Thursday, January 30, 2014

1/31/14—Contemplating Extinction

Looks like someone needs a new fishin' spot.
There's a special place along the river where I like to sit and just be. Years back I had a habit of going to this particular spot a couple of times a week. It's within a heavily wooded shoreline and the trees on either side of the sittin' spot frame the river and view perfectly. It was cool to see the seasons change from that same vantage point. Spring to summer. Summer to fall. Fall to winter.

I must have started there in spring, because I enjoyed quite some time there before the littering started. Then every time I would go to this spot back in the woods, there would be soda bottles and bait cups and all manner of chip bags strewn about. The fishermen didn't even try to bag their trash. They just left it—and the bags it came in—where they used it.

So each time I visited, I brought a trash bag. And I picked their trash up. And I deposited it in the trashcans back in the parking lot. The same trashcans the litterers passed every time they came there to fish. And after a while I started thinking, "they probably think a fairy comes by and cleans up after them. So I'm really just enabling their behavior."

Gaia killed the dinosaurs for less.
I thought of making a sign and posting it on one of the trees. Instead, I just visited less often. And after a while, I grew so weary and disheartened that I just abandoned the spot altogether and found another.

After a month or two, it was spring again and I missed my spot. So I thought I'd give it a try. I loaded up with trash bags and hiked back into the woods to my special place, braced for all the trash I would find there. But there was none! Nothing!

I plunked down in my spot and took in everything. The sun sparkling on the river. The beauty of the opposite shoreline. The ducks and ducklings paddling by. And I looked up to see the fresh green leaves on the trees overhead and....there were at least three fishing lines and hooks caught up in the branches. It seems that, when the leaves started to come, the canopy prevented the fishermen from casting their lines!

At first I chuckled at Mother Nature's brilliance. Then it hit me. There I was worrying about saving the planet when we should all be worried about saving ourselves! Mother Nature was here billions of years before us. She survived methane air, the dinosaurs, geomagnetic reversal and all sorts of scary crap. And she came out of it looking pretty darned awesome and bountiful.

It's time to start calling a spade a spade. The earth isn't in any danger from our emissions and littering. We are. Instead of talking about climate change, we should be talking about species change. Because soon it will behoove her to choke us out, rather than suffer the case of the sniffles we're inflicting on her with our holes in the ozone and non-biodegradable toxin-infused trash. In 100 years, she'll have covered all evidence of us being here. In 1000 years, she will have recovered from our actions. And in 10,000 years, they'll have to use sonar and soil samples and carefully calibrated instruments to even know we ever existed. And Mother Nature? She'll have aged the equivalent of maybe two human weeks. 

This is an unfortunate reality of most urban shorelines.
Of course, we don't choose to see it this way, but what's going on here is a war. It's humans vs. Gaia. And we somehow have the arrogance to think we could possibly win when 99.9% of everything that's ever lived on this planet has lost. Who's the only one that's won? The gentle, unassuming ferns, that's who! To the earth, we're just another self-important species going extinct. Like the Cave Lion, T Rex and Quagga. What's a Quagga? Critters will be asking the same thing about humans a couple hundred years from now. 

So this week, consider what's really at stake with the choices you make each day—and beyond your relationship to the earth. Consider other things you may have a skewed perspective on. A pet owner may think nothing of letting their dog run off leash—until it gets hit by a car. A person may think nothing of smoking cigarettes—until they get lung cancer. A husband may think nothing of having a passing affair—until he loses his wife and children.

There is something ingrained in the human psyche that a) makes us think we're the most important and powerful thing on earth b) makes us seem beyond extinction as a species and c) allows us to justify and/or blind ourselves to things we KNOW are wrong or against our best interests.

As far as the things we justify are concerned, we know what those things are because they're the things we don't openly discuss with others. So start there. What wouldn't you tell your cubicle mate about your life? And how can you turn your thoughts around on that so that you clearly see what's at stake?

There are spiritual folk who believe earth is just one of many places a soul goes to learn lessons. And they say earth is the most beautiful and difficult of all those places. It would suck to cut your time short here only to end up in some brown, chalky, dimly lit desert in the next lifetime. We could all do well by sparing a moment to take inventory of what it means to be worthy of this place, this body, this opportunity and this gift we call life.

(Reposted from 2/12/12)

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

1/29/14—Letting Clouds Pass

Cloudy, gray sunset.
Last Friday we talked about how clouds make the sunsets more interesting and colorful, as do the "clouds" that come along in our lives. Last night's sunset kind of expanded on that. 

See, it started out all overcast and gray. And I was pretty sure the sunset would suck. But then I saw a tinge on pink on the bottom of one of the clouds and thought, "well now". Then minutes later, the sunset exploded into fabulous color. 

This reminded me of what happened at my last job. I said the wrong thing at the wrong time to my boss and she, in turn, completely handled the situation poorly and it became clear my days were numbered. So the skies on that day seemed pretty gray. But almost immediately it occurred to me to become a freelancer. The gray clouds got a tinge of pink. Then days later, I gave my notice. And, since then, it's been one wild, colorful, spectacular sunset! 

Kinda. :)
A hint of pink lines the gray.

It has certainly resulted in the best years of my professional life. So the very best thing that ever happened to me started out as gray skies. For some, the very best thing started out with a spouse leaving them. Or catching a disease. Or like something that happened as a result of an old friend's actions many years ago.

My friend drove drunk on New Year's Eve and it resulted in a boy's leg being severed from his body. She went to jail and hasn't lived a day of her life without thinking about that. But this boy contacted her 20 or 25 years later and told her losing his leg was the best thing that ever happened to him. He was going down a bad path and it was just the wakeup call he needed. Today he has a wife and children and he doubts that would have ever happened had he not been in the "wrong place at the wrong time". 

