THE SOUND OF SILENCE

Hello darkness, my old friend

I’ve come to talk with you again

Because a vision softly creeping

Left its seeds while I was sleeping

And the vision that was planted in my brain

Still remains

Within the sound of silence

~

Simon & Garfunkel

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I just watched the Disturbed video on YouTube of The Sound of Silence. What an incredibly powerful video. And the imagery is dark and foreboding and that is the sense that I have of things right now. It feels like there is a shadow spreading over the land and that is the best way that I have to describe it. It’s no wonder that I am feeling so suppressed and weighed down. My dreams these past few weeks have been mostly of the disturbing sort.

 

Although in my dream this morning the feeling was that I was both an adult and a child at the same time and my family (that would be my real family) was moving into a new, large house. Much larger than anything we ever owned in real life. And as we were moving into the house we were also having our first meal and I was downstairs grilling a steak for my mom and I was kind of matter-of-fact about my mom being in my dream because the fact is that she doesn’t appear in my dreams very often. And while I could sense the rest of my family was around, mom was the only one I actually saw. I was feeling conflicted in that I wanted to finish grilling her steak for her but I also wanted to put at least one of my moving boxes into the bedroom that I hoped to claim as my own, before someone else did. After all, there are five of us (brothers and sisters). After a moment of indecision, I realized that I really needed to concentrate on making mom’s dinner first. And then, just before I woke up I started to realize that I was actually seeing mom in my dream and I reached out to touch her arm with my hand and she allowed the touch for a moment, and then she brushed my hand away, gently. I woke up with that as my last image / feeling . . .

 

In the meantime, and in my real life, I am trying to shake off this dark lethargy that has enveloped my spirit. My meditation group last night was a brief oasis of light in an otherwise gray and gloomy day. And ironically, it was bright sun and blue skies yesterday but I just cannot seem to shake the greyness that has been around me for weeks now.

 

When I got home last night I went upstairs to my bedroom to change and I felt the inky black darkness of the corner in which I have place Laureen’s altar – the altar that I began to assemble in those last few weeks as she was dying. I guess it would be coming up on its second birthday in a few more weeks. Memories of Laureen fill me up these days. I think it is kind of like a PTS thing. I will be walking along and all of the sudden I’m “back in the battle”, reliving moments in that last year of our lives together. If I pause to let the fullness of the memories return, they quickly become overwhelming. Dressing changes, sitting below ground in hospitals, waiting for the next “procedure”, sitting in doctor waiting rooms, wondering how our amazing life had turned into a nightmare from which there apparently was no waking. . .

 

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This was the last image I saw last night, viewed from where I lay in my bed. The amethyst cathedral is throwing a shadow reminiscent of an old crone. Is she my guardian, my caretaker? Is she watching over me in the darkness of my solitude?

 

[Pause]

 

Brain cramp. . . I was starting to feel time-crunched between continuing to write, or preparing for a meeting in a half hour. My preference was to continue writing. Well, I just got an email from the person I was supposed to be meeting with and she is sick with a cold and asked to reschedule. Thanks Laureen!

 

I feel like I need to write, to say something, but man, I don’t know what the hell to say. My brain is all over the place. Or, more correctly, my thoughts are all over the place, both everywhere and nowhere at the same time. It seems that I am not completely alone in this current state of funk-titude. I expressed my feelings of malaise last night with my writing buddies and most of them piped right up and said that they are in a similar place. Must be something in the air. . .

 

I will say that in this instance, Facebook is not helping. I used to look to Facebook for positive and uplifting messages but it is increasingly becoming crass and negative and who needs that in their life? Like… really!  Life is crass and negative enough as it is without having the constant barrage of visual and video stimulation to reinforce it. Not to mention the ever-present and seemingly expanding hoardes of trolls – trolls being those people who relish being contrary and downright mean-spirited and more. I find it an affront, and more, to my increasingly delicate sensibilities of truth, honor and the American Way. Well, at least once upon a time that was the American way. It is still my way but I feel like I am living in a foreign land these days because it certainly isn’t the American way anymore. No, we are filled with fear, and anger, and bigotry and hatred and that is exactly the energy that the FB trolls feed on.  I have begun limiting my time on FB as a result. Not necessarily intentionally, but simply because it is becoming increasingly difficult to expose myself to such heavy doses of negativity, hatred and violence.

 

All this is to say that I see the energy levels rising on both sides. Well, maybe not so much the Light side (pick a name – I choose Light). I think we are all hanging low and feeling vertigo and a sense of dis-location from the increasing velocity with which things are accelerating and coming to a . . . well, I want to say conclusion but I don’t think we’re coming to a conclusion; but I do think that we are approaching a point, an intersection. . . and I think the Dark side knows it and I think they feel like they can finally tip things completely around to their way of being and heaven help us all if they do because we will surely enter another Dark Ages. I guess it is not like the human race hasn’t been there before. Why is it that religion always brings us back to that? To the worst aspects of human behavior? It is always about “there’s only one way – our way, and if you don’t follow our way, you must die”. Like, what the fuck is that? Really?

 

I was talking with my cousin last night and I told her that I am noticing a return of “The Broken People”, a term coined by Laureen back in the summer of 2001, preceding 9/11.  I have mentioned this before. . . how I initially scoffed when Laureen started pointing out all of the broken people to me that Summer, until there were so many that I could no longer ignore it. She also said, at that time, that the skies didn’t look right either. Well, I cannot say that the skies don’t necessarily look right now. . . no, instead it feels like it has gone to a whole other level – the weather just isn’t right anymore. A tornado in Florida in mid-January? More snow in Arizona and New Mexico than in New England? The North Pole above freezing temperature about a week back. No, the weather just isn’t right anymore.

 

And the disconcerting aspect about the Broken People is that this time I apparently am one of them. And my aunt is, too, and so is one of my cousin’s children. I was rather surprised when I saw Ella come out of meditation class last night and she was limping. And with my Aunt, myself and my cousin’s daughter, it is all in our right knees. Like, how odd is that? Actually, that’s when “odd” no longer factors in and it becomes a sign.  And what I would point out here is that we are all light workers. And my cousin’s daughter is even more – she is on par with Laureen – a young medicine child who does not understand all of her gifts yet. Now I should say here that neither Laureen nor I ever took to the concept of the Indigo children. But we did / do believe that there are definitely children with gifts, just as there ever has been. Most are suppressed. Some are insuppressible. Laureen was one of those. For as much as her family and her husband’s family tried unceasingly to suppress who she was, causing great emotional damage in the process, Laureen was just too damn stubborn and could not be denied. It was a good thing for her that I came along and believed in her. I think that in the end she was finally able to find peace with who she was and in knowing that she was loved and accepted for herself, and for her gifts.

 

[Pause]

 

Yes, sometimes my thoughts waylay me, or I get distracted and I need to regroup. Man, I am so easily distracted these days. I need some serious meditation time.

 

Anyhow. . . what I was meandering around to saying is that there is a frenetic energy in the air and its tempo is increasing. The Dark side is sensing an opportunity and is doing everything it can to fully implement its agenda. The soldiers of the Light are hanging in the shadows, waiting. It is going to get messy before it gets better. We are the clean-up crew. In the end, Light will prevail, much as it ever does. Although the shadow of Darkness can never be fully extinguished either. But at this moment in time we stand at a fulcrum, much as we have done before. World War II comes to mind.  To me, the images in the “Disturbed” video speak to that time immediately following the aftermath. Silence reigns and the survivors silently wait upon the shores of our devastated world, while the musicians, artists, poets, writers and other healers make their way towards the masses upon the water. It is a fitting image.

 

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Disturbed – The Sound of Silence

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u9Dg-g7t2l4

 

GITCHI MIIGWETCH

~

AHO

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THE ONE

“You are not successful in love just because you find a partner and stick with them for a lifetime; you are successful in love when it provides you with a way to keep learning about yourself and the world around you, becoming more connected with the Oneness of all of life, so that each experience you have – glorious, sad, or frustrating – becomes a strand in the web of your evolution.”

