Saturday, July 26, 2014

My Lesson in the Weeds

The last several weeks, after having gotten back from our holiday in Nova Scotia, I’ve been weeding. There’s a lot of weeding to do, believe me. I have wood chip pathways throughout much of the property that’s nestled among the indigenous, natural growth of wildflowers, grasses, blackberries, and other assorted plant life. All this growth is native to the Cumberland Plateau.
I have a wet-weather creek (about 200 feet long) that originates well into the Catoosa Wildlife Management Area that our property abuts. When a heavy rain falls, the creek and its ponds will flow for 10 days or so. The creek, landscaped with natural river rock, houses all sorts of frogs, toads, skinks, a few crayfish, and several large green turtles.
When it’s been raining and the verdant green of the yard is lush and all the critters are happy, it is a beautiful relaxing park-like setting. However the weeds like it, too. To keep them under control is a crawling, knees-on-the-ground, very manual effort. While I’m crawling along, I can almost see the ticks, chiggers, biting flies, and fire ants texting each other: “It’s Party-Time!” Brother, do they all respond! To them I’m a slow-moving buffet with excellent, healthy blood.
Nevertheless, while I’m weeding my mind is generally pretty neutral. I’m in the NOW with the natural universe. I’m not debating anticipated arguments. I’m not reminiscing about my selective memories of my perceived past – neither “good” nor “bad” memories. I just am. I am weeding. I am uncovering a nest of ants. I am watching a black snake or a skink (a form of Gecko) or a sunning frog. I just am. And, while in this neutral state of mind, thoughts come – some of them rather profound. Yesterday, while cleaning the creek banks and bed, I realized my thoughts are like these weeds.
Weeds just pop up. Rain. Pop. Weeds. There’s nothing wrong with weeds – they are natural – unless they are where I don’t want them to be. Unattended, they’ll grow and produce more weeds. If I let them go, my creek begins to be overrun. I need to be a little vigilant and disciplined with them.
I began to think: “It’s the same with my thoughts.” They are always running though my head. They are constant. If I’m awake, my thoughts are there. Awake. Pop. Thoughts.
Where do they come from? I think sometimes they spring forth from some perpetual wellspring of little thought-babies that are created from nothingness and, as they mature, migrate from my unconscious to my conscious mind where they move from one ear to the other then out into ether. The only thing that seems to stop this flow of thoughts is to focus on one for a while. But when I do that, the flow doesn’t seem to abate.  All that seems to happen is I’ve somehow created a new “channel” for other, similar thoughts to show up. Where did all my other thoughts, that had been in the queue, go? Thought-baby heaven? Perhaps. Maybe that’s right next door to the place where all my missing socks have gone. And keys. And lost receipts.
I guess my point is this: I realized I will pull up a weed in order to keep it from crowding out a flowering plant. I am not pulling up a weed because it is a “bad” plant. If I don’t, the weed will multiply and it will become more difficult for me to stay on top of things. It is the same with how I treat my random thoughts. These little thought-babies are not “bad” things. They just are. I am training my higher mind to keep them a little under control so they don’t crowd out my ability to hear the whispers of The Divine.
Things can go “wrong” when I’m weeding. Sometimes I do think weeds are “bad” things. They are ruining the look of “my” yard. What’ll the neighbors think? Without weeding properly the property value of our house will decline. We’ll become poor and be reduced to eating dog food on crackers. The weeds will crowd out my vegetable greens and we’ll be reduced to eating more dog food on even more crackers. Then our pups will starve. Would I then boil their bones to make a broth in which to cook some rice – a welcome relief from the steady diet of dog food?
Of course, I’m being facetious – but, trust me, my thoughts can get out of control at times and lead me to a merry-go-round of insanity. And that’s exactly where my ego likes me to be, so I’ll turn to it and ask it for help. It’ll gladly provide me with “answers” that underscore the ”reality” of lack, the “reality” of vulnerability, and the “protection” of proper vigilance against the dog-eat-dog world it wants me to believe in. All that is equally insane – but that particular form of insanity is hidden from me because it’s such a common perception.
I think I’ll continue to pluck my thoughts like weeds, refusing to pay attention to them, and continue training my higher mind to listen for the whispers of true reality – the whispers of The Divine: “Don, you and I are One. There is nothing we can’t handle.” As the Introduction to A Course in Miracles (ACIM) states: “… This course can therefore be summed up very simply in this manner: Nothing real (which is only Love) can be threatened. Nothing unreal (which is everything else) exists. Therein lies the peace of God.”
Although these messages are mostly for me, thanks for listening. As always – feel free to forward this message to your friends, family, and those accompanying you on your spiritual journey.
#2 July, 2014

