Travel Tuesday: Iceland

My wanderlust continues to grow and so I continue the Travel Tuesday series which is fast becoming a wish list for me!

This week, I Google-searched “happiest places to live,” because given some of the recent news and my short-lived season of disillusionment (see Saturday’s less-than-hopeful post about the California Drought) I was wondering:

Where are the places where citizens live in harmony and peace with one another? Do they exist? Do they exist in places where I can still get a cup of coffee and a cozy cafe? Or do I have to visit a tribe in the middle of the Amazon or sign up for a hipster barter-system commune in the Carolinas somewhere?

Much to my surprise, there actually exists measurement called the Global Peace Index (GPI) that is presented every year by the Institute for Economics and Peace. Apparently the GPI is applauded by important, peaceful people like the Dali Lama and probably Oprah, so let’s see what it has to say.

In 2014, the country with the highest score on the GPI was….

!! ICELAND !!

Compilation 1 Melaleuca Freedom Celebration

In fact, Iceland has scored in first place every year since the GPI began in 2007! Either somebody on the GPI board has a soft spot for Iceland, or it is a pretty special place. And why is it so special?

The GPI is based on factors like crime rate, incarceration rate, weapon accessibility, and war involvement that are combined to make three subcategories: Militarization, Society and Security, and Domestic and International Conflict. There are lots in interesting statistics on the site, including the national cost of violence, which for Iceland was US$105,000,000. Compare that to the U.S. cost which was $1,713,095,000,000. (By the way, in case some of you were wondering, the USA scored at number 101 out of 162 countries. :/)

Photo credit: Giulia Cimarosti

Photo credit: Giulia Cimarosti

Other than the economics, here are some other candidates for explaining Iceland’s happiness that I came across searching the web:

  • Nine months paid child leave
  • Air purity
  • Highest male life expectancy and almost highest female life expectancy
  • It-takes-a-village mentality to meet priority of rearing happy, healthy children
  • Björk 😉 — no really though, a vibrant artistic culture
  • Only country in Nato with no armed forces
  • Thriving economic system
  • Low sexism, low homophobia
  • (Necessary) respect for nature
  • Geothermal energy heating

 

Photo Credit: Giulia Cimarosti

Photo Credit: Giulia Cimarosti

The verdict?

Fá mér til Íslands !

