Intuition is one of the key ingredients for the Hero. In Harry Potter, for instance, Harry has knowledge and logic (aided by Hermione), a grounded, real-world, present-moment perspective (aided by Ron), and a magical perspective that lends him insight into how his actions effect others in the larger sphere of his world (Dumbledore). Harry, however, is made a hero both by the circumstances of his birth and by his very real ability to intuitively proceed into the unknown. His past and his intuition are what set him apart.
In the tarot, we might see these figures as the Empress (Hermione), the Emperor (Ron), and the Wizard or Magician (Dumbledore), while Harry is always the Fool whose task it is to learn from his encounter with the archetypes on his journey through the wheel (or to self-actualization in Jungian terms). He also has a shadow represented by the most evil dark wizard of all time, Voldemort.
On our own journeys to self-actualization, these archetypes may not seem so clear. If one has encountered trauma (who hasn’t, really?) our intuitions may be calibrated to expect the worst.
Whenever DJ works overtime, I get some seriously bad anxiety. He might come home after a twelve hour day only to have to deal with me encountering a slew of emotional baggage that sounds like, “you would rather be at work, why don’t you let me know, you know how I am about schedule changes, do you even care about me?”
Total over reaction, especially because we’re both working hard to save up right now and I don’t believe the words coming out of my mouth. The logical, grounded, present moment perspectives (Ron and Hermione) tell me he’s just had a long day working hard for us to save for a car and because I love him, supporting him and being kind are what I want to do right now.
Instead he’s subjected to my complaints.
It wasn’t until he pointed out that these fights happen every time he works overtime that I realized what they were:
My parents were often late to pick us up from day care, school, grandma’s, wherever. They worked hard–so much that my sister and I were raised by a village, really. Sometimes mom would be hours late to pick us up with no word. I’d worry about whether she’d died in a car crash or gotten kidnapped by evil men. I had terrible nightmares about my parents being taken away. Sometimes we wouldn’t see dad for weeks. The typical story I guess, “You’re going to your dad’s this weekend!” mom would say and then the rising excitement and the inevitable disappointment when some plan would fall through.
There was that guy who cheated on me when I was 19-24, too, and that situation has really led me to some paranoia around the excuse I was just working late.
Whatever. We all have something or other. The real concern is that DJ isn’t my parents or my ex and attributing the pains I experienced with them to him because of “instinct” is unkind.
It is not loving.
It is not fair.
He deserves better.
So this has to change.
I have to change.
It was a revelation to discover that what seemed like a simple childhood fear of abandonment or neglect had become hardwired into my adult brain and was expressing itself as my neurotic fight-picking. This is the definition of neurosis.
The complaints I was slinging at him were the complaints my childhood self would have offered my parents if she’d had language for them. Children don’t have language for their emotional experiences like adults do and my questions were always met with a, “Sorry, that’s just how it is,” anyways. They needed to be expressed and answered in order to heal that unhealed emotional pattern.
DJ was understanding. We don’t have those arguments anymore.
A few weeks ago, I began to visualize my negative thoughts. I gave them form as demons, pictured them pestering me, and pictured myself forming a ball of light around my body that connected me to the heavens and the center of the earth. When I expand this ball of light, the demons leave. They are not allowed here. This is my space. I envision it, actually, as a universe transposed on this one but physically and energetically containing only me (a practice in multiverse visualization).
Visualization helped immensely. The imagery allowed me to make sense of a tangle of thoughts, unravel them, undo the knots. When I was a kid, my mom would offer this visualization technique whenever I had a bad dream or nightmares. Wrap yourself in a cocoon of light. Nothing exists here but you. The light will burn off anything else.
As an adult, this visualization technique appeared to me in lightworking classes, merkaba activation meditations, and in therapy. Something about it helps on a spiritual level as well as a fundamental psychic level. It helps to create a navigable boundary around the idea of a self in a Taoist sense–the witness, the one behind the one in the experience. This is a bit like jumping out of the hero self into the wizard self. Distance offers perspective.
This visualization technique for emotions is intriguing to me. A friend called a while back and told me she had some immense anxiety about something going on at work. Intuitively, I guided her through a visualization meditation.
If you were to picture this feeling, what would it look like?
Intuitively, she came up with the image of a rubber ball. The worse the anxiety got, the faster the ball would bounce. She actually started to laugh. Being able to picture the anxiety as a rubber ball let her manage it in such a way as to find it funny. Oh! Look at that! The ball is bouncing faster, so that’s what my emotion looks like. This very much reminds me of the scene in book three of the series in which Professor Lupin unleashes a creature called a boggart in the classroom.
The boggart is a creature that takes on the form of what a person fears most. The solution to defeating the boggart is to imagine it as something ridiculous. The solution is laughter. Visualization of unpleasant emotions as objects or as creatures turns them into something around which we can form a narrative or upon which we can take action.
For instance, she was able to throw the rubber ball away.
Picture it bouncing along forever. Picture it in a trash can. Picture it burning in the infernos of hell.
When it comes back, you can now just picture it away again.
Why Does it Matter?
For the Hero, intuition is supposed to be informed by rationality and a grounded perspective in order to navigate the threats of the now.
Now when I encounter those days, I picture my childhood self, laying on a cot in daycare, unable to sleep and waiting for mom while the hours pass. I know that girl in the cot will be just fine. The emotions of abandonment and neglect come up in that picture and are far less scary. They have an image, a name, a context, one that doesn’t belong to my present experience. They come and they go.
Who knew one’s intuition might be calibrated to unhealed emotional dramas from when was five years old?
This process of creating objectivity isn’t just helpful for people with neurosis or mood disorders. Those dramas from childhood may not be bad objectively, but they may be limiting to your present self.
Say your intuition is calibrated to expect the same, the normal, the expected so you never change or grow and you find yourself constantly bored. Maybe you start drama. Maybe you’re unmotivated. Maybe what you are motivated towards perpetuates some kind of pattern you’d like to change.
Good or bad, if your emotional experience to a present situation is rooted in past experience, then you are not actually in the experience of now at all; you’re in the experience of your projected expectations of the now which makes your influence on the outcome of now dependent on your relationship to your past experiences.
If, like me, your emotional attachment to a situation is unreasonable or illogical (rooted in past experience instead of present moment awareness) then it’s possible that our intuitive responses to the present situation may be perpetuating old emotional patterns rather than generating newer, healthier ones.
Cultivating present moment awareness and visualizing emotions that do not make sense in the present, allows me to see them as a flow of passing thoughts and related imagery rather than all consuming tidal waves that dictate my reactions. My intuition requires some recalibration.
For the hero, this looks like seven books of encountering the same enemy who takes more of a physical form with each encounter.
Voldemort starts off as a shadow of Harry’s old trauma–the death of his parents–and grows to become the monster who threatens everything he holds dear in the present. Harry must confront his shadow in order to be free to experience a happy present and future.
Turning an emotion into an image acts like a spacer, taking us out of the victim mentality (why is this happening to me?) and bringing us not only into a space of curiosity and creativity, but also of the archetypal wizard. Seen objectively, we understand the role of this object in the larger scheme of our personal narratives.
What’s wonderful about this for me as someone with a mood disorder is that visualization is a tool that allows me to manage my emotions without identifying with them. Sometimes I just don’t know how to name an emotion. Other times I don’t know why I’m feeling them or where they come from.
Throughout my day, emotions come to me like moths to a flickering light, batting in and out from the darkness of the subconscious to conscious awareness and away again. I can feel immense despair–The world is going to end soon I just know it–only to discover I’m just hungry.
A characteristic of cyclothymia is a rapid cycling of emotions like this.
Exercising the imagination to manage my emotions in this way is both creatively engaging and therapeutic for my general emotional, mental, and physical stability.
The Psychology and Archetypes
As a child, I read and read and read any book, any word, anything I could get my hands on really.
As an adult, I turned to drugs, alcohol, and developed an eating disorder, excessive exercise, anything really to relieve the pressure of what felt like constant emotional turmoil.
Only now, as an adult, am I realizing that cultivating a visual imagination and exposing myself to stories and language has immensely helped me in being able to rapidly contextualize the random emotions I feel at any given time of day so that they can flow through me rather than owning me.
Visualization is replacing the desire to suppress with booze and weed.
While there are other tools necessary to help tame the unwieldy beast, cyclothymia, visualization becomes the first tool in my arsenal of tools.
In this abstract found on the Wiley Online Library, John D. Teasdale published a paper in 1999, the abstract of which talks about what is happening psychologically during this process.
I would tell you more about the research, but the article is one that requires purchasing. So frustrating that knowledge is power and power is hoared.
What I love about this quote is that it differentiates between knowing something and experiencing something.
I knew I shouldn’t have been reacting the way I was to DJ working long days (which only happens sometimes), both for him and for myself, but I kept doing it anyways. I knew, but couldn’t engage that experience because my emotional instincts were calibrated to an experience in the past that kept getting triggered by actions in the present. The past and present seemed related and similar only because I hadn’t healed the emotional need for closeness which I was actually preventing by picking a fight instead of facing the shadow.
The fear is the shadow. What you fear reveals what you want. If we can engage logically, and step outside of our knowledge and instincts into our actual experience (present-moment awareness) then we can logically take the action that creates the desired experience, but not if that emotional trigger takes over first. That has to be healed.
Anyways, visualization allowed me to get out of the persona (who I think I am, the Fool) into the Wizard’s perspective (who I actually am in relationship to others and the past). Visualization is my tool for engaging metacognitive insight, stepping out of metacognitive knowledge.
This is why curiosity and humility are so important. Knowledge is actually a barrier to experience. It creates a lens of expectation based on past experiences that may have no relationship to the present other than via our own interpretation.
The id wanted comfort and closeness and company. The ego acted this out in the form of picking fights with DJ. The Superego knows closeness and company are more likely when one does not pick fights.
The Shadow holds the key to enlightenment. I faced my neurosis with DJ’s help and patience. My Voldemort, in this case, was pretty tame. A young me just wanted mom to tuck her in and dad to say goodnight. Weird.
What’s even weirder is how much of our adult identities are founded in exactly these simple childhood desires.
Analysis For Application: Identifying Triggers
What kind of repeating patterns in your life would you like to change?
When do you notice these patterns arise (what triggers them?) Ask those around you who you love and trust to help you identify when you are engaging in the unwanted pattern and note: What were you talking about, thinking about, wanting, not wanting, what fears arise?
Visualize: Close your eyes and write down the images/words/stories that come to mind in the moment you are triggered. Picture this emotion as one thing in your mind and remove it from your space. Whenever this image comes back, just remove it. Let it pass.
What is actually happening? Actions…not opinions. Look up the definition of summary and keep all opinions and analysis out. Often, I will find that what I think his happening is laced with color from my expectations. In my English 101 class, the first assignment I gave my students was to write a summary only paper. This was my first assignment when I first took English 101 and it’s eye-opening. Keeping opinion and analysis out of summary is quite difficult. It’s also an exercise in objectivity.
Keep a mood journal. Writing down what my moods are doing without explaining them or trying to give them reasons is really helpful. On paper, it’s craziness.
What would you like to happen?
What logical, action steps (physical, daily activities) can you take to achieve that goal?
Keep a log. Take those steps. Record setbacks and what is happening to create those setbacks.
Go easy on yourself. We’re only human.
Good luck! Please feel free to contact me and let me know if you’ve had any similar experiences or if this process has helped you at all.
So far this blog has mostly reflected the depressive side of cyclothymia, at least of my cyclothymia. Lots of negative self-talk and beliefs about the world in general, lots of declarations of how things are without the doing of the things to change them into what they could be. This is the longest and hardest (haha, yeah I laughed at the phallic joke) depression I’ve been through in years.
But yeah it’s been long enough. The blues are breaking. A way out is visible.
Now is the productive period.
Check this out: I took this definition straight from Wikipedia, but during deep depressions or high hypomanic phases when I start to wonder if I will ever feel anything else because this is what I’ve been feeling for so long, this idea is very helpful.
“Enantiodromia (Ancient Greek: ἐνάντιος,, romanized: enantios – opposite and δρόμος, dromos – running course) is a principle introduced in the West by psychiatristCarl Jung. In Psychological Types, Jung defines enantiodromia as “the emergence of the unconscious opposite in the course of time. This characteristic phenomenon practically always occurs when an extreme, one-sided tendency dominates conscious life; in time an equally powerful counterposition is built up which first inhibits the conscious performance and subsequently breaks through the conscious control.” It is similar to the principle of equilibrium in the natural world, in that any extreme is opposed by the system in order to restore balance. When things get to their extreme, they turn into their opposite. However, in Jungian terms, a thing psychically transmogrifies into its shadow opposite, in the repression of psychic forces that are thereby cathected into something powerful and threatening. This principle was explicitly understood and discussed in the principles of traditional Chinese religion – as in Taoism and yin-yang. A central premise of the I Ching is that yang lines become yin when they have reached their extreme, and vice versa.”
Jung posits, here, that a psychic force left unchecked or buried for too long, like depression, will manifest in a shadow form of it’s opposite. A good example, perhaps, is the prevalence of depression in comedians. This is a healthy expression of the shadow form. Other, less healthy expressions may be violence, spending sprees, binge drinking or constant partying. For someone with cyclothymia or bipolar, severe depression may conversely lead to severe elation.
I really like that this definitions says, “in time an equally powerful counterposition is built up which first inhibits […and then] breaks through conscious control,” because the last couple weeks have been the inhibited. The last few years even.
What this means is that if my last three or four months have been characterized by extreme depression (and they have) then that depression will pool like the water before a dam, getting calmer, gathering quietly, going nowhere. The natural response to the going nowhere is more water, the dam breaks, and instead of no water, you have a flood. The flood, in this case, can be hypomania, a high energy state defined by:
Feeling extremely happy or euphoric
Not needing as much sleep as normal
Irritability or agitation
Becoming more physically active, which may include fidgeting or pacing
Thinking very highly of yourself
Poor impulse control and/or judgment, which can lead to risky choices
And here is something: Last night I am trying to explain to DJ, who is doing his best to understand, that mental illness is not something that can simply be fixed by saying just do A or B. Check out Responsibly Depressed: Eat the Orange. I wish it were. Then this struggle would be over, wouldn’t have happened in the first place, and I wouldn’t be having to change my whole lifestyle and he wouldn’t be having to watch the person he loves go from being Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde daily, sometimes multiple times a day.
I realized that explaining symptoms to someone is as useful as telling someone with said symptoms to just not have them.
These symptoms mean absolutely nothing out of context. When being diagnosed, I was given a list of symptoms like this for hypomania and depression, told not to drink or do recreational drugs, and sent on my way because I refused medications which had not worked in the past.
These symptoms later manifested in my life as screaming matches with exes, booze and exercise binges, days on end of video games and job after job being not right or too restrictive. It manifested as hypersexuality and exploration in open relationships (not a bad thing necessarily but usually in response to a paranoia of being cheated on, something that an ex when I was young did chronically and the shadows of which have literally followed me for a decade. Those are going away finally. Thank God).
I did not put two and two together in those moments. There were things I knew to look out for because I remember them from my teens: Spending sprees, sleepless nights, and a lack of interest in the things I love. Hypomania and depression. The transmogrified shadows. But the manifestation of symptoms is all over the board and someone who is not in their right mind entirely may have difficulty seeing them for what they are: effects of a brain that is not producing the right chemicals in the right quantities necessary for healthy functioning because it is not getting the right nutrients, minerals, and food.
“The western ego construct is the organ of rationality. The exclusion of transrational reality from consideration leaves it unchecked by any power outside itself and prone to profound and dangerous inflation…The western ego construct buttresses its stance of omnipotence and omniscience with a claim to superior and absolute knowledge through its scientific construct (p. xvi).”
That is, because science and rationality are the dominating forces of understanding in the Western world, we address mental illness from a rational perspective at the exclusion of the transrational–things like premonitions, talking to animals, medical intuitives, etc.–which may be a rational part of the human experience that we simply do not understand yet. There is a lot that rationality and science can aid, but there is far more that is excluded from consideration in the vast realm of possibility that lies outside our current knowledge base. Transrational is a term that does not account for pathological experience, pathology meaning the chemical component of mental illness.
This excerpt comes from and article in Psychology Today by Darcia F. Narvaez PH.D. and author of Moral Landscapes, in which she explores and questions the validity of Hunter Gatherer ways of life as a cure to western consciousness, something I am also exploring and intend to write more about here the more I learn. There are theories, even, that western civilization is the cause of the disease. There is extensive research on this, actually. Here is a great Ted Talk for dipping of the toe into these existential waters.
The rational approach is important. Meds can be extremely helpful and I am not against them, especially when situations become a matter of life and death. Episodes are extreme, scary, and sometimes a dose of of meds can allow for the rational mind to break through.
Still, I believe a natural, holistic, sustainable approach to mental illness is as essential to the survival of our species as a natural, holistic, sustainable approach to caring for our land, animals, and food.
My own reactions to meds have been unfavorable except in the early years of discovering what the hell this brain does. They allowed me to watch the cycles, bought me time to do research, to create a lifestyle change. But in the long term, the rational approach and meds often do not address the underlying problems, perpetuate an unsustainable way of life, and are not advanced enough, yet, to only target the source of the psychiatric disorder, thereby affecting the entirety of the brain’s functioning rather than just the areas that are functioning improperly.
Again, psychiatric meds have saved many lives, my own included, but I believe they are a temporary fix to a problem with a much greater implication about the unhealthiness of our society.
I am starting my path towards healing with a book called Med Free Bipolar: Thrive Naturally with the Med Free Method, by Aspen L. Morrow and it is no surprise to me at all that Morrow starts off, in chapter one, by announcing that the greatest probability of the cause for such a drastic rise in mental illnesses in the last fifty years in our country is how we treat our food and how we treat our bodies with food.
“[…]the real answer, I believe, lies in our eating, farming, and toxic load[…]Just one missing vitamin or mineral in a plant or animal can cause disease, discoloration, or deformity. Humans are no different. We cannot get everything we need simply from a healthy diet anymore, because the minerals are no longer in our soils, crops, water, or processed foods.We have to add more ingredients to the mix” (pg 2).
The other ingredients are minerals and vitamins and community developed over hundreds of thousands of years of hunter/gatherer behavior and radically displaced by the last 200 years of industrialization. More on that in Steven Ilardi’s Ted Talk, “Depression is a Disease of Civilization.” We have displaced a vital–in fact, perhaps the vital–piece of ourselves which is the ability to live for the sake of being alive.
I believe this is the reason for modern present moment awareness movements, outdoor lifestyle movements, and various others that call us back to the instinctual joy of living for the sake of it.
Morrow goes on to explain that the brain, while only “weighing about 1/5 of the body total,” requires about 20% of the total nutritional requirements for a fully functioning human (pg 3).
So the first step is educating myself about nutrition, what my body needs at a baseline level, and giving it that. Many many more posts to follow on this.
In hindsight, I welcome the depression because it has taught me to see the impact of this neurotoxic brain on my relationships in the past, in the present, and upon myself. The things I’ve justified in order to deny that this was something I must change my life to fix are not exactly commendable, but watching the life I’ve been dreaming of slip through my fingers as depressed me acts, rational me watches in a corner KO’d, and hypomanic me stands outside the ring just waiting to jump in has armed me with solid will power and battle horns. This is not just about me and my relationships. This is about healing a disease about which there is very little literature, and about which I can do something to the benefit of more people than just myself.
I have spent all these years on this because I believe our society is sick. We willingly harm ourselves in order to remain attached to materialism, convenience, an illusion of power, irresponsibility, and boisterous ego. The American dream lifestyle is based on the accumulation of as much wealth as possible to the individuals willing to do the work to gain the wealth at the expense of our people and our planet so that what?
I’ve been asked, like many, what my first memory is. Do you remember? Mine, I usually say, is of catching a white butterfly in my Grandma’s front yard. The butterflies liked the daisies in particular, and back when I was that small, my feet fit between the stalks. As a woman I tried to catch butterflies in the same garden and discovered my thighs met the stalks before my feet had a chance to creep beneath them. The resting butterflies would dart off into the afternoon light deterred by my larger legs. I caught them as a girl though and brought one to my grandmother one day who promptly told me to let it go and explained that the oils from my fingers would weigh down the insect’s wings and it would not be able to fly. I was maybe four or five, and the way my grandma explained things convinced me that butterflies wings were coated in fairy dust that we stole every time we caught a butterfly. Flying was something I’d always wanted to do. What kid doesn’t? I’d seen Peter Pan. I wondered…was it alright to take butterfly dust to learn how to fly?
“When they can’t fly, they die,” my grandma explained while I was still lost in thought on the flagstone steps overlooking the garden. I opened my hand, found the butterfly could at least still walk as it crawled to the edge of my palm and then a great leap in my heart as the little thing flew away. I hadn’t killed it, but I’d had the power to fly in my fingertips. At four years old I knew to take the life of that butterfly, even if it let me fly, was a violation of some sort. Against what I couldn’t have told you then because to a child, life is life and there is no separation between nature and nurture and self and them. It is “we,” and “me” and the rest is a playscape. As an adult, I’m still not sure I could tell you. Someone broke into our car a couple days ago and I drove to the bank in downtown to get money for weed and hopefully a glimpse of the thieving motherfucker who I might not have hesitated to hit with the buick had I seen him or her. I think it is the idea of taking without giving back that I’m getting at. It’s not fairness. Life isn’t fair at all. What I’m talking about is if I had taken that butterfly’s wings for my own, that butterfly would be gone and I’d have been able to fly as much as a tiny butterfly’s fairy dust could have let me. I believed then that it was enough to at least carry me across the street. I would have had my thrills and the butterfly would be dead. Sure there were more butterflies, but how many flights across the street did I really need? I could catch them all and put them in a net a swim through them and then all of them would die just so I could fly to the thrifty and spend my allowance money on candy. And then all the butterflies would be gone and I’d never be able to fly again. It seemed wrong to take the experiences of all the flights of all the butterflies and use it in one go for one kid and waste all their lives for that.
The practice of global capitalism is the capture of all the butterflies for one good go for a few lucky people. Except all the butterflies is actually the whole planet in this instance.
I believe that the only thing I am capable of doing to help right now is to help myself, and to help myself I must heal.
That being said, yesterday was a rough one. I did not want to heal. I wanted to be done having to do any of it at all, so I just sat down and cried.
And cried some more I know it’s just on and on. ugh.
I believe that my mental health story, it’s relationship to food, my lifelong craving for being in the outdoors, and my reluctance to turn to medication based on the above perspective and on the fact that medication didn’t work for me are part of a healing path, one that I hope can help me heal naturally and will help encourage others to find a path towards healing that works for them.
So I sit with the pain.
I call my mom actually. Sitting with the pain today isn’t working very well. My head is doing the spiral thing and I will usually call someone to get a little perspective, a little wedge in front of the snowball rolling down the hill before it becomes an avalanche.
And then, weirdly, it breaks.
Like the dam, the pain just breaks. It turns into will power. It becomes a drive to do something and this drive must be based in research, fact, healthful solutions or else it is transmogrified into the shadow inclinations to party, to drink, to fuck, to drop yet another bomb on my life.
The spiral is victim mentality and victim mentality is the easiest way to feel out of control, powerless, well, a victim. The spiral comes on like an attack, comes on as soon as I’m alone at home another day of doing the same thing, being complicit, being what? For what?
We broke down ourselves, our children, and our world to build this civilization, indeed the most massive and wealthiest civilization of all time, but I believe the cost has inflicted great trauma upon the human race. We have exchanged intimacy, community, environmental appreciation and interconnection, health, happiness, wellness, sustainability, and hope for a future for what some believe is the greatness of now.
