April 19, 2014
Fear Is Not Real
“Fear is not real. The only place that fear can exist is in our thoughts of the future. It is a product of our imagination, causing us to fear things that do not at present and may not ever exist. That is near insanity. Do not misunderstand, danger is very real, but fear is a choice.”
–from Cypher Raige in the movie “After Earth”–
I was asked recently what lesson, or idea seems to keep coming up for me–one I haven’t mastered or moved through or achieved as yet. I didn’t have to think very long or very hard.
“Fear,” I said.
I know I am not alone in this one. Most of the human population is radiating a frequency of fear.
The way I learn best is through story. I am so grateful to the great storytellers who are making it possible for us to wake up from our deep slumbers and take back our lives. The Wachowski’s The Matrix… that one comes to mind over and over as I observe the world around me–too many people still choosing the illusions that allow them to dream their lives away asleep; others waking up with a Roar, spitting out the amniotic fluids that held them in suspended animation.
J.K. Rowling’s Boggarts from the world of the Harry Potter series are a favorite of mine, as are her Dementors, both such rich examples of how our own thoughts and beliefs, our perception of reality, creates how we experience reality. Boggarts are strange little creatures, harmless except for their ability to morph into what we most fear–and gain more substance and power in direct proportion to the intensity of our fear. If we believe it is real, it is. If we believe it is not, if we disengage from it, it suddenly disappears and returns to it’s state of unformed potentiality. Dementors on the other hand have form and substance and sustain themselves by feeding on the emotional energy of humans–in particular the positive energy of joy and happiness. Similarly, our own negative thoughts can become so real, and gather so much energy, that they can completely drain away any sense of happiness, peace, joy, and hope even though in truth, these are accessible to us–we simply begin to believe they are not, and therefore, they are not.
The other day I watched the movie After Earth starring Will Smith as Cypher Raige and his son Jaden Smith as Cypher’s son, Kitai. The movie did not get good reviews, so I wasn’t expecting it to offer much. Once again I wonder at the lack of insight of so many of our loud-mouthed reviewers. It may not be the movie of the year, but it is a lovely little gem. As one more discerning reviewer noted: “This movie is a fable. Fables teach.”
There are a number of ideas woven into the story, but the predominant one is about Cypher’s quote above…that fear is not real. The monster in the movie is an Ursa, a blind predator that can only track its human prey by smelling the pheromones humans give off when they are afraid. The only way a human will be able to escape or defeat an Ursa once its found him is if he is successful in disengaging from his fear. Once again, I see deeper than the monster raging about the screen and the terrified young man scrambling to save his life…and I see the toxic creations in my own life sculpted from the clay of my own fearful beliefs.
It reminds me of a Native American story I read of how it is that the “medicine” (life energy) of Rabbit became Fear… In some Native American traditions Rabbit became known as the Fear Caller. …He goes out and shouts, “Eagle, I am so afraid of you.” If Eagle doesn’t hear him, Rabbit calls louder, “Eagle, stay away from me! Do you hear me? Don’t eat me! Eagle, do you hear? I’m talkin’ to you, Eagle!” Eagle, now hearing Rabbit, comes and eats him. Rabbit calls bobcats, wolves, coyotes, and even snakes until they come. We can learn from the rabbit that if we are always afraid of something then we may draw/create the very experience we are afraid of into our lives. Fear sends out a certain vibrational energy that may attract the very thing we fear. Fearful thoughts reproduce (like rabbits) and manifest what we fear.
In the movie Cypher tells his son the story of how he became fearless and therefore inaccessible to the Ursas. “We are all telling ourselves a story and that day mine changed.” I too am changing my story. Boggarts, I laugh at your ridiculous charade. Be gone. Dementors, the one energy that is toxic to you is the energy of pure love: and so I practice becoming Grace; I practice love. Ursus…well, isn’t it strange, I have become invisible to you. I am free.
And the Lady climbed upon the back of her Tiger and they ran upon the land, and they ran upon the clouds, and they ran all the way to the Stars…
April 7, 2014
FIGHTING GOBLINS WITH SUPERHERO MORGAN
I walked with three-year old Morgan, soon to be four, the three blocks to the little playground next to a neighborhood ball park. We looked for daffodils growing up beside the houses and talked of birds and worms, the dietary habits of squirrels and why the rain makes the grass turn green. We tried a short cut through the tennis court, but the gate was locked, so we took the other short cut through the alley.
“What’s an alley, Nonna?”
“It’s a little road behind the back yards of the houses. See? We’re walking down an alley.” We heard a rooster defending his territory.
“Nonna, what’s that sound?”
“Is a rooster a daddy chicken or a mommy chicken, Nonna?”
