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Monday, June 30, 2014

It's All In The Conversation

Weed garden. Photo by Kyla

Long time since the last post here; I am learning that I'd better not announce how frequently I'm going to post, because it never seems to be sustainable. This past month and a few weeks since I wrote here last, I have often thought of coming in here to share something, but each time it has not proved possible.

The process has been too swift. There has not been time for anything to gel enough to get words around it in any adequate way.

But today I want to talk about gardening.

Even most people who love to garden, who feel an active bond with the natural world, don't seem to get that what's going on is a conversation. We have such a bias toward our notion of the evolutionary preeminence of human intelligence we can't see past it. (I made a typo and almost said "unintelligence.")

Don't get me wrong here. I'm not one of those who believe humans are some kind of blight upon the natural world, though I have in years past come close to that opinion. But for me, the fact that we are a part of it is predominant. If we are a part of it, there has to be a way for us to benefit the whole (which includes us), instead of what we've been mostly doing lately, which is more a kind of colonizing and often rapacious misuse.

I won't get into why I believe that is so, right now. There are, after all, whole books about that notion.

Let's accept for argument's sake as a given that, a., humans belong and have a rightful place here, and, b., that rightful place is not one that involves despoiling the environment.

So, how does a person find that rightful balance? That's been a question I've investigated for many years. 

One thing I have found about the natural world in general is that it is outrageously forgiving. There are no grudges held. Unlike some human conflicts, where conversation eventually seems to prove impossible, with the natural world the door is always open to humans with the right approach.

Which is simply the very same right approach as it is to human conversation: you have to be willing to listen.

Listening to a garden means paying a kind of deep attention that is deeper than the mind and its cognizing, but involves an atmosphere of fellow-feeling. T. Allen Boone wrote a little book called Reverence for All Life in which he shared how he communicated with animals. He used the phrase "high and horizontal" to describe the necessary attitude of approach.

It's perhaps a bit easier to think of paying attention to an animal with a high and horizontal attitude than it is to a plant, or a patch of soil, or an earthworm. But the results are similar.

There is a tremendous amount of bias we have to overcome. We have to give up the notion that because we are human, we are always right, for starters. And then, we also have to give up the notion that because we are human, we are always wrong.

The thing is, when you begin to enter into the conversation, the whole of life becomes something so much richer than it was. Even if your prized plants fall victim to a mysterious ailment, the rest of your garden will be singing with a vibrancy that puts any failure into perspective.

The forgiving, grudgeless attitude of nature toward us does not mean we always win. It does not mean there are no situations where we need strong defense. I am not an advocate of letting the mosquitoes bite or the other predators prey without restraint. But attending to the whole with a respectful attitude of listening gives a context to all of the less pleasant aspects of the communication. We don't understand a lot of what is conveyed even after listening for years and years. But over time, the listening offers such great rewards that what used to be failure becomes only another part of the mystery, to be listened to more deeply.

May you listen well to all of your life.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

A Suspicion About the Future

Come What May. Photo by Kyla
There is something about the future that I have suspected for a long time. I mean the future we all share in, however far or near it may be. I mean that place we've not come to yet but are all going toward in some mysterious manner that is not linear, but is rather a sort of building, or an infusion, that is dawning imperceptibly.

This suspicion itelf has been dawning on me in a similar fashion, slowly and almost humbly, except that it has no ego to humble and is more of the nature of inexorable natural law. A natural law that is so present it goes unnoticed until enough of the loud distraction of invention quiets down. The dawning itself is a function of a massive clearing away of noise.

What if the future were not just more of the same only different? What if in some quiet, indestructible manner, the future is sneaking up on us from inside everything that we are so used to, and without fanfare quite simply turning it all inside out?

What if the inside of things is where it's really at, and has been all along?

I don't think I am making this clear. It's as though all the world is very focused on events that are crucial and deadly and of utmost importance to us all, and we are laboring under great strain trying to work out our survival in conditions that get ever more dire. Or we are ignoring that drama for one of the other ones, about making wealth or gaining honor or winning over something or someone, and all the while all of this is going on, we are just not noticing what's really happening.

