My earliest memory

“They say” that people don’t remember things before the age of five, but this not true for me. My memories are embedded in the places I’ve lived, which have been many. Hence, my earliest memories put me in the summertime on the edges of a tributary of the Patapsco River, somewhere outside of Baltimore where my parents had a cottage, a small place on post and pilings with brownish asphalt shingles. There was a hand pump in the kitchen for water and a latrine across a narrow road behind the cottage, filled with cobwebs and all things scary, in line with others’ latrines.

I was two and a half years old, and “the memory” is actually several snapshots of that place, a spanning and blending such that I’ll never know which memory came first. One memory is, at that cottage, I shared a bedroom with my two brothers. In it there were three iron army cots with squeaking springs under the thin mattresses. We had gone to a Ben Franklin’s one day, and I had stolen a chocolate bar and had climbed under my army cot to eat it. My brother, a year and a half older, discovered me eating that bar of chocolate and when I wouldn’t share with him, he tattled to my mother who then angrily dragged me out from under that bed, piled me into the family car and drove me back to that store to confess I’d stolen that nickel candy.

Within that same place, at that same cottage, are my parents sitting in lawn chairs by the water’s edge drinking martinis with their next-door neighbors. Jack was one of my father’s colleagues at John Hopkins. His wife, Olive, typed Braille books. I have a swirl of memories being at their small cottage next door to ours, the most poignant being touching the pages that Olive had typed, feeling the raised bumps while Olive explained that some people could not see and they read books with their fingers. I felt her watching my wonder as she allowed my exploration of this strange typewriter, during which time Olive would be rolling her daily quota of cigarettes that she’d put in a shiny brass case.

There was a swing set there at the cottage, and I regularly shinnied up the pole to view the world from on high.  I have a clear snapshot of being up that pole one day, overlooking my parents and Jack and Olive as they smoked cigarettes and sipped on martinis. When I descended the pole, I went to my mother’s chair and, apparently thirsty, I reached for her dry martini and took a large gulp as if it was water. I remember the four adults watching me, thinking I would spit it out. Instead, I remember really liking that martini.  Then I ate the olive.

I know those memories are from the age of two-and-a-half, because the summer when I was three and a half we moved to the Eastern Shore of Maryland. I drove in the front seat with my father to the new house — an old farmhouse on 26 acres — in our station wagon loaded with our clothes and smaller possessions. As I exited the car, I slammed the car door completely shut on my right thumb. As I stood screaming, my father rounded the car to spank me for screaming only to discover, upon opening the door, that my thumb was almost completely severed. My father reached into the car and grabbed, of all things, my best pair of socks, my only pair of socks that had embroidered flowers on its edges, to wrap my thumb together and rush me to the hospital where they reattached my thumb. For that whole long, hot, humid summer, with my right thumb wrapped in thick gauze, with creeks and fields and woods to explore, my life was severely restricted so as to allow my thumb to heal.  I remember learning to read that summer.

My brother is a year and a half older than me, and we have talked about those times seventy years ago, and though of course he doesn’t have my specific memories, he too has memories embedded in those places which we have shared to reinforce what would otherwise be considered a daydream.

Bravery

I am no more brave than the steadiness of a great tree leaning into the brutish force of hurricane winds. I am no more brave than a boat with reefed sails awash with cresting waves. I am no more brave than a feather on the wings of a breeze to be blown one knows not where. I am no more brave than the leaves that fall from a tree at the end of a dry summer to lay as carpet under the weight of a herd of elk. I am no more brave than a bedouin laying beneath the pin-holed sky of an immense night in the cooling sands of the endless desert.

I am no more brave than a baby that makes the journey from its confined watery world into the air – for it is not this mind and body that produces the act of bravery but the very detachment from that which we’ve conjured necessary to survive. I am brave when I release my mind and the ego I of my actions to dwell, instead, in the space of spirit within.

Having edged into the realm of Elder, looking back at those moments where action was needed for survival of myself or another, where another might have witnessed my actions as bravery, I now know the look and feel of the place-that’s-noplace into which I would slip where bravery is given form, ever so briefly. Like all things of spirit, the room of bravery cannot be explained but through metaphors.

