Archive for the ‘Life-Passages’ Category

31. How To Learn How

December 30, 2017

Essential Truths Number 1 and 2

When I was much younger than I am now, I wanted to become a firefighter.* Never mind why; it’s a long story. I was small compared to the male firefighter Wanna-Bes I was competing with. I went to the gym and pumped a whole lot of iron and didn’t get much bigger but I did get hecka-strong. (It took a while.) I applied at every fire department hiring opportunity that came up and took the tests. First is the written – easy enough if you study hard. (You should study really hard.) Next, if you pass the written, you get to take the physical agility test. I failed the physical agility tests of first three departments I tried for, at first by a mile, and then by inches, and finally by 2/10 of a second. I went back to the gym. I applied at more fire departments and took more tests. I failed another one. Maybe two. I forget now. Once I passed, It didn’t matter, I would pass some more…

I failed the physical agility tests of the first three departments I tried for, at first by a mile, and then by inches, and finally by 2/10 of a second. I went back to the gym. I put in an application at another fire department, and took another test. I failed another one. Maybe two. I forget now, because  once I passed, It didn’t matter, I would pass some more…

I had to fail, to learn how. I had never encountered those kinds of challenges, or even those kinds of objects, lifting and carrying heavy rolls of fire-hose, climbing the 100-foot aerial ladder, dragging the 160-pound dummy through the tunnel. (At first I only weighed 115 pounds myself.) Very early I learned two Essential Truths, and I’ll share them with you in a minute.

There are wonderful things you can learn from Brooks, that’s one of the reasons I love them so much. But there are some things you cannot learn that way. You can’t learn how to play home-run baseball…   out of a book. You can’t learn how to downhill ski… out of a book. And you can’t learn how to be a firefighter and perform the skills a firefighter must do extremely well, very quickly, and absolutely reliably… out of a book. Here comes one of those Essential Truths I mentioned. (You may want to take notes.)

Essential Truth #1: The only way to learn how to do it is to do it.

Take downhill skiing, for example. The first day when you go out to the bunny hill with awkward boots and slats for feet, what’s going to happen? Right! You fall on your butt. Not once, but many times. And there will be people around who will see you fall on your butt. Little kids will laugh. Some adults will smile smugly. Others will be annoyed because you’re messing up the good snow with your sit-splats, besides getting in everybody’s way. “She shouldn’t even be here! She doesn’t know how to ski at all.”

The next day, you will again fall on your butt in front of everybody. A lot. But probably you will be doing a little bit better, and there will be thrilling moments when just for short distances, you get it, and miraculously, it works. It feels like flying! Your heart, for sure, is flying. Now when you fall, you get up quicker, you want some more of that good feeling.

By the third or fourth day,  your spirits soar. You get that feeling more times, for longer moments, right before each time you crash clumsily again. But now you will be up more time than down, and though not exactly smoothly or elegantly, you are skiing!

And pretty much like that, in spite of a very steep learning curve, I had to learn how to be a firefighter by doing the things a firefighter does. There was no other way. That meant falling on my butt in front of people a lot, and getting up again.

We who aspire to be writers, like anyone learning any skill, must expect the same from our writing.  In the beginning, it’s the beginning. While the first levels of success in skiing may take a few days, writing more likely will take a few years. We’re learning how to express our gift. For every great writer, there was a beginning. Thus, Essential Truth #1 about writing: The only way you can learn how to do it is to do it. But don’t take my word for it, try it yourself. Oh, and the skiing is fun too.

Essential Truth #2: Failure is a necessary part of the process.

Falling down is one of the first things we do in life. For a new-born person, this is necessary, inherent, and totally valuable. Failure is how we learn what to do and what not to do. There is no other way. 

We never learn as much from success as we do from failure. Therefore, allow yourself this. Expect to not be a brilliant anything right away. Expect a cartload of disappointments and possibly humiliations along the way. These do not prove you are un-brilliant. They only mark your serious commitment to the truest and best expression of whatever is your unique personal gift. It may be different from most people. Many people live their whole lives without expressing their truth, not because they don’t have any gifts, but because they don’t have the enormous courage it takes to do it.

Don’t be one of those. Fly down the snowtrails, again and again. Fall on your butt with determination, and then with embarrassed, wounded, but unconquerable pride, Get up.  Fall down. Get up, keep going. You can do this,  if you want it bad enough. Because if it is truly your path, you will do it.
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*I did become a firefighter and served eight years with Alameda County OES Fire Department as a line firefighter and officer.
ofcr me w2w

30. The Path: Life After Life

December 18, 2017

When my dearest, nearly-lifelong best friend Lynn developed Alzheimer’s and left us all behind, it was so hard, so painful for all of us who loved her. We were many, and we loved her so much. She lingered here for years physically, but gone from us in every other way. When she passed away gently in her sleep, in a way it was a sweet relief, and even though we cried for ourselves, we didn’t cry for Lynn. She was free again. Free to explore other adventures and discover new trails, as she had always loved to do. She was always the one out ahead of us, a joyful trailblazer in life. She still is, just on a trail we can’t follow as closely now, but someday will. Vaya con Dios, Amada, hermana de mi corazón.