This pain calls me to heal the wound of civilization on my humanity.
You have taken my instincts, the ground beneath my feet, the food from my belly, the hope from my heart and I still get up every day and go to work because, if I don’t, I will go to jail or be homeless or wind up in an institution. This was the story.
There has never been a better time in history for humans to take back our humanity from civilization or to create a civilization that values humanity. But first, we must address the fact that humanity is beset by an illness, that this illness is environmental, and that we must feed our body…the environment…and treat it as healthfully as we would see ourselves become.
Right now, my only healing work to humanity is to heal me. And that might be as simple as just giving my body what it needs to feel properly alive in this world.
Peace be. Happy yule yall. May this year bring healing.
This is a subject I am passionate about. It seems to me that many people decide, as Anakin Skywalker decided, that if you are not with us, you are against us. We are in the days of the empire vs. the rebellion. Frankly, when have we not been?
Since this is a stream of consciousness blog, I usually go with the first idea that pops in my head. Let’s start here. I have no idea how this will go. Don’t freak out.
It seems diplomacy has failed or has been forgotten. Our children are losing hope for a better future, are being told their future still relies upon their ability to go to college, make money, secure a job and a home, when, “today nearly 30 million acres of U.S. farmland are held by foreign investors. That number has doubled in the past two decades, which is raising alarm bells in farming communities” (NPR.org). These alarm bells are due to the fact that turnover of land to foreigners doesn’t guarantee the land will be used for food.
Frankly I hate the way this article was written. Or I do not like the viewpoint of the person being interviewed. It makes foreign people buying American land sound like that isn’t how America has operated since it’s birth as an English-speaking nation. It sings with all the hatred of those who fear other, who fear change, and who lament their own failings by blaming others. It also makes it sound like if Americans were to keep their land we’d do something better with it.
Children who were raised on the farm lose interest and sell to foreign investors to “cash out” the land as the article puts it. American children, therefore, are being taught to value cash more than the land upon which we grow food or farm products that can be bought for cash. Less people are seeking the work of creating, and are instead seeking to buy the creations. At least in farming communities I guess. Hell hand me a piece of land and I’ll be a ranchhand. Get me out of this fucking concrete jungle.
Probably, none of those things I just wrote are true except for the facts. We should make this an exercise. Where are the facts?
Where was I going with this…
Very few of the above statements are objectively true. They are interpretations of information presented to me through a perspective I don’t like the tone or message of. The facts are simply that 30 million acres of American farmland are not owned by America and that many farmers are older so many farms will be exchanging hands in the next couple decades with an expectation for foreign ownership of American land to increase based on recent trends.
A google search says America has 915 million acres of farmland.
Those are the facts.
The rest of the article is fraught with emotional undertones of foreign invasion. “One of the main reasons that we’re watching this … is because once a foreign entity buys up however many acres they want, Americans might never be able to secure that land again. So, once we lose it, we may lose it for good,” says Ty Higgins of the Ohio State Farm Bureau in the article. “Foreign entity,” “American” and “secure the land” are words with a connotation attributed to the radical right since Trump’s election. Anything antisemitic, racist, intolerant, fenced in, walled up, contain the nation mentalities have all been attributed to the radical right.
The article goes on to imply that the reason for fear is a potential loss in land used for food, which is inexorably tied to the financial and physical wellbeing of people in the state of Ohio. That is reasonable.
I cannot dismiss that this is a reasonable concern and that undertones of fear around appearing racist or xenophobic or radical right because I do not favor foreign entities owning American soil are something I’ve come to expect from the radical left which is notorious for holding anyone who stands against something that has been labeled a social justice measure as equal to a Nazi.
If I identify with this man’s concerns, the radical leftist might also conclude that I identify with the reasons for his concerns, which perhaps appear to be racist or even xenophobic at worst, patriotic at best through certain interpretations of the article.
This hypothetical back and forth seems crazy; who would argue over such petty semantics? But the nature of the arguments I’ve seen in the radical left vs. radical right and perpetuated by fear-driven or click bait or “hype” headlines has me wondering who wouldn’t. You’re with us or you’re against us, has been the message, and goddamn if the last few years haven’t felt like a cloud of fear hangs over my people. When Trump got elected, I heard colleagues talk about the inevitable outbreak of civil war. People moved out of the country in droves…remember? And people flee here for refuge and we turn them away in droves to protect our failed economy over the lives of our fellows.
Again, we’ve settled on the facts (If only it were that easy).
Again, these are:
30 million of 915 million acres of American farmland is not owned by America and many farmers are older so “two thirds of American farmland is expected to exchange hands in the next two to three decades,” (thirty years…that’s how long I’ve been alive) with an expectation for foreign ownership of American land to increase. Here is another fact.
” To be fair, U.S. farmers and corporations also invest in overseas agriculture, owning billions of dollars of farmland from Australia to Brazil…”
The article is about concerns that China is doing to us through the Smithfield Buyout what we have done to the rest of the world since we became it’s strongest militant force: That is, maybe there are other countries in the world who are deciding that it’s time to take what they want because they can the way America did and does.
So instead of calling the article stupid and deciding the guy being interviewed is a radical right asshole who hates foreigners and now I should hate him, we looked at the facts and discovered that the man’s concern, while his reasons for it are not the same as mine, is also my concern. We hold a similar view for very different reasons. Why would an American child, offered a farm, not understand the value of the offer? Why would an American farmer sell a farm to a foreign entity with no interest in farming the land? If this is a concern for our nation’s food supply, how have measures not been put in place to prevent such a thing?
Yes the pattern is alarming. No it does not mean I think foreigners should stop buying American land or that that’s a bad thing. Based on this article, I think some Americans should start valuing our land more. I think what we lose and are willing to sacrifice represents what we value. I believe American values as they are currently practiced in most public sectors are stringent, do not account for the natural human instinct (is even set on castrating this instinct) and I believe that every rule created or law or punishment beyond the very basic laws of treating ourselves, each other, and our environment with respect as their respective nature demands, is a further reflection of a widening divide in our ability to communicate and indicates a major deficit in our access to language with which to understand one another.
That or we are all a bunch of assholes who don’t care to understand.
That is, I believe the illiteracy or declining verbal intelligence of our people has caused and is causing a major decline in critical thinking, logic, tolerance, and compassion.
That or we really are a bunch of assholes.
Same concern. Perhaps different solutions.
Maybe instead of focusing on how many foreigners are buying American land, the article could have instead focused on why American children are no longer interested in farming American land. Or why Americans are not buying American farmland. Or it could be about the importance of treating our farmland better. The article, however, doesn’t appear to be a solutions piece.
It just is what it is–a piece that brings to light a shift in patterns of farmland purchasing through the perspective of a reporter and a man involved in the farmland biz. I do not have to agree with the perspective. But I read the article. I took the time to do that shit. Now I can hate it and the man and walk away with hate in my heart having not grown at all or I can learn something and move the fuck on.
I feel similarly about people. They are who they are. I can love them or hate them but my perspective ultimately influences my life more than anyone else’s. The perspective that keeps me the most peaceful while also doing the best I can to be kind and respectful and value life is the one I’m aiming to stay on. (Sometimes I find myself off course quite by accident. But I make my way back and move the fuck on).
I am not responsible for what is being created in the world by others, but I am responsible for how I interpret other people’s creations and/or intentions. If I am telling myself a story about other people that causes me to dislike them, I probably have some things I need to come to terms with about who I am for fear of people stems from fear of rejection and isolation which are against our instinctual survival instincts, those instincts we are castrating by working the nine to five office jobs with the back crippling commute and the super high stress 60-80 hour/week service industry gigs or public service jobs, civil servants, CEOs, students–It baffles me. Would people do this if they felt there were other options, or do people choose this?
On censorship: It generates fear. My imagination was much worse as a kid than any of the things adults hid from me. Every time I wasn’t allowed to watch a scene in a movie, I wondered what caused my parents or grandparents so much fear they would not let me see it.
I read a lot. I read three books at a time all the time. My head was always in a story. If I wasn’t reading one, I was pretending to be in one. When my parents or grandparents didn’t let me see something in a movie, my imagination provided the details. I’d read Crime and Punishment, and Hamlet, and Antigone, and I’d been to Sunday school, so I knew that fucked up things happened to people and the contents of the scenes I wasn’t allowed to see in movies were mild compared to the terrible things my fear conjured.
Fear is an amazingly convincing conjurer.
I walk my dog, Anya, to the park down the street where she stands on a patch of grass overlooking Puget Sound and barks at all the dogs passing by. She whines and whines, terrified and I crouch next to her and notice her eyes are looking all over the place without seeing. She didn’t know where to look. Just the smell of all the dogs was enough to make her afraid. After a while she starts to calm down when she realizes nothing is going to happen. Lately we can walk near other dogs without too much fuss.
I do not go to work when I’m having a hypomanic episode and again I am worried about losing my job. The next day I go in, still feeling off but well enough to work. I apologize and say thank you for understanding and offer information about what solutions I’m working towards and chef is like, just be well, or something and the fear goes away because I’m not going to be punished or cast out.
And maybe the symptoms are getting worse but I’m not drinking and my brain and body are healing and I am taking steps, actual physical action, to heal.
I might not seem very patriotic, but I do believe that America is the land of opportunity and that we have simply been taking opportunities for short term success which are leading us to a long term failure. I believe that what looks like failure is actually a restructuring of current infrastructure–grassroots movements and biodiversity farming and buying from the source and social justice movements are sprouting up like flowers from the rich ash of a volcanic civilization which has blown it’s top, spread itself thin, left it’s toxic cloud all over the globe. There appear to be two sides but we are one. The toxic cloud clears, the ash fertilizes the soil. We are beginning to see clearly. All is failing, but all is not lost. We are making room for the new.
Last night in the shower I am thinking about where I’m at with this mental illness, this witch gift. I believe that a healthy diet, exercise, and good relationships can heal this because I have seen it healed in such a way before. I have also come from the perspective that this is a gift which need not be healed and that looking at it like an illness makes me ill. Both are valid. Can adopting a perspective of seeing this as a gift change the way it manifests in my experience? Or did changing the story allow me to cope with the craziness while I just rode it out?
If this is a gift, what has it given me?
Adventure: I craved adventure as a kid and now my life is pretty much always on the move. I move every two years at least. DJ and I plan to do this–travel and cook. We’ve have a lot of adventures. We lost our car in the city once and found it in about an hour. Stranded ourselves on a beach after a six hour kayaking adventure (we were saved by some good friends). Road trips. Camping. Hiking. Drinking and drugs and parties. Many more nights at home relaxing and watching movies and cooking dinner. I cherish the plain moments as dearly as the suspenseful ones. I do not know what today will bring and part of me likes that feeling. I would like to express this sense of adventure more healthfully in my life.
Integrity: I hold to certain values though I’m not sure I could remember them all to write here. They arise in the moment and recall previous moments, but to recall them in this moment would take a long period of reflection. They are written down in journals which I’ve been writing since I was fifteen. There’s a trunk full of them in my room. Upon moving here, the opportunity to get paid much more for a job I would have like much less was offered to me, but moving here to cook without even trying to cook just because someone offered me more money to be an editor is the equivalent of selling my heart. Might as well be a common hooker if all I want to do is make more money. That’s the way I view it.
Some people tell me that this is a privileged way to view the world. I have followed this view into homelessness, poverty, addiction, and healing and it comes from watching a broke happy family become a broken, secure one. Call it what you will. I believe to follow the calling of the heart (and I don’t mean the romantic heart; I mean the part of me that knows the way to inner peace, the part of me that tells me how to live with myself) is to live my life with true purpose and meaning.
Spirituality: The stories I have collected by engaging with spirituality to guide me through life with cyclothymia are fantastic. At least, I love that there are bizarre supernatural encounters in my history. I love that some people are repulsed by the idea while other are like, “Oh yeah I totally believe in ghosts,” and I love seeing how diverse the types of people on both sides of the line are. It is wonderful to me that some people attribute these stories to my mental illness while others attribute the diagnosis of a mental illness to what was once understood as a spiritual gift in some cultures who would train people such as myself to be shamans or healers or guides. The classic chicken or the egg scenario. I fluctuate between both and sometimes hold both perspectives at once.
Mental illness or gift?
Does it matter?
If there is a problem, reach for the solution. I do not know if identifying myself with a label that is viewed as an illness has helped or injured me further, but I think it has helped if only because I am aiming for wellness where before I was engaging in wanton self-destruction fairly regularly.
My current story:
I have a mental illness that has been triggered into further volatility by the death of a friend and a big move, a new job, a new life, and a general lack of self-care in light of these events. The symptoms are worse than I have seen them in a long time and it’s probably a good idea to get professional help if things continue to get worse. I still have other options available to me.
My past story:
I am not mentally ill. This society is ill and mental illness in modern Americans is a product of our unwillingness to embrace certain human instincts which are not conducive to the capitalist model of productivity for the sake of productivity. I reject medication. I reject your notions of normalcy. Fuck the people who tell me there is something wrong with me. WE are sick. This is not a me vs you thing. I am a symptom of a much larger problem that you have the luxury of ignoring because your brain can apparently function just fine without proper nutrition ( or it never had the capacity to fully function to begin with) or you are willing to put up with a way of life that I am unwilling to tolerate. You are complacent and I am not and I will be broke the rest of my life if it means fighting what this country currently stands for.
The spirit perspective:
There are all kinds of things going on in this world that humans ignore because such things do not fit with the model of our current desired reality. Such things involve energy, other worldly beings, healing with the mind and heart and intention, healing with food, interconnection with our environment (we are not separate from it. Building a wall and hiding behind it does not separate you from the ecosystem; it just makes you function in that ecosystem as one behind a wall). We are far more powerful as individuals than many of us imagine and collectively…well, look what we’ve done. When we find we are powerful, we must be brave enough to rise to the occasion and intelligent enough to see that with increasing power comes the increased need for responsibility. More power means bigger consequences. Bigger consequences means less room for error. This is not a mental illness. It is a way of seeing the world which allows me to understand that the death of shamanism in modern culture has given rise to the idea of mental illness. Shamans were often what we would consider schizophrenic or bipolar. They also served as guides through the spirit world or intermediaries between unseen entities and the humans in their village. They healed wounds of the psyche and spirit. They still exist. There are many people today who claim to be modern shamans and Western modernist thought either accepts the role of the shaman as one that plays a necessary role in our human development or dismisses the shaman as someone looking for a way to cope with mental illness. I have passed on messages from ghosts to loved ones. I have exorcised ghosts from my house. I have healed with energy healing.
There is validity in all of these perspectives and there is a lot of bullshit in all of these perspectives, but each exists within me at any given time, sometimes all at once. It’s important, I think, to consider them all. I don’t know if reconciliation is necessary.
I do have a mental illness and the symptoms have gotten worse. The illness may be a product of my environment, a malfunction in my brain, or a gift that allows me to see things others don’t. Maybe it’s both and all. What matters is that whatever it is, I must be able to function. I might view medication as a sign of complacency, a quick fix, but if I’m a quick fix away from being able to function, I must be able to function in order to establish a routine which will allow me to heal naturally. There’s nothing wrong with a quick fix if it helps to achieve sustainable solutions to the problem. The Med Free Bipolar book I’m reading, for example, aims to help people who are currently medicated learn to care for themselves in such a way that being medicated is no longer required.
The ultimate goal: Establish a sustainable existence.
One possibility does not preclude the other. Both possibilities work together, collaborate, coincide in a broader perspective of reality which contains the all perspective. I believe the all perspective is this: We all believe in different things, experience the world differently, come from different backgrounds and desire a better world. A better world is one that practices understanding, cooperation between opposites, healing, kindness, values human life and all life on earth, and seeks to preserve it through sustainable means. A better world lies within your heart and your ability to be at peace in your own skin in such a way that you are at peace in your own skin wherever you go. There is a perspective in which we can inhabit different versions of ourselves in ongoing stories with multiple personality structures to embody the inter-dimensional nature of a human unfettered by the simplicity of labels, categories, and tribes. Proceed with kindness, curiosity, and non-judgment.”
“Where I lay my head is home,” Metallica said. I believe, as all things lead into their opposites, that we are most tuned in with the all when we are the most at home in our own skin. I believe, also, that being at home in one’s own skin requires emotional and mental work but is possible without having to change one’s external environment in most cases. If you believe that being at home in your own skin means that others on the planet must change themselves or cease to exist, or that your circumstances must change first or you must have more money first or they and them and that…then there are some pretty deep seated fears that have gone unaddressed in your psyche and you are acting from fear. By you I mean me.
Supercunt rebel me says those who act from fear are cowards. Is that not the definition of a coward?
Face yourself bitch. (Sorry I just love the word bitch. It’s playful.)
Stop blaming your problems on all the things and all the people and all the world and how it works. Start living every day in alignment with your values. Maybe you’ll find your values suck and the way you thought you should live is actually just a way to escape taking responsibility for anything (I say you. I mean me).
Also, I like the word cunt.
I like the word Supercunt even more.
Seriously though, it is amazing what happens when one decides that any inner turmoil is ultimately self-generated, that self-generated inner turmoil requires self-reflection, nurturing, and care, and that self-care is perhaps the key to sustainable happiness.
That and this:
I notice that since we’ve moved I’ve had time to reflect on my past in a different light. Accepting this story of having cyclothymia has allowed me to look back and see that a lot of pain and suffering in my life could have been prevented from seeking treatment. I would not change my experiences for the world. It is what it is and this life is mine to live. I love it all. But there are times I would have been a better friend had I known, or I would have trusted more, loved more, drawn better boundaries. There are times when despair dragged me under and I wonder if hope could have cultivated a different tone, a different outcome with similar results but less turmoil.
I look back at the people I have hurt and realize that while I may have hurt them on accident or because of this or that or the other, I still did that. I still must take responsibility for the fact that I could have done better, can become better.
I wonder if I have done this idea justice at all. The merge. Definitely not. There are so many examples unused, so many encounters with this idea in the past that the vague nature of this post is frustrating me.
We walk to a place to get lunch, DJ and I, each listening to music. I like these walks with our headphones in. There is a white splash of dried paint on the sidewalk where someone stepped with a boot. The concrete shows the boot print, a wet, grey stamp against the white paint.
Lately, my flaws stand out stark against my virtues as this boot print against the paint. I see the way I think I know more than I do and find this girl is kind of funny because she is convincing but full of shit at least half the time. Once I would have seen her and been disgusted by the truth of her against the person she thought she was.
But lately I know I am loved and this allows me to feel safe enough to see all of my flaws, to let them exist, to let me be in my natural habitat, to try to better myself, to forgive if I fail, to try again. It is not black or white. It is not you are good or you are bad.
You are human. By you I mean me.
I am human and it feels good. It feels good not to fear that people will discover I’m not perfect. Every one I’ve ever known has known that since the day they met me. How I had this weird idea that anyone could possibly think that I could be perfect or that I should live up to some expectation of perfection is related to the expectations of women raised in my generation and previously.
I remember the pressure to be perfect hanging over me like a sword dangling by a thread above my head–the more female I became, the larger the sword until it was just this internalized weight holding me back from doing anything I wasn’t supposed to. It disgusts me and is a little bit funny.
Perfectionism is a problem of the privileged but it is a problem I would wish on no one.
The freedom I have been seeking is the freedom to be myself. And the more I just am, the less fear I have, and the less fear I have the less I am like a dog whining about something she thinks is going to happen that never actually does. And the less I whine, the more the moment just is and instead of trying to figure it out or worrying about what will be I just start being.
Like that I feel normal.
The switch clicks.
Currently, interpersonal rhythms are not something that I regulate well or which come naturally to me. I still forget to eat despite knowing what I do about the influence of nutrition on one’s body and mind, despite having first hand seen food heal, I do not always eat in a way that promotes optimal functioning. I feel like half my memory is gone. We move and I forget what it is to take care of myself. This isn’t an alien planet. This is just a new city. Just a new house. But I feel forgotten. Like I have been plucked up out of a story and thrown into a cage in a different universe.
When I got in trouble as a kid, I didn’t give a fuck. Stories have always been my escape. I would tell myself some story about being Daniel in the lion’s den or being a ninja training to be invisible and I was a million miles away even though I was in the same corner with my nose against the wall. Adulthood brought me down to reality a bit more and I wonder if this feeling of being thrown into a cage mimics this shift from childhood to adulthood. I do not wonder at all that I like the occult.
Anyways, when the normal switch clicks on, it’s like I lean against the door of the cage only to discover it’s been open this whole time. This might be the most frustrating part of cyclothymia. It’s like the solution seems so simple, the depression just melts away in an instant, and I wonder what I’ve been fighting against for the last four months, if it was even real, even valid.
Yes. I must remember that yes it was real. Yes it’s happened before many times and will happen again and no it is not just going to go away even though it will leave me alone for a couple months.
It’s been two days and I feel pretty sane. Pretty happy. On the second day I have a cider at a bar and feel fine. Don’t backslide just because you feel good now. The lack of alcohol is part of your good mood. Clarity feels good.
I’m normal. A slight leaning towards wistfulness and depression that makes me very hipster sometimes colors my worldview. We walk with our headphones in, as I was saying, and the playlist is Nina Simone’s Feelin Good and I’m fuckin right as rain.
This could last half an hour, two weeks, two months at most. I will take it. I am grateful. But just because I feel good now doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to just go back to doing whatever I feel like. This last episode was a wake up call. The potential for deep sadness and terrible illness lives within me and prevention is part of the cure. That being said, living in fear is not the same as prevention.
If I’m blessed enough to feel “normal” today, I’m blessed enough to work towards a brighter future in any way I can. That still means caring for myself and others.
The normal periods are the ones in which I have historically denied having a mental illness, and then something happens or the depression or anxiety hits and something happens as a result of those and I blame the circumstance instead of the episode. To be honest, it is still not clear to me how much of life has been a result of circumstance or results that were from my circumstances. All I know is I can do my best to aim for better results by bettering my circumstances.
For all the world I do not know what that means except taking care of my health and being kind as well as I can manage.
It feels good, all the sudden, to justhooman. It feels good to watch other people walk through the world. It seems I have been walking around staring at my own feet, afraid of what is happening and what will happen without noticing that so many other people are doing exactly the same thing. So many more are just living their lives. Some are doing that well. Even they fuck up sometimes. The stupid things people do are hilarious. Or sad. Or both. No amount of telling myself this stuff while I’m depressed really changes the depression. If anything it just pisses me off because depression is chemical. Mine is anyways. That’s becoming pretty clear.
Reading was something I did to escape into an adventure as much to escape from life. It taught me so much about empathy and compassion and understanding but also distanced me from people in such a way that I was not understood and did not understand. It was good and bad for me.
Where do we draw the lines? When does this become that?
When does self-improvement because self-mutilation?
When do social justice movements become fascist regimes?
When does conservatism become totalitarian?
When I feel normal, does that mean I was just going through a rough time? Or was the rough time because I am not normal?
This is not the first time I’ve felt the air clear. It is not the first time I’ve made it through a depression, looked back on the hard times and said, this was the path I was meant to walk. If none of it had happened, I would not be here and I would not change here for the world. If I wouldn’t change it, am I ill?
It is perhaps the first time, however, I have decided that spiritual gift or mental illness, I still need to change the way I live my life. I am still going to pursue healing despite the fact the cloud is lifted. I’m still going to value the clarity of mind from not drinking. I’m still going to entertain myself with the things in my life that I once loved and stopped doing because I stopped valuing being for the sake of being. I don’t remember the last time I read a book all the way through.
