Monthly Archives: April 2014

Peacemaking with Jimmy

Jimmy

 

I first registered to vote in Ft. Fairfield, Maine. I won’t say how long ago that was, but I voted for a peanut farmer who turned out to not be the most exciting president we’ve ever had, but continues to be a really great statesman and peacemaker. My vote was every bit as good of investment as was the S&K socket set I bought in nearby Presque Isle before I left Maine.  The socket set too is still serving well, although I’ve had the ratchet rebuilt once.

 

All of that is beside the point, really.  The story I started out to tell was the one about leaving northern Maine not long after the elections with a dependable, fuel-efficient car, but only $135 to my name, no credit cards and a very limited number of contacts outside of Oregon and Maine.  I had few tools aside from the shiny new socket set, a few clothes, 80 pounds of some of Maine’s finest potatoes in the trunk and a picture in my wallet of a pretty redhead who was waiting anxiously for me to get home to Oregon…I thought.  I didn’t eat much on that trip, but incredibly, I drove 4500 miles (I thought the girl could wait a couple of extra days) on that $135 and had a little left over when I arrived!  I have a few pictures from that trip, and even fewer memories, the girl hadn’t waited for me after all and a cold night somewhere along the way (it WAS Dec.!) froze the potatoes I’d hoped to share with family and friends, but it was an experience that set the tone for the rest of my life…a lesson in faith…although at that age, my faith was fairly blind! I guess it might have been more aptly referred to as “blissful ignorance!”

 

Jimmy Carter is still with us and I am still feeling blissful, but as I ready myself to head across our country once again…now the 6th time…with a less fuel-efficient vehicle, more tools, a bike, a bunch of tropical shirts, slightly more cash, $90 of credit left on my card, and no girls other than my mother waiting, I am a little less ignorant…I think.

 

Like Jimmy, I realize the world is full of turmoil and unconsciousness and I am trying to focus on what I can do to encourage peace.  My faith is no longer blind and my bliss comes not from ignorance but from the realization that the peace we all seek in right here, inside me…inside all of us.  It is our natural state!  And I know now that if we let go, get out of the way and focus on what we can do to improve the world around us, all things we need will come to us.

 

Sure, I have moments when I wonder how far I might get on the funds I have and thoughts of breaking down or getting stranded with my pile of tools and too many tropical shirts in the middle of a late spring snowstorm somewhere…but I realize too that these are only thoughts that I can choose to entertain or just laugh at and let go. I am not completely hurling myself out there without a few safety measures in place, but I am very conscious of the fact that we can never stock up enough ammunition, food, water, or money to bring real peace or security, and that our egos can go on piling up supplies and taking precautions forever and never be satisfied or secure.

 

At some point, we all must realize the only real security we have is within us.  It’s not in the stuff we gather about us, it’s not in armies, it’s not in wealth, it’s not in tools, it’s not in the pretty girls we carry pictures of in our wallets…it’s not even in learning to live sustainably!  Real security, and the peace that accompanies it, comes through learning to live in this moment, the only one we ever have, and accepting whatever form it takes…through being present.  It comes through letting go of our identification/obsession with the mind and finding the stillness that lies beyond.  In that stillness is all we will ever need….all the peace, all the bliss, all the security, all the love.  When we tap into it, problems–even the very large ones–tend to fade away.

 

I suspect Jimmy knows this. He travels the world arranging peace conferences and organizing agreements and talking politics because that’s what great statesmen do, but that’s all surface stuff.  If you stop thinking about it and sense the love and kindness that emanate from him, I think you’ll see that he carries peace with him and, like John Chapman whose interest was in apples, he plants seeds wherever he goes…and that is how we will bring peace and security to our world. He may not have been the most flamboyant president, but he’s a great leader.  I’m glad I voted for him.

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One (or, A Trip Through the Park)

Pricklypearblossom

I am a beautiful yellow blossom

perched atop a prickly cactus

 

I am an Osprey hovering high above the waves

watching with sharp eyes for the flash of my next meal,

 

I am a pelican skimming the water with my breast feathers

as I glide effortlessly along the waves,

 

I am a gull hanging close to a beach picnic

hoping for some dropped morsel,

 

I am a jellyfish washed up on the sand

waiting for the next tide to free me

 

I am a tortoise coming out of my burrow

feeling the sun on my shell as I nibble my breakfast,

tortoise

 

I am a lizard sunning myself on a post

enjoying the warmth and watching for passing insects

lizard

 

I am a mockingbird sitting in a tree

singing my heart out to no one in particular

 

I am an Oystercatcher resting at waters edge

surrounded by a large, mixed crowd

 

I am a temporary swell

rolling, rolling slowly toward the shore

 

I am a billowing cumulous cloud

drifting silently across an endless blue sky

 

I am an old weathered boardwalk

winding gently through a tropical jungle

boardwalk

 

I am an agile young surfer

racing along the face of a wave and spinning

 

I am the watcher observing the scene

and the scene being watched

 

I am a writer sitting at my desk

I am the words I await

 

I am solitary but not separate

I am alone but have endless companions

 

I have little in the way of possessions

but am overwhelmed with abundance

 

My cupboards are nearly bare

but all my needs and desires are met

 

My mind cries in loneliness

but my heart overflows

 

My thoughts often divide

but my soul knows…

 

There is only One.