We arrived at the Park. Morgan ran for the largest layout of blue and green and orange equipment that included platform stairs, a tunnel, a swinging bridge, a curved stair ladder, a lookout post and a 10′ tunnel slide. He scampered up to the lookout post before I could even catch up and hurled himself down the slide…and did a full body face plant into the mud at the bottom.
You know how one of the funniest not-funny sights is someone slipping on the ice? The next funniest not-funny sights is a little boy covered in mud–face, belly, hands, knees–just after a half-flip belly flop face-plant off a slide. Morgan looked about to cry and much to my shame, I burst out laughing. He looked at me in confusion. His brain was registering tragedy and calling for tears, but his Nonna was having a complete giggle melt down. Tragedy lost to Giggles and soon we were both laughing while he spit out mud and wood chip fibers and I brushed what dirt I could off his nose and chin and hands.
He actually looks pretty clean here; we’ve removed most of the mud…but he’s still working on spitting out the mouthful of grit he got…
“Nonna, the Bad Guys are hewr. They pushed me down the slide. We bettow find ow fighting sowrds ’cause we need to fight bad guys.”
“What kind of bad guys?”
“Zombies.” He looked around. “No! Theys Goblins! Theys the wust kind!”
He grabbed a stick sword, I grabbed a stick wand. I said my wand could get more goblins. He said, “Ok, Nonna. You can use a wand this time. …Oh no! Hewre they come Nonna!”
We fought Goblins. It was quite a noisy battle.
“Nonna! We have to wescue the pwincess!” He took off to climb the stairs and cross the swinging bridge and climb up the roundy ladder… “You fight the goblins, Nonna, so I can wescue the pwincess!”
The tower was breached successfully. “Hurry, Morgan! Grab the Princess! Where are we taking her?”
“To that bench oveer thewr!”
“Is that where she lives?”
“No, she’s fwom Cavelot. But we can make hewr safe thewr on the bench and fix hewr ouchies. That’s the hospital, Nonna.”
“Ok. You better pick her up and carry her over your shoulder.”
“Ok, Nonna. …Whew…weew safe now. You fix hewr ouchies with yous wand, Nonna. She’s a beautiful pwincess, Nonna. Do you think she’s vewy pwetty, Nonna?”
“Oh, definitely, Morgan. She’s very pretty.”
“…Oh-oh, Nonna. Hewr come mowr Goblins! Mowr and mowr and mowr and mowr…Fight Nonna!”
“Morgan, I think they captured another princess! I think they turned her into a bird!”
“Yous wight, Nonna! Only she’s not a biwrd. She’s a winosowus. The Goblins changed her into a winosowus.”
“Oh no! We’ve got to get her out of here! You better kiss her, Morgan, turn her back into a beautiful Princess! But be careful of her horn!
“Nonna, I’m not Mowgan. I’m a Pwince. I’m a Supeohewo Pwince! And I can’t kiss the winosowus pwincess.”
“Why can’t you kiss the princess, Prince Superhero?”
“‘Cause I’ll get make-up on my face!”
“So who’s going to turn her back into a Princess? You don’t want her to be stuck being a rhinoceros, do you?”
“Nonna, you can do it with yous wand!”
“Ok. I will cawwy hewr over to the bench…I mean the hospital.”
“Prince Superhero, where do the Princesses live? Should we take them home?”
“Yeah. They live with the King in Afwica. We can fly in the aiwplane to Afwica. But you have to fight off the Goblins while I cawwy the pwincesses, okay Nonna?”
“Ok Prince Superhero.”
“Yay! We made it Nonna! You got the Goblins! Now we need to fly the beautiful Pwincesses to Afwica!”
“Nonna, quick, we got to take the Pwincesses to the King before more Goblins get us! Huwwy, Nonna. Theys coming…the Goblins aw coming! Mowr and mowr and mowr…”
“Prince Superhero, let’s get back to our plane and fly somewhere else!”
“Okay, Nonna. We’s going to Austwaila, now. To visit the Kangawoos. I don’t know if theys Goblins thewr. See Nonna? Thewrs the Kangawoos! We’ll land the aiwplane by the Kangawoos.”
“Nonna, the Kangawoos can talk. They’s Mommy Kangawoos with theys babies in theys pockets and Daddy Kangawoos–theys have babies in theys pockets too.”
And so we had a lovely conversation with the Kangaroos of Australia and discovered that they were also under Goblin attack. Soon we were fighting more Goblins and discovered that they had captured several Princesses that needed rescuing. Six princesses to be exact. According to the Little Prince they were all from the Star Planet Shada Zuken Sak. We rescued them…and just barely making our escape from the evil and ever present Goblins, the Prince and I flew them in our airplane out beyond the Moon and past the Sun until we came to the Star Planet Shada Zuken Sak.
Upon our arrival, the Little Prince made a mad dash for the castle carrying six pretty princesses on his strong shoulders while his brave Nonna fought off a horde of Goblins. Apparently the entire Universe is suffering from an infestation of Goblins–there is no escaping them.