Happy travel planning!

~~~Simone~~~

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Untethered Soul, Chapter 3: Take the Identity Challenge!

Welcome back to our series of The Untethered Soul! I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving if it is a holiday you celebrate. I’m excited to now return to our regularly scheduled programing, especially for Chapter 3 of Michael A. Singer’s fabulous, best-selling book.

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So far we’ve looked at the intro and the first two chapters with the intent on contemplating our inner voice and what it means when wen we say, “Me.” I hope it has been food for thought! As for me, even though this is the second time reading this book I am finding the topics and applications just as fascinating and freeing as the first time around. Okay, and sometimes pretty frustrating, too. How in the world do we remain detached fro all of that prattling taking place inside all the time?? Well, more on that in the coming weeks.

Chapter 3, called “Who Are You?” continues urging us to understand that we are NOT the inner voice, but rather that we are awareness, or a witness. What I like the most about this chapter are the exercises Singer provides to help us experience our identity conundrum. They’re a mental blast! So, instead of outlining or summarizing this chapter, let me just use the author’s own words and invite you take the IDENTITY CHALLENGE!  Here we go…

Challenge #1: Whoooo are Youuuuu?

caterpillar-alice-1024x768-wallpaper-toonswallpapers.com-

Make believe that you and I are having a conversation. Typically, in Western cultures, when someone comes up to you and asks, “Excuse me, who are you?” you don’t admonish them for asking such a deep questions. You tell them your name, for example, Sally Smith. But I’m going to challenge this response by taking out a piece of paper and writing the letters S-a-l-l-y S-m-i-t-h, and then showing it to you. Is that who you are — a collection of letters? Is that who sees when you see? Obviously not, so you say,

“Okay, … It’s a label. Really, I’m Frank Smith’s wife.”

No way, that’s not even politically correct nowadays. …Are you saying you didn’t exist before you met Frank, and you would cease to exist if he died or you got remarried? Frank Smith’s wife can’t be who you are. Again, that’s just another label, the result of another situation or event you participated in. But then, who are you? This time you respond,

“Okay, … My label is Sally Smith. I was born in 1965 in New York. I lived in Queens with my parents, Harry and Mary Jones, until I was five years old. Then we moved to New Jersey… I got all A’s in school, … I went to Rutgers College where I met and married Frank Smith. That is who I am.”

Wait a minute, that’s a fascinating story, but I didn’t ask you what has happened to you since you were born. I asked you, “Who are you?” You’ve just described all these experiences, but who had these experiences? Wouldn’t you still be in there, aware of your existence, even if you had gone to a different college?

… So you ponder this more seriously and you say,

“Okay, I am the body that is occupying this space I am five foot six and I weigh 135 pounds, and here I am.”

When you were Dorothy in the fifth grade play you weren’t five foot six, you were four foot six. So which are you? … Weren’t you in there when you were Dorothy? … When you were ten years old, didn’t you look in the mirror and see a ten-year-old body? Wasn’t that the same you that now sees an adult body? What you looked at has changed; but what about you, the one who is looking? Isn’t there a continuity of being?

Wasn’t it the same being that looked in the mirror throughout the years?

pp. 23-15

Challenge #2: Dream on!

Susan Seddon

Susan Seddon

Here’s another question: When you go to sleep every night, do you dream? Who dreams? What does it mean to dream? You answer,

“Well, it’s like a motion picture plays in my mind and I watch it.”

Who watches it?

“I do!”

The same you who looks in the mirror? Does the same you who is reading these words also look in the mirror and watch the dreams? When you awake, you know you saw the dream. There is a continuity of conscious awareness of being.

p. 25

Challenge #3: The Dog and the Rattlesnake

images

…imagine that you’re watching a dog play outdoors. Suddenly you hear a noise right behind you –a hiss, like a rattlesnake! Would you still be looking at the dog with the same intensity of focus? Of course not! You’d be feeling tremendous fear inside. Though the dog would still be playing in front of you, you’d be completely preoccupied with the experience of fear. All of your attention can very quickly become absorbed in your emotions. But who feels the fear? Isn’t it the same you who was watching the dog? …You can become so absorbed in beautiful inner feelings, or frightening inner fears, that it’s hard to focus on outer objects. In essence, inside and outside objects compete for your attention. You are in there having both inner and outer experiences –but who are you?

To explore this more deeply, answer another question: Don’t you have times when you’re not having emotional experiences and, instead, you just feel quiet inside? You’re still in there, but you’re just aware of peaceful quiet. Eventually, you will begin to realize that the outside world and the flow of inner emotions come and go. But you, the one who experiences these things, remain consciously aware of whatever passes before you.

pp. 25-26

Challenge #4: I Think, Therefore I am?? 

The-Thinker-Statue

Thoughts can stop, and they can also get extremely noisy. Sometimes you have many more thoughts than other times. You may even tell someone, “My mind is driving me crazy. Ever since he said those things to me, I can’t even sleep. My mind just won’t shut up.”

Whose mind? Who is noticing these thoughts? Isn’t it you? Don’t you hear your thoughts inside? Aren’t you aware of their existence? In fact, can’t you get rid of them? If you start to have a thought you don’t like, can’t you try to make it go away? People struggle with thoughts all the time. Who is it that is aware of the thoughts, and who is it that struggles with them? … You are not your thoughts. You are simply aware of your thoughts.

pp. 26-27

So we’re not our labels, we’re not our experiences, we’re not inner emotions nor outer objects, and we’re not even our thoughts! If this is all so what in the world ARE we??

Eventually, you will get to a point within yourself where you realize that you, the experiencer, have a certain quality. And that quality is awareness, consciousness, an intuitive sense of existence. You know that you’re in there. You don’t have to think about it; you just know . You can think about it if you want to, but you will know that you’re thinking about it. You exist regardless, thoughts or no thoughts.

Challenge #5: Piano Finale

Notice that with a single glance at a room, or out a window, you instantaneously see the full detail of everything that’s in front of you. You are effortlessly aware of all the objects that are within the scope of your vision, both near and far away. Without moving your head or eyes, you perceive all the intricate detail of what you immediately see. Look at all the colors, the variations of light, the grain of wood furniture, the architecture of buildings, and the variations of bark and leaves on trees. Notice that you take all this in at once, without having to think about it. No thoughts are necessary; you just see it.

Now try to use thoughts to isolate, label, and describe all the intricate detail of what you see. How long would it take your mental voice to describe all that detail to you, versus the instantaneous snapshot of consciousness just seeing? When you just look without creating thoughts, your consciousness is effortlessly aware of, and fully comprehends, all that it sees. …

Let’s say you are in a room looking at a group of people and a piano. Now make believe the piano ceases to exist in your wold. Would you have a major problem with that? You say,

“No, I don’t think so. I’m not attached to pianos.”

Okay then, make believe the people in the room cease to exist. Are you still okay? Can you handle it? You say,

“Sure, I like being alone.”

Now make believe your awareness doesn’t exist. Just turn it off. How are you doing now? What would it be like if your awareness didn’t exist? It’s actually pretty simple — you wouldn’t be there. There would be no sense of “me.”

pp. 27-28

I know that was long, but I hope you have found it as interesting and enlightening as I did. So what is the final answer that the author is looking for from his hypothetical interviewee?

I am the one who sees. From back in here somewhere, I look out, and I am aware of the events, thoughts, and emotions that pass before me.

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Take comfort this week in knowing that you are always peacefully, calmly situated in your “true home,” the “seat of Self.”