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Moving Away From the Stove

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I grew up in Oregon on the western slopes of the Cascade Mountains which is a fairly-cool, rainy region. We heated the house solely with wood using a nice “heatilator” type of stove which had a sheet metal shell spaced away from and surrounding the cast iron firebox. The shell seldom got uncomfortably hot and a fan in the back constantly moved warm air across the firebox toward the front of the stove, making it very nice to sidle up to. As the family grew and my father divided the house into more and more isolated rooms, the heat didn’t always make it to all corners, even with the fan pushing it. Mom would always start a fire when she first got up to fix Dad’s breakfast, and my preferred practice on cool winter mornings was to jump out of bed and run out to stand in front of stove in my underwear, enjoying the breakfast smells and warming up until Mom shooed me back into my room to get dressed for school. On lazy, rainy Saturdays or when I was home sick, I would often sit in a chair in front of the stove, prop my feet up on the shell and read…sometimes for hours at a time. My butt would fall asleep and I would occasionally have to stand up for a while. I would lean against the front or, once I was tall enough, hitch one leg and one cheek up on the top of the stove, half sitting on it, and read in that position. Eventually though, I would have to move away…sometimes at my mother’s insistence, sometimes being displaced by a sibling wanting the warm spot. Despite how good of book I was reading at the time, and even with my mind lingering on the pages, it always felt good to get away from the heat and engage in something different for a while.

 

While walking my rented dog this morning and relishing the feeling of the Florida heat and humidity enveloping me like a comfortable fleece blanket, I realized again that it is time for me to move away from the stove; time to get out and engage the world.  Writing, which may have been one reason for coming back to the warmth of Florida just as reading was a good reason to sidle up to the stove, is becoming a habit I will carry with me now,  and we all need balance in our lives…physical challenges as well as mental and spiritual ones.  I have indulged myself long enough.

 

It also occurred to me that we all have a tendency to hug the stove in some respect or another. We find a place or a person or a situation we are comfortable with and we sidle up and settle in…often sitting there long after our butt has gone asleep and it’s obvious we need change. Inertia builds up, our butts grow numb and we become so engrossed in the story we’re in, it’s tough to break out of it.

 

Stagnant water slowly evaporates; pools and ponds gradually fill up with algae and weeds and other materials blown in, eventually becoming nothing more than fertile areas for plant growth…dirt.
Flowing water can also pick up all kinds of material—desireable and otherwise–but either breaks it up against the rocks it flows over, mixes it with oxygen to neutralize it or deposits it along the outside of some slow curve. Running water tends to be pure water. Movement reduces the evaporation rate, and rather than dispersing into individual molecules, streams meld into one another to become larger streams, then rivers and eventually they all join together once again in the oceans they came from.

 

Obviously not everyone is in a position to hit the road, and that’s okay since travel isn’t required for us to leave our comfort zones.  It’s important to remember that change is good.  In the long run all water returns to the source, and plants need the fertile soil that water collects and leaves in low places. There is a place and a purpose for everything; a time to be still and a time to be active, but if you feel moved to do something different, or the universe seems to be pushing you in a new direction, don’t resist! It’s probably time to get the circulation flowing again. Even if it looks stormy out, get your butt off the stove and get out there! You’ll be glad you did. (Hmmmm…I think I’ve heard my mother say that a time or two!)

 

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The Basics

swimminghole

Such chatter, such nonsense fills our days

What are we doing?

Where do we think we are going?

Was the world in disarray when we arrived?

Will it fall apart if we step back?

What is so important that we ignore so many signals?

How can we forget to even breathe properly?

When did we last drink enough water?

When did we last move our body?

 

 

It’s only the noise around us

that complicates,

it’s the non-stop dialogue in our head

that confuses

Still the mind, let go of opinion

The peace we seek, the answers we long for

are here…inside us

Just listen

Just let go and listen!

There is nothing to do

but serve

Be here…now,

and all things will come

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A Bumpy Ride

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Another thing my friend and I used to say to one another a while back as we were cutting our ties to the 9-5 world and surrendering ourselves to the will of the Universe was, “Buckle up!…it could be a bumpy ride!” Little did we know about just how bumpy it could get! “Letting go” is even more exciting than bungee jumping, with not just simple ups and downs, but totally unexpected experiences around every turn!