All six princesses survived and were very happy to be home again.
Nonna was called upon to do some magic with her wand to try to make the broken arm of the Prince better–but her wand broke before the spell was cast.
“Nonna, you will have to take me to the dentist to get my awm fixed cause yous wand is bwoken.”
“I see. Where is the dentist?”
“Can’t you see, Nonna? Ovew thewr!”
“Ah, yes. Under the slide.”
“But you have to get a new wand, Nonna, ’cause theys a lot of Goblins coming.”
“Okay. Let’s make a run for it, Prince!”
“Good job, Nonna. You got the Goblins and fixed my awm.”
“I think we need to fly in our airplane back to Earth, now Prince. Daddy and Mommy are waiting for us to come home.”
“Okay. But aftew we fly home we have to take the twain.”
One airplane flight, two more Goblin battles, one train ride, and then a narrow escape from another horde of Goblins later…we were headed out of the park.”
“Nonna, I think more Goblins are going to follow me and gwab my feets!”
“Oh dear. You better ride on Nonna’s back then…they can’t get you then.”
“Are we going frew the alley again, Nonna? Whewre’s the wooster? Who’s that guy–what’s he doing? Does the wooster live in that biwrdhouse? Those are cool box gawdens. Weally–that’s what my Daddy is making fo ow home? Why is it called a daffodil? Maybe we can have a tweat when we get home! I’m hungwy. Can we pway bad guys when we get home? Not Goblins, Nonna…zombies.”
March 31, 2014
“Let someone love you, just the way you are, as flawed as you might be… To believe that you must hide all the parts of you that are broken out of fear that someone else is incapable of loving what is less than perfect, is to believe that sunlight is incapable of entering a broken window and illuminating a dark room.” – Marc Hack
This morning I found the quote above in my Kind Spring’s weekly newsletter. I thought about it while I cleaned up the kitchen and rocked my grandbaby to sleep. As I rocked, my thoughts carried this idea down a different track… “Choose to love another, just the way he is, as flawed as he may be. To think that he must not have any rough edges, or show any broken parts because either of you fear that if he does you will feel he is unworthy of your love, your forgiveness, patience, understanding or kindness, is to believe that no one is worthy of love, including yourself, unless they are perfect.
Which is not unlike thinking that nothing is good unless it is perfect.
I have stumbled on a nasty, thorny, unwelcome weed in my inner garden. I have uncovered a brule (bullshit rule). Because though I would deny it, I realize that somewhere underneath all the shiny smears of positivity, this ancient belief with its many runner roots is still very much alive in me.
I’ve been dismantling old Brules (bullshit rules) that I’ve lived by and under based on the models that have shaped my reality. It’s been quite a fascinating project, really, figuring out what some habitual reactive behavior of mine is really rooted in.
What, in my world, is this concept we call “perfect”? Who determines what constitutes perfection? Does it mean to never make a mistake? But who decides it is a mistake? A wise woman once told me that there is no such thing as a mistake–only lessons–only learning–only experiencing. Is being perfect more like what Henry Higgins suggests in My Fair Lady, “why can’t [you] be like me”; think and do things the way I think and do things! Does being perfect mean we should measure up to the standards we see in the movies and media, or to measure up to the spiritual standards of our religions and of the demands of the gods and goddesses that we have created?
What does someone need to be like to be acceptable to me?
I don’t know. I think it is subject to the weather and that the truth is closer to Henry Higgins’ definition than any other.
My thoughts took a right turn. (Or maybe it was a left turn…) A rainbow is beautiful, but it is in truth, broken light. Imperfect Light. Flawed Light, if you care to think of it that way.
Perfect, unbroken light is “white”–pure colorless illumination. Break the light by shining it through a mist of water or a crystal and suddenly you have color…beauty…brilliance…the promise of sunshine after rain, of light pouring through the cut glass of a window or a cup, spraying rainbows across floors and walls and ceilings.
My perfect union with the Divine, perfect Light–is broken when I am poured into the prism of this human body to live a human life experiencing a physical, three dimensional universe. If I allow the Perfect Light to shine through me, I will cast rainbows over everyone and everything that moves through my space; all the attributes of the Perfect Light. If I close myself off from that Light…there is only the grey darkness, shadows.
No one is ever unworthy of love–of kindness and forgiveness. The Light simply shines, always, on everything and everyone. The Light is always there. If I am willing, the Light will shine through me, breaking apart and splashing the colors of It’s nature on everyone about. If I am unwilling and choose to block the Light, the Light is still there, still shining, never retreating, never failing–but I cast only shadows.
Is this a model for living that I can build upon? Can I let go of my belief that we all must always try to be “perfect” because our deservedness of love and respect is in direct proportion to the perfection we have achieved? That is like asking ourselves and others to BE the perfect Light rather than a vessel for It’s refraction in the world. That is like demanding that we be the sun, instead of the rainbow makers.