~

Kathy Freston

Love 01

 

I am a romantic at heart, there is just no way around it. Maybe it was born of a childhood spent watching Disney movies with their promises of happy endings. Or maybe it was because my parents got married on Valentine’s Day. I cannot say. But I think I have always felt that there are special bonds that are possible between two people and, if strong enough, these bonds help us to grow in our own Spirit somehow.

 

A dear friend of mine recently sent a book to me called “The One”. The quote above is a brief excerpt from that book. I have only started to read the book so I cannot speak to its validity or eventual usefulness. What I can say, thus far, is that it is speaking a language that I understand. And to some degree, I can corroborate some of the truth of it for I have already been in a relationship with “the One”.

 

Now sadly, she had to leave this world before me even though it was my fervent wish that we would somehow leave it together. I think it was only about a week or two before she passed on, with me deep in my own feelings of grief and pending loss, that I realized that I was being given a great Gift. I capitalize the word Gift intentionally because it was a gift of the highest order – one that I could plainly see, and feel, had no other purpose but to elevate my very soul to a higher form of being. And the gift was on multi-levels : first for the gift of turning me into a true caretaker of another life – a position that neither one of us believed I had any qualifications for, or chance of success at – as well as the gift of bearing witness to the transition of a life from this physical plane of our existence to whatever exists beyond all of this. And finally, and perhaps the biggest gift of all, was that we had so deeply and unconditionally committed our lives to each other for over thirteen years. Yes, we had filled a void of sorts in each other’s life, but we had also weathered the many storms that blew our way and in so doing, and in clinging so stubbornly to our unconditional love for each other, we had continued a process of evolution of our individual souls that simply would not have otherwise been possible.

 

In the aftermath of her passing, deep, deep grief aside, I felt, inside, fundamentally different somehow. I couldn’t really put a name to it, but I felt somehow elevated in spirit. I had been tested to my limits and beyond, as had my dearest beloved, and we both had met every test that came our way with a steely resolve that it would not defeat us. And to bear witness to the courage, strength, humility and, in the end, surrender, that were her companions on her journey; well, she was as a teacher to me, showing me the absolute best of the human spirit under the most dire of circumstances and I came into full awareness of what an amazing Gift she was giving to me.

 

For a romantic like myself, you simply do not come away from such an experience unchanged. And now, nearly two years later, that sense still pervades me when I look at the experience and am not otherwise preoccupied with the mundanities of everyday life. I have not yet quite figured out what I am supposed to do with all of this, but my sense of it is that I am supposed to do something. It is not a gift to be trivialized or hoarded, but one whose lessons are meant to be shared.

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2015 – Final Thoughts

God turns you from one feeling to another

and teaches by means of opposites,

so that you will have two wings to fly,

not one.

~

Rumi

 

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And so I sit here, in my home, and ponder this last day of 2015. I feel a restless energy inside of me that wants to take on one hundred tasks all at once and so I am forcing myself to sit and be still, and to see what reflections might emerge from this year that is about to come to an end.

 

I can see at the outset that it was a very, very full year. I met a lot of new people, including a few of my personal heroes like Natalie Goldberg and Dan Millman, and I really just did so much this year. A rather unexpected trip to Santa Fe last April was a real balm for my soul. I loved hooking up with Rick and Judy again out in Eldorado, as well as meeting a new friend, Muriel. I also had my first real exposure to what life at a Zen center looks like for the people who choose that path. Meeting Natalie Goldberg was a dream come true but just as nice, and unexpected, was meeting Sean Murphy too. A fellow Zen practitioner (more diligent than I, I confess) and author of some interesting books, it was a real pleasure to meet him and to sit in meditation with him too.

 

Segue to July and it was off to Oregon once again to attend my first ever full-blown Mootstock. What an amazing event that was. I ended up bunking with Ducks and Gala and despite my misgivings about having roomies it actually worked out quite well. I was the first person to arrive at the Ester Lee and the last person to leave. And while I thought I would be craving my alone time there, it turned out that I much preferred the company of my fellow Mooters to having time alone. Who knew?

 

I did this trip with some measure of independence too. . . flying in on my own, getting a rental car, and managing to navigate myself out to the coast of Oregon without any assistance at all.  Well, at least not any visible assistance. . .  There may have been an angel or two involved. And in the end I can honestly say that I did not want the Mootstock gathering to end. I think I was out there for eight or nine days and it just seemed to go by way too fast.

 

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What a magical group of people they all are. Truly!

 

I also continued to explore my creative side – taking writing classes at Keefe Tech, pottery classes over in Wayland with Lisa Dolliver, and jewelry-making classes in Waltham at Metalwerx. Lisa is such a great teacher. I’m not sure that I have much latent pottery skills but it is just so fun taking classes with Lisa. And I actually do have some nice pottery pieces to show for my efforts, even if they are a bit on the primitive side. I think I found more fulfillment in the jewelry-making classes. To actually take something like a plain sheet of metal, and create something rather cool from it . . . that’s just really an indescribable feeling. And I admit, I feel like it brings me closer to Laureen. How I wish we had signed her up for that class. How I think she would have loved it. You learn so much, so quickly. I have four wonderful rings and two pendants to show for my efforts thus far, and definitely plan on taking more classes in the new year.

 

And the background to all of this is work. That is. . . my job, aka my profession. The other backdrop being, of course, Laureen’s absence in my life.

 

Work is work, although it is becoming something more than work. I cannot really put a finger on it. I started to watch a series last night called Firefly. It is an interesting series, sadly relatively short-lived at only 14 episodes or so. But I can say that I see an element of myself and my team in this series. We are a disparate group of people. On the face of it, you would think that we wouldn’t fit. But somehow we do. And for better or worse, I am the captain of our little ship – our little microcosm of the world in which we travel and interact with the other characters in our play. And interestingly, I do suspect that I am the glue that holds it all together.

 

As to Laureen – I still feel a deep sense of loss and a deep void in my life. Slowly, I shed bits and pieces of her – the material aspects such as clothing, magazines, books – all those things that once provided the backdrop to who she was. It is a slow untanglement. I have begun dating this year but to what purpose I cannot say as I don’t know what I want exactly. I understand that there will never be another Laureen in my life. She was unique, just as we are all unique. Sometimes I think that maybe I am just meant to go on in solitude for the rest of my days. A part of me is okay with that notion. And yet the quiet nights sometime speak otherwise.

 

In other ways, I do believe that Laureen is still around me. Even as I find myself sometimes doubting my belief that she still has an existence of sorts. Yet there are times when my path seems to be too smooth to be natural – those moments when things just fall into place so perfectly that I realize I am receiving outside help and guidance. Those are the times when I am certain that Laureen is around me, helping me and being a kind of cheerleader for me too. A foolish wish that somehow we continue after this existence ends? Who can say . . .  I have met many who believe this to be so.

 

And so that brings us to this very moment, here and now. Last year, right around this time, I had a realization, for myself at least, that our life consists solely of moments – that our memories are really just moments that our brain grasps and stores, and that the only time in which we truly exist is in the present moment – right now!

 

So it is right now, at this very moment. And I am sitting here at my keyboard, in my dining room, wondering what exactly I am even going to say next because I really don’t know until the words just start appearing. And I am simply sitting here, almost just bearing witness to what is going to materialize out of nothing. I’m not really thinking about what I’m going to say next – the words are simply appearing and a part of me is detached from the process and just watching it. Rather odd actually.

 

What I can say is that I feel a disquiet, an apprehension, the minor tickle of a sore throat wanting to manifest, tired, empty, and like I want to do something but I don’t know what that something is.  Thank god it’s a sunny day outside – I’d hate to see what I might come up with if it were gray. The gray days have been dampening my spirit as of late.

 

All that said, let’s change direction a bit and share a gratitude list – it is Thankful Thursday after all :

 

  1. I am thankful for friends and family. They have given me such support this year. Clearly I am not out of the woods yet.

 

  1. I am thankful for the abundance in my life, on all levels. Abundance may not give one happiness, but in this society, it certainly “buys” a measure of freedom.

 

  1. I am thankful for my job. It gives me purpose and helps to define who I am – at least for myself and right now I need some external self-definition in my life.