I am going to get somewhere by being here in my own skin. I am a million miles from where I was two days ago even though I’m still sitting in the same spot, typing on the same keyboard.
Do we fear what we don’t understand because we fear our own stupidity?
Does admitting we might only know a part of the story make us wrong?
Does stupidity really have to sound mean?
Is being wrong all that bad?
For all the world I hope I’m wrong about a lot of things.
Can it not just be something accepted, something endearing, something we make room for: human error?
Perhaps moving here to cook and heal alongside the man I love and my dog has allowed me to cast off for good any expectations I may have had for something else and I am so relieved by this. We have a good life here. All the turmoil is gone when I remember that I am not expected to do anything more than be.
It feels good to embrace this life for what it is. It feels good to remember I chose a humble life.
And yet a part of me understands that I told myself the same story during the depression and there was a very alive part of me that would scream back, yell out, say no it’s not enough, no you’re not good enough, no something is wrong. It is chemical and it is visceral. A part of me understands that perhaps there is a way to prevent this voice from returning quite so fiercely as it did this time around. There’s a part of me determined to conquer that bitch just knowing there are people in the world who go through life never meeting her. There is a part of me that loves her too, for there are things I value that I wouldn’t if she had never dragged me down.
It is the normal episodes which stand out against the paint like a boot print, and I realize that the normal episodes are less common than the ups and downs. I realize, also, that the story I am telling myself about this life is my responsibility to craft. There are facts and then there are perspectives, lenses, through which to interpret these facts. I can read to gain perspective. I can watch people. I can be present. Every time I reach for perspective and understanding instead of walling myself off because of fear, the possibilities become more endless. And the more endless the possibilities, the more opportunities arise. Improving one’s ability to imagine possibilities other than the possibilities ones instincts and circumstances have been trained to conjure (hello fear the conjurer) allows one to see opportunities to other modalities of existence. But it’s important to start with the facts. So I will start there: I have a mental illness.
And I will grow my perspective by learning other people’s perspectives on this, I will allow others’ perspectives to influence my own, to influence how I work with the facts, to influence how I heal. I think that confronting the unknown and that which I fear can create positive results beyond anything I can currently imagine.
I mean, I’ve seen that happen from all perspectives. Humans do stupid things, but we’re really smart too. We can get ourselves out of this pickle I think.
Anyways I’m just rambling at this point. It felt like there was something more…I feel like I did not hit on exactly what I wanted to hit on but circled around it with vague weird examples.
Just the idea of going to see a therapist makes me curdle on the inside a little bit. I’ve been to enough I thought. Done enough of this I thought.
The hospital bills from panic attacks I thought were heart attacks should be enough to convince me that I should not do this without therapy and/or meds. I know alcohol and weed were major contributors to my anxiety and depression too though. Both times I went into the hospital for panic attacks, I’d been heavily drinking the night before.
What if I were to use the money I’d be spending on therapy and meds and the commute to drastically change the way I eat, to pay someone to help me with my finances, to take a martial arts class and get regular exercise?
There are so many methods available to me and the closer I get to fully investing in what are considered “traditional” methods of healing for my people, the more I want to rebel against them. The more motivated I become to change.
Ours are the non traditional methods.
It alarms me that this woman doesn’t ask about my diet or daily routine, that she immediately asks what medication I’m on, and that she immediately recommends four medications. I fit the bill for cyclothymia, perhaps bipolar. Half of Americans will experience symptoms of mental illness in their lifetimes, especially after the death of a loved one, a big move, an illness (that wipes out gut flora), or a separation or divorce. I’ve experienced 3 of these since last January and this is not a question she asks. It’s her job to stabilize me for now. Then it is her job to help.
I suppose the hospital is the same.
It alarms me that we go to the doctor because DJ can’t eat and they offer pain meds. Today he sees a specialist. Today our diet changes ( we buy groceries together and eat together most of the time).
We are not made to live this way. How much of our humanity do we fail to acknowledge in order to validate our current way of living?
There are other ways to heal. That doesn’t mean I have to exclude this one. This method is one method of many in my toolbox. Like any tool, we need the right tool for the right job. The job, right now, is to realign my perception of reality with the general perception of reality.
I’m a psychonaut.
I explore other modalities of consciousness through studying story, religion, philosophy, magic, meditation, intentional body movement, lightworking, drugs (sometimes and rarely), dreams, and food.
Somehow I’d forgotten this. That is the nature of being a psychonaut. One explores the out there and it takes time to come back to the self. I’ve been doing this since I was a child. First in dreams. Then in the form of astral travel. Then with books. Rituals. I came here to have and share these experiences as best I can.
I show up at the therapist’s office at eleven on the dot and find no one is there. I say, “Alright universe. I’ll wait ten minutes. If she doesn’t show, I will abandon therapy altogether.” She shows at 11:11. On the dot. 11:11 is significant to me and many others. I just take it as a sign I’m on the right path when I see it. It’s the make a wish number, the number for manifestation, for turning thoughts into reality, and for starseeds. She apologizes and says all of our sessions will begin at ten after. Eleven after. Whatever.
We talk. She asks about how I got here, what my goals are. I tell her some stuff. She asks me about the dissociation which usually comes from trauma. I tell her I don’t remember any trauma, and anyways I’ve reconciled with my past. I love my parents. They did their best. I am thirty. I’m not interested in what’s back there except to inform my identity as I move forward. We should do this with history. Look back and let it inform us. Have we forgotten that other human being have made mistakes we can learn from?
She says there are two different types of dissociation. One is an out of body dissociation in which it seems like one is, well, outside the body. I tell her yes, I have done this and recall that the first time I french braided my own hair, this is how I did it. I stepped outside of my body, behind myself so I could see what my fingers were doing. I was maybe 14? At the time I chalked it up to astral travel. I do not tell the lady this is how I learned to braid my hair. I know that this kind of story is the kind of story that they use to identify degrees of crazy. Spiritual experience and Crazy are too often misconstrued. That is: Spiritual experience, in our culture and from the standpoint of western medicine and science, is viewed as crazy. My culture negates the spiritual experience as a valid one because my culture does not understand what it cannot see. I am here to validate spiritual experience for myself and others who have been told not to believe in something that is and always has been a part of the human experience. Just because we don’t acknowledge its reality, doesn’t mean it’s not real.
Now it occurs to me that external dissociation and astral travel are the same thing with two different stories attached.
I believe that those who have learned to dissociate out of body are astral traveling. Unfortunately, most people learn to dissociate through trauma when they are young. Something awful happens (molestation usually) and the child, lacking the language and social constructs to explain and identify what is happening outside and within emotionally, drifts out of the body. I was not molested or sexually harassed. I’ve been astral traveling at least since I was six. It is unfortunate that many learn to astral travel because of trauma. It makes astral travel a scary thing. It can be. One can get lost out there.
We have come to view astral travel as something woo woo and out there, but people do it all the time and label it as something else because they are living different stories. That’s fine. No reason to shape a story into anything else if that’s the way you prefer it. For my own part, I do not care to live in an experience that is bound by the reality defined by western cultural constructs. The key, I think, is to acknowledge both and all as equally valid and to choose for yourself how the stories about different realities inform one’s experience.
As I’m going to see this woman, I have time on the commute and I begin listening to Ram Dass, Be Here Now.
I’ve spent over a decade studying different religions and philosophies and methods of healing to understand what this is: what we call mental illness or spirituality, what they still cannot identify or pin me to per say. I cannot say I understand it any better, but there are things I’ve discovered that do help, that tell a fantastic story, and that may make me crazy or not. I don’t really care anymore who would deem me crazy. It is clear that crazy is simply a physical imbalance that leads to chemical imbalances in the brain which fifty percent of my people will experience at one time or another in their lives.
We live here with each other and so must be able to function on this plane and we do so within a story that says anything we cannot prove with our modern and limited science must not be real. Science says it knows what is wrong with me and yet the only cure it has found is a chemical cocktail of meds that are hard on the liver and the emotional landscape and which the body adapts to. I believe that I have made it to thirty without medication because I have practiced spiritual methods of healing that are valid cohealing methods to modern methods. We are not just bodies with symptoms. We are as much mind and spirit. The therapist helps me with my mind, the story I tell, the story others tell, and how to reconcile them. She helps me back into the social fabric of my people after I have jettisoned myself out into what I sometimes call lala land, but what is, I believe, the seam between identities.
We go to see therapists after divorces, loss of a loved one, moves, job changes, because these events change the story one tells oneself about one’s identity. When we lose what defines us, we feel crazy.
Spirituality lends itself to a form of defining one’s self that lies outside of the identity constructs of one’s culture. Therefore, spirituality is a valuable aid in transitional times. Spirituality is something I’ve let fall away from my life over the course of the last six months. It is something I have picked up and put down in different lights over the course of my lifetime. Some of the darkest times were void of spirituality. Some of the darkest times were the most spiritual as well.
Religion and Spirituality are not the same thing at all. Religion is a cultural construct that allows one to view spirituality through one lens that makes some sense to some people. Spirituality is void of cultural construct. Language, however, is a cultural construct so the only methods by which we can communicate spirituality to one another are stories, like religion.
Therapy and meds are a temporary quick fix to keep you alive long enough to learn other coping skills and educate yourself in such a way that who you are makes sense to you in this world. It is going to take time to educate myself in the other modalities of healing and my body is perhaps so deficient in nutrients that it is going to take time for it to heal. Therapy buys me time. It aids the part of my ego and identity that belongs to my culture, a part of me I often try to deny because I have had quite a lot of judgment and disdain for my culture in the past.
This part of my identity, however, is now necessary to cultivate again. It is never good to lose touch with reality which is the experience of the human body, mind, and spirit in this world. It is possible to enhance one’s perception of reality.
Here is how I’ve approached therapy in the past and here is how I believe therapy is meant to be approached by reasonably functioning individuals who are in a rough spot whether or not they identify with having a mental illness: I go to the therapist, I do what she says as well as I can, I learn, heal, and move on. She is a teacher. She is someone who can help me with this particular difficulty in my life. She says I’m on the bipolar spectrum though it’s unclear where I stand exactly. She is surprised by my awareness of the disease and other stories other cultures tell about it. She is supportive when I tell her that I’m reluctant to take meds, if only because I know there are many methods of healing I can turn to first. I tell her that in the event these other methods prove ineffective, I will gladly consider medication and she says she believes this is an excellent way to approach this path.
My only diagnosis was from a lady I saw at the height of a hypomanic episode when I was 25 and that lady told me that she believes I have an important message to share, that I’m not crazy, and that it sounds like I’ve learned to navigate some really out there stuff in an intelligent way that might help people. She said I might have cyclothymia, if anything, and she was looking forward to reading my book when I wrote it. The facility at which I saw this lady no longer exists and nor do their records. They went under this last spring and when I called for my records they said that the files were gone. I was floored because I was trying to get my dog registered as an emotional support animal, but maybe the records don’t matter. They are only a part of the story.
At that time of my diagnosis, I was studying ascension magic, Kabbalah, and herbal shamanism. I’d done mushrooms which sent me into lala land for a while. I do not think that hallucinogenic drugs are dangerous in and of themselves. I do believe that hallucinogens were used shamanically in the past because hallucinogens are one way to experience other dimensions. I do believe that people like me were made to explore these other dimensions and teach our people about them.
I believe our culture eschews the validity of shamanic healing in favor of scientific methods. I do believe that both are equally valid and our understanding of one is tragically lacking. I believe our lack of understanding or accepting shamanic healing or spiritual healing as valid has severely crippled our understanding of what it means to be human. That is, the spirit and otherworldly experiences are and always have been a part of the human experience and denying the validity of these experiences because we don’t understand them is like shooting one’s self in the head because it’s broken. That is…cutting oneself off from the unknown because it is unknown is where my people are at. I don’t know about you, but I always wanted to be an explorer. Space might be the final frontier that we can physically explore. But there are universes within the mind of every human being on this planet. I am not an astronaut, but I am an explorer in the vast regions of my psyche.
I believe therapy and modern medicine constitute one method of healing that is effective for one part of the human being–the body, the ego self, and how that ego self is identified in the world of other ego constructs. The Ego, or the animus, is how we operate on this planet. Without it in health and in tact, our other experiences cannot be relayed. Therefore, people have been tempted to label the experience of the ego or animus as the only valid experience.
But the animus is the vehicle for spirit.
Yesterday, after this lady shows up at 11:11 like a call from the universe and I am listening to Ram Dass, I remember all the spiritual and therapeutic healing experiences in my life like a movie reel. They move through my mind’s eye, the seat of the soul, reminding me of the journey towards healing as one that has required not only the healing of my ego and animus and body and mind, but the healing of my relationship with spirit.
And my life organized itself into a story which I’m beginning to write. Here’s the start of it. I will publish it in pieces here I guess. I’ve been told that automatic writing is how I’m supposed to do this, which is why this is a stream of consciousness blog.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve known the witness at the seat of my consciousness, the one who watches the experiences as they become us, the identity as it fills us, the death of ego as the identity empties, and the refilling of identity as we learn to grow, adapt, and embody the new. Consciousness is oneness and we is me.
I never had to put words to it for it was and is me as much as it was and is you.
But one day my childhood innocence was lost and my access to witness, or the observer, was denied. I was put on a path to learn new information that would lead me back to witness through a different perspective. After many years, I found my way back to us, only to find myself shortly cast back into ego, back into blindness.
I have been many people.
I have found my way back to witness through many lenses, philosophies, religions, and experiences and I am here now to share these with you. We are in the days of learning to settle our differences on a global scale. I am here to share with you how to access the tools of humanity, our humanity, by considering our beliefs, cultures, philosophies, religions, and selves as tools in a toolbox. I’m here to encourage and coach the ways of surrender, creativity, compassion, joy, love, hope, healing, and light. I am here to show you that you are infinite and I am here to show you how to access that infinity by setting down your fear, labels, breaking down your boxes, and surrendering your masculine ego to the divine feminine way of compassion, for the time being. The world moves forward through time and we with it and things change. Our tools are not meant to be permanent fixes. We are meant to adopt the right tool for the right use at the right time as in a kitchen, as in any trade. Our tools are vast. We have hundreds of thousands of years worth of developed tools to access at any given time. We do not have to choose one. We can choose all, knowing that nature’s way is the cycle of life and death and that the way must be respected. We are smart enough now to adopt this way, to allow ourselves to become beings beyond the trappings of the ego. #risesisterrise (Rebecca Campbell).
We are the individual manifestations of the one and we have the ability to see the one no matter who we are, what we believe, where we come from, or what our circumstances.
This sounds all fine and dandy from a super woo woo perspective. Let’s look at what this means from a more practical lens.
I have made it my life’s mission to explore altered states of consciousness and have found a thread of similarity in all states called the witness consciousness. This is the place I believe God was talking about in the bible when He said, “Be still and know that I am God.” The I is both I and God. We were made in his image. It is the place the Buddha retreated to in his meditation beneath the tree. It is the place Hindi’s put their bindis and Yogi’s open their third eye chakras. It is the place the Egyptians revered as the seat of the soul: the pineal gland. The place where visions take place and messages are conveyed in dream and in native tradition, in ritual and in hallucinatory states induced by illicit drugs. The witness, the observer, is the one who inhabits this space in nonjudgment with the eyes of the innocent. The witness watches the human that is you in the experience. The witness is the you behind the experience, the one inside the animus of the body and ego which are bound by cultural construct. The witness is consciousness.
Nothing good or bad about it. The non-attachment of Buddhism and Taoism. Many people write about the observer or witness. Ram Dass, Henry Hess, Aldous Huxley. I was introduced to the concept and was led to the conscious rediscovery of the witness mentality by reading and practicing the meditations in a book called The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself, by Michael A. Singer.
And then I was introduced to Light is the New Black, by Rebecca Campbell which helped me to understand a feminine perspective, something I have not been exposed to in the way of these philosophies, religions, and bodily practices except through the lens of a male dominated cultural mentality. That is not to say a male dominated cultural mentality is bad, just that both the male and female perspectives are valuable and can inform each other to grander results than we can imagine with our limited abilities.
I journeyed into healing bravely by understanding I am afraid. I journeyed into strength by surrendering to my weakness and I journeyed into light by letting the darkness swallow me whole. We must surrender to ourselves. We must face the reality of ourselves with nonjudgment, nonattachment, kindness, compassion, we must grieve, and then we must take responsibility to right what we have wronged. Or we will be the victims of ourselves.
I am here to share with you the value of letting go of what you think you know, who you think you are, and how you think you should be. I am here to tell you that holding onto these things is okay sometimes, but that doing so all the time is not nature’s way and is not healthy for human beings. I am here to share with you that the experience of the human being has been one half lived for too long by so many, and I am here to validate your instincts to surrender to the part of you that longs to be whole.
The way is you.
I am you and you are us.
The way is us.
I am you and you are us.
The way is I.
I am you and you are us.
I am a psychonaut and I am here to share with you my journey through consciousness that I may share the tools with you I learned upon my journey so you may use them in your own. Your journey will look very different from mine. Everyone’s is different. We are all one.
The Upside Down Triangle
When I was a kid, I dreamt repeatedly of being a person underneath the point of an upside down triangle that was so vast I could not fathom the enormity of it. The point of the triangle pressed into the top of my head, resting there, and it offered enormous pressure which I came to associate with anxiety later on. As a kid though, it came to me as a visualization in my third eye. The person was just a black outline of a person, as in those one might see on street signs, and the triangle was so vast that the camera lens of my mind had to zoom outward to see the full scope of it. By the time the triangle was fully visible, the person beneath was so small it was as large as a pinprick in the fabric of the universe and felt as insignificant, except for the fact that I knew that person was there.
I view each of us this way.
The triangle is the oneness, the consciousness of us. It looks like a triangle from my perspective.
Much later, when I wanted to write books, I imagined a world in between, one in which people existed in pillars of light connected to a much larger light source. I walked in the darkness between these pillars that were the rays of people’s lives and popped in once in a while to see how people viewed themselves, only to find that some of these pillars were rooted in the most horrible memories people had.
Later I would come to understand we are all the people under the triangle, that the triangle is just a point of extension from oneness consciousness, and that people operate like nerve endings, flashes of light and energy and electricity playing out a reaction that informs the one mind that is the universe. Our lives are as significant timewise to the universe as the single firing of a synapse is in the human brain.
And ego perspective would say that is not much.
However, all the parts of the brain must work together to sustain the whole. A deficiency in one vitamin can cause serious illness. Vitamin C and scurvy for instance.
Human experience can and, I believe, should be as varied for the individual as the diet in order for the individual to be a fully functioning healthy human being. There is no longer room for us to consider our differences in politics, religion, and state as significant enough that they should be fought over. We must aim to agree where we can and live and let live. We must remember we are all different.
A deficiency of archetypal feminine consciousness has led western archetypal male consciousness to dismiss the validity of dreams, the supernatural, the unknown, death and birth, the creative, the artistic, the compassionate, the trusting, the surrendered, and the healing parts of the human experience in modern America and in other countries who have been swayed by the American way of life. We are missing out on at least half of what it means to be human by pitting male and female against each other instead of understanding them as necessary equally valid parts of the whole experience of being human.
I am not dismissing the validity of the modern American way of life. We are a testament to the greatness that has been achieved by the patriarchal male domination of the world in the form of creating a global civilization, but now our practice of the creation must be lent to other values.
And it is being lent to other values slowly but surely. Zoos are freeing animals for wilderness preservation. Hunting is being adopted as a conservation method which, ironically, it is due to the influence of humans on nature and the sway/responsibility we hold to help regulate it’s cycles now. Even Christians can’t debunk that one. God told you to steward the earth.
I’m as Christian as I am Wiccan.
Many will find this text blasphemous, but this text isn’t for them. We all experience the world differently and this may help some people and it may do nothing at all for some people. If this book isn’t for you, I wish you joy, health and love in all your endeavors and thank you for giving it a try.
If this book is for you, well…read that last sentence again.
I am as attached to the outcome of this book as to the outcome of my life, which is to say not at all and totally and completely. I do not know where it will go and I have no idea how it will end but I’m on the journey with all it’s ups and downs, for better or worse, because I came here to be a human being and I believe that the part of us all that came here to be human is connected, whatever that part is, or however you use the boundaries of your personal or cultural or linguistic contexts to identify it.
Personal note: (Read Link for information on this subject. Also refer to Journal 1/10/2020 and Ram Dass Be Here Now Lectures 3 and 4).
I believe that the more we familiarize ourselves with putting down and picking up the lenses of consciousness to inform compassion, the easier the transitions from one stage of life to the next can become.
Given humanity is due for some large transitions in the direction of healing ourselves and our home, I believe this work can help some people who are in the lens that will appreciate this for what it is: A psychonaut’s exploration of the tesseract constructed by the tools of the human identity extended from the collective consciousness.
Or accounts of the all experience by one individual pinprick in the fabric of the universe.
This post has been in the works for a couple days and is organized as such.
Firstly, I love and value all the values Borges mentions as being integral to tribal culture: Survival from ingenuity and community, an intimate knowledge of and kinship with nature, the communal raising of children, family, and a relationship to spirit. “They put spirits in everything.”
Let me tell you about my experiences with what they call psychosis…well, there’s some background information needed there I think. Telling each story out of context of the larger story makes no sense. Kind of like when people hate on some celebrity or politician when they see something quoted out of context. Or this quote:
“Blood is thicker than water.” People say that all the time to describe the bonds of family as important. The actual quote is:
“The blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb,” which means that the bonds we have with the people we choose to spend time with are much more influential and powerful because we chose them. The lesson is about the power of choice to overcome the influence of our DNA or our family environment. The quote actually means the opposite of what many people use it for.
We become who we hang out with they say.
It is language like this, quotes that change to accommodate the ways of today, that make me distrust total abandonment of faith to any one doctrine or religion. Curiosity maintains innocence, a close-to-objective view, and allows room for the unknown. Certainty is a life vest for those too afraid or too tired to swim through the dark waters of the unconscious. I think of Billy Bob Thornton in Bad Santa who realizes he has wound up just like his father and says, “You could say I’m no different, and I’d say you were right, but at this point it’s too late to start over. It’s funny how things work out. It’s fucking hilarious.”
If you’ve never seen Bad Santa I’d say you’re missing out on some kind of experience. What kind I couldn’t say, but some kind. What strikes me about his character though is his total surrender to his subconscious instincts.
His life raft of certainty was tied to the framework of his childhood. The way the world works, for him, was shaped by those experiences in his mind and instead of facing the emotional damage of the past and letting it inform a more mature emotional outlook in the present, he drinks and smokes to numb the pain, so the pain remains and the bars of the prison hold.
I have a history with drinking and smoking to numb out an I know better than anyone that numbing out only slows down what is an inevitable encounter with what we fear, prolonging the meeting of self with self. I’ve seen people numb themselves to the grave. I’ve numbed myself into poverty. A life without emotional intelligence, that is, a life in which one does not know how to let emotion positively inform action (whether the emotion is positive or negative) is like living in a black hole. Fear, anger, joy, jealousy, bliss, contentment, harmony, wrath, excitement fly at me out of the darkness of this black hole sometimes and slap me in the face. They come out of nowhere.
In trying to understand what this looks like from outside of my personal framework, outside of my personal narrative about shamanism or energy healing or spiritual awakening or whatever, I ask DJ what he’s noticed about how I’ve changed. Picture Bad Santa turning to his girlfriend and saying, “What do you notice as symptoms of my mental illness?” Only Bad Santa doesn’t have a girlfriend because he’s never asked these kinds of questions of anyone and prefers to live his life in his box with his booze and his nicotine. I can’t blame him. It would be totally out of character for this guy to heal from himself. Better we vilify him for sticking by the old American pastimes of shutting out emotional scarring and bottling it up to the grave. I’ve been there. I used to have a hard time appreciating Billy Bob Thornton’s kind of humor because it makes me sad. Alcoholism has been a cruel thief in my life, taking away joy and loved ones and pieces of myself. Watching this sad man as a humorous spectacle used to be difficult. Sometimes it still kind of is. But humor is such a powerful medicine, best to laugh when one can if it isn’t hurting anyone else.
