INCOMPLETE

Take a deep breath in … Feel the full presence of the Light within you. It is complete. You are complete.

~

Universal Light Workers

 

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The trick is to find peace with the process of life rather than with specific results. Listen to your intuition and relax a little more. Practice allowing.” – Kathy Freston

 

I was off-site today, meaning that I did not go into the office. Rather, I attended a committee meeting, of which I am a member, and in which we select the health insurance offerings that will be presented to the 30 independent schools that participate in the association sponsored health and benefits consortium. That makes it sound rather complicated, but honestly it is nowhere near as complicated as the entire health insurance quagmire that is our nation’s heritage. In short, it is extraordinarily complicated stuff and not for anything (after all, I am a bleeding heart liberal), but the ACA, affectionately known as Obama-care, has made a complicated system infinitely more complicated.

 

The committee itself consists of about a dozen or so business officers and HR professionals representing a dozen or so of the forty schools that participate in the program. Our goal is to do the best we can to control annual rate increases on health insurance for our member schools while not giving away the store. Not that there is 100% congruence in that purpose among the committee members. Independent schools are independent for a reason, we all tend to have different outlooks and different concerns. Some schools are very focused on the business aspect of the school and cost, and cost containment, is everything. Other schools try to achieve a balance between controlling costs both for the school and for their employees, and yet others simply want to offer the best insurance benefit they can to their employees, cost be damned.

 

Today’s meeting was five hours long. Finance and business gurus that we are, even our heads start spinning after a couple of hours. Lots of numbers and financial scenarios and discussions about using insurance benefit adjustments to modify employee and institution behavior in an effort to instill more “consumerism” into the process.  And if the health care industry were strictly a free market enterprise then I might almost accept the trade-off. Almost. . .

 

We sat there listening about “high cost” claimants. . .  you know, those medical issues like cancer and organ transplants that can easily go into hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars of claims and oh boy… if we could only nudge them into making different health care choices then maybe our rate increase this year would be 10% instead of 11%.  Numbers and more numbers and attempts to instill policies and benefit modifications which I affectionately call “shifting the cost to the employee” to inspire “behavior modification”. Hell, if we shift enough of the cost enough to the employee then maybe some of these “high cost claimants” will shift their behavior sufficiently so as to decide to forego treatment altogether and simply die and get off our plans sooner rather than later. Not that we break it down to that level – no, we simply stay focused on the numbers. That’s just the thought running in the background in my own head.

 

After four hours I couldn’t take it anymore. I tried to sit on my hands and be a good committee member and think of the best financial interests of the participating schools but dammit – these aren’t numbers we’re talking about here. These are people. People like you and people like me. So when you nudge a prescription benefit so that instead of someone having to pay $50 for a ‘script’ that might have a “full cost” of $25,000 so that now they have to pay $5,000 (that’s on a 20% co-pay) um, what might the result be?  Oh, well, maybe you shaved a half of one percent off the rate increase to the schools, but what about that one person who needs that prescription to live and now you’ve adjusted their cost from $50 to $5,000 for one fill in the name of “behavior modification”?  And so now they can no longer afford that prescription and, well, “so sorry”, little Johnny has to die for the sake of the bottom line of 40 schools.  Oh, and yes, there are prescriptions that cost $25,000, per fill, and more in some instances. And yes, I did say this in the meeting. Someone has to remind the rest of the committee that there are honest-to-god people behind all of these numbers.

 

I do a lot of mental squirming in these meetings. It’s not like there is any one person, or group, that you can blame. I’m beginning to think that the insurers are among the less culpable. Right now the bogey man, front and center, are the large pharmaceutical companies. It is an industry that screams for federal regulation. But even that is only a part of it. The whole system is corrupt, overly complicated, unfair, and all-but-broken. It is yet another example of the “Wild West” mentality in that, lacking regulation, everyone is out there grabbing as much as they can for themselves and while there is probably a lot of individual concern on the part of healthcare providers for the health and well-being of individuals, it is simply not organizational or social policy.

 

Now our nation’s Declaration of Independence includes the following statement –

 

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. . .

 

So then, when do we, as a society, implement a social policy that includes the right to fair and equitable access to health care for all? And if it has to be regulated by our government to make it so, then that is what we should do. I think it is really that simple. The purpose of government is to provide certain “essentials” that provide for the common good. In that spirit I would certainly include other fundamentals here as well. . . housing, food and health – all fundamentals of Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs. Ensure the “survivability” of people and let them figure it out from there. I swear, if we, as a society, were more concerned about the health and welfare of all people, and less concerned about profit and un-ending growth, we would live in an entirely different world. The world we live in today, in this American society, is simply not sustainable and unless we change it we are most certainly going to find that out one day.