 

  1. I am thankful for my health. Having good health allows everything else to flow with much greater ease.

 

  1. I am thankful for the sense of wonder which seems to be such an inherent part of who I am. It makes the world a magical place, full of miracles.

 

  1. I am thankful for all of the lives that I have been able to touch. It is a gift to give freely and joyfully.

 

  1. I am thankful for all of the teachers I have had in my life this year. Indeed, I am surrounded by teachers constantly.

 

  1. I am thankful for the technology that we have which allows me to reach out and connect with people whom I would otherwise have never met.

 

  1. I am thankful for all of the artists, poets, musicians and dreamers that I have met and whom inspire me to seek these qualities in myself.

 

  1. I am thankful to still be on this planet for a little while longer.

 

 

Well, perhaps I will have more to say later on. For now I feel like it is time to begin moving through this day.

 

~~ AHO ~~

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ALONE

But listen to me.
For one moment quit being sad.
Hear blessings dropping their blossoms around you.

~

Rumi

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I had to turn off the Christmas music just so that I could hear my own thoughts, or the voice of whoever else might deign to come through to me. This photo and quote that I share were brought back to me by Facebook two days ago, on the 2nd anniversary of the day that Laureen and I learned that the cancer had returned and that she was not going to survive it this time. I remember that her doctor was pretty blunt about that. He never told us exactly how severe it was, for which I am thankful. But he left no doubt that there was nothing left they could do and that Laureen was not going to get past it this time.

 

Utter devastation.

 

And still, six days later, upon awakening, Laureen suggested that we take some selfies and she was so radiantly beautiful that I could scarcely believe that she would not be with me into our old age. No, she would forever keep the beauty that was so much deeper than any cancer could ever go, or touch. A beauty of the spirit that would never know defeat.

 

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Driving home from the office tonight, I realized that I am alone. I know that she is around me, in some form or another, but on another level, on this earth-plane level of existence, I am alone. I cannot see her, touch her, or hear her. . . I like to believe that some of the thoughts that come to me, that voice that I hear inside of me, might sometimes be her voice, giving me advice, or just saying hello. I really want to believe that.

 

But as I was driving home in the dark tonight, it was just me. And I started to seek some distraction – an event, something to go to – anything that might occupy some space of time so that I would not feel so alone. But something else. . . her voice? – told me to simply embrace being alone. The words inside my head suggested that I stop running from it and simply exist with it, embrace it, and stop struggling against it.

 

And so I surrendered and I went home. And so now, here I sit, in a quiet house, alone.

 

Which is rather funny because it strikes me that I am alone, yet not alone. I am sitting here, both writing this piece on Alone-ness, while at the same time chatting with my new friend, Brandy W, who has spent the better part of today sharing photographic evidence with me that we are probably never alone. And now, I have to laugh inside of myself because I feel like Laureen saw this collapse coming for me and “poked” Brandy into giving me the message that we are never alone, even when we might imagine that we are alone.

 

On the day of December 19th, two days ago, I did my best to not dwell on the past. Indeed, every time my thoughts started to turn in that direction I quickly steered them away. I think it would have been easy to sink into a deep malaise over the anniversary but instead I kept very busy, right through the entire week-end, to the point where I was so exhausted that I slept for ten hours last night, into this morning. I never sleep that much – and I still felt tired today.

 

[Pause]

 

I got distracted for a time. I am struggling to define this feeling that embodies “alone-ness”. I saw no quotes that spoke to it the way it is present inside of me. It is an empty ache that I dare not dwell in for fear that it would overwhelm my spirit and in its darkness I might lose myself. I tried to evoke it with my flute. I came close, but I could not continue. It required the most gentle of breaths to coax it out of me. A bare whisper creating the most soft and melancholy sound I could evoke.

 

I stood in my kitchen a few moments ago, pondering the fact that seven minutes earlier we had touched that moment at which it was Yule – at 11:48 PM. And so, just for a very momentary instant – we stood at that moment, and now Yule is past. My trusty calendar had this admonishment for me –

 

”We know very well that the present moment is the only moment when we can get in touch with life. The past is not here anymore. And the future isn’t here yet. Only the present moment is real.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

 

Only the present moment is real. Was the past ever real, then? I have mementos all around me that tell me that it was. . . once upon a time. And now, there are only memories. I am tired. Time to sleep.

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GRATITUDE

Remembering your scent,
wherever I saw a flower
I smelled it and tears began to pour
wherever I saw a cypress in the meadow,
I kissed its feet in memory of you.

~

Rumi

IMG_0197

 

Laureen speaks to me. She finds all sorts of ways to speak to me. Maybe I’m a little crazy. . . ?  My therapist gave me that look when I was telling him about my most recent experience with a medium. At first he was kind of open, but as I went a little deeper into it I could see his attitude shift a bit, so I let it go. It doesn’t really matter what he believes in this instance. It only matters that I know it is her, and that she is around me, and that she still exists even if I cannot see her, and cannot touch her.

 

This year will mark my second Thanksgiving without her. I could say the pain feels somehow less. And then, not. The absence is noted. Her recipes for our Thanksgiving dinner are strewn about my kitchen table at the moment and it all seems too overwhelming. At best, perhaps I can try to make her zucchini bread. It was one of her hallmark desserts. Beyond that, I shall just try to make it through this holiday as best I can.

 

When I spoke with Laureen last week, via medium Patrick Mathews, it was a different kind of conversation and a different energy than the last time (and first time) that we spoke in early September 2014. It took me aback for a bit – feeling that things had changed. I was admittedly even a little disappointed at first. I was left feeling that I wanted more. But more of what? More of her. More time together with her. More of our life together. Alas, those are things that are not destined to be in this lifetime. Perhaps, in the next one. . .

 

She laughed a lot. She poked gentle, loving fun at me. She was joyful. She has adjusted to her new reality. I cannot imagine how the passage of time feels to her. It has been 14 months since our last session. Did that seem like years to her, or just a second, or even the blink of an eye? Speaking of appendages (if an eye can be said to be an appendage), she reminded me that she still has form. As she put it, “I have two arms and I have two legs”. I think this was her way of reminding me that she wants me to talk to her, to think of her as still being with me, even when I can’t see her, touch her, smell her. . . She told me that she likes riding in my car with me. Indeed, she told me that she wants me to get a new car.  Her exact words were, “Never fear death. . .  live life . . .  buy the car.” I guess she wants to drive around in style, although upon reflection afterwards I realized that I actually rather like my car at the moment so we shall see about the new car thing.

 

The two messages she really wanted to get through to me this time was about the importance of listening to my intuition (and how good a job I am doing with that) and the importance of living the life that is in front of us right now. She couldn’t stress that enough and she kept coming back to it. She said it all goes by in a flash (don’t I know it!) and it is important to just go for it and do the things that your “gut” is telling you to do. She was laughing at the gut reference. . . a reference to my own physical gut I suspect, but laughing in a loving way – no judgment, just the kind of teasing that we always did with each other.

 

I actually feel that she has been all around me since before Halloween. Halloween was always one of her more important times of the year anyhow – when the “veil” is thin and the spirits have an easier time of coming through. It was not lost on us when the Universe conspired to give us our house on Halloween day in 2002. I celebrated thirteen years in that house just a few weeks ago. And couple that with the powerful full moons that we’ve been having since September – the moon being one of her power centers – and I guess it is no wonder that she’s been around more often. Of course, she reiterated her message that she is not going anywhere. She jokingly referred to it as “haunting” me, although she did give me a choice about it. She said, “When I am with you, you can call it a loving visit or a haunting…. “, and then she laughed. But then she got serious and added that this is how much she loves me . . . she “haunts” me every day.

 

I have no doubt that she might have other ways of spending her time now that she is free of everything that held her back down here – at least in the physical sense. And so she is choosing to be around me, to guide me at times, and to send me messages letting me know that she is around. And she is doing it out of love. Both times I have had sessions with Patrick he has commented about how deep our love is, and how strong the connection is. I need no reminders on that account – I know, and she knew, that what we had was very special.

