While odds are we won’t be faced with armed conflict over a slight to our allegiances or affront to our honor, there is value in adopting an old samurai practice for developing resilience.
If we sit for a moment, before leaving our gates, imagining sneers, jeers, disgust, clucks, *tsks* and frowns of all those disapproving our very existence, much less our opinions, dress, gender, age, skin color, the way we walk or talk or breath —if we imagine all the rude drivers, pedestrians, shopping carts cutting us off, tailgating, flipping us the finger for being too fast, too slow, taking up space. And throw in all the clerks, officials, staff and petty tyrants, annoyed to be of service. All the macho, catty, salacious or haughty stares, challenges, brush-offs and confrontations of the day. But also: all the unexpected smiles, and courtesies, the random acts of kindness, the joy or excitement in a child’s face, the looks of love and shared intimacies. The frail, the innocent, the wonder. We can start our day with equanimity, without Pollyanna expectations or cynical fatalism. The world is simply what it is. Both the pettiness and grandeur. And it’s nothing personal, to those prepared for its full embrace.
let it rain. 7 days, six nights. I don’t care. what it means. dirt clods dissolved and flowing mud. down the drains of circumstance. in the streets let them dance the drops and splashes the goulashes of goblin children and the screams and reveries of the trees lashed by wind the moon ppehole through the sky letting in all the train of fraiy lights cast on earth and moving sparks of firefly. let the streams trun their courses let the mountains hold their orurses there is no passage here. not for you, enver for me. and I absolve myself to sit by this creek until th e flood waters rises, until the bags beneath my eyes sink into sleep and the world is finally queit as the world can be at least for me. and I don’t want to hear your stories, or your tales or your poems, don’t want to hear what ails you or makes you happy, don’t want your message from creation, just leave me be, hear by my tree. by the water benath my knee as I wade in the shallow currents and look for that damn fish that made a face as me while I was minding my own bisuness and tending my own garden to see what would grow. and found, nothing grew in this soul of solidtude but the need to express its silence. kind of counter productive don’t you thing=k. but it assures me, that anything I pursue or try to catch has an oppposite end, so I should be preapred. whatever that means. because it means nothing to me. never did, never will. that’s what I say about it anyway. and I hear there are others with other sayings but what good do they do me? like I can carry them in my pockets and pull them out to pay the feery
freeway outside my hotel room
mine is the only car parked in the front
of this dilapidated outpost
that was never a great destination
just a tiny dutsy stop alongside
a passage to greater things
lizards scramble cross the lot searching for breakfast
I sip stale coffee and watch velvet Elvis
sounds rushing belay the isolation
of the room and the non-city that this place resides
in the course of everyday destinations
portals of gargoyles lounging around royal arches
guarding hamburgers of paradise where millions, no
billions, are served
who awaits to collect all these hungry souls, their chicken nuggets
who doles out plastic toys of smelted dreams
that dangle from attention moments before their empty nutrition
is tossed roadside as offerings lizards nudge aside to look for living things
crawlies scurrying across dirt and rock
amidst towering things of tiny consequence while whole worlds spin and move and cross round invisible to concerns
within larger spheres so many charts and gravitations
whirls and crescents and heliocentric orbits
circling the most mundane
enveloping the most amazing
and it hardly even matters the difference
the arcs and jolts of attention
currencies of common denomination
paying their tithes
at the church of latter day mediocrity
“This theory of personality actually started with the combination of two simple notions: first, that man might be better understood if he were viewed in the perspective of the centuries rather than in the flicker of passing moments; and second, that each man contemplates in his own personal way the stream of events upon which he finds himself so swiftly borne. Perhaps within this interplay of the durable and the ephemeral we may discover ever more hopeful ways in which the individual man can restructure his life. The idea seems worth pursuing.”
Kelly, George. The Psychology of Personal Constructs: Volume One: Theory and Personality: 1 . Taylor and Francis.
hu->man. Kelly proposes we look at the interface between our expectations moment to moment in what is coming our way, based on our personal constructs of beliefs, and our existence in the larger time and possibility span than our little individual flicker of existence illuminates. Hacking this interface is our key to the kingdom.
his notion, called “personal construct theory” was developed back in 1955, and is one of the most interesting ever proposed in the field of psychology of personality. In my opinion. and especially today when we are understanding more about the incredible symbioses and membranes that are part of life at every level. from our guts to the psychedelics in our brains. and that the same patterns pop-up cross domain, whether physical, mental or mathematical.
so what algorithms does Kelly propose for instrumenting this interface to expand our worlds? topic of future explorations
My dear, here we must run as fast as we can, just to stay in place. And if you wish to go anywhere you must run twice as fast as that.
-Queen of Hearts
It is difficult to change. It seems easier to stay in place. But just try to stay in the same place and the ground will inevitably shift. Nothing is constant. Then with neither resilience nor reserves prepared we struggle to adapt to what we can no longer avoid. A comfort zone has a constantly contracting circumference. Though it may be so gradual as to be imperceptible.
Some brothers and sisters on the Red Road carry medicine bags close to their hearts. To the unacquainted these bones and rocks and assorted trinkets are perhaps of some sentimental value. To those on the path these are objects of power. These are instruments of mobility.