Though it is nothing physical, I see that source hover before me as a horizon-wide, giant cube that is solid and yet I can enter into it; it has no doors or windows but I can move into its space to rest within. It’s a within-ness devoid of substance and yet it is a completeness in itself from which I cannot separate. In this pure space there are no thoughts and without thoughts there is no fear. Without fear, without constrictions, bravery is easily tapped into, like an endless stream of energy from which I can draw as needed; not unlike the endlessness of love, bravery dwells in this space beyond mind and body, always available to fuel a necessary action. Bravery is complete surrender to the dwelling place of spirit.

 

What is something I want to achieve this year

Having been remiss in my blogging, I have taken on WordPress’s Bloganuary challenge as a good incentive to return to writing more publicly.

The Prompt: What is something you want to achieve this year?

My first reaction to the prompt was a very negative judgment I have held about New Year celebrations and its seemingly mandatory announcement of New Year’s resolutions. Why not resolve to make that change, to sustain that wished-for practice, every day of every year? Why do we play this game and allow ourselves to make these new year’s resolutions only to let go of them within days of making them, and then resolve to resolve again on the first day of the year? I haven’t been able to embrace the practice of new year’s resolutions for decades.

In the height of my working years, for about 15 years, my greatest pleasure on New Year’s Eve was to sit in my office and prepare for the new year — the new tax year — because for all I could imagine, that was the only difference between the end of one year and the beginning of the next. I had a 20-foot long desk, framed by windows its length. For the previous 365 days, I transcribed court trials, 100 pages a day, as I looked out over a lawn that invited the deer to come graze its greenery, their visits a brief respite from my work, before they would again disappear into the encroaching fir forest and tangle of vine maple, wild hazelnut, and wild cherry.

Pushing deadlines all year long, I accumulated chaos in my work space. On that last night of the year, I brought peace and order to my space. I cleaned out file cabinets, removing all the invoices and receipts from their folders, after which I’d return those folders to the cabinet, now gaping and empty, ready to receive the next year’s financial data to satisfy the not-so-magnanimous possible inquisition of the IRS. I sorted through small piles of accumulated papers — notes, articles, things at the time I’d thought important to keep — now delegating them to one home or another: a waste basket or a file folder into which I would never look again.

Only after the file cabinets were emptied, and my 20-foot long desk was put back into order, would I turn my attention to the two six-foot-tall, four-foot-wide bookshelves where the books had attempted new architectural creations: horizontals upon verticals, horizontals upon horizontals, cracks violently crammed with foreigners, and openings left to wonder what had been there before and how they had been able to sustain their empty space. The books found new order for a brief time.

I am retired now. Though I still transcribe court trials to supplement a meager social security check (a check quickly losing any clout to ward off what I see as corporate greed). I no longer have a 20-foot desk. I no longer have the binding machines and other paraphernalia necessary at that time to keep the wheels of justice rolling. My 700-plus books now exist on a Kindle. I no longer even have a house – by choice. Instead, I have simplicity. I have a laptop. Transcripts are delivered electronically. The few invoices I generate also reside not as paper but as computer language. What would have been a stack of miscellaneous clippings now exists as screen shots in my laptop, more than likely to be mirror its sister folders from years before, never to be viewed again. Ah, the things we cling to. The things we let go of.

It’s been 12 years now since I’ve spent my New Year’s Eve preparing for the next financial year in that way. Now I open Quicken and click “update,” and it pulls in my deposits and expenses for the year from banks and credit card companies, and then several other clicks produces the reports I need for the only event that produces the tiniest bit of angst in my stomach: doing my taxes. Being a contract “employee,” taxes involve 1099s and deductions and write-offs and much more than submitting a W-2 earnings report. It looms like the sinister devil that it is, creating negativity and judgment for the monster our government has become.