 ~~~S Wave~~~

My Contract to Disconnect…Take 2

“If I could, I’d write a huge encyclopedia just about the words luck and coincidence”
― Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

I was combing through some files on my computer last night and came across a draft of a blog post that I couldn’t even remember writing. It was called, “My Contract to Disconnect.” My own title intrigued me so I read through the draft and thought it was darn good. I thought it would be worth cleaning up and posting with today’s date as if I had just written it. No harm, no foul.

But, when I looked at the details of the document I saw the actual date I had written it: 11/13/13. Oooooh. Eerie. The timeliness is hard to deny. I’ve been back to these same frustrations lately as one of my closest confidants, my mother, can attest. And now, I feel counseled by own words.

Here they are, just slightly edited…

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My Contract to Disconnect

As you know if you’ve been reading this blog long, I find it a challenge, in the pursuit of understanding connection, to truly feel connected to other people. Maybe the word “feel” isn’t’ specific enough. Let me try to clarify. I can intellectually grasp and conceive of an energetic and quantum connection to other people. The science makes some kind of sense to me. But there is a disconnect between the knowledge and my actual day to day life. Remember when we all said, “When am I ever going to use this algebraic formula of blah blah blah?”

In that example, though, there is a good chance that at some point in your life you might actually encounter a situation in which that formula becomes relevant. What a gratifying moment…you don’t even care that you were proven wrong and naïve because…holy shit! It’s the blah blah blah formula! That is the kind of moment that I look forward to on a more regular basis…except in terms of connection. I have had them from time to time, but not often enough to satisfy me and not in a way that didn’t include a sense of my forcing the realization to happen to some extent.

