly closing the door behind me.

I had too many emotions to drive amidst prosaic commuters.  I had just witnessed “love” in its most pure state. I was ungrounded and profoundly grateful for my healthy children. I drove the three minutes to the beach, and parked my car in the empty lot. I walked across the boardwalk, past the closed snack bar, and out on the sand.

As I watched, the sun dropped into the western horizon.  A sail boat moved across the water toward the harbor. The long shadow of the mast on the water reminded me; this was the Autumn Equinox. Down the beach to the East, there was a jogger, the slight woman ran easily along the shoreline.

From behind her, seemingly from out of the water rose a huge ball of orange.  At first I thought the brightness of the sun was echoing on my retinas. I looked to the left and there was the sun setting, looked to the right and a harvest full moon was rising at the same time. It appeared I was standing on a different planet. The jogger, a woman near my age, came to where I was standing, breathing heavily from her long run down the beach.

We looked at the sun, the moon and each other, grateful that there was another human to witness. It was comforting to have validation. We stood silently until the sun dipped below the horizon, the moon rose and the moment passed into memory. There was a wordless wave and she was off down the beach, and I was back to car and home.

I had a message from the Hospice office when I got home. “Autumn passed peacefully.”   I can only guess how many lives were touched  Autumn, a tiny ethereal being who never touched the Earth. The date has magical proportions for me.  It remains a day to wonder, to appreciate, to imagine:

 What kind of spirit comes into the world for only two days and leaves with the sun and the moon as her companions?

 

Leonardo da Vinci, Study for a Madonna with a Cat, about 1478-80 …

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leonardo da vinci paintings | Head of Madonna 1508-1515. Chalk on …

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leonardo da vinci paintings | Head of Madonna 1508-1515. Chalk on red-

 

We are in the Totality!


Tomorrow we will find ourselves standing in the center of the path. Here in Salem Oregon, we are beneath the swath of earth that will experience 100% of the eclipse. We are in the TOTALITY! 

We traveled here to see family. It seemed auspicious to plan a family visit at a time that will be remembered as a singular event by our children and grandchildren. I recall viewing an eclipse through a pinhole box sometime in the 60’s, surrounded by generations of my family. As we left, the hype was minimal in northern New York where the view is not so impressive. Here, the planning for impossible traffic jams and unruly hordes began months ago. At t-minus 25 hours, the streets are empty.

The upcoming solar eclipse on August 21, 2017 has been dubbed, “The Great American Eclipse.” It is a narcissistic view; distinctly American, that the celestial workings of the universe are relevant only as they impact our country. The sun; our source of energy, and the yang or male aspect of our personal and planetary existence, will be blocked by the moon. For 1 min 56 sec, the Yin, or female aspect will occlud the sun’s influence. On Monday morning we will see what ancients saw. At that time most of us will look up at the darkened sky and celebrate our good fortune to live with such surety of survival.

I am reminded of my own personal experience with TOTALITY. It was a decade ago in a different time and place. We took our questions of a personal and community nature “outside.” It was the practice to sit alone in nature, minus creature comforts and without contact with others, for a complete rotation of the sun. Many important understandings came with the flies and the hummingbirds. I will always carry the revelations of this intentional exploration with me. They stripped away the noise, bringing the “meaning of life” down to the elements.

The epiphany happened when the night lived beyond its usual boundaries. In the inky blackness, fear and fatigue altered perception. I remember in my bones the moment when separateness known as ego slipped away. The rustling and the night calls ceased. Everything; animal, wind, breath went still. We all waited.

Until that night, I didn’t know this happened. That dawn, I sat on the ground in community with every other creature and plant as we waited for the return of the sun. We all sat in rapt devotional silence at the darkest part of the night. It had never occurred to me that the arrival of the next day was a question.

Breaking through current human constructs, laying them aside it IS clear. Continuation of life is not a given, it is a gift. The birds and the animals knew enough to sit quietly. Many People around the world sit quietly at sunrise to wait reverently and respectfully to see IF they are granted another day. And it clearly was IF not when. When you seek that space of existence, you are in the TOTALITY.