 

So that was my day today.

 

“All we ever have is this very moment, so the only thing we can do for sure is be present. The more present you are, the richer your experience will be.” – Kathy Freston

 

Ok then. . . while in the midst of this five hour meeting today, I received a message from my dear friend and her husband that their beloved dog had been diagnosed with cancer of the heart and was suffering badly and so they had made the very, very difficult decision to have the Vet come over this afternoon and end her suffering. I honestly had all I could do to not cry in the midst of today’s committee meeting. How very, very sad. I know how much they loved Diva and how hard that decision must have been for them.

 

When I got home tonight I knew I needed to do something to help them, as small an act as it might be. I felt like the best thing I could do would be to send them some distance Reiki for gentleness and healing and love. As I prepared my meditation room and drew my Reiki symbols, the tears that I had held back earlier, in the meeting, flowed freely. I know that Laureen will be there waiting for Diva and will see her in a different light than how she presented on Earth. I set up a gentle meditation using my meditation teacher’s CD (she is such a gentle spirit) and smudged my meditation room and myself before sitting down and proceeding to meditate and connect with Reiki and with Laureen. It was a good ceremony.

 

And now, I am sad, but I understand that this is the way of life. As Kathy Freston says in her book, “The nature of life is that things are always changing. Nothing stays the same for long.”

 

And that is the ultimate truth of it. If we go back a scant 3,000 years – none of the primary Gods that we take for granted today even existed. Buddha didn’t show up until about 2,500 years ago, Jesus 2,000 years ago, and Mohammed about 1,500 years ago.  Rough timelines, but meant to bring some perspective. So 3,000 years ago the dominant gods were Egyptian and Greek, and probably the Roman Gods just starting to take off as Rome began to emerge roughly around 800 BC, or about 2,800 years ago. Of course there were a plethora of other Gods too, but the fact is, that the Gods we talk about today, and hold so sacred, and quite willingly die for with alarming regularity, didn’t even exist 3,000 years ago. Being a curious sort, I tend to wonder who our Gods will be in another 3,000 or 4,000 years from now and I’m going to hazard a guess that it won’t be the ones we hold in such high regard today.

 

All I am saying here is that everything changes, over time. Even our Gods change. Civilizations rise up, fall back, and disappear into the sands of history. Perhaps we need the drama of it all in order to stay engaged and interested. If nothing ever changed, and no one ever died, I suspect it would be an extraordinarily boring and stagnant existence. There are times when I yearn for an oasis of stillness and a sense of permanence wherein nothing ever changes. But sooner or later, when I do achieve that state, it begins to feel stifling and I seek to welcome change back into my life.

 

It is at those times that. . . “the soul whispers, ‘Wake up! Look at what you are doing and change your ways.’ “

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DREAM FRAGMENTS

To sleep, perchance to Dream; aye, there’s the rub,
For in that sleep of death, what dreams may come,
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause.

~

William Shakespeare

 

Mom Austin 03

 

I saw mom this morning. She was in the last dream fragment that I had before waking up fully. I’d been having one of those tossy-turny mornings. I think I first woke up around 7 AM or so, but I was feeling very lethargic, even after nine hours of sleep and so I kept falling back to sleep and waking up again, taking fifteen minute catnaps.

 

In my very last catnap we were both standing in a living room. It was late at night and only mom and I were in the room. Mom was in front of me and I immediately knew it was her. She was older… like the late 50s / early 60s version of mom. There was still a kind of tiredness around her. She kind of had her back to me but she was turned a bit to her right so that I could see the profile of her face. There was a sofa to our right too, and she was in the process of stripping a set of sheets off the sofa, as though preparing to do laundry. I immediately said to her, “let me help you with that” and I took a few short steps over to the sofa and pulled the remaining sheet off of the sofa.

 

And suddenly I was infused with this almost overwhelming sense of love for mom. It was coming from me, but it was also all around us, so that it was coming from her too and just suffusing the whole space that we were in. The room was pretty dark so that all I could really see was her and the sofa. I felt this sudden urge to tell her that I loved her and I approached her (the sheet that I had just removed from the sofa had mysteriously vanished at this point) and I reached out and touched her right shoulder with my hand with such a strong intention of telling her I loved her but the words never came out and they didn’t have to. The sense of love between us was so strong and tangible. I just had this sense, inside of me, of hearing, “I know”.