When I am meditating/praying I can “feel” connection to be true as well. (There is that vague word again.) With that feeling comes a sense of transcendence to the world and the physical barriers between us all and I can feel gratitutde for the connection I have to others, even those that pose challenges in my life. But imagine that I open my eyes from that place of mediprayer and am looking that person in the eye…poof! The sense of connection is usually gone and I am fully in the ego and at the mercy of all my different parts that try to situate us according to every other good and bad relationship I have had. It would again turn into an intellectual exercise to say, “I am connected to you.”

So why can’t I feel a truer connection to the people I pass on the street or even spend large parts of my day with? Why don’t I feel like we are simply waves of energy interacting and passing through our “time and space” which doesn’t really exist and that we are manifesting in this physical matter but that we are actually each an extention of the source that is god, that is the ocean?

Plenty have pointed out that the ego prohibits us from being able to experience deeper things like this connection.  I think for me it is just that. There is a persistent belief that connecting with people is one of the biggest risks you can take in life because of the potential of pain that could come from that connection.

I know we all have beleifs and “contracts” that we have made with life like Don Migueel Ruiz writes about in Four Agreements, so I’m not shocked or surprised to know that this is one of mine. And of course, as is the mechanism of most of our contracts with life, the associated fear usually proves itself to be true if we are not vigilant because we unknowingly comply with the things that will further embed the contract. Oy.

But a-ha, what a beautiful comic signpost from Life that I would have a deep, deep hunger to understand Connection (and even begin a blog to explore it) above almost anything else when my biggest contract is to NOT be connected! We really do know what we need most to be healed before we can even explicitly recognize it.

Well what to do with this contract. ….. I almost want to end the blog right here because I’m not sure what the answer is. This may be a to-be-continued kind of post. I recently experienced a painful connection and have had to remove that connection from my life. Blech. It hurts and part of me that clings to my contract wants to say, “See. I told you so.” Thank god there are other parts to hear as well.

Overall though, it feels like a great challenge to figure out what to dowith such a long-held contract. The other day I think that I did experience a little shift. A little crack perhaps in the monument set up for my contract. I was in the middle of a time of prayer and I was expressing how much I loved the spirit of god that is MY spirit too. That we are inseparable, that we are one. How honored I am to be one, unique expression of the spirit of god. But mostly just how much I love that spirit! The I sort of came to see that the spirit I love is the same one in each person. That when you look at someone, you are looking at another expression of the spirit, source, universal mind. It’s like in the scene in Being John Malcovich where they all are John Malcovich in his ego. But it is like that…each person is spirit. If I am in love with the spirit then when I look at someone else then I see the spirit in a different form but it is the same spirit that I adore. If I adore my neice, then imagine I could go to a different time and space and see her 60 year old self. Would I still love her? I would! It is the same with spirit.

I don’t know if this makes any sense. It’s hard to describe with words the things that are just shown in the heart. But, I’ve been trying this out during times of prayer and also during interactions with people and have been loving it. So here is what I do….

  1. Acknowledge what I am feeling toward a person. This is often judgement or sense of being judged. Be okay with that for now.
  2. Connect with the spirit in me with gratitude and adoration.
  3. Look at that person and see the SAME spirit acting out its manifestation as that person.

It’s actually been really easy and though this may sound like an intellectual exercise it is actually very heart-led. It is a little bit more of the “feeling” that I have been looking for…or at least it one step toward that.

The Gibbon Conservation Center (and a giveaway you won’t want to miss!)

GCC Spec Feat

Welcome to a new development happening on Life As a Wave!

From time to time we will be bringing a Special Feature to our readers. Each feature will highlight a person, a film, a book, an organization, etc that we feel is doing important work of interconnection for the larger GOOD.  ~~~S Wave~~~ and Life As a Wave guest writers will be visiting places and interviewing people to find out more about these efforts and to bring inside detail straight to you.

And so, without further ado, I bring you our inaugural Special Feature:

Welcome to the Gibbon Conservation Center!

White-Cheeked Gibbon Credit: LIfe As a Wave

White-Cheeked Gibbon
Photo Credit: Life As a Wave

First thing first. Gibbons are not monkeys!

