Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Begin Again

It seems the more I try to live according to the “new age gurus'” philosophy of “living according to the highest form of my best self”, the more confused I get and the more isolated I feel. My life is not surrounded by like-minded people living according to those same philosophies. It appears to me that the more I self-actualize, the more uncomfortable my family and old friends (not all, but most) feel around me. I don’t like it much. It makes me feel a little lonely. I’m not sure how to surround myself with those like-minded people when I’m not at a “new age” workshop. Finding new friends who think like me is hard.

But, these philosophies resonate with my core Self. How can I not try to live them? Isn't it more important to be true to oneself than it is to please everyone around you or make them comfortable being in your company? Why am I still asking these questions? I'm in my mid-sixties and I am still questioning myself. This self query process is not constant, but remains when I feel most vulnerable. Loved ones like to joke that I am spoiled. My life is not filled with dramatic angst like many of theirs. I know that some are jealous of my lifestyle, but there is nothing I can do about their reaction. I am only responsible for mine. I know this, but this knowledge does not always help assuage the heartache I feel without loving family connection readily at hand.

Loved ones who surround me have much harder lives than I. I don't consider myself spoiled necessarily because my problems seem frivolous compared to caring for an aging parent in isolation or dealing with addicted adult children, for example. I see my life as a culmination of my choices. This life is where my choices to date have led me. I have a great life. What's wrong with that? I am blessed. I see it; I recognize it, and I am grateful for it. Every day. Why should I be made to feel guilty or bad about myself for that?

Part of my problem is that I am vulnerable to the pain of my loved ones. My "adult child" wants to dive in to fix, save or rescue them from their pain. I know intellectually I can't do this; I shouldn't do it. Their pain is their journey. They must travel their own path. If along the way they amast more sympathizers with a similar journey to support them in their pain than I, then what does that say? I travel "the road less traveled". I always have. I don't want to save them; I want to be completely comfortable in my own skin. Does this desire make me selfish? I want to be able to defend myself in the moment when someone I love tries to hurt my feelings out of a reaction to their own "green monster". I study, read, take workshops, find spiritual mentors in hopes of growing in a positive direction. I am. It's just a lonely road sometimes. I don't think I'm selfish, but sometimes I wonder. I doubt. I question.

Dealing with the loneliness can be relatively easy at times, but at others it seems impossible. At those difficult moments, my heart aches so badly, I need to wrap my arms tightly around myself trying to stay the pain. I must stop thinking about this pain as an outward pain, and remind myself that it's source is inward. I must go inward much more often. That is where the healing and the knowledge lives. I know this, but fear keeps me from going there daily. Fear of what? That is the ultimate question I find difficult to answer. Life experiences in spiritual exploration have taught me there is no need to fear. Intellectually I know this, but my heart holds me back. I'm still working on this one.

The Self Work is my life process. I will continue to question until the day I die. I think that's what this journey is all about. Learning who I am. Really. The external, physical challenges our lives present us through the choices we make are the lessons we must learn. I think we decide before we come into this world what lessons we require; form alliances with other spiritual beings to help us in our quest on earth, then come here and do what we need to learn. Crazy? Who knows. None of us will really know until we return to our spiritual Home. Until then, I will continue searching for like-minded friends and allies wherever I go because having a support system is the key to success in any venture. None of us can do anything alone. We may think we can, and we may try. But, life is so much harder living it in isolation. Life is meant to be fun, happy and joyous. I truly believe this. Finding like beings to share it with only makes life easier. This belief is my Truth. Being comfortable in my Truth is my Journey. I hope I see you on the Path. Namaste.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Is R-E-S-P-E-C-T an outmoded family value?

I met a man once who told a story that he and his wife chuckled at and nodded their heads with acceptance and understand, but that I found a little disturbing. I think I felt disturbed because I have been wrestling for a while now about young people showing (or not) respect towards their elders, in particular. Has our "Baby-Boomer" generation decided that demonstrating respect and consideration of family members is an old-fashioned and unnecessary value to continue teaching our children? Or is the meaning of "family" that members of a family unit can abuse each other and have that be an acceptable form of behavior?