 

Six months ago, I found myself in Oregon, completely unencumbered for the first time…ever, I guess!…at least in my adult life! I could have gone almost anywhere in the world and the only place I really felt drawn to was Florida; and I drove all the way back across the country to the place we’d left less than two years earlier.

 

On the surface, not a lot has gone on here. I came to interview for a job I didn’t get, then decided to spend a few months at an ashram in the Bahamas.  Maybe that was my reason for coming here, although it would have been cheaper to fly.  In the couple of months I have spent here, I have worked a little, enjoyed the warm weather, done some yoga, and I’ve written…another first of sorts, and something I’ve been meaning to do for years. Writing has felt right, but I’ve found myself still expecting something more to happen—for some big new door to open or some crystal clear vision of my future to come to me.  Nothing.

 

Feeling antsy, I’ve been researching intentional communities I’d like to visit along with other possible places to land and have been looking mainly north along the east coast…and a bit inland.  I’ve come across some interesting sites, but nothing has really moved me…and I have still been feeling antsy.  A couple of days ago, I just threw it out there!  I might have been walking my rented dog at the time, I don’t remember, but I said out loud to no one in particular, “Ok…what now?”

 

Eckhart Tolle warns in one of his books that asking this can set one up for some real surprises, so I’ve been on the edge of my seat!  I called and talked to my mother in Oregon a few days ago and realized again that her time here is probably very limited.  I was still looking north and had even set a rough departure date, but my tentative long-term plans had started to include the possibility of swinging out west at some point. Two days ago, I drew one of the oracle cards my friend left with me, just curious about how the universe might choose to answer my query. I pulled the “New Location” card which confirmed what I was generally feeling, but was still pretty vague. Yesterday, I pulled another card. This time it was the “New Opportunity” card. Again, it fit with the general idea, but left me with no real direction.

 

Sensing that something was “happening” when I woke up this morning, I punched the browser icon on my phone to open up my email. The first…or second subject line I read was on an ad message from Motel 6 ( I think I got a discount somewhere for signing up for their mailing list). I read in big bold letters, “Your Trip West is Waiting For You!”

 

“Hmmmm, that’s interesting, “ I thought to myself. I scrolled down further and came across an update from the Caretaker Gazette. Lots of messages have come to me through the Gazette, so I fired up my computer to get a better look at the update. I quickly scrolled through the short list and just after reading one from New Mexico that was mildly interesting, I saw one from Oregon. It was an ad I’d seen before and had investigated to a point almost a year ago. It was a great-sounding opportunity, but they didn’t want any pets around and at the time there was a cat in the house. There is no cat now, so after looking into it some more, this time I responded with an email.   A few minutes later, I was looking at an intentional community site and found another Oregon ad…this one also very attractive! I emailed that party as well…and heard back from them fairly quickly and we’re still communicating.

 

I don’t know what’s going to happen…nothing is definite and surprises are becoming part of everyday life for me now, but it looks possible that I will soon be turning the truck around and heading across country again…for the 6th time. I know it sounds a bit crazy, but what can one do? Just “buckle up” and enjoy the ride! There must be a route across that I haven’t taken yet.

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Food Vibrations??

lunch

I remember reading natural health books a few years ago when I first decided to start living a healthier life and wondering why the authors seemed so incredibly enthusiastic! By normal standards, it was weird and kind of off-putting at first! It was more than just literary technique or salesmanship…there was an underlying high level of energy that was foreign to me at the time.

Yesterday, I was visiting one of my favorite places here in town….the Saturday morning Farmers Market…and was standing near my friend’s organic vegetable stand when an older lady stopped by to simply admire some micro greens growing in small baskets. She said, with a huge smile, “I had to stop and check them out…it makes me so happy just to see them!” I suppose that might sound strange to many people, but I knew exactly what she meant!

For some time now, I have noticed a sudden rise in my spirits…an extraordinary happy feeling and an increase in energy….when I walk into a good health food/natural grocery store, while I’m working at my friend’s organic farm or preparing and eating a fresh, beautiful meal with mostly organic ingredients. I’ve been aware of this, but hadn’t given a lot of thought as to it’s origin until the lady made her comment yesterday. The study that hit the news a few years ago stating there was no significant nutritional difference between organic and conventionally-raised produce missed a couple of important points (which is no big surprise considering its likely sponsors). The first and most obvious was that the main idea of eating organic isn’t necessarily about added nutrient value…although good farming practices should result in that too…but rather the relative absence of all the toxic substances used on conventional farms! We absorb enough toxins just through living in a polluted environment…why pay to ingest more?!! The second reason, and the one that struck me yesterday…and which helps explain the high energy levels of those authors I was reading a few years ago…is that healthy foods have a higher energy than other foods!