 

Two nights ago she sent to me the most beautiful and powerful message I had seen in a while. I was watching some music videos on YouTube and I had just finished watching a Brazilian music video and a new video popped up and started playing, by an artist I had never heard of before. She is French (and right now there is some sort of weird French connection thing going on in my life) and her name is Indila. I’ve never heard of her before and ordinarily I would have just stopped the video from even playing and selected something else, but something stayed my hand and I watched the video. It was actually a three-parter as the first video,  Dernière Danse, segued into two more videos by Indila:  S.O.S., and then finally, “Love Story”.  By the end of the second video, the tears were flowing as I realized that it was a message from Laureen. . . that she wasn’t done talking with me and that she wanted me to know that she sees me and hears me and also that she wanted to send me beauty too for there was such depth and beauty in each video – it really captured my attention. Links to the three videos, in the order they played, follow –

 

Indila – Derniere Danse

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K5KAc5CoCuk

 

Indila – S.O.S

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m65jhGwtWrg

 

Indila – Love Story

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DF3XjEhJ40Y

 

Actually, music is one of Laureen’s favorite ways of getting messages through to me. I’ve always loved music, have always listened to music and if I am in my car, or watching videos on my computer, I usually pay much closer attention to the music then if it is just on to fill silent space (and more and more often now, I am content with silence as an alternative to music). So I believe that she understands that it is a good way of getting messages through to me and of course, it always reminds me of the Transformer movies. Her favorite character was the Transformer, Bumblebee, and his primary form of communication was by manipulating songs through the radio so this is not lost on me at all and I’m sure she thinks it is funny that she does that too. That is exactly how she would think and I’m guessing she is smiling right at this very moment.

 

Her most important message to me, I feel, is that I am on the right path and that I am doing a good job of following my intuition. She actually said that I was “smart” in that regard and Patrick added that the Spirits do not often say that to us. The truth is, I had a very good teacher! That said, I do feel like I need to work on staying in tune with my intuition and even dialing it in better so that there is a stronger and clearer signal for me. I feel like there are some important life changes coming up in the not-too-distant future (my gut tells me this) and it will be important for me to be aware of my choices (and to even create some of those choices so that they are options for me) and then to discern the appropriate paths for me, at the appropriate times. Of course, I may miss a turn or two here and there, but if I stayed focused and persistent (and I am nothing if not extraordinarily persistent) then I believe that I will arrive at my destination which is simply an extension of the path that I am on.

 

And in that sense, I do look forward to the life that is unfolding in front of me, even as I still shed the occasional tear for the life that I am leaving behind. And yet, in my heart of hearts I understand that this is the way of life. As I recently said to someone, “As one door closes, another door opens . . . “  And I know I am not alone in this journey. As she reminded me, it is not only her that is around me. She has met my grandparents and she said they are often around me and they talk about me (but she did tell me not to worry – they know when to give us private time too) so this acknowledges a recent insight that I had that our ancestors are around us, watching us, and cheering us on. That notion really shouldn’t come as a surprise, but I suspect that many of us aren’t really connected to that belief – that not only are our recent dearly departed around us, but also our ancestors too, and for all of us living… our ancestors go all the way back to the beginning of time here on this planet. It’s a deep heritage to acknowledge and one that our present culture does little to remind us of, Ancestry.com notwithstanding.

 

So I give deep and sincere gratitude to the Universe for providing us with this stage upon which we act out the journey that is our lives. May I play my role with compassion for others, gratitude in my heart, and love and respect for all those whom I encounter along the way.

 

En plus profonde gratitude

(In deepest gratitude)

 

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PAST LIFE REGRESSION

“In the end, we are not our things. We are spiritual beings.”

Image 10-25-15

I have spent the last two weekends filling up this dumpster. On the surface, as you can see, it appears to be just a load of assorted junk. But if you were to dig a little deeper you would discover a past that is every bit as interesting as the geologic record of history recorded on the side walls of the Grand Canyon itself. Except in this case, I am likely to be the only one that knows its history.

Take, for example, those table legs sticking up in the left-hand corner. They came from a church sale that Laureen and I went to one summer. We had been staying down on the Cape in a condo in Mashpee for a week-long vacation. We had such fun that week. We drove all over the Cape, going to thrift shops, antique stores, and church sales. That particular table came from a church sale – St. Vincent’s – right on Rt. 28. We were somewhat astounded when we found it because it was the identical table to our dining room table back home – a table that Laureen had carefully refinished many years ago and which came with her after her divorce. The same table that I am sitting at right at this very moment.

That particular table – with its legs sticking out of the dumpster – cost us all of $20. Fortunately we had her Jeep Grand Cherokee with us on that particular vacation. We ended up driving around with that table, and all of its assorted parts, stuffed in the back of her jeep for the remainder of the week. By the time we headed for home at the end of that vacation, her jeep was filled to the brim with stuff we had found on our trip. The plan, at least with that table, is that she would refinished it and we would sell it. Those legs, sticking up from the dumpster – well, that was one of our dreams – one that didn’t quite happen.

And that little spot of paneling that you see sticking up in the back of the dumpster – Laureen hated that paneling. Interestingly, it was largely because of that paneling that we bought our house just about thirteen years ago now. She had gone to look at the house first, with our real estate agent, and the moment she saw the house, and that paneling, she knew I’d want it. And she was absolutely correct. We bought the house six weeks later. In the end, she did have to live with that paneling on the walls of our kitchen for about three or four years, until she couldn’t take it anymore. And then, with her father’s guidance, she patiently filled in all of the grooves with a special filler so as to flatten the surface, sanded the surface smooth and then she painted over it with a beautiful Southwest-style yellow. But I know the paneling is still behind the paint.

That little spot of blue right in front of the paneling – well, that’s the underside of some Pergo flooring. The very first house project we undertook shortly after moving into our house was to remove the carpet in the bedroom that was to become Laureen’s art studio, and lay down Pergo flooring. I had never undertaken a project like that but in true accountant fashion, I planned out the entire grid (how to lay each plank and the lengths needed) in an Excel worksheet. Laureen’s dad came over to help me and in one day, with his guidance, we laid the entire floor down for her. Her dad later made two beautiful doorway thresholds for us out of oak. I think that was when I really started to bond with Laureen’s dad. In the end, Laureen passed away in that room – her art studio. I guess perhaps there is no better place for an artist to pass on than in her (or his) own studio.

Off to the mid-upper right there is a white strip – kind of hard to make out the details. That was something my mom had given me. There were two of them – framed with glass covering the images, which were all of these English heraldic crests. They were very old pieces. Unfortunately they got thrown into our basement and time was not kind to them. In my zeal to de-clutter, they have been sacrificed to the Dumpster Diver gods.

There is so much more below the surface. This is what our lives come down to – accumulating stuff and then, at the end, getting rid of stuff. I was thinking about this last week as I was driving – so much of the “stuff” in that dumpster represents dreams and plans that Laureen and I had. And we did manage to manifest some of our dreams and plans – like the flooring in her studio – and some just never happened. I was getting sadder and sadder as I was pondering this and then the thought came into my mind – “We are not our stuff”.

Perhaps as living beings we exert some sort of gravitational pull that attracts stuff to us, and then when we pass, the stuff is released into the Universe again? A cosmic Estate Sale if you will, or more like a Cosmic Recycling station.

So there is a part of me that feels relief in letting some of this stuff go, just as there is another part of me that is sad in assisting in its departure. But I do know that it is time, and also that I have only scratched the surface of this releasing.

In a moment, as soon as I finish writing here, I am going to continue the cleanout. So much stuff, so little time. I am always feeling pressed for time these days. Too many meetings, too many things to do, not nearly enough time to simply pause and reflect. Perhaps in this particular case, it is better not to pause and reflect too deeply or I might find myself pulling everything back out of the dumpster and sending it on its merry way, empty, while I tightly cling on to the stuff that still has emotional residue wrapped around it. Oddly enough, or not, it seems that almost every small scrap of something in my house has some emotional residue on it.