DJ is uncomfortable with answering the question at first, probably because I’m asking him to tell me why I look crazy shortly after the metoo craze and what it looks like from someone else’s perspective sometimes hurts. But I’m not asking for validation. I’m asking because it is important to understand the impact I’m having on other people more objectively. It is a necessary perspective in informing how I choose to heal from this. How do the people I love see this?
Take it in, and don’t make excuses or try to explain why you’re like that. Just let it settle in you. This is their perspective.
He says the moods are all over the place. One minute I’m super happy and the next I’m pissed. There’s no in between. No middle ground. And I can go from one to the other in a matter of seconds for absolutely no reason. Half the time, he says, it takes him by surprise.
I listen. I picture him being all over the place. What would I do if he were happy one minute and pissed the next all the time and I couldn’t tell if it was something I’d done, something someone else had done, or if it is just some invisible neurochemicals shifting in ratios to equal bipolar beezee over here. It’s exhausting for us both. I’m lucky he happens to be a pretty easygoing guy.
I have a strong personality. When I set my mind on something, I do that thing, but sometimes I’ll set my mind on something like knitting or crocheting a hat and sometimes I’ll set my mind on a total career change. And if I do not have two or three jobs at once I have no jobs. This isn’t him telling me. I’m just understanding it as something I do.
It is things like this though, that make me tempted to take the lexaproveyournormal pill, and regulate my moods the regular modern way. Still, I don’t have access to mood stabilizers at the moment and the therapist lady I’m seeing is out of her office for two weeks. And part of my reason for doing this publicly is to show this part of the process of getting help. Are there other options other than the meds with the side effects and the guessing games and the grey landscapes of the internal world? That’s what meds are like. Gray. I remember the obedience and grayness of my mind on antidepressants and anti-anxiety meds and picture this must be the perspective of a dog, only even dogs have curiosity and feel love and loyalty. This is the time to take stock of my resources and start to exercise them. Is there another way?
Every morning for three days I pause before getting out of bed and breathe with my eyes closed, letting the wherewithal of consciousness settle in. I love this state of mind in the morning. One can choose to go back to sleep or get out of bed and jump into the day. It’s the space between two worlds.
There was a time I meditated every day, did yoga and exercised and read books and watched movies and lived a rich and colorful, albeit broke, life. A life with family and food and music and health. It was during this time I learned to fish my dreams out of the subconscious using a simple visualization. I sit in the conscious mind and cast a line into the dream world and the line snags the pictures of the dream. I can pull them up and recall them. Pieces of my dreams caught like Polaroids on a fishing line come up out of the deep dark blue and allow me to remember. If I do not practice it, the ability goes away, but it takes only three days of intending to dream, asking for a dream, for me to start remembering them.
They flit in the first night and powder my head with moth dust, the only clue left in their wake in the morning, a sense of the fluttering of wings in the night. The second night, they are more tangible, like vines, perhaps the firing of new neurons in new pathways because I asked them to go there. Dream. The third night I am an ancient Greek woman with tattoos of warriors in the same style as the black ink depictions on ancient Greek pottery.
Sometimes I look at these cycles as journeys into learning about the unconscious, spirit, and as spiritual awakenings. This perspective can get dangerously out there and it has taken me some time to understand where to set the boundary of “out there.” I sometimes still cross it.
Two hours after I awake on the third day, mom calls. We talk. I do not tell her about the dream, but we have been talking about some of the “out there” stuff, which I say is out there but is really just conversations about different religions, spiritualities, and healing modalities, including psychoanalysis sometimes. This time, however, she tells me about some Greek priestesses of the word called Logosmoi. I thought that was it but the closes thing I find online today is logismoi, which are essentially evil thoughts. No priestesses about it. Here’s a link to a religious website just in case you’re interested. I do not ascribe to this religion. I just like to learn about other people’s beliefs. The funny thing about the website is the methods described for clearing the mind are very similar to the buddhist method of meditation. Tame the monkey mind. The difference is that one claims theirs is the only way to reach enlightenment, but enlightened people walk around every day enjoying their lives not worrying about whether or not they’re enlightened. It doesn’t necessarily require intellect. Emotional intelligence, yes, or at least the ability to feel. My own background with the Christian faith makes something inside me roar against this doctrine as propaganda. But there is a thread of truth in all forms of humanity. Anyone who tells you theirs is the only way is selling something. Nothing stands between you and joy and heaven on earth (metaphorical or real believe what you want) except you. Ugh, platitudes.
Anyways I look up ladies with tattoos and the Ancient Greek practices of tattooing were actually to mark criminals and the markings were to display, generally, what the criminal had done. My tattoos in the dream moved like snakes, telling stories like the pictures painted on the ancient pottery tell stories.
Maybe first, let me tell you about my experiences with the supernatural…
But then I could write a book about that too. There’s too many experiences to talk about here all at once.
Okay. Let’s just start here.
Before the age of five, my best friends were imaginary. One was an eight foot tall Mickey Mouse, only it wasn’t Mickey Mouse and I kind of knew that. I didn’t know why it had appeared to me as Mickey Mouse because I’d never shown the mouse any more admiration than one of the Disney princesses or Barbie or G.I. Joe. Perhaps, and five-year-old me wondered this without this language, it appeared to me as a mouse because it wasn’t human. I have a clear memory of holding Mickey Mouse’s hand at the top of the stairs and the hand was the Mouse’s glove only it felt rather smaller and more human, softer though and intangible almost as though made of light. I said, “Come with me,” and pulled on his or her or its hand to come down the stairs. The afternoon sun coming in through the window broke into prismatic rainbows that shown around the being’s head like a halo.
I’ll come back later.
My mom called up the stairs. “Who are you talking to?”
“My friend!” I told my mom and wondered why my friend only spoke in my head instead of out loud so mom could meet my friend too. I had a feeling it could only appear to those who wished to see it. My mom said something about an imaginary friend. Later I would chalk up this experience to a healthy imagination, so when I met the being again in my 20’s, it was both a shock and no surprise at all.
Here’s how it appeared to me next:
At a Yoga retreat with my mother, at Stomp Dance in Oklahoma with my mother, in my living room after a Yoga session that induced a Kundalini awakening.
I will write these experiences down in detail elsewhere, but writing and collecting them will take time. For now I’m just summarizing some experiences with otherworldly things. This being is from the Pleiades.
Sometimes I believe this and sometimes I think it’s insane.
Wikipedia has a page called Pleiades in folklore and literature if you are interested in exploring.
I’m from Cherokee and Pawnee blood on one side but the Native practices I’ve been exposed to are a modern eclectic mix of traditions that are a clumsy but honest attempt to rekindle our place within nature’s governing cycles. I’m not savvy on Native politics, but I know that a dash of blood from two tribes on one side of the family doesn’t equal being Native through and through. At the same time, the traditions I have been exposed to have significantly helped to inform my otherworldly experiences as positive and as signals of significant growth in a mythological, if not an outright spiritual context.
I chose to be curious about my mind and how it worked when it began to betray me, only to look back and see that each betrayal brought a gift. The mind is a powerful source of connection with the world and language is how we access that.
About blood: I don’t actually know what blood runs through me if we’re talking about ethnicity but here is what my family has claimed: Northern Italian, French, English, German, Scottish, Cherokee, Pawnee. I think it’s weird to talk about blood in this way.
My Grandpa Moon was someone I didn’t know at all. I believe he was my Great Grandmother’s relation in some way. My Great Grandmother was born in 1911. I knew her when I was young. She was grumpy. She talked to aliens and taught art and meditation. I’ve written about her before in other blog posts. She also said that we are descended from some English earl and his French Gypsy lover who eloped together. He forswore his family and took a purse of money with him and they as readily disowned him for running off with the likes of a french gypsy witch. I have no idea about the origins of this story but its fun to tell and has always helped me feel as though psychism runs in my blood.
Grandpa Moon is responsible for the Pawnee blood in us. I did mushrooms once in a meadow with my sister and started doing this sort of ritualistic dance, flattening the grass in half moons arcs of the legs. Two weeks later, at Powow, my sister says, “Isn’t that the dance you were doing in the meadow?” And, sure enough, the men in colorful regalia are doing the same dance. I’ve never seen this dance in my life. Never been to Powow. Mom or mom’s friend says, “That’s the Pawnee grass dance. It is a warrior’s dance.” I always chalk these things up to coincidence at first. That day I was gifted a beautiful necklace, a warrior’s gift, which I later gave away in yet another attempt to stave off the call to adventure. The coincidences are more convincing to me than the trappings of my culture. I’m not a prisoner or victim here. I’m on an adventure. I’m an adventurer and my landscape is what Dada called “the final frontier”–consciousness.
I hated religion, the spiritual, the supernatural, and anything to do with otherworldliness if it was outside the realm of story or pure imagination when I was a kid.
That is, when the unreal bled into the real, when I saw ghosts or auras or faeries, and when I heard my mother and sister talking about them, I stubbornly shut out the possibility that these things were real and always, as best I could, shut them out as imaginary and kept them in that box. Five year old me didn’t know the difference. Ten year old me knew that there was this world and there was that world and I wanted nothing to do with that world because I liked this one well enough. I was kind of like Aunt Petunia, especially because I secretly wished to be shown something that would convince me of the trueness of the imaginary.
Here are some of the things I imagined:
We moved into a house that was haunted. We moved into many houses that were haunted, but this one was different. A lady walked every night from my mom’s bedroom, down the hall to my room, into my sister’s room and back. She wore white and was not the first lady in white I had seen, but she was the first I had the courage to watch with curiosity. The fear had become too much to bear and the only way out was curiosity. I was 14 at this time and still stubbornly refused that this was real, but it was happening in some form so I understood it as perhaps a waking dream, a nightmare, an apparition from my consciousness. This is the same house in which I learned to french braid my own hair through what I understand can either be explained as dissociation or astral projection depending on the context. This is the house where I lived three blocks from DJ and never met him. We played soccer against the boys team on a scrimmage and played soccer against one another then too, but I wouldn’t meet DJ until I was 28 at a restaurant in town some years later after college and moving and moving back and teaching and deciding it was time to cook because of a prayer.
If you drift away from your body in order to avoid dealing with a situation, it is dissociation.
If you do it in order to learn how to french braid your hair, it’s astral projection, which I also denied as being real.
I am told the people who lived there in the house before died in a car crash. They had two young children. To be honest, I do not know if this detail is one I have inserted myself over the years or if it is real kind of like the priestesses of the word who I found no evidence of. It doesn’t matter much to me as it is a small example of a tale that gets much weirder and much more vivid than one ghostly lady and some misinterpreted signs. The signs are almost always either misinterpreted or point to a much bigger picture we only see one little slice of until later.
But they show up only if you ask for them, and only if you trust in them because we are powerful and can convince ourselves just as easily that something is real as not. Here’s an interesting article on why religion isn’t delusion. The article’s primary source is A Cognitive Model of Persecutory Delusions which says about persecutory delusions (i.e. delusions that blame others or external circumstances for one’s victimhood) that they are based in “threat beliefs,” and that:
“In essence, these researchers suggest that persecutory delusions reflect an attributional defence against low self-esteem thoughts reaching consciousness. By blaming others for negative events, rather than the self or the situation, it is argued that negative thoughts about the self are prevented from reaching awareness.”
In previous posts I have raved about my culture needing to change. I have blamed external circumstances for my own unhappiness and this blame probably is just “an attributional defence against low self-esteem thoughts reaching consciousness.”
The first article I referenced, “Why Religious Belief Isn’t a Delusion,” explains that there is a social construct around the delusion that serves to influence the population positively.
“That’s why delusions are only diagnosed if they’re not consistent with the person’s existing belief system and views,” says the author. “A devout creationist talks to God while in church, that’s fine. An avowedly atheist lawyer starts doing it in the middle of a meeting, they’re probably delusional. If both of them suddenly started saying the world is going to end in 30 minutes because of angry frogs living in the sun, they’d both be considered delusional.”
What if the whole conference room started saying the world is going to end in 30 minutes because of angry frogs living in the sun? The whole company? The whole nation? Would their language change to accommodate the concept of thirty minutes as being metaphorical? Would their culture change to worship frogs to keep the sun frogs peaceful? Would their people kill other people and convince them that worshiping frogs was the only way because the existence of other ways of thought would negate the delusional reality that thirty minutes passed a long time ago? Would they go on crusades to change the nature of thought itself to adhere to the reality of their delusion in a widespread, even global fashion? Is this cultural context not a cultural delusion rooted in the threat thoughts of the ancient past? If you know how to think in metaphor, Christianity is most famous for it’s angry frog god path. One in five of you, statistics say, do not know how to think in metaphor. Prove those statistics wrong.
I was raised in a Christian culture as one who practices paganism. Of course my understanding of reality does not have a cultural context. I had to cultivate my own context as best I could until more people who are doing the same thing started to emerge around me. Again, note the new age rise of modern witches.
All that being said, believing in some weird things does not mean I should not believe in the reality of my culture. Quite the opposite. I figured that if there were things in my life my culture didn’t explain, then there were things about my culture I didn’t know. So I let the experiences be what they were, didn’t seek to explain them or blame them on anything. I just experienced them and let them pass. The delusions come from trying to blame, explain away, or convince others. These things become delusional when one does not know the difference between reality and the delusion.
If you believe in ghosts and see a ghost is it a delusion? Not according to the above articles, unless that delusion is one that starts to influence your actions in a negative way, is based in threat based thought, or is so severe you cannot tell the difference between the real world and the delusion. If you see ghosts, is it more likely you’re going to be able to function better in your culture if that culture supports the possibility of ghosts? Yes. The more people who adhere to the same principles that structure the framework of one’s identity, the more one can relate to their identity in an internally and externally positive way.
I wanted magic in my life but vehemently denied the reality of anything too out there when it appeared to me. I deemed it childish, imaginary, and wanted desperately to grow up so I could be the master of my own life. Then one day, like magic, the weird things just stopped showing up. It was a marked shift in consciousness, something I felt almost physically like that switch in my brain which now, I understand, marks mood swings sometimes.
I identify this phase in my life as the refusal to answer the call, which I will put here in a link to the seventeen stages of the Hero’s Journey on Wikipedia. (Wikipedia may not be accurate all the time, but I see no reason why we can’t start there and delve deeper into the tertiary, secondary, and primary sources later).
The primary source for this quote from the above linked page is The Hero With a Thousand Faces, by Joseph Campbell, a book I will probably mention a hundred thousand times more so there it is. Fair warning.
Campbell says about the Refusal of the Call: “Refusal of the summons converts the adventure into its negative. Walled in boredom, hard work, or ‘culture,’ the subject loses the power of significant affirmative action and becomes a victim to be saved. His flowering world becomes a wasteland of dry stones and his life feels meaningless—even though, like King Minos, he may through titanic effort succeed in building an empire or renown. Whatever house he builds, it will be a house of death: a labyrinth of cyclopean walls to hide from him his minotaur. All he can do is create new problems for himself and await the gradual approach of his disintegration.”
Almost immediately after the day I lost the sight, for that is all I can name it, I started to feel like there was something wrong with me. I stopped drawing, writing, loving, caring about almost anything and lost all of my energy. Whereas before I would spend numerous hours alone playing music and reading and drawing and creating stories, I started to fear being alone. I stopped playing sports, having lost interest in the petty squabbles of my teammates. Being the captain usually meant being the peacekeeper and I stopped caring about keeping the peace after someone did cocaine and got fucked up the night before a tournament game. I stopped playing music. I stopped doing much of anything and encountered my first depression. That summer marked the end of my innocence in that I looked at reality for what it was and what other people saw it as for perhaps the first time, outside of the lens of the fantastic. The next fifteen years would be a journey to find that place again in order to understand it and give it context. It seems to me the same kind as those journeys people relay when they are searching for the miraculous and find it only to find that words fall short of ascribing it truth, as the minds of humans fall short of understanding the workings of the universe, let alone ourselves within it.
I faced my minotaur eventually, but I didn’t want to. Nuh uh. That is also not a story for this place. It needs more context.
For now, suffice it to say that in shutting off my acceptance of these otherside experiences as things that simply happened, things that just existed alongside us in tandem, sometimes seen by people and sometimes not, I lost my “power of significant affirmative action,” walled myself in “boredom,” “hard work,” and “culture,” and became a victim.
It is also this time in my life that delineates the otherside experiences as negative. Informed by a more grounded, rational, and cultural context that dismissed the imagination and the validity of the subconscious in informing my identity, the subconscious identity became something terrifying and what were once understood to me as things that just happened started to become things that happened to me within my narrative framework.
Threat mentality creates persecutory delusions.
I started to associate the ghost in the attic with fear until the ghost in the attic was just a metaphor for the fear until the ghost in the attic no longer existed. Just fear. The imagination was the place where I could suspend beliefs, let them be changed if necessary, let the story remain open for interpretation as adaptation demanded. Turning off my imagination turned my emotions into cages trapped by the letters: FEAR, JOY, SADNESS, HAPPINESS, ANGER, CALM.
They became words that meant nothing, and the feelings that should have been associated with those words became things I did not understand because their context within my personal narrative framework had been suppressed by none other than my own desire to grow up. Without story or imagination to aid in the formulation of my identity in a culturally relevant framework, I felt irrelevant to my culture. Without stories to contextualize the actions that represent fear and the social consequences of that fear, I did not understand fear by the simple utterance of the word. I started to be able to lie. I started doing things I didn’t want to do just because I’d never do them. I wanted to see how other people live and started to drink and party and experiment with drugs only to find that this is not other people doing life, this is me doing life. This is not me following the choices of others, it is me choosing to become this person.
I was like King Minos, my “flowering world become a wasteland of dry stones,” and no matter what empires I built, life felt meaningless because I did not live to inform my own identity in a constant, ever changing narrative of my evolving psyche over time, but rather lived to inform my actions with labels like student, writer, waitress, cook, teacher, crazy, woman. I started seeing these things like pictures, stereotypes, still life images, snapshots of emotion from memes, pop culture references, and social media/media hype, sort of like polaroids tied to a fishing line like those I drag out of my subconscious to recall dreams. As I interacted more with my culture, I got these images of what it meant to be a writer in depictions of revered writers in pop culture and academia; writers like: Ernest Hemmingway, Virginia Woolf, Hunter S. Thompson, Emily Dickenson, Charles Dickens, Tolkien, J.K. Rowling, and everyone in between. It seemed to me that most writers encountered their own journey of the hero, and some rose to meet their call to adventure and succeeded while others failed. Some, like Thompson perhaps, saw it for what it was–a game of cat and mouse with the self that becomes either a distraction that prevents one from taking action and plays out in a sort of loop, a why do I always wind up here? kind of loop, or it becomes the labyrinth that contains the Minotaur waiting to be faced.
I’ve been in the loop or the maze for a long time and every time I jump back into my journey of the Hero it tells me one thing: Write.
Harry potter faces Voldemort in physical form at the end of a maze and facing him at the end of the maze brings him into public awareness which the public vehemently denies until the wizard Dumbledore, validates him by bringing wisdom to the public through action, that is by actively fighting alongside the hero.
In tarot, the Magician card is equated with wizards like Merlin, in the Arthurian tradition, Gandolf, in the Tolkein tradition, and Dumbledore in pop-culture tradition.
“The Wand of the Magician is a symbol of the Magician’s connection to Divine Spirit. In one hand he points his wand to the heavens and in the other hand he points to the four elements resting on the table before him. Symbolically, this represents the Magicians ability to use divine energy to manifest in the physical world. In a tarot card reading, the Magician represents manifestation on the earthly plane. However, there is always an exchange of energy. This is symbolically represented by the infinity sign. This exchange of energy occurs between the realm of spirit and the physical world. The Magician has the ability to move between these two worlds. This unique skill enables the Magician to remain adaptable and flexible through any situation that he is confronted with.
In a tarot card reading, The Magician represents the utilization of one’s skills. He is a reminder of the power that is within you. He often signifies the need for a self-confidence and adaptability.”
In order to get out of the loop, the victimhood, the boredom, the trappings of culture and the endless grey world of empires built without love, one must answer the call, confront the Minotaur, and must do so from a position of self-confidence and adaptability. One must be reminded of the power within the self. One must be reminded that “Intelligence is the ability to adapt to one’s circumstances,” as Stephen Hawking famously said, or wrote, to be honest I couldn’t find the quote in its original context. He also said, “My advice to other disabled people would be, concentrate on things your disability doesn’t prevent you doing well, and don’t regret the things it interferes with. Don’t be disabled in spirit, as well as physically.”
When I step on the path to follow the journey of the hero, to do well in spirit what I can also do well in reality, it always leads me to the same place.
I have heard many writers say that they write because they can’t not write. I have written two novels that are waiting to be edited. I have written thousands more journal entries that mark the way through a much more realistic and bizarre story. Both unedited novels feature a woman with no past, no family, no identity other than the present circumstance and a few spotty memories. Both involve moving through two worlds and trying to make sense of them only to find that the two collide in chaos.
I’ve attempted this story before and failed to write it and my confidence was lost. That self-confidence and adaptability were gone.
The novels are my subconscious attempts at seeking reconciliation between an inner narrative and an external reality’s experience of that narrative through different lenses. This is a story I’ve been trying to tell for a long time. I just didn’t have all the pieces. I needed to study story and language and structure and then plummet into the worldscape of after graduation only to find that my transition into this world would require me to face myself and there were a lot of things I had run away from. I had too many unsquashed beefs (hello Always Sunny).
I had no idea my unsquashed beefs were going to be with things as intangible and as ephemeral as thought, history, philosophy, culture, language, finance, education, the mindscape, the multiverse, religion, spirituality, nutrition, the body, the subconscious, the occult, dreams, the ego, id, animus, and my own identity within myself and a rapidly changing culture. I had no idea language would lead me to encounter these things the way I did. I had no idea a culture could change before my very eyes until it did. It has already changed many times in my lifetime. It changes all the time.
The endings of the unedited novels are rushed and sort of vague. The idea is there but they lose heart. The Journey of the Hero.
A hero of what?
We are all the heroes of our lives, or at least we each have that potential within us. More platitudes, if, that is, they are not followed with action. What does it mean to follow the journey of the hero? The word HERO was like all the other words without stories for contexts in which I could understand the actions, the values, the intentions and assign these to my own actions. There was a part of my life I had not discovered an adequate social context for. There was a part of me only I could find. And I ran from her without understanding that I was running. And without even running in the right direction I came face to face with her anyways. Perhaps the journey of the hero is an unavoidable one we all take and the differences are as much tailored to the environment, the social structure, the culture, as they are the will within to face the Minotaur. How we approach the Minotaur is a testament to one’s character.
It is no surprise to me I thought that I was running towards my Minotaur only to find I was running away from it and had, in running away from it, come face to face with it. It’s kind of hilarious in an ironic way, and a little bit sad. Kind of like Bad Santa’s “fucking hilarious.” Or kind of like when Harry dreams about Sirius dying, goes to the Ministry of Magic, and finds that the fear of the illusion caused the illusion to manifest through Harry’s own attempt to predict and avoid it. Harry’s action based on a threat belief caused the delusion to become reality. Fucking hilarious. That kind of dark humor.