The sky explodes into glorious color.
Sometimes our gray clouds don't show their pink edges immediately. And sometimes the pink edges are very subtle and hard to see. But I can't think of anything that's happened in my life—even the really bad stuff—that didn't end up with pink edges and even spectacular color. 

We tend to think of things in terms of winning or losing or of whether or not the universe is on our side. But in the end, there is no loss. There is no such thing as an unsupportive universe. There are just people who prefer to live in perpetual victimhood. That sounds harsh, but the fact is that what you take away from an experience is your choice, not your fate. 

You see this in the video of the guy with no arms or legs who turned his disability into an extraordinary ability to inspire. And through the young girl singled out and shot by the Taliban for promoting education who, after recovering her ability to walk and talk, took her fight to a much larger and more powerful audience. And through John Walsh, who used his son's kidnapping to create a national sex offender registry and the precursor to the "Amber Alert". There is no telling how many lives have been saved or criminals captured as a result of this man's gray clouds. 

All these people turned their gray clouds into spectacular shows. Really, what challenges do any of us have that compare? There is a win in every loss we have...a bigger plan than we can ever imagine when we're down. Last night I waited about 15 minutes to see why the gray clouds had to be that way. Whatever you're going through may take longer. But it will change and the beauty of it will be revealed. All it takes is trust and making the choice to turn your eyes towards the gift.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

1/27/14—Waking to the Cardinals

About 45 minutes to an hour before sunrise.
The weather people said the sun was set to rise at 7:19 am. I've come to learn that what they mean by that is the sun breaks the horizon at 7:19. But by the time the sun breaks the horizon, the show is most of the way over. 

Before the "sunrise", the dark blueness of the sky spills slowly out. One by one stars "shut the light off" for the night. A redness starts to build at the edges of the earth. The streetlights turn off. The sky goes to light blue. And while the moon is still visible, it's also pretty darned light out. All before the appointed 7:19 "sunrise". 

The pre-sunrise is cool because there's a palpable stillness to the world just before things start to go light. Then you might hear a chirp or two off in the distance. Then the streetlight that annoys me with its bright light in my line of sight of turns off. Then all hell breaks loose. One by one, species of birds awaken. The first squirrel sets out on his daily rounds. You might start to hear cars on the roads. Like us, the earth is a little groggy when it first wakes up, then it hits its stride. 

This morning I heard a really loud caterwauling somewhere in the neighborhood. As I listened, I tried to remember what it reminded me of. Then I remembered it reminded me of the early morning before I put my dog Passion to sleep. We'd heard the same noise. I wondered what kind of bird it was and, just as I wondered, I heard the sound again. This time it was very close. And as I turned to look, there was my cardinal friend, sitting on one of the branches it usually sits on. 

He sat there for a good couple of minutes, making a sound I didn't know cardinals made. Then he started making the usual cardinal sound and I listened for his mate to reply. This couple frequents my back yard, so I know that wherever the male is, the female isn't far behind. 

My best picture of the moon and some pink
clouds, still a few minutes before sunrise.
"They" say that when you see a cardinal, it's a visitation from a loved one who has passed. In this case, I think it was my dog Passion, because that's what it made me think of (other times I've felt a cardinal was my brother.) It feels like she's been around a lot lately. Because of the way things played out—I heard the sound, thought of Passion, then the bird squawked closer—I felt it was a clear sign. So I asked in my head what she wanted me to know. And what I heard back (in my head) was that I was being watched over and everything was going to be OK. That was a nice thought to have prior to sunrise. :)

I poked around online to get statistics about how many people believe in life after death. I found a huge range of results. 34%, according to a Fox News story, 51% on a Reuters poll and 76% on this Huffington Post poll. When you consider that, in order for anyone to go to heaven there has to be life after death, I'm guessing at least half believe. 

But that doesn't speak at all as to how many people think we can get messages from beyond. Certainly that number is lower. My experience reading tarot is that, even if people don't believe in it, they still want to get a reading. And they still hang on every word. This makes me think they may be less of a non-believer than they claim to be. I think the same thing is true when it comes to ghosts and messages from those who have passed over.

You don't need a sixth sense to communicate with loved ones who have passed. You just need the five senses you already have. They'll let you know they're there through scent, like a wafting of perfume from nowhere. Through sight, maybe manifesting in form or making lights flicker, for example. Through sound, perhaps in the form if a song that reminds you of them or your name whispered in your ear. Through touch, you might feel a room get colder, get a tickle in your ear or feel a burning on your face. Taste...well, taste isn't as common, but it's possible. 

Mediums frequently "see" them in their mind's eye, "hear" them telepathically and they might "taste" blood, feel the pain of someone's death or smell a flower. In short, our deceased loved ones try to communicate in many ways we can readily understand without any special skills. And when these things happen, stop to remember that you can ask them why they're there or what they have to tell you. You should hear an answer in your head. You might think you're making it up. And maybe you are. Or maybe they put the thought in your head. 

In the end communicating with deceased loved ones takes the same skills it did when you related to them as living beings. Included in that is trust. As you trusted them then, you need to trust that what you're hearing/thinking/seeing now is true. The more you notice these "odd coincidences", the more you start to see more than just coincidence is involved. Can you imagine being dead and expending so much energy to turn off lights and make birds fly to your loved one and whatnot, only to have them ignore and deny you're there, time after time? For that reason alone it's worth at least entertaining the possibility.

Even if you're a believer, the relationship and lines of communication won't be the same as when they were here. But for me, it's better than the nothing that those who don't believe get. What kinds of signs have you gotten?