It has come to me lately, or been brought to my attention, that I may have to consider selling my house and moving. A part of me is very reluctant to do that. This is the place where Laureen and I came into being and where we coalesced into the people that we became. This is the center of our great and beautiful love story. Indeed, we did live our own version of “Love Story” right down to losing the main character in the whole damn story – my “Ali McGraw” if you will. Cruel irony, life is sometimes. If I wasn’t a pragmatic Taoist I might actually believe that God had it in for me. After making me wait 40+ years to find the love of my life, I only get to be with her for thirteen short years, and then it is pulled away in a moment.

But I am not bitter. I grieve, but I also heal. It is the way of life. Everything changes, everything passes on. Great civilizations come into being, grow, and disappear back into the sands of time. Clearly we are meant to do the same.

AHO!

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EPHEMERA

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

~

Lao Tzu

Thrive 01

I was driving home tonight pondering the notion, or I should say, pondering the realization that I have not written towards the NaJoWriMo in three days. If I do not write today then it will be four days. And right now I am sitting at 16,100 words. So, what would it be like if I decided to write 4,900 words tonight? I mean, it doesn’t have to be Shakespearean, or even Dostoyevskyian . . .  just little old me, rambling around in my brain. Could I do it? Well, I’ve just surpassed the 100 word mark, and then some and if I just keep typing my little old fingers out across this keyboard, sooner or later I will have written 4,900 words. I should say that I do have other tasks that I am trying to accomplish tonight and I am coming to this rather late in the game as I just got home at a bit past 8 PM tonight because we had a board meeting tonight at work and I had to go to it. The good news is another audit season is officially over!!  Kudos to my fabulous controller for doing a fantastic job again this year. There were only three errors if you will, and two of them were on me but it was related to the new capital campaign and the GAAP standards around capital campaigns have changed in recent years so while I can plead mea culpa I would also say that there are so many law changes these days that it is hard to keep up with everything. Damn that Obama – I just know that this is all his fault somehow. First he wants to take away my guns and now he’s changed all of the obscure accounting principles just so that little old me doesn’t look good in front of a board.

I think it is a government conspiracy. Speaking of conspiracies, did I mention that I watched Revenge of the Creature [from the Black Lagoon] last night? No? Why, whatever is the matter with me?  Well, I did watch Revenge of the Creature (1955) and it was a cool movie. It is the first time I have ever watched that movie. It was different from what I expected. I have to admit that the original “Creature from the Black Lagoon” is definitely a better movie. I like how it all takes place in the “Black Lagoo”, echoing shades of Humphrey Bogart’s “African Queen”. No, in Revenge. . .  they capture the creature (the “Gill” man) and bring him to a 1950’s version of Seaworld in Florida. Well, the predictable happens – he escapes and terrorizes the country-side. Although this creature dude is no country bumpkin. Pretty early on in the movie he fixes his attention on budding 1950s woman scientist, Helen Dobson (ably played by Lori Nelson) and so once he escapes he proceeds to follow her as she travels up river with her new beau, Prof. Clete Ferguson (played by John Agar). I was telling someone today that it was interesting to just watch all the social mores evident within the movie. One interesting piece that I saw for myself was a kind of nightclub scene where all the men were in suits and ties – in the summer, in Florida. The actors did keep acknowledging how hot it was.

So, cool movie! And then today at work I received an 8-DVD set called, The Universal Monsters. The set, all on blu-ray, includes: Dracula (1931), Frankenstein (1931), The Mummy (1932), The Invisible Man (1933), The Bride of Frankenstein (1935), The Wolf Man (1941), The Phantom of the Opera (1943) and The Creature From the Black Lagoon (1954). It came with this cool booklet and an oversized postcard of a movie poster of each movie. Totally awesome Halloween fare!! I can’t wait to start watching them. But first, of course, I have to write 4,900 words. Exactly! Not a word more, and not a word less. And right now, well, it depends on where you actually count right now, but right now I am quickly heading to seven hundred words so only 4,200 more words to go.

Let’s see – my Sunday night class is like killer. This is no Artist’s Way group. I am struggling in this one as it seems to be pushing all of my buttons. Man, just when I think I’m a bit on the mend, something comes along to show me that I’ve still got a long way to go. So the class / workshop / therapy session (whatever you want to call it because honestly I’m not quite sure what it is) is just really tough for me. And I will confess that I had an inkling of sorts that this was going to be the case. My mantra thus far, four weeks into this, is, “In for a penny, in for a pound”. Meaning, basically, that I’m not going to give up, even though I would really just as soon stop going. But I can be one persistent mother-fucker and I signed up for this thing – called it mental / emotional boot-camp and dammit, it’s not going to break me. So the whole thing, apparently focuses around something called IFS (Internal Family System). I had never heard it before I took the Artist’s Way course last year and it only came up in there because the person who was facilitating that course happens to be a therapist and this is basically the modality that she works with. I probably shouldn’t even give a layperson’s version of it because it is rather new to me and we have not really been formally taught what it’s about. What I can see is that on some level it breaks us down into, well, parts, or, there are parts, and then there is a self, or a You, that is the real deal, while all these parts are something less than you. See, I can’t really explain this at all. And quite honestly, I really don’t think I like the concept of it at all. In fact, it is safe to say that I am quite resistant to it which is probably part of my problem with the whole thing. In fact, in our last two classes I have simply shut down by the end of each class and refused (at least internally) to participate any further. My guess – probably not an effective counseling protocol for me. Here’s what I don’t like about it. I have spent countless hours over the past year and a half focused fairly intently on meditation which to me entails integration of mind, body, spirit, emotions into one awareness. This IFS system seems to me to go in the opposite direction, fostering an awareness of disparate parts that are controlling our emotional lives – not a happy circumstance for me to consider.

Over the past year and a half, through meditation, I have felt much calmer, my deep grief has eased, I have felt patient, connected and spiritual. I honestly don’t want to rock that boat. And not for anything, but this feels a little bit like induced schizophrenia. You know, back in the 70s, there was a reason why I didn’t get into all the chemical drugs that were floating around in those days. I hated to give up control of my mind. Even when I drank, I never drank to the point of losing control, or blacking out for that matter. In any event, when it came to drinking, I had a bit of a built in safety valve. . .  my stomach, or perhaps my lack of tolerance to alcohol. I would get sick, puke to use the colloquial, and once that happened, I was done drinking for the night (and usually for the next week or month as I would have a “come-to-God” moment and swear off ever drinking again, until the next time I drank). But the truth is, I was never a big drinker. It just wasn’t my thing. What I really liked were books. Well, at least back then anyhow. And music too. I mean, I still like books, and I still buy a lot of books, but man, my reading of them has gone way down. I was talking with someone about that the other day. The reality of it is that I just don’t have the time to read like I used to. Well, that and I have a lot of competing demands for my time, not the least of which is a pretty intense job.

Should I talk about my job? Man, I could write a book or more on that alone. Kind of top secret info there though. Or at least, let’s put it this way – for right now, I still value my job so the less said, the better. And the truth is, my journals have never been about my job. In fact, my whole life has never been about my job. My job has really always been a means to an end and that end is to make sufficient monies to pursue those interests that really have meaning for me. And maybe this is a good realization for me because I often struggle with this notion of not being passionate about my job – like, I have never been passionate about any of the jobs I have ever had. And now, perhaps, in this meandering diatribe, I have stumbled upon the reason. . .  and that is that it is not, nor has it ever been, about the job. It’s more about generating sufficient monies in order to do the things I really want to do. And that’s the other aspect about this too. I am rather indifferent to money. Which is not to say that I don’t appreciate having it, and having it in abundant supply at that. But it doesn’t drive me. I am not focused on creating abundance merely for the sake of having abundance. I like having money for what it enables me to do and more and more, as I hit that point where I have more money than I need (at least, immediately need), I look for ways to do things for people with it. But it is subtle mostly, not blatant. But it is intentional. And my preference is always that it be as direct as possible. And it comes to me that I have already written about this recently. That’s why I really don’t like donating to the big charities like UNICEF, Red Cross and all the other ones. The effect is nil. A lot is spent on marketing and executive salaries, and the effect, if any, is marginal and rather indirect. No, I want my meager contributions to the general welfare to have direct and meaningful impact. Not that I need to be known in the process. As often as not, my work is done quietly and without recognition. But I know, and it feels good to my soul and to my spirit and that’s what is important to me.