The Minotaur was my imagination vs. Spirituality, spirituality vs. culture, culture vs. the self, and came to manifest fully when I decided that this life is mine to live and create, that is, when I decided to do what I was good at and let the rest fall away.
I should emphasize, I have never equated myself with fictional characters. That would be delusional. There’s a big difference between referencing fictional characters, religious characters, real people’s stories and experiences to inform one’s understanding of one’s experiences in the world vs. trying to change one’s experience in the world by pretending to be something they are not.
There is a big difference between metaphorically facing one’s Minotaur and facing an actual Minotaur.
Perhaps now is the time to announce that the last two therapists I saw told me I seemed like a perfectly reasonable woman who was in an unhappy relationship, and that those stories came after the rise of the #metoo movement. I’m not bashing that movement by any means. It has freed many voices and held many guilty people accountable for horrible actions of violence against women. In some extremist cases, the public interpretation of an event led to the outcome of the cases of women against men in which public interpretation of what was once not only socially acceptable, but maybe even a badge of pride in a media dominated by male-intellect turned into a damnable act equal to rape in a media led by extremist interpretations of the feminine intellect. The outcomes of judgments led by extremist interpretations led to total defamation of judges, comedians, the pope, and sometimes people who refused to have their right to language restricted by being forced to use certain pronouns and women were like, “Fuck it. Men deserve it.” Remember that?
The backlash I encountered for being a woman after the #metoo movement was odd. I lived in a small town. Some educated people were like, “I’m all for ya ladies,” and other educated people, like these therapists, blamed the men in my life for a serious situation that has nothing to do with men. One landlord actually used the term “snowflake” when I told him I would pay the bills on my own if that’s what it took to not live with an alcoholic ex. Men were afraid to approach women. Men were champions for women’s rights. Men who weren’t were condemned. Men were taken out of their roles of power and then The role of power in the U.S. was given to a man child. And men who had felt afraid felt armed. And called people like me snowflakes. Which is just fucking hilarious. The point is, it did harm and it did good. The two worlds collided chaotically: male and female and now that the cultural entropy of identity is settling, the outcome is…
Do any of us know? Are we still trying to figure it out? I know I am. So I guess this is an account of a journey to face the self, the metaphorical Minotaur, and an analysis of the beginning of my Journey of the Hero because every other journey I take is going to lead to chaos too. At least in this one, the power to heal myself lies within. This time I’m willing to approach with confidence, suspend disbelief in myself, and answer the call bravely. After all, persecutory delusions are from fear. It is no one else’s fault I am here. I am here because I will always come here until I learn the lesson here is trying to teach me. I’ve been here before and failed before because of the lack of one key ingredient: a positive view of my identity. And this, funny enough came to me as an epiphany in light of the #metoo movement. My not enoughness was a cultural construct of my femaleness. My species were weak and vulnerable and angry and whiny. I’d been raised as a woman when women were looking for men to save them from themselves. I’d been raised to view myself as irrational and wrong to begin with. Thus I looked for a man and blamed men, at one point, for not living up to my expectations for them. But I can’t even save myself from myself. How the hell is a man going to do that? When I stopped looking for the man and found the self, the man came along. When I stopped blaming them and started taking responsibility for my life to the best of my ability, it became apparent that the blame was really to cover up the fact that I do not know how to do this alone. And then I started doing it alone and found I could, much better than I expected, only that it didn’t matter because it was for no one but myself, who I still didn’t value, for reasons I still don’t understand. So I started to value the self, my health, only to find I was ill and now I am healing.
I’ve hardly accurately represented the entirety of the #metoo movement and it’s social consequences nor have I accurately represented the psychic impact of culturally toxic views of women as inferior in youth as it translates into an adulthood in which women rule a significant voice in the media that significantly impacts the way the culture views femininity to such an extent that what it means to be woman is up for debate, even beyond the bounds of the physical. What a bizarre shift in the psyche of a person let alone its people. Perhaps we are still in such a shift. Perhaps the tectonic plates are still slipping and the earth beneath our feet has turned to sand and now is the time to lay the foundations of a better future. I say we, but I must start with me.
I take the leap.
The meditation helps.
The writing helps.
Over the weekend, I’m offered money to write a book. It is more money than I make in three months.
Day 6: It takes two days to organize this and create the references for this post. I am writing and it’s helping.
It’s becoming a practice to listen to people’s stories and see what they have endured through the power of mere belief, of belief in someone within who is bigger than the person without. This man smoked crack every morning for ten years and went to prison twice and now he has a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology and works with the mentally ill with diagnoses comorbid with substance abuse in particular. What a baller.
I don’t really like things that claim to change your life by adhering to some simple rules, but the latter video was actually offering the opposite of the quick fixes usually doled out by such things. Hardy claims that committing 100 percent to changing one’s behavior is a lifelong commitment and one that requires first a shift in identity, that is, a shift in the story you tell yourself about who you are–which is the purpose of these entries.
What is my current story?
It’s a little bit funny that my ID is still expired. Is that not a sign? My identity is outdated. My story about who I am doesn’t work anymore. I need to look at my life and start telling a new story. I needed to see the reality first and, like Mr. Davis, the real story…well it was hard to look at. In “Cosmic Algorithms: Deciphering the Signs,” Curtis talks about the ability to change one’s life through a simple feedback loop used by the stoics: perception, will, and action.
How we see ourselves in the world determines how we act within it. How we see ourselves determines our will power. A small view is a small power, some say, but then there are stories like The Hobbit.
Which is kind of what he gets into. Anomolies, questions about the things that don’t quite fit, the stuff in between, the role of emotions and the subconscious in determining choices, comes much later in his narrative and is demonstrated by Carl Jung, the father of psychoanalysis, or at least it’s prodigal son. This is when he starts talking about signs and letting them inform our understanding of our subconscious desires. Signs like my ID for instance.
I really like that his conclusion lays down three solid steps for action.
One: Take stock. How did you get here? What’s your current narrative?
Two: Name what you want. “A lot of people don’t know what they want.”
Three: How does that make you feel?
There we are. Back to those messy emotion thingies.
The “Hundred Percent Rule,” as I said, is about committing one’s entire identity to change in order to fuel one’s will. Hardy also emphasizes the importance of investing financially in that identity. More than that, he interviews two groups of entrepreneurs– The successfuls versus the wannabes–and finds that the successful entrepreneurs were the ones who reached a point of no return. Those who had put their everything into their ventures and their future, who could not turn back, well they had to make it.
In any case, the three videos have something in common. Each one highlights the power of the belief in the self. Each one emphasizes the power of mere narrative and perspective to shape identity, action and therefore the relationship of the self to the world. These people witnessed the power of narrative to empower.
That’s what I’m doing here.
So what does that look like now? I have taken stock and what I’m doing hasn’t been working. So I need to shift my perception of my identity to one who believes in herself.
If these people from totally different backgrounds did it, and if this is something that many many people have done apparently, believing in myself will first require me now to:
Name what I want.
What do you want?
I want to write stories for a living, fictional and nonfictional–stories that inspire people. I want to be healthy. I want to have balance in my daily routine that involves friends, family, doggo, hobbies, food, work, fun, spirituality, and self-care. I want to one day have a small farm with DJ and source most of our own food from land and animals we steward. I want us to travel first and be financially (and otherwise) stress free. I want to build a community, or be a part of building a community, that helps to retell and reshape our cultural narrative identity to positively view what is stigmatized, to redefine in a positive light what is simply misunderstood from the stoics and the realistic and pragmatic perspectives. What about the stuff in between? The subconscious, the emotional? I want us to do better than jails, pills, and mental wards. I want to share with people the power of storytelling, myth, and ritual to change a life and I want to help people find that power within themselves.
Alright. This is future identity.
And right now I have the chance to work from home. To invest in and change my identity to be that person. Now I shall claim her one hundred percent. Start a business. Write a book. These are the things I’ve been procrastinating on. Now these are the things I’m fully invested in. No going back. The point of no return. Follow the signs. The signs tell me write. They couldn’t possibly be any clearer.
What do you want?
Have you named it?
If you were to fully commit to this identity today, what action would that mean? Would you take it?
In “The One Hundred Percent Rule,” Hardy also talks about the statements made from the self to the self through bold action. He tells a story about a man who wanted to lose weight and had two suits tailored to a smaller man, put a down payment on them, and said they were for him. This was his first big step in claiming the new identity which would inform his actions. And he lost the weight.
There’s a part of me that knows I will go back to the kitchen and decide as soon as I walk through the door that I need to be writing. There’s a part of me that knows if I go back to the kitchen I will start to doubt. The idea of going back to the kitchen now seems wrong because my path is clearly going in a different direction. And it’s not as if I left because I wanted to. My mental state required it. Working in the kitchen might actually be too stressful of a job for someone wired like me and I am always tempted to prove those limiting narratives wrong, but I’ve been cooking since I was seventeen? Maybe I just need a break. Worse comes to worse, I will cook again. Worse comes to worse, I try and fail and wind up here again which is not a bad place to be really. Not the greatest but certainly not the worst. Not going back to the kitchen is the bold move. Putting everything I have into this is a bold move, but it is the action that will allow me a one hundred percent investment into my future identity. And it’s not as though I have never made a bold move before. I have just never made this bold move:
Believe in yourself.
I am a resourceful woman, and perhaps the only thing holding me back now, as ever, is myself. There is something romantic about publicly taking a leap of faith. It seems to me I had to do it this way, in a way that people could see. My hope is that this will inspire others to do the same, take their leap of faith too, but that isn’t up to me right now. Right now let this be here as a record of a leap of faith one hundred percent taken.
Someone told me once that anxiety is just excitement with fear. Or that excitement is anxiety without fear? Yeah that.
My heart is racing.
I take that as a sign that this is the opportunity to proceed without fear.
Writing it down isn’t really enough to convince me though, and I know that pretending to proceed without fear is just going to make me fumble and botch this all up. I need to take action that lets me really believe this is something I can do. Believing in ourselves comes as much from action as from storytelling.
So today I learn about blogging as a business. How does this work? I sign up for an SEO class. I look at merchandise and look into places in the Seattle area where I can begin talking about narrative, myth, and ritual as powerful forces for changing one’s identity and the circumstances of one’s life. I look at who else near me is doing this. I look to partner up with people who are on similar paths and pages. This is the first time in a long time I want to work in a group. I look at where in my life changing my story has created success where there could have been utter failures. What’s a little bit funny to me is these are all steps I’ve taken before. This storytelling stuff is what heals me out of every low and high episode. The ritual and meditation keep me level. I wonder if my episodes are caused by the absence of these processes of self-reflection, narrative, and ritual as they have been. This is the story I’m telling.
To kick this off for real, I will be doing a ritual in nature somewhere which I’ll write down and share here in my next post: The Power of Ritual and the Science of Intention.
In the meantime, may we step into our power today. May we step into that belief of the bigger self. The Hero self.
“When love renounces all limits, it reaches truth,” she says.
What does that look like?
I read social media offal all the time that says stuff like, “Just cut those toxic people out of your life,” or “Sometimes we just grow out of people,” or even, “I’m on a spiritual high vibe path and those low vibe people just aren’t at my frequency yet.”
First off, if you’re kicking ass at spirituality, low vibes won’t bring you down. Low vibes and high vibes are just a thing that exist and you bring your own vibes. But we all need time to establish what low and high vibes are for ourselves. There’s nothing wrong with walking away from what makes you unhappy. But, for me, there’s a middle ground in communication missing from the high vibe/low vibe dichotomy that was reflected in my own life this last year.
Does love knowing no bounds look like staying with the six pack a night alcoholic who says he’ll try to get sober but shows no sign of stopping any time soon?
Alcoholic sounds scary, but he was harmless to everyone except himself. I left a man last year who, while he had been my friend for a long time and while I cared about him, didn’t care about himself. The fact we were together in the first place shows how little I cared about myself too. In pursuing self-care, I tried to communicate to him that going to bed beside someone who was passed out drunk while I was trying to get sober was not easy. But hell. I did it. It was my hope that getting sober might help him try too. And bless him he tried.
But we had grown apart long before that and sobriety is not an issue that should come between love, but it does. We probably shouldn’t have even dated in the first place. This is the kind of relationship that comes from hopelessness maybe. A sense of being lost, of not caring where you’re going or how you’re going to get there but hoping along the way you have a companion. And then finding a care to improve one’s self, a train the other won’t jump on, or can’t; if we had been happy ever, maybe, but we had been drunk and then more drunk and then sobriety showed a sad picture that I knew was going to have to change for myself anyways.
And that’s how that went.
A carelessly formed relationship can go either way. People have an immense capacity to love one another, but there were too many things about life with him I did not like to envision in my future. I tried to communicate to him that I was unhappy, that getting out of the house to do something other than play cards or go to a bar would have been cool. I tried to communicate a need for some form of bonding that wasn’t over a beer. But he had a routine and I worked nights and he was passed out drunk when I got home.
And by the time I admitted I was unhappy, the damage was long done. There had been signs.
We say that don’t we. There were signs.
I’m not going to preach about love or say what was right. Boundless love is supposed to be boundless and I left him for someone else instead of breaking it off clean. Love has a way of dropping in when one least expects and I had consciously chosen to pursue happiness for my own sake even if the alkie wouldn’t share in it. I just want to say that the biggest road block I ever found in love–either in loving someone else or being loved–was a lack of self-love on either side.
Love someone’s everythings. Love them even when they don’t love themselves. Especially when they don’t love themselves. But there comes a point in any one-sided battle when one must concede to the pathetic. There is no glory in sacrificing the self to save someone who refuses to try. And walking away even though you don’t want to give up on someone because they won’t try, while heartbreaking, is a form of love. In fact hoping they will try to become someone they aren’t because you want them to is perhaps a violation against their identity.
What about this: accepting someone for who they are instead of hoping they’ll change at all…that’s real love. People change. They change all the time. Real love doesn’t fixate on that one image of their identity that made you fall for them. It embraces the changes like one does the coming of seasons. Inevitable and beautiful to witness. And sometimes terrible. And I had to understand this to find my love.
I didn’t know that the drinking habit was going to be a problem after a couple of years…or I didn’t care. I was certainly not paying attention to any signs then nor cultivating any regular spiritual practice. That was a dark time in my life and I can easily say that the darkest times in my life have been those disconnected from some kind of dedicated spiritual practice, even simply drawing. I latched onto someone who didn’t care the way I didn’t care. And then I started caring again, or learned how again, and realized how fucked it was. I realized, too, that I had been irresponsible in pursuing a relationship from a place of toxic alcoholism and depression. Of course it was doomed to fail if my liver didn’t first. It’s weird how things don’t look that bad sometimes and then hindsight wipes the rearview mirror clean and you’re like holy shit. I did that. That’s depression and hypomania too–emotional states that just take over my decision-making abilities. Drugs and alcohol make those states severely worse.
Addiction is the most palpable example I can think of to exemplify how lack of self-love kills relationships. I’m still bitter about watching my best friend drink herself to death. I’m still bitter about the way alcohol and drugs have informed my lack of emotional intelligence, both in how they affected my family and friends and in how they affected me when I fully embraced their use and numbing affects.
Weirdly, I knew early on that I would be sensitive to substances. I always thought I was a clueless kid, but probably I knew that it was the drugs and alcohol that made my step mom crazy. I never saw them do drugs, but the change in personality was obvious. Honestly, I thought it was just the way people are, which is probably why I’m thirty years old and just now discovering I have a severe mood disorder. But I kind of knew something was up with me the way I kind of knew drugs were what had fucked up some people in my family, their lives and mine. Still, my idea of drugs when I was younger were like nuclear substances that would explode if you even touched them. Strange, taboo dirty things I could hardly picture. I didn’t smoke weed until I was nineteen.
Weirdly, too, as sensitive as I was to them, I liked them more than most people. Probably because of my naturally dopamine and seratonin deficient brain. Mood disorders are characterized by extreme moods. Fancy that. Add drugs to that mix and happiness becomes pure heaven on earth. Or sadness becomes hell. I say drugs, but I’ve only done acid, mushrooms, salvia, and cocaine a handful of times each. Like less than five times each over the course of a decade. I love weed. I drank a lot but it makes me feel like shit now. I didn’t smoke crack every morning for a decade like Mr. Davis in Show, Don’t Tell. A little goes a long way with me.
“When love renounces all limits…”
I don’t know exactly when I started seeing the signs, but I think I actively started following them when I was about 24 after a brush with mushrooms and an intense spring of meditation, yoga, energy healing, and ritual that left my mind cracked open and fried like a runny egg on hot pavement.
That was the summer of the big one, the episode that led to a tenuous diagnosis, took my boyfriend, job, house, car, and sanity in one day. It’s hard to trust a diagnosis that comes after a brush with mushrooms. Then again, without the cyclothymia, I might be able to just go ahead and do mushrooms like some people go ahead and do mushrooms.
Forgive my procrastination. It’s hard to talk about because ghosts and things were not completely outside my range of experiences up until then and people generally assume that believing in anything that hasn’t been undoubtedly proven real is idiotic or psychotic despite the vast numbers of people in the world who believe in religion.
I wonder how they would feel about it after a day in a brain like mine. For me it’s not a question of real or not real. I had in fact seen many ghosts throughout my lifetime, and aliens and all manner of things in a sort of psychic light, vibrational sense. I had stories to inform their subconscious meanings, ideas that they existed outside me but were manufactured from within my mind and real or not real wasn’t the point, it was the lesson. What am I learning from this experience? So that ghost in the closet dissolved when I understood it as fear of the dark. That ghost at the old house in Floriston, that little mining town on the I-80…that ghost might have been a different story. But this was the extent of my relationship with anything otherworldly. It might be there. It might not. Either way, what matters is how I handle it.
I come from gypsies, psychics, and Native women remember? The witch thing is my Italian side I think. Anyways, they were experiences that, while outlandish, were never potent enough in form to make me question the fabric of reality because they were stories that had been constructed into the fabric of my reality. While they were “ghosts,” they weren’t real the way we think of things as real and they were not the kind of thing we talked about. That was enough for me.
And then that summer came.
I did mushrooms with my friends on the beach and it wasn’t just a regular day doing mushrooms.
At that time, I was actively practicing yoga and meditation and had been for a number of years. I was also practicing basic ritual of the Wiccan variety and was taking part in community meditations in the woods with a friend of mine who ran the group.
I’d cleansed, for the most part, though was still smoking some weed. It wasn’t a formal cleanse, just a desire to drink and smoke less.
We went to Baldwin Beach in Lake Tahoe early in the morning, set up a blanket with some crystals and a candle, and then the three of us grounded ourselves, set an energetic space in a triangle, and created an energy field. These are visualizations. I wish I could create an energy field DBZ style, but visualizations at the seat of consciousness will have to do. I might write more about this experience later instead of writing it all here. Suffice it to say, doing mushrooms as part of a shamanic ritual is a totally different experience than doing mushrooms with friends at a party–at least it was for me.
I left the beach after some profound experiences with clouds, a bee and a bush, and some fixation I had with drawing triangles in a notebook. Then I went to my friend’s meditation, went home, and ate dinner, listened to music. I went home and things seemed to go back to normal, but over the course of the next few weeks weird things started to happen.
First it was the number 11:11 everywhere. Like everywhere. I looked at the clock at 11:11 morning and night every day. It appeared all over town in any given number of ways. It was on cars and licence plates and it was the dollar amount I spent on gas or groceries. It’s enough to drive a person crazy even though it’s just the same number popping up.
But then there were other things.
A friend and I went to Thai food where I was second guessing signing up for grad school and the waiter came out from the back of the restaurant to take our order. He did so, moved as if to walk away, and then stopped.
“My people, we have a saying. You put your head in alligator’s mouth, you not scared? Nothing happen. You just fine. You put your head in alligator’s mouth, you scared? Alligator bite your head.”
Maybe he had overheard, but it struck my friend as weird also. In this same way, I started to hear the conversations I was having with people echoed in encounters with perfect strangers in bits of conversations overheard in the grocery store or at the beach. I’d think about a song and someone would start whistling it at work. I’d wake up and feel like staying home and someone would call to cover my shift.
My meditations got more intense, the visions bright and clear, and I kept getting messages to help people heal. I’d be listening to music on Youtube and, in the middle of the song, the thing would start in on an ad.
Side note, have you ever noticed that your phone will advertise something to you right after you talked about it? That’s what seeing signs is like, kind of…only the ones to follow are generally less eerie.
One night I dreamed of a snake that uncoiled from my spine and bit me. I don’t remember where. I remember it was a black snake though, with a pearlescent sheen. The dream woke me out of a dead sleep.
The next day, whilst doing my normal yoga practice, I felt particularly stiff as if I had been stiff for days. I sat down to meditate at the end of my practice and felt like a cap had popped in my spine and released energy that had been pent up. A warm flow of light that feels like what happens when the sun clears a hole in the clouds and beams down to earth, only that beam was in my spine and I was a being on earth as much as I was the light itself.
It was bliss. I had no cares at all. Just total trust.
The financial stuff was weird too. I didn’t work much but I’d find money in pockets of old sweaters I hadn’t worn in a while. I got a couple checks from weird sources like fifty bucks from one of those public law suit things that they send mailers out for and a six hundred dollar check from a place I worked at when I was fifteen that had been finding it’s way to me in the mail for almost ten years.
Time seemed fluid. Two weeks felt as long as two years or two minutes. It didn’t matter. I was in a total moment-to-moment total awareness flow, not worried about the future, the past, or anything in between. Just here.
I have journals from then that recount the timeline, but I can’t recall it as linear in my mind.
On one of these days, I was driving along still seeing 11:11 everywhere. At least it wasn’t like floating in front of my face or anything. It wasn’t an apparition. Just the number on the clock or whatever. But I was driving along and the guy on the radio said, “Heads up,” and I looked up to see the pot shop in town across the street. It’s called Heads Up. So maybe this was a sign. I didn’t know. I had no idea what this following the signs nonsense was all about. I’d heard some friends talk about it but figured it was more of that hippy hoowa nonsense.
In the shop, there’s a corkboard by the front door with fliers and business cards and ads for services. On one was an energy healing and meditation class with a former classmate of mine from high school who by now ran her own business as a lifecoach. I hadn’t seen her since 2006 and it was by then 2014.
I called her up and we met the next day. We did some catching up, and she led me to an energy healing class that was more up the alley of what I was looking for. Come to find out, the people who ran the class were the same people who helped to set up the sweat lodge in my back yard when I was eight years old. It was by mere coincidence or what some people call synchronicities, that I was led to an energy healing class that would gift me with some very powerful tools for dealing with the kind of mental or psychic or psychospiritual, whatever you want to call it, that I was encountering and would encounter.
One day I was meditating and jumped into the astral realm where I saw my boyfriend’s astral body. At the time, I was dating a cheating cocksucker who I’d been with for too long despite numerous pieces of evidence of his infidelity. I jumped into the astral realm and saw his self so big and ready to love but so afraid of being hurt. That was hilarious.
I wrote. I wrote a lot. It was like a faucet I couldn’t turn off. I was studying Kabbalah and the tree of life and the sephiroth at the time and red some stuff on Marx and how he predicted capitalism would eventually lead into socialism by its very nature. I watched some documentary on WWII.
This was the scariest part:
The angel Gabriel, who I’ve identified as my archangel since I was seven or so, sent me a message. It was scary because the being had been in my house for a while watching and I’d sensed it, and every few days it would make itself a little more visible. I was too afraid to ask what it was, but accidentally popping into the astral realm lead to this…
When I returned to my body, something was in there with me.
It had wings which attached to my heart, or it’s heart.