I look forward to tomorrow morning. I hope it reawakens my sense of gratitude for each day as it dawns. It is a miracle.

Indiscriminate Death

I went to the blue big box store for some hardware and a quick stroll through the green houses filled with flowers.  Standing amidst the colors of summer is like visual music. Humming this tune most clearly, are the precious pollinators; the bees.

m.flicer.com

 Unfortunately these particular flowers are potentially loaded with systemic pesticides called neonicotinoids. These added chemicals can bring death home to the hive, riding the notes of sweet pollen. ‘NEONICS” banned in Europe, are used heavily here, present in many, if not most botanicals, from big box stores.  

http://www.beyondpesticides.org/programs/bee-protective-pollinators-and-pesticides/chemicals-implicated

I stopped to watch the bees on a blue Nepeta in full bloom, counting 10 bees on a single plant. The bees were being bees; unconcerned about place and time. Bees really mind their own business. They are focused and totally driven by the needs of the hive.

Those engaged in gathering the means of survival; the creation of more bees, are mature and experienced females.  This is the final job of a multi-career bee. The bee you see gathering nectar is no youngster.  She has already in her life cycle: cleaned the hive, nursed the larvae, guarded the front door and fed and protected the Queen.  These sweet ladies are on their final run.  Gathering is dangerous, and maybe the best task for a bee. She does this work at the end of her life until she dies.  She does this “in community, for the good of all,” but she does this task independently.bee-1322845_1920

The Garden Center folk had just unloaded some fresh carts. These racks of flowers had just arrived from parts unknown, and they came with hitchhikers. I spotted three shiny green bees working alongside our usual yellow and black crew.  They were smaller, hairless and coated in metallic emerald green.  If “Oz” has bees they would look like this. I thought perhaps, they weren’t real bees.

Having a serendipitous moment, I imagined them to be an alien race on reconnaissance. Or could they be some researcher’s cleverly designed mechanical drones seeking answers to our shortage of pollinators. The real bee drones are male and generally don’t carry that level of responsibility. They are pretty much “one trick ponies.” One pirouette in the sky with a new Queen and they are done and dead drones. They have some domestic duties back at the hive. but are the first to be exited when the pollen pickings get slim. Google identified these green newcomers as Green Orchid Bees from somewhere “South of the Border.”

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I turned the corner, moving finally toward Hardware. Just two aisles removed from the Summer kaleidoscope of Mums and Marigolds stood a shelf four tiers high and twenty feet long. Any product commanding that amount of shelf space in a big box store is a moneymaker. The shelves were completely filled with red, white and blue plastic containers, four deep.  They were arranged in precise rows seemingly at attention, with  weapon-esque sprayers strapped to their sides,  all ready to dispense some twisted human justice.

What I saw was a conquering army poised to attack.  Concentrated poison promising insect free, lifeless gardens standing right here in amongst the plants. Plants that need insects to pollinate their flowers.  I began to feel a pattern forming. I begin to feel sick.

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I walked the length of the aisle, twice, looking at each container.  There was a theme: an illustration of the potential “damage”, chewed leaf, aphid covered rose, thin grass etc.  A superimposed grossly magnified insect portrait of the perpetrator of this disaster was front and center. The truth was told in tiny print on the back of the label. This elixir is willing and able to kill everything it touches, every kind of bug, indiscriminately.

What about those who prey upon those, who prey upon them? We can assume that birds, frogs, dogs, cats, children might also be at risk with improper use, wet weather or unexpected wind. The pictures on the bottles are not the enemy, it is us.

 

Aphids on Roses have never ruined a life. Angry words, resentful thoughts, these can shrivel an adult, and a child won’t fair as well. (see Be Careful They will Hear You

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I was face to face with the masters of our universe.  The mightier purveyors of Indiscriminate death and maniacal manipulation. These products are created from the depths of impossibly deep pockets with no international borders. These are the products of behemoth industries, soon to be a single industry. These potent killers are on store shelves everywhere, deadly poisons in user friendly packages.