It’s been 12 years since I’ve enjoyed the quiet solitude and — yes — joy of sitting in my office on New Year’s Eve, doing what I considered to be the only reasonable and sensible thing to do to acknowledge the end of one year and the beginning of the other. I criticize the partygoers who “bring in the new year,” and I chuckle that most of them feel like shit on January 1st. And I recognize that their resolutions, so loudly proclaimed, will fade within days. Ah, but my judgments reign.

I recognize this negative thinking is simply a carryover from my disdain for the whole holiday season which is, in my criticism, nothing more than commercialism honed to near perfection, a frenzied cry to top the previous year’s spending frenzy. The money changers are richer yet this year with the rise in credit card interest.

I’m very aware of how my criticism and negativity boils over like thick hot mucous seeping into every crack of my thinking. I can’t seem to embrace the joy and community and love that others seem to experience during this time of the year because I deem the whole season to be messages from false gods. I’m aware that I don’t like this about myself. I don’t like the judgments and criticisms that leak from me sometimes like a foggy mist that I barely perceive, sometimes like storm surge that I can’t ignore, usually because it found voice and others heard it and challenged me.

I criticize the myths that people live by while, I realize, I have created my own myth that brings me no joy!  Disguised by self-righteous denial, my judgments and criticism are no different than any other addiction.

I see the crumbs that lay on the path behind me. I see the road signs that appear before me.

Long before “the season” arrived this year, I made a mindful decision to embrace this season differently, to create a different myth to live by. Instead of purchasing gifts for my children or grandchildren, who are all privileged and having all that they need, I instead gave to multiple organizations such as Doctors Without Borders, The World Food Program, Mercy Corps, Action Against Hunger, et cetera. Instead of criticizing this time of year for its consumerism and, and, and… I took the first step on a path heading up a mountain to quiet my mind so that I might enjoy true joy and a sense of peace. It’s a steep mountain. I look forward to the views.

What do I want to achieve this year?

I wish to walk the path in which I maintain a deep, sustained practice of mindfulness and to let go of the obsessive need to discriminate, judge, and choose.

 

Haiku for Uvalde

No comprehension
In these life’s ragged moments
Empty in the void

Hear the mother hen
Squawking distress heartbreak grief
Skunk’s hunger sated

Loud rolling thunder
Image fading too slowly
Empty weeping arms

Handcuff mothers’ fear
Protecting children dying
More guns men laughing

Peace found within fields
Memory of loving days
Mountain heart endures

Back from Bedlam

Apropos, I suppose, I woke up this morning with James Blunt’s “You’re Beautiful” running through my head. The song appeared on his first album Back to Bedlam (named after a famous psychiatric hospital in England). Of course “bedlam” is descriptive of my anguished frustration and confusion as to “how can this keep happening” — these senseless murders of young children. With the tune playing through my mind as I came out of sleep, I was also well aware of the counterpoise necessary to rebalance myself after giving permission for that one voice to blow off some steam and heed the call to get loud.

I reflect that thirty-plus years ago, when I was 40, I started training in kung fu. At first it was simply a disciplined way to get exercise, but as I moved into the art, it became one of my deepest psychological journeys.

Early in my training, I was tasked with learning a series of moves: a straight punch to the face, an elbow to the chin, and knee to the groin (all with full control because that, in essence, was what we were training to have:  control). I performed the move — quite well, I thought — with hardness. “Look at my warrior strength!!” my ego beamed.

My sifu stopped me and said, “Good, but now I want you to do it slowly and softly.” I looked at him, and I said, “Well, I can’t do that. That’s not who I am,” so ingrained in this persona that who “I was” was hard and strong and direct. But he was not going to argue with me; he gave me the choice to do it slowly and softly or to get on the ground and do 50 full-body pushups with my partner kicking me in the stomach on each plank. I kid you not, but without hesitation I dropped to the ground to do that instead of having to be soft.

My sifu, not expecting that to be my choice, stopped me. In essence, the choice changed to “do it soft and slow or end your training.” Because I felt “it” happening, I wanted to argue that I could not do “soft,” and I told to him, “I will cry if I have to do that.” He said, “That’s okay.” I replied, “No, it’s never okay to cry, especially in kung fu.” He chuckled and said, “It’s always okay to cry.”