I used to nod tolerantly in the not-so-distant past whenever someone would talk about things having high and low energy or vibrations. Like many people, I was in a fog…my body, mind and spirit bogged down by too much alcohol, nicotine and other toxins, too much feedlot-raised red meat, not enough fiber in my diet, chronic dehydration and not enough exercise. I could barely get myself out of bed in the morning and my body had forgotten what it was like to have all systems functioning properly. Nothing in me resonated with terms like “energy” or “natural vibrations”. As far as I was concerned, my health was one thing… a physical matter, my mind was another, and spirit?…well, that was probably just delusion. How could I have possibly felt something as subtle as the energy of vegetables?!!

After five years or so of being mostly conscious of what I put in my body, trying to exercise regularly and to remember to drink enough water, and meditating, I understand where those authors I spoke of earlier were coming from! I sense the connectedness of my various “parts” to each other and to everything around me, and the energy that everything hums along with, and I find myself feeling just as pumped up as they apparently were when they were writing. I’ve wondered at times if maybe I was bipolar or hyopglycemic, but now I see that what I feel in the presence of healthy foods is all the cells in my body resonating with the high energy they sense; it’s the sound and vibrations of several trillion tiny sets of hands clapping with joy!  Whoohoo!  Let’s have lunch!

 

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Today’s Present Moment Reminder from Eckhart Tolle TV

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“Whenever you become anxious or stressed, outer purpose has taken over, and you lost sight of your inner purpose. You have forgotten that your state of consciousness is primary, all else secondary.”

 Eckhart Tolle

 

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This is It!

pedrocamp

It’s amazing how simple life really is…and how complicated we can make it! I don’t have much coming in these days in the form of funds and have generally been ok with that…happy to just BE and see what doors open up or which way the universe directs me to move. Recently though, I have been feeling a little antsy, and maybe a bit nervous about the future and all kinds of thoughts have crept into my head about where to live, how to generate funds, whether or not to take a job, etc. etc. etc. I’ve noticed myself feeling restless and out of balance, caught up in indecision and starting to stress over all these earth-shaking matters hanging over me waiting to be dealt with! I have a set of oracle cards called “Healing with the Fairies” given to me by a close friend and it’s fun to shuffle them and pull one occasionally to see what “message” the fairies might have for me that day. Amazingly, they are often very apt! This morning, my mind still restless, I pulled one, thinking the universe might have a really life-changing message for me. What I got was, “Body Movement”…which reminds me that my body has its own life force and intelligence and that I should listen to it as it wants to express itself through movement of some kind. Well…ok. I haven’t really done much in the way of physical activity the past few days as I’ve spent so much time thinking about “bigger matters”, so I listened to my body and went running and swimming…and it felt great! My bank account isn’t any fuller, but my body is very happy and I am in much better condition to deal with the “big” issues.

More importantly though, I was reminded (again) that there is only one important decision for us to make; to be present in this moment! Then it is helpful to make that decision over and over until presence is (once again) our natural state of being. One of my closest friends and I used to say to each other in all kinds of situations…whether we were blissful or in misery or somewhere in between…”This is it!” It was a reminder that this moment is all we ever really have, and that it is wise to welcome it, whatever form it comes in, and be present with it/in it.

What that means to me is that we do best when we are mindful…always; when we pay attention to the little things that are often lost or overlooked because we’re so caught up in our minds thinking about past experiences or future moments, neither of which we can do anything about since they don’t exist except as thoughts. We’ve all heard that every journey begins with a single step and that even the greatest of projects starts out with a single idea, but we forget that a successful life is made up of many small, very simple tasks and decisions. When we focus on the moment and remember to deal regularly with all the basic issues…like drinking enough water, getting enough sleep, eating nutritious food, exercising, spending some quiet time alone every day and keeping everything in our lives in balance…the complicated issues we commonly stress over just seem to fade away. Practical issues still need to be dealt with at some point, but we realize (when we let go and stop stressing over them) that they aren’t nearly as complicated as we tend to make them…and they often resolve themselves without any effort or stress on our part! If you feel overwhelmed by all the small matters that need to be dealt with, make lists until you get things under control…and then let them go! If your physical space is cluttered, your mind probably is as well. Straighten things up and notice how much better you feel. As my friend always brightly states, “Organization is the key to success!” If you are feeling stressed or depressed, try focusing on this moment and take a few small steps to bring order back to your personal space and to your life. Treat yourself to a healthy meal, take a quiet walk in nature, drink a few glasses of water or go to bed early and notice how your outlook changes. Make those things habits, take care of yourself instead of indulging yourself and notice how your life changes! This is it! Quiet your mind and enjoy the moment!

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A Still Mind

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When our minds are still, we reflect the nature within us, and we are peace; when thought takes over, our nature is obscured, and we wish for peace.

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