Category Archives: Insight

The Threshold

from Osho Zen Tarot deck

 I remembered the card differently. I had seen it so often long ago when desperate for direction I would search the deck to find my way. Recently I bought the Zen Tarot deck again, not so much for the wishing as for the beautiful symbolism in the cards.

In my mind I saw a child standing at an open door ready to take a step out of the confines of his life. Imagine my surprise in finding the gate padlocked in this card I had seen so many times! It wasn’t a card to signify moving forward but a card signifying the feeling of being trapped, locked out of a life he couldn’t reach. It was the nightmare of those years as I grieved my “failure” to be able to find the way to succeed in the marriage that had ended. The years of trying had all but erased the person I once was, still colouring outside the lines but recognized as having worth in circles of friendship, in my studies, and in my workplace. The torn pieces of hope were roughly bound together in a crooked effigy of living.

Such a contrast between that time of breaking a decade and a half ago and the breaking I have been passing through in the past months! This also began with grief as the words of another with power to do so walled me out of my passionate dream celebrated in the past years, lived in the present and anticipated for the future until retirement.

But each breaking had done its work of cleaning more of the uneven growth that had effected my ability to walk with steadiness through the stormy moments of life. Over a decade has passed since the day a short film allowed me to give myself permission to not be able to communicate with someone who chose not to communicate with me. I began to accept what I would later read in a book by Parker Palmer. My life was speaking who I was meant to be. What I counted as my successes and my failures illuminated the reality of who I was within. Decades of trying began to be unwound as I spoke the “No” in my spirit that was the beginning of a renewed, more vibrant “Yes” to life.

Though each break was a labyrinth in itself, my life has been a labyrinth of searching for that way out of the confines created by my anxious desire to please and the inability to feel good enough for the ones who held power in my life. The card showed me something I had not realized. That short film had been the centre, the revelation which would begin my return journey.

This moment I had interpreted as the beginning of the labyrinth return journey was something more. I had been on a spiralling movement for years, getting caught in the circling yet ever moving outward to a more expansive life. This moment is not a beginning of the return but a wider circle in the spiral drawing me to a place where I could see the threshold, the exit into a fuller living. 

Only, this time, the chains that held the gate shut are missing and the gate has swung open inviting me to take those final steps.

photograph by L.J.A.

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Failure to measure up or a time to re-vision possibilities?

DSC00082rvOff in the north with no computer access, I saved this as an email to myself. Today, opening it, I found the very message I needed to hear. It is a time for revisioning  the circumstances of life. Written December 31, 2014

Failure. Not measuring up to expectations. How often labels create the stooped shoulders and flagging spirit as good intentions go wrong.  The spark inside seems doomed to flicker out. I am not what they need. I do not have what it takes.

But wait! You needn’t read many stories about inventions to realize that just such a state of disappointed lack of success is often the gateway to new breakthroughs. This morning I read of one such discovery in a collection of music trivia.

It was the 1970’s. Mono recordings in portable tape recorders didn’t meet the grade so a Sony team put time and effort into shrinking speaker parts to put in a pocket size case. They could fit in the playback and speakers but not the recording parts.  The time and money seemed wasted. The prototype was an expensive failure.

Except, the quality of sound was good. The Sony team kept the failed product around to listen to music as they worked.

It took a quirky, creative visionary to see the potential of what had been viewed a failure. By roaming the building Morita Ibuka knew what was occurring beyond the narrow scope of a single project. To Morita, a tiny player when paired with lightweight headphones had potential. But who wanted a tape recorder that couldn’t record?

Skepticism met the idea at every turn.  Limited thinking could have sunk the idea as labelling and target audiences all went through shifts of perspective.

You know the rest of the story. The idea of “slim, portable, personal music player” has gone through various configurations and has become a staple in our society.

Are there parts of your life that you have hidden away because structures around you have led you to believe your ideas or beliefs or philosophy or accomplishments don’t meet some pre established criteria?

Who knows? In the uniqueness of you there may be the invention that can impact the world in large or small ways. It may simply require some revisioning.

May God grant us the creative quirkiness to search for worth in what we have been led to believe are the failures in our lives.

Source material: “Now Hear This!”, Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader Plunges into Music, 2007 (the irony of a source like this for the article is fully intended but information about inventions can be found in numerous publications)

Dear Once Upon a Time

finding homeDear Once Upon A Time,

You believed the fairytales of a woman’s ability to be like a god changing the attitudes of another, bringing to life your fairytale perfect home. You believed that you could change enough, be enough to satisfy the desires of those who were the forces of power in the world you had been taught to believe. For you, the Stepford Wife existence would have been a mercy. You would not have had to deal with me.

When among the hoped for fairytales, the nightmare took root you fought with virtual tooth and claw to keep me trapped within the prescriptions of your schedules and I tried to comply, tried to find the line between your ridged expectations and the fluidity of my visions of a world of creative possibility waiting to be explored. It was never enough. He had called me frivolous, an escape. And you did not have the talent set that would have made it all better, that would have finally brought the acceptance you so longed for. The anger and despair in you built, an anger you could not accept. You broke when finally you came to realize things would not change.

Someone saw me in you then. She called me an eagle locked in a cage. Her vision gave you hope that perhaps I was not a chain that held you down but wings waiting inside and tentatively you began to seek me again.

For many more years you would struggle to find a way for both of us to be accepted without breaking the code they  had set you in throughout your life. It was an uneasy alliance for your world had become one that had little room for me. As before, when despair robbed you of the energy to hold me down you let me emerge to write words of hope that you could read or to record a memory you would someday need. In those years, you let me create at times as well, practical crafts, nothing too frivolous.