Dude, you still have 3,035 words to go – can you do it?  I really don’t know, but if I keep writing then in a few minutes I will be able to say that in the first hour of this Herculean task I will have written 2,000 words, as the MS Word crow flies. . .  or counts, as the case may be. So, what else, what else?

Will Geri Littlejohn please send me my flute now? Like, I am a patient dude, and I know she runs around doing all sorts of stuff, but it’s been like two months and still no flute in sight. I’m about to chalk that up to another artist support initiative but man, she really does create cool flutes and I would really, really, love to have that flute in my little flutie hands!  Yay! 2003 words accomplished!

Meanwhile, in the background my coffee is nearly done brewing and my towels are tumbling around in the dryer. Oh. . . the two ton capacity dumpster that I ordered arrived as scheduled and on time last Friday. In fact, I was just getting ready to leave the house for work when the driver showed up. That was actually pretty good timing as I got to show him exactly where I wanted the dumpster. And he put it exactly where I wanted it. So then, after meditation and the Super Foods workshop on Saturday I came home and spent the afternoon cleaning out the garage. Now I confess, I’d had some serious doubts about whether I’d be able to fill a two ton capacity dumpster but boy, that thing did fill up pretty quickly. Of course, that’s not to say that it is full yet, but I certainly made a good start with it. At the same time, I have to confess that it started to take an emotional toll on me although maybe not so much on Saturday when I was mostly working in the garage. There really was a lot of stuff to get rid of in the garage. Towards the end of Saturday I started to do a little work in the basement, but only a little bit. But on Sunday, when I really focused on the basement, that’s when the emotions started to come into play. The empty boxes and card board boxes were easy enough to throw away although in truth there was even some emotional pain with that as the card board boxes (empty ones) were boxes that Laureen and I had collected in order to pack up our house, in order to get ready to move. We did in fact eventually pack up over half of our house, and over half of our house remains packed up in boxes. But then we fell stagnant on the project although in hindsight now I can say it was probably related to Laureen’s dwindling energy and increasing feelings of illness which one could say may have all been a part of the as-then undiagnosed tumor that was slowly taking over her liver.

Who can say?

All I know is that after working really hard for a year to get ready to sell the house, we kind of fell flat on all of it. Although now I do recall that there were two other aspects to why we didn’t keep going and follow through on our intention to sell our house. We did look for houses pretty intently and one problem was we simply couldn’t find a house that we both liked enough to make the leap. And secondly, Laureen and I were of different opinions as to how best to proceed. I wanted to focus on selling our house first, and then deal with having to buy another one, while Laureen wanted to find a house to buy first, put in an offer, and then sell our house. I don’t think we ever really got around that difference of opinion and in the end, I guess it was maybe a good thing, or possibly not. Laureen never really liked the idea of living in Upton. I’d like to say that in the end, this house did become our home, but I can’t say that she ever really felt like it was her “Home”. Still, in the end, she died here and I hope that she felt comfortable and that it was okay for her. In fact, it was one of the first things she said, although she said it in an open-ended way, subject to interpretation, when I spoke with the medium, Patrick Mathews, last year. It was all okay. That is what she said. And by that, I took her to mean that the way everything happened was okay, that it was the way it was meant to happen.

I don’t know that this was a big question in my mind when I wanted to speak with her. Honestly, it was more like I just wanted to know that she was still somewhere out there in the Universe. And I’d like to think that I got my answer. At the least, I can say that in that moment when I was talking with Patrick Mathews and he was relaying the information that he said was being presented to him by Laureen, I believed it was Laureen. There were so many things that he couldn’t have known, just small things (ah, Laureen always said that the small things are the big things, echoing my favorite line from the Brandon Lee movie, The Crow), that I really was convinced and remain so today, that Laureen did come through. In fact, in one moment in which she truly sounded excited, she said, “it’s me!” Like, she didn’t lose anything of herself in the transition from physical life to whatever you call life on the other side. And I completely understood the intent in her message – I am still me! How exciting is that to know! That when we transition, we do not lose ourselves. Somehow I suspect we become “bigger than” but we are still who we are too. Maybe it is that energy that I tap into with my desire to help other people because Laureen very clearly said that his was her intention with me (and others) – that she was still around and that while she could “take it easy” if she wished, she planned to be around and “get me into trouble” as she put it, while laughing about it. But she did get serious when she said there will be someone in my life again. That I will know love again. She said it would be different, but that it would be there for me.

I’d like to believe that I remain open for that. In fact, I think it is pretty safe to say that I do remain open. I show some people parts of me (no IFS reference intended) to give them a hint, or a taste, of what they would get if they decided they might like to pursue a relationship with me. But I do it not with the intent of initiating a relationship (ok, well, at least not always with that intent) but simply because it is the truth of who I am. And if someone wants to have that kind of loving, open, easy-going relationship, then I’m game, as long as it is the right person and that we have some common ground upon which we can build a relationship. And all of this reminds me that I am supposed to write a description for Match.com. My therapist kept pushing this one on me. So one night I finally relented and signed up for Match.com but I haven’t yet written the bio description. Honestly, like what the hell do you say in them anyhow? Everyone writes the same stuff . . .  like to walk on beaches, like sports, like football, want to dance, you must be skinny, athletic, look a little bit like Some handsome actor dude (fill in the name yourself since none come to mind at the moment) and on and on. . .  Like dude, okay, well, dudette I suppose, yeah, ok, I like to walk on a beach, sometimes, but it doesn’t really happen a lot. What really happens? Oh, well I do like to hang out in coffee shops, at least for a little while, so I can suck down some Joe (coffee) and write in my morning pages which have been languishing for untold months now (I do like a half a page here, and a half a page there) honestly, it gets to the point where I read people’s blurbs about themselves and I burst out laughing. Like, really? Seriously? And what is it with the 55-year old women who look like they are 55 going on 70. Like what the hell is that? Man, some people truly age faster than others and I don’t know why that is. I think I might be one of the lucky ones if dad’s appearance is any forecast of things to come. His face in particular is rather smooth. Now I will grant, he was a work-a-holic for most of his life so, as a result, he did not get a lot of sun so it is possible that some of this smoothness of skin (for lack of a better way of saying it) is the result of not being over-exposed to sun. I’d like to think I actually look pretty good for being 56 years old. Now if I could just drop like forty pounds I’d be like a God. A veritable God I tell you!  Yes, that is the caffeine from the coffee going to my head.

Dude, you are getting close. You have 1,410 words to go. You can do it! (says Rob Schneider from the crowd in my favorite scene from Adam Sandler’s movie, The Water Boy. Well, okay, that’s really not my favorite scene, but it is probably the most memorable line for me from that movie. If I said it in Rob Schneider’s voice, Laureen would know exactly who I was imitating, poor imitation skills notwithstanding. That was part of what was so cool with Laureen, over time it was like we developed our own little secret language fill of all sorts of odds ‘n ends that if one of us said something, the other would know immediately what we were talking about, or referencing. Of course, she was always making fun of me, but always in a gentle, loving teasing way and so I never minded at all. We loved to laugh with each other. I can remember nights when we’d be sitting together on the couch and she’d start to attack me all because of that John Travolta movie where he kills someone by hitting them in the throat (Broken Arrow maybe?) and I said to her – “see, the throat shot is the kill shot” so she’d always go for my throat and I’d have to protect myself and we’d both be laughing so hard and man was she strong – she was no slouch, that’s for sure. Like I mean, physically strong. Not really someone you would want to mess with. Ah, those were the days. I loved her so much. I still do. I always will. Sometime I talk to her in bed as I am getting ready to fall asleep. That was one of the things she asked me to do when I talked to her through Patrick Mathews. She asked me to talk to her, just as though she were sitting in the chair right next to me. And I do that sometimes, or even in my car, but I am most likely to talk to her as I am resting in bed, preparing for sleep. Man, I can remember how every night we’d say good night and then we’d hold hands as we fell asleep. I always slept to the left of her so my right hand would find her left hand and we’d hold hands and fall asleep just like that. How I miss that.