 

And the final, and only thing, that she actually said to me was, “I just want to finish what I was writing. . .”  I noticed that there was a hint of regret in her voice.

 

And then I woke up, the echoes of love still filling my soul. I was still groggy. I got up, went into the shower, and I could still feel the tendrils of love around me. I wandered through the memory of the dream as I washed my hair with my eyes closed and I started to feel both glad that she had finally appeared solidly in my dream, and sad and as the sadness washed over me I cried a bit for the loss and let the water from the shower wash my tears away.

 

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A short time later, and before leaving the house for work, I did a quick check-in on Facebook. The first message that the great Facebook Oracle gave to me was a message from my sister, Ellen. It was a post that the medium, Deb Livingston had put on Facebook (see above) which was appropriate since Deb was the medium that Ellen and I had gone to, to talk with mom. So only now, as I am sitting here writing, does it hit me that mom is letting me know that she is around.

 

The second message that I got from Facebook this morning was –

 

“The most important thing in life is to learn how to give out love, and to let it come in. The only time we waste is the time we spend thinking we are alone. You’re not a wave, you’re a part of the ocean.”  – Mitch Albom

 

And I admit, I have been doing a lot of “thinking I’m alone” stuff lately so I guess mom decided it was time to suffuse me with a dose of love. Wow – I am just so glad that I got to see her. It does make me wonder where her journal is because I know she had a significant one somewhere and it sounds like it wasn’t finished. Not that I am the only writer in the family. There is my niece, Maddie, and my brother too, the proverbial tortured poet.

 

And so now I am just shortly arrived to work this morning, rather late I might add, and I needed to write this all down, now, before it disappears. So while I am at it, I do still recall one other dream fragment. . .

 

I had been in another dream, and then suddenly I was in a new place. . . starting a new job. I was low man on the totem pole again. I’m not quite sure what the job was. It was for a very small company. I actually think Don Nichols was there (which would qualify this as a nightmare) and in fact, I think it was his company. Don was someone I had worked for back in the 1990s. . . my one foray into the world of publishing but he was one crazy motherfucker. I had to quit after a year because he was so messed up.  Anyhow, I never really saw him in the dream, I just sensed his presence. There was something electrical about the place, like I was going back to one of my former professions of being an electronics technician. It was the end of a work day and I was around my workbench area and they were drinking coffee, or maybe wine or something, and I had to sweep up around my bench with a push broom. Everything in this dream was vague – I never really saw anyone clearly, I wasn’t sure what my job was, and then I think I had woken up briefly and that broke the thread. . . The only thing I vaguely recall was that I was there to “fix” things, to somehow make it all work. And it wasn’t so much the physical work that would do that, almost more like just my presence, or that I would know where to plug in and make things heal and work better. That was my sense of it.

 

So, on to real life now. I was pretty tired last night. This getting up super early and working late takes a toll these days. In my laziness, I ordered a pizza for dinner. Pizza definitely weighs me down.  Anyhow, after I ate dinner I felt like I was done with Facebook and I just didn’t have the energy to write. It was time to play with my last hope for trying to record my own music at home. I had ordered a new microphone a few days ago. . .  a Yeti USB Blue Microphone. Supposedly just plug and play. For a hundred bucks I figured it was worth a try.

 

So it arrived on Wednesday and I decided to open it up last night and see how complicated it was going to be. Well, I have to give it to them. . . it literally was “plug and play”. There weren’t a zillion pieces to put together – the microphone was already on the stand. Literally all I had to do was plug the USB cable into the microphone on one end, and into the computer on the other. And it worked!!  And not only did it work with the Audacity software, but it also worked with the Ableton software too.  And I even figured out how to add multiple tracks to a recording using Audacity, almost by accident. (Yes, Master Oogway, I know, “there are no accidents!”)  So I recorded my flute first, and then recorded some drumming, and then put them together. Total and complete awesomeness!!