A higher, wiser Self stepped up beside me (I now recognize it as the Spirt side of Mind/Body/Spirit) and “held” me while I went through that controlled move. And I cried. “Again,” my sifu said. Again, I did it softly and slowly, and I cried more deeply. “Again,” he said.  And I sobbed as I touched feeling so scared and vulnerable in allowing myself to be soft. Through the following seven years of training in kung fu, my challenge was to learn to “yield,” to honor my yin energy, to find the balance between the yin and the yang. I achieved Brown Belt rank before arthritic issues at age 47 (probably the physical manifestation of years of hardness) ended my physical training.

Though most people move through life disguised and dressed in one persona (mine at that time was a hardened, closed-off warrior superwoman), if we become aware, we recognize we all have different voices, or selves, within us, each of which needs to be recognized and honored in order to free ourselves. It was during those years of training in kung fu, in my search to rebalance myself, I was privileged to be introduced to  a wise woman and practitioner of Voice Dialogue, a process through which a person learns to identify and become aware of these different voices or selves in order to become a more balanced individual.  Though far from practiced in the process myself, I recognized its importance in helping me achieve an emotional equipoise in my life.

Back in those days of kung fu, I had to learn to listen to this young, weak child that was never allowed to cry and that had to wear armor to get through life. Not only had that armor ceased to serve me, it had become destructive. Through kung fu — and Voice Dialogue and shamanic work, and eventually meditation — I got in touch with my world of archetypical energies that all serve me when in balance, but also can be destructive or hindering when one outshouts the other.

The Lover’s voice in James Blunt wrote and sang those beautiful songs. “You’re Beautiful” is an incredibly sad song about unrequited love, expressing the intense emotions of James Blunt when he saw his girlfriend with another man and he didn’t do anything about it (in the official video he jumps endlessly off a wall, down, down, down to …?).

Yesterday my Warrior ranted and played the bagpipes and banged on the drums of frustration. This morning, my Priest sat in silent meditation. In the bedlam of our “modern world,” I continue to listen for and await the voice of wisdom and spirit to illuminate the way.

May peace and love find us all and be the loudest voice and the brightest light to show the path forward in the bedlam of our world.

GET LOUD – Because right now, we are NOT a great nation

I didn’t need Jimmy Kimmel’s monologue to write this; I did need to hear it to give myself permission to publish it, to get loud about what I feel. I felt I needed to rein myself in, knowing that when I get emotionally distraught my words can feel destructive, even to me; they’re angry rants, instead of finding the passages in the darkness where a little light might shine at just the right angle where even the blindest person perceives it and turns towards it and listens to the truth that I believe in my heart must exist in every person out there, no matter their political persuasion.  It is difficult to find hope for our society when children continue to be murdered.  So the least I can do is get loud.

I’ll start with the common sense things I KNOW.

If I don’t wear a seatbelt I will be fined, even though the only person it hurts is me if I don’t wear it.

If I even  touch my cell phone when driving, I can be fined and even imprisoned.

Every driver in this country must have a license to drive a car and will be fined and possibly jailed if they fail to abide that law. And they must renew it regularly.

Every driver must take a test and prove they understand the laws and rules governing their legal right to operate a vehicle on public roads.

Drivers can be fined and lose their licenses and/or be jailed for violations that endanger other members of society.

Every car must have insurance to protect people and property from a car’s inherent ability to kill and maim (yes, it’s not the car that kills; it’s the driver, right?)

Every car must be licensed. And, in most states cars are required to pass safety checks to insure the car is not handicapped (i.e., insanely unsafe) to drive safely on the road.

Those things I know.

At the very least, these same things should apply to gun ownership. 