Tonight is Monday. I state the obvious. I am also rounding the bend and coming on to homeplate here. Only one thousand more words to go. Dude, you rock it! Yeah, I know. Hey, is that a part talking? We don’t want no stinken’ parts in this town. Just the truth, the Whole truth, and nothing but the truth, okay? Well, my fingers are hanging in there so far too. I knew I could do it. It doesn’t look like I will finish in two hours though. . . maybe about two and a half hours. Oh . . . and speaking of real estate (well, I wasn’t really, but I’m changing gears again, at least momentarily), I pulled up Zillow today and was checking out homes in Eldorado down in New Mexico. I couldn’t find the house that Emily had showed me last April. I am kind of torn a bit with what to do, especially if I do have to move, which I suspect is going to be the case. I hope to find out a little more this coming Thursday when I go to the little town meeting that they are having here in town. Actually, it’s not so much a town meeting as a meeting for people who will be affected by the proposed major road reconstruction project slated for 2019. That gives me three years to get the heck out of dodge and that is why I have a two ton dumpster sitting in my driveway. It is quite possible that I may put my house on the market as early as next Spring which means that I have a hell of a lot of work to do between now and then to get my house ready to sell. I have to admit, I shouldn’t even stop to analyze this one. The second I saw the notice from the town I knew I have to sell my house. It’s really that simple. And what a pain in the ass. But if I do have to sell my house, it does beg that question, “what does that look like and where do you want to end up when all is said and done? And one of the places that I keep coming back to is New Mexico and more specifically the Santa Fe area of New Mexico.

So I’m not entirely sure what that all looks like yet. But I do know one thing, I love the architectural style of the houses out there and I particularly like the idea of having a separate studio / in-law apartment – whatever, that I can set up as a studio, or, if there is more than one room, then a studio and possibly a library too. Wouldn’t that really be so awesome to have like a real library? Like my mom was really onto something there when she converted the garage  of our family house (i.e., the house we all grew up in) into a library for herself. I must say, she did a pretty nice job with that. So I was on Zillow today to see if one specific house that I’d seen when I was down in Santa Fe was still on the market but I didn’t have any luck finding it. That said, I did see a few nice properties with some potential. I would have to say that if I were to seriously entertain the notion of moving to Santa Fe, or its suburbs, then I would most certainly need to make another trip down there to see how it feels to me. I can say that when I flew into the airport in Santa Fe last April, one of my first impressions as I was driving along Airport Road, out of the airport, in my rental car was that I felt like I was home and that feeling actually surprised me in the sense that I wasn’t expecting it. But the truth of it all is that it’s one thing to fly in and hang out for a week or two and drink coffee and write in my journal in a coffee shop, but what would it really look like if I were to move down there. Outside of Rick and Judy, I really don’t know anyone. I mean, like I’ve met a few people but could I really just up and move? Well, if I look at the people whom I hang out with now, ah, like 16 months ago I didn’t know any of them. It is only through doing what I do, and just being me, that I have met these people and they have become my friends. So while on the one hand I often doubt my ability to meet new people the fact is, I do it all the time. I have to admit, I’m a rather strange bird at times.

So I really feel like I need to may be return to Santa Fe once more, sometime in the coming year. I will admit there is one other area that I could possibly see myself living in, or near and that would be Rockport. I can’t say whether I would eventually get tired of being up there, but I do feel like I could live up there. I suppose in either case, whether it be Rockport, or Santa Fe, or some as yet unknown location, the prospects for finding a job would have to be taken into account because unless I hit the lottery bigtime (which reminds me, you will never hit the lottery if you don’t play and that doesn’t mean buy a bazillion lottery tickets, but at least play once in a while and who knows – you might actually win!)

That said, I do feel like I would need to be doing something with my time. Of course, if money were not a concern, or if I really had a lot of money, maybe I could follow one of my dreams, like owning a coffee shop, or a bookstore, or a new age type store – or a coffee-book-crystal-healing store. Yeah, that’s the ticket!

Last thoughts: It was a worthwhile exercise to stretch for 4,900 words tonight. Honestly I have a lot of other things I could have worked on tonight but I wanted to see if I had it within me to write a fairly lengthy journal entry. Apparently I do. The nice thing is that this didn’t turn out to be complete gibberish.

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MEANDERING

[There is no doubt about it – this one meanders a bit. I do have hopes that some day I shall emerge from this malaise of the heart. Until such time I shall continue to, as Natalie Goldberg once said to me, “write the story that is inside your heart.”]

You have to grow from the inside out. None can teach you, none can make you spiritual. There is no other teacher but your own soul.

~

Swami Vivekananda

Image 10-14-15

What is meaningful to you right now?

I am borrowing this writing prompt from Jamie Ridler who posed the question in her BtS (Behind The Scenes) video this morning on Facebook and it is in fact a very pertinent question.

I find that I am still struggling with the loss of Laureen. This feeling seems to come and go in waves and right now it is coming on rather strong although to outward appearances it might not be so obvious. As I was driving home last night I could hear her words ringing in my ears – “Who will worry about you when you are driving home from work at night? Who will be there to greet you as you walk in the door?”

The answer is, “No one”. It’s really that simple.

It is no wonder that I run around doing all the things that I do. Better that then to face the bleak desolation that my life has become. Outwardly, I smile. Inwardly, I am  empty. I don’t know if I stuffed the pain down so deep that even I can’t find it anymore. Or maybe it’s one of those “parts” things that Dorie is trying to teach us about? I can’t say. I can only say that every now and then, for as well as people are fond of telling me I’m doing, I have this sneaking suspicion that I’m not doing nearly so well as I’ve led people, including myself, to believe.

It happened again to me today. I went to the dentist at noon for an appointment to have my teeth cleaned. And I’m sitting in the chair and I am thinking back to how Laureen had decided, many years ago, that the dentist she had liked for so long was no longer on the path of light. And that’s really the best way to describe it. With Laureen, there weren’t too many shades of grey. You were either on the path of light, or you weren’t. And she decided that her dentist had flipped over to the other side. Honestly, we both understood why. I think our dentist had caught her husband cheating. A divorce followed. But she swallowed her anger and beyond that, she probably also buried the idea that she was not good enough – that her husband had cheated on her because she was too old, not pretty, name your scenario. . .  or just lump them all together. So, what happens when you swallow that stuff? Well, you may think that you are still the same person, but you aren’t. And sooner or later it starts to ooze out and you start doing things that you would never have done before.

And so we saw it in the way she ran her practice. Now I always felt that Laureen was a hyper-sensitive – the proverbial canary in the cave. She simply could not be around that kind of energy. It would diminish her own energy to the point of making her physically ill. So she simply stopped going to that dentist. Meanwhile, I continued to go because there was nowhere else to go.

Well, a few years later Laureen finally found a new dentist for us. She didn’t announce this to me right away. But when I developed the need (an immediate one at that) for a root canal, she directed me to our new dentist. I guess I was to be the test subject to see how our new dentist performed under pressure. Well, she performed excellently and then Laureen knew that it was safe for herself to see this dentist too.

And so all of this passed through my mind in a matter of 20 seconds or so today as I was sitting in the dentist’s chair, practicing a gentle meditation while the hygienist picked at my teeth with sharp metal objects. This was the dentist that Laureen had handpicked for the both of us. And it was not lost on me that I am in this particular chair at this particular moment because this is what Laureen set in motion for us. Even though she has been gone a year and a half, she still reaches out and touches my life.

And none of this is answering the question that I opened this journal entry with – What is meaningful to you (me) right now?

A part of me wants to say, “nothing”. My life has lost all meaning and I am just floating along, waiting for things to conclude. . .