This man said he needed to mow his lawn. He has a rider and a power-mower, but they were both missing from his garage. So, he decided to edge his lawn instead, but that was also missing. Then he thought he could weed-whack, but found that tool gone as well. Finally, out of desperation, he said he could at least blow leaves off the driveway, but the blower was also missing. So the man called his two sons and said, "My grass needs cutting, edging and weed-whacking, and the leaves need blowing. Whoever has those tools, come over and do it." His lawn got mowed, but none of the tools reappeared in his garage.

The point that struck me in this story is that neither of his sons asked to use their father's tools. They just came over and took them from the garage without saying a word. Again, this man and his wife both knowingly shook their heads as if they were saying, "Kids are just like that. Isn't it annoying?" But, I ask, "Why is this behavior acceptable?"

I remember as a child, siblings stealing from one another as an accepted behavior. I still see that behavior in some of them and their children as adults, except now it's called "borrowing". The problem is the items that are borrowed are still never returned. The owners don't ask for the items back unless they are really valuable at some level, or they want to wear that sweater again or use that necklace. And, the borrowers don't even consider returning the items. The attitude seems to be, "Finders keepers...". I don't get how this behavior is okay. What am I missing?

And, what ever happened to asking for permission? Is the attitude really, "What's mine is mine and what's yours is mine" when it comes to immediate family? Does this behavior transfer to borrowing things from close friends or even strangers? What ever happened to respecting others and their belongings?

Rabid Dogs

America: the "Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave". Disagreement is tolerated, as long as one doesn't disagree with the people in charge, and discussion is encouraged, as long as it agrees with those in power. Share a differing view of anything from the majority, and expect ostracization, a beating, or death in the extreme. This behavior is exhibited among people of "sane mind". Add insanity or troubled minds or mental health issues to the mix, and chaos runs rampant. Try to legislate that behavior. Impossible.

But, that's what our legislators across this great nation do: legislate the impossibly chaotic behavior of millions of people, whether they live in densely populated areas or in wide open spaces. Human behavior cannot be legislated. That is the problem. Legislation in this country, as the only country I live in and experience every day, is reactive. One human being having a bad day can ruin that day for the rest of us. Then, in order to ensure the bad behavior "does not ever happen again", lawmakers create a restriction on human behavior. They create the restrictive law thinking human beings will obey it and change the behavior. Is this thinking another form of insanity? Insanity is defined as beating one's head over and over against a brick wall expecting a different result each time. Humans experience these laws as just taking one more thing away from them and revolt in some inappropriate way.

What, then, does change or modify human behavior: the carrot or the stick? Are these really the only two options available to creatures capable of sending a person into outer space? They are the two options that may generate an immediate result, and that is really the point isn't it? Human beings, especially in this day and age, require an immediate result. Some people cannot stop txting and driving, for example. I witnessed an airline hostess threaten to throw a coach passenger off the plane last year because he refused to shut his cell phone off prior to take-off. Are we so adverse to being disconnected from the internet that we are willing to risk our lives and that of others around us? I think, yes. We have become unconscious beings, who walk around or drive with our eyes focused on our Smart Phones or iPads instead of the stairs or the road. If a friend doesn't immediately text us back, we are wondering what's wrong. If we don't see an immediate result from funding a program designed to help those less fortunate, we are ready to stop wasting our precious tax dollars and dump the program.We blame those with less opportunities or "wear with all" instead of the lawmakers still trying to regulate unconscious behavior.

I saw two postings this week about the gun debate. One was a video testimony in Texas of Dr. Susan Gratia who described the horror story of watching both her parents be gunned down by a man who drove his car into a restaurant and began shooting everyone in sight. She managed to escape, but her parents were both killed. She said, "I can't be mad at that man because that would be like getting mad at a rabid dog. I can't get mad at the guns because they didn't pull their own triggers..." She declared that the Second Amendment was created to protect the people from the lawmakers, and she raised her arm in a sweeping motion to gesture that she meant the entire committee before her. It was a powerful statement that left me a little speechless.