If you accidentally refer to them as monkeys at the Gibbon Conservation Center in Santa Clarita, California, you better be prepared to donate a quarter to the Monkey Pig.

The Monkey Pig

The Monkey Pig

"25¢ for saying 'Monkey'"

“25¢ for saying ‘Monkey'”

Since I had planned to visit to the GCC with my 3-year-old niece, I had reinforced the term “monkey” into my vocabulary by using that term with her repeatedly prior to our trip. Needless to say, I had to contribute a fair number of quarters into the Monkey Pig. Despite my best efforts, I found myself repeatedly saying, “…Monkey. Er! I mean…gibbon!” during our private tour with stellar tour guide, Neta Ambar.

Neta Ambar

Neta Ambar
Photo Credit: Life As a Wave

Neta knows pretty much all there is to know about gibbons, including of course the simple fact that they are technically “lesser apes.” Neta has been working at the center since 2008 and with a background in cognitive science and a longstanding interest in primatology, she was able to give us the full lowdown on everything gibbon.

The GCC is found about 40 minutes north of Los Angeles. It houses 41 gibbons which represent 5 species of the 17 species that exist. ALL species of gibbons are categorized as “vulnerable,” “endangered,” or “critically endangered.”  Their biggest predator is…..?

Us, of course. The decimation of their natural habitats and populations in southeast Asia is the result of factors such as mining, logging, political unrest, poaching, and the exotic animal trade–causes which are clearly intertwined. However, the most significant current threat to the gibbons’ habitats is…..

palm-oil-extract

…palm oil.

Palm oil is a food additive that is ubiquitous in the foods that you’ll find on your grocery store shelf. The oil and it’s derivatives are easy to spot on an ingredients label. Just look for anything “palm.”

To plant massive fields of palm, companies such as Nestlé are leveling rainforest ecosystems and devastating the populations of animals that live there, including gibbon species. It is estimated that over 26 million acres of rainforest have been destroyed for palm fields.

Palm oil plantation adjacent to native rainforest.

The GCC collaborates internationally with other Species Survival Plans, or SSP’s which work together to repopulate endangered species that are put at risk by rainforest destruction and many other threats. The GCC itself houses the rarest group of apes in the Western Hemisphere. The gibbons here are kept in enclosures in paired or family units. The apes are not tamed so as to better prepare them for possible reintroduction and to help them maintain their family units.

Mother and son. Photo Credit: Life As a Wave

Mother and son.
Photo Credit: Life As a Wave

Though it can still be hard for us animal lovers to see animals in chainlink enclosures, the greater good certainly prevails at GCC. The enclosures are designed to allow for the brachiating (arm swinging) that is the gibbons’ main mode of transport and exercise. (Sidenote: Did you know that their other way of getting around is by walking upright? They are our only other relative to do so on a regular basis.)

Armspans can be near twice a gibbon's height! Credit: Life As a Wave

White-Cheeked Gibbon. Armspans can be nearly twice a gibbon’s height!
Photo credit: Life As a Wave

Also, it is reassuring to know that some of the enclosures are temporary since 1) the facility is frequently undergoing renovations to expand the apes’ space and 2) some of the gibbons will be released back into the wild.

Javan Gibbon. (My favorite.) Photo Credit: Life As a Wave

Ivan, a 40 year-old grandfather Javan Gibbon.
Photo Credit: Life As a Wave

The GCC has been doing its important work for 37 years and is funded through grants and donations. A team of volunteers, veterinarians and an exceptionally smaller number of full-time employees take great care to tend to the gibbons’ needs, including the 7-10 meals per day that they require. Joe, the volunteer who greeted us during our visit, has given his time for 8 months and drives over an hour from Long Beach to do so.

Neta and Joe are doing their good work. It was an honor to spend the afternoon with them and an equal honor to meet the gibbons they care for. Our interconnection with the earth and with our non-human animal partners calls us to be aware of and involved in some way with their plights. (Because, see, their needs are ultimately our needs too…interconnection.)