Copyright, 2014

Friday, July 18, 2014

When I Enter My Drama, I Lose My True Self

It’s good to be home and back in my familiar routine. My body responds well to that. Appetite. Sleep. Rhythm. Actually, it’s kind of magical, isn’t it?
After unpacking, washing clothes, going through the mail and getting settled, I was able to go to my favorite AA meeting where we discussed, among other things, the problem of finding ourselves in a general state of boredom. As we all commented, it became clear we were not really bored, we were simply not used to life without our addiction-manufactured “drama” that had dominated our daily living for so long. We had no experience living in a state of approaching serenity.
As I stopped drinking, went to meetings, shared honestly, and began working the program of Alcoholics Anonymous, I began taking care of myself under the guidance of a sponsor and friends I was meeting in those rooms. As I did that – over the course of 6-8 months – the communications from creditors, lawyers, ex-wives, frustrated bosses, demanding girl friends, and angry neighbors all began to subside. My life was becoming manageable. The drama of constant problems and issues was abating.
Although that all sounds wonderful – and it was! – it soon became clear I didn’t know how to live like that. What I was used to, and therefore defined as “normal,” was a life of utter chaos and constant problems. Without that chaos, I felt I was shriveling up inside. Bored. Stagnant. Lifeless. Dull. Antsy. Tiresome.
What was I supposed to do on a rainy Saturday? Cook something nice for dinner and sit in my favorite chair and read a new-to-me novel? Well, why not? Borrrr-Ring!
Since my life has truly settled down over a quarter century, I have developed an innate sensitivity to those who still are addicted to drama. It certainly doesn’t have to be alcohol/drug-induced drama. In fact, most of the drama-queens/kings I meet today are not addicted to mind-altering substances. They are simply addicted to “drama” (worry, fear, irritation, conspiracies, vengeance, religion, success, or instant gratification). I think they believe it adds “spice” to their life. Without their “drama,” perhaps they don’t feel they even exist.
What all their dramas really do, in my opinion, is keep them “busy” enough so they are able to keep their focus off themselves. One of my wife’s best friends said that specifically to us one day. She was complaining how busy she was. When we mentioned staying at home with a book or going to a seminar about handling issues confronting all of us, her response was, “Why would I want to do that – start thinking about my past and opening up that Pandora’s Box?” Loose translation: I want to stay so busy I don’t have time to think about me.
While on vacation in Nova Scotia it was amazing to me how many (and how often) our travelling companions had to check their cell phones or iPads for messages or to post pictures as the tour unfolded. It was as if they believed they had to keep all their friends and relatives updated on all the goings-on several times daily. Then they had to share text messages and pictures they were receiving – at times when the tour director/guide was explaining the history and culture of whatever it was we were seeing.
Rather that concentrating on what was being said, absorbing the knowledge and enjoying the views, these folks had to take a snapshot of the guide and text a message about what he was saying. I guess that was what made the experience real for them. Rather than simply enjoying being there, they had to communicate that they were, in fact, there and enjoying it.
I didn’t understand. Neither did my wife.
Upon reflection, I think people addicted to drama, as an indicator of a sense of alive-ness, have lost their sense of Self. An event isn’t real unless you’ve taken a picture of it. Enjoyment isn’t real unless you can document it in real time and transmit it into the ether of the Web. Without posting an experience on FaceBook or Twitter, it’s not really happening.
Whenever I really experience an event, it is communicating to me on several different levels at the same time: cerebrally, viscerally, and emotionally. I can picture myself there. I can “feel” myself eating pea soup in the 18th Century at the Fortress of Louisbourg. I can enjoy the smell of wood smoke as if it were a welcoming beacon telling me I was nearing home. This identification with real people of history is not the same, obviously, as experiencing my True Self – my ego-less Self. But I don’t need to complicate things by distracting my ego-self so much that I cannot even relate with other people.
I believe when people remove themselves from that level of involvement and try to “capture” it with photos or texts, it is removing them from the humanity of the experience and reinforcing a sense of separateness. It distracts them from the experience and so they miss it. It is a constant reminder that they are distinct islands of identity – over and against the people, culture, and history of the area – over and against their fellow travellers – over and against their True Selves, their True Humanity.
I believe this behavior reinforces the death of the soul. It was scary. It was a shame. However, as this message attests, it became a wonderful learning experience for me.
Although these messages are mostly for me, thanks for listening. As always – feel free to forward this message to your friends, family, and those accompanying you on your spiritual journey.
#1 Jul, 2014

Copyright, 2014