 

macro-photos-6A metaphor for the smiling well-groomed folk that occupy the media arena. Throw some anger and hate out into the world like meat to hungry dogs.  See how we tear at it, anxious to feel the burn of anger.  Keep spraying the country with fear and anger.

I stood in the Big Box store and took in the schizophrenic rantings of the chemical trade. “Fertilizer and weed killer in one application.”  Yes, this company makes cancer causers, and cancer treatments, pharmaceuticals, sunscreen and Pesticides and pills.  They are indiscriminate in their creation, indiscriminate in their killing.  And we are willing participants.

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And we, as a culture are indiscriminate in what we choose to spray on our lawns and out of our mouths.  Angry hateful spiteful thoughts are poison in red white and blue wrappers that promise you a better life.

We have all become extremists in our views, no time for discourse, no time for thought.  Repeat what you heard, assume you know what I think, assume your information is correct, and assume you know best.

You can always get out the pesticides for everyone else.

I have assigned myself the task of living with as much integrity as I can dig up or cultivate in my garden. It is a far simpler way to live. I will disconnect from the continuous pollution and poisoning of our emotional environment that is seeking to damage our cultural connective tissue.  When it is acceptable to celebrate hate, it is time for the rest of us to generate something different.

Wake up and stop spreading poison. It is impossible to know who the enemy is…

“If we continue to spread poison only those who created it will survive”

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Be Careful They Will Hear you

Indiscriminate Life

A long time ago we lived in suburban harmony with our elderly neighbors.

Their children had long since gone and rarely visited. Well into their eighties, they were hardy and self-reliant. Their life was quiet and orderly; it had been a long time since children slammed their door or laughed too loudly at their dinner table.

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In contrast, our side of the fence was much more interesting. The couple deeply enjoyed the neighborhood’s comings and goings.  They watched all they could from their corner perch with avid, but polite, gusto.  With the practiced observation of retired teachers, they watched the kid’s bus stop antics, where the cat chose to sun himself, how many people were here when we were away for the weekend. They missed nothing.  Our shared boundary was a mere 15 feet from my frequently open kitchen bay window.  It was not so much a barrier to sound, as a loudspeaker. If you had something personal to say, better to say it in the other room.

Occasionally, the scrutiny would become too intense for teenage tastes. The front door would close, the oversized backpack would clunk on the table with a deep sigh and a complaint about “being watched!”  To which I always replied,

“Be careful, they will hear you.”

I couldn’t imagine the hurt and embarrassment were they to discover that their attentions made the children uncomfortable.  Children are too close to the beginning, to understand what life feels like, near the end.

It took a few years, and some more advanced spiritual seeking to realize this statement; which became a cheerfully maligned family mantra, was Truth on so many levels. When cruel or critical words are said, even in jest, the subject does hear them, across miles, across time, across lifetimes.  Another’s criticisms can gnaw at our free will and our soul, whittling us down to a manageable size.  Usually just slightly smaller than that of the critical observer.

And it gnaws at the soul of the speaker too, poison is indiscriminate.

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My neighbors never commented on words overheard. These octogenarians were of the generation that understood the power of language; they grew up on radio.  They practiced respect, and what I believe they would have called: “propriety.”  They held opinions far removed from mine yet we could share them, and still remain in community.

My patch of green earth is far removed from the rhetoric and doublespeak that surrounds us like a plague. I have opted out of this sport of trashing and bashing because it doesn’t much matter who you are for or against, no one is listening. Endless regurgitation of facts of fiction far removed from context, are meaningless and divisive.

I suspect that is the point.  Fear and anger are the opiate of the masses.  Keep us busy fighting amongst ourselves and we will miss the markers of a society in decline. Maybe our culture has reached a turning point, and maybe that point has passed.