And it sat me down on the couch and I wrote for six straight hours. I remember the beginning, sitting down to write, and I remember the end…realizing I’d not stopped.
The piece was basically one of those end of the world, late stage capitalism, doomsday things. It said that they would try to take our art. They would stop funding the arts and critical thinking in education. They would elect a figure head for hate. It said a lot of crazy things, but this is one of those moments I kind of keep to myself for the most part. I didn’t understand it at all. It was the moment that led me to researching channeling as a legitimate interest.
I hardly worked for two weeks but my bills were paid. Things were in flux but happened smoothly and easily, as though by coincidence. It felt very much like freefalling through life. We went to the hot springs in the desert, my friend and I, and saw an owl on the way back, almost hit it with the car actually. The great bird swooped into the road from a fence post marking farm land in the valley. It was grey, round headed–no horns. A barn owl. The owl is the symbol of wisdom, of Athena the Goddess of War, of witches. They are messengers for the other side in many fables.
The women in my family carry owl medicine but I still do not understand what that means except in terms of my own experience. I haven’t found a teacher for that and Native traditions I’ve found paint owl women as witches and bad omens sometimes. That and the stories are oral traditions, not written ones, so finding people who kept those stories for the sake of tradition and were diligent in maintaining the original telling are not as easy to come by as a Google search for a poorly told rendition of a story butchered through a westernized lens. Typical.
My favorite story so far, is that of the Lechuza–a witch who turns into an owl at night, typically a common barn owl, and generally minds her own business unless someone has pissed her off in which case she shrieks in their house, bringing an omen of death, or visits them in bed to frighten them. If she doesn’t return home before daylight, she has to stay in her owl form all day. That would be dope. Turning into and owl. Digesting mice. Flying. Stealthy revenge.
For real though, as delusional as some of this sounds, I’m not so delusion as to think I turn into an owl. Or maybe that’s why there are so many black spots in my memory?
Things were actually great for a while. I was dating a guy at the time who I discovered is a twin flame and we practiced yoga and tantra and that was all cool.
But I had this feeling like I just couldn’t be around him, or needed to be alone, somewhere peaceful. I remember that part quite well…just wanting to be somewhere where I could meditate and find my body again. It felt a bit like I’d ascended through a bunch of interdimensional high vibey realms and got lost on my way back. Or, more it had felt like I’d climbed a great tree and lost my footing on the way down and was now smacking into this branch and that branch on the way.
I got really sick when the energy went away. And when the energy went away I was not just tired, I was exhausted. After four days of a high fever, I went to the doctor but they had nothing for me except drink more water.
I started to see the aliens, the kind I had seen in childhood but that had always remained so splendidly fictitious. They started to appear in my living room. I met four different species though I didn’t speak with them. I was terrified. This was a world I wanted no part of. The blissful happy light stuff from before was great. But not this aliens shit. Now, it seemed like things were happening in the opposite direction. Where everything had worked out before now it was all snags and loopholes.
I had a really bad feeling before leaving the house one day, like the kind of anxiety that makes you want to smoke a cigarette even if you don’t smoke. And we left the house and were twenty minutes down the road when a man in a car chase appeared in the rearview mirror.
He missed our car by a couple inches, if that, before zooming around the next turn spiraling out and splattering himself all over the pavement. That’s not how it works really. There was blood, a spine twisted round so that his head faced the opposite way as his feet, a broken back so that his belly rounded up oddly towards the sky. When the car crashed, it caused a dust cloud like a nuclear bomb.
First, let me say it sounds scary because it was scary until I found a story about what was happening that contextualized it in a way I could understand and until I found a teacher.
I’d had weird experiences before but this one had lasted a long time and it had been way beyond anything I’d ever experienced as far as how viscerally, emotionally, physically, and mentally overwhelming it was. I thought for sure that I was losing my mind and this is when I booked the therapist who would give me a tenuous diagnosis based on the fact that I was perfectly lucid for all of it but the automatic writing part. Otherwise she said she figured I was intelligent and gifted and she looked forward to seeing my work.
It would have been one thing if I were thinking I could fly or had lost contact with my body altogether or if this were one of many such episodes that had severely impeded my ability to work. But this was the first and had been the only.
I explored this with the therapist and in doing research on my own discovered that Carl Jung had used Kundalini as a framework for understanding the mind’s interaction with the unconscious. In fact, Wikipedia notes:
“In the introduction to Jung’s book The Psychology of Kundalini Yoga, Sonu Shamdasani puts forth ‘The emergence of depth psychology was historically paralleled by the translation and widespread dissemination of the texts of yoga…’ for the depth psychologies sought to liberate themselves from the stultifying limitations of Western thought to develop maps of inner experience grounded in the transformative potential of therapeutic practices. A similar alignment of “theory” and ‘practice’ seemed to be embodied in the yogic texts that moreover had developed independently of the bindings of Western thought. Further, the initiatory structure adopted by institutions of psychotherapy brought its social organization into proximity with that of yoga. Hence, an opportunity for a new form of comparative psychology opened up.”
The introduction of yoga and Kundalini Awakenings in the West led to dramatic breakthroughs in psychology because they sought a way to be liberated from the “stultifying limitations of Western though to develop maps of inner experience.” It is descriptions like this that arrive even a century after their creation to describe the nature of Western thought in the field of psychology which make me highly skeptical about a nation of people haphazardly popping pills which they trust will make them better because they get them from doctors…who are supposed to make us better. “Better,” isn’t “cured.” Cured isn’t profitable.
But I’m not in this healing for profit I’m hear for “cured,” so…
Come to find out that symptoms of a Kundalini awakening and symptoms of a psychotic break look pretty similar except a Kundalini awakening is usually proceeded by a cleanse, and regular practice of certain mantras, chants, yoga asanas, and meditation.
Remember the triangle and the snake?
Kundalini is the life force or the shakti, coiled at the base of the spine often represented by a snake, the Hindu term for which literally means Serpent Power. That snake is housed in a triangle.
On page seven of The Hero With a Thousand Faces, Joseph Campbell relates a story about an Australian aboriginal tribe whose coming of age ritual for boys is a circumcision. The story told to the boys is that they must enter the cave where the great snake lives and the snake will eat their foreskins (Campbell, 7).
I find this interesting since the above story demonstrates an encounter with snakes as an initiation ritual into adulthood.
Wiki says that “Kundalini yoga presented Jung with a model for the developmental phases of higher consciousness, and he interpreted its symbols in terms of the process of individuation, with sensitivity towards a new generation’s interest in alternative religions and psychological exploration.”
This was particularly interesting to me as it is about at this time that I re-encountered an old lesson. What had taken me into therapy, into having an eating disorder and rehab a few years earlier was an underdeveloped sense of self. I had failed to achieve identity.
Campbell (back to him) writes about Kundalini as:
“…the figure of a coiled female serpent—a serpent goddess not of “gross” but “subtle” substance—which is to be thought of as residing in a torpid, slumbering state in a subtle center, the first of the seven, near the base of the spine: the aim of the yoga then being to rouse this serpent, lift her head, and bring her up a subtle nerve or channel of the spine to the so-called “thousand-petaled lotus” (Sahasrara) at the crown of the head…She, rising from the lowest to the highest lotus center will pass through and wake the five between, and with each waking, the psychology and personality of the practitioner will be altogether and fundamentally transformed.”
It’s a terrifying image. Likewise, snakes symbolize all kinds of transformations in conscious awareness across cultures and religions from the Garden of Eden and the Fall to, dare I say it? Harry Potter. This state, this transformation, was fundamentally transforming my identity and I would not be the same afterwards.
It was this experience that led me to believe, as fully as I’m capable of believing in this mortal coil perhaps, that there are other beings, other dimensions, gods, angels, demons, and that even if we did meet them on earth, our human brains and limited cultural stories would certainly be so challenged by the idea that most people, I think, would go insane. There’s a big difference between seeing something in a movie and seeing it materialize in your living room. Those things, those beings, those creatures and other realms are no one’s business who can’t even keep their head straight in this world. Thus, I leave them alone. Sometimes they’re around, like when I was a kid, but I have a new understanding of what engaging with them means. There’s as much of a possibility that I’m engaging with some otherdimensional being as there is that I’m just conjuring something to let my conscious brain talk to my unconscious brain. I think that’s fair.
So it did two things. The episode or awakening, whatever you want to call it, made me believe and also made me focus more on the fact that “out there” didn’t matter. It wasn’t about the realms of angles or finding bliss or anything like that. It was after this awakening that I went within and found a self. And then the cycle revolves. It’s a spiral and it spirals back around. The call, though, to any lesson within the rotations, those calls get louder the longer we ignore them.
What was most striking to me though about this episode is how it just went away.
Imagine your reality suddenly expands to include an understanding that there are countless realities just like it all happening at once. And you don’t just understand this, you see them because you are them. You are in your reality and in the you that’s in all the other realities. You go through a regular day to day life paying bills and waiting tables but you’re also the person in the next dimension who got off early. These are not the thoughts I was having whilst in the experience. They are failed attempts to put words to an experience that fails to be captured by them. It went away so suddenly I actually wondered if it had happened at all. It was like that magical moment where Marilyn Monroe’s dress flew up and someone snapped a picture and the whole world stood still for the iconic moment. And then it was the moment after the iconic moment and all the sad and disappointing moments that come afterwards would leave me feeling bitter and unhappy for a while.
It would be longer before I understood that this the necessary balance of energy and that to experience extreme bliss one must also know extreme sorrow. If I keep an eye on the cycles, they seem a pretty even mix of up, normal, down unless something major has happened to displace me from an identity concept. I have been working on non-attachment.
But ever since that summer, whenever I don’t know where to go, I’ll see 11:11 or a tree of life of a picture of a snake and it’s like a wink from God. Sometimes its an owl. Sometimes its a very different sign trying to tell me something else. Usually the signs mean one thing.
You’re exactly where you’re supposed to be.
Believe me, I didn’t want to believe it. Kind of like Bilbo Baggins, I’ve always liked the idea of being an adventurer but leaving home where the bacon and eggs and my hankie and the hearth and warm bed are will induce whining initially. Kind of like him, I did not like the idea of uncomfortable things such as ghosts and angels and aliens.
But if there’s no harm done, that is, if I can look back on that experiences as a cry for change from my subconscious, it informs a lot of what has happened since:
Healing with my family, relationships with men, and now an opportunity to heal myself.
The signs increase as things get more difficult. They usually lead me out of a tight spot when I feel stuck. I will say that I’m more worried when I don’t see signs than when I do.
They don’t always pop up, the signs, and there’s a lot of basic psychology to support this as self-convincing evidence. But that’s the point. Jung said Kundalini was a process in which the conscious mind realized the unconscious. You can believe when you see a ghost that it’s some scary thing in another dimension or you can accept that whether or not it’s there, you’re seeing it.
Maybe I just needed to conjure something physical to explain my anxiety or fear. Who knows.
I will tell you, it works the opposite way.
Conjuring a sign that represents something to you can help you program your subconscious mind to solve the problem more quickly. Say you want an opportunity to go foraging but you don’t know anyone and you’re thinking about that and every day, as a reminder or a hope, you draw a purple flower on your bathroom mirror in dry erase marker and say something like, “This time next year, I’ll be foraging six months out of the year.” In the meantime maybe you read about it or learn about it. The unconscious brain has a way of computing things outside the constructs of the conscious mind that allows it to put together seemingly random connections that the conscious mind, impeded by what the person believes, cannot make. The unconscious can sift through all kinds of information you don’t even know is floating around in there and make connections you didn’t even know were probable. So the universe sends things to you in quite unexpected ways.
Like one day you see a purple flower on a billboard and pull off the road and there’s some random lady who lives in this shack with her dog in the middle of nowhere and has knowledge of edible plants in the area up the wazoo. She needs someone to take care of her house in a few weeks and could she trade plant knowledge for a dog sitter? Hell you’re not foraging for six weeks but you have a roof, a dog friend, a teacher, and some knowledge, hell yeah!
Sometimes the encounters are that random. Other times you can kind of pinpoint the dots. I don’t really know how they work exactly, only that I generally enjoy signs.
More on training the subconscious brain in my next post: On Ritual or Training the Subconscious Mind
Campbell, J., & Joseph Campbell Foundation. (2017). The hero with a thousand faces. Yogi Impressions, May.
Perhaps one of my most profound awakening experiences was my introduction to the metaphorical mirror. Ram Dass talks about Gurus as being a mirror, as being no one at all who shows the student to himself by acting out his subconscious desires in Be Here Now: Guru Found. I honestly can’t believe I’ve never listened to Ram Dass until last Friday. My journey has taken me through many experiences that could have been better informed by some information I’m learning from him.
But the Mirror.
There may be a moment when I started to consciously understand that we are in everything and everything is in us. There are definitely many more moments in my life when I practiced as a separate person and as a Xenophobe. I don’t doubt that this is a thread of consciousness that wheedles its way through everyone’s heart. “I hate people and here’s why,” is a foundation for many satirical, comical, and sometimes quite serious organizations, social media groups, and Youtube channels. The potential to hate others is always within us, a chord waiting to be strummed. All it takes is language or action. The same can be said, however, for the potential to love. Human nature is to sing all kinds of tunes and the circumstances of our lives would have us sing the necessary tunes to adapt to the necessary circumstances for survival.
My instincts and my callings ask me to sing the tune of the life I’ve lived and to do so from a space of compassion for myself and others. So here I am. Here we are.
I was not the kind of kid who liked mirrors, windows, or reflective surfaces. I don’t look like a gargoyle by any means, but the idea of looking into a mirror was one that for me represented distraction, vanity, and the kind of place where unexpected surprises weren’t a good thing. My mother once took quite a long time to do her makeup and we were often late to places, so I resented the mirror. That and I was always afraid something was going to be standing behind me that wasn’t actually there. It’s been one of my larger fears since I was a kid. That whole Bloody Mary game that kids used to play is a game I refused to play, not just because of the mirror but because I had seen enough ghosts and knew well enough how real they could be. Bloody Mary could stay at rest for all I cared.
Perhaps this is why my sister and I didn’t get along for so long. I didn’t like to face my fears.
My sister and I are thirteen months apart. I’m the eldest and once tried to jump on her while she lay helpless and newborn in a chair. It’s unlikely I was old enough to know the consequences of jumping on her, but she still claims I was out to get her from the start. Jokingly now, as we are friends, but we weren’t always. I hated her once with the kind of hatred that can come from just watching someone exist in the world. Just watching them move makes you hate that they are even alive. It’s horrible. People feel this kind of hatred all the time I think or I’m a really nasty person, either way doesn’t change that I was that once. My sister is the only person for whom I have ever felt such hatred and it took a long time for me to realize that the things I didn’t like about her were actually not things about her at all. Yes they were her behaviors, her actions, but the only reason I had for hating her was that these actions she took were actions I didn’t allow myself to take. The things I didn’t like about myself were the things I resented her for. She was loud and complained. I was quiet and read books. She was not great at school. I did homework on the bus before school. She loved people and parties and noise. I hated it all. Leave me alone in a room to create. She needed the world. I wanted as little to do with it as possible. She was so much my opposite I couldn’t see that what I hated about her was in me. It was so deeply repressed within me from never letting it out, that I didn’t even recognize it as my own.
In fact, it was easier to figure out with other people first. I believe, wholeheartedly, that all the things we hate about another person and other people are actually things we hate about ourselves. Every hatred for another person is a metaphor for a hatred you have about some aspect of your personality, whether that personality be whole and integrated or subconscious and segmented. The further someone else is from us in our social sphere, the easier it is to see the similarities we have with them and I think seeing the similarities I had with my sister was hard because they were similarities that informed a central thesis of my identity.
But how do we see the murderer on TV and his intentions within, how do we see the diva with her glam obsession and her perfume line, the man with nothing but a bag of aluminum cans and a beer, the alcoholic ex who you want to save from himself but can’t be with for your own sake…How do we see these people in ourselves? And why? Perhaps why is the first question, but I can only answer it with the simple platitude that by finding the demons of the world within ourselves we encounter the battleground of light and dark in a localized setting. Battling one’s own demons and winning allows one to see the game for what it is. Maybe I can paint a picture of the game later. Maybe you’ll see it. Maybe you do see it. Probably I’m crazy. The game is vast and as frustrating as any mind game you’ve ever played and the payoff is just a continuous discovery that there’s still another loose thread. Life is a game and it’s ultimately serious. It’s all suffering. Suffering is joy. It really does depend on where you’re coming from and where you’re coming from is where you’re going.
I was introduced to the concept that everything is a mirror of one’s inner circumstances by some kind of guru or podcast or new agey thought. Probably it was the Tao, or any other spiritual or religious avenue of study that held some grain of human truth. This attitude of acceptance of all is called Religious Pluralism. I’m not even religious, technically. I call myself woowoo. I kind of believe in a little bit of everything and a whole lot of nothing. I prefer to live a life in suspended disbelief, waiting to see what will happen next in this miraculous world I can only pretend to understand one small measure of.
I am certainly not the first to claim I am you and you are me and we are one. But I’m going to do my best to explain why I think so in more grounded terms than religion or spirituality.
I’ve experimented with what happens when I do not treat myself well to find others did not treat me well either. And, when I treated myself well, things went well. And I did it enough, this back and forth, that I have complete faith in the power of self love to generate love in all of one’s bonds, but here’s what I mean by self-love:
Confidence: I have the confidence to stand in front of an audience today.
Self love confidence: I have the confidence to stand in front of a crowd today because I’m allowed to speak up sometimes. Remember I said I was a quiet kid? My silence was a form of cutting out the impact I made on the people around me, a retreat to a place where I could watch life like a movie or a book, see the characters’ lives play out, analyze. Letting the little girl speak up by trying out public speaking as an adult was a form of self love. It nurtures a part of the self.
Watching and analyzing are not participating. And it’s kind of creepy if you put it that way. I was distant.
Anyways, letting myself talk was a form of self-expression that offered a neglected part of me acknowledgment and a function. My voice. But I wouldn’t learn that kind of self love until later.
Hero Confidence: I’m getting on this stage to stand in front of an audience today because my friends have encouraged me, my family raised me to be strong and brave. Because I love them, I’m going to pretend I’m confident and stand in front of an audience. May I use my voice for the good of myself and others. Let it make an impact that heals.
There’s this moment where opportunity knocks and you can open the door and walk through into another state of being, a different perspective, but only if you close another door behind you.
Get up on the stage and set aside the meek, self-doubting, wretched, wanton thing you can be. Cast away the mask of your victimhood. You cannot hide behind it anymore. That is the door that closes. That is the cost of knowledge. Once you know, you are responsible for being better than you once were or you have chosen, as I once did, to ignore the call to adventure, and your world is a flowerless grey landscape built in the land of the dead, for the dead lack meaning, drive, purpose creativity, soul. I don’t know shit about stability. But the call to adventure is something I feel in my bones. I didn’t have money, gear, time, to go backpacking through Europe…but I had books. They are hardly the same thing, but one will lead into the other eventually. Watch.
Tahoe is a natural wonder. I didn’t have to go further than my backyard to be running through the woods, over creeks, catching the peek of a coyote’s ears over the meadow grass, the shuffle of a bear against a tree, the eye of a porcupine in a flashlight beam dislodged from its home when they built the house behind us. Literally, my back yard.
In the same back yard where we had sweat lodge–I was seven or eight–I was on the porch looking out towards the woods where we ran every day to play and a massive bear came barreling down the hill towards the deck. It was followed by two cubs. The black bears in Tahoe are mellow and fairly accustomed to people which is not a good thing. They become accustomed to people and break into houses and get euthanized because they officially become a danger to people. A fed bear is a dead bear. Be responsible with your trash.
This bear barrels haha. Seriously though, it’s coming right at me and I’m not moving. I’m not even thinking.
I’m not very tall at this point, maybe just slightly taller than the railing on the porch and the bear is running towards me but looking backwards at it’s cubs, past the sweat lodge in the back, towards the steps. It turns mid run, sees me on the porch, and is a mere three feet from me when it makes a hairpin u turn away from the porch and speeds off in the opposite direction, kicking up dust and dry pine needles and followed through the woods by its two cubs.
To be honest, I don’t actually remember if there were cubs or if they are details I have since inserted into the memory. I’ve seen bears and bear cubs enough times that perhaps I have confused some memories. I do, however, remember the dust and how close the bear came, how large its face was and how odd the connection of the head to the body, how fascinating it was that such a large creature could turn so quickly. Those details are clear.
I wasn’t afraid until afterwards.
I had stood my ground against a bear without a peep and I wondered only afterwards that the situation could have ended very differently. It was, perhaps, external dissociation. It was the same state of mind I would learn to go into on the soccer field a couple years later. Call it dissociation or adrenaline. I call it suspension of disbelief. For a moment, I abandon the framework of my current reality to embody the hero self who gets by on instinct, luck, knowledge, and love, courage, selflessness.
Selflessness is a weird word that has come to imply a sort of exaggerated meaning I think. I do not believe in giving up care for one’s self in order to care for another if they show no desire to defeat their shadow selves, but I do it all the time. I think selflessness is a state of equilibrium of identity with the internal and external, in which one understands that they are a voice among many, supported by and supporting many. Being selfish actually cuts off resources because it is a threat based delusion of lack that is being acted upon to create the unwanted state of lack which the act of being selfish is a reaction to in the first place. (More on that in the previous post). That is, one fears something, acts on that fear, and the fear becomes manifest.
In facing the bear, if I were afraid of the bear attacking me and had run as though the bear were going to attack me, I might have triggered the bear’s instincts and it may well have attacked me just because I had run. Instincts are essential to living and clear instincts come from a clear mind. Instead of giving in to the fear, which wild predators can sense in prey, my mind became curious. Curiosity was literally fear transmuted into another emotion. The story could have been, “Holy shit I’m going to die this bear is attacking me.”
Instead it was, “What is this bear doing? It has no idea I’m here. What will it do when it sees me? It’s a lot bigger than I thought it would be. Oh it’s seen me. Look how fast it turned around.”
I started to approach my fights with my sister like my encounter with the bear. I watched with curiosity and let go of all expectation and I started to see her struggle with communication was what led to her frustration and where she found it necessary to communicate with others I found a route to communicate through art, though I didn’t start sharing that until much later. We were both frustrated for the same reason–we didn’t know how to communicate what we wanted and needed, nor were we able to compromise for our lack of communication.
But watching the bear out of curiosity teaches you about the bear, what motivates the bear, what it’s thinking about when it looks behind it to see if the cubs are following, and how it’s surprised because either it didn’t see you there on the porch or it didn’t expect you to still be standing there on the porch. If it saw you on the porch before and expected you to run, it expected you to be defenseless. The fact you are not running could mean you are in fact, not defenseless. The bear changes it’s mind.
Fear is the opportunity to become curious. I believe this is what Sun Tzu meant when he wrote: “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.” Fear is a lens upon which one looks at the world to see his or her inner demons. Curiosity, compassion, and bravery are the lenses which defeat the demons.
The idea of selflessness, I think, is that one understands the self as a contribution to one’s people, one’s culture, and one’s time and also accepts the self for what it is in its time amongst its people whether one’s people value that or not. The key, I think, is to do so without resentment or hatred in the heart. I resent and hate all the time and it’s exhausting. Learning to let it go is a constant exercise in forgiveness for myself and others, overcoming shame and guilt, and learning from the downs. Nothing good has ever come from being mean to others on my end. The karmic backlash is almost always instantaneous. That doesn’t mean I’m not mean. I have a mood disorder remember? I’m really mean sometimes. Not violent. Just brutally honest and generally impatient with unmotivated people. I have no business giving a damn what motivates people so I’m working on that story. Like the sweat lodge, we are one voice in the dark, lighting up the universe with sound, much like the intro of Tolkien’s book of Genesis for middle earth: The Simarillion.