So what are some of these ways to be involved? I have 5 suggestions for you. My first suggestion has gradually become my response to most cases of the “But what can I do?” question. No matter what the context, I believe the best and most basic answer to that query is similar to the Pablo Picasso quote:

The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.

So my first suggestion to you is FIND YOUR GIFT! How will this help the gibbons? Because the more we walk in our gifts and begin to share them with the world, the more the world will begin to change. I am coming to believe more vigorously that the state of our future (ecological, political, spiritual and social) as a species depends heavily on our individual willingness to realize the thing that we are here to do and to enact it, despite how crazy it might seem!

Number two: Stop eating palm oil! I know this is a hard one because palm oil seems to be in everything. But don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. How about cutting out some products with palm oil. I’m sure you can do without some of those processed foods anyway!

Number three: Sign a petition against palm oil or find local anti-palm initiatives that you can participate in. Click here for a list of ways to get involved. Now is a good time to do so since just earlier this month momentum began building toward positive industry changes.

Number four: Donate to the Gibbon Conservation Center! After all, doesn’t your year-end giving need a little boost? And which of you doesn’t know some child in our lives who wouldn’t like to “adopt” a baby ape like this one??

Dennis the baby gibbon.

Dennis the baby gibbon.
Photo Credit: Life As a Wave

You can make that possible for them by clicking here.

Lastly, number five: Visit the GCC and preservations like it in person. You will be showing your support while also allowing yourself and those with you to connect to the animals in a way that can’t be done through a computer. Nothing is quite like looking into the eyes of an animal and realizing that we really are all in this together.

Javan Gibbon Photo Credit: LIfe As a Wave

Javan Gibbon
Photo Credit: Life As a Wave

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THERE’S A GIVEAWAY!!?? YIPEE!!

And now, GCC and Life As a Wave would like to thank YOU for supporting the center’s mission and for making time to connect with the animals in your life. You are thus invited to enter to receive a special gift from the Gibbon Conservation Center simply for spreading the word about the GCC’s good work. No, a live ape will not be delivered to your doorstep! Nice try. But you will receive a T-shirt and a 2014 calendar from the center. All you have to do is:

1) Share this post with either your WordPress or Facebook network. For Facebook, just copy and past this URL to your page: https://lifeasawave.wordpress.com/2013/12/18/gcc/ OR click on the link by the comment box below.

2) Leave a comment letting us know how you find a way to connect to animals in your life.

A winner will be selected soon, on December 24th, so don’t monkey around! Drat, there’s another quarter.

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Be well, readers. Stay tuned for another Special Feature in January when we will introduce you to a beautiful new film. Brace yourself for some stunning images!

From one to ONE

I have been feeling more and more boundless during my times of prayer. When I close my eyes and sink deeper and deeper into it, I can begin to sense that the idea of my body as my boundary is contrived. That my true self is without limits. Like I said, I’m no ordinary squirrel. 😉

I remember when I was about nine that I had a life-changing moment driving past the lake in the passenger seat of my mom’s car. Looking out the window I suddenly realized in my gut that I was completely singular, completely alone in my experience. I remember looking at mom and, with no small sense of amazement, realized that she and I were two different people and our experience of the world would never fully converge. I would never know what her eyes saw as she looked at the same road I was looking at, or how the seat beneath her felt on her legs, or what thought was filling her mind from one moment to the next. It felt very isolating, yet somehow inspiring. There was suddenly a feeling of importance for my life, but also great alone-ness.

Whether or not it is related to that early event, for most of my life I have been operating under an unexamined belief that we are all separate. Why wouldn’t I think that? Don’t most people think that? Doesn’t it look like that? I am me and you are you. I am one and you are one. Here we are:

one, by ~~~S Wave~~~

Even as I’ve come to know more about God, even as I’ve experienced inexplicable connections with a few very special people, even as I have done some reading up on metaphysics and theories of transpersonal connection, my grander experience of life has never really changed. So why would my overall paradigm change?