And to those whose path is not the broad, bustling byways of the consensual, power to navigate change outside the comfort zone is key to their independence.
Power can be stalked. But not power over others, or even power over circumstance. Rather power that lets us act with intention, choose our response, break out of the shell of limiting beliefs and dark gravitational wells keeping us from the world’s magic and infinite possibilities. Keeping us from walking ahead.
Gurdjieff once remarked that most of us cannot DO anything. To do something requires at least a limited amount of wakefulness. Which is not the same as mindfulness, but something more akin to a power to act. Without being awake, whatever we do is merely a predictable consequence of the what comes before. A billiard ball cascade of our limited experience and selective gullibility, playing out our habitual repertoires. We have little choice. We are semi-autonomous beings and usually more autonomous than semi.
So how do we stalk enough surplus power to do more than maintain our perimeters? How do we stop treading water and start going places?
While there are principles and lineages, it is an individual undertaking, and why medicine bags are such personal things. We each have different tumblers to spin to unlock the magic within ourselves and our world. And the reason for the bag is, even when we discover these combos, they are easy to lose or forget. Like the memories of a beautiful dream upon awakening. But reversed 🙂
Stalking power, for me, is a daily practice of reminders. I am forgetful. I know things intellectual that take a while to absorb into my being. I need repetition, especially with the obvious. But power can also be gleaned through noticing things during the day that exude power. Power we can partake of by catching it with our attention. Street omens. Sometimes as simple as an overheard word or phrase, the sudden appearance of a bird, or a sound or melody. A breeze against our face. Or a wisp of memory from deep in the past. Totems of power are strewn throughout a typical day like shells on a beach. Being present for them adds something to our energy field. Makes it more permeable to receiving even more. Stalking becomes a way we approach the day. To those who have, more will be given.
Stalking accumulates but guard how we give power away daily. Incessantly. Most of us leak personal power like a sieve so it’s hard to keep replenished much less build a surplus for free action. We have no reserves for doing much other than what we’ve always done. And will is a finite resource. But the more aware of opportunities to collect and the more careful we are in spending, the more power we can build and retain. And emanate rather than disperse. To spend a day stalking to build the currency of intention has different qualitative feels than a day of mindless automatism. To those who have not, more shall be taken. 1
My medicine kit ~spells~ help me remember and use opportunity wisely. Some of are simple statements:
“Stop saying things that make me weak.” This reminds me to speak with integrity. To know my intention, and assumptions, when communicating and assess whether they are beneficial. And whether it is better, as it often is, to abide with silence. And to observe, what I say to myself. Am I ally or enemy?
Using the eyes skillfully. Not hooked by desire, distractions, searching for validations like: approval, likability, respect, safety, etc. When I catch myself looking for something in the eyes/expressions of others, I bleed personal power by seeking the source through social engagement. Trying to find something missing outside rather than within2. This also goes for online, social media response or opinion. Which especially speaks to the precept above on integrity of speech. And abiding in silence.
Take nothing personal. Semi-autonomous reminder, in both myself and the action of others. How others react is not about me, and none of my business. It’s about their imprints on what my appearance or my behavior signals, triggers or represents. Remembering this, we sometimes realize how little we see of others, and they of us. How quickly we judge. A corollary: we are as free as we allow the freedom of others. Judge others, we imply judgments about ourselves. We give away hoards of personal power to yoke ourselves with an internalized consensus and conformity. For protection and security. To secure our position in tribal rankings. Time to change allies. More later.
Part of not taking things personally is not taking myself personally. It’s like a zen thing, dude. In the Egyptian afterlife, the newly dead are judged by weighing their heart against a feather. Most ways I weigh down my heart is through self-importance. As if shit happening to me were blessings or curses a swarm of happenstance entering or leaving, with fanfare or stealth, my small personal field. More potent for personal power is acceptance. Things come and go. Try to hang on to them or push them away at your peril. Acceptance is learning grace and lightness of being. To me, this often manifests in unclenching the body. A body is a koan3.
Death as an adviser. Don’t take anything anyone does personally — do take your own death personally. Get to know this, our most reliable and forthright friend, who never bullshits about what’s important in our lives. And usually instructive in ways we both discover and squander our personal power.