I know that has been said often, in clearer terms. But what if it is really true? And what if that truth is, right now, in the process of claiming us, claiming us for ourselves?

What if it's all an inside job?

There is a sea inside of it all, a sea that is rising. So much that seems so vital soon will be shown as dust, as seafoam, as debris dissolving in that sea and a sea change will be worked on us, so that what we really are becomes more fluent and alive than we ever imagined possible. Our parts come together, we find all our voices, our completion offers a way nobody yet can envision, not really, because it takes all of us, all the pieces popping into relationship under a sky of the correct timing -- the wheels line up, the moment arrives, slowly, instantaneously, in a perfection of amazement.

A perfection that has nothing to do with solving problems, or working things out, or fixing what's broken, but instead takes all of that and reconfigures it, changes all the patterns, so the wholeness that underlies and holds it all finally shines through without stopping.

Avalokiteshvara, She Who Is Never Not Broken, has been singing us this song for eons, forever. When you ride the crocodile with her, all that has been impossible becomes your ally, your grace blessing, your nourishment.

How else can the future be?

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

A Milestone: the One Hundredth Post, and a Reconsideration of Flight

Bye-Bye. Photo by Kyla
 I'm revisiting this whole notion of flying as a metaphor for aliveness and creative freedom. I wonder if I am doing justice here either to the metaphor or to my intentions.

So much of what I've posted over the last months has been about struggles which don't really feel a lot like flying, or like freedom, either one. At one point I even said "it's all flight, after all," meaning, the Earth flying through space might be all the flight we really get to experience, or need.

That was a low point. When I consider this flying metaphor, I instantly recall that the flight I mean is an inside job. I feel it inside my body, that sense of freedom that I know, in my bones, is our birthright. If I can't access that sensation, then I know I have something to work out, some trap to release myself from.

This doesn't mean I go around feeling floaty all the time; far from it. Nor does it mean that's a goal of mine. What it does mean is that access to a bodily sensation of conscious awareness of fundamental freedom as my inalienable state of being is something I consider mine, and yours, by right, and I know we often do not have that access in reality. I am doing what I can to restore it.

This is all as true now as it was when I began this blog, one hundred posts ago.

Flight also means running away. The flight to freedom is not a flight of denial, but it is a flight from entrapments. That flight can only occur after we experience the traps. We fool ourselves often into thinking we can escape our prisons by means of pretense. But it doesn't ever work, not really, not for long.

It's as though the only thing that fuels the genuine experience of flight, of inner freedom, is the pure willingness to be aware within whatever experience is assembled around us. That would be grounding, I suppose, to continue with the metaphor, and taking off from a secure, firm grounding would make for the strongest flight.

But this is getting too theoretical here. When I feel trapped or stuck, out of balance, lost, out of sorts, what I do first is connect as best I can to this inner sense of flight. That is where the corrections can begin to come in, the adjustments to my own energy, and the additional awareness, perhaps, of what the circumstances require. But usually what's needed is primarily that simple internal awareness coming alive. From there, I can move and so can the circumstance, whatever it might be.

Even if I am physically still, even if I am physically stuck, even when my problems seem without resolution, if I can access the inner flight, I am accessing that which knows how to be fluid and to move through the best path that can arise.

I am also accessing a kind of subtle nourishment that gives me what I need to keep facing whatever reality I am involved with.

May the Spirit of Living Flight be with you always!


My other blog, Walk into the Mystery, updated May 4

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Everything At Once

Weed Garden. Photo by Kyla
That describes the flavor and experience of this time. It is no longer possible (if ever it truly was) to focus on or immerse in one limited part of experience and close the doors to the rest.

No, now, at least for me, simultaneous themes and concurrent storylines, overlapping and interweaving, are just constant. There is no simplicity "out there", not in the external world nor in my understanding of, or confusion about, what's happening.

Simplicity is what I crave quite often, and I can only find it by letting all those stories and melodies and arguments and disruptions go right along, unfolding as they will, while I witness them from some place inside that doesn't move.