 

In the Audacity software, the flute records as it is played, with no embellishments, but it is a very realistic recording of how it sounds. In fact, it is the best that I have been able to achieve so far. The microphone itself has four modes :  cardioid, bidirectional, omnidirectional & stereo.  I only used the cardioid mode last night and it was really awesome!  Very realistic sounding. I did have to add in reverb after the recording, which is relatively easy to do in Audacity.  Ableton is a much more extensive piece of software. I was able to record while working through one of their built-in tutorials on recording and the nice thing about that tutorial is that it had the reverb built into that tutorial and it was pretty damn close to the type of reverb level that I would have tweaked it to anyhow. So I did a few takes of the song, “What Child Is This”, on my flute. Very, very cool!! I am very excited about this. Alas, I simply ran out of steam last night but the preliminary indications are that this is going to let me do what I have been wanting to do, and in a rather simplified manner, which is exactly what I wanted.  Awesomeness!

 

And so, for now, that’s all I’ve got. Time to let this day unfold.

 

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STOP

“Within each of us there is a silence
—a silence as vast as a universe.
We are afraid of it…and we long for it.”

~

Gunilla Norris

 

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This feels like an apt portrayal of my current state of being. It is dark and gray and I am standing in the graveyard of my memories. I am alone. I weep for all the things that once stood as bright and shining possibilities and which now reside beneath solemn stones that, in time, will decay and crumble back into the earth from whence they came.

 

In November I received the message that I needed to stop. To stop doing, to stop pursuing, to just stop and be quiet. My ego told me that this would not be a good thing to do. That I was inviting catastrophe to pay a visit. Despite my misgivings, I realized that I was beyond exhausted and that regardless of the consequences, it was time to stop.

 

Of course, December is a month of holidays, accompanied by all manner of associated and necessary preparations and so I was able to keep myself busy right on through to the big day of December 25th.

 

And then I did just stop. Well, it did not take long for the world to collapse in around me. The external grayness of the skies only accelerated a process that was no doubt overdue. I would set the date at December 28th as that day in which the dark clouds rolled in and whatever faint flicker of optimism for my future that I’d been holding onto finally surrendered to the darkness. Indeed, I can almost pinpoint the exact moment – 10:45 AM.

 

In point of fact, it was a rather inconsequential incident in the larger scheme of things. I was sitting in my car, digesting a bit of disappointing news and waiting to pull out of my parking space. I could sense a certain feeling of chaos in the air – I tried to back out once, only to catch another car pulling out so I pulled back into my spot and let them pass. Certain that things were now clear, I backed out again, successfully this time, and in that one particular moment when my car was still stationary as I was in the process of shifting from reverse into drive, a car parked directly behind mine pulled straight out and I could only sit and watch, frozen, as I knew with a certainty that she was going to hit me and there was nothing I could do about it. It was a microcosmic reflection of that very same moment wherein I understood, just from the look on the doctor’s face, and before he even said a word, that Laureen was going to die and there wasn’t going to be a damn thing I was going to be able to do about it. In fact, it was the very same experience.

 

Sometimes you just have to give in to the inevitability of a moment and your soul just knows that there is no recourse, there is no other possibility. There is only that one certainty that is staring you right in the face and you just have to sit there and let it be whatever it’s going to be.  So that car accident, as minor as it was, triggered a whole series of emotional events from which I am still reeling. Laureen always said that it is the small things that are the big things.

 

Earlier tonight I was talking with a good friend (and very talented artist) who suggested that . . .

 

“. . . perhaps, if you’re at such a low point, it’s a point of transmutation. Going through the worst of it before it transforms… I can’t really put that into words as much as I’d like, but I hope it still makes sense.”

 

My response to her was:

 

“. . . it does make sense. I was just sitting here thinking that same thought before I read the last piece you wrote. I am wondering if I am starting a new kind of grieving process as I struggle with the notion of selling my house. This [house] is kind of like my last strong connection to Laureen. This is the center of everything that we dreamed about, and everything that we did together. To let go of this house is a really big, big letting go of her and then I’ll be at the edge of the world… actually I will have stepped off the edge of the world and will be… well, that’s just it – I don’t know where I will be. And I think I’m very afraid of that, and very afraid of letting go of this huge piece of what was our life together.

 

I am at this point of, like, what am I supposed to do with my life now? I think that the final realization is setting in that she is never coming home again. Like, if she showed up here tomorrow, she would still recognize our house, she would still have clothes to wear, she would still have her nail polish and her brushes…. man, I cannot tell you how much this sucks.

 

It is a step that I have to take, and I don’t want to take it.  Our 3rd wedding anniversary is coming up on Feb 7th. We only got the chance to celebrate one anniversary together and then she died a month later. I honestly still can’t wrap my head around it all.”

 

[cue]

 

. . . Hello darkness my old friend . . .

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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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