But now, something new is dawning. The other night, as I was feeling boundless, I said, “Thank you for the way you move through all things.” With those words my paradigm changed. Suddenly there is a ONE. If my Self is boundless, then your Self is boundless. And his…and hers… Where do you begin and I end? Where does my spirit or consciousness or energy cease to inform yours and vice versa? Where does yellow end and green begin?

ONE, by ~~~S Wave~~~

I’m telling you, I am walking down the streets of Los Angeles the past few days passing people and thinking, “Do you know that we are actually colliding right now?? That you are made up of divinity just like the rest of us? How cool is that!?” This doesn’t mean I have to trust every person, that I have to welcome their energy into my experience, but I do think it is a part of the Love that I have asked to learn more about.

As for separateness, I think we are separate as sensory processors and as egos. My little nine year-old self was right about that. But senses and egos are not all we are.

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A final reminder—for you and for me—that this blog was started with the idea that we are like waves. Remember that you can not point to where your wave ends and another’s begins. Nor can you can point to where your wave begins and the ocean ends. It is a metaphor I like…and now I like it even more. Hope you do too.

Connectedness…on a dreary day

I’m not going to lie. I’m not always a happy person sitting around praying and contemplating love and life. A blog is where, for many of us, we want to just be ourselves. We want to be authentic to a circle of strangers who, through words and common ideas, have come to feel somehow like distant friends or respected colleagues. So although I’m tempted to strictly maintain an uplifting vibe on this site, even at the cost of authenticity, I also just want to be real. Some days are dreary! I’m not Amma or the Dalai Lama after all!

But thank goodness that it also takes some thought to put together a blogpost because trying to write about feeling down got me to thinking….maybe the darker days and the less hopeful moments are just as important as the positive days in respect to being interconnected. After all, isn’t the challenge to maintain some kind of elevated perspective even through those times? To believe in hope and a greater love when there seems to be no hope, especially in “love”?? (Sheesh, I’m sorry but doesn’t love just deserve sarcastic quotes sometimes??) To hold each other up when that is what’s needed and to be sensitive to the energy of others?

The other day I cried. Just a few years ago I used to cry A LOT. I used to be quite sad quite often. Not so much anymore, except that last Sunday there was a familiar dark cloud over me whose presence felt like an old frenemy. And since my grasp on hope and optimism was already slipping that day, I willingly (and I would say, weakly) invited that old friend to come on over and stay for a while. The familiarity of something destructive is sometimes more comforting than all the (mere) potential good that the unknown holds.

The downside to inviting gloom to hang out is that it isn’t a friend who knows when it has overstayed its welcome. Hence, here I am on Wednesday night still entertaining my guest. If I had to counter that with an upside, I guess it would be this: letting gloom settle in for a while is a great way to get a lot of tears out…which feels so good sometimes,  especially when it’s been a while.

So point is, on Sunday I was crying a lot. Not that anyone saw that. I was supposed to spend part of the day with my sister and 21 month-old niece, two of the most luminescent lights in my life. But I called to say that the day was rough and I needed to be alone.  I didn’t think being around my niece who is pure joy would be the best place for me to be…like I would “contaminate” her with my energy. So instead I went for a long hike (and cried), I went to a matinee (and cried), I gave extra attention to my two cats (and cried), I talked to a few close friends on the phone (and cried), I cleaned the house (and cried).

And then something amazing happened later in the day. My sister sent me a short video of my niece, who calls me Momo. She was just sending it to say hello, but my niece surprised us both. On the video, my sister asked my niece, “What’s Momo doing?” My niece didn’t give her typical response of “sleeping,” “playing,” or “home.” Instead, she paused, her face became worried and she said, “Cry.” When my sister, perplexed, asked, “She’s crying? Why is she crying?” my niece responded with, “Tears on it,” in the same worried tone.  Then, as my sister prompted her, my niece went on to tell me she loved me, missed me, and that I should feel better. At the end her two little hands flew into the air, her smile broke out and my sister exclaimed, “All better!”