These are trinkets in my bag. Glad to share. I’m sure you have trinkets of your own, some you may have forgotten, until now. Happy hunting and Bright blessings
Spawn of fantasies
Sitting the appraisable
Pig Cupid his rosy snout
Rooting erotic garbage
“Once upon a time”
Pulls a weed white star-topped
Among wild oats sown in mucous membrane
I would an eye in a Bengal light
Eternity in a sky-rocket
Constellations in an ocean
Whose rivers run no fresher
Than a trickle of saliva
There are suspect places
I must live in my lantern
Trimming subliminal flicker
Virginal to the bellows
by Mina Loy
that unlocks any door
is no use to me
these shadows made of light
are invisible to my eyes
and why does asphalt and rubber
sound like drawn out sighs
i am superficial
than the surface of things
not meant for me
but I’m so plastic
with everything true
no second chance
any plan b
is now an a
a coin flip away
in my catalog of skillful means
So far, to recap:
- Death as an ally
- Unclinching, lightness of being
- A high level of unbotheredness about everyday things and clarity about reactive attachments and external opinion
Living more vividly
Time and time again I get fed up to the max with the mundane. With mediocrity in myself and my world. Lately, I often find I’ve muddled through a perfectly good day. As if I were killing time. Being too sensitive to slight variations in mood or energy and reading them as disincentives to engage in the myriad of pursuits available to me. I also second-think, become distracted and continually discount the beauty of flow in engaging with tasks that, while they may not seem of deep mystical significance, are nevertheless invitations to engage the day and potentiate my time. As nerdy as they may appear, and I’m really judging this from somewhere allegedly more “cool” … these avenues of discovery, learning and exploration are as valid and lead as deeply into the fabric of the world as anything more ostensibly “spiritual.” Know one thing to know all things as a sage once remarked.
So the skillful means here is to engage totally with what I am pursuing without, at least during the course of the day, sidetracking or second-guessing its relevance to the bigger picture. The bigger picture is to live vividly and with flow. Not waiting to be gob smacked by some metaphysical lotto of privileged experience.
I’ve relocated mentally and physically many times in this life. And while I believe, and have confirmed, that wherever we go, there we are; that it’s not so much the location —it’s what we bring with us (or what we leave behind)— there is still value in a locale to elicit dormant capabilities and insights. Be this locale an altered state, a different country, a physical practice or just an excursion beyond the comfort zone.
But there has always been a bordertown on the fringes of consciousness that attracts me like no other. Sometimes it seems I have a whole life there I have forgotten. People I know and things I’ve done that will not be ignored, for long. It’s more home to me in many ways than whatever this place is now where I spend most of my time. The “wall” that’s being politicized currently is an interesting metaphor on how we think we should isolate ourselves from these unruly aspects of being. And where our borders should properly be constructed.
There are several ways to get to bordertown. Dreaming is a big one. And it’s where I often encounter this whole sense of another life I’m living in parallel. But its most powerful aspect is as an overlay, a dimension of this reality. Chroma. And it encourages living a little sideways from the consensual. Through magic, through intent. But most directly through taking a bit of time during the day to sink into the mind and open, with intent, to other ways of touching the world; unfolding an array of internal senses that are feeble in the light and atrophied with neglect. But which show a nuance to reality that enriches the fabric of existence.
Mortality, for example. I’m suspicious of this one. A part of me has absolutely no problem with it however it turns out. Blink out of existence, then who is to worry? Continues? Enjoy the adventure. Why worry either way? I have zero concern about whether or not I’ve adhered properly to some religious doctrine. And zero motivation to leave any sort of legacy or regard to how I might be remembered.
Another part of me is suspicious that previous part might be in denial. Suppressing fear or anxiety by disassociation of outcomes. Yet another part questions the suspicious part with, “so what is your suggestion? worry about it until the inevitable happens anyway? Appreciate the moments?” The appreciation and gratitude strikes a chord. It resonates authentically. And the inevitable breakdown, I’d like to do that with grace. And I’d like it to be a short transition. I’d like to keep my bearings if the adventure continues. And I think it will. That resonates as well.
This leaves me with the recognition that this ending stuff might be huge. That if I carry on oblivious to what’s coming, I might miss some real opportunities and squander a lot of precious resources on things that don’t matter. As long as I can keep the horizon of death in view, it can be a tremendous ally. And as with life so far, I also like to look down the road for clues on how best to prepare. Not to the extent of sacrificing today for tomorrow, but for investing in skills that are handy across contexts.
The skills I think most important here and now, from this vantage, are for one: the ability to let go. I have this baseline of tension that seems to run quite deep. I think it’s built on a bedrock of layers and layers of protective insulation where protection was freezing parts of my being, making pieces rigid to resist impact and hanging on tightly to things I didn’t want to lose or have stolen from my soul. It was building a little fortress to secure a foothold in the world.
To let go of this is to sink in order to fly. In its most physical sense, this is relaxation. In the mind, lightness of being.
The next skillful action, number two: is learning how to sink without panic. Sinking is accepting whatever I am feeling and thinking without trying to “should” it or change it or judging myself for the feeling or thought’s unbidden arising. To start understanding through this the reality of impermanence. Of the temporal nature of selves.
The third skillful means: is to question and review some very old and very deep ways I’ve been contracted to think and feel. By circumstances of my culture and my timeline in evolution. Ways parts of myself have been programmed and how best to leverage parts of myself that are free to help wake up.
Concretely, this means questioning very basic assumptions like: is there any reason to feel upset about anything? How is that useful? And this doesn’t mean trying to be coldly logical about everything, it means questioning how feeling bad, which is certainly not my preference, is used in ways usually not in my best interest. To research what agenda these feelings serve. Because in any given scenario I act more resourcefully without these “triggers.” And I do not subscribe to the belief that we need to be punished, or punish ourselves, in order to behave or be motivated to do good. I have a moral compass without this, thank you. No one has bound me, I want to sustain the realization that I am already free.
And other sundry thoughts…