Monday, December 31, 2012

Old Moon, New Adventures In Being Human

The Full Cold Moon on Dec 28th
It's new year's eve and the light is just beginning to drain from the day.  A small deer stands in the meadow down by the pond. He stares strangely toward the house of a neighbour that hunts his kind. It's a strange behaviour that I've witnessed often on our property.  Can he sense something?  What catches his attention? Am I imagining this? Or are the roosters just making noise? I really can't know, in a definitive way.

His small gesture reminds me that this year I have come to more deeply appreciate that this world is alive with energy that I cannot see, pulsing with sounds I can't hear and filled with things I cannot understand with my linear mind. In short this year has convinced me that world is a magical place, full of mystery. It is a blend of simplicity and complexity that defies wrapping it up neatly in a ball.  It is what makes life truly tantalizing.

I have learned that to live in this world with some grace it is important to be able to hold opposing thoughts in my mind. While I have learned that I am not in control of what happens, I have also learned that there is power in my intentions.  So while I can relax and not push so hard for what I "want" to happen, I can also hold the good and beautiful in my mind in an unattached way. Maybe it sounds confusing when I try to reduce it to mere words, but when I can actually live this way it is strong and powerful.

I think I was born knowing that nothing is ever wasted if you learn something from it, but this year I've bumped up against this one in ways that have left me bruised and scraped and deeply humbled. I'm not at all as nice as I hoped I was.  Perhaps I need to get a dog so I can see myself through her eyes, but alas I am a cat person.  I've learned that anger can bubble up like a mad cauldron and that it can be hard to keep from getting burnt and burning others with it's fire.  And sometimes you just need to see those glowing embers to really get it. I've learned how tangled up with expectation, attachment, hurt and self protection, anger can be.

I've learned that so much hinges on gratitude and intention.  I've learned that I need to remind myself of that everyday, that I have the choice, to lift 5 lbs of gratitude each morning or let the muscle atrophy out of neglect. I've learned how these feelings inspire the beauty of the day to smile back at me.

And I hope I've learned a smidge about kindness and compassion. I hope that sometimes when people say or do something that seems unkind that I recall my own less than stellar behaviour and am reminded that we are all riding in the same leaky little boat.

And I have learned that sometimes I have more choices than I think, that I can find a creative solution when I think I feel like I'm backed into a corner. I like to think I have learned just a little more this year how to follow that still, small voice inside.

moon through rain on the window

So I would just like to say thank-you to 2012 for being such a rich year, full of learning and magic and beauty, peppered with the inevitable sadness that comes from living a life here on earth.

I wish you all a new year of great joy and health, filled with all the beauty this world has to offer (and a few excellent adventures). May you venture out past your comfortable boundaries, may you have some deeply satisfying conversations, may you enjoy the warmth of interesting humans and animals. May the sun of 2013 warm your bones and the breezes blow sweetly through your hair. May you be fully alive. These are my wishes for you as you step with gusto into another new year.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Plowing The Neural Pathways and Opening The Heart

Continents of the Heart 24"x 24" oil, cold wax, earth pigments
I don't really have much to add to the general conversation out there so I've been tending the fire and making cookies and being quiet. There's lots to make our heads spin these days, lots to sink our worrying minds and sharp teeth into: abuses of power in places we think it shouldn't exist, guns, apocalypses of one sort or another, holiday madness or gladness, depending on how you slice it.  Lots to leave us wracked and soaked and bitter and curdled (hm sounding a bit like my Christmas pudding)

In the end, for me, it's all about how it settles in the heart.  What trails and paths are etched there in the neural backroads of my brain? What journey do I choose wittingly or out of habit? Do I retrace the slippery old paths of anger and disgust, contempt and self righteousness? Or do I slip of down a green trail into the forest to nurture my heart, wondering what I can add to the world?

A quote by Ethan Nichtern reminds me of which trail to take when I come to a fork in the road: "Setting clear intentions is so important. Most of the time, we get stuck, not because we have bad intentions, but because we just have no idea what our intentions actually are."

I've been liking this "shift thing" that's going on out there. I'm liking the picture of indigenous people showing the "civilized world" how to save the planet and regain a sane relationship to it. Don't laugh, stranger things have happened and you've been watching them courtesy of the media.  I've been watching some of the goings on down in South America and listening to people like Bruce Lipton and Tom Campbell who make the scientific leap that it's all about love, that the mind is a powerful tool for healing, that energy is real and this world is a place of great beauty and mystery.  Yeah, you might think it sounds like I've fallen on my head, but sometimes that's what it takes to knock out the old to make room for the new.

The Heart of Winter 12"x12" oil, cold wax, earth pigments
And seeing as it's gift giving time here in the western world, here's a quote from Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche that seems like it would be a great gift to ourselves, our loved ones, and the planet.  New world, new gifts, right?  Take back that toaster, return that  fuzzy sweater.  Instead how about this, no wrapping required, satisfaction guaranteed?  "Imagine craving absolutely nothing from the world. Imagine cutting the invisible strings that so painfully bind us: what would that be like? Imagine the freedoms that come from the ability to enjoy things without having to acquire them, own them, possess them. Try to envision a relationship based on acceptance and genuine care rather than expectation. Imagine feeling completely satisfied and content with your life just as it is. Who wouldn’t want this? This is the enjoyment of non-attachment."

Sheesh, that's a lot of words for a person that had nothing to say, don't you think?