Thursday, February 6, 2014

2/7/14—Keeping An Eye On The Birds

Pig in a roof vent with branch suspiciously nearby.
There is a National Geographic-quality wildlife mystery that's been playing out in my side yard over the course of months now. My Facebook readers are well aware of this, but it occurred to me that those who read my blog or my Deck of 1000 Spreads page are not yet initiated. 

It all began this past fall as I noticed something odd sticking out of the roof vent of my home. I ignored it for a while, because anything that even hints of needing intervention or repair is routinely ignored in my home. But finally curiosity got the better of me and I saw that one of my dogs' stuffed animals was shoved into the roof vent with only its head sticking out. So a photo session ensued, followed by a lively Facebook discussion, and then I went back to ignoring it. 

A few weeks later, I noticed the pig was gone and the nest it was part of had been disassembled and cast to the ground. So I did another photo shoot and left the pig where it landed, on some dead branches I have been ignoring for years. It stayed that way until a recent snowstorm took the pig to the ground. Or so I assumed. But a couple of days ago I saw it back up on the branches again. Not only that, but it had been joined by another stuffed toy, Blub Blub. 

Pig, after being cast out of the roof vent. 
Now, these toys usually live in my back yard. To get to the roof vent, the toys would have had to have scaled the fence and climbed forward and upward along the side of my house to the vent, which is located in my front yard. There is a tree whose limbs reach the roof vent. That tree is also in my back yard. So it's possible the toys might have climbed the tree then, balancing precariously on the furthest branches, reached the roof vent. Alternately, the toys might have had the help of birds or squirrels getting up to the vent. And therein lies the mystery. 

Popular opinion has it pinned on a squirrel, but because all the toys in their many moves have been found directly beneath the vent, I'm thinking birds. A squirrel has the opportunity to drop the toy anywhere between the tree trunk in the back yard and the roof vent in the front yard, yet the toys are always found beneath the roof vent. 

That, and I saw what could only be considered a menacing GANG of blackbirds hanging out in the branches in front of the vent yesterday, clearly plotting no good. There were three of them, all of whom appeared to be wearing hoodies and all of whom stopped talking and tried to look casual when they saw I had spotted them. (There has also coincidentally been a rash of car break-ins in the neighborhood and it's possible these same birds know a little something about that, too.)

The plot thickens as Blub Blub appears beneath the vent.
Traditionally, my roof vent has served as a nest for birds. I have very little bird knowledge, but I do know that some of the birds who nest on my property rebuild their nests in the same place every year. I've seen them do this. Kizzie shedding season is just beginning for its six-month run and I'll often brush him out back so they have fluff with which to build their nests. Whatever lived in the roof vent last summer destroyed their nest in fall and now seems to want to rebuild using the pig again. I can see how the pig could make it up there, as it is devoid of stuffing. But Blub Blub is a different matter. He is quite rotund and squeaker filled (and moisture laden after heavy rains.) 

It occurs to me that the stuffed animals make the birds or squirrels feel safer at night. After all, the toys stink of slobber from endless rounds of fisticuffs between my dogs. Who's going to raid a nest that smells like dog? But they're also soft and fluffy and warm and probably help keep things dry. When I think of it like that, it all makes sense. We all want to be safe and warm and dry. 

I imagine this saga will continue over the coming weeks as the birds/squirrels try and try again to get these relatively huge toys up into their nest. I'm keeping an eye out to see if I can catch anything in action. But the one thing this whole drama has taught me is that, beneath our noses every single day, there is something fascinating and dramatic happening in the animal kingdom. And we so rarely even notice the critters around us, much less catch them doing nefarious deeds. So while today's post was purely for fun, it makes you wonder about all the stuff you don't see that's going on out there. We all have our lives to live and the things we covet. Even if we're birds. 

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

2/5/14—Seeing The Light

I apologize in advance if today's post gets a little gloomy. It was inspired partly by someone I thought I knew, but didn't, and partly by the recent death of Philip Seymour Hoffman. What the two things have in common is something we all have in common—a dark side. 

Beneath the addictions, obsessions, bullying, lying, anger, abuse, excesses and other unhealthy behaviors lies pain and fear. And no matter how beautiful, rich, famous, talented or loved you are, you're not immune. Nobody is immune. 

We hurt ourselves and others because WE are in pain and can't always pinpoint the source. Maybe we had something tragic happen to us, but really that's just an excuse. What's really at the bottom of this, I believe, is something we forgot before we were even born. 

Before we come here and after we leave, we are without ego. Ego in the way I use the word is a self awareness that separates ourselves from others. So it manifests in us feeling "more than" or "less than" others. It seeks approval. Yearns for status. Desires recognition and understanding. Speaks in terms of us and them. Wherever you find ego, you also find a forgetting of our true nature...the one we'll return to when we die.

Our true nature is oneness. Universal love. It is inclusion. There is no separateness or self awareness because there is no individuality. All is one. If god indeed said "I am that I am", what that means is that we are everything we see. We are. There is no separation between you and the most vile entity on earth. No separation between you and the most beloved on earth. There can be no separation, because everything is one. And everything is an expression of love.