Background checks for the mentally ill?  It seems to me that in America, we are in a situation where the fox is guarding the hen house.  Why have we come to accept that someone who is obsessed with a sense of fear that others might attack and/or kill them (paranoid delusions), and hence feel the need to arm themselves with weapons of war and other semi-automatic weapons are sane? Why have we accepted the idea that a person with a Personality Disorder of Excessive Power Strivings  is also sane?  I propose that these people, constituting a growing number of people in our society, are in fact mentally ill, and they themselves should not be allowed to own guns.  In other words, the simple “background checks” is not going to weed out 95% of the mentally ill people allowed to purchase and carry weapons of killing.

Negligent homicide.  It seems to me that people in government positions that support fewer gun laws are in fact complicit in murders occurring within their jurisdictions. Knowing our laws, and the irony that they control those guns and gun laws, it’s unlikely they will be charged with such crimes.  But voters do have the power to remove them from office and replace them with those who will not prostitute themselves to the NRA (or other corporate institutions that cause harm in our society).

Education not prison.  I propose that “freedom” is not turning our schools into prisons with armed guards and only one door. But education might avoid such prisons. Anyone who owns a gun should  undergo an intensive educational program not just on safe gun handling but an extensive, hours-long education on the evolution of our society’s gun culture, anger-management screening, intensive victims’ panel discussions, and testing on those subjects as well as gun safety.  Yearly. The problem is a cultural one which needs to be addressed with education, not more guns or prison walls for our children.

Registry and insurance. Like a vehicle, every gun needs to be registered.  Further, no ammunition can be sold to any individual without proof of a registered weapon, and the amount of ammunition and types of ammunition will go into a monitored data base, just like a driver’s record is kept in a data base. Each year, a gun owner must present his gun in person to a designated office, to prove they are still in possession of it. Like automobile insurance, which varies with the make, model, year, and value of a car as well as where that car is primarily driven, a gun owner needs to pay an insurance premium commensurate with the type of gun. For example, their premium would be $1,000 a year for each AR-15; $500 a year for a semi-automatic pistol; $50 a year for a .22 rifle. For the right to own a gun and prove they are being responsible gun owners, their home must be open for inspection to prove that their weapons of murder are locked in safe boxes, and that they have a license and insurance to own it. If they do not prove yearly ownership, and cannot show proof of sale, they will be fined and/or put in prison. Just like uninsured, unlicensed reckless drivers.

But our societal problems are deeper than just gun control.

We need to have  a Constitutional Convention to bring the Constitution into the 21st Century and correct its obsolescence, because all these representatives who swear to uphold the Constitution are in fact continuing a status quo that is not in line with modern times.

The 2nd Amendment was written because at that time, there was no government militia. There was no army. If attacked, they wanted the ability of citizens to form a military to protect the country.  Further, the southern states wanted a militia so they could protect themselves against a slave rebellion and/or track down slaves that ran away.

There is no longer a need for individuals to form a militia to “secure a free state”; we have a monstrous military complex in place protecting us against foreign attackers for which our tax dollars contribute a disproportionately huge amount.  The 2nd Amendment is obsolete in that regard. Though racism is not dead, slavery is, and there is no need to hunt down and re-imprison those human beings who made the slave owner rich and and powerful.

A new look at speech. News took days if not weeks to be disseminated.  Now, with our instant social media, in seconds, lies and hate speech are disseminated that incite crimes of hate and insurrection, all of which seem to be leading to anarchy and fascism and a breakdown of the very social mores our Constitution was meant to protect against. We are in dangerous times when there are more weapons than citizens — weapons that can shoot not one bullet every two minutes but hundreds in seconds —  while being fueled with lies, disinformation, and hate.

I propose the Electoral College needs to be excised from the Constitution because it perpetuates a multitude of continuing injustices in our society. It was installed for purely racist reasons: Before the South would join the union, slave owners insisted that 3/5th of their slaves constitute one vote in elections. A slave owner with 100 slaves would be allowed 60 votes, and the Electoral College was established to favor those white male slave owners.

