Your default: Do you welcome or fear a Change of State?

flip-your-optimism-onLife has a way of grabbing my attention and reminding me daily of what’s important.  Loved ones.  Health.  Friendship.  Family.  Compassion.  Laughter.  My lovely dog companion.  Creativity.  Nutrition and exercise.  Meditation. Generosity of spirit.  Appreciation in the moment.  When I become distracted by the trivialities that numb this awareness,  I oftentimes find myself feeling confronted . . . or greeted . . . . by a Change of State.  Confronted or greeted?  How I determine Change’s perceived benevolence factor is how I shun or welcome it.

The other day I found myself frozen in a moment of experiencing a Change of State.  Frozen.  It was inevitable that a new paradigm was opening its doors to me.  And I was immobilized with fear.

The stealth speed Continue reading

Freedom. What is it?

wishing_for_freedom_by_rosiesnotred-d3h0imjWhat is freedom?

When I have asked people this question, their responses have been both delightfully unique and predictably predictable.  Freedom is time for travel, not having to work, doing whatever it is one wants to do, playing music, volunteering, not having to set an alarm clock every night, eating a limitless amount of cheescake and not gaining weight, experiencing no boundaries. . .

Many people equate freedom with money.  Financial freedom has its many perks that allow for choices that can be bought.  Exotic travel, a newer car, a bigger home, a better body that has been nipped, tucked, and enhanced.  A better wardrobe, more shoes, a bigger closet.

But what about those many things in life that do not have a price tag? Like health, love, laughter, respect, integrity . . . many of the things that ask that an active and committed and mindful choice be made.  Choices about the food we eat, how often we exercise, what kinds of supplements we want to add to our diet.  Our choices to extend love, to share, to forgive someone their humanity – even when we truly do not even feel like it.  Our choices to walk through the walls of our ego for a different view and laugh at ourselves and with others.  Choices to not sell ourselves short too quickly for a short-term solution.  Choices to believe that something wonderful is about to happen.  Always . . . believe that something wonderful is about to happen.  Choices to stay on the sunny side and to believe in optimistic outcomes.  All of these choices . . . we have so much freedom to choose in any given second of any given day from an infinite library of perspectives.

But I sometimes think that I tend to oversimplify . . . especially when I am writing at my old, favorite, beat-up library table with a fire going in the fireplace and a glass of white wine nearby.  There is beautiful music playing and it is official: we are on the sunny side of winter solstice.  I am blessed with so much and choices feel easier when life feels good.

I read East of Eden by John Steinbeck many years ago.  The idea of timshel is discussed – the Hebrew word for thou mayest.    We are born with a sense of free will that allows us to make choices for better or for worse.  Timshel is freedom of the mind, but isn’t it also freedom of the heart entwined with freedom of the mind?  I am not sure how to separate the two.  Which camefirst?  The thought or the feeling?  There are neuro-scientists and neuro-psychologists that can surely answer to this.  There is amazing and impressive research concerning our emotional intelligence and what occurs during an emotional hijacking . . . how our emotional brain races ahead of our rational brain.

timshel

Thoughts.  Feelings.  I am convinced that there is an additional element that blends and swirls with our thoughts and our feelings: timshel.  We can accomplish many amazing things; we can meet many goals; we can overcome staggering obstacles.  Amazing and stunning displays of success.  But what came first?  The Thought?  The Feeling that motivates and drives us?  Or the Freedom of Mind that opens the doors that allow our Thoughts and our Feelings to pass vigorously, creatively, and humbly into the worlds and dimensions around us?

john steinbeck quote east of edenWhat is freedom? ” . . . the way is open . . .”  Some definitions of freedom remove obligations but my current definition asks that I embrace responsibility for Freedom of Mind . . . for embracing timshel and understanding that thou mayest means different things to different people.  Defining anything can introduce a wealth of confusion and possibly disagreement.  Words, as wonderful and beautiful and elucidating as they can be, can also limit us in the ways of thou mayest – a blessing of optimism.  “Now that [we] don’t have to be perfect, [we] can be good.”  Simply put . . . what is freedom?  I believe that it is optimism.  Always believing in the possibility that something beautiful has the power to enter into my world. toaster oven

 

The Forest of Symbols

stacked-vintage-plates-de-25950074I love spending time on my back deck in the summertime.  Love it.  It has grown to be the sanctuary that I have always longed to create.  This makes me feel immeasurably happy.  Trees, starshine, relative quiet, begonias and ivy spilling out of pots.  Dinner served on oddball china accompanied by a glass of wine and excellent company in the day’s gloaming.  These things create a balance within.  I value it very much.

Beneath my deck is a fairly sharp drop-off into the ravine below.  At the foot of the ravine is a creek.  Although I cannot see the creek from my house, I can hear it burbling in the summer and rushing in the spring.

maple tree IThere are two maple trees that grow almost directly beneath my deck.  They arc out and away to clear the overhang of the deck, and they then bump right up against the railing in their quest for sunlight.

There is dense forest to the east so the sunrise is diffused and scanty.  To the west?  The house stands.  To the north and south?  My neighbors.  The sunlight?  A tight arc overhead.  Sunlight is a rare and divine commodity.  And these amazingly resilient maple trees keep overtaking all sun rights.