In talking about the video later that day, my sister told me that she hadn’t said anything about crying to my niece. We have no way of explaining why she would say that. That has to be a living, breathing example of interconnectedness right there!  At least I’m going to believe it is. And believing in anything right now is not something for me to scoff at. My niece’s video has been more than enough to get me through these last few nights anyway…and I’m beginning to think that, in the end, that is part of the purpose of being connected at all.

 

 

Elephants and a Watchtower Moment

I have all these posts planned in my head and drafted here on wordpress, but sometimes you need to just click on that “New Post” button and let the words flow in the moment because something has just resonated in your heart and reminded you that you are on the right path–doing what you need to do and learning what you need to learn…

photo by ~~~S Wave~~~

To set the scene: I have been dealing with some life anxiety. Work, relationships, big decisions, little decisions, health…you know how sometimes it all culminates and seems as though you’ve got too much in your brain and not enough synapses to handle it all? Well that has definitely been happening. But this evening I was feeling better and had planned to attend a massive gathering at the Los Angeles Staples Center to protest the Ringling Brothers Circus which has just arrived. It is an annual event (hopefully an unnecessary one next year!) and even though I only had an hour to participate after work, being there reminded me sweetly of my first time going two years ago. It had been my FIRST protest. So each July since then when I attend, it is a time for me to reflect on the progress I have made toward being my most authentic self—-being a person who speaks up for what she believes in and is learning to face some pretty daunting fears.

I came home, spent some time in prayer, ate dinner, and continued reading Laszlo’s Science and the Akashic Field (which you may remember from my summer reading list!) This book is opening my mind up to new ways of understanding interconnectedness…beyond a sentimental ideal or a farfetched fable. More to come on this book in a future post. I’m chomping at the bit!! For now, I will say that this book is scientifically fortifying my belief that there IS something connecting us all with each other beyond time and space. I had just finished reading the section titled The Puzzles of Coherence in Consciousness where the author introduces concepts of transpersonal connection (think twins who feel each others’ pains), telesomatic effects (minds affecting bodies), spiritual healing and intercessory prayer.

As I closed the book for the night, little did I know that I would shortly receive what I will call a “watchtower” moment. These are those moments when you are reminded that you are entirely known right where you are, that the path under your feet is not so much of a mystery as you might sometimes think, and that there will always be something to guide you when that is what you need.  A fellow protestor posted an article on Facebook. It made sense that she would post a story about elephants, but what I hadn’t expected was the message of interconnectedness—-demonstrated in an almost otherwise inexplicable witnessed event—-between our two species. A man who was called The Elephant Whisperer, died in March. During his life, he rescued hundreds of elephants that had been deemed too aggressive for rehabilitation. By connecting with them through hours of talking to them and communing with them in a spirit of patience, compassion and humility, they came to trust him. When he died, his family recounts that dozens of these elephants began marching through his preserve toward his house. One person said it was like a funeral procession. How could they have known he had died?

Click here to read the article: Elephants Mourn

“If there ever were a time, when we can truly sense the wondrous ‘interconnectedness of all beings,’ it is when we reflect on the elephants of Thula Thula. A man’s heart’s stops, and hundreds of elephants’ hearts are grieving. This man’s oh-so-abundantly loving heart offered healing to these elephants, and now, they came to pay loving homage to their friend.”

For me, it was a moving and confounding example of true interconnection, yes. But it was also a fusion of the most wonderful and inspiring parts of my little, human day; it was a message of, “I know where you are in your life…even down to this very evening. Keep going. I am with you.” I hope it will mean something equally benevolent and sustaining to you as well.

In love,

~~~S Wave~~~