We no longer have slaves. There is absolutely no bias to anybody to have one person, one vote. The number of electoral votes is equal to the number of members of Congress: senators and congressmen.  But there is incredible bias when a slight majority of delegates in a state can vote against the will of the majority of the people, hence instilling a president who did not win the popular vote, and who does not represent the will of the people.  Instead, the archaic and discriminatory Electoral College continues to represent the interests of a smaller group of the wealthiest people with their own personal interests, biases and prejudices, their own ignorance, and influenced by the controlling corporations and monied individuals, who do not have the interest of the average American citizen in mind.

The Constitution is obsolete because, to this day, women do not have constitutional equal rights.

We need a constitutional convention to correct these deep societal and cultural wrongs that exist in the Constitution. It was a document created by wealthy male landowners in a time so different than ours is today.  We need a governing document that aligns with the wiser and more just society that the majority of the people of the United States aspire to have.  We are wiser than our “founding fathers,” and the world is a different place.  Until then…

We are not a great nation when there are more guns than citizens and our government allows their free use to murder children, women, people of color (something perpetrated by continuing to have the Electoral College in place).

We are not a great nation when we have institutionalized racism and sexism and gender discrimination and the white male conservative majority prevents correcting these wrongs so they can maintain the status quo (something perpetrated by continuing to have the Electoral College in place).

We are not a great nation when women, who have brought forth every one of us from their wombs — through a process called labor, a labor no man could endure — do not have the equal rights of their male counterparts in our society, and whose right to make decisions about their bodies is taken from them by those same men who hold power over them (something perpetrated by continuing to have the Electoral College in place).

We are not a great nation when our government officials are nothing more than prostitutes to corporate lobbyists, an ill-disguised form of deep-pocketed corruption in our system of governance (something perpetrated by continuing to have the Electoral College in place).

We are not a great nation when one body of Congress prevents the legitimate selection of a Supreme Court Justice in order to pack a court that is no longer an independent overseer of the laws and no longer that third arm of our democracy, but are mere puppets of corporate interests and prostituted legislators.

We are not a great nation when our representatives in Congress “can’t figure out why people are gunning down children” and shoppers and movie goers daily in our country (think a little harder, Lindsey) (perpetuated by ignorance and their chosen career as prostitutes).

We are not a great nation when we our freedom of speech and our right to read and educate ourselves is being curtailed by a few power-hungry, corrupt individuals who feel threatened by those who might hear the truth and learn of a different point of view than their biased, bigoted, discriminatory proselytizing.

We are not a great nation when we put billionaires’ interests ahead of the poorest and most needy.

We are not a great nation when we do not provide paid maternity leave but instead put capitalistic interests ahead of the ability to nurture our children for their formative years so that — just maybe? — they won’t feel abandoned and unloved and decide they will deal with their hurt by killing others. We are not a great nation when we refuse to substitute or subsidize free day care for our children in a nurturing environment but instead have X-Box shoot-em-up videos babysit latchkey children after school (something perpetrated by continuing to have the Electoral College in place).

We are not a great nation that puts the GDP over the existential environmental degradation from which we are less than three years away from passing the point of no return, and we are not a great nation when the almighty dollar is greater than our trust in God (something perpetrated by continuing to have the Electoral College in place).

We are not a great nation if we are hypocrites.

But we are fucked ….. if we can’t immediately address the gun laws and the inequality, and the lies, and the corporate corruption, and all the other problems that this not-great country suffers from.

BUT, we can be a great nation if we put our trust in God, in whatever way one believes in that invisible force that breathes us into life, that hums us with love when we’re quiet enough to shut out all the bullshit of the gun-totin’, woman-hatin’, racist, corrupt politicians and those who support them.

We can be a great nation when we put the love of our children ahead of the almighty dollar.

We can be a great nation when we stand up to the corporate interests of the NRA (and other greedy corporations) and renounce the culture of male supremacy, bias, fear and other power-hungry people.

We will be a great society when we choose to melt the fucking guns down with which we will build a monstrous monument to peace and love with equality and social justice for all.

So get LOUD.

Get LOUD and get out and VOTE.

Vote the hypocritical murderers, political prostitutes, conspiracy nutcases, wimps and liars out of office.