But, see, we come here to be individuals. And as long as we're individuals there will always be a pained, lonely, frightened place within that seeks the universal love we love we left behind. We may not remember, but the soul never forgets. There are times when we are so filled with light (or delusion...haha) that we drift far enough away from this place that it seems to disappear, but that is just an illusion. It is always there. This pain, loneliness and fear comes from believing we're separate from source. And it's the price of being human.

There are times that the experiences of life and the attachment to ego build upon our souls like so many magnetized barnacles that we draw ever closer into the gravitational field of this painful empty place. If we don't reach this place by our own volition, we may be pulled into it by a loved one. We may even be wired to explore this place through depression or mental illness. Sometimes it is all we can see. And the closer we get, the more pain we feel and the more pain we cause. We try to keep it at bay with drugs or purchases, anger or violence, lying or bullying. But that just makes it worse. 

And the further into the hole we travel, the more it hurts and the lonelier it feels. And then even the most brilliant and fortunate among us end up dead of an overdose with the hypodermic still in our arm. And we think, "what a waste of such a gifted life." But see, that's just our ego talking. There are no adjectives or superlatives in oneness, only in our separation. Interestingly, however, even in our separateness, we are still the same. Because we all have this place inside. 

But this empty, lonely place can be filled. The only thing that can fill it is universal love. And the path to universal love is the recognition of oneness. When we see an angry person, we recognize them as ourself and we love them...not from a place of being better off, but from a place of recognition of self. There is no human atrocity we can deny being within us (albeit dormant, perhaps), just as there is no human grace. We are all of that. We are. 

And while there are many paths that can lead us there, regular communion with god or source or light or whatever you want to call it, is key to spending as much time as possible in a place where the gravity of the empty place is the weakest. This is why we seek to raise ourselves and we can  balance our humanness with what we've forgotten. Not so we can forget we're human, because that's why we're here. But to remember we're so much more.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

2/3/14—Being Friends

Tonight's energies have me thinking of people we've misjudged in our lives. Most of the time that conjures up memories of people you've trusted and then found were untrustworthy. Those can sometimes be heartbreaking experiences and cause us to question what it is about us that attracts people like that. 

I recently had a conversation with a friend about this very thing. While I do think we attract these experiences to us for a reason, the reason is not always that "we're broken, so we attract broken people." Sometimes the reason is to benchmark our own state of repair. Meaning, that if we handle the situation better than the last time it happened, we've probably healed some. 

Further, if we make empowering choices in dealing with the person, instead of choices underpinned by fear and disempowerment, then we've come a long way from the tantrums and tears we might have expended in the past. So the misjudgment may not be there to show you how stuck you are, but rather to show you how far you've grown. Or, at the very least, to give you an opportunity to grow in that moment by making a healthier choice. 

But the energies I've been thinking about this weekend are actually the opposite of all I've just said. They're about people we were WRONG to misjudge. We don't focus on those so much because we were just as wrong—if not more so—as the other person in our dynamic. 

A number of instances have come to my mind over the weekend. There is the woman whose friendship I coldly tossed aside because her energy was draining me. A couple of years later, she took my side and comforted me regarding a matter that was very emotional to me (and probably draining for her). Most people would have told me to go to hell. 

Then there's the colleague whom I always admired and considered a friend...until I found out about a conflict he waged with another, better friend of mine. I was shocked and disappointed when I heard the story. So when my colleague was dying, I didn't put forth the effort to say goodbye. And now I understand why he did what he did and I regret misjudging him. 

While we may fixate on all the "bad guys" in our lives, we all have incidents where the bad guy is us. And we may feel quite justified in the things we've done or said, but that doesn't mean the other side doesn't see you as a bad guy. They may even be right. 

Recently someone I had once misjudged was my savior. It was humbling. They reminded me I don't have to wait to see what others do in order to decide what I'm going to do. They reminded me I have more power than I give myself credit for. 

I'm someone who has been picked on, called names and bullied at points throughout my life. I'm guessing most of us have experienced someone who took our power away or otherwise diminished us. But power isn't something that's for them to take. It's for you to give, usually out of fear of some consequence happening. And if giving away your power is a pattern in your life, you become fearful of asserting yourself or taking a strong stance. That's where I was until I was reminded that, not only did I hold power, I held way more power than I thought. 

There are people you have conflicts or tension with, then after the conflict, they disappear from your reality. Then there are those you can't seem to shake from your life. So far my experience has been that the latter people merit a second look. Maybe there's more to that person beneath the part that once rubbed you the wrong way. Maybe you've both changed enough over time for things to be different. 

Friends don't always come clothed as friends, just as "enemies" don't always come clothed as enemies. It's inevitable we'll misjudge one for the other. What's important is that we don't give our power over to the bad guys and that, when we recognize we've been the bad guy, we make the appropriate amends.