Then, there was a statement posted by Darrell Scott, the father of a daughter gunned down at Columbine High School in Littleton, CO. Mr. Scott declared that the fault lies with legislators who outlaw God in our society. He says that, "We have refused to honor God, and in so doing, we open the doors to hatred and violence." I tend to agree with his reasoning. We are three-part beings: body, mind and spirit. When we ignore any part of our makeup, that part "will go on strike, and you will age faster. You're in the driver's seat", according to Dr. Mehmet Oz in an AARP newsletter I received today in email. I believe we as a species also suffer when we ignore our spiritual selves in the same way our body and mind suffers when we ignore them.

How then can we as a society deal with "the crazies" who flip out and gun down innocents for seemingly no reason? The answer is as complicated as the question, I'm afraid. There is no immediate "quick fix" for cumulative mental illness, whether its source be from genetics, disease or environment. There are no quick fixes. Period. How then do we accept long-term solutions in a society that thrives on immediate gratification? We address the child in every person, young and old alike as if we were their parent: the parents of yesteryear, who weren't afraid to discipline their child.

I have discovered over my life that there are more ways to discipline a child than with hitting because spankings, and regretfully rage-induced punching in my guilty mind for one, do not teach a child much. All the child remembers is the pain from that open hand, fist or belt. My father hit us as his father probably did to him and I did to my son. That's the only kind of punishment for unacceptable behavior we knew then. Child psychology today honors the intelligence and rights of a child now. But that honor also goes a little too far in my opinion. Children have rights, of course, but parents must still provide guidance and behavior modification when a child acts out inappropriately.

Parents today are very busy trying to keep a job and make enough money to feed, clothe and shelter their child. Parenting is hard enough work without adding the struggle to survive in the modern age. Children report their parents to DSS (Department of Social Services) rather than endure any kind of punishment for bad behavior they don't like. Parents then become leary of disciplining their child, and not much assistance is given them to find other ways to help them be good guides for their children. Lots of parents don't have time to look for help, or think help is unavailable to them. Do we discount these people and continue to allow them to fall through the cracks? What then happens to those children who also get lost in the system? They grow up to shoot their parents or other children in a troubled-mind rage, in some cases. Or, they become so angry, they just want to lash out with any weapon available; rape or assault the closest person that looks cross-eyed at them, or jump off the nearest bridge in frustration. Can we settle for this as a society? I really don't think so. I cannot believe so.

Just think of the rabid dog who is out of control and wreaking havoc on everyone. Fear of that dog keeps humans at a distance. Guns close the distance and makes the humans feel safer. Fear is the driver. Media attention is the propagator of fear in our society. Reactive and restrictive legislation is the bandaid result of it all. Can a little bandaid stem the gusher bleeding from all this pain? Absolutely not. What, then, is the answer? It may take a "Super Friend" to figure it out. It's as complicated and multi-faceted as the problem. It's time to address the source of the behavior that causes the problem, and not be driven by the need for immediate fixes. Healing the source takes a lifetime, and no law maker driven to keep his or her job wants to risk losing it. So those legislators buy stock in the bandage companies and make more money. That's what we Americans lovingly call Capitalism. What's in it for me, you say? Exactly.

We think it takes a big stick to change human behavior, when maybe it just takes nuturing and support over time: a little love and understanding built into programs that help everyone be better than they think they are. Help every day, taking baby steps along the way. Television ads and more programming that provides insight instead of paranoia. "Yeah, that's the ticket." As Hillary Clinton once wrote, "It Takes A Village" She was laughed at then, but she was right too. We as a society must realize it will require us to work together to make positive, lasting change happen. We can no longer afford to work against one another.