But just because I believe we’re all one doesn’t mean I think we should all be the same. In fact, back to mirrors, I think the more opposite and strange and terrifying someone or something seems, the more one has to learn from it. There’s an element of potential recklessness in that statement that deserves addressing in a moment. But first…
In this translation of The Art of War, Sun Tzu writes:
“Hence the saying: If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.
If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat.
If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”
My sister and I fought so much that I had to learn how to diffuse an argument quickly so I could be left alone. Motivations entirely selfish. I had books to read, things to learn, places to go. She could have been my partner in crime (metaphorically of course) but I wanted nothing to do with most people and did not generally enjoy company other than the company of a cousin and a couple of friends. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy company. I liked to watch people and be among them but I didn’t like to stand out or stand up or be apart from them in any way and being amongst people reminded me of how painfully, awkwardly shy I was. I came to understand projection, or the mirror of the self within the other, when people started interpreting this shyness as being stuck up.
It was quite the opposite, the result of a low self-esteem because of my social awkwardness which I made up for by excelling academically and in whatever activity I poured myself into. I was good at things and people thought I was a snob because of it, but it was lonely. So I started to fuck up. Kind of like Sandra D., “lousy with virginity,” I moved into the world of what looked like adulthood with booze and bars, sex and eventually drugs and rock and roll shows, college and no college, men, no men. Life.
My twenties felt like a game of career and values roulette. I see the masks of identity I hid behind like Barbie’s various outfits and roles. Punk rock Hippie human. College drop out human. Waitress alkie human. That guy’s girlfriend human. Student. Occupation. Belief system. Political leanings. Labels I tried on to try and fit inside of where other people resided with those labels too and I could be comfortable within my tribe.
I searched high and low but I had no idea where to start or even what I was looking for. It just always seemed like whenever I thought the boxes and the labels were exactly what they should be–this job, this lifestyle, this belief system to create this kind of person in this kind of life–there was always something off. No matter how good life became, or even how terrible, it was never terrible enough to give up, nor good enough to give up the search. I believe this emptiness is the call of the hero self to become self realized…the call to adventure.
I adventured through jobs at first…probably still am. The jobs I’ve had include:
Movie theater attendant, grounds keeper, book keeper, waitress, cook, grassroots voice on behalf of The Nature Conservancy, SPLC, and ACLU (that person who stands on the sidewalk and advocates for the rights of trees, starfish, and LGBTQs), door to door salesperson of solar panels, clerk at a liquor store, bartender, caterer, psychic palm reader, tarot class teacher, writer, editor, instructor of English, house cleaner, property manager, clerk at Barnes&Noble, Renaissance Fair actor. How do these all fit into one person? It amazes me that we are capable of putting on so many masks.
It amazes me too, the way fear changes how one interprets the mask. The lens through which one views the mask is a reflection of one’s thoughts.
Those who interpret shyness as haughtiness do so from a place of insecurity instead of understanding. That’s how I tried to understand it anyways. If it appears to them that I am looking down upon them because I’m not summoning the bravery to talk to them, make eye contact, or be fully present. Their interpretive lens is one that comes from an assumption that others will look down on them. It has nothing to do with my intention. They are interpreting my actions through their own narrative framework.
If I were the bear approaching and they were eight year old me, they would run and I would gobble them up.
The story they are telling themselves about me is a threat-based, persecutory delusion. I tell these kinds of deluded stories about other people all the time. I just told one.
I just told a story about what I think people think about me and, to be honest, I don’t think people actually think that much about one another at all. A lot of people are busy thinking about themselves, myself included.
Anyways, does it really doesn’t matter what the fuck people think about you? It actually does. It’s a part of our survival instincts to care about what people think and to try and be useful to our community. So maybe it used to. Does it now? I don’t know. I don’t have answers.
What do you think about you?
I think people tell stories like these to themselves about other people all day long without really focusing too much on its significance in shaping how we view the world.
Did you hear about so and so? They say she did this, blew him, quit her job because blah blah blah, and she was mean anyways.
Gossip is contagious. It gives me the same feeling of agitation I get from watching a binge worthy TV drama.
Try this. Next time someone starts gossiping to you, offer a perspective that paints the subject of gossip in a different light.
Did you hear Chelsea ate a cheeseburger off the floor?
Yeah. Did you ever hear about the ten second rule?
Humor is a good way to diffuse that shit too. But it’s amazing what happens when instead of offering a listening ear to the hateful, you offer a voice to the voiceless. Sometimes the gossip will simply stop talking to me altogether when they find I don’t feed the energy they are looking for. Fine by me. Sometimes I’m the gossip and someone stops feeding my energy and I go, “Oh. I’m being an asshole.” Sometimes I keep right on being an asshole because I feel like it and then get back on the right track when I get a hard enough kick in the pants which sometimes looks like an overdrawn bank account or just general misery. Misery loves company they say.
I’m not even close to perfect. I’m a fucking mess.
But I believe that consciously telling stories about people that are not based in fear, but rather in love, is like facing the bear in curiosity and watching it run away instead of running away out of fear and getting eaten. I would rather believe in people and their ability to rise to the call of the hero and see that in them than believe we are all out to get one another. At the same time, sometimes I fucking hate people. I believe hatred is fear of the self. Therefore the battle is always with the self and actions and thoughts we cultivate to craft the lens through which we view the world. The crafting of the lens is the action of following through with choice based on the perspective one has of what has happened, what is happening, and what might happen.
Imagine this: Next time you absolutely hate someone, ask yourself what you are afraid of becoming?
Next time you are faced with a choice ask yourself: Am I viewing this situation out of love, curiosity, and understanding, or fear?
Actions born of fear make the illusion manifest.
Actions born of faith make miracles.
Having faith in people’s ability to be better than they are might be total stupidity, but this is what I live for I think. I love people and I want people to believe in themselves because I see people who are held back by the mere fact of their insecurities all the time just like I was. I see people whose suffering is the illusion of fear in which they are trapped. We fear winding up nothing and so do nothing and so become what we fear.
I’m here shouting now, using my voice. The way out of your cage, your prison, your boxes, your instincts that tell you to run, is the way out of fear. And the only way out of fear is to dive straight in, for it is in facing fear one becomes brave. Without fear, one cannot be brave. They exist alongside one another and fear is a choice just like bravery.
I argue that to believe in people is the braver choice. What does that even mean?
Back to Sun Tzu:
“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.”
I hated my sister because she was everything I did not want to be, which meant she stood for everything I feared becoming, which meant the potential to become what I feared was within me but was most visible within her.
I didn’t hate her at all. I hated the reflection of my fear realized in her which meant I didn’t see her at all, I saw myself in her.
I hated her because she was causing me to face my most repressed fears every day just by looking at her.
I believe all hatred comes from this place of hating the potential within one’s self to become what we fear. I believe if you hate someone else, it is because you do not know yourself.
“If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”
Notice how knowing the enemy and not the self is not an option. One must know the self in order to know another. One knows the self and the enemy, or one knows neither and suffers always as greatly as one wins because the two, the love of self and enemy, are inextricable. The self is the enemy projected onto other people as much as it is the self we give to people.
Compassion is the ability to temporarily suspend disbelief in the wrongness of another’s identity in order to understand how someone else sees the rightness of their identity. Intolerance, then, is an inability to suspend disbelief that stems from the fear of losing one’s identity or, essentially, a fear of being wrong.
Therefore, admitting one can be wrong is essential to compassion.
The best way to access the place where suspension of disbelief is possible and one can face the bear is to face one’s fears–especially the subconscious and hidden fears which motivate our instincts–otherwise one’s fears will always color one’s interpretation of the world, one’s world will be haunted by fear the conjurer, and we will instinctively run from the bear and be eaten.
I don’t mean go skydiving.
I mean look at yourself in the mirror. Who are you really?
I knew myself, my potential, and saw it realized in the actions of someone else the likes of whom I never wanted to become, only to later try that mask on for size and see that I was missing out.
Often our deepest fears about ourselves hold the richest treasures. But subconscious psyche diving isn’t for the faint of heart. There are ugly truths about the self at the depths of everyone’s subconscious.
My sister and I would later become thick as thieves. It turns out the parts of myself I was hiding are the same parts that manifest in symptoms of a mental illness we share. I discovered I could be as mean, as depressed, as loud, as reckless, as outgoing. It turns out, I would later understand that in hating myself and seeing that self realized in my sister, I had lost the potential for a comrade. In hating pieces of myself I didn’t even know were there.
And instead of being a good big sister I left her to face the world alone.
When I got emancipated and my family moved away and I went to do those things I said I was going to do and be that person I said I was going to be, my parents were still moving their things from the house in Tahoe to the house in the foothills and I was still moving my things out of my teenage bedroom and into my room rented from my boss. We were all busy becoming the way the world, or at least my world, dictated become. There was an emphasis on self-sufficiency, of lack of trust in others, of making it on one’s own.
And I left her alone.
She ate every pill in the house. It must have been later, after they’d moved. I just remember hearing my sister had tried to kill herself, that she was in a psych ward, and I remember thinking that if she was capable of doing that, I didn’t know her at all. I’d lived fifteen years with her and had no idea who she was.
I wrote her an angry letter, telling her how selfish she was–a letter rationalizing all the irrational things. It is the same thing people do when they tell the anorexic to just eat and the depressed person to suck it up.
She didn’t respond at all, but she would tell me later when we learned to love each better, how angry that letter made her, that at one point she wanted to live just to get revenge on me for writing it. She would tell me later when she would also reveal to me that people thought I was stuck up because I was shy. In hating my sister I had limited my perspective about who I was in the world to one that was comfortable but untrue, or at least, only partially informed. My sister knows a lot of things about the world that I do not understand. She knows how people work, what motivates people, when someone’s trying to get something, when they’re being genuine or fake. She was busy living to understand these things while I was busy reading to understand them. The theoretical understanding is not the same as the applied knowledge. She always seemed afraid, but she was braver because she lived it instead of reading about it. She might have seemed dumber because she didn’t read, but my ability to read social cues was elementary. She might have seemed weaker because she couldn’t just suck it up and do as she was told, but maybe she was stronger because she couldn’t just suck it up and do as she was told.
From her perspective, I was just as vile as I thought she was. Did she feel this way every time I looked at her? This small, dark, twisted, ugly, rejected thing? And how would it feel to know your big sister treated you like that? And your parents? To come into this world wanting nothing but to communicate only to find that doing so too often or too loudly will make people tune you out?
What did I know about her?
What did I know at all?
Facing one’s fear looks like admitting one knows nothing. Facing one’s fear looks like curiosity. Facing one’s fear looks like innocence, trust, vulnerability, honesty, and integrity. Facing one’s fear is knowing the enemy within the self so we can recognize it when it pretends to be another, name it, and bravely look beyond it to the truth.
Fear and hatred are self-sabatoge.
Luckily, the inverse is also true.
Care, attention, kindness, honesty, vulnerability are self fulfilling.
You get back what you put out, that old rule of three.
I used to think that this meant if I put out thirty dollars I’d get back ninety or if I gave out kindness I’d get back kindness, but the rule of three plays off subconscious intention as much as conscious action. If you put out thirty dollars with the intention of getting ninety back, you’ll probably lose a hundred dollars if a part of you doubts. If you befriend someone with an ulterior motive to improve your own self image, you are doubtless being an asshole.
And a part of us always doubts. And a part of us always wants. And a part always hates and a part always loves.
Which one do we feed when? Are they all valid?
One would say feed fear in times of trouble, perhaps, but maybe love and understanding are more powerful deterrents. Probably loving my sister would have made childhood easier for both of us. Probably being afraid of the bear would have ended in disaster.
The most powerful stories of the Hero’s Journey are about the overcoming of fear with the power of love.
Jesus surrenders his life to God, opting for faith and love instead of fear.
Harry’s worst fear is a dementor: the embodiment of fear itself. He overcomes his fear by recalling his mother’s love.
Franklin D. Roosevelt famously said, “…let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear…is fear itself.”
He gave this inaugural speech at the height of an economic crisis we call The Great Depression, and continued later in his inaugural speech with this:
“The money changers have fled from their high seats in the temple of our civilization. We may now restore that temple to the ancient truths. The measure of the restoration lies in the extent to which we apply social values more noble than mere monetary profit.
Recognition of the falsity of material wealth as the standard of success goes hand in hand with the abandonment of the false belief that public office and high political position are to be valued only by the standards of pride of place and personal profit; and there must be an end to a conduct in banking and in business which too often has given to a sacred trust the likeness of callous and selfish wrongdoing.
Restoration calls, however, not for changes in ethics alone. This Nation asks for action, and action now.”
Now is the time, when our nation is twenty-two trillion dollars in debt, to take the actions that “apply social values more noble than mere monetary profit,” so I write here that I may go into the world with these reminders on my fingers. This NPR article says, “‘Other than the period immediately after World War II, the only other time the average deficit has been so large over so many years was after the 2007–2009 recession,’ the CBO said last month.”
That recession was caused by a bunch of wallstreet guys and bankers giving out loans to people who couldn’t afford them to get commissions where money wasn’t going to come in to temporarily live out something good wolf of wall street style. I think back on my first memory of the butterflies, imagining capturing them all for one flight across town only to soil their wings with the oil on my fingers and kill them all forever.
Let’s look at this through the eye of fear thing from an economic perspective. Peter Schiff is an economist who predicted the 2008 economy crash and explains the balloon economy we are in well enough for dullards like me to understand on a basic level. That and I saw what the bubble burst in Japan did in the eighties because I read a Japanese comic book about a character in the eighties and there are empty, half constructed or abandoned hotels on the coastline of Miyazaki, where I visited, to demonstrate a bankrupt economy’s lack of resources. The buildings were too expensive to tear down. So they stood abandoned. A bubble is no joke and the one we’re in is the largest in our civilization’s history. Schiff also says that, “…the free market does have a cure: it’s called a recession, and it’s not fun, easy or quick. But if we put our faith in the power of government to make the pain go away, we will live with the consequences for generations.”
His recommendation is to go into the eye of the storm in order to heal.
I’m not here to convince anyone of anything. These are just examples I’m using to relate an experience that convinced me along the way, among many other experiences. This is just one way of many ways to follow the journey of the hero.
The mirror: a tool for new perspective, overcoming fear, building compassion.
I have not seen in my lifetime a person who took power without pride, personal profit, or in recognition of the falsity of material wealth in the public sphere. The goal is not perfection. It is an attempt to be better than we are despite the fact that we probably will fuck up.
Isn’t that the same idea as the Christian God telling me to do his bidding but that I will always sin?
The language is different, but the meaning is the same. I am not afraid to admit the truths apparent in things that make me uncomfortable just because they make me uncomfortable. I do this in the name of love.
Fear is most powerful when we are most vulnerable. Therefore bravery is most effective when we are most at risk of failure. My refusal of the call to adventure had cost me greatly and it was now time to heed the call. So I chased the things that made me vulnerable as a promise to never again let someone I loved down.
For although I vehemently despised my sister, I also loved her more than anyone in the world. It’s funny how all things lead into their opposites.
I think that’s what Schiff was talking about. It’s not a market cycle. It’s a natural cycle. Every cycle has an inverse and must experience that inverse cyclical for health. This is a concept I relate to very well, since the way my mind functions is labelled cyclothymia: Moods that move in cycles.
Sometimes when we had bad dreams, my sister and I would sneak into each other’s rooms and tell stories to comfort one another. I was terrified of the dark and was more often than not wound up in her room in the morning after some night terror or ghost encounter or perhaps just a hallucination from lack of sleep. I don’t know. But as much as I didn’t want to like my sister, I greatly loved presence in my life, at least in some ways.
In the eyes of a strata-based, individuated, single mother household in which mom was a woman in the workplace who had to climb the workplace ladder with two kids, it appeared that what would be good for me as an adult would be the ability to take care of myself and to never rely on someone else. I figured out how to take care of myself and others emotionally because emotions made me uncomfortable and I wanted them to go away as soon as they arose and an acknowledged emotion is an assuaged emotion. Emotions were messy. They disrupted the tranquility of my mind and I watched them control the people around me like they were possessed not realizing that stuffing my feelings down and showing no emotion meant I went into puberty with no emotional intelligence and had no fucking idea how to handle emotions that came from hormonal changes.
I was a weridly logical and fantastical kid who was not at all prepared for becoming female in all its muchness. It has taken me a long time to embrace the awesome power of femininity and to use that power for good instead of for personal gain. It also took me time to see that, in the archetypal sense, emotions are the intellectual landscape of the feminine. Emotions like hatred, pride, anger, fear, resentment, jealousy, rage, smallness, not enoughness, vulnerability, and vanity are doorways into their opposites. One may take the way around and do well enough. One may whether the eye of the storm, on the other hand, and witness the awesome and unimaginable transformation of perspective.
I judged women who were girly girls for being vain, only to find that they were much kinder and humbler than I was.
I judged people who were handed their futures for saps when my future was coincidentally handed to me and I was taken for a sap.
I judged the people who stayed cooks their whole lives only to realize I’d been a cook my whole life.
I judged being a cook as a bad thing only to find I love it.
There is something about going away from what we love and coming back around to it like this from a different angle, physically, mentally, spiritually or metaphorically, that enhances the depth of love. It becomes steadier. Sturdier. Truer. The boat rocks all the time still but one is thrown in the water less often.
If one denies the call, they are stuck in the lesson and it comes back later, sometimes much later. If one fails to meet the demands of the call the lesson comes back later. If the lesson isn’t learned in this lifetime, we accrue karma and come back to this earth plane in another lifetime, perhaps as something else, to learn the lesson. That’s Buddhist, right? I like the idea of it. But then I think about how we treat birds and fish and pretty much the whole planet and realize it would fucking suck to be a polar bear today. If I’m going to learn lessons, let me learn them with opposable thumbs so I can do something about it. If the economy is going to heal only through a recession, why stave off the inevitable and make it worse? These are things I know nothing about. Just metaphors.
And then, go figure, I answer the call only to find that for me, the best way I’m able to do anything about anything is by sitting down with my opposable thumbs pinched to my middle fingers, pointed up on the knees, meditate, breathe, sit in prayer to whatever you believe in. Write.
I didn’t want to write from a place of illusion. And then I found the mirror meditation.
As I think I mentioned, I was quite terrified of mirrors and the dark. After moving home at 25, I meditated one night on the idea of identity I think. Whatever it was, I pulled a tarot card, an Oracle card actually from the Isis Oracle Deck, which has a strange story of how I came by it and where it went, a story for another place.
The meditation asked that one sit in the dark in front of a mirror with a candle and directed one to look one’s self in the eyes for as long as you can tolerate. Then write the experience down. Do that for a week.
After a week I was no longer depressed, afraid of the dark, or mirrors or myself for that matter. My sister and I grew closer. It was a profound experience and I would recommend trying it from a place of curiosity, self discovery, forgiveness, love, and bravery. If you are afraid, you might do more harm than good but I believe in the cyclical nature of things and that whatever you’re avoiding will come around in some way eventually if you follow the Hero’s Journey, because the Hero’s Journey is the call to face the self. I can’t say what might be missed from not trying the mirror meditation, as I have tried it. I can say, it’s bizarre. Psychedelic without the drugs. Healing. For someone with cyclothymia whose mood moves with the natural cycles or along with her circadian rhythms (sometimes we are called witches), the mirror journey might be a good one to take when you are feeling lost in the self. Like anything, overuse of a ritual or tarot, medicine or money, will result in a lack of efficacy.
I’m reading Pacific Northwest Foraging: 120 wild and flavorful edibles from Alaska blueberries to wildhazelnuts, by Douglas Deur, a compendium focused mainly on native wild plant species and their propagation/preservation.
Deur’s approach influences readers and foragers to focus on what “Kiowa author N. Scott Momaday has called […] ‘reciprocal appropriation,’”(19) a method of respecting, cultivating, and honoring the plants that nourish us in such a way as to give back both physically and even, he goes so far as to say, spiritually.
Momaday explains reciprocal appropriation as follows:
“I tried to express the notion first that the Native American ethic with respect to the physical world is a matter of reciprocal appropriation; appropriations in which man invests himself in the landscape, and at the same time incorporates the landscape into his own most fundamental experience,” (https://www3.dbu.edu/mitchell/momadayh.htm).
I did not know that my own formulation of an identity relied so heavily on my relationship with the landscape. I was raised in some rendition of cultural appropriation of the “Native” framework (in quotes because I don’t even know what kind of Native traditions I grew up with or how much of that was white washed) that has me tied to old world ways of relating to the land that are essential to the formulation of my identity. In short, without a dialogue with the land in which I offer it respect and sustenance as it sustains me, life feels empty and pointless. I’m just made that way. I think many of us are and have within us this primal instinct, I just happen to cultivate intuition and instinct more than I do knowledge and certainty.
I do not identify with cities, city dwelling, or city life in almost any regard. The city was as alien to me as I was to it. The more I learn about the land and spend time with it, the more I look back over the last six months and see how completely out of my mind I was. It’s a bit overwhelming and it is also nothing new.
My mind is a messy, complex, vast network of possibilities and potentials upon which I sometimes fear to act, especially in new environments when I am unfamiliar with the territory, the people, the ways of things. I fear my own potential to be destructive both towards myself and others. And yet inaction is still action and one that can be as destructive as any. My inaction began to take the form of cowardice, depression, a shrinking away from life, purpose, and intention.
I felt stuck. I don’t even know what I felt. Trapped in a body. It’s a feeling like the spirit is too big for the body. Dissociation is what it amounts to. I dissociate. The world becomes my bed and a stream of movies that imply all kinds of things about how the world works without actually saying anything about what’s real. Real becomes relative.
The idea of getting a job in which I work my way to the top of some kind of ladder, or in which I work for the mere sake of making a living because that’s what people are supposed to do because hive mind mentality makes me physically and mentally ill. I lost all motivation to do anything. I have not written here for more than a month. I hardly left my room even as the bank account and food in the fridge dwindled to nearly nothing.
Don’t get me wrong. I tried. I started a landscaping job which only lasted a day because intuitively I sensed a need to connect to the land…but landscaping is not connecting to the land in this reciprocal appropriation fashion, in such a way that the knowledge of, reliance on, and stewardship over the land become imbued in the formulation of this identity.
The influence of civilization upon the formulation of a new identity is one I feel like a septic stab wound. There’s a part of me that thinks I’ve outgrown this dramatic thinking as my ego simultaneously indulges in it. It’s the same kind of end of the world thinking we indulge at the fringes of consciousness during this pandemic…a possibility so outside the realm of normal it’s maybe impossible.
The veil between sane and insane, dead and alive, normal and chaos is as flimsy as a belief.
Possible has nothing to do with what we want, and yet we make up stories to constrain it within such parameters to the best of our ability because sanity is in security.
A striking characteristic of this mental landscape in which I make my nest, what has been deemed cyclothymia or a mood disorder on some kind of spectrum, is my insistence on following intuitive guidance. I’m obsessed with undoing the frameworks of thought influenced by my culture. I’m aiming always to tear them down, to experience the innocent mind in the purity of unindoctrinated experience.
It’s one reason I loved getting insanely black out drunk. I thought that’s what it meant to let go.
Do you remember the last time you thought an original thought? Do you remember the last time you thought without words or panic? Do you remember the feeling of experience without judgement? Do you let your mind go to places it doesn’t understand or do you shut the door to experience to protect your judgements of the way things should be?
The land provides this if you can be brave enough to step into your body and leave your mind behind.