Embrace the human values we all aspire to:  equality, peace, love, inclusiveness because otherwise, it will be Ted Cruz’s world of Texas bacon: One door with a couple paranoid power-crazed jailers who make the decisions as to who gets in or out.

GET LOUD

 

How Practical is Imagination?

The word “practical” has several definitions which I “imagine” must be taken into consideration in answering this: likely to be effective in real circumstances or feasible; suitable for a particular purpose; realistic in approach, et cetera. Imagination is the faculty or action of forming ideas or images in the mind; or the ability of the mind to be creative or resourceful.

Keeping that in mind I absolutely know that at times my imagination is ridiculous, though I feel in those circumstances its purpose is to amuse me, or if I share it with others and if they listen, my hope is it triggers them to join in the crazy journey for the fun of it or to create something “out of this world,” maybe like Neil Gaiman does in his novels.

Imagination is an absolute necessity, and hence practical, in multiple practices, particularly in self-discovery, personal growth or mental health. For me, and others who engage in such practices, imagination is key to Gestalt therapy, shamanic journey work, and hypnosis. How many times have I descended that dark staircase, come to a door, and opened that door to discover what’s behind it — or what’s in my consciousness or unconscious.

My imagination has brought me misery in the form of worry — will my addicted children survive their addictions; why won’t my romantic partner answer his phone; will we survive the existential threat of climate change?  — but worry serves no useful purpose (though it can be an impetus to seek a solution), and I’ve learned to let worries hover in the background and get off the ride pretty quickly these days.

But imagination can have more practical value than just regurgitating concrete facts, which perpetuate a certain reality that is not serving anyone. John Lennon’s Imagine is the perfect example of instilling in every human’s mind that there really could be a world without countries, no religion, no war, no possessions, no greed, no hunger. With that seed planted, people might start actually contemplating that their clinging and regurgitating “my country, my religion, my whiteness, my possessions, my, my my” is in fact causing all the problems in the world and they might start contemplating a different world, and within that contemplation they see that the world really could BE AS ONE. Imagine living with less. Imagine sharing all we have, knowing there will always be more than enough for everyone if everyone shared. Without that seed planted, that shift in thinking, no changes will be made by me or anyone, so, yes, my imagination in that regard is very practical for the survival of humanity.

Imagination is absolutely necessary in order to read a novel, or even to listen to  classical music, but even modern music engages imagination. Though your imagination didn’t create these things, without an imagination you cannot take an author’s words and walk with them through the scenes and emotions depicted. Whether images are formed in listening to music or whether it’s simply emotions that have been stirred, the catalyst for either, I think, comes from imagination. The journey never starts without imagination. I know people who claim they just cannot read a novel, and they don’t. I know them well enough to see they dwell in a very concrete world, focused only on what they can see and touch, and they lack the ability necessary to be able to transport themselves into a world of imagination.

I believe imagination is the fuel to sexual excitement, with or without your lover, in just about every instance. So its practical purpose there is to ensure the continuation of the human race.

But of course, imagination is the key to the creative process. Imagination is the creative process. It is, for me, an idea or thought that frees itself from the conditioning that attaches itself to the thoughts that chatter in circles through my mind, plowing the same old, now infertile, ground. Imagination is creation in both its initial thought and in what it produces. It is both the seed and the chicken as it’s both a process and its end product. It’s the seed that brings a novel or film alive and takes us all on the journey in the non-concrete world, like Leo DiCaprio’s movie Inception.

It’s the inquisitive, imaginative mind that questioned beliefs: is the earth flat; does the sun revolve around the earth; will taking a bath cause disease; how do ants form such straight lines; how do bees find flowers or make honey; or what was the reason life split between plants and animals; or can mankind fly light years away to another galaxy? It’s the imaginative mind that thought up safety pins, paper clips, hairbrushes, paper, printing presses, photovoltaic cells, and, yes, nuclear bombs. It’s the imaginative mind that finds solutions to problems; it can conceive of a better way of doing things, leading scientists to new theories or discoveries that can serve (or destroy) mankind as those ideas are brought into the concrete world.