You even tried to kill me when you realized my presence would never allow your world to have the stability of acceptance in a fairytale romance you had fought for so long. It was easier to blame and discard me then to face your humanness which kept you from being a god with power to effect the choices of another.

Ironically, when you finally accepted the reality of your life and began to heal in the aloneness of distance, you still could not accept my presence in your life. You still blamed me for being. They called it anxiety and depression. I knew that it was your raging grief at not being god enough to meet the expectations of the world of thought you had been raised in. The day you finally came face to face with your freedom not to be responsible for the choices of another, you began to heal.

I had learned to wait, that even within myself I could not impose a vision on the part of me still in the pain of disillusioned dreams. It would be years before I would meet the images of the hurt woman in a way that you could begin to see the painfulness of a life without me. Our uneasy alliance would find more compatibility in our house of disappointing or distant relationships.

You still held a separate face within the mirror. My face aged yet yours remained trapped in the age your dreams stood still. Mine was a face you did not recognize as the lines slowly changed from the rigid prison of your lost dreams. There was an uncomfortableness when you looked in the mirror. You could not accept seeing me so clearly etched into the surface of your life.

A few days ago I looked in the mirror and only saw this face. The specter of your trapped image was gone. It has not returned. I can not feel you anymore. I can feel the legacy you left of finding order to build my life within, but your anxiety and discomfort are gone. There is a quietness within of just being.

Like other trapped pieces met through the years of healing you have faded into memory. I only hope you found that  inner island of healing that was hidden from us years ago when time came to put so much of the past to rest. I hope you are finally happy there feeling the acceptance you IMG_3118longed for.

But I go on, inwardly whole and healthy, living fully in this life that was always mine to live. I can only hope I am wiser now and aware enough to see the changes in direction that are needed when anxiety sends signals of danger ahead.

I have learned from you. Thank you for all you added in my life in the years you did not recognize your worth.

Peace to you,

Myself

 

 

You will know the truth

Truth – I didn’t realize what a volitile word it was until last night. I dared to make a comment about levels of truth, the truths of my life as opposed to a greater truth that I come to know through the interactions with others whether in person or through things that I read.

That seemed to be heady stuff for the group. Only eternal, unchangeable things could truly be called truth seemed to be the outcome. Otherwise, we should use the word “perception” or “incite”. To call something “my” truth seemed almost to be a type of sacrilege. And yet, the very definition of eternal unchangeable disallows the word true or truth to be linked to any constructs of our understanding of anything.

Take the story we were discussing in which the word truth came into contention — The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Admittedly a man-made construct, the purpose was to tell a children’s story that had some deeper meaning. So in it, when Peter and Susan can’t accept the event in Lucy’s life that she says is true, they go to the professor. Their options are that she, who has up to now been thought to be truthful, was lying or, more frighteningly, she was not sound in her head. Since the construct of her story could not be lined up with the immutable truths of their lives — the wardrobe verifiably had a solid wooden back, Lucy could not have an experience several hours long when only a minute or so had passed — they could not fathom another option. It takes the professor to help them even consider the possibility that she might be telling the truth.

Let’s take the simple factor of time. In the space of that time period which to Susan was a few minutes of time, Lucy met the faun, was convinced to walk with him to his house, had tea, was put to sleep by Mr. Timnus’s music, had the discussion about the witch’s designs on her and walked back to the lamppost and through the wardrobe back to the spare room. For this to be merely a “perception” or “incite” would make no sense. She has experienced a truth in terms of the time continuum that is out of sink with the others. Peter gives her the option of admitting it was a story she made up but Lucy denies that it is. She stands by her story even though the attitude of the others is painful for her. For Lucy to accept the fixed ideas of truth that she had been raised with would be to deny the truth of her actual experience. The professor contradicts expectations of what is mature thought by causing Peter and Susan to begin to question their fixed ideas about what exists and what is possible. of what is “truth”.

Have you ever been in the position where some experience has called you to question all that you once held as solid? I have and have too often chosen Edmund’s option, not out of spite but out of fear of the opinions of others. It doesn’t change the truth of what I experienced and slowly the closets of my being get stuffed to overflowing with the things I try to hide to be acceptable. The freedom of just relating with the Creator I believe in get shackled by denials that God could directly interact with me since others reject the experiences that have made that God real to me.

The Bible says, “You will know the truth and the truth shall set you free.” I grew up with rigid views of religion called “truth” that bound me instead of freeing my soul. Yet when I hit bottom emotionally all these rigid truths could not call me to life. It was the relationship with a power higher than I am that held me in those times. In my life, that relationship is the only truth I know how to stand on. It is only in that relationship that I find hope.

But I look forward to hearing from you. You see, the God that I believe in was great enough to create a world that no lifetime is long enough to fully understand. If that is true though, than the God I know is big enough to speak through that world in ways that will be heard with all the diversity of those who inhabit this planet with me. There is so much to learn about this One who has somehow reached into my life in ways I don’t even understand. There is so much to learn about this God that has revealed deity in ways beyond my cultural norms or fixed ideas.

Sorry, you will have to accept me talking about the “truth” in my life instead of keeping the word truth for some eternal construct out there that none of us can know on our own. When I allow others to limit truth to what they understand, I feel trapped and cornered by doubts. It is in the questions of life, in the acceptance of these personal “truths” and other “truths” that I may never fully comprehend, that I am reminded of the One who is greater than our understanding. And when I rest on the reality of those questions, I am free.