And just now, just as I was ramping up to go really deep into my forlornness, someone came into my office and asked me to sign a few checks. An interesting coincidence – I don’t think that this particular person has ever been in my office before – not in the ten years that I’ve been here. But she plays the flute. And she saw the half dozen or so native American flutes that I have scattered around my office and we started to talk about that. It turns out she is part native – Abenaki. One of my old flute-making friends was also Abenaki. I think about him from time to time.

Anyhow, we talked about the flutes and her heritage for a while. And so, from wanting to say nothing, or go deep into my misery, I realize that there are things that are important to me. So did Laureen send a little messenger to me just as I was about to dive deep into my tortured soul, so that she might remind me of the passions that I do have in my life? I see you, my love. . . all around me, tweaking things by just the tiniest bit so that you might make yourself known to me. You matter to me. You are meaningful to me. You gave my life meaning. I realize that this is not what the spiritualists want us to believe.  They would say that our lives are inherently and intrinsically meaningful in and of themselves. But it is only through other people that our lives take on a perspective, are given context. So then, let us agree to say that you gave my life focus and purpose and I had never been so focused in all of my life as I was when I was with you.

Is it any wonder then that my life feels devoid of purpose now?

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SADNESS REVISITED

“Perhaps somewhere, some place deep inside your being you have undergone some important changes while you were sad.”

~

Unknown

Sadness 01

Okay… I’m trying to get my writing mojo going here. . .  Nothing like a bout of inspirational sadness to get the writing juices going. I came across a quote earlier tonight which I just rediscovered on a blog – the blog of the author of said quote :

“There is an underlying sadness in all art, a melancholy we feel when we face true beauty. It’s that ache, that longing, that we can’t quite describe when we witness something truly wonderful.” – Jeff Goins

So that’s it exactly. I have always felt that my most powerful writing has been born out of angst, out of sadness and more recently, out of grief. Indeed, I have had fleeting yet recurring bouts of anxiety over the thought that I might be tempted to cling onto my grief in an unhealthy sort of way, milking it for its ability to provoke such heart-wrenching pieces of prose as to bring even myself to tears. Indeed, this has been the case at times.

More recently, I have more or less stopped writing. Well, perhaps not entirely stopped, but I have moved into this space of working on my book and if the writing isn’t going to be book related than I find that I struggle to write at all. This all-or-nothing approach has not really been working too well for me. And it doesn’t help that I have been really successful at diminishing the amount of free time I have to write by filling up my schedule.  Now on a certain level I have to admit that, Natalie Goldberg’s suggestion to the contrary, I continue to struggle with writing about Laureen as “The Story”, and instead find myself writing something that is tangential to her story, as though in so doing I could somehow sidestep my own grief.

More recently, within the last few weeks, I have experimented with an idea of creating a book around how there came to be a John & Laureen in the first place and that feels like a more joyous book to write. And that has led me to go back through my old journals and so I’ve been doing a lot of research as to what was going on way back around the late 1990s and early 2000s. I do very much enjoy reading the emails that Laureen herself wrote to me, which date primarily from around March 2001 through the end of 2001. I can so hear her voice, as though she were standing next to me, talking to me. And I find myself smiling and laughing at her words. We were so new to each other back then and our future looked so bright.

And then our whole time together flashes before my eyes and I sit here wondering where our thirteen years went. It all went by so fast but I say that speaking in hindsight for there were moments that seemed to hang forever – the tough moments – and then there were moments where I simply wanted time to freeze and leave us to our joy forever. Alas, life does not work that way. It is all just a tangled bundle of happiness and sadness, laughter and tears, life and death. And in the end it always does come down to death – at least, death of the individual. Who can say, collectively, what our contribution and continuation might be after death? As acres of wheat stalks, bowing to the wind – does the absence of a single stalk in an unending sea of stalks make any difference? I myself cannot say. . .

Thus far, I have managed to write what I feel are two fairly strong chapters for my book and I have a myriad of ideas for other chapters. I need time to sit down and write. And that is to say, time that is free of the fatigue of ten-hour work days plus three more hours of commute time. Only to come home to a dark and empty house – void of the welcoming smile of my beautiful wife who was so happy to see me home, safe again, in our little refuge from a world slowly going insane. We had our little island of sanity where things made sense and my world felt grounded. And then all of that. . . poof!!  Gone. . . in an instant, or what seemed like an instant. One last summer of false hope – of the belief that maybe we had dodged a bullet and would yet see each other into our old age.

But that was not meant to be. It is all a blur now. The only words that remained with me are the words from our doctor – “We must have missed a few cells”. . . A few cells?  And I guess these “few cells” were pissed off at having the rest of the tumor removed because they did triple time in growing back and this time they were staking claim to some serious territory. Her whole abdomen was open range now and once emboldened and embedded the weak refrain is, “there’s nothing more we can do. . .”

And that was it. Game over.

She knew it wasn’t going to be long. She always had that sense about things. And she was right. Something less than three months and she was gone. The only blessing was the deeper she went into it, the more tired she became until she spent most of her time sleeping. In the end, during the last few weeks, she could no longer communicate and I knew she was slipping away. I sat there, standing guard and protecting her. Keeping her as comfortable as I could. It was my last task – the only thing that was left for me to do for her. I had always envisioned myself as holding open a door so that she could discover her true life and her joy. And now, here I was, standing with her on the threshold of her death. And I have to confess, I never saw this coming. Not in my worst dreams did I imagine this “worse case” scenario for us.

I did not intend to write about this today. I simply slid down this slope, one more time. She was my whole life, and I was hers. What an amazing and incredible bond that was. I never expected to have something like that in my life. I feel so blessed that I did have it, and now I often feel as though I am a man walking around life in a haze of foggy, dazed somnolence – half present in this so-called real world while the other half is off in some unreal dreamland in which I imagine that I once lived a life with a most amazing woman. And it really does, more and more, come to resemble a dream. I cannot even really call it a nightmare anymore because it almost seems unreal to me. Slowly I am eliminating her “stuff” from my life, but as I do so, she seems to fade more and more away from me.

Two weeks ago I heard from the lawyers. The estate process is over. It is a done deal. And I am left wondering, “is this what it comes to when our lives are over?” What did her life mean? Her stuff just gets randomly distributed to the wind and then. . . what? Outside of my memories of her . . . what remains? Who will sing her songs? Who will tell her stories? She once said to me, “Who will worry about you as you are driving home at night, in the middle of a snowstorm? Who will make your meals? Who will sit and watch the birds with you and give them each their names?”

No one, my love. No one.

What I have learned in my life, and through my sadness, is how fleeting life is. It comes and goes in the wink of an eye. It is important to be around good people. People who lift you up. Be compassionate. Be caring. Be full of gratitude for every moment of your life. Be love. Because in an instant, it will all be over.  Aho.

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ZEN FROG

“When one past thought has ceased and a future thought has not yet risen, in that gap, in between, isn’t there a consciousness of the present moment; fresh, virgin, unaltered by even a hair’s breadth of concept, a luminous, naked awareness? Well, that’s what naturally peaceful awareness is.”

~

Sogyal Rinpoche

Frog 01

Ah yes, the Zen Master Frog. He is full of wisdom this morning. Notice how he regards his reflection – not! His countenance is that of Buddha-hood attained. He is at peace with all that is and with all that will ever be. Is it possible that this little being, this tiny creature whom some might consider as a gastronomical delight, is indeed the Buddha him (her) self? Chosen to return and reflect upon reflection and non-reflection . . . duality and non-duality – the duality of reflection, disregarded in the moment where thought has ceased and reality hangs in a moment of non-beingness.

Frog contemplates the world and thinks . . . or not. In the not thinking, there is not doing – there is only being. There is no attachment to thoughts, feelings, emotions. There is that momentary pause as when the day is about to be born, but has not yet realized its moment of birth.

Frog smiles and sees that it is all an illusion. All a reflection. Frog smiles because he knows . . . and knows that in the knowing, he does not know for there is no knowing or not knowing – there is only the Silence. And perhaps even silence gets bored sometimes and thus it creates non-silence – sounds and smells and planets and galaxies – something to fill the interminably quiet moments of non-being. A diversion, an entertainment. We dance so that Silence can play and be in non-silence.

Frog smiles.

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