Along my way I have learned that God/ Spirit/ Universal Consciousness doesn’t like Why-questions. But there are some things that even though I can’t understand, still I have begun to make some sense of, and stop my struggling to figure everything out.

I believe there are some things we simply are not given to know. God knows, and watches out for us, I can see the proof of this in my own life. But God, whatever that is, also allows us to blunder if we choose to, and wander off the path, and stumble, and even sometimes fall hard as we are learning to run, but never lets us stray too far. If we lose our way, or if we hunger for a greater challenge than this life holds, God can always call us home. Then in the morning, we begin again.

25. In the Eye of the Storm, Where Is God?

September 23, 2017

This morning’s First Waking Thought:
I am still seeking the ineffable God.

It’s hard to let go of the belief in separation, and today I realized why it’s still so hard for me.

Jesus, and many others since, said “God is within.” New Thought faiths reveal that “God is all there is.” But if I accept and believe that I am, myself, an embodiment and Expression of God, “one with all that is,” then in a way, there is no more God to turn to. No God to thank, no God to look up to. And if there is only an in-here God and no more out-there God, there is no more help. We’re on our own in the cosmos. That might be the loneliest thing that can possibly be experienced. For me, and for a whole lot of human beings I think, “oneness with God” almost feels like an abandonment.

Yesterday at twilight I prayed. It was not my usual silent or softly-spoken prayer. It was one of those out-loud-prayers where you rant at the evening sky like a lunatic. At one point I broke down in a flood of tears when I said out loud to God,
“It’s just so big.” (The work, the book, my soul’s assignment.) “it’s so much bigger than I am. You’ve GOT TO help me do it! You’ve got to help me!”

The skies didn’t open up, and no bush caught on fire, there was no sudden shift in consciousness, no revelation, and no epiphany, only the absolute silence. It’s hard these days not to believe that God is mad at me.

But I know that this image of a rewarding-and-punishing, loving-and-abandoning God is not real. It’s something we human beings made up, one of many versions we created, trying to help ourselves understand. These versions of God were, and are, as real as we make them, and what we believe, we receive. The constant loving and sheltering God of my childhood still exists, but only if I can become a child again and live life with a child’s trust, and I can’t now. I know too much, I’ve seen what life can do. I have too much work to do, and I fear the ever-faster passing of time.

In the empty calm at the end of that prayer, I remembered the first time I did this, or rather, it happened. It was twilight that time too. Someone had told me many years earlier, that he believed twilight was the time when the mind was at its thinnest and weakest point, and that there was a danger of slipping through to the other side, and maybe not being able to get back. That worried me, but I was very young and I soon forgot about it.

Then when my first out-loud-prayer happened, it was so spontaneous and unexpected that I had drifted into it without realizing. Then suddenly I heard myself talking to Something, all by myself in an empty room, and I was startled and scared. I stopped, and listened to the silence, and I wondered fearfully whether I had lost my mind.

I hadn’t, but somethjing had happened. Something had broken through to a different level. I was sobered by the experience, and I would be again, four years later by the first “message” I received from “somewhere else,” which I eventually came to call the Inner Counselor. Just before I came to California and my whole life changed, the inner voice had said:
“Take faith in yourself, for God has had faith in you, and the gift is already given.” I didn’t understand it then, and still don’t entirely understand, but I knew then and I know now, that it was real, and it was a personal gift to me. In my 40 years since then, I have learned that it was no big deal. Everyone has this. Most of us just don’t listen.

Life rolls on. The world is crashing around us now, violence, death and disasters in great numbers never before seen in history. And yet we hardly notice, because we are so bedazzled by our amazing techno-toys, devices that take us to instant fantasy worlds. Mass killing has become normal to our children now, because they practice video murder-games several hours every day and see hours of  violence on TV every night. The Nightly News is not much different from their video-games. Most kids start practicing the skills of cold-blooded murder at age 5.

Then there is the relentless loud clamor of  flashy advertising, everything exploding in flames just to sell cosmetics, obscenely rich googd-looking people driving insanely dangerously just to sell cars, and the increasingly frequent explosions of rage, hate, and assault among perfect stragers in fast-food restaurants and drive-by shootings on the “Breaking News.” All of these are so much louder than the still small voice within. It’s more important right now than ever before in history, to find a small space of solitude for yourself, turn off the tempting illusions and fantasies, and listen to what is true, in you.