I dutifully trim each tree back each summer, so that I can maintain one roving and solitary sun spot on my deck at high noon.  I used to feel a distinct unease in my stomach when I trimmed these trees back.  They work so hard.  I look down at their beginnings . . . their roots . . . tucked beneath the deck, and I marvel.  These trees maintain an impressive will to survive.  I honor this and want it to be duly recognized.

Still . . . the sunshine is such a rare thing in the midst of the forest . . .

Survival.  Such a strong word . . . the state or fact of continuing to live or exist, typically in spite of an accident, ordeal, or difficult circumstances (“Google define:”)  Thinking about struggling tree seedlings in the dark underbelly of my deck could be considered to be difficult circumstances.  And lest I go too far and appear to be anthropomorphising a maple tree . . . I do acknowledge that what may seem dark and uninviting to me might pose as ideal growing conditions for a maple seedling.  It’s possible.

Still, the sunlight.  There is always the need for that.

Coincidence-FateAn accident?  I am not so sure about the word accident.  An accident poses so many debatable thoughts concerning its reality.  Do you believe in coincidence?  I do.  And I don’t.  I prefer to think in terms of “natural order” . . . that I am following a natural order that is designed as a result of the deliberate and spontaneous choices that I make.   I do somewhat embrace the notion of fate or destiny; still, I do believe that we are all capable of steering our lives into states of “coincidence” that override all of the imaginings that we could and can concoct.

Coincidence.  One never knows when a Miracle is going to line up ahead of you and then turn around and say hello.  toaster oven

Robert Moss in his awesome book The Three “Only” Things writes about coincidence.  Moss writes:

“Everything that enters our field of perception means something, large or small. Everything speaks to us, if we will take off our headphones and hear a different sound track. Everything corresponds. We travel better in the forest of symbols when we are open and available to all the forms of meaning that are watching and waiting for us.”
Robert Moss, The Three “Only” Things: Tapping the Power of Dreams, Coincidence, and Imagination

“The forest of symbols”:  lovelovelove this.  The vastly precocious meaning of these symbols.

The summer when I was reading Moss’ book . . . Wow!  But was I paying attention!  To the largest and smallest of things.  Dragonflies performing a skittering and buzzing ballet against a blue sky.  Scratched up pennies on the sidewalk.  Cloud patterns.  Bottle caps in the gutters.  Bees dancing around blossoms.  A message scrawled across the back of a coaster in a bar.  A Lego man forgotten in the grass after a foot-stomping outdoor concert.  All of these crazy and amazing symbols were presenting themselves from all angles of the forest.  I was listening, watching, thinking, wondering, journaling, creating.

I remember this summer like no other.  Why?  I was paying attention.  I honored coincidence as the harbinger of amazinglifeforce.  The stories I created in my journaling that summer were quite fanciful actually.  I saw all of these symbols as positive omens for an ultimate outcome that would be blissful.  And happy.  And rewarding.  It felt so great.

Falling-asleep-forestI see now that “the forest of symbols” were there for everyone else to see, too.  It was how I was perceiving these things that proved unique to me . . . to what it was that I believed would make for a fulfilling life.  I was seeking an apex to my compilation of coincidence.  I wanted to believe that seeing 4 people walk past me within half an hour and all wearing orange t-shirts meant something.  Pay no mind to the fact that there was road work being conducted on the street above my point of musing.  Those 4 orange t-shirts were all  harbingers of good things to come.  I was paying attention.

happinessI know why I loved that summer.  It was because I allowed myself the trajectory of fancy that dreaming allows.  My journaling put my thoughts of positivity onto tangible pieces of paper in a now-dog-eared spiral notebook.  I glanced through this journal just this past weekend.  It is written in a curious code that can only be understood by me.  I continue to maintain contact with the dreamer within who wrote all of those optimistic thoughts.  I was going somewhere that summer.  I just didn’t know where or when.  But I knew why.  I wanted to find a perfect center of bliss in my life.

I digress.  Those two maple trees.  Sun survival.  I generally allow them to grow 6 feet or so above the railing — which doesn’t take long. The loppers come out of obscurity and then my sun spot returns to me — my small roving spotlight of vitamin D.  Last weekend I gave each tree a haircut at slightly above deck-railing height, knowing that we both want to grow in the same spot.

tree prunersI am a careful pruner.  I went online and read up on best practices for tree pruning.  I mean no harm and intend no long-lasting damage.  I honor the growth and the spirit in these trees that some folk in this part of the world regard as “weed trees.”  These trees remind me to pay attention.  Sunlight can be lost, but it can be regained.  The planet keeps spinning and we — the trees and I — keep growing and stretching for more.  We attain.  We share space and light.

I love my back deck.  This summer, the rewards of all of that positivity from several summers ago have come to fruition.  I was a believer when I was spinning my “coincidental” symbols into pure sweetness.  And light.

“Everything . . . means something . . . everything speaks to us  . . . everything corresponds . . .”  I hold this thought as I sit here on the back deck and tap away on the keyboard.  I remain ever “open and available to all the forms of meaning that are watching and waiting for [me].”  I am paying attention.Huge snail
treeline