March 29, 2014
MY GARDEN OF ABUNDANCE
I have this gift of a day to live–healthy, strong in my body and mind. I have the gift of sight to look out at the blue sky–a sheet of pale, robin’s egg blue. The great Maple Tree whose skin grew as though it were a skirt twirling in a dance is silently pumping life into red buds. They are slowly swelling, gathering force. Another day I will find them busted open, dangling tiny green leaves.
As is the land here in the North, so I too am waking up–to new models of reality through which to perceive the world, to new systems of living. As in our gardens here in the North, I am clearing the winter debris–the old models, old beliefs which no longer serve me or others; discarding the Brules that have governed my life. I like this word, Brules. It means, “Bullshit rules”. I also like the word Blisscipline. It sounds so much happier and more exciting than the drudgery of being disciplined!
I have long been a student of the concept that our thoughts create our beliefs and that it is these beliefs that determine our attitudes and thus our behavior patterns. To successfully change a behavior, change the belief. Simple. Never-the-less I have found change a slow and difficult process because beliefs never exist in isolation. Rather, they are part of a larger model, a more complex construct of reality that we create based on what we believe to be true about the world we live in. We all have a huge network of rules supporting entire systems that govern who we are and how we respond to our experiences based on the models, the beliefs, we have adopted. Trying to just change one or a few “nasty habits” without examining the larger picture–the whole model and the system it supports–makes it pretty tough work. It’s much easier if we are willing to simply wake up and ask ourselves the important questions. And answer them, of course.
Why do I do this?
Why am I angry?
What am I afraid of?
What do I believe to be true that I feel the need to act like this?
Is this really true?
Where did this belief come from?
Is it mine?
What is the rule that I’m minding when I act like this?
Is it a healthy rule–or a brule?
Brules are Bullshit Rules that we adopt to simplify our understanding of the world. How do we know the difference between a Brule or a Rule? Ask more questions.
Is your rule based on trust and hope?
Does it serve your happiness?
Does it violate the Golden Rule?
Does it come from cultural or religious systems/models?
Does it come from rational choice or social conditioning?
Early this past winter I read a quote a friend had posted that became a pivotal moment for me: I choose to let go of all that does not serve me, anything that prevents me from thriving. I considered this deeply and realized there were a number of situations in my life that definitely did not serve me nor allow me to thrive, and thus prevented me from serving my family and community better that they also might thrive. Since learning about brules, I realize that I have perpetuated these situations because, after all, one must make the best of life and gain never comes without pain and it’s the cards I’ve been dealt and don’t complain and be glad for all the lessons that your suffering is teaching you and…what a load of bullshit! All I need to do is look around at nature to see that the Creator made everything to work in balance so that all might thrive! We’re the ones who screw it up and cause suffering!
Little green things are poking up above the earth in my garden; perennials planted there once upon a time. Year after year, they return, like beliefs that I adopted long ago that call forth the same responses from me, time and again. I am digging them up and moving them somewhere else…some even to the compost heap. I am re-creating my entire garden. I am disgarding the Brules I’ve lived by and creating enhanced, healthier, happier models and systems for living my life–my one, wild and precious life.
I embrace this work with joy, considering it a privilege; procrastination and stagnation give way to productivity. I get to dig about in my newly awakened garden! I get to create something new! I get to grow my garden into a work of art and I get to receive from it an abundant harvest. As my inner and my outer gardens have become labors of love and gratitude, every stage has become rewarding. The garden thrives and I thrive and all who experience the blessing of it, thrive.
Once there was a woman jogging down my street. She looked unhappy, angry, tense. As she ran past my little front yard garden the sound of water falling into the rock pond must have caught her attention for without breaking stride she glanced over, and her face relaxed into a wide smile. She never noticed me sitting on my porch, only the flowers. As I watched her continue down the block, I noticed her head was higher, her shoulders back.
How much greater might the impact of my inner garden be on those who pass through my sphere of influence? I will not limit myself. I will not allow the weedy beliefs of “can’t” nor the fears of what it might “cost” me to choke out the life of the Creator within me. I’m cultivating joy and gratitude–like the daffodils and lilies and roses that I love. I’m nurturing and growing the gifts I brought to this world so that I can share them–my writing, my art, my ability to teach; like green beans and ripened tomatoes and summer squash and apples in autumn. I’m practicing kindness–random acts of…they are herbs to season life.
I found a penny on the sidewalk today. “Find a penny, pick it up and all day long you’ll have good luck!” Ahh, yes. In the middle of my Garden of Abundance I plant a Money Tree so that I will no longer be limited by the lack of money. I am rebuilding my model of what it means to live abundantly, without lack, creating a life in which I am thriving.