Most of us are dangerously brainwashed and hypnotized without realzing, unable or unwilling to wake up and see reality, because reality has become technologically counterfeited in so many beguiling and entertaining ways that massive numbers of humanity have slipped through the thin membrane of sanity to the other side, without even knowing it.

You have the choice, and you have the power at any time, to wake up. To turn off the noise, and come back to your own voice of truth. It can give you back your life.

24. Earth Demonstrates in Protest

September 14, 2017

Mother Earth is trying to tell us something. Did you know, as children and tradtional Native Americans knew, that the earth itself is alive? And it has a consciousness that although different, is directly connected with our own? Metaphysics, quantum physics, and cosmologists have shown us that what a human consciousness thinks and feels affects the earth itself, the weather, each other, and may reach beyond our solar system. I believe the Earth is staging a massive demonstration in protest against our treatment of it and each other.

In the last few weeks there were an incredible number and intensity of disasters in the United States. In two horrific hurricanes, millions of people lost everything they had in life but but the clothes on their backs and whatever they could carry in their hands. In Mexico another massive 8.2 earthquake devastated cities and left people homeless and helpless. In all of these disasters, people in the millions have been suddenly left without the most essential needs of life, water, food, or shelter.

Along my own stumbling way, I’ve learned a few lessons from life. One of the most valuable ones, though hard at first to accept, is this seemingly paradoxical truth:
“Hidden within every bad thing that happens, every tragic experience, suffering or loss, there is a blessing.  Look for it. 

So now when some incomprehensible event happens, I begin at once to look for the blessing. I might not find it right away, but when I do, it does help soothe the sorrow by making it no longer meaningless.

One blessing I can’t help seeing now is the outpouring of human compassion and help to the people of Texas and Florida from all over our country. I know of course, it would have been far better for no one to have had to suffer so much. But when I look for the  blessing, it presents itself clearly:
Times of despair give all of us a shocking wake-up that calls on us to give a damn. It gives us an opportunity and a challenge to care.

When we do good things for someone else, give even a little something to someone who needs our help, it feels good. It feels good to do something good, and for some of us that’s a fascinating experience, perhaps one we haven’t felt in a long time. Maybe ever since we grew up and started measuring our own worth by success and money.

To give help is to give love, unselfishly, without expecting a payback, just for the sake of the feeling itself and the experience of it. As more people wake up and discover how good it feels to do something good, more people will recognize this as an option, instead of the loneliness and bitterness of hatred, greed, power, control, abuse and manipulation of other human beings, which seems to be “the way of the world” these days. It’s the lifestyle of the new “Great America” standard practiced, proliferated, and promoted by the misbegotten “president” of our country now. (With apologies to the rest of the world, I ask that you please understand that the people of America did not choose him.)

The truth is, you own your own life, and your own mind. Each day of your life, you choose and create the life you have at any given time. We all do. That’s the way it works, whether we’re aware of it or not.  The choice is always yours, and yours alone, to be who and what you are.

This is the best opportunity in the history of our country and possibly the world, to wake up and choose differently. I urge you to try it … You’ll like it. Do something good just for its own sake, and experience for yourself how good that feels. How wonderful it feels. Try kindness and get hooked on it as a habit. It’s a fabulous high.


P.S. Please do not give money to the Red Cross, as they are one of the lowest net of money or services actually distributed the people they advertise. They keep almost 97% of your money for “administrative expenses” even though all of the actual work is done by unpaid volunteers. DONATE  INSTEAD  to legitimate agencies that are specific and local to the people you wish to help: the city, county or state Office of Emergency Services, or a genuine certified organization like World Food Programme or Doctors Without Borders. Thank you.

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23. The Way

August 19, 2017

The book I’m writing is about lessons and learnings, wounds and scars. Wounds can heal, but scars are forever a reminder of the lessons we learned, or failed to learn, as my Dad used to say, “the hard way.” And yet, all of it has meaning and purpose, mostly unknown to us, often invisible at close range, and usually only seen looking back from a distance. Then, if we blur our eyes just a little, the patterns can be seen, apart from the confusing colors, shapes, and lines of cause and blame.

The soul always has a plan that the mind can’t see, and those who follow the soul’s illogical calling, arrive safe and sacred at the goal our life intended. Most of us who stick too close to what the world expects, may not get there, unless we are rescued by grace from our mistakes and given another start. I’ve noticed that God doesn’t like “why” questions, and apparently disregards them as nonessential.  It seems to come down to this:

There is a path — find it — and walk through light or darkness, sun or rain. Teach and learn from each other, for all have a gift to give. This is what you came here for.

We are not given to know the why of things. There was a poem,  given to me once, in a space between two lives – the time between an ending and a beginning. I don’t remember the first part of the poem, but the last part went:

I asked for directions
at the side of the road.
I was told, “Go on;
there is no other way
to go.”