Even in foraging, if my intuition tells me not to mess with a plant, even if it’s edible, I don’t. Our intuition knows.
Science and rationality are important and have contributed wonderful advancements to our medicine, our way of life, our modern conveniences. But science and rationality are worshipped as the gods of certainty, testaments to our great, fat societal ego.
I believe wholeheartedly that nothing is certain and that to cling to certainty and security are damaging, addictive inclinations which are responsible for our continued maltreatment of ourselves as natural beings and of the earth.
I reject most of our societal belief systems and so I must make my own way intuitively. This used to be something that caused within me a deep resentment towards people, but I am learning again to be happy in my own skin in my own weird inclinations and my total lack of motivation towards earning money and to live and let live. Many people do this. I’m certainly not unique in this regard. But to find one’s way through the world when money doesn’t motivate can be…well scary.
Without money we have little security I thought.
But the call to meet the self is intuitive. To rely upon science and rationality to such an extent that the self is negated, the intuition castrated, is to submit the self to the collective. It’s a surrender to the hive mind, a joining with the Borg, a refusal to be in and feel the present experience and to express one’s self appropriately in tandem with the experience. I’m radically against the hive mind because I think the hive mind makes people sick.
The hive mind is what people talk about when they say people are stupid. The panic and fear that erupted from the Covid-19 pandemic are hive mind mentalities. So, too, is the overwhelming display of camaraderie and kindness of people joining together in a time of hardship.
It’s a place where we agree.
It’s a place where individual experience is diluted into the all and becomes another voice in the echo chamber of what appears to me to be a sick civilization. I needed to clear my head of the voices—the self-induced schizophrenia of news and social media and feedback and opinions and inspiration.
The experience of the self and the void within is met sometimes by the refusal of the call in the form of what Campbell reveals is sometimes an outright rejection of the ways of life through forced introversion, a means by which we meet the existential problems of the hero on a magnified scale beyond the constraints of the mind where they are resolved. It is a temporary journey of insanity. The journey back to sanity requires the booms from this void and period of introversion be reincorporated into life successfully. Otherwise we remain mad.
I like people, but even the people I like best exhaust me a after a while. I am an extreme introvert and feel the influence of television, people’s opinions, books, music, noise, energy like intoxicants. The flow of life gets me drunk and sometimes I turn into a lifeaholic, looking for the next thing and the next. The influx of other people’s lives upon this existence starts to become like any other intoxicant, a bandaid over a hole and then a wadded up ball of soiled linens shoved into a gaping wound where a me used to be and now just a bloody emptiness.
Plants and the study of the ground beneath my feet became a paramount concern influenced by a strongly intuitive sense that I MUST learn.
The ways of life as it is accepted by many are unappealing to me to such an extent that to settle I must first know my feet on the earth here, my moods in the water, my thoughts on the wind.
Weirdly, I cannot and do not settle on a job until I have learned to forage some herbs, some horsetail shoots, ingested and invested in the landscape. I am from a place where the land and the water formed the fundamentals of my personality and I did not leave that place for longer than a year at a time before returning.
Black Hawthorn, he writes, is a thorny, deciduous shrub or tree with sharply serrated leaves famous for intoxicating birds that dine on it’s overripe fruit. The seeds contain cyanide, so probably best not to eat those, but the berries are good for turning into jams and preserves, something I’m happy to experiment with.
This is how I spend my time lately. I learn about the plants around me, how they can be used for medicine, eaten, prepared, and cultivated. I’m getting grounded here. I’m returning to my body from the far, far away place my mind wandered off to when I moved here in the fall.
Of all the things I’ve noticed with this mood disorder, it’s the unquestionable and infuriating element of time. Sometimes time is the only healing ingredient.
Time for me to adjust to a new setting is six months. Six months it has taken for me to get established in something like a life here, in such a way I do not feel on edge anymore or lost or wandering or plain out of my mind. I’ve cultivated some sense of purpose merely by learning about plants.
Most of what you’ll get now from me will be about what grows here, about forest excursions, about forage finds and weird plant recipes, about how my relationship with food and nature begins to influence sanity.
Here, for now, is a leaf-bare Black Hawthorn, wielder of bird booze and thorns. This book mentions also
A while ago on this site, I wrote about trying to manifest 100K in a day and how, instead, I found a hundred dollars on a park bench.
I’ve since manifested wealth and abundance in a completely different fashion. I stopped worrying about the money altogether.
No more worries.
I addressed in Manifest, how we have subconscious belief systems that act as blocks and when we manifest, those blocks surface so we can face them.
Here’s how I understand the block around money.
Because I must use money to keep myself alive, I have viewed money as a direct link to my survival and security and even as what stands between me and my own place in the world. Maybe it’s just me, but this feels like a pretty logical viewpoint as well as a really sad one.
In the docuseries, The Pharmacist, Dan Schneider, a grieving father asks, “What’s one life worth?” And while most of us would like to say a life is priceless, I think many can relate to treating themselves as worthless.
However the rise of what’s called the quarter life crisis, something I talked a bit about in Are Millenials the Hero Generation, marks a time and a generation of people who are redefining values. As a generation, we are, in a way, more privileged than our forebears in being able to understand from watching them that human beings need more than just a job, some dough, and a roof in order to live healthily and happily.
This post was, at first, a long ranting thing about values and time and using time wisely, about saying no, setting boundaries, and standing up for what you believe in no matter how tough.
But I think at the heart of all of it is a pretty simple concept:
Time is the real currency.
I took a class this week that talked about selling an online course before you’ve even finished it. Essentially all schools do this. Teachers are hired in and build their courses while students are applying and moving into dorms. The premise was you get paid for selling the course. You can spend all kinds of time building it, but that won’t pay your bills. So you essentially buy yourself time.
Similarly, you can spend all kinds of time talking about what you do, posting about what you believe in, and bitching about how people suck, but ultimately the things we complain about in others are things we have denied about ourselves and ultimately the time we spend complaining is the time we spend not doing anything to fix it.
Think about it.
What would your life look like if you truly believed in every action you took?
I’m not talking “believed” like you mentally and consciously support your own actions. I mean “believed” like you have so much faith in your moral convictions that action according to them is second nature. You don’t even think about it.
Now imagine your moral convictions are unexamined fears and suppressed instincts from people telling you not to do this or that or follow your dreams or whatever and now you see someone following that dream and a secret part of you hates them for it because you never took that step, or you see a gay couple and it offends you because you were taught to fear that and never bothered questioning it. And imagine you hate that dreamer or those gay men but it’s so second nature you don’t understand why. You just feel that way and that’s it.
Manifestation asks you look at why you have the feelings you have, the biases, the desires.
If this sounds tedious and boring and difficult that’s because it is. Nothing worth having, being, or doing comes easily because pleasure in things earned with effort is wired into our primal instinctual rewards system. Its what sustained us through the hunt and it’s why running feels so damn good when you get past the wall.
It’s the same system that gets hijacked when we find something like booze or alcohol that offers immediate satisfaction and is why so many addicts don’t do much of anything else with their lives.
Think about it: every effort we spend complaining, blaming, shaming, finger pointing, and deciding who did what is another moment not spent creating, cultivating, doing, talking about and acting upon solutions, healing and bridging gaps.
So if time is the real currency, if time is all we have, doesn’t it make sense to make the time to figure ourselves out so that we can see beyond our fears and stop wasting time blaming each other or waiting for someone else to do something?
Would you rather spend your time getting to understand what motivates you or blaming someone else for what motivates them?
If it’s the latter, I dare you to spend a whole day alone in contact with no one else stone cold sober.
Why should someone following their dream make you unhappy?
“He’s always spacing out or talking about race cars. Like honestly, I wish he’d just pay attention to his side work!”
Why the fuck do you care? Does it make more work for you? Yes? So what? Do you have to do that work? No. You are choosing to. Are the bosses going to change it? Are you the boss? No? Then do your fucking job or get a new one.
It sounds harsh but if communication fails, those are the options. It’s not about sucking it up. It’s about what you value.
Do you value the job enough to deal with picking up the slack? Do you respect the people there? Do you respect yourself? Do you even need to pick up the slack? Why does it bother you so much? You do care about your job? You don’t. So why do you care about that guy who is slacking off? Why do you care about getting the work done? Why bother picking up the slack? Why bother being there at all?
And say in the second example, for instance, you see a gay couple and it makes you uncomfortable enough to dislike them.
Dude and/or dudette…ask yourself what they threaten.
If you’re Christian, hating or judging someone is against your religion, FYI.
Jesus hung out with the hos and the leppers, drank wine and was all about the down-with-the-man mentality. He even flipped a table in court.
And seriously if you dislike a couple for being gay…what does that say about how strong your convictions are about your own sexual orientation?
I’m suggesting if you dislike gays you fear them because you don’t understand what would compel someone to sleep with someone of the same sex which demonstrates that your capacity to understand various forms of love is unexamined and limited in which case you are willfully ignorant or willfully spiteful because of your own ignorance.
That is, since you don’t understand it, you also don’t know just what could turn you gay! So you’re hatred is fear because you do secretly fear the existence of a gay switch in your brain.
FYI: you don’t just turn gay.
And there’s no such thing as “I just don’t like it.”
No. There’s a reason you don’t like it and if you don’t know what it is then you have chosen to stand by that unknown reason that was probably planted by your racist grandpa instead of thinking for yourself.
Or you’ve chosen to dislike the gays consciously!
In which case you are a coward. All hate and dislike comes ultimately from fear. Hate is a product of cowardice.
This sounds so mean and judgmental but I am all of these things. I am not judging you. Just observing what I notice.
Any fear or anger or triggers you have right now are your responsibility to deal with and are a direct result of your interpretation of these words. I have very little to do with how you think. If I do, you might be giving me too much credit. If you are, it’s probably because you aren’t crediting yourself with those pesky thoughts that are indeed yours.
George Bernard Shaw said, “Hatred is the coward’s revenge for being intimidated.”
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m as guilty as anyone of blaming my problems on external forces and other people. And I often do this when I’m overwhelmed and scared and don’t know how to get to a better place. It is a natural instinct.
But when I choose, eventually, to examine the fears, the first step is to find out who I’m blaming, figure out the root of that fear in myself, and choose to take new action based on a newfound responsibility for my experience in this world.
I’m trying to demonstrate that literally every problem you have with the world is a problem you have with yourself and until you settle with yourself it’s hard to know which problems are really worth fighting for and believing in.
I know. It sucks. You don’t like it and neither do I but ultimately, that’s what it comes down to.
Sad about global warming?
Fight it or chill the fuck out.
Angry about that gossip at work because she ruined your reputation?
Frustrated because your kids are loud and screaming all the time?
I would be too. But dammit if resistance is what makes that suck.
What if screaming kids meant healthy happy kids and we associated that with joy?
Instead it’s associated with chaos and chaos isn’t conducive to security so no, we don’t like screaming kids. Still, that’s a problem you have with yourself. That is your view of things and the story you are engaged in is creating unnecessary resistance if the only reason you believe in it is because that is what you were told to believe.
It’s a cultural story, yes.
And it’s the reality that screaming kids are annoying because culturally people have decided that. Cultural assent is how we determine reality. But really you are not your culture. You have decided. And you can decide differently. And to do so does change your reality and maybe even can help to change others’ realities.
Like if your kid is screaming and someone else is telling you to shut them up and it bothers them but not you, it’s their problem.
That being said, some stranger shouldn’t just tell your kids to shut up and letting your kids go on screaming without showing them why it’s not cool is going to hurt them eventually when they don’t understand their influence on the people around them.
So it’s your problem for a different reason than you just hate screaming. It’s your problem because you u sweat and your kids must learn to communicate in order to survive.
There’s a big difference between teaching your kids not to scream because it’s good for them to communicate well vs. telling them not to scream because you just can’t stand it.
One accepts that part of them and shows them how to use it constructively or at appropriate times. The other rejects that part of them altogether and creates feelings of shame and guilt which become these subconscious whys which we end up having to unravel later as we are doing now.
If desire is the root of all suffering and you desire that which is to be different, you will suffer. Check out anything by Eckhart Tolle on this. He’ll be in Seattle May 16th if you’re in the area.
But we are only human. Undoing all subconscious bias is the work of spiritualists on the path to enlightenment. Undoing those with which we suffer is the way to contentment. And undoing takes time, effort, and determination.
So we must pick our battles. What makes you suffer such that you MUST change it. What makes you suffer such that you can deal, and what is making you suffer that doesn’t make any sense to be suffering over?
At the heart of all emotions are either Love or Fear. It sounds simplistic and trite but this inception can be a very powerful tool for being honest, forgiving, and genuine.
I like to call the love or fear rule the “no buts rule.”
The no buts rule basically states that you take action to change what you don’t like, or you let it go and live with it because if you are not acting in love you are acting in fear and the law of attraction says you get back three times what you put out. So if you’re complaining about something you’re not going to fix, you’re actually just part of the problem since you’re acting out of fear which is going to generate more fear—this the threefold rule.
The no buts rule also means, then, if you’re into manifestation and the law of attraction or the basic scientific concept of cause and effect, that if you are trying to solve a problem from a place of fear you are going to create things made of fear-based concepts. And fear based concepts are inherently victimizing, and are thus disempowering. So trying to solve a problem with fear doesn’t work.
There is no room for hatred and meanness and excuses and complaints if everything is motivated by either love or fear. You either take responsibility or accept complicity. It sounds harsh but hear me out.
Anger is fear disguised as a desire for the cause of the fear to not be there. Anger is also a way of making the responsibility for confronting that fear you hold someone else’s. Instead of understanding the root of your cowardice and owning it, you blame. This is easy. Children do it. I think adults do it more, honestly.
Courage is taking action to change what you don’t like or want and is fueled by love…for one must love the self and/or one’s people in order to dislike one’s circumstances in the first place. Why else would a person desire a change? The change is in favor of the self or one’s people…therefore the courage to act to create change is born of love.
Sometimes it’s courageous, for instance, to listen to someone whose opinions make you squirm with discomfort. you are learning. You are understanding. And you are allowing what is without trying to change it. You are solid enough with your own convictions to hear out someone else’s without your own being threatened.
The person motivated by fear loves too, but not enough to face his or her own fears. The fear becomes another’s responsibility to alleviate or fix or change and the coward is thusly selfish.
So courage is also born in fear but is not the victim of it. Selflessness, born of love, motivates the courageous to face their fears, who understand that if they do not, others will have to.
The unexorcised fear becomes a lens of subconscious projection on our perception of the world and the people we love fall victim to the blame and anger and neglect that rub and grate on the nerves, reminders always of those buried skeletons in our closets.
I have ignored a couple for so long I almost forgot they were there.
It takes just a small modicum of emotional intelligence to understand that love and fear are at the heart of all emotion. Kids know it without doubt. It takes all kinds of humility, curiosity, and willingness to admit fault enough to say that most of what I have been thinking, feeling, and doing has been motivated by fear.
And it takes unraveling those pesky whys.
It takes courage to admit that I am only human, can only change so much, and am complicit in many things I do not want to be complicit in simply by being a law abiding citizen of this nation.
What’s cool about the no buts rule is that by accepting complicity in the things I don’t like but am not taking action to change, I am practicing forgiveness and understanding. It becomes very easy, when one is understanding of his or her or their own faults and hypocrisies, to understand the faults and hypocrisies of others and to forgive.
The first time I dove into my whys I discovered that my fear of food came from my fear of the background processes of production in our country about which I was unaware. Poor treatment of animals in factory farms, chemicals, nitrates—I was afraid of what I was unwittingly participating in.
And digging a bit deeper…the reason I felt a need to control any of this at all was that I’d been controlled and manipulated my entire life because I never spoke up or stood up for myself. I could change that about myself.
People do go through life without feeling like they need to control things and they do just fine for themselves. Could I do that?
When I dove deeper I realized my fear was that there was nothing I could do to take down American factory farming and short of having my own land and growing my own food and raising my own animals, I was going to have to learn to live with my complicity.
So my relationship to food was a desire to control what was out of my control from my perspective.
I could have left rehab and started picketing factory farms and educating people about what’s in their food, but I’m no nutritionist. That’s not an excuse. I didn’t want to picket. Plain and simple.
So I had to work within my Sphere of Influence to create change. What I was able to influence was how I ate, what I believed about nutrition and the body and nature’s way of overcoming human fuck ups, and how I related to my food overall.
Since, I’ve learned to cook, farm to table, scratch cooking, and use-all-parts so that I’m not only able to eat healthier but more sustainably. Buying local helps and creating local initiatives.
If you can’t or won’t do anything about it, probably it’s not your problem or you are creating a problem to avoid self-examination and doing the work, which I do all the time, especially when I have deadlines to meet.
Why forgive? Because no one is perfect.
So I’m examining the blocks around manifesting money.
And the belief is that money is my livelihood.
But even if I have money, life doesn’t change or become suddenly easier because I’m still me.
Thinking that life would be better if I had more money is an excuse that actually prevents me from acting as though I can make life better right now. It is also a statement that I value materialism despite saying I don’t. Saying I don’t value money is a protection mechanism to avoid understanding that I do value money and have simply not taken the time to understand what fears have demonized it in my subconscious.
“Money is the root of all evil.”
“Money is time.”
Here are a couple of examples.
I recall coming from a poor family and feeling neglected because my parents had to work hard to keep a roof over our heads and food on the table. To me, this meant that money was responsible for why my parents could not spend time with me.
Money equals neglect.
Money is more important than children.
I was given my parents’ money more than their time.
I didn’t want to examine this fear because I think it hits on a pretty foundational belief about victimization and power.
My family has a poor history with money and there are stories on both sides about people betraying each other or disowning each other because of squabbles over who gets what. This buzzard mentality disgusts me and makes me fear that I have within me this capacity to value wealth and Mine more than my family and friends.
Yesterday DJ and I were walking to the store and spotted a couple of rabbits in a driveway. I pointed them out and he kind of laughed. Then, on the way home, I’d bought a bag of Cuties and was excited to share them with him.
The feeling of sharing like this reminded me of being a kid. Do you remember being a kid? Do you remember that feeling of finding something you love, some shiny new thing or some flower and immediately wanting to share it with the people you love because you love them?
I was overwhelmed by the innocence and the pure motivation of love and how long it felt like it had been since I’d had that kind of trust with someone.
I love this and want to share it with you because I love you.
Money was a placeholder for my own subconscious sense of self worth.
If money equaled neglect then it was more important than I was. If it was more important than I was, then I was going to have to earn some to be important to anyone.
Subconsciously I believed this just based on the experiences of my youth, even though I’d been taught to value people and intangible things like presence and love and forgiveness and compassion.
Consciously, this belief system became hatred of money, of wealth, and of anyone who has or takes more than they need.
But it’s not up to me to decide what people need. And if money is more valuable to my people than I am, I’m not with the right people. And if I hate money and people who have a lot, it’s because I think I don’t have a lot because of them instead of realizing I am blessed and have been too greedy and blind to acknowledge it. Yes, greedy. There’s that hatred is the coward’s revenge thing. I was hating people who I thought were greedy but it was greed which created this hatred to begin with.
If I want money I can go get it or I can shut the fuck up about it.
You know what?
I don’t want a bunch of money.
That’s why I don’t have it. If I did, I would have worked for money. But I am not motivated enough by money and material stuff to really try to get more than I need.
And yet we must have money to participate in our survival within this culture.
So here’s what I found out I actually want:
Quality time with my people.
Time outside with my dog in nature.
An open mind.
To give back and help my community in what ways I’m most effective at doing so.
To be kind. I aim for kindness but I can be quite moody.
I’m not saying money doesn’t help with some of these things.
But I learned that the mentality of being “poor” is essentially one in which because a person doesn’t have money, they fail to see, understand, engage in, and appreciate what they believe money is preventing them from having and thus they continue to act poor.
I was so afraid about my financial situation that I failed to value how blessed I am in many other ways and so my values were poor and so I continued to be poor. It’s hard to see past the things that threaten bodily security. harder to admit I was a person who I did not want to be. Harder to forgive but altogether necessary. Self-hatred is selfish.
The idea of the law of attraction is kind of like faking it until you make it. It also stands to reason, from a very rational perspective, that faking it until you make it works because all you’re doing is pretending to be what you’re not, yet, by taking steps to pretend, if they are practical, you are actually taking steps become what you are aiming to be.
By worrying about being poor, I was subconsciously taking steps to become poorer and I was, meanwhile, equating my self worth with almost nothing because I was still operating under a subconscious childhood fear that what I want is worthless if it doesn’t make money. So I thought I was supposed to make money, which I actually don’t value, in order to become myself, who I also didn’t value?
After this heavy examination in which I determined that I was equating my self worth with my income or any lack thereof, I prayed to God to relieve me of this burden and this illusion.
I do pray to God sometimes. To me, God is the deity of forgiveness or at least an idea of something that allows me to understand forgiveness. How funny is that? Seems kind of backwards based on some of my apparently anti-Christian sentiments, but I’m in no way anti-Christian, just anti-assholes.
So I prayed, which is an intention given over to the part of us that knows better than our mean-minded little selves and you know what I hear during this prayer?
Don’t worry about the money. At all.
So I don’t.
How do you stop worrying about something?
Fake it until you make it.
I start practicing meditation and paying attention in conversation. I start to relax the more present I become and even though I have no idea what finances are going to look like in a month I frankly can’t give any fucks anymore.
And I don’t have to. Do what you love, believe in yourself, and the money follows.
Turns out, I don’t need much money to make me happy or to keep me fed or to pay my rent. Turns out the money situation always works out and always has and it’s a lot easier to not worry about it if I’m not going to do anything more about it.
If you know anything about dissociation, it’s a kind of euphoric hyper focus that can arrive in times of stress. When the situation is too overwhelming, someone who dissociates can shift their focus onto something so intensely, they are transported out of the focus from the stressful situation entirely.
Dissociative disorder has a negative connotation, since disorder means not orderly or not in working order or chaos. Shifting focus to ignore something is going to make acknowledging it later a lot worse.
It’s opposite is presence. Intending to be aware of and sitting with what is happening on a very basic sensory level, within and without, tunes in with an honest experience that is beyond the tricky ways of language to justify.
To be present totally is to be free of worry about the future, because there is no future when one is present, nor is there a past. We approach the situation with curiosity, a modicum of innocence and we feel.
Imagine sitting in your office, for instance, and you’ve been at the desk for five hours and your head is floating around somewhere in the numbers and the to-dos and a coworker comes by and knocks you pencil holder off your desk. You come crashing back to reality quite quickly where the ignored sensations of your immense hunger, your strained eyes, your stiff back, the lack of light in here, all ignored for so long, are alerting you to your discomfort which is instead associated with the person who spilled your pencils.
Then you take a break, a breather, eat a bagel and schmear, and all’s well for you.
Our feelings can be powerful indicators of truth when acknowledged. What kind of humane job makes you practice regular self-neglect? None. But I’ve definitely neglected myself for the sake of getting a job done when stopping and taking a break and eating some food would have probably helped the process go a lot more smoothly and quickly.
I’ve been more present. My relationships are better, my stress level is down and even though I have no idea where rent is going to come from it’s literally not worth worrying about because worry robs me of my time and time is money.
Worrying is serving to create the problem I’m worried about because in worrying I’m not present and in not being present I’m wasting my time with illusions in which case I’m worrying about things that haven’t happened and aren’t happening in which case I’m convinced my own story is more real than reality! And, by not being in reality I am also not operating in a place where I can enact change upon that reality.
Abundance is a mentality.
It comes down to what you value. Put your time in what you value, change what you can, and let the rest fall away. That’s flow or Wu Wei.
Or the serenity prayer.
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.