It's only when I reach to attempt to sway the course of events that I become caught in the swirl and trainwrecks. If I refrain, more often than not, forces I was not aware of have a way of intervening and changing things beyond any prediction of where they might have gone.

Oddly, this also seems to offer a clearer space for action than it might seem. Not needing to take into account, too much, the moving multiple targets of changeable streams of events, I can make a simple choice, from my simple center, and even make a plan of steps that could take me from here to there.

As I read this over I wonder if it will make sense to anyone else. I have the idea that this "make a plan" process is much more familiar to most people than it has been to me. My trajectory has had too much force cutting across the bow at odd unpredictable times, and so "making a plan" long ago became a laughable endeavor.

I learned I might as well not even try!

Now, though, it is like some weird kind of perfect storm, keeping itself busy while I go about my way, noticing it but not needing to give it much consideration, after all.

I've no idea how this will work out, but for now it feels like space, and like freedom.

When the garden approaches climax, perhaps then the gardener is liberated.


My other blog, Walk Into the Mystery, updated April 22.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Trust Walk Through Fear

Walk on. Photo by Kyla
That would about describe my life. I'm soon going to wander off again, in a few weeks, into a new chapter. I'm a wanderer on a trust walk. It used to be easier. I don't know why that is, but when I was younger I was relatively fearless. These days, I have to battle back fear in the form of paranoia and anxiety, and it puzzles me. Fortunately, I've gotten much more skilled at getting through/releasing the fear.

I've spent time with fear in every way I have learned to do, over the years.  I've met fear with imaginal journeying, investigation and analysis, prayer, self-talk, and mindful presence. Mindful presence seems essential, yet it is not by itself sufficient. I have to actively choose to step outside and away from the fear definitions of events, in order to be sufficiently healthy and relaxed in my body, and in order to make useful decisions.

That's a set of movements that can be practiced, fortunately, and practice does increase ability though so far it does not "make perfect."

That's okay with me. I'm grateful for any ground I win, in this battle against -- against what, exactly?

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Pain, Mindfulness, Imagination

All squinched up. Photo by Kyla
I've been in some pain recently, some of it pretty bad. This is dental pain, and so it affects other things as well, like eating. I have a broken tooth, which broke about five years ago, when a large metal filling finally overcame the tooth itself. I had no pain with this until recently but I also had no way to have it seen to.

At around the same time as the broken tooth began to twinge, on the other side of my mouth something mysterious started flaring; I suspect a late wisdom tooth is trying to come in sideways. This pain was quite fierce initially, and I can feel the teeth that are present have gotten misaligned from the pressure of the latecomer (if in fact that's what is happening.)

Along with trying to discover some way to get this attended to, for free since I have zero money and zero income, I have been learning how to eat. I have managed to get the inflammation under control, so the pain is a very low rumble most days, by means of regular doses of ibuprofen. I can drink soup, of course, but the day I managed to chew scrambled eggs was an occasion to celebrate.

However, eating is now always an occasion of enforced mindfulness. If I forget and let myself chew in the habitual way, I immediately pay a price for it. I must be gentle, and I must pay attention to each sensation as I eat each bite.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

For Dr. Seuss, and Wildness

Creature. Photo by Kyla
I've launched a new blog today. It's called "Walk into the Mystery" and I'll use it to post some different fare than I post here. "Mystery" will have stories, flights of fancy, imaginative rambles, depth journeys, and probably some silliness.

As it's Dr. Seuss's birthday today, this seemed an auspicious time for the launch.

I've linked to the new blog in my bloglist below and as with the rest of those, when there's a new post it will rise to the top of the list. You can also go to the blog itself and sign up for new posts to be emailed to you, if you wish.

I'll be keeping this blog updated also, at least once a month, along the lines of flying as an ongoing metaphor for creative survival in heavy times.

My own flight requires that I find ways to let some of my wilder writings roam a bit freer, so I'm giving them their own venue. I make no promises for them, but I hope at least some of you enjoy at least some of them.