I don’t expect everyone or even a few to follow my fanciful flights of imagination, i.e., I am a Spoon, but I find imagination practical in regards to my life. Without an imagination I would not have benefited from my shamanic practice, hypnosis, therapy, or any other paths I’ve walked in search of undoing old myths that protected me when young but hindered me as I grew older. Without an imagination my creative writing would be nonexistent, nor would I have benefited from the fanciful thoughts of so many writers. Without an imagination, I would not have dared step off the ledge into the full slipstream of life, sailed the ocean, had adventures.  Without an imagination, I honestly don’t believe I would have found the peace and happiness I have in my life today because I would have believed the unhappy world in which I was born and raised was the only reality permitted; without my imagination, I would not have striven to let go, to surrender old, unskillful thoughts and imagine a more perfect world.

Just imagine.

Nature as it is.

Nature is my peace. It is my balance. It is where I live in a quiet harmony within myself. It is where there is no judgment as to good or bad, evil or the opposite. It is.

It has a voice that plays on a vibration beyond my eyes or ears, and yet, like Spirit in man, it only has its clothing, its dresses and shoes and hairstyles, in which to express itself. So its leaves dance with the wind, allowing itself to be caressed, rubbed against. It’s sensual in that. And then, as a storm rolls in, the wind shakes the leaves, branches shudder, like an orgasm, and then there’s calm again.

Nature has a secret world deep in its soil that only now science is getting to know, but I knew some of it as a child, playing in the dirt. I was lucky to live in the country until I was ten. And even afterwards, it was nature to which I flew — ran to — for my personal health. As a teenager in Santa Barbara, the worst of years, my best friend had two horses. We lived in the foothills, and every day after school we took her horses up higher into the mountains along trails, horses struggling with their footing, rocks slipping. We’d find streams, mottled with sunshine and shade, where we could listen to that voice as expressed by Nature, the rippling of water across the rocks as it rubbed against river banks. A symphony of sounds.

I often feel the problem of the world is that people live in concrete jungles. They don’t touch nature; they are not one with it. I live in a small 27-foot van on acreage at  the dead end of a road; it’s dark inside that van, and inside of that darkness my thoughts in-dwell, too often finding criticism — of mankind mostly. But I never criticize or judge nature. I love its hurricanes. I love that its voice, Mother’s voice, is speaking up in a voice that humans, who can’t control it, feel is destructive: a voice of tornadoes and hurricanes and fires and floods and ravaging ways where Mother is reprimanding those who have trod on her, violated her; who refused to walk with her, or speak with her, commune with her, to help heal with her or let her heal them.

Yes, it’s all so-called destructive, and yet it’s not. It’s nature doing what nature does. And mankind screaming that it can’t control what nature does. I laugh. I think good on,you, Mother, for finally spanking your “last thought,” those children of humankind that evolved out of your simplest thoughts: the amoebas and bacterias, the globs that grew into more diverse forms. I think, okay, you’re a truly loving mother to try to clean up the mess that those errant children made.

Yes, I could well be subject of your wrath some day. I could be in the path of that tornado or fire. But in my simplicity, I don’t walk in high heels; I don’t wear the tight skirts and restricting shirts that prevent my free movement. I don’t live in concrete jungles where nothing can survive. I try to dress more in harmony and to be able to walk in your beauty down your paths or, if need be, flee your wrath. If you take me down, I also accept that that’s part of nature; it’s part of my nature that I was born, get sick, and I will die.

Sometimes I think you, Mother, would appreciate me dying soon so there’s fewer of us on this earth so that maybe, maybe some of your more precious children — all the plants and animals — have a chance to survive. But for now, you let me rock in your arms, daily. I hold your ethereal essence as you hold me in your physical form. I watch you rain and give water to all around me — sometimes too much here. I watch the ants and bees and fungi and mosquitos and beetles and all your other creations do what they do. I watch your dance across the grass outside my window, and I watch the deer come almost to my door, which I can see only through the little rear windows of my van, which is, as is your right,  getting covered with moss and pollen now. I’ll let you breathe me as you are my breath.